Friday, February 27, 2009

A Very Loud (and Long) Weeping and Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth

A week before That Blessed Date when The Professor and I legally linked our lives together, we went to fill out the requisite paperwork at the county courthouse. I knew that on the way home, we’d be passing the local shelter, and I spontaneously asked The Professor if we could stop and look at the cats. His reaction was a little more … dramatic than I expected: “Damn it woman, I was going to surprise you! Are you going to be two steps ahead of me for the rest of our lives?” {Hint: The answer is yes. But I digress} And so, The Professor got me the best wedding present in the world: A cat. There weren’t a whole lot of cats, and I really didn’t want one of the babies – those are always the top pick and have the best chance of getting adopted. I wanted a young adult. The choice was between two cats: A steel grey charmer, who purred and rubbed against our hands, and a sulky exotic looking cat who cried nonstop and didn’t want to be touched. The Professor made the decision very quickly – he wanted Mr Sulky (named “Shelby” by the shelter) because he was convinced an unaffectionate cat wouldn’t get adopted by anyone else. The shelter told us he had been left on their doorstep in the middle of the night that Hurricane Ivan blew through town. Being this far from the coast, a hurricane isn’t as bad as it could be – but it was still a hurricane when it got here. And Mr. Sulky had spent the storm alone, in a box. We debated what to name him while we filled out the paperwork and waited for the volunteers to bring him to us. “Shelby” didn’t seem right. It just didn’t fit, but we couldn’t think of anything better. When we got in the car, the song “Sultans of Swing” was playing on the radio – and we both yelled out – “Sultan”! Sultan immediately made it known that he was not a quiet cat. He paced, prowled and yowled non-stop. So much so that on the first visit, we asked the vet if we should be worried that something was wrong. He just laughed and said that he was almost positive Sultan’s a Bengal – and Bengals have amazing voices. We left him at home when we went on our honeymoon, leaving The Bestest Friend to come by to take care of him. I think that's when she started referring to him as "Senor Mau-Mau", because of his crazy voice. Halfway through the week, he was hoarse from talking so much. A few months later we introduced the Ever-Fluffy Lucius to the house – and Sultan never talked himself hoarse again. “Crazy Cat” is probably too gentle a term – “Spastic” may be better. But there’s no way to describe a cat to someone who hasn’t met him, except to say “WOW”. Also “Makes Stinky Litter Box”, but then, what cat doesn’t? He warmed up to us very quickly. He claimed The Professor, and every morning he's on the floor for the hour that The Professor does his morning workout - laying down next to him for The Professor to put out a hand and pet him as he does his 100's of crunches - this goes on for about 30 minutes every morning. At night, he's either curled up behind The Professor's shoulder to watch TV, or lounging in front of the fireplace if it's the correct season and we're treating him right. Two weeks ago was the annual checkup, and there was a bunch of fluid coming out of his eyes. He’d also lost 3 pounds in the past year, but he just seemed a little tired lately. The vet put him on ointment for the eyes and scheduled a follow-up for 10 days later (this past Monday) – by which point he’d stopped eating and lost another 1 ½ pounds. We did blood work and some other tests, but couldn’t find anything conclusive, so we scheduled some x-rays. And now, because the past 24 hours are interesting only to a very few people, we still aren’t completely sure what’s wrong. But we do know that it’s one of two Very Bad Things – a tumor that I can’t afford to A) find out about, or B) fix if it’s there; or FIP . The vet is pretty sure it’s FIP, and at such an advanced state that there’s no way to even make him comfortable for long. He hasn’t eaten in a week, so he’s literally wasting away. You know what’s coming… I went to visit him this morning, and I can honestly say it’s the most heart-breaking thing I’ve ever done. He’s lost another half pound this week. I knew then that this afternoon would be the end, but seeing him at half the weight he was just 2 years ago hurt more than I thought. He’s not talking anymore – he doesn’t even make a peep when a large dog barks on the other side of the wall. He just snuggled down into my lap and closed his eyes. In my head, I told myself that he was asking me to make him better. And all I can do is stop him from getting worse. The Professor just left to go be there when they put him to sleep. I had planned on going up to the minute it was time to walk out the door. And I couldn't. For once, I let myself back out of something I didn't want to do. And now...it's time to go buy more wine. I drank just about everything in the house last night, and an empty wine rack is a sad wine rack.

2 comments:

NGS said...

Awwww...I'm very sorry. It's hard to lose a member of the family. I'll be sending lots of thoughts your way. Hugs to you.

Karen said...

I think I know why you have no 'net tonight. You just broke the heart of the web.

He's not worse any more.

Much love.