Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sad today

It's a sad day.

About 12 years ago my sister Sarah brought home a flea ridden, worm filled, sneezing ball of black fur that probably weighed a whole pound. Her friend had witnessed someone throw the thing out a car window. She couldn't believe that it was a kitten, but there she was, large green eyes and close to death. So she was bottle fed, but Sarah's friend's mom wouldn't let her in the house. She said she had to go live in the barn. She was so tiny that my mom couldn't stand that thought.

And so, a family with a majority of people allergic to cats, adopted a kitten. When she clung to your shirt she looked like a black spider. So she was named Spyder. She had to be fully declawed or dad wouldn't let her stay. She grew up being sniffed to death by a young Westie named Tilwyn. And she has been the near-perfect cat for us.

Spyder didn't crave attention. She liked 5-10 minutes of petting in the evening and that was about it. She didn't like to be held, she didn't need to be loved on. Perfect because we are not a cat family. My brother, my father, and myself were allergic to her. My brother grew up with a constant sniffle because of her. It didn't bother him though. He still let her in his room to sleep with him once a week.

She spent a lot of time in the basement. She spent a lot of time not around people. She was strictly indoors but she'd occasionally run out and chew on grass. She never spent more than 10 minutes at time outside; she didn't like it. She DID like to lie on anything new; a blanket, a new chair, a MOVED chair were all new things to her and she HAD to lie on them for hours.

She got very fat. When I came home from living in Georgia her belly was dragging on the ground. I cut her back to twice a day feedings and she got healthy quickly. She never complained, she just enjoyed eating when she was fed.

The older she got the more personal she got. She started hanging around rooms where there were people. She didn't want to be pet, she just wanted to be near everyone. She didn't want the dogs to sniff her, she just wanted to watch everyone interact. She was content to be in the background, to be off to the side. She was a princess and she had her thrones throughout the house. She picked a new favorite weekly. You always knew where to find her, she was always in one of her five favorite spots.

My dad doesn't "like" animals. He does, he just doesn't like to admit it. For all his gruffness he would still pet Spyder every day. He gave her attention. I would pet her most nights when she would meow at me when I grabbed late night snacks. One day she got locked upstairs with me for the night and her sudden appearance of yellow eyes and a wide MEOW made me scream. She startled the heck out of me. But she got hugs and kisses; more than she ever wanted. The cat knew she was loved.

Her favorite things were plastic bags and wrapping paper. You would come home from the grocery store and have plastic bags all over the kitchen; she would be in the middle of them. She didn't bat at them or play with them, she just liked to lie in them, on them. Same with wrapping paper. Christmas was her ultimate favorite time of year. She would just sit in the piles of wrapping paper, content. 

She had thyroid disease. It was controlled by food. She could only eat a certain food, no treats, no nothing, just her food for her thyroid. And she did it. She liked her Y/D. She ate it twice a day without a problem for two years. It made her thyroid numbers perfect and she kept herself at a good 12 pounds. She was a good cat.

But for the past two weeks she wasn't eating. I'd pass by her food bowl and it would be full. Untouched. My mom told me she wasn't really eating. And two days ago I looked at her and I could see her spine; her haunches were sunken in. She hadn't moved much in the past few days. She smelled bad, like she wasn't grooming. Something was off.

Maybe it was just the remodeling. That's what I told myself. Once the remodeling is done she'll be back to normal. But I took her to work, to the vet office, just to make sure. And to make a long story short that visit ended with two doctors feeling her belly and feeling a mass growing in her abdomen. In her lymph node. Elongated, golf-ball size. It was bad news.

My doctors aren't pathologists but it was most likely lymphoma. Cancer. A tumor. The words you really don't want to hear at the doctor's office. I brought Spyder home. I told my mom. We realized she was starving herself to death and was just going to waste away before our eyes. At best she had months, most likely a week. We couldn't do that to her. Such a good cat, she deserved so much more than that. She was miserable, suffering.

Everyone said goodbye at home. True to her nature she still didn't want to be held. She bitched at us the whole time. But Stacey, Craig, Mom, and I got to hug her. Dad pet her a few last times. We said our goodbyes. I had to take her in by myself, no one else could do it. No one else could watch her go. But I couldn't let her be alone. Even if she and I weren't best of friends I still loved her. She deserved to have someone who loved her with her.

My work is really great about this type of thing. It's the hardest part of the job, death. They all know I don't like cats but they all know that's just something I say. Everyone was supportive, I got lots of hugs. Spyder was sedated before the final injection. She curled up in the table in front of me, in a circle, in my arms, like she was my best friend cat from day one. She trusted me. It makes me cry thinking about that moment. I felt so bad. But Dr. Aubry was there and he told me it was the right decision. She had something bad brewing. She had lost 2 pounds in 2 weeks. She was not in a good place and this was the hard thing, but the right thing to do. That makes me feel a little better.

But I'm still sad. I'm still crying. It's not even that I'll miss her; I didn't interact with her all that much to "miss" her. I'm sad that she only got 12 years. I'm sad that it happened so fast. I'm sad that she won't get just one more Christmas. There's no other word for it. It just makes me sad.


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