Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Emotionally draining, that.

I didn't want a cat. Really, with kids already, and a house to take care of and grad school and a full time gig as a cop, I didn't want any pets. The thing about pets is that they are a responsibility. They are a monetary drain. They are a time drain. They are an emotional drain, eventually, when they die or get sick.. And they add an extra mess to my cluttered life.
I didn't want one, but my wife did. She took the kids, and they picked out a kitten from a litter of barn cats, and brought him home. He was too small even to step down into the living room. I tried to hate him. My theory wasn't working.

Cat & Mouse Games.
Even when he interfered with my laundry chores, I couldn't really hate the stand-offish cat that seemed to get along with me better than anyone.


He got fat. We made names about it. FatWad, Butterball, etc. But his given name was Oliver.

I cut a door to the garage, and from the garage to the outside world, because I will not put up with a box of crap in my house.

And he lived with us, getting fatter and only affectionate when he wanted things, for about 3.5 years.

And one day, he got sick. Urinating blood. Having trouble passing water. I dutifully took him to the vet, and spent a LOT more money than I would think possible for me to spend on a cat. A month later, I did it again.

He got sick again this week. He went missing. When we found him 2 days later, he was stove up, off his feed, not drinking. I locked him in the bathroom, and tried to bring him back to health. No good. My wife and I talked. We made a decision. His kidney problems had gotten too far. He was clearly suffering.

I explained to my almost-14 year-old and 10-year-old daughters that we were putting him down. The elder daughter held it together. The younger one lost it, bad. She sprinted out of the room, tripped, fell, sobbed hysterically. She plans  to be a vet. I think that she'll make a good one. She loves animals. She asked me some hard questions about killing a family member. These are not happy questions, but they were fair ones for her to ask, even if the answers were unfair. I somehow held it together. Mostly.

I called the vet to see when I could bring him in. Yes, I could do it myself, but I wanted to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he simply went to sleep. I may have broken down just a bit on the phone.  It was 11:00 AM.  The vet could see me at 2:30PM.

We watched a movie. Rubber, about a sociopathic serial killer tire. I thought that a humorous flick would be good. Look, it wasn't my best decision. When they got to where people died in a lengthy scene by poisoning, I realized my incredible error. My conversation with my 10 year-old resumed.

I got a pick and a shovel. and ran water to break up the hard pan, and dug a grave in the back yard. I put the cat into a carrier, and got a box and put a towel in it. And then it was time to go to the vet. The girls said goodbye to the cat. Goodbye to Oliver.

Mom drove me there, because my car was in the shop. What with construction delays, we arrived late. About 2:40PM. I went in, and the receptionist greeted me cheerfully, until he saw what I was there for. He showed me to an exam room, and asked me if I needed some time with the cat. I started to reassure him that, no-- I was already late, and had held them up enough, and... and.. and I broke down into a sobbing, blubbering fit, the likes of which I haven't committed in years and years. He left me alone for a bit.

The doc came in. She looked at me, and immediately began examining the cat. "Look," she said, "he's got an abscess on his heel, here." I had seen it (he must have gotten into some kind of a fight with another cat or some critter), but mentioned that it was only the latest in his problems, but his recurring kidney problems were what made me come to this decision. She quickly took his temperature. "106. (They run about 101 or so anyway, but that's still a bad fever.) That abscess was infected. Not eating or drinking? Consistent with fever. Dehydrated? Consistent with not eating or drinking. Shaky, weak? Consistent with infection. "I think I can fix this guy. I know you're on a budget, but let me X-ray him on my  bill, to see if that leg is broken." She took him and did so, and returned. "It's not broken. I gave him a heavy duty shot of antibiotic, on me. Let me put in some sub-cutaneous fluids, pushed." She and her assistant did so. She gave me some instructions for care. She gave me some additional oral antibiotics. She accepted my hug.

The bill was just $53. I think it's $35 or something for putting one down. Maybe more; I  didn't check. She had given me about $250 worth of service for free, to save the cat's life.

I took him home and put him into my bathroom. The kids were deliriously happy.

He's sick. Very sick. Even after we fix this, he's got issues. So I still have to worry about a damned cat that I didn't want in the first place. But I'm glad we refilled that summer garden grave with dirt and nothing else. 

The kids are making the thank-you cards. I'll sign 'em, too.

__________________________________________
*EDIT (07/14/2012): Oliver was up and around this afternoon. He sneaked out of the bathroom and was roaming the house. We put him back up, because the doc wants me to monitor his ins and outs. We bathed him last night, and he looks good. The vet had given him a shot of something like Tylenol for the fever, too. He's going to be okay, I think. Stupid cat.


EDIT (02/25/2014): Oliver is a very healthy, fat cat. I tell everyone how much I hate him. Nobody believes me.

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17 Comments:

At Friday, July 13, 2012 11:52:00 PM, Blogger Suz said...

Your day was better than mine. My 13 year old cat, also Oliver, stopped eating a couple of days ago after a long steady decline. 5 years ago he weighed almost 18 pounds; today he weighed 5.5. I had to put him down. It was easier with him than with the dog a few months ago, but it never really is easy. My heart isn't broken but there's a little hairball-shaped hole in it. (And the toilet paper is safe at last!)

Your triumph, conditional as it is, made me feel better. Thanks for sharing it.

 
At Saturday, July 14, 2012 12:08:00 AM, Blogger Keads said...

Yeah, they sneak into your life. I lament the loss of a dog that I did not want and she was removed during the divorce process as it was "hers" before we met. Funny though, in the awkward time before one of us left the house, this dog came to sleep with me under the sofa. I only observed her four legs stuck out under it. She stayed with me no matter what.

That really pissed off the "owner" of the dog.

I get it. I still miss Wasabi.

 
At Saturday, July 14, 2012 12:36:00 AM, Blogger Boyd said...

This. This is why I hate having pets. I hate, hate, hate it. Well, I love it while I have them, but I hate it with the burning of a thousand suns when they die.

Glad things are looking up, at least for now.

 
At Saturday, July 14, 2012 12:39:00 AM, Blogger MedicMatthew said...

I was ready to leave a comment, but wound up writing my own blog post about cats.

 
At Saturday, July 14, 2012 6:55:00 AM, Blogger Gaffer said...

You have a great and compassionate vet and if your daughter wants to learn wat a vet really does she should spend time with that particular lady.
I'm glad the cat you love to hate is on the mend...and so is your heart.

 
At Saturday, July 14, 2012 7:20:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Yeah, I am glad, Gaffer.

 
At Saturday, July 14, 2012 8:22:00 AM, Blogger Comrade Misfit said...

My eyes are leaking. I hope Oliver recovers and has a lot more time with you.

 
At Saturday, July 14, 2012 9:20:00 AM, OpenID leadchucker.net said...

Oh how I dread that day. ....

 
At Saturday, July 14, 2012 10:01:00 AM, Anonymous Jennifer said...

Geez, Matt. Screen was getting all foggy and everything. I'm glad your kitty is on the mend and that you only filled the hole with dirt. Your vet is wonderful and compassionate too. I hope you have lots more time with the kitty you never wanted. They've got quite a talent for working their way into your heart.

 
At Saturday, July 14, 2012 4:59:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

Glad to hear you didn't have to put him down...

 
At Saturday, July 14, 2012 5:11:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

He's on the mend. He Houdini'd out of the bathroom this afternoon.

 
At Saturday, July 14, 2012 6:00:00 PM, Blogger Squeaky Wheel said...

Damn it, Matt. You made me cry TWICE.

I'm so glad he's on the mend, and I hope his kidneys are able to recover enough from that situation to afford him a few more years.

I started reading your post and went, "ANOTHER kidney failure?!?" Yours would be the third in as many weeks. This is a bad summer for pets.

Give Oliver a head scratch for me. I always did like the ornery ones.

 
At Saturday, July 14, 2012 9:30:00 PM, Blogger phlegmfatale said...

I'm so pleased this has a happier ending than it seemed to start. Happy for Oliver and you and all your girls. And many happy returns to Oliver. Sounds like he may still have 4 o 5 lives left. :)

 
At Saturday, July 14, 2012 10:25:00 PM, Blogger Rabbit said...

I'm glad things are looking up.

 
At Sunday, July 15, 2012 8:20:00 AM, Blogger Carteach said...

I recall a puppy. Just a damn stupid puppy. I had picked him up from the ASPCA death house as a pet for my family.

Two days later he was throwing everything up and getting weak. I took him to work with me and everyone in the place looked after him. He got worse fast. I took him to the vet, a very hard bill to pay at that time in my life.

Parvo. The vet made the reality clear. The wife of the man I worked for was with me there, and saw me crying.

Damn stupid puppy.

 
At Sunday, July 15, 2012 1:31:00 PM, Blogger TBeck said...

Glad to hear the critter is pulling through.

 
At Monday, July 16, 2012 2:10:00 AM, Blogger charlotte g said...

Years ago, when my first Scottish terrier developed cancer, I wrote an op-ed piece for the paper protesting that I had to make an appointment for death.I was protesting the necessity. It is the hardest thing, and a necessary and loving thing. I'm rooting for Oliver. I learned Friday I can never say again I don't like cats. Because I do.

 

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