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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Cat Who Lives On The Kitchen Table

We have four cats, none of whom are technically mine, but I'll leave you to guess who cleans the litter boxes and fills the food dishes.....

"Girl Cat," our lone female cat, age 13 years, had her thyroid removed over two years ago (see previous blog). Before then she was an agitated mess and terrified "Devil Cat" who decided that the best defense was a good offense. He and the other two cats kept Girl Cat from the food dishes and (worse) from the litter box. Even after her surgery, they continued to ostracize her and attack her, perhaps because she also developed diabetes and must smell funny to them.

We kept her in the bathroom, but she was lonely there and chewed off the moulding from the door, so we started letting her out for part of the day. She seemed happiest on the kitchen table, and the other cats left her alone there.

Eventually we put her cat bed there and began to feed her there. It seemed easier to carry her to the litter boxes rather than isolate her in the bathroom. We became quickly toilet trained, learning exactly when to carry her to the boxes to prevent accidents (which you don't want on your kitchen table or in the other cats' food dishes-brilliant revenge, but not in the kitchen).

So now Girl Cat lives on the kitchen table.

This may make me seem very heroic as far as pet care is concerned, but I'm not, really. I can tolerate giving up my kitchen table and carrying the cat to the box, but I would not be able to tolerate daily toileting accidents. We decided not to give Girl Cat insulin because she'd hate getting shots and also because we would have to arrange our entire lives around the 12 hour shot schedule. I won't pay for surgery unless there is a good chance it fixes the problem, like the thyroid surgery was supposed to have done. If I'd known she'd still be ostracized, I might have chosen to have her put to sleep instead.

There are limits as to how much money I will spend. One of our cats potentially was a candidate for a surgery costing thousands of dollars with no guarantee of fixing the problem (urinary problem). Luckily he did not need it, but I would never have spent so much money on a sick cat, not even a beloved one. I won't even pay for expensive lab tests and Xrays unless I know that it will make a difference in deciding how to care for the cat.

We once had a cat who needed subcutaneous fluids, but to poke him with a needle once or twice a week gave him such trauma that we decided to stop and just let him live out his life. He lived in comfort for a couple of years before finally failing. This was an important lesson for me. I'd never put an animal through torturous treatment merely to extent the pet's life a year or two. Better for me to let the pet live out life comfortably with whatever time is left to her.

So, even though I don't like to have a cat on my kitchen table, I'm willing to put up with it.

How much have you put up with to care for a sick pet?
Have you ever had to choose between care for your pet and being able to afford the cost?



At 9:58 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

I guess we spent a lot on a urinary tract infection Pumpkin had once. That was horrible trying to disguise the medicine in wet food. Also, when she was sick last spring, just to figure out what was wrong cost over $700, and they couldn't give us all the answers. They did want me to bring her back in a week, but we pretty much knew she was dying and decided not to traumatize her further. I would've hated for her last day to have been spent stressed at the vet. We thought she'd been limping because she hurt her leg, but it was lung cancer. She died at home. There really was no treatment option because by the time we knew there was a problem, it was too late.

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Judy said...

*hugs all round* because this is a difficult choice. My horse was a chronic colicer. However, I managed to spare him for a year or two. Then he had a severe colic. The vet came out in the morning to check on him and wasn't optimistic. I was able to get him up and moving, much to her surprise. I drove out to where I boarded him every four hours to check on him and gave him a pain shot at 3am. He recovered, but I knew it was only a matter of time before it happened again because he only had three teeth left. My child who lived to eat. I didn't want him to die of colic, which is horribly painful, so with the guidance of my vet, my farrier, and more importantly God, I made the decision to put him down and asked my horse if he was all right with it. The whole thing was an incredible experience.

My dog on the other hand was much more difficult. She was diagnosed at 12 with cancer. The vet talked about chemo and radiation. How could I explain to her why she would be so miserable? I told him to cut it out and make sure he got free and clear margins because that was it. She ended up being a five-year survivor. I paid for medications to help with incontinence and arthritis. When I was learning correct dosages for the first we had many a 4am unpleasant wake up. I learned to heat the water before washing her and drying her and had a second set of bed sheets for her while one was being washed. We did work it out. My 75 lb dog, who shouldn't have lived longer than 10 yrs or so, lived to be 17. Even then, I had to make that final decision. Unlike my horse, she never asked to "go home." My parents complained bitterly about my insensitivity, waiting so long, until I looked them in the eye and asked them how they wanted to be treated when they got older. My dad, at least, never said another negative word.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Judy, I love what you said to your parents. That's sort of how I feel. I do not want the animals to live in pain but we have spent more money on our animal's doctor bills than our kids, I swear. We can't afford it, but we just do without everything else. Both of our cats needed multiple surgeries and my dog had hip surgery, etc. No more animals for me though. Now that the kids are growing up, I wouldn't mind having a few years just worrying about me and my husband.

Diane, your table kitty is awful cute. The poor thing. It is a tough choice.

Judy, I had an older horse with colic, too, that eventually had to be put down because she was in too much pain and the vet would have had to come every other day to keep her on her feet. I still miss all of my animals from my childhood.

Good luck with all your cats, Diane! :)

At 3:23 PM, Blogger Mary Curry said...

Awww, what a sweet story, Diane. I've never been a pet person because we just didn't have animals when I was growing up. My mother even gave my fish away - but that's a long story. Last year we rescued both a dog and a cat - another long story so suffice it to say that no one who has known me can believe I now have these two animals running my life.

I love your answer to your parents, too, Judy.

Theresa, I always wanted a horse when I was growing up. I felt SO deprived that my parents wouldn't get me one.

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Mary Blayney said...

(Diane here! Using Mary Blayney's computer!!!)

Mo, I, too have spend lots of money on cats, but I've learned to think about the money before my emotions say "yes"

Judy, you bring tears to my eyes. There could never be a more loving "mommy"

Theresa, I love having cats, but it would be nice to only have two....

MaryC...hahahahahahaha. Now you know why the rest of us dote on our pets!

I'm having a writing retreat with three friends today, which means lots of talking....

At 7:42 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Lots of talking, Mary? And lots of laughter, I am sure!

I LOVE your cat who lives on the kitchen table, O Divine One! That is too perfect. She is a definite example of "Dogs have owners. Cats have staff."

I have had to make those tough choices and it NEVER gets easier. My last deaf Great Dane, Glory, was diagnosed with bone cancer. The first vet said to put her down, there was no hope. She was 9 at the time, which is old for a Dane and he felt she wouldn't survive the surgery. I got a second opinion. I young lady vet who used holistic medicine along with standard practices. She suggested that as the only choices were surgery or euthanasia if Glory didn't survive surgery the choice was made. Well she did survive the surgery to remove one of her front legs. When they went to help her up to take her into recovery, my Glory lumbered to her three feet looked them in the eye with her regal stare and strode into recovery as if nothing had happened. My brothers built a ramp for her while she was in the hospital. I brought her home and she took one look at that ramp and ambled over to the stairs and walked up as if she had always had three legs. The surgery was expensive. I cooked her food and gave her supplements that body builders use to put on weight. I got a little over a year with her after that. It was a good year and except for the last two weeks she was in good health. She developed a cough and when we looked at the x-rays the cancer had come back in her lungs. I took her home and made the decision to let her go once the cancer started to take its toll. She took the decision out of my hands, bless her very old soul. Christmas Eve day she woke me at 6 AM to go outside. We were going to my Mom's later that day so I said "Lets go back to bed for a while, old girl." She slept with me from the time she was little and she always slept with her head on her pillow. This time she got under the covers and put her head on my chest. I remember she "kissed" me. We dozed off. I woke up an hour later, touched her head and I knew she was gone. I spent a lot of money I didn't have, but I got a year to say goodbye and my precious girl died at home in her own bed with her "Mama" and her chihuahua buddy, Frodo and the kitten she raised, Rebecca beside her. Not a bad way to go.

I've had to make the hard decision a number of times and I always consider if I am spending the money to extend their lives for them or for me. I have been very fortunate that my pets have always "told" me when they were ready to go.

At 9:27 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

The crucial question, Louisa. Is putting the pet to sleep for me or for the pet?
Much as I hate it, there are some times it has to be for me. Like if the pet refuses to use the litter box and there's nothing wrong.

But you made the right choice and had one more lovely year.

At 10:04 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

It's always such a difficult decision when it comes to our beloved pets. They can't tell us what they want, and we can only guess at how much pain they're in. I'm glad your table kitty is working out for now, at least. I think maybe that's how we have to look at it- what's right for now, and for how long?

We just lost our Shadow a few months ago and we're still not ready for that next new kitty, but my son is really suffering from the lack of kitty. I wish we had known that our attempts to help her live a little longer would only make things worse for her. But we thought we were doing what was best.

At 10:11 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

Diane, I really believe you're right. Sometimes it has to be for us. There's a lot I'd do for my pets. But sometimes it's just too much. We've been through it so many times. And after Shadow, I promised myself I would never let an animal suffer so much pain, no matter how much it hurts to let it go.

At 10:33 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

It is so hard to know, isn't it? When my black lab / bloodhound cross, Otis collapsed late one night after a day spent playing with my students I took him to the animal ER and they started talking about kidney transplant (they do them at Auburn so long as you adopt the donor dog). Otis was nearly 16 and had been in great health up until then. But I thought about putting him through that surgery and the long recovery and how unhappy he would be. He'd just spent a day playing Frisbee with a bunch of teenagers who adored him. I just couldn't see putting him through weeks of misery for a "chance" to live as a debilitated old man, something he had never been. So, I decided to let him go. I held him the whole time and the last thing to stop moving was his tail. It wagged the whole time. I made the right decision.


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