Archive for July, 2012

Epitomizing the expression “one-two punch,” Rex’s nominal owner, Madame BOF’s middle-school friend Diane Robinson, died today of a heart attack at 49, making our permanent custodianship of Foster Rat #3 official.  Her decades of health problems–encompassing some 70 allergies (at least half of them to various foods, which made dining out with her a unique experience), legal blindness, diabetes and, most recently, a failed kidney transplant–are well beyond the scope of this post, if not the entire blog.  But after pronouncing poor Mina’s death sentence yesterday, we received word that Diane, too, was on her last legs, and before doing our best to welcome my Mom for her birthday dinner, we decided to visit Diane at Danbury Hospital, where my daughter was born; we’re certainly glad we did.

Convinced that the bed and then the chair provided in her room were exacerbating her allergies, the increasingly irrational Diane (who tended toward the misanthropic and paranoid at the best of times) insisted on having the bed removed and inhabiting the floor.  When we arrived, she had recently received the Last Rites from the hospital chaplain and was surrounded by a semicircle of her long-suffering parents–whom she constantly harangued and accused of trying to browbeat her–sister, niece, and nephew.  Diane believed that if she could get certain foods they did not provide, she might get strong enough to have her catheter replaced and resume dialysis, so before leaving, we ran to the supermarket and brought back what she’d asked for, but obviously by today, her poor tortured body had simply had enough and gave up.

As long as I can remember, Diane (whom I met when Madame BOF and I became friends in high school) had had a series of rodents as pets, and after the last one died of cancer, she naturally wanted to do what she always did, and get another one right away.  My wife advised against it, since at that point she was in between increasingly frequent periods of hospitalization, but Diane’s tears persuaded Loreen, who would do anything for a friend, not only to take her to the pet store to buy Rex (earmarked as snake food), but also to board him until the time was right for him to go “home,” which it clearly never was.  For weeks, we had believed that Mina’s irregular eating was due at least in part to Rex’s presence increasing her sister’s innate aggression, making Lucy intimidate her, and were desperate to relieve ourselves of the otherwise inoffensive creature, but now that the causes of Mina’s problems are irrelevant, it no longer matters.

Final score:  Rats 1, People/Cats/Snakes 0.

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Welcome to the House of Feline Death.  Got any young, seemingly healthy cats you want eliminated?  Send ’em right on over and we’ll take care of ’em.  Our track record is outstanding:  we’ve killed three cats since we moved into this place in 1998.  Oh, we didn’t literally kill them.  We love animals too much to do that.  It was the curse that did it.  It’s not bad enough that all I seem to be able to post here anymore is obituaries; now it’s one of our own.

Today, just three years and nine days after we lost Muffin, our beloved shelter cat Mina made that one-way trip to the vet.  Weeks of increasingly worrisome behavior, inconclusive diagnoses, and ineffectual treatment had already led us to schedule a follow-up appointment at the vet for Thursday morning.  Must remember to cancel that appointment.  Last night, I got home from work–riding high after getting my affairs in order at the office for a five-day weekend and picking up a bucket of KFC–only to come crashing down to earth when I found Mina staggering around like a drunk and walking into things.

I called Madame BOF at work, but she’d already left, so I sweated it out until she arrived and then we raced Mina to the emergency clinic, where they advised us to have her admitted for testing and stabilization.  Reluctant to leave her alone for the first time since we brought her and her sister Lucy home, but reassured that we were leaving her in the hands of professionals who could care for her far better than we could, we went home and watched an Eddie Izzard video in an attempt to take our minds off of things.

Around 4:30 (only about two hours after we’d gone to bed, since we are both off today), the call came:  some unidentified event during the night had left her unable to breathe on her own, and apparently without any higher-brain function.  We drove back over–in the rain, of course–into a scene from our personal Hell.  Hooked up to a respirator, with her vital signs fluctuating all over the place, Mina appeared to be oblivious to our presence and, to be blunt, looked like she was already dead.  The vet said he’d give it a little more time to see if she could resume breathing on her own, but he was not optimistic, despite Loreen’s customary fierce desire to fight it any way we could.

So we trudged home and passed out for a few more hours, until Lucy came into the bedroom looking for her breakfast, as usual.  I accommodated her, and thus happened to be standing right by the phone in the kitchen when it rang.  The doctor said that Mina had remained totally unresponsive, the cause of her condition still completely unknown (with most of the likelier possibilities being extremely unlikely for a cat of her age), and that there was virtually no hope of her getting better.  So, after a quick and tearful discussion with Loreen, I authorized them to put her to sleep.  The doctor said that if we came back to see her again, it would be solely for our benefit, and if I’d thought that Mina would have derived an ounce of comfort from our presence, I’d have been there in a shot, but as it was, going back seemed like it would do more harm than good.

Loreen is beside herself with grief, rage, and resentment at God for playing this sick joke on us.  Once again, after thousands of dollars and countless tears, one of our cats has died a protracted death with no clear diagnosis; once again, a four-year-old cat (the affectionate one, naturally) that had no business dying of natural causes has done just that.  And that’s not to mention the fact that we also endured the deaths of two foster rats, Renfield and Friend, and now have had a third one, Rex, thrust upon us with no realistic expectation that he will ever be able to go to his nominal owner (a chronically hospitalized friend of Madame BOF’s), having lived with us since the day he was purchased and saved from becoming snake food.

I had planned to take the next two days off partly so that I could care for Mina after tomorrow’s appointment, but now it looks like they will give me ample opportunity to mourn her.  At least I’ll be company for Lucy, who will then have to adjust to the long workdays alone.  Regardless of what the calendar says, I know this is going to feel like the longest day of the year, and on top of that we have to try to put on a happy face, because we’d invited my Mom over to celebrate her birthday today.  There’s no point in cancelling, just so that we could sit here and mope, and at least Mom is low-key and will be sympathetic and considerate.  Maybe we’ll put on a movie to distract ourselves again.

In the meantime, I hope Lucy will stick around for a while, because after this, I’m sure she’s the last cat Loreen will ever allow us to have.

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