And Then We Were Four…

It’s been a pretty depressing couple of weeks.

First, it started raining in south Texas. And I mean raining. Like 14 inches of rain in two days. The area is very flat and has flooded before. We figured it would be a few days and things would go back to normal. Then all hell started breaking loose. A newly constructed drainage ditch behind the park burst and water came pouring under the fence into the park. Folks who have lived there many years said it was the worst it has ever been and it has flooded five times since 2005.

Long story short, the water sat for days. In the meantime, the county released a bunch of water from Lake Edinburg which is near the park and we took all that on too. They released the water because they didn’t want the dam to collapse but it had pretty much the same effect on the park. More water.

We have been getting photos from friends who are still there and the house is built up higher and OK (even underneath, we hope) but the garden sat for eight days with standing water. I am just hoping the small trees and large bushes are OK. A lot of the smaller stuff will provide new “planting opportunities” in the words of the current owner. We haven’t closed on the house yet but we have committed to buy and we will get everything worked out. Still, very disconcerting since we are not there. The water has gone down now. See “planting opportunities” in front.

And then there’s the world news, which is almost all depressing these days. Suffice it to say that some people hate everybody unlike themselves and they have been emboldened by rude and uncivil behavior by top government officials. And ratcheted up a notch by our country’s new zero tolerance policy highlighted by separating even very young children from their families at the border. Some people have been deported without their very young children who have been shipped to various states with little accountability. And don’t forget, we are the ones with the Statue of Liberty declaring “Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” Now they are huddling in cages.

So that’s depressing. To me, anyway.

Days before five people were killed in a newspaper office, our president declared “The media is the enemy of the people.” Does he not realize that he is empowering people to be hateful and commit crimes? Again, ashamed and mortified. People are dying.

That’s depressing.

And then we come to the cat, Tikita.

Tikita is our 14 year old white kitty who never wanted to be a white kitty. Her whole life, she displayed a toughness and gentility that made her unique. She was cute and curious and a constant companion/mother to Carmella. She and Astrid got along OK but mostly kept at a distance.

She was clumsy too. Good thing she was a tough kitty. One day we watched her race across our acre back yard and run full tilt up a set of stone patio steps. Very cute. Later that day, I noticed she had what I thought was a claw stuck through her front cheek. It turned out to be her own tooth that she had hit on the stone step. Kind of a klutz.
DSC_0544But she never got sick and except for her shots, never had to go to the vet. Until here lately.

We noticed she was losing weight and behaving a little poorly before we left Texas so we took her to a vet there. They did bloodwork and determined that she was anemic which could be because she was suffering from fleas. Some liver health indicators were low and concerning. We fixed the flea problem and started to feed her up to get her fatter. Butter, half and half… A few days after the vet visit we discovered a patchy area on her leg that looked like an abscess that had healed and was scabbed up. Maybe this was another reason she was not doing well. But how many kitties heal an abscess on their own? Tough kitty.

We decided to forgo the X-ray and sonogram because if we weren’t prepared to do cat chemotherapy we didn’t need to know. The vet in Texas told me her gut feeling was that it was cancer but could progress slowly.

We hit the road and gave her endless treats and all kinds of super duper cat food. She had a great appetite and we thought she was getting better. Her patchy fur grew back in. By the time we got to Utah, her belly was distended and swollen so much that we figured we better take her to see a vet. I didn’t want her to pop!

The Utah vet listened to her history and did more bloodwork, which was more positive than the Texas bloodwork but still had some bad indicators. He warned us that even though this was an improvement, whatever was wrong with her was “not fixable.” He also drained 200 ml of fluid from her abdomen and explained that her red and white blood cells were not replicating like they should. The fluid in the abdomen was a sign that the nutrition was bypassing her digestive system. He said since her appetite was good and she had a fairly comfortable quality of life, we could probably get her abdomen drained once a month for about a year or “until it’s time to say goodbye.”

At the Utah vet after draining her belly.

She seemed revitalized and was as interested in her food and treats as ever, so we proceeded to Blackfoot, Idaho. We had a three day stay at the fairgrounds there and were planning to leave on Sunday.

By midweek we noticed that her belly was swollen up again and she seemed a little uncomfortable lying down or getting into a chair. Still eating and begging for treats. We created a treat monster.

I called the Utah vet and explained that she was distended again and he said he hoped that draining the fluid would last longer than a week. We said we had too. He gave us the name of a classmate of his in Blackfoot and we went there Monday morning. We explained the situation again and showed him the most recent bloodwork. They took Tikita off to be drained this time; we were with her in Utah. The vet came back in and said they had already drained 600 ml from her, over three times what they did a week ago. Situation worsening.

He also opened our eyes and explained she was not receiving sufficient nutrition from the food she was eating because her red and white blood cells were not replicating like they should and protein wasn’t reaching her bloodstream. The Texas and Utah vets had told us about the blood cell deficiency but not that she wasn’t receiving much nutrition from her food. No wonder she was so hungry! Good appetite, my ass. I felt terrible. All those treats for nothing. Poor cat.

The Idaho vet pointed out how skinny she was, which we already knew and he didn’t come out and say it but we knew that time was short. He was compassionate and said if it was his cat he would put her down. We were headed to Dillon, Montana to some BLM land and decided to continue on and contact a Montana vet, another classmate, after we had a couple days with her. We knew it was the end.

We got to Clark Canyon BLM land and found a free spot right by the lake. We all went outside and she ate grass and scratched on a tree, two of her favorite things.  It was just one day since we had her drained and she was already starting to swell up again. It’s time. We decided not to wait another day. Knowing she was eating with little benefit was the last straw.

Not a bad spot to spend your final days in…

We contacted the classmate vet in Dillon but they are a mainly large animal practice and were out until afternoon. I wasn’t sure Jim and I could bear that.

We called Dillon Small Animal Clinic and they were very gracious. It is in a small house right in town and homey and nice. They were thoughtful and accommodating. When the vet gave her the sedative shot in her leg, she squeaked her last little feisty squeak. Then it was over. We were both a hot mess. As Jim said, “I hate this part of pet ownership.”

All the veterinarians we dealt with were knowledgeable, professional, compassionate  and amenable to our last minute scheduling. We were grateful that we landed in the hands of kind people. Maybe there is hope for the world after all. I told Jim once that I knew I wasn’t going to have a huge impact on the world, cure cancer or be president. But if I can make a small creature’s life better and more comfortable and make them feel loved, that is enough for me. In the end, only kindness matters.

And I know; it’s a cat. I have friends and family who have lost their husbands, wives, partners and children lately. We have perspective. My heart truly goes out to every single one  in their loss.

More random Tikita. I got a new camera the day after Carmella and Astrid came home so I practiced on them a lot. I’m glad I did. I still use the same camera.

Goodbye sweet Tikita.

13 comments on “And Then We Were Four…

  1. Seeet, dear kitty. How fortunate you were to have each other. The others must miss her. Yep, this is the tough part about pet ownership. So sorry for your loss.
    I joined with about 2,000 others in Portland yesterday to protest detentions at the border. ##RESIST

  2. Oh God, Croz…my heart sooooo goes out to you guys. Been thinking about you all day, and yes, the candle is still burning. I totally agree with Jim; I hate this part too. Sucks, sucks, sucks. Your “Goodbye, sweet Tikita” really got to me ~ always SO HARD. I did love what you said about making one animal’s life special and loving ~ kindness IS all that matters, and I feel exactly the same way.

    If you weren’t such a damn fine writer, dammit, I wouldn’t be choked up like this. Love you, dear..

    • Hi Wendy, you had me in tears about your kitty Tikita. I’m so sorry to heAr about her passing g, but you did the tight thing. Yes, the only part of pet ownership I hate, is putting them down if need arises. So hard.
      You have lots of beautiful photos to remember her by…Hugs, Cindy Cheyney Habighorst

    • Hi Wendy, you had me in tears about your kitty Tikita. I’m so sorry to heAr about her passing ,but you did the right thing. Yes, the only part of pet ownership I hate, is putting them down if need arises. So hard.
      You have lots of beautiful photos to remember her by…Hugs, Cindy Cheyney Habighorst

  3. Hi Wendy, you had me in tears about your kitty Tikita. I’m so sorry to heAr about her passing g, but you did the tight thing. Yes, the only part of pet ownership I hate, is putting them down if need arises. So hard.
    You have lots of beautiful photos to remember her by…Hugs, Cindy Cheyney Habighorst

  4. We are so sorry for your loss. Our fur babies are very important to us as to you.😯 Warren & I offer our hugs. We understand, we were both a mess after losing Harley. Our heart goes out to you all. Carmela & Astrid are also missing Takita.
    Extra treats and love for them while they morn.
    Love you, Judy & Warren

  5. Pingback: More Montana | Mighty Bus

  6. Pingback: I Was Really Hoping For a Happy Ending… | Mighty Bus

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