Thursday, March 11, 2010
I don't know why I started calling her mouse. I guess it's just that she looked like a little white mouse when I first got her. She was three months old, living at the Dumb Friends' League and recovering from malnourishment. She was amazingly affectionate (like OGMO, who I got the same day at the same place). When you'd stroke her down her back, her long tail would curl up so much it would touch the top of her head. She used to fetch Q-tips, but only if you threw them to the same place every time.
I had just started living with my boyfriend (and later my first and then ex-husband) when I got her. Then a move and a couple unfortunate relationships, then my marriage to Theo (with his two cats) followed quickly by three children. She managed to tolerate babies and even become enamored with the kids as they grew older and learned the proper technique for petting her. She had a special bar stool, threadbare and apparently comfy. It stood in the threshold between our front room and kitchen. To get anywhere in the house you had to pass her stool. Rowan eventually posted a sign, "Yeti's Petting Station: On Duty".
Yeti was always a fierce defender of the house. No animal would approach our house without a challenge, even if her challenge was made through the sliding glass doors. Dogs, foxes, raccoons, other cats would all know that she was there and ready to dish out some whoop ass. One neighborhood cat would taunt her by sleeping on our porch; I think he knew we didn't generally let her out. One day she did get out and kicked the tuna salad out of him. He never came to taunt her again.
She did suffer a scratched right cornea from that fight and her eye took a long time to heal. Even in the picture above, she still had a bit of drainage. After we ruled out infection and gave her steroid treatments, we could finally see the injury and it was actually healing nicely. I was glad to have that bit of health trauma behind us.
Then about three weeks ago, Yeti stopped eating and her weight loss was dramatic. She was licking odd things like paper, walls, and plaster-like fish tank decorations. I think she was originally about 12 pounds and dropped to eight, then over the weekend to seven. Blood tests all looked good -- at least kidney and liver, the things I'd always worried about with my elderly cats. However, one type of white blood cell count was up. We gave her antibiotics, but this count indicated a long term inflammation. Cancer was mentioned a few times, but she had no tumors. Another blood test showed no leukemia. I was feeling desperate and didn't know what to do. Prednisone seemed to help a little, but by now all she wanted to do was sleep with a minute or two of pets every hour. She was drinking, but fairly quickly couldn't manage to get to the basement litterbox. I was syringing soft food with vitamins, trying to get as much in without giving her so much that she would throw up. I'd stop a feeding session when she'd start growling at me.
Last Friday, March 5th, we got her an ultrasound. Our vet could see lymphoma right away; her intestine was irritated and inflamed as well. We stepped up the steroid treatment, hoping it would go in remission since there were no tumors. The upside was that it might stimulate her appetite and would hopefully help any pain. That was the beginning of a weekend of stress and worry.
Sunday, March 7th was sunny and a little cool. I carried her out to the sunshine on the porch. I took a few pictures of her as she rested in the sun and purred. See the one above.
Monday, she couldn't walk any more, she wouldn't take food anymore. She still purred when I petted her, but she'd get worn out after a minute or two and would try to retreat and rest. I made my decision and made the appointment for after Rowan's arrival back home from school.
I told the kids that I was going to bring her into the vet to put her to sleep, explaining that she would go to sleep and then her heart would stop. I tried to explain to them and re-convince myself that we didn't want her to starve to death, be in pain, have a terrible quality of life, or (what almost seemed the very worst thought) not purr when I came to her. The vet thought maybe the cancer had already spread in her brain, which would explain the rapid degeneration of her health.
Rowan, Jasmine and Theo said goodbye to her and stayed home. Kai and I brought her in.
Bye Yeti. We love you.