Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Cat Scratch Fever

I suppose it's no use put this off any longer since it's not getting much less painful, so I might as well get it out there. I've had 4 cats in my lifetime and my family has had even more. They've each had different personalities and quirks to them so I thought I had gotten used to the way that cats behaved and able to have a relationship with them.

As they say "Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow. ...Jeff Valdez" and "If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer. ...Alfred North Whitehead" pretty much sums it up.

I went about 15 years from the time that Christopher died in Cupertino to being able to have a cat again since most of the places I had lived were with roommates and in apartments that didn't allow pets. So after I got the trailer to live in it was possible to have a cat again, when Carol Hemmingway offered to give us one of her kittens, Krys wanted a cat to keep her company and I thought it was a good idea.

In my experience with cats I had thought that it would be best to wait for a while until the kitten had matured enough to handle going outside and learned where his home was since I didn't think there was enough room in a 29 ft. trailer for a cat. But Krys was afraid that something might happen to him if he went outside. Since she was making the rules for him, I let her take most of the responsiblity of feeding and cleaning out his cat box.He was a good cat mostly and faily affectionate. He did most of the cat stuff like getting into things he wasn't supposed to and puking up hairballs, which Krys didn't take in stride as well as I did. He did have a thing about the rain that seemed to freak him out which might've been the noise of it hitting the trailer that scared him

When Krys left the responsibility of taking care of Angel was left to me so I figured it was time to let him go outside. He disappeared for a month and I figured that he would come back when he got tired of being on his own and hungry enough, I did worry about the amount of heavy storms we were having at that time and if he could survive them. When he did come back it did occur to me that he had learned something about how hard it was on his own and at least someone had the sense enough to get some help with it.

After that he got used to going in and out but he didn't like the outside much anymore since the other cats in the trailer park were pretty mean and he lost a couple fights with them. Although it did seem to help during the summer when the trailer got too hot and he could lie in the shade underneath it to catch the cooler breeze. I figured it was the best of both worlds since he had the food, water, catbox and comfort of places to sit inside and the freedom to go outside to see what there also. Unfortunately it didn't turn out that way. Even though his demands for attention with the meowing, the head butting me in the face when he was hungry and puking up stuff he didn't like were annoying. I did have a strong sentimental attachement to him and I loved petting him and when he fell asleep next to me at night.

Angel woke me up as usual and it was around 9:30 in the morning when I fed him so he was fine then, but around 11:30 he was puking which wasn't unusual and I cleaned it up. Then I noticed he was meowing with a lot more painful note than his usual attention getting meow. I started to worry it was something serious when he started dragging his hind legs like he couldn't move them. I called my Dad to have him give me a ride to the vet and he suggested I call the vet to get an appointment. I wasn't sure if the vet would do anything without an appointment so I called them and the closest time they would see me was 2:30.

I tried to comfort Angel as much as I could but he dragged himself behind the bed and had a major bout of diarrhea. So I scooped him up from there and wrapped him in a towel to wait outside for my Dad to pick us up. We got to vet and we still had to wait a while. The doctor told me it was serious and he had a 50/50 chance of recovering. He gave me an estimate of how much he expected the treatment to cost and it was $661 which is a lot especially since Medicare doesn't cover wives much less pets. Since the odds were half that Angel could make it, I thought he deserved that chance so I left him there to be treated and the doctor said he would call in the morning to let me know how Angel was doing.

I had to go to Mural class so I wasn't there when the Vet office opened. So after class while I was waiting for the bus I called the doctor to see what was going on. The vet said that Angel had died during the night from some type of rat poison that he had probably gotten from eating something dead. I didn't see how he could've gotten that kind of thing from inside the trailer since I don't have stuff like that there, so he must've gotten it from outside. I felt pretty bad and started crying on the grass next to the hot dog stand. I miss having Angel around and it was hard to avoid the fact that it was probably my fault that he died.

I guess that I can add that to the list of failures to keep promises and fulfill the responsibilities I had taken on. Krys had the responsibility of taking care of Angel for around 4 years and then I had it for around 10 months and I blew it so it added to my guilt. I suppose I put off writing this blog about it in part because of the guilt of letting Krys know that I had failed to take care of Angel properly. I probably should've taken him immediately to the vet and not waited hours for an appointment, if I had recognized his paralysis of his legs as a symptom of poison, I might've been able to him the vet save him in time by getting there earlier. Maybe we waited to long and should've let Angel outside when he was young enough to learn better. None of the other outside cats had that trouble, maybe Angel was just to set in his ways to be able to take the risks and dangers of being outside. How much quality of life does a cat have when all he seemed to like doing was eating? I suppose the arguement that the trailer was too small for him doesn't hold much weight when he didn't spend more than hour outside on the average at a time. At least if I had kept him inside all the time he would still be alive and able to do what he acted like he preferred instead of what I thought he should have.

It probably was more a case of the grass being greener on the other side that he wanted to go out in the first place. Especially since after he had been outside for a month he certainly seemed to get over wanting it anymore. Was I right to give him that choice for the contrast? Was he any happier after he learned that being outside wasn't all it was cracked up to be? That's probably some attempts at rationalizing the decision since the fact is that he'd still be alive if I hadn't. I have had cats die on me before and some tragically way before their time by getting run over or getting their heads caught in a door. So Angel's death isn't all that uncommon in the fate of cats it's part of the risks of living. Maybe it is a lesson in impermance but that also seems like a cop-out to avoid being directly responsible. It's hard to take the wider view in the face of the details of what happened.