Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Yesterday was a day of ups and downs. On the one hand, my son turned eight months old (23 new photos in his Flickr set). On the other, we learned our older cat — who has barely hit middle age, and only came home with us last January — won't be with us much longer.

In the months following her accidental 4-day excursion in October, we noticed Calypso (a.k.a. Callie) was losing weight despite eating plenty of food. Our vet found a culprit: hookworm! We gave her some de-worming pills, and all was right with the world.

Except it wasn't.

She continued losing weight at the same pace (1 lb per month), and then started having problems with her eyes. She began to drink little, and eat even less. Only yesterday, after repeated vet visits and a multitude of tests, did we discover the real culprit: the feline coronavirus. It's actually a rather common virus, but in rare instances (such as when hookworm has weakened the immune system) it can lead to FIP, which is fatal. There's no specific test for FIP, and other than her lack of appetite her behavior had been normal — in fact, she'd been looking for more attention, rather than hiding herself away like a normal sick cat — so we were holding out hope it was something else. But alas, the tide can turn quickly; she abruptly exhibited three of the other symptoms last night. Now I'm not sure she'll last the week.

I'm telling you this not to elicit sympathy, but to raise awareness of these ailments. Besides, the Irish part of me (acquired via marriage) knows I shouldn't focus on the sadness; I should be celebrating Callie's short but wonderful time with us:

When she's happy, Callie will climb up my shoulder and lick my neck.

When it sounds like she's yowling in pain, she's actually playing with a sock. I can't tell you how many times we've found socks, dish towels, washcloths, potholders, baby's onesies, and/or bras on completely different floors from where we left them.

She has little use for string or catnip or stuffed mice or any sort of cat toy... unless it's red. Red shoelace? Kill it. Red laser? Let me at it!

Callie knows all the warmest spots in the house. In the morning: the couch. Noon: front hallway. Afternoon: my office. Overnight during last year's weeklong power outage: between my wife and I, on top of the baby.

It'll be tough when she's gone, but I know I'll handle it better than when my last cat died. For one thing, it's hard to stay sad with such an adorable baby around to cheer us up. And also, unlike last time, we've seen the end coming. This time, we get to say goodbye.


Callie, we'll do everything we can to keep you comfortable in the coming days. But know this: Despite your short stay with us and this unhappy ending, we have no regrets about bringing you home that day last January. You are such a sweet cat, and we've been blessed to have had you in our lives, as part of our family. We'll miss you dearly.

We'd love for you to fight this and stay with us, but we know it's not to be. So ignore the words of Dylan Thomas, Callie, and when you're ready, go.

Go gentle into that good night.

12 comments:

  1. Irish by marriage? I like that. Me too.

    One question though - why does your baby wear bras?

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    1. Matt, isn't it obvious? If I want him to be the next Eddie Izzard, I have to get him started early...

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  2. that has got to be rough. Sorry.

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    1. It is rough, but luckily having a young son keeps me grounded. (I'll return the favor in a few years...)

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  3. Always sucks. They just don't live long enough.
    Read your answer to Matthew. Hope he makes the same kind of cash as Eddie. You'll be set!

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    1. I only wish she could have lived a full, normal life. Indoor cats are supposed to live to about 13-15, which meant she should've had another 5-10. At least she made the most of the time she had.

      Oh, and in regard to The Professor as Eddie: His sense of humor is the goal. His cash would just be a bonus.

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  4. I'm so sorry, but I'm glad she got to spend the last part of her life so happily as part of your family.

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    1. As am I, Joelle. I hate that she's gone, but every time I think about how happy she was to be with us every day, I can't help but smile.

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  5. My daughter and her spouse have 9 cats, one just passed and it is a terrible thing because you get so attached to them. Daughter was big at a local shelter when she lived in Ga but in Fla now not so much because a few of the 9 have problems that require a lot of attention.
    You're okay Nate and if you are Irish partly, go fix yourself a drink.

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    1. Thanks, Anthony. And I wish your daughter the best with her troubled cats.

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  6. So sorry to hear this. She is a very beautiful cat and I know how attached we can get to them. As I type this, my cat is on my lap, hugging my arm. Letting go is hard and heartbreaking. I'm sorry and sad for you.

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    1. Thank you, Heather. Our other cat is filling some of the void, but it's tough because he's not a lap cat. He's more of a I'm-going-to-claw-at-this-thing-over-here-until-you-play-with-me cat.

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