15 April 2008

Farewell, Space Monkey

If I know you offline, chances are pretty good that I've mentioned my cats and told you silly stories about one or more of them. Yesterday morning, Shado (our eldest cat and the one that I sometimes referred to as our "Radically Altered" male) passed from this world. It was not an unexpected event and we'd spent quite a bit of time over the last couple of months trying to prepare Sprout for the inevitable.

Shado was 14 years old, which is not particularly ancient in the world of domestic cats, but which was a miracle considering that he had complete renal failure 3 times when he was 4 years old. In the course of a 6 month period, Shado had to be taken to the emergency vet and placed in feline ICU twice. The third time that his urinary tract became blocked and his kidneys shut down was actually the day that we were supposed to pick him up from his 2nd ICU stay. We walked in and the vet told us that he felt Shado needed surgery. The procedure, called Perineal Urethrostomy, was done that same day and his recovery was amazingly fast.

His medical misadventures left him with some loss of kidney function (he recovered to about 80%) and a heart murmur. These are health problems which we have managed for the last 10 years with minimal problem. I will never forget bringing him home, after the surgery, with his abdomen shaved from just below his ribs to the base of his tail and down the backs of his legs. Shado was an amazingly agile cat and to prevent him from disturbing his incision, the vet extended the standard white plastic funnel collar with a 3 inch band of silver duct tape, to add to the effect, we were instructed to apply a zinc-oxide cream to the area around the incision to prevent irritation. As a result, he looked less like a cat and more like... Well, that's probably obvious from the title.

Sprout is handling the loss well, mostly. She's having some trouble wrapping her head around it and is alternately sad that he's gone and curious about when he'll be back. When I told her that he had died, she wanted me to take him to the vet so that they could make him better. When we talked about how much we were going to miss him, she suggested that we get another cat who looked just like him so that we wouldn't.

Mr. Andi is ready to bury the cat. I'm not quite there yet. I feel like putting him in a box in the ground is not the closure that I need. I'm still trying to figure it out. This isn't the first time that I've lost a pet, but it's the first time that I've guided my daughter through the loss of one and I want to do right by both her and Shado.

IMAGE: Original caption: "Fig. 75. '''Schädel der Wildkatze,''' ''Felis catus'; in halber natürlicher Größe" Translation (partly): "Skull of ''Felis silvestris'', 1/2 of natural size" Size: 2.2 x 1.4 in² (5.5 x 3.5 cm²) Originator: Hubert Ludwig Source

1 comment:

The Sick Chick said...

Although it was expected you still have my sympathies. Losing a cat, especially one of longtime compaionship, is always a sad time.