Monday, February 11, 2008

My Breaking Heart

On Wednesday, February 6th, I made the tough decision of putting my beloved cat to sleep. Within a weeks time, we noticed his quick deterioration physically and emotionally. My sister said it was a good thing I wasn't around to see how lethargic he was. Yes, he was a big boy and loved to lounge on the sofa, but he wouldn't move and had stopped eating and drinking. Over the course of the week, he lost 5 lbs and was urinating in places other than his litter box. I had flown from my race in North Carolina up to Michigan until Tuesday and received text messages from my sister with updates on his condition.

I called the vet on Monday to get him in on Tuesday and Em and my GF were able to drop him off Tuesday morning. I got into DC around 10:15am and called around noon when I hadn't heard anything from the vet. The vet called back around 1:30pm and read the results of his tests over the phone. Most of the lingo didn't make sense, but I grew concerned when she mentioned "jaundice", "anemic", "pale", and more so when she mentioned a possible tumor in his abdomen. Because she couldn't get a good look at it with the xray, she called ahead to SouthPaws to get us in for an emergency ultrasound.

Needless to say, I was in tears. Fortunately, I was working from home for the afernoon and have a very understanding boss with 4 cats of her own. She said to take the rest of the day off and take care of The Man. My wonderful GF came home around 2:30pm so we could get Handsome and take him from Cap Hill over to Fairfax. It was so sad to see him in the cage. You could tell he wasn't feeling well.

It was a bit of a wait to get him, but he got in for the ultrasound around 4:15pm. They took him in (and cleaned him up a bit since he peed himself on the ride over. Boo Bear never liked car rides) and got him set up before coming back to get us. My boys back legs were strapped down and his adorable white belly shaved in prep for the ultrasound. I couldn't tell you what I was looking at on the screen, but the Doctor pointed out different organs and how they looked normal, with the exception of his small intestines. There was a small mass about 4cm x 6cm that she said could be cancer. She took about 5 samples of it in different places and would test them to for cancer. I would get the results later that night.

Needless to say, it was a rough night. My Boo Bear just laid on the floor in the living room. We had moved his litter box and food and water close to him so he wouldn't have to navigate any stairs. I laid with him and spent some quality Momma-Man time with him. As much as I hate to admit I, I expected the worst.

Around 6:45pm, I got a call from Dr. Sloan, the radiologist who performed the ultrasound on The Man. She said of all the possibilities, this was "the best", but it was in fact Lymphoma in his small intestines. The earliest I could get him in was Wednesday at 9:15am to meet with the Oncologist to discuss treatment, prognosis, cost, etc. As much as I had been missing work, I took the appointment knowing I wouldn't be able to get him in until next week if I didn't.

Wednesday morning, I eased The Man into his crate and we heading off to SouthPaws again. He was a little more animated on the ride and meowed at how my GF was driving and at my music selections of Joni Mitchell and Jill Scott; he didn't like either of them. At SPs, they led us into a small room where the vet tech took The Man's vitals before letting him roam around on the floor before the Oncologist came in. She sat down with him and was very thorough in her explanation of the Lymphoma and the different treatments. I cried. I couldn't help it. I knew what she was saying wasn't good, and was waiting for her to give me the three options I had - chemo, meds to keep him comfortable for about a week, or to put him down. I called my sister and let her know the situation. She asked if I knew what I was going to do, and I said yes. The night before, I had looked up lymphoma in cats online and read somewhere that "if the thought of putting your cat down slips into your mind, you've already made your decision". And that was my decision.

If I didn't bring him in, he probably wouldn't have lasted more than another week. The doctor said it was probably there no more than 3-4 weeks ago. With chemo, I would've known within 1-2 weeks if he was responding to it - positively or negatively. Meds to keep him comfortable for another week would've just prolonged his pain. He wasn't eating and had a fatty liver since his body was breaking down fat for calories and the liver couldn't process it. Yes, it's possible he could've responded favorably to the chemo and lived longer, but what level would his quality of life been? Would I be doing that more for me or for him?

I just couldn't see him suffering. This wasn't my cat. My cat loved to do shoulder rolls which lead to belly rubs. He loved to have his armpits scratched which made him look like he was praising Allah. He loved to spoon with you on the sofa. He was a bed hog. He loved when boys came to visit and he loved my sisters dirty clothes. He was gay. He loved the color pink. He finally learned how to masturbate 2 yrs ago (yes, it's true). He loved food. He loved to "lounge poolside" by his pretty pink water bowl. He loved to dance to U2's "Sweetest Thing" and he got one of his names from the Alanis Morissette song "Right Through You". His birth name was Butch, but he went by Handsome, Mr Man, The Man, Mr. Handsome, The Handsome Black Man, Boo Bear, Boo, Booty, Bootilicious, Brother, Brother Man, and my sister's favorite "Move!!"

I was there when the Doctor gave him the high dosage of the Barbiturate, and he was gone in about 30 seconds. I chose to have him cremated and to take the ashes. He was my Handsome Black Man and I will miss him dearly. I already do.


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