Hi. My name is Rena, I'm in my early 40's, married, and I have four cats. My husband is the proverbial "trench line" that keeps me from fully succumbing to CCLS (Crazy Cat Lady Syndrome).
I've had cats my whole life. I actually don't think there's been a period of more than a few months where a cat or cats wasn't a member of my household. At birth there was Mai Ling, my mother's Siamese. After her came JB, a sweet orange tabby. He was joined when I was about 7 by Pancake, a wonderful tabby with a brown bib. Pancake survived JB, and was joined first by JennyAnyDots, a petite tortie, and then Foster, the friendliest, loving medium-haired black kitty with small white patches. When I finally struck out on my own, I found my sweet Grady, a beautiful, regal and soulmate tuxedo boy. He was then joined by Baby Girl, a beautiful brown tabby and the only one of seven litters of feral kittens for whom I didn't find a permanent home that wasn't mine. We then added Krispy, who was with us until 1996.
I guess the story of my Dysfunctional Cat House begins in October/November of 2007, the single most expensive cat month I ever had. Grady was 17 1/2 years old that fall, and Baby Girl was coming up on her 15th birthday. They were elderly kitties. In the space of three weeks, both of them got sick. Really sick. It started with Grady. He just walked downstairs one evening at the very end of October 2007 and literally meowed at me and fell over. I scooped him up and we went to the veterinary ER (The Hope Center in Vienna, VA). After a two day stay, I was told that my sweet Grady had early Chronic Renal Failure (CRF). Thus began my journey with CRF and Grady.
Right around the same time, Baby Girl went to the bathroom on the carpet. HIGHLY unusual. When I went to clean it up, it was clearly tinged with blood. This, of course, happened one evening in early November of 2007, so she was off to the veterinary ER. They took her for some tests and brought us into the room where the vet would consult with us. We were told she had a urinary tract infection, but also that they felt a mass in her abdomen. They kept her overnight and scheduled her for a consultation with a veterinary internal medicine specialist the next morning.
Naturally, we were thinking cancer. It was a rough time - one kitty with kidney issues and another with what could be cancer. Imagine, then, our relief when the specialty vet told us the next day that the mass appeared to be a cyst. They drained it and sent the fluid off for testing and discharged her to our care at home where she was getting antibiotics. The fluid came back negative for cancer, and the vet advised us to give it two weeks and see how quickly the cyst filled back up. If it was a slow process, we could just leave it be - but if it filled quickly, the recommendation was going to be surgery to remove it.
It did fill quickly. So she finished her antibiotics and had a round of bloodwork to ensure she was healthy enough for surgery, and then we scheduled it.
She went in on November 27, 2007 to remove the cyst. I was nervous all day. The vet called at around 2:30pm and indicated that there was a problem. Basically, when they were removing the cyst, they found that her liver and pancreas were overwhelmed with cancer. The issue, they explained, was twofold: one, they were having trouble waking her from anesthesia. Two, they told me clearly that if she did wake up, her liver could not handle the pain medication she would need to be pain free.
Our sweet Baby Girl became an angel that day, November 27, 2007. I didn't even really get to say goodbye.
You can imagine that we were devastated. We thought we were out of the woods with her and we weren't. But surprisingly, Grady took it as hard as we did. Within days of her passing to the Bridge, Grady started wandering the house meowing pitifully, clearly looking for her.
We weren't ready for more cats. We were still in shock as you can imagine. But here was Grady - 17 1/2 and being treated for CRF, and clearly telling us that he was unhappy with his only cat-dom. So we opened our minds and our hearts to another cat or cats, using the logic that an infusion of youth would encourage youthfulness for Grady.
And that's where this story really begins, to be told in coming posts.
More of Baby Girl's story can be found at her Rainbow Bridge Residency site.