Fat Kitty

The Hardest Goodbye

 

How do you say goodbye to the kitten you rescued, who actually rescued you?

I don’t know. I don’t know how you say goodbye, how you let go, when it hurts so much.

I got Yggdrasil at a time in my life when I was struggling, and he became my partner. He was always by my side. He slept next to me at night, curled up in a ball, or if I was sleeping on my side he stretched out and spooned me.

He loved to “help” me read at night. It was often annoying, I just wanted to read my book, but he kept poking his big head in between the pages, demanding attention. He loved me fiercely, and I loved him back.

When I got home from work, he was waiting for me in the window, perking up when he heard my car and then running to the door to greet me in his way–flopping onto his back to expose his big, fat belly for rubs.

He came running down the hall to me when I called his name–like a dog.

Speaking of dogs, he eventually warmed up to Bella…after months of protesting, hissing and growling, he finally decided he was taking back his status of King of the House and then eventually he grew to like Bella, I think.

As I watched Yggdrasil decline since my birthday this year, I knew our time was limited. He was losing a lot of weight. He used to be 13 pounds–very much the Fat Kitty–and the last time I took him to the vet he was 6 pounds.

I took him in late last Friday night to give him fluids and anti-nausea medicine and an appetite stimulant. Several days of not eating and not acting like himself had me desperate. I wasn’t ready to make the decision I knew I had to make, so I tried this instead. Desperate but I tried. I tried to get a timeline from the vet. She couldn’t nail it down but I pressed and asked if we had a month left. She said we’d be lucky if we had a month.

Yggdrasil started sleeping with me again in the last little time we had together. Saturday morning after the vet we cuddled in the quiet, snuggled together like two puzzle pieces. Animals do that–they complete us the way other humans can’t. They rely on us, depend on us and love us unconditionally. Yggdrasil kept head butting me and then he snuggled up into the crook of my neck and laid there, breathing softly. It was the most wonderful, loving moment we’ve ever had together. There were a few times I thought “This is it” and then he kept breathing and it was ok. We were just snuggling.

 

For over 15 years, Yggdrasil was my buddy. He was there during hard times, deaths, breakups, job changes, life changes, depression, transformation, moving, illness, health, marriage, baby…always there. Now the house feels lonely without him.

We had one more week together. All week I felt tortured about making the final decision. He had some good days, the medicine helped, and I thought Maybe we have more time, maybe I should wait….then I realized I didn’t want my last memories of him to be awful or with him in pain. I didn’t want my sweet kitty to suffer.

Michael made the appointment for me. There is no way I could have. I tried to cherish our last week together. I spent as much time cuddling Yggdrasil as I could. I got him to eat. He slept with me every night, all night long. I took photos and video. I could tell he was declining quickly.

I got off work early Friday so I could just cuddle with Yggdrasil alone for a bit. We spent Saturday together. Cuddling on the couch, watching TV, taking a nap together. It was nice to just be.

Then Michael and I took Yggdrasil outside so he could play in the grass a bit and I could get some photos and video. He was an indoor cat that really really wanted to go outside (and would try to escape every chance he got!). It was so wonderful to see him be outside one last time.

Yggdrasil’s auntie Star came over with her partner and Amy the dog walker came over. We all sat on the couch together. I had some music and a candle and just snuggled with my baby for our last moments. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and my heart hurts.

Bella was very well-behaved during the whole thing. Amy was petting her and Bella just sat on the couch with sad, scared puppy eyes. It was like she knew what was happening. I’m so glad we could say goodbye as a family.

Afterwards, Michael tried to get Maya so she could say goodbye. She ran around the house yowling and crying at  the top of her lungs and then she ran into the living room and stopped at my feet. She looked up and I put Yggdrasil on the floor, wrapped in his blanket, and Maya laid down next to him. She got to say goodbye, too.

I’m not doing well. I know it will get better with time, but I’ve never lost a pet before and I’ve definitely never had to make that huge decision before and it’s hard.

I miss him already.

 

Yggdrasil

This is my first baby. His name is Yggdrasil. He’s been known as Fat Kitty here on the blog. I wanted to share his story and tell you guys what’s been going on in our world the last few weeks.

I got him as a kitten 15 years ago. I’d never had a pet before and when I moved out on my own after a bad breakup, I decided I wanted a cat. This was before the internet was really a big thing and I went through the newspaper ad section for people giving away kittens. I picked up the phone and started calling.

It was probably the fourth ad I called. No one else picked up the phone, or the kittens were given away already. The fourth person I called said they had a kitten named Gizmo they were giving away. I drove out to their apartment to meet him.

I had no intention of getting a cat yet. I wanted to meet him and see how I felt. So as a result, I had nothing–no litter box, no travel carrier, no food, nothing.

I met “Gizmo” and immediately fell in love. He was this tiny little kitten with so much spunk and energy:

The woman giving him away had rescued him. He was homeless on the street and saw some kids abusing him with rocks and sticks. She rescued him but couldn’t keep him. I knew immediately that he was my cat.

I took him home after just a few minutes of meeting him. I put him in the car and he ran around smelling and looking at everything. He loved the car and actually got up and looked out the windows like a dog.

On the way home I stopped at Target and bought litter, a litter box, toys, food, a carrier, and a scratching post. Then we went home to get acquainted.

His new name was Yggdrasil. (Drazzle)

Our first night together was rough. In the middle of the night he managed to knock over a giant (and very heavy) planter of lilies I had on a bookcase. It broke and shattered everywhere. I decided to put him in the bathroom with his litter box for the night because I thought it would be safer.

I got up to use the bathroom early that morning to find that he had managed to escape out the window in the bathroom! He had pushed the screen and slithered out! I was SO DISTRAUGHT! I panicked. I went outside in the dark and searched everywhere for him with a flashlight.

I was sobbing. I couldn’t believe he was gone! I imagined him lost and scared or hurt. I lived right by a freeway and a really busy street and I knew that was dangerous.

I left the front door open and put a bowl of cat food just inside the door hoping he’d come back. I laid down on my bed and cried. All of a sudden I felt a little wet nose on my hand. He had come back! And jumped on the bed and gave me little kitten kisses. I was so overjoyed that he was ok!

That was our first day/night together.

The next few months were great. Yggdrasil was the most playful, active, sweet kitten I’d ever met. He loved me fiercely and I loved him back. The only problem? While I was at work he destroyed my apartment. He got into everything! He was probably bored, or lonely, and just destroyed stuff. I’d come home to all my books on the floor, the garbage overturned…you name it.

I realized he needed a playmate.

A coworker’s cat had kittens recently and I decided a playmate was exactly what Yggdrasil needed. I met the kittens and picked the runt of the litter. I brought her home (a little too early, I think) at 7 weeks old and introduced Maya to Yggdrasil.

The first two weeks were brutal. He was not happy. I honestly thought he might kill her. 🙁 So much growling and hissing! I have a scar on my leg from their first meeting! I kept them separated for about a week. I wasn’t quite sure I’d be able to keep Maya.

But one day I came home from work to find them snuggled up together on my chair, grooming each other. And it was sealed. They loved each other. I was so happy! They kept each other company, they cuddled, they played, Yggdrasil stopped destroying my apartment…. 🙂 And he got really fat because he ate all of Maya’s kitten food!

This is how I used to read books:

He always helped. 🙂

And whenever I’d come home from work or the gym, he’d be waiting for me in the window:

These two are always together:

When we brought Bella home a few years ago, Yggdrasil wasn’t too happy. It was a very long road before he finally got over it. And then last year when I was pregnant it was like these two bonded over it and they even started sleeping next to each other and cuddling a little bit:

I was glad he got over the new addition(s) because at 14 years old he was finally no longer a kitten (he acted like one until last year) and was kind of turning into a grumpy old man.

Yggdrasil was always a little plump. Several times the vet told me he needed to lose some weight and I tried a lot of different things, nothing really worked. I did get a special feeder a few years ago that did work well and we’ve been using it since.

The last few years Yggdrasil has had some health issues, but nothing major. His kidney levels were a little elevated, so I got special prescription food that helped that. He’s also had issues for most of his life with throwing up. Part of that is that he’s always been a binge eater. I think it stems from being homeless as a kitten and not knowing if he’d have food. He just never shook that fear, I think. So he scarfs down his food and it upsets his stomach so he throws up.

The vomiting started to increase this past year. I saw the vet a few times and we tried different food. We got some liquid antacids that I give him once or twice a day to help. That helped a little bit.

At his last vet appointment in November we switched the food again because the vomiting was getting a little worse. The doctor wanted to run some blood work after a few days of trying that. I put it off. Part of the reason was scheduling, we were constantly sick and everything got put off, and the bigger part was denial. I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to get bad news. I just couldn’t deal with it. 🙁

Recently I’ve noticed that he’s lost more weight. My Fat Kitty was no longer fat. He was noticeably skinnier and that was upsetting to me. I took him in to the vet for blood work. It came back normal, which was good I guess…It wasn’t his kidneys. But the vet said the only other thing she could think to explain his recent lack of appetite, vomiting and weight loss was cancer.

My heart split in two. Yggdrasil was my first baby. I loved him more than anything for a decade and a half. I couldn’t imagine something serious being wrong with him.

The next step was to schedule an ultrasound and x-ray to see if there was something wrong. This happened the week of my birthday. I sunk into a very deep sadness and grief, imagining the worst. It was breaking my heart and he was all I could think about.

A week later I got the news of the ultrasound and tests. Thankfully it wasn’t cancer. Unfortunately it was pancreatitis. The treatment for that is often steroids and because he has a slight heart murmur, that might not be an option.

The vet felt like his pancreatitis was “mild” enough that we could skip the steroids. She also felt like he might have inflammatory bowel disease. These two illnesses are probably going to be chronic and flare up occasionally. Having a diagnosis is good and I’m glad I spent the money on the tests to find out. It’s better than just assuming it was the worst (cancer) and not enjoying whatever time we have left together dreading the inevitable. I’m hoping that we can manage these illnesses and have a few more years together!