Tuesday, March 20, 2007


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We have 2 cats. The younger of the two, Snickers, seemed like a reasonably well-adjusted, smart creature when we first took her in. She was a frisky, friendly kitten. Somewhere along the line, however she developed significant emotional and psychiatric problems. It started out with a little stranger anxiety. Nothing too unusual - she just started hiding in another room whenever we had company. But that turned out to just be the start.

Three years after we got her, we moved to another state. Being naive cat owners, we didn't give them much thought in our plans. We had professional movers, courtesy of my new employer. They came one day and packed everything up then came back the next day to load the truck. I think that was the beginning of the end for poor Snickers' sanity. She spent the entire time the packers worked cowering under our bed. Which was fine, until it came time for them to pack up the bed. Snickers went tearing down the stairs into the basement, leaving a nice little trail of diarrhea behind her. (Fortunately for the new owners the stairs had been covered with paper by the movers). As if that weren't bad enough, behind her came our other cat, staggering like a drunk from the sedative we'd already given her, licking up the mess like someone had left her a treat.

We had planned that I would leave first, taking both cats with me. B was to come later, after making sure that the truck had been loaded without any problems. The only problem was finding Snickers. After an extended search, we finally located her. She had managed to wedge herself into a very small hole in the ceiling of the laundry room. There was exposed insulation and bare nails sticking out of a board above the hole. By the time I succeeded in dragging her out, I was scratched up both from her claws and the nails, and covered in itchy insulation. I managed to force-feed her a sedative pill, and said a little prayer that it would do the trick for the 6 hour drive I had ahead of me.

It was a pretty interesting drive, to say the least. I had one cat cowering in terror at my feet and the other pacing back and forth from my lap to the back seat while making howling, mournful cat sounds. I wonder what it would have been like without the sedatives?!

The closing for the house we were buying was scheduled for the following day. The kind sellers had offered to let us leave the cats in the new house overnight, since we were staying in a hotel. Seemed like a good idea. I dropped them off and set them up with their necessities. As luck would have it, though, that night there was a terrible thunder storm. If there had been any flicker of hope for poor Snickers' sanity up to that point, I think that quenched it. A night alone in a strange place with terrifying thunder all night was the last straw. When we came to the house after the closing the next day, we found her hiding in our suitcase. For the next 6 months, she refused to leave our closet. She trembled anytime anyone got close to her. She dropped from 9 lbs to 6 because she refused to eat. After those first 6 months, she would occasionally venture out of our bedroom - but only when the house was very still, and always with her hind end dragging on the floor. The moment she saw anything that moved, she darted back into the closet. She had just about adjusted after a couple years there, when, sadly for her, we decided to move again.

We'd learned a few lessons from the first time around and decided to try to make this move a little less traumatic for our feline friends. This time we moved the cats before we packed up and moved the rest of our things. We tried the sedatives again, but they were having none of it. I tried hiding them in treats. They would eat the treat and spit out the pill. Finally I gave up on that, since they hadn't seemed to be much help before. This time, B got to drive the cats, and I would come later with our son. We took the cats to my parents' home, where they lived in the garage until we were settled. They actually seemed to enjoy the arrangement. Snickers adjusted to our new home without quite as many difficulties as she had last time. She still doesn't like to be around anyone unfamiliar; no one who visits our house has ever seen her. She occasionally has issues with continence when she gets anxious (which doesn't take much, unfortunately). And eating is now her favorite coping mechanism. I think she's at least doubled her weight.

All that to say this: I'm pretty certain she would rather die than ever be taken to the vet. The car ride, the strangers, the unfamiliar place - all her least favorite things rolled into one event. Unfortunately, we've recently noticed that she has a problem with her right eye. I thought it was a cataract at first because it looked pretty cloudy some days. Other days it would be orange in color. Finally I noticed that the upper inside part of her iris has a big black spot. The days when her eye is orange, it's bleeding. You can actually watch it run down inside her eye if you catch it at the right time. From what I can tell by Googling "feline eye diseases," I'm pretty sure she has melanoma. Apparently, this is common in cats. The treatment? Enucleation of the eye. Ick!

Since she seems to feel fine, and acts as happy as she ever does, I've decided to let her keep the eye. It's really the humane thing to do. Maybe we'll reconsider if it starts to bother her.

I'm just hoping that she dies peacefully of metastatic disease before this thing totally fungates through her entire eyeball.

1 comment:

julie said...

Your last line made me laugh out loud at work. I don't know why. Maybe all the doctorish terms.

And I have never seen that cat before.