Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Real Gone Cat is Gone

This might not seem like a music entry, but it will be by the end.

On Saturday night my cat Brisbane left his bowl of Fancy Feast almost full. That sent up a red flag because he lives for that stuff. We usually feed him around 5 p.m., and he starts meowling for it around 2:30. And doesn't let up.

He's been looking pretty scrawny and my wife said that he also threw up pretty bad earlier in the day. The next day he was hiding behind the couch so I decided that, as much as he absolutely despises going to the vet, and how much it breaks my heart to put him in the pet carrier, I had to do it. When he's had check-ups he usually has to have a tranquilzer to calm his nerves, and to ensure that he won't pee in the carrier. I skipped it this time given his condition.

A little background: I have no idea when Brisbane was born. He was a stray cat that used to chase our cat Ivy up a tree, in hopes of getting some action. One summer I began a courting process where I'd take food out to him. I dubbed him Sad Kitty because he looked forlorn and lonely. As much as a cat can be a bastard, he needs to eat. Eventually he became bold enough to jump through the hole in our screen door, come in and have something to eat and then curl up on the floor for a nap. For the first time in my life, I had a pet.

That was 1995.

Ivy passed on in 2003. The next year we got Nina, who liked him a lot more than Ivy ever did. (Ivy tolerated him, but just barely.) Then after a bout with kitty lymphoma, Nina crawled under the basement steps last year and went to sleep.

During one vet visit a year after he was adopted, the doctor took a guess at Brisbane's age. He put it around four or five, judging from the wear on his teeth. This would put him at 17 or 18 in 2009. He hasn't been to the vet since 2003 when he got his teeth cleaned and his canines broke due to age. He's been an indoor cat and he's lived the life he wanted, so I don't feel too guilty about that.

When I took him to the vet on Sunday, I expected to here one of two things: "Yeah, he's pretty broken down, so this might be the end of the line for him," or "He just has __________ and that can probably be treated with a dose of _______."

Instead they wanted to draw blood to see how it looked. Then they wanted to take x-rays. Since they weren't conclusive, they wanted to keep him overnight and do a ultrasound in the morning to get a better idea. That didn't lead to anything conclusive, so they talked about keeping him a few more days and........ and......... and..........[insert sound of a cash register here]

It took a phone call and some time to come to my senses to realize: he's 18 years old. He despises the vet. I'm not with him. He can't take it and I can't take it either. I've been gearing up for this awful moment for a while now. It's time for him to go to sleep.

On Monday night, I fussed over him a little and let him walk around the room. They trimmed his claws, something he never let me do and something I never had to guts to force on him. Maybe his paws felt better. He was shaved underneath and looked scraggly but his head looked sharp as always. I held him as he drifted off. For the first time ever he seemed cool with medical treatment.

He must've known I love when you go out with a joke: After he was asleep, I noticed his tongue was sticking out a little bit. That not sick, you see, because Jennie and I always loved when kitties forget to put their tongue back in after grooming, so I got a final laugh from Brisbane. I'm sad but I'm okay.

In 1997, my band Mystery Date did a song called "Tryst" and the second verse was all about Brisbane:

Never knew where you next meal was coming from
You had to be sure to eat every crumb
On the back porch rolling in the dirt
When I got close to you I could see the hurt
In your eyes

I picked you up and took you inside
You regained some of your pride
In your coat
Then we built up a level of trust
But every once in a while your crust
shows through

Now you've got me wrapped around your paw
Empathy is my fatal flaw
Someday I will learn to say no
To you

1 comment:

Librarian Amy said...

Oh Mike, you've got me in tears. What a good pet owner you are.

There's that saying "let me be the good person my dog thinks I am" but I think with cats, they know the truth about us, and still put up with us anyway.