Having a life in your hands is a heavy responsibility.
I currently have 6 cats. That’s 6 lives I have vowed to care for, to feed, to love, to give the best care possible. I love each of them. They each have different personalities. Some days, I love some personalities more than others. And some days, I wonder how I got here. How did I become a caretaker for so many lives? Am I good enough for this? Am I doing everything right?
My cat, Alexandra the Great, has been with me for 18 years. I got her when she was a kitten. She was just a tiny thing. She fit into the palm of my hand. I would often put her under my shirt to keep her tiny body warm. She was so small and delicate. I worried about breaking her. I had never had a cat before. We bonded and she quickly taught me how to be a good human companion. She and I moved to TN from KY together about 2 months after I got her. I remember just the two of us in a small 1 bedroom, 500 sq ft apartment. She would lay across my neck and purr at night. I knew, when she was purring, that all was right with the world. A lot has changed since those days. We now have a 3 bedroom, 2000 sq ft house with another human and lots of other cats.
She has always had a very intense personality. She doesn’t take anything lightly. She will tell you if she doesn’t like you. Even if she does like you, she’ll still give you a hiss or two. When the other cats started to come live with us, she was not happy. She started to just keep to herself and I think she spent a good year living in a closet. When she was 12, I noticed she was limping. I thought she was getting a little arthritis. It happens to the best of us as we age. I had her X-rayed, though, just in case. She had bone spurs on both of her back hips. Likely, had them since she was a kitten. I was told there wasn’t much to do about it. There were a few medications available, but they were mostly for dogs. And had been known to cause liver failure. So, I set out to find an alternative treatment. I was looking for a vet who did acupuncture. Instead, I found a chiropractic vet. She is also a Reiki Master. She gave Alex a quality of life that I would have never imagined. The regular vet felt like Alex would go downhill fast and be unable to walk within a few years. But once she started going to the holistic vet, she started becoming much more active. She would run up and down the stairs. She was even friendlier. And by friendlier, I mean only a tad less likely to tear your face off if you got too close. She tolerated the other cats much better, as well. She would wake me up playing in the middle of the night.
Then 4 years ago, she started doing a weird head bobbing thing. It was like a seizure almost. And her eyes would dilated. She would stagger badly when she walked. So, she went to the see the regular vet. At that time, I was told she likely had a brain tumor of some sort. She would get worse and maybe last six more months. They gave me some Prednisone to stabilize her. As gently as he could, the vet told me what would happen. She would start losing muscle function. She would stop being able to stand at all. She would stop eating. Then she would lose control her bowels and bladder. I did not want that to happen to her. I thought about doing it then. But I decided to give it a few weeks. Just to see how she did. Well, she’s still here. 4 years later. She stopped the staggered walking and the head bobbing within a week. And that was that.
But now, she’s taken a turn for the worst. She stopped eating yesterday. I have managed to get some food down her, but not much. She’s a stubborn cat. She’s been on death’s door before and managed to climb out of it. I don’t know if she can this time. There are those who say, “It’s time. She’s old.” But I don’t think she’s ready. I know she will tell me when she is. My last cat did. She made it very clear that she was ready to move on. And it’s not just about me letting her go. It’s also about her letting go.
Update: After much deliberation and tears, I took her to the vet. She was put on Sub Q fluids, as she was very dehydrated. We had the blood work done for diabetes, kidney and liver function. I thought for sure those would be out of whack and this was the end. But no, everything was perfectly in line. So, the vet thinks that is her thyroid. They think she might have hyperthyroidism. It’s an easy treatment, if that is the case. She’s been at the vet’s since yesterday (Saturday) and will stay until Monday afternoon. We went to visit her this morning and the techs were letting her run around like she owned the place. She’s been eating and drinking copious amounts of water. I know she feels better because she was hissing at everybody she got near.