Sunday, April 1, 2012

One More Time

The second cat we adopted from the local Animal Rescue League had a tail that could bend into seemingly impossible, Dr. Seuss-like shapes. Daphne named him Theo in honor of the children's book author Theodor Seuss Geisel. 

During his first week as a Monson he and Daphne bonded. She was sick, but our other cat Chip was so angry that another feline had joined his ranks, he wasn't going to give her the time of day.  So Daphne went to the back bedroom where the "new" cat was sequestered.
The second she lay down on the spare bed Theo jumped into the crook of her arm, tucked his head under her chin, and purred themselves to sleep. He was quite a comfort, and it was feat he repeated every night afterwards.

Theo's ARL paperwork didn't include a medical history, and during his first veterinary checkup we were informed that he would need medication everyday for the rest of his life. That didn't deter Daphne; she was hooked. For the next eight years he would have to take an oral medication once a day, and further down the road he required two injections of insulin.

Although I administered some of his insulin shots, the bulk of Theo's care fell on Daphne's shoulders. She was the one who kept strict track of his weight, his medicine refills, and his vet visits. Daphne brushed his coat and brushed his teeth. The summer his eardrum broke and Theo decided to stop eating, it was Daphne who sat with him in the bathtub and fed him through a syringe three to four times a day. Each feeding took about an hour, and it was three weeks before he ate on his own. No wonder Theo slept along side her every night. He was her little boy.

And her boy was always sick. Just say "vet", and he would run and hide. The veterinary technicians knew him so well that when one tech, Kim, heard that Theo wasn't doing well she called us on her own time to ask about him. We run into people from the vet's office at the farmer's market, and we chat like old friends. Which I guess we are.

I suppose someone could argue that the money we've spent on our animals' veterinary care could equal the price of a decent used car. But I don't think very many people have a hundred pictures of their used car and their family together:

I'm sure you can see where this email is heading; the use of past tense is a give away. Despite Daphne's best efforts, Theo's cancer and heart disease were beyond her control. Theo stopped eating again, but he continued to gain weight due to the fluid building up inside him.

Last Friday, after school, we took Theo to the vet one more time. It was a one way trip, and we were with him to the end. As my daughter would say, there's one less "kit-ta" in the world. Considering the recent deaths of local children, this is not a tragedy. But it still hurts. That injection may be painless, but it stings for a long time. It's been a week, and Daphne still can't sleep well without her purring buddy.

I've been dreading the subtle changes. The second cat box in the basement will disappear, and the medicine dropper that's been stationed on the ledge of the kitchen sink since 2004 will vanish too. The back of leather chair in the basement won't be dented again, and the closed doors to the storage unit won't rattle in protest. No one is going to trip me while sprinting downstairs to get to fed, and if I leave the door to the deck open for more than 15 seconds I won't have to chase after anyone. There will be less fur on the bed covers, but the bedroom won't feel quite as warm either.

Like the vet bills, I'm not ready to add up all these little removals. There'll be a larger void there than I'd care to admit.

1 comment:

  1. I still miss that little guy...