A Man and his cat.
A few weeks ago, I found a lump on her.
When I was 19, I was standing on the patio of my college apartment putting out the garbage, when I heard rustling in the vast weeds that was supposed to be the “garden” that no sane college student would tend to. As I looked a little closer, a tiny kitten walked out. This was going to be my cat.
Growing up we always had a cat in the house. Webster, our Siamese cat, was acquired when I was little, maybe 4 or 5. I don’t remember the exact year of course, but I remember that he was always there. He was the most human cat I’ve ever seen, and if you cradled him in your arms he would touch your face with his paw and lick your cheek. Among other things, he loved sleeping under the covers in the crook of your leg and was incredibly vocal and talkative. And the perfect companion for a kid who needed a friend but many times couldn’t find one.
Kitters, as named, always was my cat even though I had a roommate at the time. I got a litter box, food, got her spayed and shots, declawed (something I deeply regret because I didn’t understand at the time), and she has stayed with me ever since. Multiple apartments, finally a home, multiple tried and failed relationships, depression, anguish, and success has been shared with this animal.
To say she has distaste for others does not even begin to describe it. If someone is sharing the couch with me, she will growl. If I take her to the vet, she bites everyone including me when I try to comfort her. She once took a chunk out of someones hand who tried to pick her up (his mistake). I just warn people ahead of time and if they make the mistake, I can’t say I haven’t warned them.
Despite this anger towards others, she tends to adore my presence and attention. If I am on the couch, she comes to the couch, grunts, I then know if I don’t pick her up she will just stare at me, and for the rest of that time she is in my lap purring. When I go to bed, she sleeps next to me and purrs. And when I get dressed in the morning, she is by my shoes, demanding to rub her belly for a few minutes instead of hurrying off to work.
What I am trying to say, is that me and this animal are inseparable.
A few weeks ago, in her customary position on my lap, I was petting her and noticed a knot on her back. Small, and worrisome given her age (15 give or take a few months) and weight (16lbs of well-earned blubber). I’ve always taken her to the vet periodically, but err on the side of keeping her out of the fear and stress that it puts her through. She can’t make it to the vet without pooping or peeing in her cage. She didn’t react if I touched/pushed on the bump, so I decided to believe it was a fatty deposit or whatever else I could dream up.
A couple nights ago, I could not deny that it had gotten bigger, or had formed a scab without being in a place that she could scratch or create a cut/scab.
Sadness emotions are not ones that I take in stride. They tend to be the deepest emotions that I feel. So when I made the call to get her to the vet two days ago, and proceeded to google signs of cancer, I was confirming my worst fears, that there is a very strong chance of this being what I didn’t want it to be, and I began to cry. Cry, because did I put this off too long? Am I doing everything I can for her? The idea that I could have prevented this unknown possibility is devastating, to have inadvertently hurt something that I love.
The vet could not say, and I will not know for a week. 800$+ later, an angry cat with 1/3 of her hair shaved off and a large suture, I got in my car and I drove home with my growling, confused animal.
I have fought off tears, and not fought off tears, a lot of the last 36 hours. I don’t know what I will find out next week, but I realize at this moment, that this is not my fault. There is no right or wrong answer with your pet, that you do everything that you do because of the love you have for that animal and their companionship. I know this, because 3 hours after I brought her home, still groggy from pain medication but walking back and forth to her food and water, she came to my couch and grunted at me, which is always her signal that she wants to be in my lap. Even in a time that I am sure is painful, I gingerly picked her up and put her in my lap, where she lay and purred, yet, again,for the duration of 5 episodes of the twilight zone, and slept. She was comforted.
I don’t know what the next week will say, what her diagnosis is. I may have this week with her, find out that this is one problem that I can’t solve, and have to put her to sleep. Or I may have a respite and more time for things to be “the same has they always have”. I just don’t know. But I do know that this process has taught me a few things, but none bigger than the importance and gravity of the simple, unconditional love that a person and a pet share.
Kitters’ Diagnosis was malignant cancer, and they gave her a couple months at most.
I let her go on August 17th, 2015.