It seems strange to walk past Mo’s room and for her not to be there, glaring at us. It feels strange to only feed two cats, not three. We miss Mo.
We adopted Mo June 9, 2015, she died on Dec 6, 2017. She was with us for two and half years.
In May 2015, an acquaintance put an announcement on Facebook that he needed to find a home for his then 12 year old female cat, Mo.
After much asking around, it appeared that Mo was not about to be adopted. Fearing that some animal abuser might find her on Kijiji (where her owner had also listed her), we decided that we would take her in ourselves.
So, the Mo adventure began on June 9, 2015.
The first meeting between Mo and the other pets went so so. Taffy hissed and glared; Gandalf sat around enigmatically and Tess just gave Mo a few cursory looks, then basically ignored her.
We gave Mo the spare room and gated the room so that the household animals could get used to her smell and she could get used to theirs.
After a few weeks we noticed they were relaxing around each other, so we let Mo have the run of the house. She made a few tentative excursions around the upper floor, and eventually got bolder, and came downstairs. She never stayed out of her room for long.
Mo had a nasty nail infection when she came to us — her nails had not been cut for who knows how long, and the front ones had grown right into her pads. The smell from the infection was gross. Once this had been attended to by the vet, Mo seemed a little more comfortable, although she favoured the bad foot for several months.
Treats and Tricks!
Mo was very treat responsive. She quickly learned that before bed, while prepping their late night snack, I would hand out treats to Gandalf. Gandalf would hop up on the stool beside the sink, then sit up on his hind end to get a treat.
Mo followed him down one night, and watched the process. The next night, she approached me and meowed meaningfully. I held the treat over her head and told her to sit up. she glared and snatched the treat without sitting up. The third night, Mo sat up as requested and took the treat.
Gandalf eventually learned to scoop his treats out of a small container. Mo watched this also and quickly learned to reach in a paw and scoop out the treats.
Don’t You Touch Me, I’m Not Into That…
We learned very fast that Mo did not like being picked up, brushed or handled in any manner. She was very quick to slash ones hand if it was close enough, and would retreat hissing and growling. This made us wonder about the glowing description given by her former owner “Mo is a very friendly and sociable cat” he said. Hmmmmm. I think not. Certainly not with us.
The first year passed and Mo was slightly less unpleasant, but never allowed physical contact. She did however, under the cover of night, sneak up on the bed and snuggle up to Bruce. Not for long. But we took this as a good sign. Progress was being made, but at her own pace.
First Signs of Trouble
We took Mo to the vet in late summer of 2016 for the senior cat blood and urine tests they like to do on older cats. It turned out she had a really nasty bladder infection. For the next year we had her in and out of the vet trying various remedies for the infection. It refused to be treated. Additionally, Mo took really bad reactions to all the medications for the infection, and eventually we gave up. It seemed that the “cure” was worse than the disease.
The vet figured she had been suffering with it for a very long time, probably from before we got her.
Mo hated being crated for the trip and would let out non-stop bloodcurdling yowls all the way. They soon got to recognize her voice from outside the clinic. As we walked across the parking lot to the clinic, people would give us dirty looks. No doubt convinced we were hurting Mo.
Mo never really relinquished her room. One would walk past and she would be either in the window or on the couch, or hidden under the blanket on the couch.
Sometimes when we walked past, she would look up and give an ostensibly friendly meow, but if one went in to pat her, out came the claws. She would however, sometimes encourage and permit one to sit at the other end of the couch and just keep her company. At those times she remained at her end of the couch and the tone of her purring would change from defensive to contented.
We had to take her to the vet to get her claws trimmed, since any attempt on our part was met with complete rage, full claws and teeth!
When she arrived, her fur was really messy, probably from hanging about in the dusty walls of the recording studio where she had been taken to live temporarily by her former owner. She really needed to be groomed. This however was a suicide mission, since she did not wish to be touched.
She had a love hate relationship with the grooming tools. On the one hand, it felt good to have her fur brushed and smoothed, on the other hand she seemed to feel the tools and ones hands were attacking her. She quickly learned that the wire brush was great to rub against her cheeks. she would snatch the tool away from me and do her own face rubbing, complaining the while.
Shoes fascinated her. She would check out my shoes with minute interest if I was in her room.
Breaking Down Barriers
Occasionally, if I sat on the couch she would meow, purr and growl simultaneously and rush over to me and throw herself across my knees. If I left her alone, she would stay there for as long as 5 minutes, complaining soto voce the whole time.
If I tried to brush her or pat her, she would tolerate it for about one minute, then let out a furious growl and an explosive hiss — and rush back to her end of the couch. Eyes aglowing and this really scary half purr half growl coming out of her. I’m not sure what that was about.
She did that the last day. She lay across my knees for a long time, just purring and meow-growling at me but staying put. Then just as suddenly lurched up and retreated to her end of the couch, complaining.
The Catnip Kitty!
Mo loved catnip. However, she was what we called the badass stoner. She would know if catnip was anywhere in the house. Once she laid her paws on it, look out! Anyone approaching her after catnip could rest assured of a slap or a bite. It seemed to bring out her aggressions.
The last there weeks of her life she had developed a nasty, hard lump on one of her back ankles. It was clearly very painful and she was limping heavily. After some tests, they were unable to determine what it was. They tried treating her with anti-inflammatories and antibiotics and strong painkillers. It didn’t seem to get worse, but was no better. The only thing left to do would be to insert a needle into the lump and draw out a couple of samples. That would be excruciatingly painful for her and might or might not reveal whether the lump was malignant. The lump could not be removed surgically until it was determined if it was malignant. If the lump were to show malignancy, cutting into it to remove it might cause quick spread of the cells. They would possibly have to amputate her foot.There were just too many negative possibilities.
We didn’t like the options. Here was a fourteen and a half year old cat, with serious health issues and now an additional problem, which was most likely cancerous.
Mo basically helped us to make the final decision.
Her last morning she not only didn’t want to move off the couch to eat ( I had been bringing her food to her on the couch for a few days), but she also didn’t seem to want to eat.
I sat beside her to hold her dish, but even though it was laced with kitty junk food to make it smell nice, she barely touched it.
She wanted a drink but since couldn’t put any weight on the foot, I brought her water bowl to her, she took a few sips, and cried unhappily. She most likely really wanted to use her box, but was in too much pain to do so. She cried out every time her sore foot made the slightest contact with anything.
We really didn’t want to do it, but we also didn’t want to drag it out. Mo’s quality of life was in question here.
She protested loudly, as usual when we put her in the cat carrier. When we got to the vet we fed her some cat treats and she gradually calmed down.
We talked briefly to the vet, she just wanted to verify that this was our choice. She agreed that we had run out of viable choices.
While we patted Mo and fed her more treats, the vet gave her a tranquilizer shot, which worked within seconds. Mo’s eyelids began to droop and her chin dropped to the blanket on which she was lying. We continued to talk to her and stroke her, but we were pretty sure she was oblivious. When they came to give her the final shot, she just slipped away peacefully.
R.I.P. Mo, we are glad that you are finally pain-free, and we miss you.