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Sunday, December 07, 2008


My cat has returned to where I found her this afternoon prior to a vet trip.

Sometime this year, she picked up fleas. I'm not entirely sure how, as she never goes outside, but discovering the cause would be somewhat academic at this point.

I tried my hand at the usual methods. Got a flea collar, but that just seemed to make her smell funny, and didn't offer any real help. Got some over-the-counter flea drop things (to put behind her neck, just like the prescription alternatives), made her kind of sullen and didn't seem to affect any scratching. Gave her a bath in warm water and a little baby shampoo.

After discovering a lump on her side the other night, I decided that it was well past time for her to see a vet. The lump concerned me, and I figured I'd ask about the fleas while I was there.

Remember that cat freak out I documented a few weeks ago?

Seems like we found the cause: If you go carefully looking deep under the fur, her entire back (or at least a strip closely following the spine) is basically an open sore. This goes a long way toward explaining why she didn't like her back getting scratched, much less touched. The vet thinks she was allergic to the over-the-counter stuff, which caused this reaction. I currently feel crappy for not only missing the symptom, but potentially having caused it.

As for the lump, I was able to locate it (seemed a bit smaller than the other night), and the vet poked and prodded it a bit. Made a few jokes of "Hm. This shouldn't be here", to which he laughed, but he wanted to take a sample from it to send to the lab. So, he took the cat off to shave off a little fur, stick a needle into it, hopefully get a few cells to be put onto a slide and get sent away for analysis.

I sat in the exam room thinking about how the tiny rooms with the sliding glass doors separating them from the hallway made me want to say "Hello, Clarice" as anyone walked by.

Vet comes back, sans cat, but a little vial in one hand. Explains that he was expecting it to be a solid mass, but instead, they were able to extract the fluid. Said there was enough blood in it to be red, but not enough to clot. I think I surprised him for even being able to pronounce the word "platelet", but whatever. Offered a couple thoughts, suggested the possibility of cancer, said they'd get lab results in a few days.

Paid the bill and got out of there.

This is probably one of the most personal things I'll ever post on here, and it's done (hopefully) not out of self-indulgence, but providing some context to my conundrum:
Years ago, I was dating a girl. Started out well, ended up living together, but it eventually grew into something unhealthy, where there was an unfortunate match between my cycle of believing anyone close to me would eventually leave, and her cycle of seeking out the next form of short-term gratification. I don't mean to sound harsh about it: she was in a place in her life that what made her feel better at the moment was important to her. Powers more prescient than I could say who was right and who was wrong at any given moment in that history...it's a different story for a different time.

But in 2003 or so, she got wrapped up in how much she missed her old cat (which had unfortunately perished due to disease after she'd left home) and became very interested in having a new cat. Me, I was trying to figure out where life would go, and pushed it off for a while. But, the cycles were what they were, and her pouting and my fear intersected in such a way that we ended up with a cat. (I'll save you the details about having to wait a week for one from the animal shelter vs. getting one that cost way too much that day from some pet store. Let's just leave it that I have regrets.)

So now we had a cat. I'd take it to the vet when something was wrong. I bought food for it. I cleaned out its litter box. She'd buy toys for it. She'd complain that the cat had no interest in the little outfit that she bought it for christmas. She was out of state when I got it spayed, and it was the only time the cat ever curled up next to me at night. I figure it was because it was stressed. The girl just got mad hearing that. Whatever.

At some point, the girl and I split. Whether it was because she'd come to realize that whatever was between us had grown unhealthy, or if it was because I was becoming less willing to feed whatever cycle she was in, I don't know. Probably never will.

But her parting thoughts on the cat were: "You'd better keep her. You'd take better care of her than I can." My only retort was "Ok, then." (which seemed better at the time than lashing out with something like "Goddamn right I'd take better care of her, you something something whatever whatever!" (replace "something" and "whatever" as you see fit.)

I've only talked to her a couple times since, and I think she got pretty mad at me when I told her that I'd revoked the cat's name. It might've been a bit immature, but when the only question that a person that had once been very important to me was "How's the cat?", well, childish or not, the cat keeping the name she'd given it just wasn't up on my list of priorities. I still use it for the vets, just because it'd make cross-referencing records easier, but other than that, it's not like the cat ever answered to it anyhow.

So there you go, context. Now for the conundrum.

I should say upfront that for the most part, it's a pretty good cat. Yeah, it hacks up hairballs now and again, and I complain about it being a freeloader (I pay extra rent to keep it here, as well as it never earning its room and board).

But to be honest, this was never a pet I wanted, just one I became responsible for. I'm sure you could make all sorts of unplanned pregnancy allegories, but this isn't my child, so don't go there.

I like the cat, but I wouldn't give my life for it, you know?

So with this overhanging possibility that the cat is sick, would euthanasia ever fit in? I wouldn't want to see it suffering needlessly, but I know I'd feel guilty that there was some possibility I was taking the easy way out. Should I give that girl from my past a chance to say goodbye if it came to that? Would I put the cat through needless suffering making sure I was absolved from my own guilt that I hadn't done enough?

I know, it's a little silly, but this is what's going through my head.

All over a freakin' cat.


DangerAmy said...

er, um, I got an opinion, not that you asked, it leans towards the what I think is best for you cause I think you are a pretty awesome person area of opinions and so I'm thinking I'll probably just keep it to myself, but I will tell you it has nothing to do with making sure someone else gets consideration over you and how this effects you, and all to do with the fact that I love my cats but would never put them through needless suffering just to make myself feel better, so yea that's me not sharing my opinion cause you didn't really ask for one. HUGS

transiit said...

that health crisis seems to have passed, but I still have the same fears.

I wasn't eager to have a cat. I took responsibility for it because somebody needed to. Now in the grand scheme of things, I'm the only one really looking out for its well-being.

What scares me is that if the cat ever gets sick to the point that putting it to sleep is a serious consideration. I'd not want it to suffer needlessly in any way, same as I wouldn't have it put down because it happened to sneeze once.

I know that it's a hard choice for anyone as it is. I'm scared that if that became the right choice, I might prolong it to be sure that it couldn't be said that I'd taken the opportunity.

I know it sounds horrible. I know it because it makes me feel horrible even thinking of it.