Monday, May 09, 2005


Two years ago today was one of the saddest days of my life. Nine years previously, my dear friend Rick brought a stray cat to my apt. (after calling to make sure of course). The stray cat had been hanging out at his apt. complex but everybody in the place who wanted cats already had multiple cats. He had heard that I was looking for a second cat to keep my darling Zapata company as I was never home (as I was out dancing damn near every night). I said that I was going to see how they got along, and would then make up my mind, but I don’t think there was ever any doubt of him staying. Unfortunately, Zapata never took to him and she started her peeing issues (which I always blamed on poor Tikal as I didn't realise Zapata was so highly-strung). That's a whole 'nother story, though.

When I moved back to Detroit, I only had Tikal as Zapata's peeing issues never got resolved (no matter what I freaking tried) and I finally had to put the little sweetie to sleep. That was not a fun day either, because even though she had me stressed out completely as she was constantly peeing on my bed, my clothes, etc, I still loved her. She was my first cat after I dumped the ex-boyfriend, and even though she was mad at me for bringing Tikal into her happy existence, I know she still loved me as she always slept with me.

Anyway, two years ago I noticed that Tikal wasn't eating, but just figured that he had gotten over his special-expensive-prescription-you-can-buy-only-at-the-vet-food. I tried tempting him with tuna, turkey, the canned version of the special food, but no luck. After much too long (not that I think it would have changed anything), I took him to the vet and the vet discovered that he had a tumor under his tongue which had essentially sewn his tongue to the bottom of his mouth and he couldn't move it to scoop food into his mouth. The vet tried to take a biopsy but had trouble as Tikal was in so much pain that he was hissing and just generally not being his sweet self. I think they had to tranquilize my sweet baby (which is a horrible thing if you have never experienced it) and they got the sample. Within the week, the vet called me to say it was malignant (I had just had a cyst in my knee checked out for malignancy and it came back benign and I remember thinking that I wish it had been reversed, as I was certain my knee could have been dealt with a whole more easily than Tikal), and that I should take him to the Michigan Veterinary Specialists on 11 Mile Road. I got an appt. and YS went with me for moral support (although she's an even bigger wuss than I am). The outcome of the appt. was that essentially there was nothing that could be done. Technically, I could start chemo or radiation treatments, but that would have required driving to Lansing every other day or something like that and Tikal was not the best car traveler and would probably cost about $3000 and there were no guarantees that it would help him.

I remember crying and crying and crying and taking Tikal home and deciding to put him to sleep. I was going to give myself the weekend though. I canceled all plans for the weekend (or changed plans, i.e., knitting club was moved to my house) and prepared to spend all day every day with Tikal and made an appt. for Monday with YS's vet.

Friday morning YS came over with a can of tuna just to try to get a little something into my poor skinny baby. He was so hungry that he tried desperately to eat and he ended up tearing his tongue up from the tumor and making it bleed and this caused him much pain as he made a cat pain noise and then ran away. I found him in the sunporch curled up on a blanket and I remember petting him and talking softly to him and telling him how much I loved him and how sorry I was that this had happened to him. I was supposed to go to lunch with my sister and her friend, but I told YS that we needed to change his appt. It was too cruel keeping him alive when he was in such pain and completely unable to eat just because I wanted more time with him. I called and got an appt for that afternoon. YS went to lunch while I stayed home with Tikal, and when she got back, I gathered him in my arms (no carrier for him on that day) and YS drove to the vet while I pointed out the sites to Tikal, and he once again proved to be a brilliant State License Plate game player (the first time he played, we were driving the big ol' Budget rental truck back to Detroit from SF). It's amazing the license plates he saw while sitting on the floor of the truck at YS's feet. ;-)

The funniest story about Tikal was driving back from SF in the truck. He spent most of it on the floor all stressed out by the huge semis ripping past my overweighted truck (I have a book addiction.), but this one time he was sitting up on the seat and looking out the windshield checking things out. As we approached an overpass, I was looking at him, and I saw his eyes get huge and he totally and completely freaking ducked as we passed under it. It was hysterical. The best part was that he learned and the next overpass didn't freak him out. My LB always swore that Tikal was "retarded" because his eyes were a little wider apart that other cats, but this just proves that he was a smart cat. I still think he was the cutest and sweetest cat ever.

The vet was very nice and gave us time in the room to say good-bye and then when we were ready he gave Tikal the tranquilizer and then the muscle relaxer that would stop his heart. The tranquilizer slowed the process so instead of Tikal dying instantly, it was more like he went to sleep while YS and I told him over and over again what a good kitty he was and how much we loved him and petted him and cried. I think the process is a personal choice, whether you want it to be over with instantly or if you want a little more time. My vet in SF told me that it's the same for the pet, but that he found that the tranquilizer approach was easier on the owner.

After the vet, we went to Switched On as we were close by and I think we needed to be around other people. That night YS and Mom went to a concert that I was to attend, but I didn't feel like going out in public. I stayed home and cried and was actually in bed asleep by 8:30. Emotions are truly exhausting, and it was so sad and lonely in my apt. without Tikal there to get underfoot or to crawl under the covers with me.

Within a week, I had two more cats at home, as my apt. was just too sad and empty. I love Boris and Igor, the little darlings, but Tikal will always be the love of my life.


At Tuesday, 27 June, 2006, Anonymous Rick said...

Now you've gone and made me cry at work - my own damn fault, since I knew it was likely when I clicked the link, but still..........

Of course, it reminds me of both cats that I've been with when they were put to sleep: my Copernicus (who will always be the love of my life, the first cat I had from kitten to the end), and Leslie's grumpy, nasty Kitty. Kitty never got along with my cat, and was one of those cats who doesn't like to be touched beyond the head - she'd take a swing at you at the drop of a hat. Still, I tried to like her, and I think she eventually warmed to me a little.

She was already like 18 when I met Leslie, and about 2 years later she developed a swelling in the corner of her eye. Leslie took her in, only to discover it was a tumor. A couple weeks later, as our marriage was grinding to its inevitable conclusion, Kitty woke up in the middle of the night crying, and we knew it was time. We took her to the vet the next day, and buried her in the woods behind our apartment complex.

Delia and I have had a couple of scares recently with our furry companions - Monkey (mine) had an episode a few weeks ago when she just couldn't keep anything down one evening, not even water. I went to bed worried about her, only to wake up to a perfectly normal cat, no problems. Delia's Molly is getting older (about 13 or so), and had been losing weight, so we've had to start feeding her separately morning and evening. We were petting her over the weekend and found a lump in her side, and Delia was able to get her in to see the vet today. Turns out it was just a fluid-filled cyst that drained when the vet tried to get material for a biopsy. So, good news on both, thankfully.

The little buggers can irritate, but we get attached to them, and when they go, they leave a hole. Glad that Tikal was such a good companion for you over the years - he was such a cute, sweet little guy.


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