Friday, March 13, 2015

The Story of Me and Thor

Six years ago, I brought Thor home from the Gloucester County Animal Shelter.  It was the result of a month's old search for a replacement for my last cat, an 18-year-old who had eventually succumbed to kidney disease.

The process was arduous.  I had no idea what I was looking for - only that I was looking for a cat who was looking for me. That is to say, I'd know it when I saw it.
When I saw Thor (the name the shelter had given him) he was a 1-to-2 year-old cat, in a cage with a tag, saying that there was no record of how he came to be in the shelter.  Usually, they know.  Allergies, financial problems, or some other reason why the cats are there.  With Thor, no reason.

I picked him out of the group - mostly because of his handsome features - and partly because he kept staring at me, and when the attendants handed him to me, he reached out with his paw and held it to my cheek.  The attendants were dumbfounded. "He's never done that with anyone!" they exclaimed, and when I heard his purring, I knew I had found my cat.

"He's the one," I said, and I proceeded to take on the task of bringing him home. I figured it would be a short process, but as it turned out, it would take almost 3 days. Each night, I slept thinking about Thor in his cage, and how he should be "home" with me instead of in that PetsMart store. After two days, I called the shelter asking about my adoption process.
They responded incredulously, saying that they were making an exception in my case, and my persistence was leading them to let Thor go home with me a day earlier than they had planned.  "Good for him," I thought.

They gave me a gaggle of paperwork, prompting me to introduce him slowly to his new home. It included locking him in a room for 3 days so that he would "get used to his new surroundings." I knew enough about cats to know that I wasn't going to make him suffer through that nonsense.  I took him home, opened his carrier and let him roam.  He walked through each of my 7 rooms and settled onto the arm of my sofa - looking over his new Kingdom.  And that was it. Thor was home.

His breath stunk. I took to calling him "Mister Stinky." We came to find out that he had gingivitis, which made his breath stink and would require him to have his teeth cleaned. The cleaning made his teeth fall out, to the extent that he died on the operating table and had to be revived.  While spending the night at the hospital, the vet was locking up and noticed that he was lying in a pool of his own blood. She put him back on the table and re-closed his wounds. I could have taken him home that night, but I decided to let him stay with the vet on more night. That extra night saved his life. I can't imagine what would have happened if I had taken him home and he bled all over my bed.

He was much happier without teeth, but who could have known?  He had a healthy couple of years  before his innards would rebel.

In less than a year he went from 14 pounds to 20, which got me to put him on a weight-loss diet food.  In a year, he went back to a svelte 15 pounds, leading the vet to say that he was "The poster-boy for the weight-loss food." One hurdle.

The next hurdle was pancreatitis, which made him stop eating because of the distress.  That ailment led to an Ultrasound that revealed smaller-than-normal kidneys, which set the medical process in motion.

His small kidneys were the reason he urinates so often, and goes through water quickly. They fill-up quickly, and the voiding leaves him dehydrated.  That means that I have to administer sub-q fluids twice a week to keep him hydrated. It's a needle in his neck attached to a fluid bag that hangs from a camera tripod over his head.

The most recent issue is his cholesterol and triglycerides.  His cholesterol is 865 and his triglycerides are over 1100. Both of those numbers are off the charts - which goes to figure for him.  The vet has no medication for feline cholesterol because, "We just don't see it." Of course not - it's Thor. The feline clinic.

Not to mention that his urine shows that he is losing protein and could lead to edema. That means that he will be prescribed Benazepril - which is a human drug that works for cats with this issue.  In addition, he'll need to eat a special prescription diet for cats with coronary issues.  Science Diet g/d, which will cost $80 a month.

So, here I am, with this beautiful cat - so big, yet so fragile - with innards who are resisting his outer strength.
And yet, it is up to me - his companion - to care for this beautiful animal who cannot care for himself. I think that's the idea -- to care for my precious companion. It's how it is supposed to work.

I don't know what else could happen to him. No teeth, small kidneys, bad pancreas, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, losing protein through his urine, and fluids shutting down ...

... Yet he seems happy.  As the Vet said, "He doesn't know how sick he is." That is true, only I know - and you.

He is happy because I make him happy.  And that makes me happy.  In the end, I don't know if he would still be alive if it were not for me.

And, I don't know if I would still be alive it it were not for him.

We are in this together.

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