I’ve owned four cats in my adult life, and have developed a reputation with my vet. I feel like my cat carrier should display a plaque with these words from The New Colossus,
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Our first cat, Neko, was two when we adopted her. She was a skinny wisp of a thing who loved to fetch.
When she was ten she was diagnosed with diabetes. She was wasting away to nothing and we took her to the vet. Only two shots of insulin a day would keep her fit and healthy the vet assured us, the parents of a newborn baby. Really, the one thing missing from our sleep deprived spit-up stained life was two insulin shots a day. She died of a stroke when she was thirteen after three years of twice daily shots.
We adopted Boo when he was somewhere between five and fifteen years old. He came into our life as a sweet stray who sneaked into my great-aunt’s house and took up dominion under her dining room table. I loved him from the moment we met. When my great-aunt died my mom asked if we would take him, and we brought him home. A few years later, he developed glaucoma. Two pet ophthalmologist and two different opinions later, we opted to not have his eyes surgically removed. He lived out his days blind with great big creepy eyes swelling out of his head. Kidney failure claimed him, somewhere between ten and twenty years old.
After Boo died, but before Neko died, we adopted Hazel. I’ve written about him before, and sadly he passed away this summer. When we adopted Hazel from the shelter he had a bald spot on the top of his head from having a benign growth removed. My husband accused me of taking him home just because of his head wound, and asked if we didn’t want to adopt the three legged cat instead. (To be fair, the three legged cat was in quarantine and I couldn’t adopt him.) Hazel was the sweetest cat I’ve ever owned, and the head wound healed over beautifully, but we only had three years with him before he wasted away from kidney failure, even with a round of dialysis.
After Neko we adopted sweet Katie. A teeny kitten who loved Hazel and who was loved by Hazel. The only creature she loved more was me. I remember, less then fondly, her early days where every night she curled on my chest, waking me numerous times with her tiny disgusting kitten sneezes from the respiratory virus she picked up in the shelter. She still falls asleep every night nestled in my hair bathing my neck and cheek.
Katie desperately misses her best friend Hazel. She was a fostered cat before we adopted her, and I’ve decided that I need to pay it forward and try to foster a few cats before we find a new “forever” cat. I figure I have experience. I can give shots; I can hand feed; I can deal with knowledge that some of the sick kitties may not make it, and hard decisions might have to be made. Today I took Katie to the vet to get her immunizations up to date and make sure she’s healthy before we foster. Turns out she has this cat syndrome which causes her gums to reject her teeth. She’s already lost four adult teeth, at the age of two, and the rest of her teeth are filled with holes. Her gums are red and bleeding, and she is in pain. I have an appointment for next week to have all her teeth removed, the only way to solve this problem.
I love my vet. She and I talked through Katie’s options and agreed that this was the only choice we had. We laughed about my horrible cat health luck, and we bored the vet tech to tears with all the medical woes we’ve been through together. She assured me that I am not her only client that attracts a mix of sweet cats with horrible health. She predicts I’ll make it one round of fostering before I fail and adopt one of the cats. She tried to shorten that cycle by offering me a stray cat that was left outside her clinic last week. I think I’ll hold out for a three-legged cat, or a deaf cat, or whatever foster kitty is the next best friend to Katie, the toothless wonder.