Search Lobsterland

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Jello RIP

I didn't do a very good job taking my farewell photo of Jello. The rule with shallow depth of field portraiture is get the eyes in focus, and I got his shoulders pretty tack sharp, not so much the eyes.

I only had this cat for fifteen months or so, but he went to the vet enough for fifteen years. I knew when I got him that he'd been hit by a car and patched up—I just didn't know that the patch was so dodgy. He was really prone to intestinal blockages, and had to go in to be professionally dug out under anesthesia a few times. In between, we tried different special diets, laxatives, and so on.

It probably didn't help that he was such a mighty hunter. He caught several mice the first day he was here and we never saw sign of such rodents again. I'd say that was a job well done, but he decided to look farther afield. Moles weren't really a surprise, nor were the occasional field mice we found on the porch, but Jello was a master at killing squirrels.

I've never told someone this and had them say, "Yeah, cats do that all the time." The usual reaction, including from the vet was skepticism.

I worried with the first one that he'd gotten a sick squirrel, one that was somehow feeble and unable to outrun and out-climb a kitty. But by the fifth carcass it was pretty obvious that Jello had their number. He even caught one just a day or two before his last trip to the vet. He was too stopped up to eat the squirrel, but he dragged it up on the porch to show it off.

The vet had some possible options, and I went in still in denial, thinking that there'd be some miracle fix for him. But I knew. The two options outside euthanasia were either removing his colon, which the vet said had about a 20% chance of fixing the problem long-term (after three months or so of diarrhea), or re-breaking his hips and rearranging them. The latter was a longer recovery, more invasive, but the vet thought there was a 50/50 shot with that approach.

I guess another option was keep having the cat in to the vet for 'dig outs,' but he'd really been through the mill on that one already and it was starting to get expensive to boot. Corinna asked about doing the dig out at home, giving the cat enemas and whatnot, and the vet was pretty skeptical even if she has experience as an animal groomer. There's not an anesthetic we could take home that would be sufficient in his view.

I bawled uncontrollably after making the decision. Corinna actually handled the paperwork because I wasn't very together. She picked home burial rather than pay $45 for cremation, ever the frugal and thrifty woman. Said she'd deal with it when I said I didn't want to try and dig up the frozen earth to save less than fifty bucks. I even briefly toyed with the idea of a home cremation, just build a big fire in the base of my smoker and put his body on top when it was good and going—until I pictured taking the lifeless body of my buddy and watching it burn up. I kind of insisted on paying the $45 in the end, especially when I realized that she meant to 'deal with it' in the morning, meaning we'd have to keep a dead cat somewhere around the house for twelve hours or so without the dogs finding an interesting new chew toy.

His brother Zippy has looked for him some, I think. They were pretty attached, adopted as a set because they were buddies over at the Humane Society, sleeping together and wrestling a lot. I'll probably go get another cat from there in the fullness of time, so Zippy won't be perpetually outnumbered by dogs, and because I'm a cat person at heart. I really enjoy them. With a little luck it'll be a cat he wrestles with and pals around with like Jello was, though I don't have any illusions, I know cats will do what cats will do—probably part of why I am a cat person, they're instinctive anarchists like me.

The name Jello, for the record, was a tribute to the singer of the greatest punk band of all time, Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys. I named him this in part because he was aggravatingly smart (the cat liked to turn on the water to get a drink when I got him, but he wasn't into turning it back off), independent and had an attitude. Altogether more flattering than his brother's name, Zippy, which came from a certain newspaper comic strip...

No comments: