Wings? I earned- a Rocketship
|Purred: Mon Aug 27, '12 11:31am PST |
|I grew up with pets, so I'm no stranger to losing one. I wouldn't say it's an easy thing to go through, but to me, it's something that's an integral part of the joy of ownership. But this one hit me really hard.
Aiden was a boy who had a lot of problems since he was a kitten. All of them stemming from something being wrong with his mind. He was high anxiety and high stress, and it escalated until I gave up on holistic treatments and had him put on anti-anxiety medications. That helped. But he fought with my girl Kisa. They both despised one another. No amount of reintroduction, positive reinforcement or conditioning would change his mind. And every time he regressed, he reestablished himself as a threat to her.
I tried to rehome him once when he was three. I thought, this cat is one of the most beautiful animals I've ever seen. And he was much younger than Kisa. Someone, I thought, will work for this cat. And with his anxieties, I thought he would be much happier in a new home. But people lied to me about their experience, and he was so very attached to me that I feared it would fail. And fail it did.
When I took him back, I got him a cat condo. He started to live in it from then on. I let him out as often as I could supervise him. I felt guilty doing it, since he was an active and high prey drive Maine Coon. But it worked, and despite his frustrations, he felt very safe in his condo.
But I wanted better for him. I still thought he would be best alone, with his own kingdom to rule over without worry of other animals bothering him. He'd settled loads by the time he was five. I thought, perhaps he could make it this time. As sad as I was not to have him around, I wanted him to be happy and active again. Not just given little exercises and then left to sleep in his hammock.
It took a few months. But an older lady contacted me. She did TNR for ferals, so his fearful aggression wouldn't scare her. She'd raised and helped cats a long time. Her vet reference was real. She wanted a cat of her own and loved Maine Coons.
I sent her giant e-mails outlining his problems. Since I'd started looking again, he'd had some UTI problems that were fairly severe. But I'd gotten it under control and found out that his meds made him more UTI prone. I put him permanently on Royal Canin after he still presented crystals on even Wellness. I told her all of it. Outlined how to feed him and grind his medicine up with wet food so he would eat it. She had a giant, walk in cage he could live in until he settled. It sounded like the best bet for him to transition and learn to trust someone other than me.
I met her at a cat rescue event she was covering for a friend in. I felt good about it. She was an older lady and seemed lonely. She thought he was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. I told her repeatedly that I thought he was overly attached to me. That if it didn't work, I would take him back. To please give him back if things just don't work out. I told her signs to look for to see if he started having another UTI problem. Outlined his behaviors and she just reassured me that she'd worked with cats for so long. She would definitely do as I said.
A month later, she responded to my e-mail inquiry. He was letting her pet him. She wasn't feeling that well. He was taking his medicines and she was giving him time.
A month after that, she didn't respond to my next inquiry. For a while, I wondered if she was just busy. She wasn't very computer savvy. A few weeks later, I sent her a text, but it went unanswered. I started to wonder if perhaps something had happened to her. I started to worry that he could end up in a shelter. She was a county away and it wasn't very plausible to try and check the pounds. I hadn't pushed for her address, thinking that phone and e-mail were enough for contact when she seemed to legitimate.
I was checking craigslist every day. I had shelters in a 200 mile radius e-mailing me every day and had set up lost ads with three cities in the area. I finally e-mailed her two weeks ago, three months after she'd received him, begging just to tell me if something had happened. Telling her I was spending so much time trying to find him. That I was so worried.
And Saturday morning, she finally answered me. Rather than work with me through his transition. Rather than ask me questions, as I had insisted. She claimed she hadn't wanted to upset me. She was only responding now because of how insistent I had been. She hadn't answered my calls because she had lost her job and couldn't pay for more phone time. Her computer had broken down and she couldn't afford to get it fixed.
He'd never settled. Never ate much, didn't drink much. He liked his cage well enough, but remained fearful while he was there. She'd tried every way she knew to entice him, and had conferred with her friends about ways to try and help him. There was something wrong with him, she told me, as if I hadn't spent weeks outlining everything about his mental health.
He'd lost weight, she said, but still, she didn't want to upset me. Eventually he stopped eating. She tried to entice him. Force fed him. Got him to take bits of baby food, but couldn't take him to the vet with no job. And still, she never contacted me. Her friends told her to try Rescue Remedy, and she was afraid that it would react with his anxiety meds, so she took him off of it. I could have told her that it had no ill effect to use them both at once. I could have told her it didn't really help him.
Eventually, he started hiding under cabinets. Would act like a feral animal when she tried to remove him. He's in pain, I could have told her. This is what he does when he hurts. And still, she didn't contact me. She knew about cats, she told me in this e-mail. She did everything that you can do. But she didn't take him even to get euthanized.
When she hadn't contacted me in so long, I knew he probably wasn't alive. But, I thought, this person knows what to do with cats. Perhaps she'd had to have him put to sleep, and she's too upset to tell me.
She found him dead one day, and buried him. She loved him while she had him, she says. All I can remember when I think of it, is when I picked him up from that lady when he was three. Who had lied about her experience with cats and had become afraid of his fear aggression. When he'd heard my voice, he'd meowed so hopeful. He'd come out from hiding and had curled in my arms. This, she'd said, is a completely different animal. She was amazed.
And here was someone who I had trusted because of their work with rescues. Please contact me, I'd told them. I'm giving him this last chance, but I'll keep him for the rest of his life if he can't be happy without me. She did everything for him but give up and let me help. I would have paid for the calls, I told her in the e-mail reply. You could have dropped him at the pound like a stray and sent a single text, telling me where he was. I would have driven to take him home.
But she didn't let me do that. She can't seem to figure out, for all her experience, what went wrong. I saw her e-mail and could map it out like a horror film. Without enough water, his urine would have concentrated. Without his medications, his stress would have risen. When his Royal Canin ran out, the crystals would have started to form. He hid when his UTI got bad. He died when he blocked.
I knew he was probably dead when she stopped contacting me. I didn't know she, someone who worked to help and rescue cats, would have let him die so horrendously. I abandoned him to die in fear and agony.
The night before she finally responded, I found a little stray mom in the neighborhood who had two kittens. She used to have three, according to the neighbors who have simply been feeding her and leaving her to stray. I took them in, as I always do, and now I feel so disillusioned. How will I find homes for these little babies? When the people who seem so genuine turn out to be so horrible? My sister used to rescue kittens the way I do. Now, she says, if she sees them she runs the other way. Now, I think, I understand why. And that's a terrible understanding.
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