October 31, 2011

My Scariest Halloween Ever

Litter Box. Beach. Whatever!

Kenny isn't impressed with my mouse
October 31, 2010. The front yard was set up like a mini graveyard with homemade Styrofoam tombstones and a giant blow-up black widow spider. A furry brown spider, about the size of a bed pillow, was attached to a clear string and pulled to make it jump as Trick or Treaters walked past it. Often the parents jumped higher than the spider.

Two days before I’d noticed my long-haired tabby, Kenny, wasn’t eating. Kenny always ate, so this was a red flag. I’d lost my older tabby, Moose, to horrible kidney failure a couple years previous. His mouth had been filled with poison, making it impossible for him to eat. So I rushed Kenny to the vet. He was diagnosed with a mouth infection and an overactive thyroid. Tests indicated he had kidney disease, but I was told to have him rechecked again in 1-2 months. And we were sent home.
Moose uses Kenny's butt as a pillow
 That was on a Saturday. The vet clinic closed after noon, and any problems would be addressed by an emergency vet clinic. I monitored Kenny closely for the day, with my instincts screaming that something more was wrong. I wasn’t happy that I’d been sent home without more information. I’m a full-throttled kind of information girl. I keep religious records of every cat, from yearly vaccinations, to abscesses, to what medication they took for sneezing. I know how much they weighed on any given vet visit. What they went in for and what meds were prescribed.

Kenny seemed listless, but he did eat. I decided I wouldn’t wait the 1-2 months for a recheck. I’d take him back when they opened on Monday and demand a more thorough examination.

Halloween night…kids are flocking to our driveway, squealing and jumping with the brown spider. Upstairs, Kenny is bleeding from his urinary tract.

Shaking with fury, I run him to the emergency clinic where they tell me his bladder is the size of a baseball. They inserted a catheter, but he had to be manually expressed. Over the next two days he refused to eat. His kidneys were shutting down, creating blockage.

My regular veterinarian talked to the emergency vet to get answers. She felt as upset as I was that she had not diagnosed the severity of Kenny’s problems. She was told that his kidneys weren’t failing from any diet that I fed him, but rather from toxins his kidneys were producing.

In short, it was just Mother Effing Nature taking him down, without consideration to my feelings, or the fact that Kenny was only eight years old. Too young to die!

On November 3rd I was called in to say goodbye. What upsets me to this day, a year later, is that I never saw this coming. Kenny wasn’t a Drama Queen, like 95% of my other cats. He was a quiet, sweet angel who readily offered to warm my lap. He ate without complaint. He didn’t have aggression issues. He loved to have his whole body shaved in the summertime, and would lie on his back in order for me to shave down his tummy and even his arm pits. I’d sing, ‘Kenny Kenny Coco Pie,’ and he’d run to me, his fluffy tail in the air, ready to hang out with me.

At the clinic, they brought Kenny in to me, and gave us privacy to say goodbye. He had a tube inserted into his urinary tract. He looked fine! That’s was really gets me. He was normal looking. All set to get the hell out of there and go home. He kept nudging me, anxious to get off the table. After ten minutes, I was ready to get this over with. I so wanted to run him out of there with complete denial that it was happening at all.

I’d just lost my beloved snowshoe Siamese, Holly, in April. That she lived to be 18 was beside the point. I was still grieving. And now I was losing Kenny. To say I was roiling angry at myself is putting it lightly. I take my responsibility as their guardian with as much seriousness as any parent would their children. I go without in order to afford their medical care and the best of food, always done with intense research. There is no slacking on my part when it comes to my cats. But sometimes no matter how much you know, how much you care, how much you love, there is nothing you can do to make it all better. Sometimes there are no second chances.

I had Kenny cremated. His urn is a handsome wood block with a brass plate and his photo, the best I’d ever taken of him. I remember the day: sunny and clear. He sat in my lap in the sun room and I took his photo close up. Handsome boy!

My stomach tightens whenever I dust his urn. I tear easily at the thought of him. That’s not a good way to remember someone you loved. You’re supposed to be filled with joy that you had them in your life. But with Kenny, I feel that I let him down. I wish that he had been a Drama Queen, grabbing my attention on a daily or even hourly basis, as some of mine do. I may not have been able to save him, regardless if he’d been closely monitored, but that he was in pain and I didn’t know it will eat away at me forever.

I’m determined that Kenny didn’t die in vain. Now aware that my Drama Queens could distract me from another non-Drama Queen, like Cookie, or Buddy, or Barney, I pay that much closer attention to them so that the unfortunate end of Kenny’s life was a lesson to me, and through my telling of his story, to all who share their lives with multiple pets.

God has the final say on the demise of all of His creatures. For those of us sanctioned with the honor of caring for His creatures, let us honor Him by doing them right.

Love them. Hug them. Feed them good food. Listen to your inner voice warning you something is wrong, and demand answers.
Kenny and his BFF Moose


  1. OMG, I am so sorry. I had something similar with my beloved Monty. He was our baby boy, Mum and I had brought him up on a bottle after he was found on a lady's doorstep at one day old and handed to the vet - who handed him to us to raise. Monty had chronic asthma from 6 months of age. The last two years of his life he didn't have one asthma attack, so when we had terrible humid weather (Down Under) in November last year, and I noticed him heavy breathing when I got home from work at 10pm at night, Mum and presumed it was his asthma, as did the on-call vet I rang. W gge him extra medicine and I sat in the bathroom with him with the steam from the shower, but I could see he was getting worse. Short story - race to the vet and he was full of fluid, badly enough the chest xrays couldn't even show his heart. They gave him lasix to get rid of the fluid but it was too late and fluid started pouring from hsi mouth and he was panicking. I knew he was drowning and the vet agreed, and he was put to sleep in my arms. I drove home at 1 in the morning with my baby in the basket in the seat beside me, to break the news to Mum. He was only 9 years old. He's resting in the back garden now. BUT - there was no sign all day or at any time of any heart condition. The vet told me that cats are very good at compenstating when they're unwell, and by the time you realise something is wrong, it's often too late. That same weekend, a dog died of the same condition as Monty. It's possible Monty may have had a heart codnition, everything pointed to congestive cardiac failure, but only a autopsy wouldn have proven it, and no way was I going to do that. My vet did say that bad weather conditions such as those we had can hasten health problems.

    take heart, Kim. Soemtimes cats just hide problems so well that you don't know until it is too late, but that doesn't make you any less loving or alert to illnesses. *hugs* I feel your pain. But know that you'll see your beloved kitty again one day.

  2. We are blessed to have our furry kids - We do whatever we can to protect them and make sure they are living a wonderpurr life. But we can't blame ourselves - ultimately, we are only their guardians, they answer to a higher power as do we.
    He put in our hearts the desire to help his furry ones & to speak for those who have no voice

  3. Anonymous12:51 PM

    Kim, I am so sorry. It's awful to lose a creature too young.

    I lost Lou's predecessor at the age of 4 yrs., due to complications suffered after he ate an earring.
    I was heartbroken.
    I still miss him sometimes. He was a great cat.