It always amazes me how attached we get to animals…while we use them mostly for food, we still end up becoming extraordinarily attached when it comes to our pets. And early this morning we lost our little buddy. His name was J.B., which contrary to those who believe it had something to do with Jim Beam, was short for “Jungle Beast,” front part “Fierce.” He received that name, if I remember correctly, the first time he ran in terror from a spider in the bathroom.
Little sucker was, at least seemingly, fine until last Monday. While he did have a bout of something last month that resolved quickly, he’d been “normal” (assuming that word can ever be used about a cat) until then. Granted, he didn’t chase Martians as often as he used to, but then he was getting up there, and like me not quite as active as he was a decade ago. More, including the obligatory photos, after the jump.
Last Sunday, he seemed perfectly fine. 10:30 pm or so he started his nightly ritual, following me around screaming for his dinner (it was the convention that he got his wet food feeding at 11:00pm – he had all the dry he wanted in his bowl all day, and frankly he snacked on cat treats and human mealtime donations all day long). Monday morning, he seemed tired and stayed in bed longer than usual – ok, let me rephrase, he didn’t get up for his litter-box-and-drink break between naps at his usual time. He burrowed himself under the covers of our bed (his routine was to sleep on top of the covers), and by Monday evening I was wondering why he didn’t get out. By 11:00 pm Monday, I was becoming concerned, and by 12:30 am Tuesday morning when we still didn’t hear anything from him about dinner, I was flat-out worried.
Tuesday morning he went to the vet’s; had a fever, was listless, a bit dehydrated, a staggering gait, and low blood sugar, so they decided to keep him overnight with some hydration and antibiotics. Since they were managing him, I was able to go down to Washington D.C., although it was a little odd not to be bugged at 11 for dinner.
Wednesday, we received a call from the vet telling us he had taken a turn for the worse; he was not regulating his temperature, and even with a glucose IV his blood sugar levels were low. Last evening, after Katie came home from school, we went up to visit him and discuss his condition with the doctor…it was painfully clear to me that he wasn’t going to get over this one, and the physicians were actually a little confused as to what would cause the low temperature (around 95-degrees with a heating pad) and the low blood sugar (as a non-medical-professional, I can’t figure out where the energy produced by the breakdown of sugar was going, since it clearly wasn’t to movement or temperature regulation).
After consulting with the physician, the three of us, and yes, “we” included Katie since J.B. was her “older brother,” decided to bring him home and make him comfortable for whatever time he had left. We planted him in bed under the heated blanket, on top of a small heating pad set very low and “blue pads” all around; we were able to raise his core temp to 101-102 between the heating blanket and our body heat. We made a makeshift mount for his IV bag above the bed, and ended up using diapers to keep him comfortable (he would become agitated when his bladder let go…little guy hated having his fur wet, and being on his death-bed didn’t mean he was going to put up with that).
He slept fitfully between us, and early this morning, started to moan softly and have difficulty breathing. Annie and I stroked him gently, as his body shuddered with a mild seizure, and then his breathing slowed, and stopped.
I’m not sure what I think about all this; I mean, of course, I’m sad that my little buddy is gone, and I’m even sad I won’t be annoyed by his constant crying in the evenings for his dinner. But on the other hand, he lived a good long life (outliving his siblings, at least those I know about), and was pretty healthy until the last three days of his life…even then, he didn’t seem to be in much pain, and he didn’t need to die alone in a sterile veterinary hospital with a water bottle his only comfort. Not that I’m a big fan of dying, understand, but if I could choose a way to die, this doesn’t seem the worst choice one could make.
Still, he was a knucklehead who could infuriate or amuse, depending on his mood (and mine), and I am going to miss him terribly. A few photos – as always, click the thumbnail for a larger version…[gallery:6]
If I can find it, I’ll edit this post with the first photo of J.B. we ever took…his six-week-old flea dip. Poor thing looked like a drowned rat, and I’m pretty sure he decided then and there he had been kidnapped by a couple of morons who didn’t know better than to wet a cat…
Edit: My desire for accuracy in all things requires me to point out that the analog picture to which I refer above is not the first photo I took of J.B. When we drove to Ohio to pick him up (it is a long story I will cheerfully explain sometime, when I tell the backstory of Pixel), I took photographs of the four brothers playing in a large kennel, and running around on Rebecca’s floor. Those were the first pics, the ones at home were the following day.