Friday, March 27, 2015

A Heartfelt Thanks From the "Paws" Crew

We all wish to thank everyone who has left such kind and comforting comments on Patches' passing.

It really means so very much.  There are still some rough days, as we come across the various "firsts" without her, but we know she is running free now, as a kitty should, with no more meds and no more seizures.

We promised to tell Patches' story, and this is as good a time as any.  I turn the keyboard over to Mom.

Signed, Jigsaw Puzzle, Esq.

Patches' Story:

It was 1998, and my current husband and I had been together about a year (though we were not yet married).  In September of that year, my mother died, and I was devastated.  Her death was very sudden, and I was unprepared. Being an only child, Mom and I were very close; she was my best friend.

As the holidays approached, my sweetie suggested we adopt a kitten.  He thought it would help me recover. I have always loved cats, and my first-ever kitty crossed the Bridge when my kids were in junior high school. It was time for a new furry friend.

We already had a dog I had brought with me, but a kitty would complete the family.  Since both of us already had adult children by prior marriages, and had no desire at middle age to start anew, pets were the perfect family to have.  
We arrived at the store that was hosting the rescue agency's adoptive kitties, and we saw this adorable little gray kitten, climbing the cage door.  We asked to see her, and when they opened the cage, she did not let go, and rode the door all the way out!  We were instantly smitten.  What a fun, spunky little kitty!  
The dog, Delila, and new kitten, Patches

And there the "nice" ended.  We were informed that we could not take her home until she had been spayed.  While we are fully on-board with spaying and neutering pets, we protested that we would take care of it, as she was SO tiny.  She was under a pound, and fit in the palm of my husband's hand.  (The veterinary standard is currently 2 pounds/2 months of age.  It used to be 6 months.)  We lost the argument, and were told we could pick her up in 2 days' time, which we did.
Patches' first close-up
It wasn't 2 days after that, that hubby called out to me to "Come, quickly!  Something's wrong with the cat!"  I ran out to the living room to see him holding her, and she'd gone stiff as a board, staring off at nothing.  After a moment, she recovered, and went back to her playful self, but it was not to last.  As the week wore on, she began to have seizures.  Full blown grand-mal seizures. 

We contacted the rescue agency.  They agreed to have the vets who had done the spay surgery look at her.  They did not diagnose epilepsy, and wanted no part of any blame for her condition, instead claiming it was some obscure congenital problem such as a "liver shunt."  We could take her to UC Davis Veterinary College for test and treatment, they said, (at a cost of hundreds of dollars we did not have). They offered to give our money back, and have her put down, but we had already fallen in love with her, and did not see that as a reasonable option. We declined, and took her to our own vet.  They did not much better, and poor Patches continued to have major seizures.  We could not get through a week without her having at least 3!  

The foster family was contacted, and asked if she'd shown any signs of seizures while she was with them.  She had not.  Since I now volunteer with just such a foster organization, I know how the system works.  Such a kitten would be culled as "unadoptable," and put down, not offered for adoption.  So we knew that the problem was with the too-early-too-small spaying:  they'd overdosed her on anesthesia, and caused brain damage, and did not want to admit to this.

In between, she was a playful, silly, normal kitten and we loved her so much.  She made us laugh with her antics.
She used to climb up hubby's back and sit on his head!

Here she is, scrounging for doggy leftovers!
We continued to insist they give her medicine for epilepsy, and it took over a year of arguing with them, (by which point we'd had our wedding), and hubby finally telling them off with, "Look--I had an uncle who had epilepsy.  I know what an epileptic seizure looks like, and this cat has epilepsy!"  Finally, they gave in, and prescribed the medication.  It helped a lot.  We were finally able to have our kitty back, and only a rare breakthrough seizure.

However, the drugs had the side effect of rather turning her into a zombie; she slept most of the time--even more than cats normally sleep.  They killed her playful spirit, and over time, she even forgot how to purr. But she loved to lay in 'sunspots' on the carpet, and sometimes, we'd take her out in the yard with her harness and leash. She had turned into a very beautiful cat, and in her lucid times, rewarded us with blissful expressions when we'd pet and groom her; she had medium-long fur, and it did need brushing, which she seemed to enjoy.

She was some kind of acrobat in her sleep, for she would often be found napping in very strange positions:

Patches "Yoga-napping;"  she is full-grown here
Another year went by, and we thought she might enjoy having another kitty playmate, so we adopted, as a kitten, our big, fluffy, orange Maine Coon mix, Tigger.  He was very playful, and tried to play with Patches, but sadly, her medications had dulled her play instinct to the point she would almost ignore him, unless he bounced right into her face--which he often did--it's how he got his name:  because "..bouncing is what Tiggers do best!"  (From Winnie the Pooh.)

Tigger and Patches, years later
When we moved to where we live now, of course we brought our dear fur friends with us, Delila (Dee-Dee) the dog, and Patches and Tigger.  Sadly, Dee-Dee passed away only a year later.  At that time, though, we had already agreed to adopt two kittens from the lady across the street who'd been taking care of some ferals.  Enter Munchkin and Soot, half-sisters.  Patches needed her meds adjusted, and a second one added, because she was starting to have more break-throughs.  It really threw her into zombie mode.  She rarely did anything but eat and sleep.  She forgot how to play, but she still enjoyed grooming and being petted and loved on.

After another few years, we discovered that cannabis butter controlled her seizures as well as the hard drugs, and did not turn her into a zombie, so that was her medicine for the last 4 years of her life. We had a 'real kitty' back again.  She would walk and walk and walk around and around the house, exploring, and sometimes even taking a swipe at a toy.

Sadly, we had to still give her the 'hard stuff' overnight, as the natural medicine wore off in about 6 hours, and we were asleep longer than that.  Later on, she began to forget where the litter box was, and there were just far too many accidents on the carpet, and we had the devil's own time ridding the house of the smell of cat pee.  It was then that she was "banished" out to the shop/garage, for concrete is much easier to keep clean.  She still got taken out to enjoy the sun every so often, and liked to wander the yard on her leash.

No worries, though; it was a safe, secure place for her to be, as we built it ourselves, and it is a very secure building, with custom-made reinforced barn doors, no windows (for anti-theft security), and central heat and air! With her bed and blankie and food, she was content to roam around the shop just as she had the house, as by that time, she was pretty much ignoring any of the other kitties anyway.  (We now had 7 cats, counting Patches!)  She just marched around, doing her own thing.

She would be visited, fed, petted and loved and groomed all the same.  I felt bad that she had to be out there, but really, it was the best option for her, as she'd gone from ignoring the others to being rather grumpy with them.  And boy, could she swear!  She'd put a sailor to shame!  You should have heard her when she had to have a bath, after having a seizure, during which she often lost bladder control.  You'd have thought we were torturing a small child, the way she complained.

She lived out her last 2 years in the shop, as loved and treasured as she ever was.  But in the last couple of weeks, she went down hill rapidly. The medicines, even the strong ones, stopped working at all, and she was having several seizures a week, sometimes more than one in a day.  On her final day, it all went south.  She would not stop having mini-quakes, and her eyes were glassy and dilated, not properly reactive to bright light.  She stopped responding to petting and chin rubs; she just wasn't "in there" anymore.  It was time.  

I took her outside, and sat with her in my lap in the sun one last time, and told her what a wonderful kitty she was, and how much we loved her,  before it was time for her final appointment at the vet to help her cross the Rainbow Bridge.

(Photo taken about 4 years ago)

 Hubby and I are both very sad.  Even though we dearly love all our other kitties, Patches was special; she was our very first pet we got together.
Thank you for reading her story.


The Island Cats said...

Thank you for sharing Patches story with us. We know it's not easy losing a precious furbaby. Purrs.....

Jans Funny Farm said...

So sorry about Patches. She wss your special kitty.

meowmeowmans said...

We are sad, too, and so sorry for your loss. THANK YOU for loving dear, sweet Patches so very much, and so very well.

Everycat said...

Thank you for sharing sweet Patches story, it's wonderful that you stuck by her and stood up to the apathetic & arrogant vets.

Patches wouldn't have had a good life, or any sort of life if you hadn't been so strong for her.

You are amazing

Mungo, Jet & The Ape xx