Monday, December 27, 2004

Just a Cat??...

I suppose you might say he was 'just a cat'. But my family would argue and say, no, he was much, much more.

For starters, how many cats are given multiple monikers?
Clyde Arthur Beldin Stripey-Pants Bristle-Whiskers Rumble-Purr Ring-Tailed-Rabble-Rouser Vaughn
He earned every single one.

Clyde was a reformed barn cat. He was rescued by a friend, tested and doctored, and came to live with us in September 2002. Though he was scarred with a flattened ear from injury and a broken tooth, he was a gentle, affectionate rascal. He delighted in chasing the 'girlie cats' around the house, in giving 'in-your-face' greetings complete with full chin rubs, and in sleeping with his humans, softly purring beside his chosen bed partner. He had a rasp of a tongue and would frequently 'groom' the hand or cheek of the human next to him.

What happened? The short answer is: we don't know.

He developed a paralysis, which, over a course of 8 hours, left him without either a yowl or a purr in the end. I held him in the vet's office, as he was unresponsive to painful stimuli, noting the occasional frantic spasming of his legs. He died in my arms, his fur dampened by my tears.

Our other 2 cats show no signs of illness. (yet) He had been sneezing for a few days, with some vigor. But in all other respects he was normal: affectionate, romping, playing, snoozing in his favorite spots. By Tuesday morning however, he was not interested in the daily 'cat snack' we hand out each morning and hid to sleep in an unusual place (a sure sign in our cat language of a sick cat).

A first trip to the vet showed him to have a fever. He was rehydrated, given antibiotics, showed normal lab results, and by late afternoon, had enough 'tude back to complain when we went home. But by midnight, he was having trouble walking.

A second trip to the Vet ER at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning left us more puzzled: normal x-rays. Maybe it was a med reaction? They gave him some valium to calm him down and told us to stop the meds from the first vet, and that he would probably be better by morning. He steadily worsened in the night and only calmed down when I let him burrow under my arms. I dozed on the floor beside him as he frantically scrabbled around and cried. Surely the drug would wear off? And he would be better?

By 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, it was obvious he was worse: his hind legs were paralyzed. My husband and I made a decision: an early a.m. visit to the vet, who opened at 7 am. It looked like he was dying. The girls were awakened to cuddle and care for him while I showered and tried to be awake enough to drive with no sleep. They petted him and cried. He purred softly and sporadically. We wrapped our arms around each other, cuddled him and cried some more as we prayed... for healing if it were meant to be, for no pain and a gentle end if it was not. No anger at God, just sadness.

By 8 a.m. that morning, he had no control of front or back legs. He was occasionally clawing my shoulder, but mostly wanted to be held upright against my chest. The vet tech started an IV just to give him comfort measures since he was panting and unable to drink. By 9:00 he had no response to painful stimuli. He was in a coma. It was time to let the suffering cease. Less than 24 hours after his first vet visit, on December 22, 2004 our beloved Clyde-Boy went to Cat Heaven. Everyone cried at the news: my husband, mother-in-law, kids, friends... and our vets were stunned.

Late that morning, my daughters and I were looking up at the bright, blue, cold December sky after I had brought his still form home from the vet. We watched the clouds and comtrails. Several comtrails had puffs at the end of them. One of the girls looked up and said, "HEY! Clyde is chasing a string in heaven!" The other one said, "yeah, and there's his mousie tied to the end of it." We laughed, we cried, and we each thanked God for the wonderful gift of His Creation. More tears, gentle in their cleansing...

Our whole family has cried in the days since he died. We have missed his talkativeness, his purrs, the softness of his fur and the gentle way he would love on us...

And please, DON'T email me and say, "oh good grief, it's just a cat." Because if Jesus cared about sparrows falling and knows the number of hairs on your head, He certainly made way in heaven for a reformed barn cat named Clyde that morning... He is not in pain now. He has a limitless supply of catnip, and in time, we will smile instead of cry when we think about him...

From our home to yours,
Deb


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Clyde Arthur Beldin Stripey-Pants Bristle-Whiskers Rumble-Purr Ring-Tailed-Rabble-Rouser Vaughn

1 comment:

Oona said...

I canny believe no one ever made a comment on your story about your beautiful cat. I hope you have read the wonderful piece called 'Rainbow Bridge' about where our pets go when they pass. I will send you the link if you haven't. It always comforts me. :) God bless you for being so good to Clyde.