Thursday, August 7, 2008

Giddy Gato: The Passing of a Dear Little Being

There are some things that are very hard to write about, and this is one.
But here goes.
In the wee hours of this morning our lovable, and beloved, Giddy Gato died.
That's it.
Sure, it happens all the time, but this is the first time it has happened to us.
And, while it's tough to take, it is reality in a relatively small dose.
Read the rest only if you want to test your emotions.

My wife and I had returned home from visiting relatives on the east coast in mid-June, when it became apparent that something was wrong with our pet cat, Giddy, who normally looked, and acted, just like a mini-panther.
He was lethargic, had visibly lost weight, and wasn't responding to the usual irresistible enticements for food and fun.
We waited about a week, hoping his condition would improve, but when it didn't, took him to the vet for an examination.

The physical, blood and urine results were not overly good, but not especially bad either, so a different diet was tried, along with prescriptions for an antibiotic -Baytril 20- and another drug -Prednisolone- a steroid, plus the promise of closer observation in the future.
The combination of somewhat fuzzy results and the new recommended treatment made us hopeful, but then the X-Ray results did indicate some potential abnormalities that were troubling.
To gain more certainty, we scheduled an Ultra-Sound exam with a small animal specialist to further check out Giddy's X-ray, plus take biopsy samples as appropriate for tests.
Those biopsy results were not so good, but still we were in denial that the disease that Giddy had was so dire, that his chances of recovery were extremely low.

Armed with the rest results, new diet and prescriptions, we paid more attention to Giddy than even he could fully appreciate.
That seemed to work, at least initially, but then the downward trend resumed.
After almost two days of not eating or drinking and barely even moving, I took Giddy back to the vet again, this time for intravenous re-hydration, understanding full well that visiting the vet was definitely not his favorite activity, and that this was an act of semi-desperation.

This time, the vet was more blunt and definite in the diagnosis, and we finally got the full message. Giddy was dying, and it was only a matter of days or weeks. Further efforts at keeping him alive might result in maybe another 90 days, during which he would be lucky to actually enjoy 10% of that time.

While these implications had been right there in front of us all the while, we had chosen to hear only those parts of it we wanted to hear - that maybe, with treatment, he would improve. That, optimistically, might have meant extending his life up to about a year.
Now, we finally got the entire, unmistakable, truth and it hit us hard. We cried. Both of us in our own ways. And there will be other times that will happen too -like during the wonderful concert during which Beethoven's 6th Symphony was played.
Looking back, we have probably been lucky to have received the tough news by progressively larger doses, but the final reality is still the same.

Amazingly, Giddy did respond well to his new diet and medication level, and rallied strongly. He gained back some lost weight and generally acted closer to normal, but without his old strength and vitality. Looking back, we were probably the ones who mainly benefitted from this interlude, because we were able to enjoy his presence for another three weeks before he began his final decline, culminating with his peaceful death. It was us who had most needed that time, to get used to and accept the fact he would not -physically- be with us much longer. Giddy must have sensed that his time was approaching, and like most animals, was better prepared for it than humans. But, he was able enjoy a good part of his 'overtime' period. and this he readily demonstrated to us, in ways that only a cat can.

It has always been thus. Everyone will physically die, animals included. It is just the uncertainties of how, when and where that are missing. Each of those uncertainties has now been answered for Giddy.
But one -certain- thing will always remain in our hearts; our wonderful memories of the loving little creature that invited himself into our lives almost 11 years ago. Little Giddy Gato, who adopted us, enriched us, entertained us, brought us much gladness, was such a joy to the entire neighborhood. Isn't it amazing what emotions such a little being can inspire?

So, the cumulative joy that Giddy has brought us will eventually trump our sadness over his death, many, many, many times over! And, I imagine -as only humans can- that Giddy's eternal spirit would want it that way.

This morning, we took Giddy's remains to be cremated.
Later, we'll find a suitable urn in which to keep his ashes.
And, we'll keep the refrigerator door magnet in place that says;
'A House Is Not A Home Without A Cat'
This cat has become our teacher!