Saturday, September 6, 2014

An Emptyness in the House

The Gimp Twins, Kali (left) and Doppler.  Doppler's left forepaw is bandaged.
A more personal post than usual; please excuse me, readers, who come to It Just Comes Naturally for news about the natural world in my part of the northern Piedmont.

On Thursday, we had to euthanize our 17(?)-year-old cat, Doppler.  I added the (?) because we don't know exactly how old she was because we brought her indoors 17 years ago; she may have been older.  Doppler got her name because she looked exactly like her mother (or her sibling?) - another stray cat that used to hang around outside the house with Doppler but who disappeared one day;  Doppler stuck around, and "Doppelganger" got shortened to Doppler.

Doppler entered our lives with a bandaged leg, and she exited the same way.  We originally had to bring her indoors because she'd gotten into a fight with an animal outside, which left her with a badly injured leg.  Because the animal with which Doppler had had a tussle could have been rabid, our vet gave us two choices: (1) euthanize the cat or (2) bring her inside and isolate her for four months to make sure she wasn't rabid.  Obviously, we chose the second option, so the vet bandaged Doppler's leg and we took her home.  She lived in the basement for those four months; it must have felt like a prison to a cat that had been used to living outdoors.  We gradually became acquainted and she was fully domesticated at the end of her confinement.

Doppler generally was a good cat, but she definitely was "queen" of the household.  We've had two other cats during the time Doppler lived with us, and she just barely tolerated them.  The other cats quickly learned their places in the pecking order.

Doppler loved Kali more than she did me, even though I fed her, cleaned her litter box, and groomed her.  She looked forward to "lap time" with Kali every evening, and she let us know if we were late going into the living room to watch television for an hour before bed.

Doppler began to decline about two years ago.  She developed thyroid problems and had to be medicated twice a day.  She also developed gingivitis and some tooth loss, but she was getting too old to sedate for a tooth cleaning.  Then, three weeks ago, she started hobbling around the house, clearly in pain if she put her left forepaw on the floor.  One of the vets in the practice we patronize couldn't definitively diagnose the problem and gave Doppler pain medication, but the problem worsened.  A second vet diagnosed the problem as either a tumor or an infection in a toe.  He bandaged the leg because her foot was bleeding profusely and put her on a course of antibiotics.  After a week, it was clear that the antibiotics didn't help, so the vet recommended amputating the toe; he said there were really no other options.  So, we scheduled the (risky) surgery for Thursday morning.  However, when I went to get Doppler to take her for the operation, I found her crying pitifully, back legs splayed out and useless.  When I tried to move her, she cried out in anguish.

I called the veterinary practice, cancelled the surgery, and begged for an immediate appointment.  They saw us an hour later and said that most likely a blood clot had lodged in the arteries serving Doppler's hind legs.  There was nothing they could do for her, and we decided to euthanize her.  I'll admit I blubbered uncontrollably.  I buried her that evening alongside the other cats with whom we've had the privilege of sharing our lives. 

Oh...about the image of the Gimp Twins.  Three weeks ago, Kali slipped and fell down three steps.  She twisted her ankle and broke a bone in her right foot.  She's been in a "boot" and on crutches ever since, and has limited mobility.  She goes back to the doctor on September 16 - not a day too soon for either of us!


robin andrea said...

So very sorry to read about Doppler. There is such a sadness when we realize we have to euthanize our much-loved furry companions. When I look at the photo of Doppler, I am reminded of our Bonsai who we had put down in February. We think of him all the time, and have inadvertently called some of our neighbors' cats his nicknames. Such is the place these beautiful friends have in our hearts.

I hope Kali is on the mend. No fun not being able to get out there and hike around.

packrat said...

I'm really sorry to hear of Dopplier's passing, Scott and Kali. Unfortunately Kate and I know only too well about the sadness that comes from having to say goodbye to a great friend and companion. We still think about our two cats, Chappy (short for Chapulín = Sp. for "grasshopper") and George years after we had to have them euthanized. The last months of their lives were very difficult. But they gave us joy as well as many "interesting" moments to reflect back on.

Minnie said...

So very sorry to hear of Doppler's painful end. You gave her a life filled with kind attention, but being reminded of that that doesn't much relieve your immediate grief or fill the empty spot in your lives right now. Your friends, including people you've never met but have reached with your writings here, will think of your sorrow and hope for its ease. Also, I hope Kali's foot will heal nicely.

Scott said...

Robin Andrea: I remember distinctly when you posted about having to euthanize Bonsai. And, I've already mistakenly called our other cat (and our bird) Doppler. Thank you for your condolences.

Kali's foot better have healed a week from now when we go back to the doctor. I have to drive her to work, drive myself to work, pick her up from work, and drive her home--2-1/2 hours out of my day!

Scott said...

Packrat: Kali was probably more closely attached to Doppler than any of the other three cats we've had, so this is hitting her hard. We also lost a cat, Attila, under bad circumstances: she went in for surgery to correct a thyroid problem, but the operation wasn't successful and poor Attila died a few days later in Kali's arms with seizures--a bad scene. Thank you for your kind words--really.

Scott said...

Minnie: Thank you for your thoughts. It's so hard to convey the fact that you understand what people are going through when they lose an animal companion, but you've done a very nice job. And, it goes without saying that I hope Kali's foot heals well--and quickly!

Mark P said...

Leah and I wanted to tell you again how sorry we are about Doppler. For me, crying is part of how I pay for the companionship of a beloved pet.

Scott said...

Thank you, Mark and Leah, for both your comments. I hugged the veterinarian as I sobbed when she brought Doppler's body back into the room. I wonder what I would have done if it had been a male veterinarian; I might have hugged him, too. I felt a little bit foolish, but I felt a lot better for having done it, too. I don't regret it.

John Gray said...

Belated best wishes Scott
An awful time only a pet owner could understand x

Scott said...

Thank you, John. I know that you've had this experience many, many times and can honestly sympathize.