Saturday, November 19, 2011

Unanticipated Farewell

Things don't always turn out the way you thought they would.

We finally decided it was the right thing to do to try and get Ted and Connor in to see the "real" vet. When we got Carly we had the mobil vet come to the house and try and see them. He ended up giving them their shots from an arm's length as they were both hiding under the couch. It worked. But it was time for JC to go in to get his shots anyway and Ted and Connor's three-year rabies was up as well. We'd had success in getting Ted into the carrier when we had the scooting/anal gland issue a few months ago. We figured we could use somewhat of the same stategy to get Connor into one. And that was pretty much the case. Trap in a corner, confuse with a towel, shove into carrier, endure wrath of evil kitty glare.

So we got all three cats to the vet and had back to back to back appointments. JC went first because he's easy. And a picture of perfect kitty health, viral blip in April notwithstanding.

Then came Connor, pretty much because his carrier was on top of Ted's. He did really well for not having been to a vet in years. We kept him under the towel for the most part, but he didn't scratch or even squirm too much. We learned that he had severe dental problems. This explains all the drooling and bad breath. I had suspected as much. We decided to leave him overnight so they could sedate him the next morning to check him out better.

Ted's exam was much the same as Connor's. Didn't struggle too much. His mouth was less severe, but still bad enough that the vet wanted to get a better look at him as well. He also needed his anal sacs expressed again, which she opted to wait to do until he was sedated.

So we went in with three cats, came out with one.

The next morning Adam called me with the vet's news. They had put Ted under first and once they were able to get a better look at the situation, it was so much worse than they had originally thought. We had gone into this thinking all he needed was a good cleaning. Turns out all his teeth were pretty much shot, hanging on by a thread. He had terrible gum disease. Would need all his teeth extracted at some point. Was probably in a lot of pain. He was also a lot older than we'd been led to believe. When we adopted him back in 2007 the shelter said he was about a year and a half old. That would make him five or six now. Try ten. Twelve. He was from New Orleans so who knows what he got into down there after the floods. The vet said he was pretty much a feral cat who'd been living in our house for four years.

So we had a few options: Take out the six worst teeth and see what transpired with the rest (estimated cost $800 now, much more as the rest of the teeth cracked or fell out.) Take out all his teeth now (didn't even bother to get this estimate.) Accept the situation for what it was, pretty much hopeless both financially and in terms of quality of life for Ted, and do what was the hardest: let him go. Even the vet agreed it didn't make sense to do nothing and surrender him to a shelter as they'd just put him down immediately anyway since no one would adopt him in his condition.

It was probably the most heart-wrenching decision we've had to make. Knowing that Connor had been initally estimated to be in much worse shape than Ted, letting Ted go meant we'd have to let Connor go as well. We didn't have a lot of time to make our decision - Ted was already under and they couldn't have more than one cat out at a time. So we had to do what we hope was best for the cats.

They put Connor under pretty much just to confirm what they had previously suspected and it was apparently about seven times as bad as Ted's had been. And his real age was more like fifteen. So that outcome kind of wrote itself.

Of course all of this was going on while I was at work. Adam called me, conferenced in the vet tech. I had to go out to my car for awhile to talk things through with Adam. While Adam called the vet back to tell them our choice about Ted I went and told my boss what was going on and that I needed to leave for the day.

We didn't go to see them. By the time I got home they were probably both gone anyway. And I didn't want to see them like that, really. We got Adam's dad to pick up our carriers and the blankets we'd left with them overnight. Neither of us could imagine going back to the vet's office yet.

It's been rough. I miss them. They might have been categorized as "feral" by the vet, but they were our cats and very much ingrained into our daily lives. I miss Ted hanging out with me in the bathroom. I miss Connor walking in front of my face while I'm trying to type on the computer. I miss Ted being my neckwarmer/pillow while I watch Molto Mario while eating breakfast. I miss seeing Connor conked out on the mouse pillow.

We were also worried about JC. He'd never been in the house without these other two around. The first night they were gone he seemed to mope a little. We jumped the gun a little and actually brought a kitten home on Thursday but neither JC nor Carly were having any of that so it went back the next morning. We felt bad about that - it was an awesome kitten, but it wasn't right for our existing cats. JC seems to be dealing with it pretty well. We're wondering if maybe we overestimated how close he really was to Ted and Connor. I know those two were best buddies, and maybe JC was just on the periphery of that. He's eating, sleeping in the bed with us, playing. So unless he starts to get bored or looks like he wants another cat around, we're going to stay with just the two.

These things keep circling in my brain:

1) Is this whole thing our fault because we didn't take them to the vet regularly? If we had gone before now could we have prevented this? This is what's really killing me... the guilt of not knowing if all this was present before we even got them.

2) I hope we made our decision for the right reasons. I'd hate to think we did this because of the money. We had no idea things were so bad - we didn't know they were in pain, though they almost certainly were. I take some comfort in the fact that the vet said she would have done the same thing if they were her cats.

3) I'm so mad at myself for not saying a proper goodbye to either of them at the vet's office. When we left them there overnight I stayed out in the lobby with JC while Adam the the vet tech took the other two back to the kennel area. It really never occured to me that I'd never see them again. They were taken there to get rabies shots for goodness sake!

4) I hope Ted and Connor were happy for the four years they were with us. Who knows what kind of life they lead before they came to us. All I can wish is that they felt loved and safe while in our house.

5) I'm kind of glad that if it had to be one, it had to be both. I don't think they'd have wanted to be apart. They were such good cuddle buddies.