Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Because. she's. a. cat.

When I found her at the SPCA, her name was Mama Tinker (take a moment and really appreciate that: Mama Tinker). She was underweight, missing half her teeth, scratching at ear mites, and dealing with the runs. She was in a corner by herself, curled up and facing the wall.

She was an older cat, and her owner had died. I was going through a funky sad period and had just put my old cat, Charlotte, down. Charlotte was the love of my life.

When she was brought to the getting-to-know-you room, Mama Tinker jumped onto my lap and immediately put her head under my chin. I swooned, got her into the car, and changed her name to Millie.

Millie is a love. She's crabby, chatty, and demanding. Because of all the missing teeth, sometimes the left side of her face droops, making her look like a 10-lb stroke victim. She has an old man cough, can't hear worth a damn--can't smell either. She likes to go to a corner of the apartment, face the wall, and scream bloody murder. It's a little fucked up, but normalcy is such a bore.

Erm, don't look at me. This was after my surgery and I look like hell. But Mill was right by my side.
When I first felt the odd-shaped growth on Millimeter's nipple, I made an appointment at the vet and we took a looksee. After a couple overdue shots and a $5 nail trim, the vet confirmed that the lump was a tumor and said we could set up an appointment to do blood work and remove the bugger. She also said that Millie's an old girl, and we'd want to be realistic about decisions going forward. I was happy. ($108)

Two days later, I received an email that the vet clinic had shut down.

So a month later, I went to vet clinic B and explained our status. Clinic B is fancy and features an adorable, young, idealistic vet. I give her an A for enthusiasm. Wheee! She touched Miss Millie in places I've never dared to go. She and the tech scolded me for not brushing Millinocket's teeth daily. Really? Because she's a cat. And she has a tooth. The vet took blood, nixed the charge for a second exam, offered a $21 dollar nail clipping (yeah, no), and sent us away. ($380)

Great news--the blood work says she's practically a kitten! It's Miller Time!

But we should really do some x-rays. X-rays will tell us what's going on inside and whether we're dealing with a body full of cancer or just one odd external growth. I dropped her off for the day. ($400)

So, doc? Wait--what? What do you mean the x-rays are inconclusive? No big reveal? What the fuck is going on inside this cat?

Vet: words words words This line is abnormal. words words words See how this lung is deflated? Could be cancer. But maybe not. words words words This is odd too. words words words Major arthritis. She's in a lot of pain. words words words But see, even from this angle, we can't see anything. words words words And where this is just a fuzzy spot, maybe her spleen is enlarged. Maybe it isn't. words words words The next step is an ultrasound, which will truly tell us what's going on in there. ($500)

Oh, and here are two prescriptions for the terrible pain she's in. The meds really need to be used together. ($80/month) Vet tech later, to the side: Just try the cheap one and see how she does. (-$75/month)

Me: So if we don't do the ultrasound, we already know that she's got a lot of issues going on. And if we do the ultrasound, we'll know more about those issues. Either way, she's got enough issues and is old enough that it may not make sense to do much. Because she's a cat.

Vet: [blank stare]

Awkward moment.

Vet [hopeful]: Um, well, you can sleep on it and then decide.

Grand total so far: $893ish before the ultrasound that isn't going to happen

When I went to the SPCA that day, I decided walking in that I wanted an older cat--a cat that had been loved and had lived in a stable home. I didn't want a stray, used to fending for itself; I wanted a cat that needed to live the rest of its life comfortably, sleeping on a king-size bed and eating too many cookies.

Now, I love the little bitch. But at some point, it doesn't do justice to either of us to go down this road of experimentation. She's old. She can't hear or smell or jump. Her insides apparently are seven kinds of fucked up. But she's eager. She's loving and follows me like a puppy. Her job includes putting me to bed at a reasonable hour and waking me at an ungodly hour. Even on a hot day, she puts her chin on my leg and purrs while I play on the computer or read in bed.

Another bad postop pic. But this is a pretty typical evening before bed.
I'm not going to opt for the ultrasound. I'm not continuing down this path. The buck stops here. I refuse to let the sweet but idealistic vet make me feel bad for not doing everything possible to give her a couple more years. She's not a child. She's not a $40k thoroughbred race horse. She's an old, banged-up kitty. And I love her. I promise to make her as comfortable as possible for the time she has remaining. But I'm not going much further than that. Because she's a cat.

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