Steve Hutchison (foomf) wrote,
Steve Hutchison

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Goodbye to a dear old friend

Savvy, Savoir Furr, passed away yesterday in the early hours of the morning, after a long illness.
She was an older cat, somewhere in the range of 16-18 (I don't recall what year we got her.)

When we got her, she was a runt, perhaps a pound at most, and barely weaned. She was a blue and white, with a little moustache-shaped marking like Hercule Poirot, so we named her Savoir Furr (all our cats have punning names). She had many passengers when we got her, and one of my first acts was to give her a flea bath to get rid of them. That was when we bonded. I didn't let her wriggle loose and run away, I cleaned her very thoroughly to get rid of the vampiric little monsters, and when I was drying her off she decided that I must be Momcat. This was the first time I hever heard her purr, and she was sparing with her purrs until about three days later, when she was cuddling Penny in bed, and started suckling on her earlobe, leaving a raw patch of skin behind.

Savvy was always friendly and outgoing with people. She had stealth siamese in her, and her meow was a thing to be amazed at (and, at night, to be wakened by).

In 2001, she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. This is a common disease in older cats. We made plans to save and send her to the treatment facility, but I got laid off before that could happen, so we decided to wait until I got work - surely a matter of months. We tried treating her with thyroid hormone, but she wouldn't tolerate the pills even when ground up into broth (a ridiculously expensive process, by the way. Why do you have to go to a compounding pharmacy to have the medication put into solution when it's just as easy to do it at home?) We compensated by feeding her food concentrate, but she continued to slowly lose strength and waste away as her body was consumed by her hyperactive metabolism.

Four years later, she was still somewhat social, though climbing the stairs was tiring for her, and she had developed her meow into a sort of howl that she seemed to delight in practicing. She'd find a room with good acoustics, and start MROOOOOOOOOWWWW! over and over for about ten minutes until we either yelled at her to stop, picked her up (she'd purr, sometimes, but didn't really want to be held), or stroked her. It was partly that she wanted attention, partly that she hurt, and partly that she loved to make noise. It disturbed the other cats, which she seemed to find amusing. I saw her walk up behind Clint once while he was asleep, and HOWL, and he jumped practically out of his skin.

We knew that her situation was not good. She started having a discharge from her eyes, which came and went, that I later learned was due to sinus infection - she got it around the same time that Penny and I both caught a rhinovirus, and all the cats seemed to get a mild version of it as well.

About a week ago, she started spending more time in her room and stopped eating. We didn't notice, because I was at work and Penny is unable to climb the stairs from our bedroom level, and Savvy got dehydrated, her infection worse, and became even weaker. Her already hesitant walk had become a stagger, and when we noticed (on Mardi Gras, ironically) I took her to Dove Lewis Pet Hospital in Portland - the only emergency room for pets that's open late - and they gave her subcutaneous saline to rehydrate, and recommended that we get food into her, as she was too weak to be treated for the thyroid disease.
They also told me that she probably had an infection of some kind.

I got her home and fed her a little canned kitten food - she liked it, but could only eat a tiny amount, which meant her stomach was probably already shutting down. Because she wouldn't eat or drink, I used a syringe that had the needle cut off to force-feed her, putting high-calorie cat food supplement and kitten food and water into her. She purred a lot, swallowed the stuff, but it was exhausting for her. She seemed a little better a few minutes later, so I gave her more water, a CC at a time, until she pushed my hand away with her paw.

The next morning I made an appointment to take her to Rock Creek Veterinary Clinic (Ash Wednesday). Do not use these people. They did not mention to me that they don't take checks, and I only found out when I saw the sign on their desk. I don't use the Visa right now, and didn't have enough in the debit account (which I deliberately keep low). Their response to my "Why did you not tell me this when I made the appointment?" was a cow-eyed "The office manager sets the policy". I believe that if they'd told me, or if they'd had a more flexible policy, things might have turned out differently.

It was too late to take her to another clinic, so I took her home (and she HATED riding in the car) and gave her more food and water, then the next day (Thursday) made an appointment for her at Companion Pet Clinic. They told me up-front that they don't accept checks, estimated the costs, and I was able to pre-load the debit card. The doctor examined her with me there, and said that she was very sick, and there was a chance she wouldn't make it. She was more dehydrated than she had been before, but since she bounced back from the treatment at Dove Lewis, it might help her get well enough to be treated for the infection and to determine what else was wrong with her. It could have been just the thyroid disease, but it could also be liver failure, kidney failure (though probably not that since she still used her litterbox OK), it could be toxemia from the infection. They put her on subcutaneous saline and, when they left that night, she was apparently feeling better, though still definitely a sick kitty.

But she wasn't able to keep going. She passed away in the early morning hours Friday. I would have liked to be with her when she went. She was a good friend and I will remember her.


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