Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saving A Cat's Life on Halloween

We've been wanting to update the blog, but life has a way of intervening. Not always with fodder, but with simply having nothing to say. Then, things happen. Roger starts his third (of eight) round of chemo. He has good days and bad, but mostly good. We celebrate. Then, the sun rises, and it's a beautiful Sunday morning.

One day you notice the cat is acting weird. Well, really how can you tell when a supremely weird cat has crossed the line yet again? He won't jump on to the bed. He stops eating. He walks around with his back hunched and curved. His purrs are reduced to minimum.
So on Halloween morning you wake up and wonder: Is Bonsai dying? He's always been a sick boy. He has grand mal seizures whenever he sleeps deeply. He falls off the bed in the middle of the night: THUD. He does front-roll tumbles when he runs over the uneven earth. But it's more than the sum of his cuckoo parts. He has stopped defecating and urinating. That's a pretty profound sign.

So on Halloween Sunday, you find an emergency veterinary hospital and make a phone call, repeat most of what has been written here and ask if he should be seen. They say, "Absolutely, bring him in." We drive half way to Sacramento, about 40 miles to the Sunday-open hospital. It's a truly grand place. Nine acres. Solar-powered. Staffed by kind and smart people. We feel safe in the bosom of their stunning efficiency.

They take him in. We go wait in the car for their report. We've packed our requisite comfort food: English Breakfast Tea and toast (on this trip it is a dark rye with brie and jam). We walk around their nine acres, laughing at the silly antics of California Ground Squirrels. We check out their solar units. We go back in and wait.
The vet finally calls out our cat's name to the waiting room. That's us. The vet is a remarkably comforting person. This is an emergency hospital. She's been in this situation many times. She tells that the x-rays show intense intestinal blockage and a full bladder. Damn. She tells us that he needs fairly expensive intervention and a couple of days in the hospital to figure out what's going on. There are no guarantees. There's no way to know if this situation is an "end of life" moment, a chronic condition, a blip on the screen.

So, we're sitting in an examining room trying to decide if we should spend almost as much as Medicare paid Roger's surgeon for his colon surgery to keep a silly, cantankerous, old cat alive (with no guarantees). Mmmmm.

The vet says, I'll leave you two alone to talk it over.

We decided to give the old boy one more chance. We bought his ninth life, knowing fully it's the last time we'll ever do such a thing for him. He was a sick stray nine years ago. Now he is a the small animal we share our lives with. He's lived in Santa Cruz, Port Townsend, Arcata, Grass Valley with us. We've asked a lot of a critter that would have preferred familiar territory everyday. We know his days are numbered with fewer numbers than ours. Next time, we'll say good bye. This time, we bought him another sunrise.



  1. So glad that you can give him a ninth life! And very glad about the good days! And that even the bad days are lovingly nurtured. peace MandT & Bodhi Dog

  2. Good Luck Bonsai. You got some great people you live with. Just like one of the family I'm sure.

  3. Bonnie has had a good life with well beyond his wildest expectations....glad you could give him another chance...these decision are so difficult. Wish Bonsaid and you all good health.


  4. Tough, tough decision but one you had to make as much for yourselves as for Bonsai. Mighty,(the bionic dog), Mickey and Minnie are sending healing thoughts.
    Go easy into this next round Roger and hope it slides by smoothly.

  5. Sorry to hear about Bonsai. Hope this ninth life proves to be a long one.

  6. Yikes.
    I know how tough those pet$$ decisions can be.
    Lucky cat to have you.

  7. Sorry you're feeling poorly Bonsai. I wonder if pain is involved in this chronic condition. I hope not. Eat 2 moths and call me in the morning buddy.

    Voting. Another myth? I haven't got a lot of faith in our current system. Sure we CAN vote but does it make a difference in the end? I'll do it but I've lost faith that it matters.

    Roger I hope you aren't feeling too awful. Yeastie beasties are probably having quite a party in your system with nothing much there to keep them in check. Sister Vicki got thrush so badly she couldn't eat. I don't even want to talk about it. Bad Time. So Roge. How are you feeling?

  8. If I read your post right, that money is being spent just so you can find out what's wrong, with no guarantee that they can save him. I hope he can be helped, if only to take away the terrible pain he must be in.

    I'm sorry that Roger is having bad days again, but I realize that goes with the territory. That doesn't make it suck any less. So two hugs:


    I'm voting! We've had so many Republican governors here in Mass, I don't think I can stand having another. Deval Patrick really was a good guy who landed in a bad situation. The lying Republican (isn't that redundant?) Romney left office declaring that he had turned the state around and produced a surplus. Patrick got into office, looked at the numbers and found that Romney was lying through his teeth and had left a substantial deficit. So the answer it to vote in another Republican? How can Americans be so willfully stupid?

  9. What a hard decision to make, especially with an unknown outcome. It's easier (though hard enough) when the prognosis is definite. I hope he does indeed have one more of his nine lives.

    Glad the days after chemo are mostly good. Thoughts are still with you.

  10. bless you.
    bless bonsai.
    bless this sweet life.

  11. Sending good karma thoughts to the whole crew.

  12. I am glad you took the chance with him and hope it works out to give him those extra years. I liked reading this as today, with the elections going as they likely are, I wanted something good to read and you gave it to me. He is a gorgeous cat.

  13. I am also glad you decided to give Bonsai another shot and hope he has many years left.When Snickers at 12 yrs. had a serious kidney infection we also debated about the cost/benefit analysis but in the end, we had to try to save her. I admit a factor was the guilt I would feel if we didn't do what we could.
    Wishing you all good health and the courage to face whatever the election brings.

  14. Rain said it well. And your cat is beautiful. :)

  15. Well, I am a stranger, but am very familiar with emergency trips because of our pets. So glad you made the decision you did. I know that it isn't always possible though. Give Bonsai my best. Collette, Baruch, Moishe and Stinkie send their best.

  16. A beautiful and touching post, Robin. Those decisions are always difficult and always a gamble. Love to all three of you.

  17. What a beautiful story! That was so selfless of you! I don't know you and don't know exactly how i got here, but I'm staying...
    Patrick Tillett, Extremely Overdue