Sunday, November 25, 2007

The door's ajar

I hate writing this post. No no, don't panic -- the boyos are just fine. In fact, they're great. Sam started crawling with "forward volitional motion" about two weeks ago (I have no idea where we picked up this "forward volitional motion" thing but it does describe it well -- he's actually moving FORWARD instead of backward now, thereby avoiding trapping himself under the couch, and he gets where he aims at), and now he's just hell on wheels. Gus started getting into a triangle sit by himself a couple of days after Sam started crawling, and about four days ago, Gus started crawling forward too! Holy cow, two rapidly crawling babies! Can the earth survive such depredation?

So it's Panic City around here for the grownups. I feel like a border collie with a whole herd of little lambs. I keep trying to round them up, but they keep finding new ways to get out of the metaphorical corral. Though actually, we are trying to keep them more or less corralled in our living room, during waking hours. On the advice of my twin moms group, we had a guy come out to look at our house on Wednesday and help us figure out what childproofing we needed to do. I can't quite call it a scam but I sure didn't feel like we got value for the money. We paid about $150, and for that, we got about 40 minutes of his time, a few useful tips, and a kitchen full of installed baby latches on the lower cabinets and drawers (he brought a helper who did the latches). But he missed several hazards that I've found since then, and D had a strong feeling the guy was trying to rip us off by jacking up the prices on things like baby gates. (Of course, D is so close-fisted with money that the poor stuff practically screams when he grabs it. So his feelings may not be entirely accurate.)

And in other good news on the boyo front, Sam and Gus are just the sweetest little men I've ever met in my entire life. Granted, I've been around very few babies, so for all I know, all eight-month-old babies are like this. But they just kill me with the angelic quality of their little smiles -- especially with their two little "tombstones" sticking up from their bottom gums. I swoon with their cuteness every time Gus grins and then ducks his head, pretending to be shy, or when Sam smiles up into my eyes and then pumps his arms and declares, "Heh! Heh! Heh!" And now they've added to their babbling repertoire, too. Gus has said "Ba ba" a few times, but Sam has taken "Ba ba" and run with it. He was hysterical this evening. I'll bet the syllable "Ba" passed his little rosy lips a minimum of two hundred times tonight. Sam seemed to be carrying on not just a conversation using "Ba ba" as the medium, but bucking for a Tony with his virtuoso one-man show, with a vastly differentiated cast of characters. I have never heard "Ba" said in as many tones and pitches and with such apparent difference of meaning as I have tonight. It was amazing, and incredibly adorable.

So me, I got no complaints there. (Except that it's hard to keep up with them!)

No, the problem is my beloved old cat Georgina. She's failing fast, and I am in the wretched position of trying to do what's best for her. The problem is, I'm not sure that what cats think is "best" is what humans think is "best." Popular wisdom says that when pets start failing, and you can't make them better anymore, it's time to whisk them off to the vet and have them put to sleep. For their own good, as the saying goes.

I used to buy into this idea. But then I had to put a few animals to sleep, and saw what it was like up close, since I felt I owed it to each cat to be there with him or her at the moment of truth. And I've wondered in the last couple of years if perhaps all the hoorah of taking the animal to the vet is actually more cruel than letting the cat die on her own. Cats, in general, do not care for going to the vet. Georgina, in particular, really dislikes it. Because she gets so wound up about going there, I am reluctant to make that her final life experience. I was talking with a friend of mine about this and she said, "You know, it would be like going to the dentist for us! How awful!" I had to laugh at her comparison but yes, I hate going to the dentist too, and how awful it would be to have to go there to end your life. Geez.

I had this problem once before with another dear old friend, my cat Adrienne, who also abhored going to the vet. So when her cancer was so advanced that I couldn't stand it anymore (though Adrienne seemed okay with dragging herself around our apartment for some indefinite time to come), I found a vet who made house calls, and had him come out to do the deed. The problem was that since he didn't have all the equipment that he would at the office, he put her to sleep a slightly different way -- which involved a final injection directly to her heart. When he did that, she gave me a look I've never forgotten -- a completely outraged look that said, "How could you! I trusted you!"

So I don't know what to do, and I've cried buckets of tears lately. Georgina is probably the closest to me of all the cats I've had in my life. I met her thirteen years ago when she was a little tortie feral living in the parking lot at my therapist's office, back when we lived in Washington state. For some reason, that evening when D and I had dinner out and my fish was really awful (I think it had been thawed and re-frozen a number of times), I decided to drop by the parking lot on my way home and give her the fish. You would have thought it was manna from heaven -- and I guess, to her, it was. So then I started feeding her when I went to see my therapist, and then pretty soon, I was going down to this parking lot every day to feed her. Mind you, at the time, I was pretty much a mess myself. I had started out with mild depression and occasional suicidal thoughts (which, okay, are not a good thing, but I wasn't serious about them at all), and by the time I met Georgina, I had deteriorated to the point where I was anxious and unhappy pretty much all the time, and I could hardly get myself out of the house because I was so agoraphobic. So having this goal of getting out of the house in order to feed this poor little cat that depended on me was actually a big deal for me, and very therapeutic. (My therapist, by contrast, kept telling me that I had to "get worse in order to get better," and accordingly, I just kept getting worse and worse under her so-called "care.")

When I first started feeding Georgina, she was so wild that if I looked directly into her eyes, she would bolt. After a few months she got past that, and would even let me touch her and pet her a little. Finally, at one point, I noticed she was pregnant ("Oh no!") and a couple of weeks later she had a kitten, a little black male with a white spot at his throat. I was successful in capturing the kitten when he was about six weeks old, and we adopted him out to friends of ours. But to prevent a repetition, I knew it was time to get her fixed. She was still quite wild, but I managed to surprise her and cram her into a cat carrier, and I whisked her off to the vet. (Maybe this is where her fervent dislike of the vet started?)

When I claimed her from the vet and took her home, she was still quite anxious and wild. I put her in our bathroom with a litter box, so she could learn about that, and then I would sit on the floor of the bathroom, reading, just keeping her company. Finally, after a little while doing that, one day while I was reading she crept up on my lap, oh-so-slowly and tentatively. And then when I petted her, she purred.

And that was the start of our great friendship.

The last few years, she has slept right beside my pillow, and has been the last thing I see at night and the first thing in the morning. Lately, as her health has been failing (she has had chronic renal failure for about five years now, but we have kept it at bay with subcutaneous fluids and medicines), she has been sleeping up on my chest. But the last couple of days, she has been too weak to get up on the bed, so she is sleeping on her little heated bed on the floor in our room.

This post is not a request for opinions. I've had about as many opinions as I want on this subject. I guess I just wanted to say that I am going to miss my dear Georgina something fierce, and I wanted the world to know what a difference the presence of this little cat has made in my life.

That's all.


Blogger Suz said...

I am so sorry about your sweet kitty and know that you will miss her dearly.

It's been my experience with childproofing (and please take this with a grain of salt) that it's not a one-time-only proposition. As the twins grow, they get into new things and we keep having to childproof. Keeping them in one central room is great for a while, but as our's have expanded out, we've had to move lamps, put outlet covers on and bubble wrap some sharp corners (!?). As much as you do, they will always find their way into more!

5:34 AM  
Blogger moo said...

No opinion. I am going through the same thing with my 17 year old cat "kitty", who was also wild when I found her outside starving many years ago. She also has renal failure and has been doing progressively (physical symptoms, weight loss, etc) worse of late, although she seems still happy to see us and purrs loudly as ever. I am filled with guilt and sorrow, and I don't know what I will do. So I hear you. Great update on the boyos though. Hugs. Moo

7:10 PM  
Anonymous jane ( said...

i'm not sure where you live in northern california but if it's anywhere near redwood city you should call Waggin' Wheels at 650-298-8508. We called them to put both our dogs down (when it was time) and they come to your house. the vet, cathy jennings, is so wonderful... going to the vet is too stressful on the pet and this way they just relax at home and... go to sleep. just my suggestion if that's your hesitance. good luck! (let us know what you do end up doing!)


2:55 PM  

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