Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Demonspawn has left the building...

I've had Ski (aka Demonspawn) since right after I moved back to Texas in '92. I was in a pet store picking up some ear mite medicine for Mom's cat and there he was, in a rescue display, top crate, looking me square in the eye. Handsome devil; slim, black, sleek. Another gal pulled him out and cuddled him, but he never took his eyes off of me (I'd swear he was saying "It's about TIME you got here!). I was still couch surfing with Mom and Dad, so I had no business even looking at a cat, and I had lost my beloved Ski the previous year to Feline Leukemia on Labor Day weekend. I got the medicine and left.

Two weeks later I was unpacking in my new apartment and kept feeling the most annoying "something is just out of sight, right at my heals" feeling. I called the pet shop and asked if that black cat was still there? He was. Hold him for me, I'll get him tomorrow. So, after work I drove over to get him. The shop boy says "I'm so glad you're here. He hasn't shut up all day." I asked if he was always like that and the boy replied, "No, just today." I pulled him out of the cage and held him for a while. He clung to my shoulder and purred like a freight train. Yep, he was mine. Put him back in the cage and went around the store getting supplies, chatting with the shop boy.

An enraged yowl broke out from the front of the store and we rushed up front to see this VERY angry black cat with his arm stretched as far as possible out of the cage, claws fully distended, waving madly, "Get me the F___ out of here NOW!"

I looked at the shop boy and said, "We're done, ring me up." As he was finalizing the transaction, I looked at the papers. Name: Moonshadow (okay, I can live with that). Birthday: Labor Day weekend, '91. (slightly creepy feeling between my shoulderblades.) Over the next few weeks, try as I might, the only name that came out of my mouth was Ski, so he became Ski Too. He was nothing like the original in his temperment - he was cranky, short tempered, and threw up hairballs all the time. Over time he acquired the nickname of Demonspawn, which truly fit him for most of his life. But he would drape himself over my shoulder and chest, purring madly. And he forced me to pet him in the mornings, when my Fibromyalgia made every movement an excruciating ordeal. He was mine.

So when he was diagnosed with a hyper thyroid, I shelled out the bucks for the surgery. And when the other one started swelling, even though I'd been laid off, I got that one done (but only could because Dr. Fred did it at cost and let me pay it out). And when they swelled again and he was too old for surgery, I pilled him morning and night, because he was MY Ski and I wasn't going to give up on him just because it was inconvenient (yes, I'm stubborn). And he did well for another 8 or 9 years.

But he was doing pretty poorly this winter, so I've been working hard to get him back in shape; his fave canned foods, extra feedings if he was interested, even a pill to help his appetite. But he was still acting feeble and frail, and wasn't grooming himself, so I took him in last Friday to get checked up again. I was crying while I was waiting for the test results. fully expecting bad news and thinking that I really, really didn't want this to happen on the weekend before my birthday (the next Monday). Instead, he got a clean bill on the set of tests for his thyroid and kidney functions, so I thought that we were good to go for a while. But Sunday he cried weakly all night, and didn't stop till 4am, so I took him back to the vet's to get checked out again.

When I got to the vets after work they said Dr. Fred wanted to meet with me in the surgery. At first I just thought that meant the other rooms were full. He's that good of a vet. But, as I waited, I realized that there was probably another reason. One of the helpers brought Ski out to me so "we could visit while we waited for Dr. Fred." That was when I knew what had to be up. When he finally came into the surgery, the look on his face, I knew I was right.

He told me that the thyroid was malignant and had metastasized, filling Ski's chest cavity, making it difficult for him to breathe and swallow. There was no outwardly visible sign. Up until now, none of the vets ever acted like the thyroid might have been malignant. He'd had two surgeries on them and they weren't malignant then, but it's been 8 or 9 years since then. I thought his weight loss was just 'skinny old dude' syndrome - after all, he was 17 years old. When I think about it now, at the end he really looked just like some poor end-stage cancer patient, all skin and bones. Dr. Fred offered to give him a shot that would calm things down a bit, so I could have a few days to say goodbye, but I told him that I've been saying goodbye for the last year or so, when he started doing poorly, and it wasn't fair to him to keep him over just because it was my birthday. I was selfish with my first Ski and kept him long after I should have let him go. I wasn't going to make that mistake this time. So Dr. Fred gave him the shot and I stroked him as he left. I wasn't surprised that he gasped a few more times after Fred said he was gone. Ski wasn't a quitter by any means.

I'm having a tough time adjusting to not having him around. He's been with me since '92 and he saw me thru some very tough times in my life. I'm sorry that I've lost him, but I'm happy that I was able give him a good, long life and to let him go when he needed to go, instead of being selfish and trying to hold on longer.

1 comment:

Deb said...

Oh sweetiegirl, this is a hard time for you, I know. But please know that Ski is still there with you, just at your heels, in spirit. Such a sweet relationship you two had. You took care of him and he, you. Hugs to you today Hawk. 1000 Blessings of Good Karma to you too.