Saturday, April 30, 2011

RIP Willie. I Love You!!!

I still cannot believe Willie is gone. I miss her so much and it happened so fast.  Life was not easy for little Willie. Maybe that's why she was so picky about who she was affectionate to.

I adopted Willie from the old Kansas Humane Society in the summer of 1996 when I went looking for a cat I could name after the K-State Willie Wildcat. When this little black & white kitten literally reached thru the cage and wanted to play, I knew that was my kitty. At that time the humane society did not spay or neuter the pets but you had to agree to do it after the adoption. Willie was marked as a boy on the cage and I quickly had the neuter surgery set up. I took Willie to the vet and they said - sorry we can't neuter this cat . . . she's a girl. Could I really name a girl cat Willie? But the name had already stuck with me and I think her, too. So the first issue - gender identity disorder! Poor little Willie would so often be called a "he" for the rest of her life. And she also came home with a bout of ear mites, little did we know that was the first of several ear issues to come.

Willie loved to play. Anything dangling on a pole was her favorite and she could literally play tether ball with many of these toys. To this day, I have never seen another kitty with her spunk for a toy like that.

At first, Willie loved playing with people, too. Everything was a game and she didn't want to miss out. In time that changed. Not sure why - maybe being home with me (and sister kitty Abby) and no other people did it. Or maybe she just learned from Abby that anyone besides me and the pet sitter who came when I traveled, were not good. I traveling I did. Willie did not like it. She would lay on my luggage or my computer bag when I was trying to pack up. Not sure if she wanted to get packed, too or just wanted to keep me from leaving, but I kind of think the latter. When I was gone, Abby let her know that Pam, the pet sitter was nice and fed them and they both liked her, too. But everyone else was either ignored or greeted with a hiss.

When Willie was 5, my work changed and I had an apartment in Topeka as well as my home in Wichita. So the kitties, too, had 2 homes.  About every other week we packed up and took the trip between Topeka and Wichita, many late at night as I wanted to spend every minute I could in Wichita before heading back to Topeka. The cats became pro's at traveling. But the apartment was not friendly to the cats and they hid a lot. I knew something was wrong and Willie took a trip to a new vet in Topeka. The problem? Fleas. Couldn't believe I didn't see the fleas, but knew something was wrong. Abby had them too. Luckily after a flea bath and the recommended treatment to the apartment, bedding, the car and my condo, we beat the fleas. Yuck! I felt so bad for them.

Then petting Willie one evening while in the apartment in Topeka, I noticed a strange swelling in her ear. It was puffed up like a marshmallow. Luckily I had spotted the Emergency Vet location and we jumped in the car and we were off. Willie had an Ear Hematoma. I had never heard of that, but it looked like a big bubble of blood and I was scared. Willie went in for immediate surgery and came home with a cone on her head and an ear we didn't know how it would look after the surgery. Oh how Willie hated that cone. But she was a good sport and we were amazed how perfectly the ear healed . . . until the next problem. Just weeks after Willie's ear looked healed, I noticed a small nodule in the same ear. Thought it was some strange scar from the surgery, but wanted the vet to check it out. Good thing I did. Come to find out the problem was completely unrelated to the hematoma, but was actually skin cancer. I was so scared, but the vet was confident. So Willie had the second ear surgery in a matter of a few months. After the surgery, the vet told me it was his first of this kind, but that it went extremely well and he got the cancer. What a relief, but all Willie knew was that darn cone was back on her head. To her, living in Topeka meant wearing the cone on her head.

In time, things changed with Willie and she became more aloof with strangers. And everyone besides me and the pet sitter were strangers. So few got to see the sweet side of Willie. The cat that nearly every night slept like an angel by my side. The cat that greeted me at the door when I came home. The cat that snuggled in next to me or laid on my lap while watching TV. Willie was nearly always next to me.

As the years went be we lost Abby, her beautiful "sister" kitty. Abby had become pretty frail and lost most of her teeth, so it was terribly sad, but not so surprising when her time came to leave us. Willie liked being an only child. She got all the attention. She was fine being alone with me. But I thought she needed a friend. So a new kitty, Steffi, came into our life. Willie was not so sure about Steffi. But Steffi licked her head and she liked that. So many times I found them sleeping butt to butt - touching each other but never looking in the same direction. I knew they liked each other, but didn't want anyone else to know.  Steffi was sweet and still let Willie be in charge. We were a happy "all girl" little family.

Then came Chevy. The kitten I found under a Chevy Cavalier so skinny, covered with fleas, with a large burn on his neck. He looked so tiny, but he was a boy. And even though the door was shut to the downstairs bedroom where he was, Willie knew he was there. Chevy liked Steffi from the start - he also liked the way she licked his head! But Willie was slow to want this addition to the family - and to give up the role of the dominant cat to one who proved to be small, but mighty. And the small didn't last long.

Willie was getting older. And probably due to the "treats" of canned food given from my guilt of leaving them so often with work, Willie's teeth were not good. This time the surgery was not in the ear, but in her mouth as she lost several of her teeth, including the big, fang type teeth in the front. He hiss and meow was definitely worse than her bite without those teeth. But Willie was fine with eating canned food. In fact she liked it. Actually, she loved it like no other cat I've ever seen. She ate it with great enthusiasm and like she hadn't eaten in days. It was so cute and she was a happy cat.

But I noticed Willie was losing a little weight, even though she ate a lot. And she meow-moaned at night until I would either call her several times or go get her and bring her to bed. On her next regular vet appointment (which she hated!) the vet also noticed the weight loss and ran some blood tests. This showed that Willie had a hyperthyroid. For the next week Willie got to take medicine which she did not like at all! But the medicine luckily helped the thyroid. So the choice was to keep giving the medicine every day forever or to spend 10+ days at the K-State Vet school and have an intense radioactive iodine treatment to her thyroid. I chose going to Manhattan. This gave Willie and I something in common because I, too, had radioactive iodine treatments for my thyroid cancer several years ago.

Luckily I was able to manage to schedule a few work trips at the same time as Willie's treatment. She was so good in the car ride to Manhattan, I felt so bad that I was leaving her there. After nearly two weeks I picked up Willie and we headed home. She wasn't supposed to sit on my lap after the radiation treatment, but within a mile outside of Manhattan, I let her out, put a blanket on my lap and she sat on my lap the whole drive home. The tests afterwards went well and the thyroid was working at a normal level, but Willie never really put the weight back on.

In May of 2010, I was laid off from my job. No more packing the suitcase every week or two and leaving the kitties with Pam. I was home a lot and the cats were happy - except that I had started volunteering at the Kansas Humane Society and often smelled like other cats or even dogs. I think Willie was the happiest to have me home, except when I didn't get out of bed to feed her at her usual time in the morning. But Willie let me know if I was late. First by tapping the small mirror on by bathroom vanity over and over and over and over until I got up and when I moved that, she went to my nightstand and knocked things off the nightstand until I got up. While it may have been annoying, it worked and I admired the smart thinking of that little cat. She loved her food with a vengeance I've never seen from an animal before and probably never will again.

So I should have noticed sooner that Willie was no longer knocking things down to eat in the morning. I thought she was just used to me being home - I had been out of work for nearly a year. But Willie's excitement to eat had changed - she would eat half as much and leave the rest for Steffi. I thought she just didn't like the brand I changed to while unemployed. But she had eaten it for a few months and liked it. I bought the brand she loved and still she was not that interested in eating and then for a couple days she would not eat at all and was becoming lethargic. How could this cat who loved food so much not eat? I knew something was wrong. Monday morning I called the vet and got Willie in that day. She ran some tests, but they only showed that there were some very early signs of kidney disease and shouldn't have affected her appetite. She was put on a medication to make her want to eat, but still, Willie was not interested beyond a bit of water in the morning.

Turning to the internet, I found many other cats with a similar issue and the owner had fed their cats with a syringe with food mixed with some water. I was determined to try it and bought two sizes of syringes from the pet store to feed her - a larger one for food and a smaller one for water. This kind of worked. Wrapping Willie in a beach towel, I fed her a bit of food and some water twice a day. But she clearly didn't like it, even with her favorite food. And it was not enough food to survive. Then the diarrhea started. It still amazes me that Willie made it to the litter box every time even though it looked like it hurt her to walk very far.

But she was getting worse, not better, and had to go back to the vet. Hoping for something easy, Willie got an enema to clean her out and they got her re-hydrated. But in doing the enema, a blockage was found in the colon and it was most likely cancer. I took Willie home to give her lots of love with the hope that the blockage would move. Unfortunately Willie just became weaker and within a day she only wanted to sleep in the back corner of the downstairs bedroom. My sweet kitty who laid by my side while watching TV and slept with me each night was no longer comfortable. She wouldn't even stay in her favorite kitty bed in the living room, but rather continued to choose the back corner of the bedroom where Steffi watched over her from the bed. And the diarrhea was back and she looked sore and weak. I knew that I was keeping her alive for me and not her.

On Wednesday, April 27, 2011, I was no longer able to feed her. Willie was not interested. She was weak and tired. I sat with her and she seemed to enjoy it when I pet her, but she could only handle a small time on my lap. I knew I had to let her go. The vet was so nice and explained the slight possibility of surgery, but that it would only give Willie a few months to live and those months may not be good. That time would be for me, not for Willie. She was tired and weak and she was ready, even if I wasn't. I was with her until her last moment. While I told Willie I loved her, she was peacefully gone.

I miss her so much.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, April 8, 2011

New Mosaic Designs - Cats!!!

 My newest mosaic projects are kitty wall plaques. I think they turned out pretty cute for my first tries. They are made with broken plates, marbles and a few tiles for the outline of the "Calico" kitty.

The next ones I make will be inside a "frame" so they are easier to hang. These will have to go on a easel.
Close-up of a kitty face made all of broken plates except for the eyes. 
Enhanced by Zemanta

I Met Clifford

Yes, that's me with Clifford, the Big Red Dog. He made a visit to the Kansas Humane Society, and, yes, I did let all the kids pose with Clifford before I stepped in for a picture.
The Humane Society does a great job with offering so many fun activities for kids (of all ages!).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I love RATS????

Everyone thinks I'm a "cat person". Guess that's what happens when you have 3 cats!  I really love dogs, too, but with no real yard at my condo, that really doesn't work for me. So I get my "dog and puppy fix" by volunteering at the Kansas Humane Society.  Little did I know that it would be these sweet, little rats who would win me over. To think that only a few weeks ago, my 10 year old friend, Claire, had to convince me to even look at them. Now I think they are GREAT! They are so friendly and inquisitive. Now I don't think my cats will be impressed with my new friends, but I'm proud that I have broadened my horizons!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Claire & I went Skating!

We had a great time skating today! We just need to skate more often so I'm not so sore afterwards. Plus it takes an hour or so for me to remember how!