Saturday, March 1, 2014

Good-bye to Snowball

Snowball, peeking out of the curtains
Snowball liked to "help" me grade papers
 Last Wednesday we said good-bye to our oldest cat, Snowball.  Snowball was originally Brian's former neighbor's cat who they let be an outdoor kitty.  The neighbor's moved away in 2003, but Snowball stayed behind.  Brian took to leaving food out for her, and she rewarded him by letting him pet her and love on her when he came home at night.  She never showed any interest in coming inside, spending her days roaming the neighborhood and snatching food where she could.  Then one day near Christmas when I was visiting from the East Coast, we opened the door and saw Snowball on the porch with her face ripped open.  Brian got a carrier that he had bought, we put her in, and drove her to a Bansfield that happened to be open.  From that day on, Snowball was an indoor cat.

I can't say it was an easy transition--she would meow at night, and attack legs when you walked around--but things got better when I moved out here with my 2 cats Addy and Beau.  When we moved all of them in together, Snowball finally had friends to play with and stopped whining.  She accepted them surprisingly easily, considering how long she was an outdoor cat, and she and Addy had a great time chasing and playing. 

We called this our kitty strip club.

Snowball had the greatest tail!  The best part was its white tip (not shown)

That's not to say that she never wanted to go outdoors.  She escaped for overnight jaunts twice--once when Brian's father forgot to close our door, and another time when we forgot to close the door--but she always knew where home was, and never had a problem finding us again. 

After Addy died, Snowball became a little depressed (and a lot fatter!) because Beau was already really old and not fun to play with.  So we went to the SPCA and got her a friend--Zoe.  After getting Zoe, Snowball really perked up and they loved to wrestle and play.  They would really get into it after dinner, and spend a lot of time wrestling and chasing for hours.  She didn't even seem all that affected when Beau died not long after Zoe came home.

A rare moment with all 3 of them.
And then just the girls.

This lasted until the Sunday 2 weeks ago.  We noticed that we hadn't seen Snowball all day, and became concerned after she didn't appear when we put Gabby to bed.  We went looking for her, and found her in the closet.  This wasn't unusual--she would often nap in the closet to escape Zoe's attention.  But when she moved to under the bed, we realized something was wrong.  When she wouldn't eat cat treats on Monday, I knew something was very wrong and called the vet.  They told me to bring her in immediately.

Once we got there, the vet did a number of tests and dropped the first bombshell--Snowball was a male!  Brian had been calling him a "her" since before we met, and none of the vets we'd taken him to in all the time we had him had ever corrected us.  It was a bit like your kid having a sex change! 

Unfortunately, that's where the levity ended.  X-rays showed that Snowball's heart was enlarged.  We transferred him to the main VCA hospital in Sacramento, and they did an echocardiogram to determine what was actually going on.  It turns out he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart with a ton of fluid), but even worse, a huge blood clot in his left atrium.  The blood clot was so large that if it broke loose, it would block the aorta and cause immediate death.  We started him on Lasix to remove the fluid from his heart, and several types of thrombosin to keep the clot from getting larger.

He responded to the Lasix--he started to walk around more and come visit us downstairs instead of staying upstairs all the time, and he was peeing like crazy--but he never started eating again.  I took him in for more tests, and they determined his potassium was low, which makes you feel terrible and causes the not-eating.  We got some gel to give him as a supplement, and tried to give it to him twice.  Far from making him eat, it caused him to go back to hiding and avoid us.  Brian and I knew then that it was over.  So we both took him in on Wednesday morning and said good-bye.

It's been a rough go.  Snowball was only 10, so we thought we had a few more years before this happened.  It's also been hard on Zoe.  She now waits for us outside the door in the mornings and insists on being petted and held more.  She's also less playful, and likely a little depressed.  We're planning on getting another cat, but want to wait until we mourn a bit first.  Gabby is a 2 year old, so knows nothing.  We did tell her that Dubby went bye-bye and said that he lives "way up there" (while pointing to the sky).  All she did was ask if Dubby still ate tuna and drank water.  I'm actually really happy she's so little now and doesn't really understand.  It's hard enough to deal with mine and Brian's (and Zoe's) grief without having to comfort her too.

So good-bye, Snowball, Dubby, P-Dubs, Dubernator, White Kitty.  We will miss you, but are so thankful you are no longer in pain.  And enjoy your tuna.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so sorry. Brian did such a good thing taking in Snowball all those years ago. And even though Snowball always hid when I was around, I will miss him.

    You've had a rough go of it with your beloved kitties. If you need anything or need a night out, let me know. Xoxoxo.