The Length of the Reprieve is Less Important Than What is Done With It

It was an emergency call. This old, scruffy bag of feline bones was only hours away from euthanasia. A Rio Rancho Animal Control agent asked Barbara Bayer of CARMA (Companion Animal Rescue and Medical Assistance) in Corrales, NM, if she could save this elderly guy who deserved better than termination that day.

Never one to hesitate to save an animal in need, Barbara called me because I took in elderly and special needs cats. With time of the essence, I had to race over to Animal Control to whisk him away right then.

Amazingly, despite his pathetic, debilitated condition, he was still friendly. It took only one look at his mouth to see why there was no flesh on his bones. It was disgustingly shocking. His mouth was nothing but rotted teeth and diseased gums. Within a day dental surgery removed eight teeth.

Casey became my home office companion where I could monitor him. Slowly, on his industrial-strength antibiotics, he began to recover: eating without pain, putting on pounds, and accepting my careful grooming of him. It was not very long before he shared fully his affectionate nature and overwhelmed me with head rubbing, licking, cat kisses, and (alas) sitting on my computer keyboard.

He was turning into a handsome short-haired white cat with the most stunning robin’s-egg blue eyes. Months went by quickly as he reveled in his new life of tasty meals, treats, brushing, and lots of active play time. It was an incredible metamorphosis.

Then suddenly, something changed. After his seven months’ resurrection, he began to look lethargic. Blood tests showed elevated liver enzymes. X-rays revealed a liver tumor in an abdomen filled with fluid. A sonogram confirmed the worst.

All through this, Casey never complained. Even during the hour-long sonogram, he lay perfectly still on his back in the padded saddle-like structure used for the test while biopsy needles continuously poked his swollen abdomen. Ultimately it showed Casey had not only a mass on his liver but also on his urinary bladder. And the fluid in his abdomen was bloody – its source unknown.

After draining off a large volume of fluid to ease the pressure on his internal organs, his veterinarian stated that the options were basically three: surgery, chemotherapy, or nothing. Given Casey’s age and condition, only the latter seemed appropriate for him. His prognosis: four to six months. But I had only to look into the depths of Casey resonant blue eyes to know these medical professionals were way off in their calculations.

With a Zip-Loc sandwich bag of hypodermics filled with pain killers, Casey and I went home. For his last four days.

It seemed so unfair that he would die in such a horrible way after having had such an awful life. Yet, at the same time, I was also grateful we had met, even under those distressing circumstances.

In my “gratitude letter” to him, I expressed how glad I was he had finally had a good, happy, fun time filled with loads of loving attention – and how blessed I felt that I had had the privilege of helping make it so. By just being his sweet self, he had left me with a wonderful gift. I could only hope I had reciprocated a small percentage of that.

Tags: #Length #Reprieve #Important

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