As I write this, my cat Alice sits under my desk, one paw over my foot, snoring loudly. At 17-years-old, she’s a relic from the late ‘90s and more beloved than ever. I’m reminded how lucky I am to hear that raspy wheeze, because earlier this year, she almost exhausted her 9th life.
A long haired wisp of a kitty with brown, mottled markings and a scratchy, Marge Simpson-like meow, I got Alice in 1998 from the Camden, NJ SPCA. I’d been seeking a companion for my other cat Moby, and a friend-of-a-friend, a volunteer from the SPCA, brought over two cats to my apartment. One was white with black spots that made her almost a twin to Moby. The volunteer thought that would be the one I’d want. But the other kitty was so tiny, she fit into the palm of my hand. A pile of fur. I couldn’t resist her.
Her new sibling had been named alternately after Moby Grape (‘60s psychedelic band) or Moby Dick, so in keeping with that, my sister suggested I call her Alice, after either Alice Cooper or Alice in Wonderland. Together, they were my two bookish glam rocker felines.
Bigger brother Moby was a bit of a bully to Alice, who loved to hide in closets and away from his punching paw. Friends barely believed she existed. But after Moby died, she discovered a new lease on life (or, at least, food left in her dish) and became friendly, cuddly and, at times, a bit ferocious.
So when she fell suddenly ill this year, it was immediately noticeable. She’d sit facing the wall, wouldn’t eat, smelled terrible and went limp anytime you tried to pick her up. All signs I’d seen before when Moby got sick.
The vet did several tests and X-rays, noting that she had an irregular heartbeat (which she has had all her life), as well as liver and kidney problems. “She only has a short time,” the vet let me down gently. We could either spend thousands of dollars at the hospital, put her down or try giving her antibiotics and fluids at home to ease her pain and see if antibiotics would do the trick. I opted for the last choice; keeping her comfortable at home was the best situation for all of us. I learned how to give her subcutaneous shots. After a few weeks, she only got a bit better so I took her back to another doctor at the same practice who said I shouldn’t be giving her fluid because it was counteracting with her kidney issues and that, “The humane thing to do is to put her down.” But still, here was this scruffy face looking up at me with a sparkle in her eye. Unlike Moby, who I did have to put down, something about Alice told me she wasn’t ready. We kept up her meds and kept the faith.
Long story short: After two rounds of antibiotics, many Facebook comments cheering her on, and a month of observation, she rebounded. Completely. She went back to her old self: demolishing my couch, the nightly 3 a.m. race around the apartment, and long days of snoring at my feet. Never better.
Both vets were stupefied, semi-happy and a little embarrassed. “Huh.”
Now when my husband and I walk by that vet we half-jokingly whisper, “Murderers.”
It also reminded me that sometimes when you look for problems, you’ll find them.
And that sometimes, the owner knows best.
(And that nine lives thing is no joke.)
This week, we’re sharing stories of furry pals and beloved pets:
- Lauren Oster lets her feline freak flag fly
- Lauren Young loves dogs — too much
- Annette Earling will make you want a pet rat
- Amy Barr’s city dog embraces her country side
- Courtney Colwell shares the virtues of training
- Shelly Rabuse begged her parents for a pet
- And Jennifer Ha finally relents
Pat the bunny,