A blog dedicated to the researchers who dyed a captured chimp's fur pink, then released it. The other chimps promptly tore it to pieces.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I didn't like her much at first

I liked my kittens cuddly and affectionate, and Bunny was wild as a march hare, almost feral. She came from a friend of a friend who lived right on the border between Long Beach and Compton - not a nice neighborhood at all. I'd gotten her for my wife, to keep her company in the evenings while I was at work. She spent most of her first week with us hiding under the refrigerator.

The vet told us we'd never tame her if she had a place to hide, so we finally had to force her out from under the fridge with a broomhandle and block the back of it so she couldn't get back there anymore. My wife was extraordinarily patient and kind with her, and she finally started to settle down.

Time passed, and Bunny grew less wild. She never completely lost that feral edge, though - you had to move carefully around her lest you provoke scratches and/or bites. She once walked across me while I slept, and savaged my hand when I reached out half-asleep to push her away. But she had her affectionate moments, too. She loved having her belly rubbed. And she absolutely adored having her stubby little stump of a tail scratched. (Bunny was a Manx - her rear end looked much like a rabbit's when she'd sit, which is why we called her Bunny)

More time passed. Bunny grew to be a mature cat, five years old. She rarely bit or scratched anymore, although she retained some of her former skittishness. She wouldn't have been good around children, but since both my wife's and my kids were grown before we even met, it wasn't an issue. Our little family, such as it was, was happy to be together.

And then Bunny stopped eating.

It was a couple of weeks before it got bad enough to take her to the vet. They kept her for observation. For an already insecure cat like Bunny, being caged away from her home was torment. We visited her every day. It didn't help. Finally, they sent her home, not because she was cured or getting better, but because there was nothing they could do for her. We'd taken her in on Sunday; they sent her home Friday, giving us the number of a local 24-hour "pet emergency" center in case things got worse before they reopened on Monday.

Things got worse. On Saturday morning, Bunny began acting very strangely. Our other cat, Mouse, had hissed and spat at Bunny and would have nothing to do with her when we brought her home from the vet. It was like Mouse somehow knew there was something wrong with Bunny. By that afternoon, we were in a panic, so we called the emergency center, who said to bring her in.

The next morning, the vet from the emergency center called. They still weren't sure exactly what was wrong, but Bunny was now blind. I was such an emotional wreck at that point that I actually babbled something like, "Blind? Okay, we can deal with that!" before I realized that healthy five-year-old cats don't just go blind. The vet started talking about CAT scans and brain surgery and thousands more in bills. We were already into them for close to a grand just for the overnight stay, so I told the vet we'd call them back once we decided what to do.

It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made. My heart said "Damn the expense - second-mortgage the house, I don't care!" But my head said, "She's a cat. It's almost criminal to spend thousands of dollars to try to save a cat when children are dying." If there had been a guarantee, I'd probably have done it, but the vet was ethical enough to point out that even their best (and most expensive) efforts still might not save Bunny. So I somehow persuaded my wife that we were doing the right thing, and we called the emergency center back and said we'd come and pick up Bunny and bring her home.

The next twenty-four hours were hell. Bunny started having convulsions, every few hours at first, but growing more frequent. She still wouldn't eat or drink - they'd had her on IVs at the emergency center. She wouldn't use the litter box, peeing on the floor instead. If I put her in the box, she'd simply sit there meowing piteously until I picked her up again.

It seemed the only thing that comforted her was being held and petted, so I slept on the couch that night with Bunny lying on top of me. Toward morning, she woke me up by peeing on me. The convulsions had become more frequent by then, every hour, then forty-five minutes, then a half-hour. I know this is going to sound crazy, but several times I was able to quell the onset of her convulsions by cuddling her and talking to her. But by morning, it didn't work any more.

We called our vet's office - they didn't open until ten. But there was another vet just down the road who was open, so we took poor Bunny there to have her put to sleep. The people at the vet were incredibly kind and sensitive - I think they could see how torn-up we were. We petted Bunny and talked to her while the vet injected her with some ludicrously pink stuff. Seconds later, she was gone.

We took her home and buried her in the back yard, near the back gate where we'd frequently seen real bunnies playing. She still sleeps there today, with tulips planted on her grave so we'll be reminded of her when they bloom.

It's been almost six years since Bunny died, and I've never really been able to write about it before. I think what broke the dam was Wingnut John the Gardener's story about having his cat put to sleep. John's story brought tears to my eyes, but I now realize that I was crying for Bunny, not for John. Well, maybe a little for John's kitty. Pickle couldn't help that his master is a fuckhead.

Anyway, John talks about how he's unsure about getting another cat, and I know exactly how he feels. After Bunny, I wasn't sure I wanted to get a replacement, not that anything could ever really replace Bunny. Like John, I felt I needed time to heal from the loss of Bunny before I could even think about another cat. So it was kind of a surprise when about a month after we buried Bunny, my wife surprised me with O.C. (Other Cat - Orange Cat - Obnoxious Cat - hey, we didn't name him) He was about a year and a half old, and the gal we got him from had found him wandering half-starved, obviously lost or abandoned. Even today, he's never completely lost that feral edge - you have to move carefully around him lest you provoke scratches and/or bites, although he loves to curl up in your lap.

I didn't like him much at first . . .


  • At 2:09 PM, Anonymous Pinkchimp's Wife said…

    I have never seen anything so beautiful and unselfish in my life as this man quieting the Bunnycat through her final convulsions. If that isn't pure unadulterated unconditional love, I don't know what is. Even now, six years later, I still cry when I think about it.

  • At 6:18 PM, Blogger teh l4m3 said…

    How sad, but sweet. And the vet couldn't tell you anything? FIV? Some sort of stroke?

    Anyway, thank you for writing this. One of these days I'll write about Molly, who was killed a couple of months ago by a neighbor's evil dog...

  • At 7:28 PM, Blogger Realist said…

    The vet who put her to sleep said it was a brain tumor - probably something she was born with. There was most likely nothing we could have done to save her.

    Thanks for your comments. I'll be watching for your story.

  • At 9:44 PM, Blogger Anntichrist S. Coulter said…

    Oh, just break my fucking heart, whydontcha.

    I miss my kittiesssssss... They're both alive, but they live with the Beastmaster, the poor bastards... I go to see them & clean the litter & clean them & clean up the stray hair every day, but it's not the same as living with cats...

    Beautiful story, but yeah, you broke my fucking heart.


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