Saturday, March 1, 2008

Akira the retarded cat April 2001-February 2008

Well, for all of you who may not know yet, the title probably says it all. Two days ago, fed up, Emily and I decided to bring Akira to our vet to have her looked at about her "delicate" condition; and by "delicate", I mean her propensity to pee all over everything we own, sometimes right in front of us. She had been doing this before, as we were tearing the bedroom and living room apart, calling the demolishing process 'remodeling'. We figured she was pretty freaked out that everything was changing and was letting us know in the only way she knew how: making everything in the house smell like ammonia and cat food mixed together. Back then we told our vet about it and he suggested that it was simply a case of anxiety. From almost any other animal, I'd snort in disagreement, but with this cat: definitely. Talk about anxiety, if I were sitting in my chair, legs outstretched, and she'd happen to walk by and for 'some reason' (giggle) I'd twitch my legs, that cat would jump straight up. She probably had about a three-foot vertical takeoff. Putting that in our terms, it would be like Michael Jordan being able to jump about 25 feet straight up in the air as he was about to dunk a basketball. Yeah, our cat was twitchy.

Anyway, the last time our vet put Akira on anti anxiety medication, which is another fancy name for kitty Prozac. It worked out OK. The fire-hose dropped to a minor, occasional trickle, something we could manage. This time, however, the prognosis was different.

The Vet visit started out pretty typical:

Dr Mike: "How's Akira doing?"

Me: "Well you know, peeing all over everything."

Dr Mike: "So, the usual then."

Me: "Yup."

Dr Mike: "Any other issues?"

Me: "Well yeah, she has this drinking problem."

Dr Mike: "Oh man, I hate it when I see these things. How did it start?"

Me: "You know, the usual way: wine coolers while hanging out with her friends, but then beer as she was feeling more daring, even though she didn't like the taste; she had to fit in. Pretty soon it was on the the harder stuff, and now, she doesn't get up until noon and soon thereafter she hitting the sauce again."

Dr Mike: "Time for an intervention."

Me: "Maybe, but I'm not sure it's not too late by now. It's been going on for a while now..."

Dr Mike: "At this stage, there could be liver damage...."

Ironically, a day and a blood test later, that's exactly what Akira had: liver damage. It seems that there was something wrong with her liver that caused some of it to stop working and the rest of the liver was being overtaxed. It was only a matter of time before complete liver failure. If Akira was a person, she would have gone on an organ transplant list. As she's not, and only a cat, there is no such thing; not even on the black market in Southeast Asia.
Dr. Mike was great as we talked on the phone when he gave me the results of the blood test. He said the only other thing that they could do was run an ultrasound to look at the liver, but all that would do would be to confirm what we already knew. He said she'd probably only last another four to six months, and things would get worse. Akira wasn't in pain then, but towards the end, she would be.

We had no real choice.

Later on that afternoon, I brought her in to be put down. I didn't stay in the room and pet her and tell her everything was going to be all right, mostly because I could not sit in a room where an animal was about to die and watch it happen. I don't think I could have prevented myself from snatching her back up again and taking off. I'm a coward like that. So I dropped her off at the office, and after exchanging some niceties with the two girls at the desk, drove off.

Well, she's gone now and Emily and I are busying ourselves with getting the house ready for our newest Chinese import later this spring.

The problem is this: every couple of hours I wonder why I'm not grieving. Why am I taking this so well? Em cried a bit last night and still today every now and again, I notice she has this sad, faraway look in her eyes. Why can't I even shed a tear?

All right, here's where I get a bit philosophical on this issue, so some of this may be a bit off. Come to think of it, if I had graduated college, it probably have been with a B.S. in B.S., but here we go nonetheless. Just remember, take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt, or, if it suits you, a whole rim full.

When Em and I first laid eyes on Akira in the Spring of 2001, a tiny, malnourished ugly little rat-like creature, I didn't fall in love, I fell in pity. I felt bad for her and so it was with that feeling that I went into the seven year relationship with the greatest nimrod of the feline species. I am very happy that we could provide a life for her that lasted seven years longer than it would have otherwise. I am proud that we gave her a good home to pee in. She was comfortable and happy; well, in her own retarded way. She had soft, warm spots to sleep, plenty of food, water and love, and the house was her litter box for number one. What more could a cat want?

Unlike Emily, I wasn't fond of that cat, in the traditional sense. I enjoyed seeing her comfortable and pampered. I had fun watching her try to meow, and in general, impersonate a normal cat. In short, Akira was a source of entertainment for me. She wasn't so much a member of the family to me as she was like a cute little screensaver on my computer that I had fun watching once in a while. A cute little white fuzzy leaky screensaver. I guess I won't mourn her so much as I'll miss the fun I had, admittedly sometimes at her expense (see the Michael Jordan comment). I'll probably find other ways to amuse myself from time to time.

Another way I can look at all of this is simply seeing this all as having worked out for the best. I mean, Akira was not by any stretch of the definition socially graceful. Can you imagine her reaction to a child in the home? I mean, when she wanted to hide, she could with the two of us, but little boys can go places that only a weasel coated in Crisco could go. There would be no safe place in the house for that cat. Talk about anxiety: with her stress coping abilities, or should I say lack thereof, she would probably spontaneously combust within a week of our son coming home, leaving the three of us shocked, confused, covered in cat hair and pee, wondering how we were ever going to be able to clean up and deodorize such a mess. Yup, Akira is better off not facing that kind of end.

All in all, it was a good life for Akira, and I can say I have no regrets about what has happened.

Before I go over and hug my dog, I'm going to give one last tribute to our small retarded cat: I'm going to go pee in the one place Akira never went: the right place. Man, I need to lay off the coffee.

Goodbye, Akira.

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