Category Archives: Kitties

Widget

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“I can’t believe this is happening to us again.”

This was a phrase that Shawn and I have repeated many times since that awful morning on July 8th. That was the morning we learned that our kitten, Widget, was sick. In case you hadn’t read my previous post, we had just put down our beloved cat Beans just five days before.

We repeated it again on July 17th, when we had to bring Widget into the vet to say our final goodbyes, exactly two weeks to the day after we said our final goodbyes to Beans.

“Are you familiar with how the procedure works?” the vet tech asked us as we sat in the “Comfort Room” in the vet’s office, while Shawn held our ailing kitten in his arms. Yes, unfortunately we were all too familiar with the procedure. And we couldn’t believe this was happening to us again.

Days after Beans passed, Widget spent most of his time sitting on the couch and looking out the window. He missed his big brother, we thought. Then he started eating less of his food. He’s growing up and starting to graze more like a normal cat, we thought. Then on the morning of July 8th he refused to eat at all and began to throw up white foam. My paranoia brought him right into the vet’s office where it was found he had a fever and a very low red blood cell count. A week of hell followed as we went from treating a possible infection or possible autoimmune disorder, squirting liquid medicine in our poor kitten’s mouth morning and night. We had been granted a few days free of forcing a cat to tolerate medicine, now we were back in the game.

After about nine days we knew Widget was getting worse. He no longer ate willingly and we were force feeding him baby food through a dropper. He could barely walk anymore and was nothing but skin and bone. On Monday morning, July 17th, Shawn brought him into the vet for another check up. The doctor agreed it was time to say goodbye. I rushed home from work to join my husband’s side in the “Comfort Room”, and we ended the suffering of our poor, barely 4-month-old kitten.

When you have no definite answers, your mind will run wild with theories. Was there something in our house poisoning our cats? I googled everything from radon poisoning to lead poisoning to sulphur poisoning and none of the symptoms matched. Could I have brought home some exotic toxin from Hawaii? Did he get bit by some insect? Should we have got a second opinion? Did Widget die needlessly? I ended up reaching out to the shelter that we had adopted Widget from, asking if they knew of any mysterious illnesses his siblings may have been diagnosed with. At the time I called, the shelter had heard nothing. Then, this past Friday, they called me back with some devastating, yet oddly comforting news.

Widget’s sibling had suddenly died. The diagnosis was FIP- Feline Infectious Peritonitis. FIP is caused by a common virus that over 80% of cats get exposed to. However, in rare cases, the virus mutates and causes FIP. FIP is untreatable, incurable, and fatal. Most cats die within weeks if not days. Common symptoms are the refusal to eat, anemia, and a fever that will not go away with antibiotics, all of which our Widget had.

I say this awful news was comforting because at least now I have an answer. At least now I know that we were fighting a losing battle and we did everything we possibly could.

Widget lived a happy and spoiled little kitten life. He got to make two trips up to Lake Charlevoix. He would calmly sit on our laps as we sat next to bonfires or sat outside on the deck. He had a huge cat tree all to himself and would snuggle between Shawn and myself to sleep at night. We used to joke that we never wanted to see him get big, never knowing the true weight of our words.

Beans was my first cat, but Widget was my first kitten. He was sweet and cute and calm and loving and jumped on my lap anytime I sat on the couch. He was my “snuggle bunny” and the house just feels so damned empty without him and Beans.

I’m getting by, but the grief has ways of showing up unexpectedly. I was in the grocery store recently and a song came on that I had once danced around the living room to while holding Widget in my arms. Of course I started bawling while everyone else in the toilet paper section walked on oblivious to my pain.

I know we will one day welcome a special new kitty/kitties into our home, and some of that emptiness will dissipate. I just still can’t believe this happened to us, again.

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Beans

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This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write, but I feel like if I don’t, I might have a breakdown. Not to say that I’m functioning too well right now; I’m in the stage of grief where the shock has worn off and reality has sunk its sharp claws directly into my heart: my best friend, my faithful companion, my baby boy, my kitty Beans, is dead.

Beans’ health, while showing signs of slight decline since January, took a steep nosedive as soon as I got home from my work trip to Hawaii in late May. After being hospitalized and treated for a UTI and pancreatitis, we thought he might recover with medication. However, there was the matter of him having swollen lymph nodes through his entire illness. Best case scenario: the swelling was due to throwing up frequently. Worst case (and more likely) scenario: Beans had cancer. The only way to confirm the cancer was through surgery, and there was no way I was putting him through further pain and suffering than necessary. Besides, at just eight pounds, the surgery alone could’ve killed him. After a month of him not responding to his medication, continuing to lose weight and not eat, I made the painfully difficult decision that humanely euthanizing my poor baby was better than allowing him to starve to death. I decided that if nature didn’t have its way by July 3rd, I’d take Beans in.

How do you prepare for the day you know your pet is going to die, at your hands no less? Well, first you run with a friend. Then, you allow your dying pet to do whatever the hell he wants all day; in Beans’ case, I let him outside and allowed him to feel the grass. His health was so bad at this point he couldn’t even jump, let alone run, so a leash wasn’t necessary. I just followed closely behind him as he slowly made his way around the yard, down the driveway, and inspecting the neighbor’s bushes. I constantly picked him up and smothered him with kisses. I gave him chest rubs. I held him close to my chest in the car ride to the vet’s office and his limp body didn’t fight back.

“You did everything right by Beans”, the vet told me before the moment. You know the moment I’m talking about. I won’t go into details because that time in that room with Beans as he passed is sacred to me. I will admit I whaled like a wounded animal. I was a wounded animal.

I didn’t request his ashes because I didn’t want to think of Beans as being trapped in a box forever. Was that the right thing to do? I have been questioning every moment and every decision I made since Beans got sick. What could I have done differently? Was I attentive enough? Was it all my fault because we got a new kitten? Should I have taken him in sooner? Should I have let him hang on longer, maybe a miracle could’ve saved him? These are questions I’ll wrestle with forever I’m sure. Along with these demons, I did come home with Beans’ paw print pressed in clay that we baked when we got home. I still marvel at how tiny that paw print looks compared to the large personality Beans had.

Everyone loved Beans. Every doctor and vet tech that ever treated him told me how handsome and friendly he was. Every friend who stopped by our home was greeted by Beans; he was not the type of cat to hide upstairs. He wanted to be involved in everything. I’ll never forget waiting in line to pick up Beans from the Pets Hotel where he was being boarded when we went on a cruise in February. I overheard one of the employees telling a couple who was picking up their dog, “You know, I just started here, and I never thought I liked cats. But there is this one cat we have with us named Beans, and he is just the coolest cat ever.” He was.

Ten years ago, I wanted a pet. I was living in a tiny apartment and though I preferred dogs, a cat would have to do. Word got around my office that I was reluctantly thinking of bringing a cat into my home. My office manager at the time just so happened to be taking care of a stray in her neighborhood. “He’s a good kitty and could use a good home” she told me. He was delivered to me on December 15th, 2007 with a red bow on his carrier. The night before I had bought every item in the cat isle at Target. We were suspicious of each other that first night. Beans mostly hid in the cat tent I had purchased (I went a bit overboard at Target), while I wondered if he would like me, and vice versa. The next morning I woke up to Beans next to me in bed. He pawed at my face and gave me his first meow. In that moment, I became a crazy in love obsessed kitty momma.

Beans was by my side through every move to every new home; the poor guy lived in five different residences in his nearly ten years with me. He stuck by me through my divorce and instantly accepted his new daddy Shawn. “Accept” is a weak word, Beans was straight up in love with Shawn. As cute as it was, I had to remind him frequently, “you’re sitting on his lap? Who feeds you and cleans your litter box after all?!” Beans had Black Kitty Healing Powers, I swear to God. Not only could he cure any emotional crisis by jumping on my lap, but he once healed me when I had the flu. Seriously, stay with me here- I was up all night hacking up a lung. Beans eventually jumped onto my chest and began what I can only describe as “turbo-purring”. Ever time I coughed, he purred stronger. The vibrations from his body helped calm me enough that within a few minutes, I finally drifted asleep. Tylenol Cold and Flu had nothing on Black Kitty Healing Powers.

I write this two days after Beans’ passing. I write this because it’s a more constructive way to deal with my grief than pacing around the house sobbing, touching every spot Beans ever lay down on thinking I can feel his warmth. I write this because I need to get it all out, not just as a catharsis, but because I want the world to know what a special cat Beans was. I want it recorded into history (or just WordPress) that Beans was the greatest cat who ever lived and he took a piece of my heart with him to Kitty Heaven.

Mommy loves you Beans. Thanks for being mine.

¬†HAWAII, KITTENS, AND AGE GROUP AWARDS, OH MY! (or, what I’ve been up to since my 50 mile race)

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Our newest medal model, Widget

After my 50 mile race on April 29th, May arrived and flew by in a flash. Though I only logged about 80 miles of running that month (my lowest monthly mileage since 2012), I guess I had a few good excuses.

First was my trip to Hawaii. OH MY GOODNESS WHERE ARE ALL THE PICTURES?!?!?! Well, though I was in paradise, it was nonetheless a business trip in paradise. I took some pictures but the business at hand left little time for exploring outside of the Honolulu city limits. That’s not to say I didn’t have a blast. Waikiki is full of great shopping, bars, restaurants, and beautiful ocean views. Though the weather was perfect for outdoor running, the amount of tourists and some scary, sun-fried locals made me cautious about running outside by myself. Alas, all the miles I logged while in Hawaii were on the hotel treadmill. Shout-out to Maui Brewing Company for having some delicious beers, and to the person who invented the Mai Tai.

The morning after I landed in Michigan, after sleeping in until 11am because I had just flown through a billion different time zones, Shawn whisked me away to a belated birthday brunch (oh yeah, I had a birthday while in Hawaii). Suspiciously, he grabbed our cat carrier before we departed. We had been casually looking at kittens available for adoption but suddenly I realized Shawn’s longing for a kitten was serious. He had something up his sleeve. After having lunch at the New Hudson Inn (they stopped serving breakfast at 11am, jerks), Shawn drove us to a local Pet Supplies Plus that was having an adoption event. Long story short- Laura spots black kitten, Laura holds black kitten, Shawn and Laura walk out with black kitten. Black kitten is now Widget.

During the joy that comes with raising a kitten, the first week Widget was in our home, I unfortunately missed some issues going on with our existing kitty, Beans. Shawn mentioned he didn’t eat much while I was in Hawaii but I selfishly attributed it to him being anxious that I was away. After Widget’s arrival Beans began to eat less, rarely use the litter box, and hid away from us. After the first couple days I blamed it on stress from the new kitten. But by mid-week I was concerned. He began vomiting regularly and showing absolutely no interest in food. He stopped purring, meowing, and acting like his normal cheerful self. By Thursday night I decided he needed immediate help and took him to the emergency vet in town. After examining him until 1:30am, it was found Beans had Pancreatitis, a UTI, and a possible mass showed up on an X-ray. My poor baby kitty had to spend all of Memorial Day weekend in the hospital recovering while Shawn, Widget, and I went up North to my parent’s home in Charlevoix for the first time in a year. It’s been over a week since Beans has been home, and I wish I could say he’s made a 100% recovery. However, he has a follow-up appointment tomorrow to find out for sure about that possible mass. In short, I’ve been an absolute mess. I blame myself for him getting sick and I just want my normal chatty, affectionate, goofy, kitty back.

In the midst of Beans’ illness, I ran my first race since my 50 miler, the Miles For Mankind Half Marathon in Westland, MI this past Saturday. I finished in a time of about 2:13ish, which while slow, was still my fastest half marathon time in over three years. To quote our current president: Sad! But it also gave me hope that faster times are ahead. Since this was a small race, my completely non-impressive time was somehow enough for me to win 3rd in my age group. I got a lovely green ribbon that you can see modeled by my Widget.

Before I knew it, May was completely over and June was upon me, leaving 13 weeks until my next 50 miler. I’m happy to report that in addition to the 13.1 miles I ran in Westland, I was able to log 48 total miles this past week. My butt is officially in gear. I have a lot more “life” being thrown at me lately- a sick kitty, a busy job, a house, a husband who sometimes appreciates having me around, but I’m determined to rock North Country in August.

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