Sunday night I picked up Genkii, my 8 year old male cat and felt a spot on his side. It felt like a lump. Right in his “armpit” – I know on humans there is a lymph node there and infections there are (A) painful and (B) dangerous. I feel utter panic. My mind instantly went over the potential hard choices which would come with serious illness in my cat.
I was about ten when Cinnamon, my first cat, got sick. Her right eye “clouded over” – it looked like the colored iris was swollen so it totally covered the pupil. She couldn’t see out that eye. The vet said it was probably a brain tumor. She was just seven years old, even putting that in “cat years” she was mid-40’s.
Within a year, she couldn’t get to the food. Between the jump up to it and the other cats in the household, she just couldn’t fight for it. She was losing weight, losing energy, and was clearly in pain. My parents and I had a long discussion about quality of life. They didn’t tell me to put her down. If anything, I remember them figuring out other ways we could try keep Cinnamon as comfortable as possible until her little body gave out entirely.
It was about six months after we put Cinnamon down that Roxie came into my life. I was told she was ten years old, had already been in 9 different homes. I can’t tell you why, since she was a ball of sweetness and love once she opened up (she spent the first three months or so hiding under my bed except at night). I technically adopted her, but she took about six months and then she adopted me.
She had her first serious kidney infection my senior year of high school. My first year of college was hard on Roxie, she was a seventeen year old cat who had been abandoned too much in her life to like me being away for weeks on end. She tolerated my parents feeding her, but they told me she was never as happy when I was at school. When I came home she was all cuddles and love.
She started having more frequent kidney problems. During the summer between my freshman and sophomore year in college, she lost 3 lbs; going from 12 to 9 lbs. Mere weeks before returning to college, the vet said her kidneys were failing. She had six months to a year – if we started daily insulin shots. I couldn’t afford the $100 per month insulin and didn’t think it was quality for Roxie to get daily shots from my mother (not sure she would have had quality getting them from me).
Genkii’s lump turned out just to be a sore with a really thick scab- probably from his sister as they were rough-housing with each other Friday and Saturday quite a bit. But in that moment between wondering and knowing, Cinnamon and Roxie were in my heart and my hands.