The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Goodnight, sweetheart
We had to have our cat, Butch euthanized this weekend. We knew the day would eventually come – not just so soon. Butch was only three and a half years old and the sweetest, cuddliest teddy bear of a cat ever. But what else can you expect from a breed called Ragdoll?

Butch first started showing signs that something was wrong when he was a kitten. He’d start wheezing if he played too hard or if he got too excited. My first worry was that he had a bad heart problem. It did turn out that he had a heart problem, but it was minor and that’s not what killed him.

Last winter, he developed a breathing problem. He wouldn’t play. He just sat, crouched on the floor and wouldn’t move. We took him to the emergency room and it turned out that his lungs were full of fluid. There was no real explanation of why or how it happened – but his lung capacity was down to 17% and we had to do something fast.

One operation and several hundred dollars later, Butch was back with us, but he had picked up cat flu at the clinic, which I have since found out that cats can live with, even if they sneeze a lot. Heck, I have allergies and I sneeze a lot. I would hope no one would think of putting me down for that. He was treated twice for cat Chlamydia, to no avail. We learned to accept the fact that he was just going to be a sneezing, snuffling cat. I had suspicions, however, that the lungs full of fluid were going to be the tip of the iceberg.

One day, as I looked down at Butch, I noticed that one of his eyes looked funny. Butch always had a way of meeting my gaze. He had beautiful blue eyes that always locked with mine in expectation of a cuddle or playtime. It’s just that this time, his right eye seemed a little skewed and a little “off.” As time went on, the problem grew to the point where his eye actually seemed to migrate off centre. I had read that cats with cat flu often develop conjunctivitis and thought maybe Butch had developed it.

Back to the vet’s we went, where he scared the attending vet who had never seen anything like it. She told us to take him to the specialist right away, as he looked so odd, he needed more than what they could do for him there.

So, Butch, ever patient and ever loving purred his way through another battery of tests at the specialist animal hospital. We were told that he showed no signs of infection. But he did show signs that he had a tumour.

There was the Big C word looming in front of us, but we still requested that he be treated for an abscess with antibiotics and steroids as a last ditch effort. The specialist said he would probably be dead in six months, but we wanted to try anyway.

Ten days went by. The tumour was growing at a phenomenal rate, and nearly pushed his eye out of his socket. The area was obviously painful now, and poor Butch couldn’t even close his eye properly. The steroids gave him a false appetite and thirst, because as soon as his course of treatment was over, Butch’s appetite disappeared and he went off his food. I don’t think he would have even lasted a month, and he would have been in terrible pain. We knew it was time to say goodbye.

On the morning we delivered him to the vet, I held Butch and cuddled him for several minutes. Despite his obvious discomfort, he totally relaxed against me and purred as I stroked him. I told him that he had been a wonderful cat, and that I wished that there had been something that I could do for him. He did what he usually did when I picked him up. He nuzzled under my chin and I could feel that little motor going. I put him in his cat carrier and grew silent.

My husband took him to the vet, who declared that there really was nothing more to be done. Butch even purred at the vet, even though his tail was twitching, as he was in obvious pain. “Come on sweetheart,” he said to Butch, “let’s take care of that headache.”

My 6’3” tall husband lost it. He came back home alone and we both had a good cry. It’s funny how those little furry critters can get under your skin like that.

We'll miss you, Butch.
posted by Melanie O. at 2:30 PM -
  • At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Fudgy and Frosty said…

    *tears falling*

    Farewell Butch...

  • At 7:58 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Thank you, Fudgy and Frosty.

  • At 8:25 AM, Blogger chimera said…

    so sorry - I'm sure Butch was a happy cat during his lifetime and that you did all you could for him. my sympathies.

  • At 8:31 AM, Blogger Karen said…

    I'm so sorry, Mel. I remember when you got Butch, and I know how special he's been to you.
    You did all you could for him, and he's not in pain anymore. Take comfort in all the special purring and hugs you shared with him.

  • At 1:33 PM, Blogger Mabs said…

    Oh Mel I'm so sorry.

    I had to laugh at his name though, I didn't realise that he was a Ragdoll :) I love it!

    He looks so much like my Benjy except Benj is a British Shorthair, so has a stubby nose. With his vet stuff recently, I was a mess, I couldn't sleep, was crying constantly and that was with him eventually going to be ok.

    I'm so sorry you and Dan had to go through that, they really make an impact on your life don't they?

  • At 4:38 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    mabs, yeah. And cats are uncanny (dogs, too for that matter.) They can tell when you need snuggles or just want to be left alone. They can really sense how we're feeling. No wonder people cultivated pets a long time ago. There's such a wonderful symbiotic relationship with a pet.

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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