Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Final Update On Our Scruffy

I have been trying to find the right words, all day, for this post.  I'm not sure I have yet to find them.  One of the really cool things about having a blog is that it's an archived journal that can be read and enjoyed for unlimited time in the future.  It's great for jogging our memories of "which Grand Canyon Star Party??", or "When was that trip to San Diego??".  Today, however, it was a very bittersweet trip of reviewing our dear Scruffy's life with us.

We have written blog posts about Scruffy from when we first brought him in from the outside, a pitiful feral in even more pitiful shape.  You can click on the category of Kitties in the library, in the right side bar of this page.  Our first mention of Scruffy goes back to April 22, 2009 - though we had been feeding him for a full year before that date.  Originally Scruffy was quite robust, imposing, and a little scary (to be honest).  He was a huge cat that was more than capable of providing for himself.  Sometime during that year of feeding him he fell on hard times, however.  After not being around for a month or so, he showed up, a shadow of his former self - matted coat, emaciated, scared, and in dire need of help.

Dean managed to capture him, bring him in, and our Scruffy adventure began.  Trips to Vet (Dr. D at Bernard Veterinary Hospital) resulted in neutering and shaving to get rid of the mats (the first of several haircuts he had), dental work to extract the roots of broken off upper canines (probably why he was so emaciated - no longer able to catch meaty food), x-rays, and lab work.  All of which revealed Scruffy was FIV + (similar to HIV in humans).  We committed to giving him a good home, integrated him into our tribe of cats, and gave him as much food as he wanted - and he wanted a lot!  He would, sometimes, eat 3-4 bowls of wet cat food a day!  Needless to say, he gained weight - though his health problems were not over.  He was found to have spinal stenosis from an old injury, requiring pain medication every other day to let him move with less pain; he also went blind within about 6 months of coming indoors (likely a complication of the FIV) and developed high blood pressure and glaucoma.

Through the wonders of medicine Scruff's blood pressure was somewhat controlled, however his glaucoma never responded well to treatment and this past June he had surgery to remove the affected eye.  His Ophthalmologist, Dr. Ruben Merideth - a renown physician in Veterinary Ophthalmology, runs a couple of clinics in Tucson (as well as throughout the United States) and we were fortunate to have him handling Scruffy's eyes.  Dr. Merideth commented, every time he saw Scruffy, "You know, I read his chart and think 'this poor cat is a train wreck!', and then I walk in the room and see him and he's a handsome guy!  He's healthy other than his awful health problems, but he seems healthy and happy!"

So, between Scruffy's times of ill health (recurrent respiratory infections, eye infections, dehydration) he really did have some good times!  We took him on vacation to the Midwest with us last summer - 2011 (his first time to fly in a plane, stay in a motel, and walk in grass!) and he was a 'natural' at traveling.  While in Illinois we took him to Iowa with us for our niece's wedding, enabling him to win the hearts of his Illinois AND Iowa family!

He has always been a "Daddy's Boy", snuggling with Dean on the couch while watching/listening to TV - though I will admit, he seemed to have a fondness for me as well.  During our vacation last summer he managed to find his way into our bed and became a fixture, even when Dean was off to RAGBRAI.  Scruffy loved to cuddle, but would let you know when he was 'done' (usually a low rumbling growl, or a straight from "The Bride of Frankenstein" hissss).  In the picture on the right Scruffy is laying across Dean's chest and abdomen (he was really a huge cat!)

Scruffy was pretty laid back about the rest of the cats.  He tolerated them well, but let them know when they were bothering him a bit too much.  Our newest kitty, Lucy, really liked Scruffy a lot.  She would play with his tail, snuggle up next to him on the couch to nap, and was recently observed washing his face for him!  He didn't seem to mind the attention from her, except when she would bite his tail, of course.  I think he recognized that she's a playful youngster and showed great tolerance for her.  In the picture at left she is snuggled up in front of him, on the couch - showing that she's grown a huge amount since we've gotten her!

It has seemed that no matter what obstacles popped up, we were able to get Scruff through the crisis and he would bounce back better than ever.  Even with the FIV looming on the horizon, he was doing well - begging for barbeque and steak a week ago, waiting for me to fix his breakfast or dinner, toddling around the house as he has for the past few years.  All of that changed a week ago.  Once again, Scruffy seemed to have a "cold" and his appetite was just not what it had been.  When all else failed he would always eat turkey baby food, but this time he wasn't even interested in that.  We have syringe fed him before, so that was the next step - along with taking him to see Dr. D this past Monday.  She was glad to hear we were getting food into him, but thought he warranted some further testing.  His lab work revealed that the FIV was finally taking over, he was severely anemic, and he was not going to get better this time.  He spent one night at the hospital and then came home to us, "on Hospice Care" (as Dr. D put it).  We continued to Nurse him through the rest of the week, though his condition continued to rapidly deteriorate and he was no longer able to walk by Friday.

I have posted about the difficulty of making the "final decision" as a pet owner, before, when Lance was dying.  Last evening Dean and I decided that for Scruffy's comfort, and peace, we would take him to the Vet today.  I stayed awake with him most of the night, and I think Scruffy liked having someone close by - and the TV on - all night.  This noon, we took Scruffy to the Vet's office and cuddled him as he drifted off to join his brothers - Lance, Marley, and Atticus.

The couch seems very empty without him.  Making dinners for the cats this evening meant that there was too much food.  Doling out pills was too easy.  How did we get so attached to a scruffy, scrawny, feral that looked like he had been run over?  How could we not?

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