My Name is Leo

An adored cat deals gracefully with a jaw tumor while his owner quietly falls apart.

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Location: Philadelphia area, Northeast, United States

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Darkness and Light

Our fearless hero is not looking good today, folks.

He basically hasn't eaten since Tuesday -- nearly two days without substantial food. And he looks weak and sad and all the things one looks for when one is answering the questions about quality of life.

This morning I tried a/d food (which he hasn't had in a few weeks.) He was very excited as I opened the can, and prepared it for him...but then just licked a little and turned away. Same story for every thing else I've tried -- baby food, pureed Fancy Feast.

Reminds me very much of the situation when his brother Zeke had kidney failure last year. With Zeke, we didn't realize how dire it was -- I made a vet appointment to have him checked, and by the morning of the appointment, Zeke was so weak that he had lost control of his bladder and couldn't stand.

I don't want Leo to get to that point.

I had promised myself that, if the end seemed near, I would take Leo out to the back yard -- a place he's desperately wanted to explore these 11 years we've been in this house -- but he hasn't been allowed outside for 13 years -- since the day I took him home from outside my grandparent's house, where his mom had shown up one day (from who knows where) to give birth.

So, I carried him out this morning...walked barefoot in the dewy grass and placed Leo down. He was not frightened, as I thought he might be. He did not freeze (as he had the couple times he had managed to sneak out the back door onto the back steps during his lifetime.

Instead, he strolled around, smelling the trees and plants and walking the periphery of the fence. Occasionally, he would brush past me in that way that cats do to say hello.

I wondered, is this like a dream to him? To finally walk the ground that he had stared out at for so many years. To sniff up close the grass that he had only caught a whiff of on the breeze for oh, too, long.

Amazingly, even as he wobbled a bit, he never stopped exploring.

But he nearly fell as he jumped up on a side table, and he looked unsteady as he debated on how to get down.

So, I scooped him up and brought him back into the house. He purred loudly when back on the familiar carpet, but only moments later he walked to the screen door and let out one loud obvious wish to be able to roam freely again.

Since then, he's basically just been lying around, not making a sound. Occasionally venturing into the kitchen to sniff at the food I've left out (and I try to offer him anything I can think of to tempt him, to no avail.)

I did force feed him a little it before I began to write this -- pushing a baby spoon of baby food into his mouth and trying to get him to swallow. In the past, sometimes just tasting the food in his mouth would be enough to get him started eating.

But this time, he began to growl as I insisted in pushing another spoonful into his mouth. And so I let him go - literally. In the figurative sense, perhaps soon...

He doesn't seem to be in pain -- just weak and wobbly. I've been holding him off and on through the day -- sometimes he purrs loudly and other times he's just been staring, staring into my eyes.

The blank look I remember Zeke had in his final days.


Blogger Merujo said...

Bless your heart, C, I know this is very hard for you. Leo's been a heck of a trooper for so long now. I'll be thinking very good thoughts.



10/05/2006 5:17 PM  

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