Jake and Bathsheba

A blog by two cats who used to live in the same house in Northern Virginia. Unfortunately, they are both no longer with us.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Not Too Old to Be Playful

Hi! Here I was getting comfortable on my bed in the computer/cat room when Mom decided to take my picture. Look how I've made the formerly white bedspread into my own by putting my grey fur all over it.

I know I'm an old kitty and some people think I'm dull and boring, but something about that camera strap brought out the kitten in me.

Perhaps I wanted to cheer Mom up because she's been down in the dumps lately.

See, this old girl can still be playful and kill that evil camera strap.

Mom was very touched by all the heartwarming comments everyone left about Jake. She is going to try very hard to visit everyone and personally thank them for their support during this difficult time. She still thinks of Jake often. This afternoon when she was working in the garden (in the COLD), she almost imagined seeing Jake near her. More time will help her to heal. This is the final photo she took of Jake, on his last morning with us. (The heart in the corner is SO appropriate!) Oh, no, the tears are streaming down her cheeks again. I will have to let her pet me some more . . . .

Labels: ,

Friday, February 06, 2009


J&B's Mom here:

My beloved Jake was euthanized late yesterday afternoon.

I thought that I could have him with me for a few more weeks, but I came to realize that would not have been in Jake's best interest. He was very ill. Jake had always loved to eat; he'd inhale everything in his dish then try to nudge Bathsheba out of her bowl to eat her food. That led to separate feeding areas. But for weeks now, Jake has not eaten well. He had been on some different appetite stimulants and, while they did help, they did not work well enough. I could have tried some other meds to increase his appetite, but I asked myself, "Why?" Who would that serve? Jake or selfish me who wanted him to live with me forever?

Until last weekend, during Jake's illness he slept on my bed in my sunny room during the day and slept tightly beside or on me there at night. Beginning last weekend, he chose to sleep on a sofa in the dark and cold family room. I could bring him up to bed with me and he would snuggle and purr for a while, but he would leave to return downstairs once I was asleep. Why did he want to be alone?

Wednesday I spoke at length with his new vet. Jake's cancer was very advanced. One thing she said was that euthanasia is one of the greatest gifts we can give our animals. I thought about those words a lot. I kept thinking, "Is it about me or about Jake? What is best for my little boy?" Jake's appetite was poor on Wednesday, though he did eat some of the special chicken that I cooked for him, and he licked the gravy out of the Fancy Feast. Wednesday night I never even changed clothes from work and settled in with Jake on that sofa. He slept tightly next to me all night. I did not sleep well because my decision was becoming apparent to me.

I took Thursday off from work. Jake limped to his food bowls that morning, but barely ate anything. He was on pain meds, but his vet said that once the cancer is in the bones, as his was, it can be very painful. I did not want his rapidly deteriorating health to lead to loss of dignity. I cuddled Jake a lot, and he snuggled next to me on the love seat in the living room as I tried to read the newspaper. I held him in my arms and took him outside to survey his domain: his deck and gardens and the little patch of woods beyond the boundary of my small subdivision lot. At 12:30 p.m., I finally decided to call the vet's office to make the dreaded appointment for later that day.

As some of our longtime readers know, Jake's dad moved to California in the summer of 2007 and he and I formally broke up in October 2007. He and I did a lot of talking recently about Jake. Using my hands-free device, we talked during the half-hour car trip to the vet yesterday. He supported my decision.

The actual procedure was the first euthanasia I ever witnessed. With my 19 year old Maine Coon "Precious" who died in 1997 of kidney failure, I vowed to have her euthanized if she did not make it through the night when she became very weak. She died as I slept next to her on the guest room bed so she spared me that decision. In 1991 my dear Gus was euthanized on the operating table when the vets determined that he had advanced stage stomach cancer. They called me on the phone to advise that course of action. I was not there with him.

So, I was with my dear Jake until the end and a bit afterwards. He trusted me to do the right thing and I think that I did so, but it doesn't stop all the tears and second guesses.

In my gut I feared cancer for Jake when he became ill because my dear Gus's only apparent symptom of stomach cancer had been a similar loss of appetite. Part of me feels guilty for putting Jake through all the tests just to determine conclusively whether it was cancer and where. I guess I hoped against hope that it might be something treatable, but it was not.

Jake lives on in my heart and mind in delightful memories. He was such a handsome boy with a beautiful face and expressive loving eyes. He had the longest white whiskers and the longest striped tale. His fur was silky soft and his marble tabby stripes were striking. He was huggable.

Jake enjoyed the outdoors so much. He would lounge in his bed under the table on the deck, sleep in the dirt under a shrub, or pretend he did not know me when he was stalking around as a great hunter on his back 40. He cruised the Jake highway, so-named because he raced from the Jake passageway in the fence across the deck and to the other side of the yard. He would fly home from the woods when he heard his dad call him with his special whistle tune. He loved to hunt bugs, especially ones that would flit against the sliding glass door adjoining the deck. Jake always had a serious expression on his face as he would mark his territory around the yard. When he was a kitten, he would play with fishing pole toys and launch himself from the stairs in pursuit. He loved to share buttered popcorn and would try to catch kernels thrown to him in mid-flight. He enjoyed the avocado and cantaloupe rinds that he would find in the compost pile, so I had to do a better job of burying them. He could deftly catch crinkle balls. He was wild about catnip. He would greet me at the front door when I got home from work.

But he was also naughty and would spray in the house and mark some of his dad's equipment. He loved to slam-dunk Bathsheba as I was dishing out their food for meals. Scratch, scratch on the door, he had to be let out. Scratch, scratch again, he had to be let in. Over and over.

I once dressed him up as a French artist for Skeezix's first Halloween costume contest, and I thought he looked adorable.
We first started blogging in August of 2006 after joining Catster and we met the most wonderful people and cats from around the world. We were inspired by Kismet and Skeezix and encouraged by Rosie and Cheeto. Jake was paired up with "spicy vixen" DaisyMae Maus of San Diego in the 2007 Valentine's Day match ups. We were honored to join the supportive cat network and become part of a big family. But, by joining this big network of cats, we make ourselves vulnerable to emotional pain as well. We get to know these cats and they feel like family. Some get sick; some die. Those times are hard on all of us. And cats don't live as long as humans. They give us great joy while they are alive. We mourn their passing with torrents of tears. For those of you faithful readers who have read to the end of this post, thank you. Thank you all for the wonderful support you showed in the previous post. It means so much to me. Please join me in celebrating Jake's wonderful life that was just seven weeks shy of 15 years. If there was anything you particularly noted or liked about Jake, please post it in the comments. I will miss him and cherish his memory always.

Goodbye, dear Jake.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I Have Cancer

It's confirmed--my mysterious illness has been diagnosed, and it's cancer. I am a VERY sick kitty.

I spent a lot of time with doctors last week, and I got to visit at Mom's office again. (Here I am in her lap at her computer.) Physical examinations, soakings, pills, X-rays, sub-Q fluids, IVs, sonograms, needle biopsies: I had 'em all. But it's cancer and I'm an old kitty. I told Mom that I don't want extraordinary treatments; I want my dignity and I want to be comfortable. She promises to try to do the right thing by me.

Can you see how swollen my right paw is here?. What started out as a sore paw that seemed to have an infection between the toes, morphed into full blown cancer of my two middle toes. The toes are growing ever larger, and I don't put weight on that paw. My holistic vet took X-rays of my paw and sent them to a radiologist because she feared it could be something called lung-digit syndrome found in cats. The radiologist suspected cancer and recommended a chest x-ray. What showed up on that x-ray (and I wish that Mom knew how to post the x-ray since she has the disk) was shocking, but turned out to be incidental and not related. I have a (small) BULLET lodged in my chest. Now, am I a manly ManCat or what! It's an old injury, but puzzling. Mom never knew when it happened. As most of you know, I was indoor-outdoor, but how I managed to take a bullet without my mom knowing is beyond her comprehension.

Anyway, back to my X-ray. My right lung is collapsed and apparently my heart has shifted its position. I also have some fluid on my lung. My next medical procedure was a sonogram which revealed that I have one very small kidney, yet my kidney function is fine for now. I do have a large mass on my small intestine. That lead to some needle biopsies which concluded that all three areas (foot, lung, intestine) are malignant carcinomas. Mom and I got the ultimate news today.

Mom asked the doctor how much time I have left and she said that it's probably only a matter of weeks unless I'm able to eat better. I did get a new appetite stimulant and ate a little more tonight. Mom also made me some boneless chicken breast which has always been one of my favorites. See all the foods she offers me: chicken, Fancy Feast, Whiskas duck and chicken from a pouch (suggested by one of you!) and my regular crunchies.
Here is another photo of my paw. It is discolored from betadine soaks. You can also see where my leg was shaved for the IV.
So, that's my story. I'm hanging in there for now, but I have had a wonderful life and done most things that would be on a cat's bucket list. Tomorrow Mom is going to consult with a vet about comfort care.
P.S. Thank you for the Catster Valentine, dear DaisyMae Maus. You are the best girlfriend cat ever!

Labels: ,