Friday, June 24, 2005
The last time we had to medicate a cat every night for that long a period was the last two years of Phoebe's life, when we had to give her subcutaneous hydration for her failing kidneys. Which means that every night we had to hang an IV bag on the kitchen wall, put a cardboard carton on the table, fetch Phoebe and put her in the carton, and then hold her still for a couple of minutes while we stuck a needle the size of a baseball bat into the skin at the scruff of her neck.
As icky as this sounds, you get over the ickiness after the first couple of times. And the needle is extremely sharp, as I found the times when I accidentally stuck myself, so the worst the cat feels is a little pinch when you insert it.
The toughest part was catching Phoebe and holding her still. She was a big cat, and very strong right up until her last days. Plus, she had a lethal swat and a powerful scratch, not to mention a shriek so alarming that it would frighten the other patrons in the vet's waiting room. It often took the two of us holding her plus a neighbor to distract her before we'd get the job done.
And I swear, after a while, that cat learned how to tell time. Every night, we'd clear the table and then, "Where did Phoebe go?" A search of the house would find just her nose sticking out from under the furniture, with a world of stubborn determination expressed in an inch of cat snout.
The night of the day she died, we missed her, but we also kept getting this feeling of, "Isn't there something we're supposed to do?" After five years of medicating geriatric cats, it felt awkward not to have to fret about the wellbeing of an elderly furry creature.