One week ago, I took Buzz to the vet. He was vomiting, and lethargic, and had stopped eating. He’d had a vomiting episode in May, and recovered just fine. But this was different.
The vet diagnosed Buzz as constipated and dehydrated, and took an x-ray to determine exactly how constipated. He was disturbed by the shape of Buzz’s liver as seen on the x-ray…it was almost as if bites had been taken out of his liver. Weird. Buzz stayed at the vet’s office all afternoon for intravenous rehydration and the vet also gave him a steroid shot and an antibiotic, just in case. Blood was taken for testing, but the results would not be back until the next day (Friday), and it was suggested that I might need to bring Buzz back for more hydration.
On Friday, the vets were so busy that they did not have time to call me with the test results by 11 AM, and I was nervous so I took Buzz back to the vet. There were anomalies in the blood test results, but they were inconclusive. Maybe it was an infection, maybe something else. I had the option of arranging for an ultrasound, but since that would either tell us that there was nothing we could do or it would be inconclusive, that seemed pointless. Buzz got another steroid shot, another antibiotic shot, some subcutaneous fluids, and confirmation that he was no longer constipated. Since he still wasn’t eating, I also got some Prescription Diet a/d food and a couple of syringes to squirt diluted food down him in hopes of stimulating appetite. If cats stop eating, their liver becomes all fatty and it is a major problem, and the vet and I wanted to prevent further complications from whatever the underlying problem turned out to be.
I spent the rest of Friday in a whirlwind of activity, as I prepared to leave town for a physics teacher conference in Portland, OR. I did laundry, pickled a large number of cucumbers, took care of Buzz, went grocery shopping, packed, cooked, and generally exhausted myself before having to get up at 4 AM on Saturday to catch a 6:30 AM flight. My husband drove me to the airport Saturday morning with the promise to take Buzz back to the vet later that morning.
When I arrived in Portland, I had a very upsetting voice mail. The weird “bites” out of Buzz’s liver were lymphoma, which was filling Buzz’s chest and which had visibly spread since the x-ray on Thursday. Our only option was to keep him comfortable as long as possible, and when he started to suffer we would end his suffering. In Portland, and not at home, this was tough on both of us. However, my sister-in-law, her father and his companion were all there in Portland also (SIL lives in nearby Vancouver, Washington, and FIL and friend happened to be visiting from Massachusetts). They met me with big hugs and sympathy, and that was much better than being alone in an unfamiliar (though very nice) city.
Later, my sister in law took me out drinking, at my request. I’ve never been particularly good at getting drunk, but I made an attempt. We toasted Buzz, and I recounted happy/funny memories. We went to the Green Dragon, which has an astonishing array of local beers that I had never heard of, all on tap. The helpful bartender quizzed us on our preferences and set up two tasting flights for us before we settled on “Fearless Scottish Ale” (see reviews at www.ratebeer.com).
Saturday night Buzz ate a little, my husband reported on Sunday. Encouraging!
Unfortunately, Buzz was much worse on Monday. Wheezing and scared. My husband left work early to bring him to the vet, and Buzz passed at 12:10 PM. My husband called me at the conference, and I left the session I was in to talk on the phone and cry. We both cried. I consoled myself with doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts, which my conference roommate had procured Sunday and kindly offered to share.
Buzz was six years old, a sweetie, and a dummy. He was extremely tolerant of squeezing and hugging, and adorably was nearly mute. Where some cats I have met are very vocal, the most Buzz could usually muster was a barely-audible squeak. The one exception was when I returned him to the vet to get his stitches out after he was fixed (one testicle wasn’t descended and they had to cut in to get it out). He uttered one loud and long “MEOW” as soon as he realized where we were.
Buzz loved to be given fresh water. He didn’t drink water to excess, he just liked it fresh. Either of us walking to the kitchen would be followed and squeaked at as we approached the sink. Filling Buzz’s water mug held his attention, and he would often perch on the kitchen step stool and lean out as close as he could to the sink. He never figured out that he could leap up to the counter and get to the sink himself.
Buzz was not effective at killing mice or scaring them out of the house, though he did catch a few. He would bring them to the living room to play with them. Still, my husband trapped significantly more mice than Buzz caught in the six years Buzz was with us.
Buzz was, like most cats, adorable. We named him Buzz for the loud purr that, as a kitten, seemed extraordinarily loud to come from such a little cat. He didn’t stay little for long. At his peak, Buzz was a 15-pound lazybones. He wasn’t obese, just big. Here he is, being extra adorable, last summer:
Buzz was born to a feral mother and landed in the back yard of friends of ours in the spring of 2004. They took him to the vet and arranged for his socialization, and we were pleased to be the lucky family that gave Buzz a permanent home. Buzz was truly a lucky cat, and we were lucky to have been his family.
I miss Buzz!