Monday, February 10, 2014

A Tail of Two Kitties

Chippa - Sept 2013
Chippa doesn't look like this anymore. In the last few weeks, she has lost what seems like half her body weight. She was more than 13 lbs at her heaviest. She's always had short legs and had a big tummy so she had a Corgi like stature. It's rather hard to tell in this picture but she's a beautiful black & brown tabby. And we did not refer to her as fat, but "phat." 
We rescued a cute little male kitten from a feral rescue group in 2000. This kitten was not feral, though; the domestic mom had a fun night out and returned preggers. We liked the colors and he was pretty playful. We thought he'd be a good addition to my 2 year old Mischka's social life (not THAT social, you cheeky monkey!). Mischka was my first own-my-own cat and we thought she needed a pal. In general, I like male cats & I grew up with 2 male tabbies and was looking for that kind of cat.
The feral rescue group didn't offer spay/neutering services, so we dropped Chipwich (so named because of the chocolate chips on his tummy) off at Dunloggin to be neutered a few days later. For some reason, we were both at home - maybe a holiday, I can't remember...and the phone rang and it was the vet tech. 
Press pause for a second - Luke's college roommate had just gotten a dog & she didn't make it through the spaying surgery. 

I listen for a moment and say, "What? Really? Oh, yes, go ahead." I hang up & Luke is nearly jumping on me wanting to know what the call was about. "The vet just wanted to know if because it's a girl, we wanted to go ahead with spaying her." So Chipwich became Chippawich and since that sounded dumb, it just became Chippa. 
Chippa was the MOST fun kitten. At the time, we had a huge computer monitor and we played Roller Coaster Tycoon. Chippa would hop up on the desk & bat at the moving roller coasters on the screen. It was super cute. When the printer would rev up, she would run to it and swipe her little striped paw at the feeder. She had a big green top with a swinging catnip toy and she would drag it upstairs and downstairs. It was fun to see where it landed.
One night when we were doing dishes, Luke was making bubbles come out of the dish detergent bubble and she was trying to catch the bubbles. At one point, however, he was a little too gung-ho with the detergent and she got a huge dollop of the soap on her fur. 
Rubbing her off with a wet paper towel was clearly not going to get rid of the soap. So up we went to the bathtub for her first (and only) bath.
Bit by bit, she became more nervous...she hid more.  Luke thinks it was the introduction of this guy:

It became a 2 person job to take her to the vet. We have developed strategies over the past few years to trap her for her annual vet visit.

Six months ago, she started to approach us again. To hop up next to us on the couch and demand head-rubbings, to not run away if you pet her in her safe spot.
And I noticed that her eyes weren't dilating for a while. They started to again & I thought everything was OK.
But then she came to me one day (in the bathroom - we assume she feels safe there) and her body freaked me out. It had changed - her chest was swollen and her back was thin. Like all her weight had moved into the front of the body. She's been having hairballs and she used to eat plastic so we were used to her periodically wheezing & vomiting.

I picked her up a couple of times and emailed Luke - Chippa's dying. When he read it, he said "Sorry I can't be there." I replied "I'm having a glass of wine at the Bridge. She's your cat."

I don't know what the timeline is for Chippa, OUR Chippa. The Chippa that used to look at us with Dowager Countess Grantham sneers if she heard Lil cry. The Chippa that has the most beautiful coat that feels like satin and I mistake for the Roomba sometimes. The Chippa who 2 months ago watched something on TV and was following it with her head and contemplating batting the moving item on the screen.

We've prepared Lil for the imminent possibility...she vaguely remembers when we had to do the deed for Mischka. But I will treasure the last few months that she's rejoined the family.


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