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George - 04/01/2001-03/30/2014


0 April 27, 2014 in Felines
George was my little white tiger. His parents came to me as a brother and sister that were (supposedly) altered. Well, April Fool's - on 04/01/2001,George's mom went into labor. Because she was so young, she needed a cesarean after the first kitten, and George was the only one of the litter to survive. Bottle-fed by the vet until he was old enough to leave, George was adorable. He used to curl up under the covers of my bed, considering himself safe as long as a blanket was over him. At night he slept on my pillow, wrapped around my head with his chin pressed against my forehead, kneading the back of my neck until we both fell asleep. He used to meow, "Herr...rro?" when I wasn't around and he was looking for me, much to the initial puzzlement of my roommate at the time. He loved to "head snuggle" and when I asked him to do it, he would head-butt me, rubbing against me as he would if I were another cat. Whenever I was upset or sad or lonely, he would come up to me immediately - no matter where he was or what he was doing - and start purring to comfort me.

He was diagnosed with lymphoma (severely inflamed lymph nodes in his throat) in mid-March of 2014, along with a strong urinary and upper respiratory infection that may or may not have been related to the lymphoma. During his first chemo visit, the blood work that came back showed the values in his kidneys and liver to be extremely high. Rather than force him to be subjected to IVs, catheters, injectections, xrays, ultrasounds, and countless pills each day, I wanted to end his suffering then. The oncologist convinced me that it may not be full kidney failure and that, with daily antibiotics and sub-q fluids, he could easily pull through to take the second round of chemo drugs. Since we caught the lymphoma so early, I hoped for the best and agreed. It was a week of stabbing him with needles to force fluids under his skin, holding him on my lap in the bathroom as I ran the shower so the steam would open his sinuses, and shoving four pills a day down his already irritated throat. I wonder now if he was put through all of that pain and stress needlessly. I watched him struggle to walk in a straight line, have difficulty jumping onto the bed so he could sleep in his favorite place, the pillow that smelled like me. Towards the end of the week, he alternated between laying down in the bathtub and collapsing in his litterbox.

Late Saturday night, amid his repeated cries of pain, I took him to the ER vet. Hoping to get him a new dose of pain medication so that he would be comfortable until his next chemo treatment that Monday, the ER vet told me that the levels in his blood (minus the ones showing slightly less dehydration) had all gotten worse. One was so high that it would not even register on her machine. It was the most difficult decision of my entire life, but I had to have George put to sleep. The last moments they let me have with him, he was so miserable that he wouldn't even respond to me calling his name and I held him, wrapped in a blanket, and told him how much I loved him while they prepared everything they needed for the euthanasia. He didn't like the catheter in his front leg, wrapped up in a blue bandage with little white stars (it's odd what you remember about times like this) but had so little energy that he gave up trying to move after the first attempt. One injection and he was asleep with his eyes open. Another injection, and his heart stopped. I can't see cats that look like George without feeling a hollow ache inside. My other cat (a then-pregnant, starving, dehydrated stray that adopted me a year earlier) wanders around the house aimlessly looking for him. She meows for him and paces back and forth around the places he frequented most in his last weeks. She's still young so I know she would benefit from having another companion, but every time I look at other cats or kittens I just get sad. George was much more than "just a cat" to me, and even though he is gone now, he always will be.
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