Monday, December 29, 2014

Today I took Jinx to the vet. I've been putting it off for some time both because of financial reasons as well as for holistic health reasons. It's been clear for a while that Jinx has the same thing that Kitty Girl had, and that many cats get when they get old: kidney disease. This means that his kidney's are worn out and not processing fluids, which means that he gets severely dehydrated and isn't absorbing nutrients. He also has hyper-thyroidism which I'm only beginning to learn about and from what I understand leads to weight loss, a rapid heart rate, and vomiting. All three of which are something that Jinx has been experiencing in the last six months, and have been particularly pronounced this last month. He's really skinny right now. Skin and bones. He's had a wobble in his walk since his stroke about four years ago, but now the wobble occasionally morphs into a stumble, and when I saw that it was time to go to the vet. 

My experience with Kitty Girl: $3500 for six more months on Earth to be jabbed once and sometimes twice a day with needles; puking everywhere, pissing everywhere, and above all else, not seeming particularly happy or comfortable during this time, made me wonder what good the treatment was doing asides from keeping her alive a little bit longer for Jinx and I. Or in other words, I'm not sure the treatment the vets and I were providing really did much. Of course I don't know, and the first time through this I decided to take the advice of the experts. The second time through, now with Jinx, I'm approaching things differently, thinking more about this whole process as end of life care rather than as a disease to be treated. After all, he's pretty old (as was Kitty Girl, who was 19 when she died last year), and has lived a full and good life. The quality of his life, though he's been peeing a lot and losing weight for the last year or so, has remained pretty good: he walks around and yowls, eats cat food, sleeps by and with warm things, and hangs out when guests come over. Even though he hasn't looked like a full bodied alpha male for some time, his symptoms didn't seem to impact his actual day to day.  

But as of today it's official: Jinx is sick. I can pay for the treatment, pay for monitoring the treatment, and keep taking him to the vet, but at the end of the day there's not much that can be done about kidney disease in older cats. I believe once we start thinking that's something is wrong, and begin off loading our own care to other people, i.e. trips to the vet, we start breaking the things that keep us who we are, i.e. our routines. I witnessed this in the case of my dad, who once he started going to care facilities, and especially once he started staying overnight at care facilities, his condition worsened exponentially. Within a year and a half after "checking-in" he could no longer remember who any of us where, and I suspect, who he was or used to be. In this sense, to avoid the vet is also to avoid death, physically and mentally, and I didn't want to introduce the idea that there was something wrong into Jinx's ecosystem any sooner than absolutely necessary. There can be value in drawing things out, but above all else, when it's time, I want him to move forward like the cat he is: strong and wise and dignified, rather than like the sick cat he is becoming.


As I write this Jinx is at the vet right now getting an all day fluid treatment. For the first time in some years I'm sitting in an apartment where there are no other living creatures asides from the little slow stink bugs that occasionally crawl across the top of the couch as I read or watch tv on my computer. It's quiet, and the urge to look towards Jinx, to walk over to wherever he is, say something and poke him, harass or pet or kiss him on the top of his head, will probably take a while to let go of. In a way Jinx has been my best friend for a long time. Unlike Kitty Girl who I loved and took care of as one loves a child, Jinx and I have always been buddies. Not exactly equals, but at least on my part, I've always respected and admired him. Like I wrote before, he is not unique in many of his attributes, but he is a good friend of mine, and I do the best I can to take care of him, as he has taken care of me.