(a.k.a. Mammas, Mother, Mother Gers, Gers, Codger (because she looked old and wise long before she ever was senior)
What do I say about this cat? These stories are getting harder to share as they stir up so much emotion. Asia was just amazing. She was pulled from animal control by a rescue and brought to the practice where I had just been hired to be a tech, same place that introduced me to Peaches home one month prior. She had been shot with a pellet gun, had a dead tail and was dragging her bloody back foot behind her. She was 4.25# and nursing four kittens that were barely four weeks old. She was to be euthanized as soon as they were weaned. To think of someone not getting to experience how awesome she was, to think she was set to be killed because of her injuries, injuries that were incurred by nasty humans, struggling to survive despite horrible circumstances and people were ready to throw her away like trash. Unfathomable.
I wanted so badly to show her to Jake. I desperately wanted him to meet her kittens. I fell in love at first site with the whole lot of them. Fostering was the solution, or so I thought! Remember from earlier posts, we have never successfully fostered anyone! Ever! Once they cross the threshold…
I tried hard to commit to this fostering thing, then Jake said to me, “So what do you want to name them?” I said, “We can’t name them! Then we’ll keep them!” Well, we named them, ALL. Boom, the end. And so it began, we went from 6 cats to 11 in the blink of an eye.
Asia was an excellent mother and Simon attempted to nurse her until he was 9 months old! He was a mamma’s boy till the very end. She was one of the first cats that I tried to clicker trained, she was always first in line at meds time and LOVED a/d! She was my office assistant and our “bathroom attendant”. She raced into the bathroom to assist all guests, ensuring they had an overall lovely experience here at Meow Manor. She was quite put out if a non-cat person would not allow her to accompany them, all of our usuals were used to Mother’s assistance! She was so googly!
Oh, at one point her limpy-droopy tail decided to fossilize and die (thank you pellet gun). Literally turned into stone around age 15 and we had to amputate the dead portion of her tail. One day she is walking through the house, “click, click, click” tail was like wood! We may or may not have kept that like a lucky rabbit’s foot.
The big C got her in the end. This story is a lesson about the SUBTLEY of a cat’s illnesses and how incredibly imperative it is to notate even the most minor changes in your cat. Just a literal hair out of place can prove to be, well, life changing.
It all started with a squinty eye. Both Jake, and a friend that was staying with us at the time thought I was nuts! From the moment I saw that half-closed eye I was on high alert. There was no reason for the squinty eye, no one had popped her, there was no discharge, no scratch, no swollen mucosa, nothing. I put some drops in it for giggles, but I knew my Gers. I couldn’t shake the ever so slight asymmetry, things were changing. It probably took TWO MONTHS before anyone else could appreciate what I was seeing. Slowly, she developed a bump on the side of the bridge of her nose, then her eye got more and more affected. She saw our favorite surgeon, but there was nothing to do. She was 18 years old so invasive surgeries, biopsies and radiation were not really an option. Her beautiful little face became quite distorted towards the end.
She STILL FORAGED, clicker trained with Willow, came for meds time, she was so in there but when she would get food from a puzzle it was getting hard to swallow. She was starting to starve as the mass grew and invaded her throat. She was otherwise so happy and, in her routine, so I made a rather extreme call, I had a feeding tube placed. I was told by her surgeon, “No one knows her quality of life better than you, Ingrid. If you think she is still happy then this is ok to do.” So, we did it. She even foraged with the tube in and then I would feed her! Her son, Simon got to cuddle with her just a little bit longer, Willow had her mentor just a little bit longer, I had my Mammas just a little bit longer. That was all we got, about 5 weeks. I awoke one morning to her sleeping on my pillow, which was not a typical spot for her (changes in behavior are often the first sign that something is wrong!), she was wheezing, now the goddamn cancer was affecting her breathing and I didn’t have a tube for that. We said good-bye that day, here at home with her remaining children by her side.
She raised Willow for me. Taught her the ropes, taught her how to be my office assistant as Mother spent most days on my lap at the computer. Willow loved her like a mom, and Mammas was so good to her. Now they are both gone. But they live on. Fundamentally Feline has offered many outlets for me to honor these precious relationships. She is in my talks, my videos, photos, all of these cats will continue to teach all of you for years to come. I am grateful for all they have taught me. I am who I am because of them. We are the lucky ones.