Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Life and such

Since we moved into the house however many weeks ago, I've noticed that our sole cat, Etsuko, has been a bit mopey and a little needier than she's ever been. She'd follow me from room to room while I unpacked boxes and put things away, always waiting for me to hold still so she could jump into my lap and remind me that I'd been remiss in my attentions to her. She's a very sweet and loving cat who's been a little lost since her buddy, Jay, died in January.

Chris and I have been talking about adopting another cat since we made the offer on the house. We'd joke that Etsuko really needed a pet of her own to keep her entertained and occupied. Early last week, Chris emailed me a link to a website that features local cats in need of a good home. The site is really just a host for a number of rescue organizations who post pictures of pets in need. For as long as I've known him, Chris has wanted a siamese, and since Etsuko is mostly a tonkinese, we thought the two breeds would sync. My one stipulation was that the cat had to be a rescue cat. All of our kitties have either come from the pound or a rescue organization.

The link Chris emailed me was for a siamese mix who looked a lot like Etsuko. When I read her bio and saw that she was up for euthanasia that Friday due to overcrowding, I couldn't say no. We called the pound which was located in St. Martinville to be sure that she was still available and made arrangements to pick her up that Friday. St. Matinville is outside of Breaux Bridge, which is outside of Lafayette. If you still don't know where it is, you're going to have to google it, since it is hell and gone from Baton Rouge.

After being stuck in traffic for two hours, we managed to find the St. Martinville pound which consists of a trailer in front of a cinder block building, which is really just a facade that opens onto a paddock. It was pretty grim back where the animals were kept and I don't care to go into detail about what we saw. I know they're underfunded and overwhelmed and the people working there are doing the best that they can.

We found the cat who was definitely a siamese mix, but didn't look a thing like Etsuko in person. She'd just weaned a litter and was barely more than a kitten herself. While Chris was saying hello to her, I was looking at a cage full of kittens when I spotted a tiny cream and brown furball curled up in the litter box. It was a chocolate nosed, chocolate eared siamese kitten and I knew if I drew attention to it, Chris would probably want to take it home too. After considering the possibility for less than a second, I blurted out, "Look at this!"

It was love at first sight for Chris, so we walked out of the pound with a bonus kitten and hustled back to Baton Rouge to see our vet. We named the older cat Akiko and the tiny kitten Samu. They were both underweight and smelled like a pig farm. Nancy, before I go any further, I promise you that I didn't handle either one of them, nor did I touch anything at the pound. I'm sure the vet--not our regular doctor, but a partner in the practice, thought I was insane because I wouldn't go near either animal in the examining room.

Both cats were tested for feline leukemia and FIP and stool samples were collected. They were both pronounced underweight and determined to be younger than the employee at the pound had estimated. Akiko is 9 months if she's a day, and Samu might have been 7 weeks. You could feel his ribs and he was just so frail, weighing in at 1 pound, six ounces.

They got baths once we got home and we got the cold shoulder from Etsuko once she smelled the newcomers. She wasn't as keen to have a new friend as I thought she might be. In fact, she hid under the bed and only came out for very short periods during the weekend. Samu and Chris instantly bonded and if Chris left the room for more than a minute, Samu cried for his new "mama". Akiko made herself at home and I worked on making amends to Etsuko.

By Saturday, Chris speculated that there was something wrong with Samu. He wasn't very playful and we'd only seen him eat a mouthful of kitten food. He spent all of his time curled up on Chris's chest or in his lap. We bought kitten milk and fed him with a dropper when he wouldn't drink it on his own. By Sunday, Chris knew something was definitely wrong with the little guy. He was listless and when he cried, he barely made a sound. He wouldn't be parted from Chris and when we went to bed that night, Samu slept curled into a little ball on Chris's chest.

I awoke at three am Monday morning because Samu was clawing frantically at my back. He was having a seizure and every muscle in his tiny body was in spasm. We got him to the LSU emergency clinic as fast as we could. It turned out that he was having seizures due to low glucose. The doctor on duty wanted to keep him for observation while they tried to figure out what was wrong with him. By the time we left the clinic, it was time for Chris to head into work. At 10:30 that morning the clinic called Chris to tell him that Samu didn't make it.

I know he was only with us for 3 days, but he was such a sweet little guy, you couldn't help but have your heart stolen by him. Chris is devastated.

Akiko is thriving and doing her best to give Etsuko a nervous breakdown. She's all of 6 pounds to Etsuko's 14. Regardless of size, she's got Etsuko on the run and Etsuko's none to happy about it. Sookie finally stopped hissing at me last night. I hope to be able to pet her without fear of being mauled by the end of the week. As for Akiko, she's a very affectionate kitty with an appetite like a hoover.

I've got a few GvHD issues that I'll discuss in another post. Nothing too bad, but bothersome, none the less. It all has to do with my skin and sun sensitivity.

An unsuspecting Etsuko napping in a sunny window.

Akiko and Chris getting acquainted.

Chris and Samu at the vet's office.


Susan C said...

I saw Chris's twitter about Samu, and wondered who he was talking about.

What a beautiful thing that Samu found comfort with Chris in the last few days of his brief life.

Tina said...

3 days...1 day...1 hour. it's all the same. Once you fall in love with an animal that's it. I completely understand how sad chris must be.

(I love the name Samu by the way)

Ronni Gordon said...

What a beautifully told story. I'm sorry about Samu but glad that Chris comforted him in his last days. Hope Etsuku comes around soon.

Lea Morrison said...

So sweet and beautiful. I love fur babies!

peezlie said...

I'm so sorry about Samu. He looked so adorable.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I am so sorry to hear about Samu :( You guys did a great thing by saving Akiko and even though you only had 3 days with Samu, but think about all the love he was surrounded with during that time.


Nancy said...

I'm very sorry to hear about Samu. Ann, so glad you assured me that you were careful at the pound. You knew exactly what I was thinking, at the exact moment you popped that into your story. Great Save Ann.

Enjoy Akiko... that's my mom's middle name, by the way. How are you coming up with these great Japanese names? I was curious with Etsuko, but now super curious...

Take care and hope the gvhd isn't too bad.