I wracked my brain for a good title to this post. How can I adequately sum up this topic? I am feeling a lot of things right now, but witty is not one of them.
I would like you to meet my baby Hunter, who is 17 years and 8 months old.
In October 1996, I went to a police station in Brookline, MA to contest an overnight parking ticket. While I sat in the waiting room, a door to my far left opened. A policeman walked through the door, stopped, and said to those waiting in the room:
“Does anybody want a kitten?”
I saw a little face with gray fur and blue eyes peeking out of his pocket. Keep your mouth shut, Wendy. You do not need to bring home another cat. I already had two cats, Jolie and Misha, who were 4 and 2 years old respectively. I did not need a third cat. When no one answered, the officer said:
“Well, if no one wants him, I’m going to take him to the MSPCA.”
I can no longer remember if the kitten sneezed before or after the officer declared his fate. All I know is that in my head I screamed: They’re gonna kill him!
Looking back now, I realize that is a ridiculous statement to make. But I felt it so strongly that I found myself saying:
“I’ll take him!”
With that, the officer put the kitten on the table that was in the waiting room. Everyone else, including myself, gathered around to watch the kitten play. Across from me, an older Jewish gentleman wearing a cap said to me:
“Is there anyone you need to ask before you bring him home?”
“Oh, no! I’m just going to bring him home.”
“What are you going to name him?”
“I haven’t thought about it yet.”
The older man turned to the officer, “What’s your name, Officer?”
“My name is Officer Hunter.”
“Well, then I’m going to name him Hunter.”
I thought it was the best possible name for a cat. After my boy grew up, I started telling people he had the body of a cat, the face of a fox, and the soul of a chicken. I had never met such a scaredy cat in all my life. At that moment, he was going to grow up to be a ferocious hunter!
The officer found me a box. I drove from Brookline, MA to Malden, MA where I lived with Hunter in the box. He yowled his head off the entire ride back.
When I got home, I walked up to our second floor door and knocked. When Mark answered the door, I said:
“If you let me keep this one, I swear I will not bring home any more.”
Mark looked at me, looked at the box, groaned, and said: “Oh, alright.”
Later, the vet would guess Hunter to be about 7 weeks of age. This is one of the only kitten pictures I have of him:
Because Hunter was too young to get all his shots, I kept him separated in our bedroom from the other two cats. At that time, I worked at home getting the house in order. We moved in mid-rehab and the work was still underway.
I spent a lot of time with Hunter. He would sleep with me at night by cuddling on my pillow next to my face. When he got a little bigger, he would sleep on my chest. Eventually, he got too big but still preferred to sleep laying right up against my side, as he does to this day.
Although it really has gotten a little ridiculous. If I am laying on my left side, Hunter will spoon up against me. We have fallen asleep this way.
When Hunter’s kidneys started to go, I was nervous. His values stayed stable for a long time. When I switched vets after moving to NY, the vet suggested giving Hunter subcutaneous fluids to support his kidney function. First, twice a week and then every day, which was have been doing.
I brought Hunter in recently for a follow-up from December. He lost 1.5 lbs., which is far too much. Although his kidney and blood values are in range, his calcium values have skyrocketed.
Reasons for a high calcium level could be indeterminate, lymphoma, or thyroid cancer. Given his age, the rapid weight loss, and his lackluster appetite for anything but treats, I am fearing the worst. And it would not be without cause.
The first cat I ever had died of cancer. Jolie’s kidneys failed, and she had bladder cancer. Misha had some kind of stomach or intestinal cancer. Now lymphoma or thyroid cancer. Cancer, cancer, cancer! As I saw on an ad, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could give cancer to cancer?” Even if it’s indeterminate, high calcium values eventually lead to kidney damage. So it’s a no win.
On Monday, I am bringing Hunter back in for a follow up. If his calcium values go down, then it’s not cancer, but it means we have to keep looking. I am not sure how invasive I am going to get because of his advanced age.
I can only stand to put him through so much. I do not want to put him down too early, but I don’t want him to suffer, either, especially since my elderly mother has become seriously attached to Hunter.
As she says, “How can you resist the way he looks at you?”
I never could, either, which is why I fell him love with him almost 18 years ago.