Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Othello Gemmel (feline), 2003-2007

Monday evening I cleaned out our cats' litterbox and noticed that there was almost nothing in it. I let Gina know, and she said she thought Othello might be sick as she hadn't seen him all day. We figured it was something that was passing and went to sleep. Today was the same story, so while I was at work, Gina became worried. She tried to feed him some treats, and he wouldn't eat them. That's when she knew something was wrong. She called a 24-hour vet hotline to find out if it was serious, or if we could wait until tomorrow--when I would be off from work--to take him in to the vet. They said that we could take him in to see the vet tomorrow as long as he didn't start panting.

I got home around midnight and Othello came out from under the bed and laid down with his face next to the water dish. He looked so sick, and his tail was bent in an uncomfortable position that he did not bother to correct. He was breathing very heavily and looked terrible. We decided that we didn't want to wait until tomorrow to take him to the vet, so I had Gina load him in his carrier. He usually fights so hard, but he didn't today. We carried him very carefully into the car and drove to an all-night vet hospital. They charge $100 just to see your pet. We talked about what we could afford and what kind of options we'd have to pursue. He's so young, we didn't assume it would be anything serious, so we were just hoping it would be cheap.

We got right in at the vet's office and they took him with his carrier into a room in the back. Within five minutes of waiting, the vet's assistant came out and told us that there was fluid in Othello's lungs. This means he has a chronic illness of some kind, she explained to us. While he would survive if treated, his quality of life would be very low, and the disease would need to be constantly managed--either with steady medication or frequent visits to the vet's. To pump the fluid out and keep him overnight--which would be a minimum treatment--would cost almost $1000. The girl advised us we'd be looking at a couple of thousand before all was said and done, and then we'd be back in again soon. While we talked and cried over the decision we had to make, they had to pull fluid out of his lungs to keep him from suffering while we were there. They removed a quarter of a liter (about 1 cup) of fluid out, and that wasn't all of it by any means.

We decided that the right thing to do would be to put him to sleep. Not only could we not afford treatment, but we did not want Othello to have to be in pain and always struggling for life. When we thought about it, we realized that Othello's health had probably been declining for some time, although it's hard to notice with cats (as the vet confirmed). He had been throwing up some over the last six months, which Desdemona has never done, and his behavior has changed in some other ways. We paid for an autopsy (they call it a "necropsy") to determine cause of death, because if it's feline leukemia or FIP, Desdemona could have it, too.

Othello, you were a great cat. Thanks for entertaining us with all of your silly antics. We're going to miss you, little buddy.

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