We have two cats and you’ve met them both. You’ve heard about them both at different times throughout this blog, too.
One is Hannah, our younger, black-and-white, crazy-ass, sprite that never stops … until she stops … and then a sonic boom wouldn’t wake her from her beauty sleep.
The other is Bette, named for her name in the shelter, which was Betty, and the great Bette Midler. Well, except that it really happened like this. I had a meeting with her in a pet-adoption room, where she came over and plopped on her back, on my feet. I reached down and said, “Hi Betty!” She immediately said, “No, my name is Bette!” And so, she was.
It was too soon for another cat. Our 15-year-old Tess had died the month before. I wasn’t looking to replace her because NOBODY can be replaced in your heart. You know what I mean.
My husband wanted to wait longer but I was in the throes of a mental breakdown, and I don’t say this flippantly. It was September, 2015, and the last of a long-list of terrible, rotten things happened in 2014: The Year of Pain. In truth, the terrible year began in July 2014 and ended in August 2015, with the death of Tess. The in-between included death, cancer, dream-job loss and a pit so deep I thought I’d never escape.
The point is, my husband allowed me to pick out our next family member because I needed her… and (as it turned out) she needed me, too. This much was obvious from her rubbing back and forth across the glass enclosure and her clear-as-a-bell request to call her Bette.
And so, as you have guessed, she came home with me that day.
They said she was six at the time, but you never know when a cat comes to the shelter without their health records. It seemed about right, so that’s what we believed.
We’ve had years of beautiful Bette-ness. She is simply a delightful, loving, wonderful cat.
Earlier this year, she needed surgery. Blood work was done, and we prayed the lumps in her tummy weren’t cancerous. Her nose, sinuses and throat were checked, after it was determined that her breathing issues weren’t asthma. She has a “soft palate” that makes her snore and sometimes sound like she’s not breathing well. She breezed through the surgery, non-cancerous cysts drained, no cancer in her sinuses or elsewhere in her head, just the soft palate that would, unfortunately, stay soft.
“Keep an eye on her,” the vet said.
When she started limping a few months later, back to the vet she went. Arthritis was diagnosed, and… Wait! What’s this? Weight loss. Two pounds.
That’s A LOT for a cat!
What was going on with our girl?
More blood work. Kidney issues that were noted as “mild” at surgery have kicked up a notch. Also, a more extensive check-up revealed she is not 12, as we thought, but closer to 15. Kidney issues and arthritis very normal but weight loss not.
We waited for the result of the blood test.
No cancer! Yay!!
We’re giving her an injection of an anti-inflammatory every two weeks and she’s on special kidney support food, which she seems to like very much. Looks like her weight is up a bit. We haven’t had her weighed at the vet’s office to avoid extra stress. She’ll have to go next month. She’s gonna be PISSED!!
What I need to tell you is that Bette is my kindred spirit. We talk and she whispers secrets.
She has said she’ll tell me if she’s suffering too much to go on. Months ago, I worried because of her breathing and asked my animal communication class to talk to her. They all said the same, which felt very validating. They said, she wasn’t going anywhere yet. She still had some life to live.
But lately, the last couple of weeks or so, I’ve really been worried. The injection isn’t working as well. Her breathing sounds terrible, especially when she’s purring, which is a lot.
And, uh, there’s this other problem… it’s called Hannah.
Bette seems to hold her own, and always has. She’s told me that Hannah drives her bats but she doesn’t hate her. She just sometimes has to teach her a lesson by punching her in the face.
But geeeeeeze, Hannah, can you just leave her alone, please?
Tess was my husband’s cat but she loved me, too. She was my savior when I moved to Canada. It was just her and me for hours while my husband worked. But she was IN LOVE with him. It was sickening, really. (Kidding!)
Bette is mine. She loves my husband but she and I have something special. And I’m feeling that her time is running short.
I will NEVER let her suffer.
I guess I’m just trying to get myself ready.
Tess and Missy (our cat before Hannah) were sudden deaths, both at the vet, but both suffering and in pain. Long stories, including a misdiagnosis with a vet we no longer see (hate him!).
Can you ever really “get ready”? Not exactly. How well we ALL know that eh?
This is Bette. She holds my heart. I took this photo of her today, as she leaned again my leg. Her whiskers and chin hairs are starting to turn white… much like mine. We’re just two old ladies hanging out together.