Friday, July 23, 2010

Jax - In Memoriam

What happened:
We've been treating Jax for itchy lesions for years. The best option for him was a depo-medrol (steroid) shot approximately every 5 weeks (he could not be pilled). Some of those weeks would be spent in bandages and/or an e-collar. We'd wait on the shot until there was high risk of infection, because the shot brought a risk of diabetes. We decided to try an experimental protocol that showed promise, where a couple of shots would be given 3 weeks apart even though there were no symptoms. Apparently sometimes the virus causing the lesions is killed this way. Sometimes you gamble and lose. That's what happened.

Jax probably got diabetes after the first 3 week shot. Because of that the second one hit his system like a sledge hammer. That was on the 15th.

To make a long story short[er], we were unable to stabilize his numbers and after weighing his future options, decided on the "hard decision" today (the 23rd), and it was done out of love and desperation.

His story
The first day we moved into this house, he was right there on top of the neighbor's shed, checking us out to see if we were friendlies. There were lots and lots of cats in the neighborhood then, and they came around us because they got our number as cat-people right away, also we fed birds and had birdbaths. He looked particularly distressed with some bald patches and scabs. People would run him off because they thought he had mange. I looked up mange and decided he didn't have it, so it was perfectly fine to apply belly rubs. He was always showing up with injuries... bites, scratches, gouges. We'd clean up the spots and apply Neosporin. It was better than doing nothing. We named him Samson because we decided that if all his hair grew back, it would mean he was mended and strong.

When we had freeze nights and would see him still outside and unsheltered, we started letting him in the garage. His first night in that garage, he purred. It was amazing. We had never heard him purr before and were wondering if maybe he didn't do that, but here was the big prrrrrrrr. Every night, he's listen for our cars and the opening of the garage door - and here he would come running down the street as fast as he could - no matter what time of night it was.

We decided to take the next step with him, so we took him to the vet a couple times for checkups, repair, vaccination, and a collar with his new rabies tag. Not 100% in the fold yet, but it was a sign to the neighborhood that this cat had at least one voucher. The next time we saw him, our collar was gone, and in its place was a different collar with a note that said "THIS IS OUR CAT JACKS" and a phone number.

We felt crushed. MrB called the number and I listened quietly on the other line, I was way too mad at whoever it was who thought they were giving this cat proper care to speak in a civil tone. The woman thanked us for vaccinating him. She also mentioned that sometimes they didn't even see him for a few weeks at a time. That would explain why he was never fed properly, and was out in all kinds of weather and seeking shelter in the storm sewer with every other kind of critter imaginable, and walking around with untreated, bloody injuries. His human family also had several rowdy little kids, a couple of new kittens, a great big hyperactive black lab, and a sign in the yard that said "Marriage = 1 man + 1 woman." I decided that anytime Samson/Jacks came around needing shelter or food or a vet or belly rubs or anything, that I was going to provide. Dammit.
When it got too hot for him to stay in the garage at night, we turned him into an indoor cat. He had been destroying at least one bird a day, plus being the King of the Lizard Killers, so those were all good justifications to take him off the streets. It was in everybody's best interest. Besides, he was terrified of dogs (black labs included), fireworks, and sure did enjoy not being out in the rain. He was unfamiliar with a litter box so we had to train him (and this was a 7 year old cat!). If they came knocking on the door looking for him, I was prepared to be his champion and show paid receipts to the judge if need be... but that didn't happen. No calls, no knocks, no signs posted pleading for the return of a missing black cat. We already had 3 indoor cats, but we loved him and made him welcome. We dropped the "Samson" (even though I still think it was a better name) and changed the spelling of his name to "Jax."

Life with Jax
What a personality he had! He kept his belly licked bare of hair, and loved to lay on his back and relax. We think he was proud of it.

He especially loved his daddy, always preferring him to me.

The itchy spots flared more and more through the years, and it got to where he needed to be in an e-collar a lot, but of course the collar only frustrated him, it didn't make his skin feel any better. We tried ointments, bitter apple, bandages, even took him to a vet dermatologist who did allergy testing on him (same way humans are tested - and the poor thing was allergic to just about everything!!) and had a year and half of allergy serum shots in him - but it made no difference.

We even tried baby clothes to make it hard to reach the itchy spots, which was very cute and funny but not very effective.

The depo shots were the only thing that gave relief, he'd feel good for about 3 weeks and then the collars and so forth had to kick in to help him make it to the next shot without blood or infections. He hated wearing that e-collar, especially turned forward it disoriented and depressed him. That's an angry tail. He tolerated wearing it turned down like a cape - very Puss-in-Boots, but despised wearing it properly.

We always had to worry about diabetes, as Jax was a heavy cat, and big-boned boy with a great big beautiful belly. He also had a very distinctive look that reminded us of a panther: really big teeth, the biggest that the vets had seen, and a strong chin like a wildcat. A panther with a big hairless belly who liked the TV screen...


and sitting on the screened porch watching those dirty birds splash around in the birdbaths -- all of us glad for the safety of there being a screened barrier.

Lots more pics of this marvelous and amazing character of a cat in Jax's archive here at the Oasis. Keep clicking through "Older posts."



I am so sorry...this is just so sad..but you gave him all he needed, love, good care and a wonderful home..I'll light a candle and send up prayers to the Goddess for his safe keeping..Goddess loves cats so I'm sure she's taking good care of him.

Connie, Orlando said...

So sorry. Unfortunately, the down side of "rescue" is eventually losing them. However, you responded to his need for a comfortable, peaceful & loving home. What cat could ask for more? How many never experience that? Each of them deserves to be special to someone and Jax was special to you and, now, to your followers. Thanks for sharing him with us.

PENolan said...

You brought Jax so alive for me that now I'm crying too. That's a lot of Love.

Holding you in the light

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Rest in peace, Jax. Starting off with a neglectful family, Jax was smart and resourceful enough to then find one which gave him everything a cat could want in life. Clearly he chose you and not vice versa. He got a further seven years of wonderful life, love, treatment and care in return, which he definitely would not have had otherwise. Farewell, noble cat.

Blueberry said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. I am still crying for him. Cats rule. It's what they do.

Ptelea said...

It is hard to find things to be glad about but at least you have a lot of pictures and stories to help him live on. My all-black kitty, Pat was a stray during cold weather, too. They shared some of the fur licking habit, too. But mostly, I just want you to know how sorry I am and hope that your heart starts to mend soon. We love our kitties!(a curse and a blessing) I have greatly enjoyed 'knowing' Jax!