Saturday, June 22, 2013
Thank you, everyone, for your support as I grieve the loss of my sweet cat, Sweetie. I am doing much better today, and am slowing coming to inner peace.
The main thing that I've resolved was my turmoil whether there was any chance of saving her, and we missed it. I mostly second guessed on whether we could have done more. Last night I looked up xray photos of lung cancer on the internet, and they were consistent with what we saw at the vet. This helped to lift the heaviness from my heart. We could have done biopsies and surgery, but it would not have saved her and given her good quality of life. She was already so frail and in respiratory distress, she would not have survived the treatment. She would have been miserable.
Yesterday, I picked up her ashes, and she is on our mantle. I picked flowers from our backyard this morning and put them on her box. I placed her favorite toy, a squirrel with a bushy tail like hers, next to her.
We estimate she was about 12 years old, but she only spent 4 years of it with us. I would have wanted more, of course, but it's never enough. The timing of all this with my philosophy class is uncanny, and I've spent much time in introspect about it. Whether we believe in life after death or not, I think we can all agree that a good life is spent with those who love us. I hope that the 4 years Sweetie spent with tuna, toys, catnip, sunny windows, and petting was better than all her previous years combined. I'm glad that she chose to spend the final days of her life with us.
Sweetie with her squirrel toy:
Thanks again. I'll be back to my regularly scheduled programming soon.
Friday, June 21, 2013
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." ~Anatole France
My husband jokingly calls me the cat whisperer. It is true; it seems I have an affinity and unique bond with cats. I say it is because I was born in the Year of the Tiger. I understand them because I, too, am a cat.
When we first took Sweetie into our family, it was an adjustment for her. My husband and I disputed over it, but I wanted her to be indoor only from then on. She was used to the freedom of the outdoors, so she didn't like this change. I let her out on our apartment balcony as a compromise, but I wouldn't let her free roam outdoors anymore.
The first time I gave her a bath was quite the experience - for both of us. I've had my other cat, Shadow, since she was a kitten, and while she protests bath time, I can handle her so we both survive. Sweetie was dirty, scruffy looking and most likely never had a bath in her life. I put her in the water, and she howled like it was acid. I did my best to scrub and rinse her, but I had to hurry through it because she was getting angry. The job was done, but not unscathed. She gave me a very nasty scratch in protest. It was shocking to me mostly because of the violence in which she did it. Shadow might sometimes swipe, but it was usually just a warning shot. I got a good lesson that Sweetie, although sweet, had slightly feral attitude when angry. Which really was so infrequent, I can count how many times on one hand. She was honestly so naturally cheerful, we described her meowing more like a singing.
After I dried her off, she howled in misery. She promptly marched to the front door and demanded to be let out. She sat there as though saying, "This place is no fun anymore! Let me out of here!" I laughed and thought it was cute. She was like an undisciplined child. Her previous caretakers couldn't be bothered with her. No one loved her enough to torture her with bath time. I never did it regularly, but that first time was absolutely necessary. She was filthy.
I opened a can of tuna, which seemed to resolve the issue. She decided it was worth sticking around for after all. After her meal, she washed her face and groomed her freshly bathed self. All was forgiven.
When taking her to the vet for her first checkup, she wailed like a catbulance all the way over. The vet poked her with needles, ran tests, and said she was healthy except for intestinal parasites, most likely from her outdoor scavenging. She protested the medicine I gave her, and again sat by the door demanding to be set free. I bribed her back with catnip.
When we took her in, I promised I would love and take care of her. She wouldn't be passed around from person to person like a second hand T-shirt. She had a home and a family to look after her. During the times when she peed on the couch, I'd get angry. It made it tempting to get rid of her...but I could never do it. She'd purr and nuzzle into my hand, and I'd resolve to find a way to make it work. Once I put on my cat whisperer hat and figured out she felt cornered in the bathroom, I put a second litterbox in the living room. Not my favorite place for it out in the open, but it made her feel safe. Problem solved.
When we put Sweetie to sleep, the phrase that I repeated over and over was, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." I asked for her forgiveness as I felt that I had failed her.
I took her to the vet thinking I would get some medicine to make her better, then I never brought her home. It haunts me.
This morning I sat at her blanket by the window, sobbed, and said, "I'm so sorry. Please forgive me."
I imagined her laying there. She would have looked up at me with cheerful eyes and purred like a motor.
And then I realized, there was no need for forgiveness because she loved me. If she was laying there, she'd nuzzle and lick my hand.
I wasn't really asking for her forgiveness. I am asking to forgive myself.
For being the cat whisperer, I failed to read the signs of her declining health. In the past month, she stopped showing up at breakfast and dinner for her meals. I'd put her food in the bowl, and she didn't come running. I'd find her curled up in a ball in the bedroom. I'd pick her up and she'd purr as I dropped her in front of the food. She licked off the gravy and left most of it. That wasn't too unusual for her. She rarely cleaned out the bowl.
I can see now that there was something wrong, but she never complained like she was hurt when I picked her up. I thought maybe she liked the attention. I joked with my husband and said she was becoming a diva.
And I was utterly, totally wrong.
My husband consoles me and says it wasn't my fault. I didn't know something was wrong, and purposely did nothing.
I took her to the vet thinking she had a little tummy upset, and was blindsided that she was terminally ill.
If I had known something was wrong earlier, it would not have changed the outcome, but I would have had warning. I would have pampered her with attention and tried to make her final days more comfortable. But perhaps it would have been more stressful, too. I'd probably come home every day scared that she passed away without me.
The suddenness is traumatizing. I kept apologizing to her because I wanted to take her home, and I couldn't. And one of the saddest things for me is I couldn't even ease her comfortably as she passed on. I've had family and friends die of cancer, and it is always terrible to see. The injections to stop Sweetie's heart simply accelerated it so her suffering wasn't prolonged. This time, I couldn't make up to her with tuna or catnip.
But as I sat at her blanket, I knew she held no grudges.
Everywhere I walk in the house, I see her. I don't literally see her, of course, but I see the memory of her. I came home from class today, and I saw her sleeping on my side of bed where she usually was in the afternoon. Her ears perked up as she saw me come through the door. As I walked by her, I said, "I love you."
I know it's not my fault, but I am still in denial about whether I could have saved her. It's going to take some time for this crushing sadness in my heart to heal and for me to feel some catharsis.
Thank you, everyone, who has sent me kind words and goodies. I will respond to your messages soon.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Warning: This blog will be quite emotional. It is about having to put my beloved cat Sweetie to sleep.
As my husband and I were moving into a new apartment back when we lived in Seattle, we had a surprise visitor. An adorable, fluffy cat came to welcome us to the neighborhood as we moved in our boxes. She followed us into our apartment, used my cat's scratching posts, played with toys as though they were for her, then sat in front of the fireplace like she lived there. We fell in love with her instantly. She didn't have a collar and appeared to be a stray with her scraggly, dirty fur, but we didn't want to assume anything. We gave her a little cat treat, then sent her on her way.
It was a few weeks later, but she returned. I opened the door to take the trash out, and there was this cat again. She walked right though the door like she was coming home. We wanted her, but we didn't know if she belonged to anyone. My husband went to the local pet store and bought a collar with a tag on it that said, "We would like to adopt this cat. If she belongs to you, please call xxx." We put it on her, then sent her on the way.
The following day, my husband received a call from a neighbor a couple of buildings away from us. She said she was looking after the cat because her brother didn't want it, but she would be happy to give it to a new home. Speaking to the woman about the cat's history, it seemed she had been passed from home to home unwanted. We asked what her name was, and the woman hesitated. She said the brother called her, "Creepy."
We renamed her "Sweetie" because she was so genuinely affectionate. She seemed to love everyone.
After she was in our home, we made her an indoor only cat, which she didn't like very much. We started to see some behavioral problems that indicated why it seemed she was passed around between people. The last caretaker just pushed her outside because she didn't know how to handle her. Sweetie was sometimes not so sweet as she clawed viciously if she didn't get her way. She peed on our sofa a few times. She didn't get along with my other cat.
But despite her issues, she was so lovable. She loved to be around us, and followed us from room to room. She literally squealed with delight when a can of tuna was opened. She ran with a spring in her step as we put the food bowl down. It was hilarious the first time we gave her catnip. She rolled on the floor and waved her paws in the air.
She slept on my pillow, sometimes pushing me off. It was annoying.
And in time, with a lot of love and patience, her behavioral problems went away. Her semi-feral nature to claw and draw blood eventually tamed to a typical pampered housepet. She didn't howl to go outside anymore. While my other cat and her never became friends, they did learn to share the humans.
She so, so loved attention. Everytime you pet her, she purred. If you scratched the side of her cheek, she leaned into it. If you picked her up, she curled into your arm. Whenever my husband came home from work, she headed into the kitchen and asked, "What's for dinner?" While we ate dinner, she sat on one of the empty chairs. We called her our "dinner guest." My husband gave her little bits of whatever we ate because he couldn't resist how adorable she was. Sometimes she stomped her foot on the table to get attention like she said, "Ahem! I'm here! I'd like my salmon served rare, please." It's a bad habit having pets at the table, but we couldn't refuse her.
About a month ago, I noticed that Sweetie wasn't eating much of her food. She licked the gravy off the canned food, but she left most of the meat. She's never been a really big eater, but there was a declining interest. I complained to my husband for feeding her so much of our food at dinner, she was no longer interested in her own food. A couple of weeks ago, he gave her a little tuna, which made her squeal with delight, as usual. But then, I noticed that her poo in the litterbox wasn't quite right. So I asked my husband not to give her any more non cat food because it was upsetting her stomach.
She gradually ate less and less. She stopped socializing with us, and spent all her time under the bed. Then a big alarm bell went off when she got violently sick on the floor. I won't go into details, but it wasn't normal. We took her to the vet the next day. The vet took tests, and the only thing she noticed was a low red blood cell count. Could be internal bleeding, and her dark stool indicated it might be, or...it could be cancer. We didn't have a lot of evidence for the latter, so we went with the former. The vet gave us medicine for us to treat her digestive upset as an ulcer. She gave us formula cat food.
We took her home, gave her medicine...then she completely stopped eating. I was so freaked out and desperate for her to eat something, I tried to coax her with tuna. She refused. Something was seriously wrong. She was so thin, she was barely there. When I pet her, all I could feel was her spine and bones. I cried all night.
I took her back to the vet the next morning. She developed a respiratory problem, and struggled to take a breath. We tried giving her an appetite stimulant, and she still refused to eat. We finally took xrays. The results were confusing. She had some fluid build up, like with pneumonia, but there was another strange mass in her lung. Her intestines didn't show up on the xray because they were so inflamed.
The vet tried to administer antibiotics through an IV over two days, but it had no effect. The vet found a strange mass in her leg - most likely a cancerous tumor that went undetected because she was a long hair cat. We never saw it. Her progress deteriorated, and she still wouldn't eat. The most likely scenario was the tumor in her leg metastasized and spread to her lung.
We could take her home, but we were warned she might suffocate to death as her respiratory condition worsened. Her body temperature was cooling. All signs indicated her body was shutting down. The vet said we could take Sweetie to an animal ER for 24 hour monitoring.
My husband and I came to the painful decision pretty quickly that we had to let her go. If there was any chance at all she could recover, we would have done whatever necessary. But all signs indicated she was dying, and nothing was going to save her. We could take her to the ER for force feeding and maybe prolong her life by hours, days or maybe even a week. But she was not going to get better so she could come home. I didn't want her spending her final days in a cold cage with strangers.
We informed the vet of our decision, and she said she didn't think it was a wrong choice. She asked if we wanted to be present. I said yes. It would have been easier for me not to be there, but I didn't want my Sweetie to die without us there, stroking her fur until her last breath, knowing that she was loved.
The vet said it was a very noble and selfless act, but I felt utterly selfish as I cried in anguish as the injections were administered. I wish I had been more brave and said more soothing words of comfort as she passed from this world to the next. I know the instant that she died - she took a breath, then seemed to relax.
Her body was already in the process of dying, and the sedative pushed it over the top. We should have had about 2-5 minutes of her calm before the injection to stop her heart was given, but unfortunately, the sedative was her body's last straw. The doc had to administer the second shot to stop her heart. She assured us that Sweetie wasn't in pain, and she not conscious.
After it was done, I sobbed over her body and stroked her soft fur. The vet cried with us, and gave us a hug. I folded her body into a ball like she was sleeping. I covered her with the blanket, and said my final goodbye. They asked if we wanted her ashes, and I said yes. Next time my husband and I go back to Seattle, I plan to take her home, back to the forest-like area where she used to spend her days before she found us. Where I imagined she used to chase birds and squirrels.
I miss her so much. The house feels so empty knowing that I'll never find her sleeping on my spot on the bed again. I walked into the house today and imagined her little ghost walking towards me, wagging the tip of her bushy tail. I so wish she would sleep on my pillow.
We had no idea she was so sick. I am racked with guilt about it. If I had known she was so sick, I would have given her all the tuna and catnip she wanted. I would have done more to ease her way. But she never complained to let me know she was hurting.
I'm glad that she came into our lives, and I hope we were able to give her a better life than the one she started with. All she needed was someone to love her, and she gave it all back and then some.
I hurt so badly, and the temptation is to push it away and make it go away. But I choose to embrace my pain and heartbreak and wrap it in love. If I didn't love her, it wouldn't hurt so much. I don't know where we came from, or where we go when we die, but for me, the meaning of life is to love and be loved. I can't know that she knew that we were with her at the end because we love her, but I hope she did.
I love and miss you, Sweetie.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
There's so much wrong with this study, where do I even begin?
I can't read the original study source because I'm not going to pay for it. So I know the secondary article's conclusions are incomplete, but I'll roll with what is presented.
One of the big problems is the conclusion that red meat increases risk of diabetes is based on questionnaires. If it's not a clinical study, then it is not conclusive. Questionnaire studies might give some ideas for clinical trials, but they in themselves cannot assert themselves as conclusive. Survey takers are unreliable with a high margin for error.
Second, they are including hot dogs and bacon in their 'red meat' grouping. Chances are the people eating hot dogs and bacon have a lot more wrong with their food choices as a whole. I'm going to guess french fries, potato chips, and ketchup are as close to vegetables as these people get. But then again, they are answering a questionnaire, so who knows what they are really eating?
Yes, nitrosamines in processed food is bad. SO DON'T EAT THEM. Eat whole chicken, fish, beef, pork or eggs. Hot dogs and luncheon meat are not good protein choices for anybody. It is true that I have seen people claiming to be on Atkins think it is an excuse for all-you-can eat hot dogs and bacon. They are doing it wrong.
However, what are hot dogs and luncheon meat usually accompanied with? A bun or bread slices. Despite people being told to eat whole grains, most people I know still consume white bread because it tastes good. Not that I'm not saying whole grain is necessarily healthier, just saying the dawg isn't usually alone.
Fat + carb drives weight gain, and is the main component of a fast food diet. The beef patties in fast food have been blamed for our health crisis, but it comprises a very small portion of a drive through meal. My obesity was caused by the burger patty with the bun, french fries, and large Coke. It was a nutritionally devoid diet. Singling out the patty when there were all these other components is absurd.
If it was the burger patty's fault, then what if after I ordered it, I just threw the beef out and ate the bun, french fries and Coke? Would that have been healthier?
No, of course not. Crap food is crap.
Every instance I've read of house fires, there have been fire trucks. Therefore, fire trucks cause house fires.
That's the way the conclusions in this study reads.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Some time ago I wrote about celebrity diets. With exercise and specialized diets from professional trainers, actors and actress can change their shape from super slim to super buff.
The newest actor to undergo this transformation is Henry Cavill as the "Man of Steel". Here's a snippet of how he trained to be invincible (or at least look that way):
Basically, lifting weights and eating all day.
Since it is his job to be perfectly sculpted, he gets the benefit of time and training to work on his body. He has someone to tell him 'lift this' and 'eat that.' Most of us don't have that kind of specialized help, but there is something we can learn from this.
"Eat less, move more" seems to make intuitive sense, but it is not quite right.
If you look at how actors drastically change their body shape, "eat less, move more" is rarely one of them. (Except in case of "Black Swan" where Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis ate almost nothing by their accounts). Christian Bale and Henry Cavill lifted more, and ate more for their roles in "Batman" and "Man of Steel" respectively. A lot more.
If the linked article is to be believed, then Cavill worked out 1-2 hours per day with heavy kettlebell lifts. He ate between 3,500-5,000 calories per day.
Think this is just for men? If you watch the National Guard promo video about halfway down the page, you'll see the actress who plays Ursa is doing the EXACT same workout as Cavill. She cannot lift the same amount of weight as Cavill, obviously, but she is doing the same TYPE of exercises. Men lift weights and girls jog is sooooo outdated 1980s thinking.
We are all familiar with someone who spends hours upon hours on a treadmill. They diligently adhere to a 1,200 calorie diet. You see them week after week, and their body doesn't seem to change much despite all that hard work.
Yeah, that was me. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
Henry Cavill trained for 1-2 hours of lifting, and ate 3,500-5,000 calories per day. He looks like an Adonis.
Again, Antje Traue (Ursa) trained the same way as Cavill. Not exactly a bikini shot, but the armor is pretty darn form fitting.
If that's what it takes to look like a gilded god or goddess, what does running on a treadmill for hours and skimping on meals do?
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