Monday was, without a doubt, the worst day I have had in many, many years. In turned out to be the culmination of two weeks of worry and concern but was unfortunately not the end I had hoped for. On Monday I lost my beloved cat Xena, one of the best pets of any kind I’ve had in my whole 37 years. While it wasn’t a huge shock it was certainly something that came much sooner than I had hoped it would.
I got Xena in 1998, the year she was born. It was a weird situation, really. I had ended a relationship and had to move out of the house I was sharing with my now ex-boyfriend and a few other friends. Without may options I moved in with a friend who hadn’t known for very long but who I felt comfortable enough to live with at the time. She was friends with my ex and many of our mutual friends so I was a little unsure about the move itself but in the end things weren’t as awkward with the ex as I thought they would be.
My roommate had a cat and a new kitten. The kitten was a little grey tabby who she’d named Howard, after Howard Stern, despite the fact that she was a girl cat. Howard was a bit shy at first. She would hide a lot, especially when my roommate was home. My roommate always had a bit of a “problem”…she partied a LOT and there was a constant stream of people coming through the house. Howard didn’t like that and started hiding in my room when I wasn’t home and she’d come out for me when I was there. Soon Howard flat our ran away from my roommate if she tried to approach her. One day when this happened and I picked Howard up to calm her down and my roommate said “Fine. She’s yours. If you ever move out, take her with you.”
In the months that followed Howard got a new name. I hated called her Howard. For a little while I called her Psycho because she was a wacko kitten. Then one day I was lying on the couch watching TV and she came and laid on my chest. I was watching “Xena, the Warrior Princess” and anything someone said Xena’s name the cat perked up, ears up high, and she’d look around. So I said “Hey, do you want to be called Xena?” She gave me a look that said “Yeah Yeah!” And that became her name. My roommate hated it and wouldn’t call her that, so for the next few months while I lived there she was very confused because she had two names.
I finally had to move out of there because my roommate’s drug and party habit got out of hand and I was actually getting a little nervous about my own safety, so I packed up and moved out while she was sleeping it off one day. While getting ready to go, Xena sat in the kitchen watching and looked a bit nervous. My Mom asked me if I was taking her with me and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to take her but I didn’t want to have a bit problem with the roommate if she decided that she didn’t want me to take the cat in the end. I finally said fuck it and grabbed her, put her in a carrier, and we left. I never heard from my roommate again, so I guess at the end of the day she didn’t really care about Xena, or at least she knew she was in better hands with me.
Over the years Xena had a list of little health problems. When she got spayed they found that she had cystic ovaries and the uterus of a 30lbs dog so she had to have a kitty hysterectomy. Within six months her weight doubled and she stayed a big cat the rest of her life. In 2009 she started to have some other issues that we would later find out would be diabetes. Since 201o she’s had injections of insulin twice a day with her meals and, as far as we knew, she had been mostly regulated and most of the problems that she had seemed to get better in time.
Then back in June this year she had an incident with her former vet that left her needing hip surgery. The vet, without talking to us, decided to do some things with her legs while she was there for a blood test because she didn’t like the way Xena was walking. It turned out the vet popped her hip out, couldn’t get it back in place, and just gave her back to my husband in her carrier with her hip out of place. We had to rush her to the emergency hospital and they had to do surgery because she had a shallow hole for the ball of the joint and it couldn’t be manipulated back into place.
Xena’s fur never grew back from the surgery, sadly. On the upside she did regain all her mobility and was back to jumping all over the place and getting up on the couch and bed in no time. However when she was in the hospital they found that she had a heart condition which caused her heart to be really slow and she also might have had a different type of diabetes than originally believed which might have been causing brain swelling. The doctors said she would need to have an MRI to determine that, but after a sudden surgery I couldn’t afford to do all the stuff they wanted to do so instead we just did another adjustment on her insulin and the doctor said to just go back to getting regular glucose curves done and see how it goes.
All’s been well since then, or at least until two weeks ago. Xena suddenly started eating less and she stopped talking. She was a VERY vocal cat but I hadn’t heard her hardly say a word in the last two weeks. She also stopped playing with her toys and was spending a lot more time just laying around. I thought she might have had a cold or something so I started giving her wet food, which she was eating without a problem. But over these last two weeks I could feel something was wrong despite she was still eating, drinking and doing her business like normal.
Over the weekend I decided that on Monday I would call the vet and take her in to get checked out. I got an appointment for that night and we were good to go. But as the day went on she got more and more lethargic. She stopped walking in mid-travel from one bed to the other and just laid down on the floor and that freaked us out. Then I picked her up and she felt limp. Ever still she was wagging her tail and purring away, and she nuzzled her face into my neck and grasped on to my shoulder with her claws. I knew it was coming.
My husband called the vet, said it was an emergency and we needed to bring her right away. We got in the car and when we got there, when I looked in the carrier I thought we might have lost her in the car. But she was still with us, hanging on. The nurse took her in back right away and a few minutes later a doctor came in and told us her blood sugar was very high and she was crashing. He thought there might be two possibilities; her diabetes could have actually reversed or she could have cancer. In order to figure anything out they would have to first get her blood sugar regulated and then he’d be able to find out more. So he said to just stay calm and he’d call in a few hours.
I waited patiently for the call and while she was there I washed one of her blankets and picked up her toys. Then around 6:30 he called but it wasn’t good news. There was a huge list of things that he found wrong with her including the fact that she’d apparently become severely anemic, had developed some large kidney stones and was starting to go into kidney failure. She also had swollen adrenal glands which was causing a number of other issues. He said that Xena had arrested on them once and they resuscitated her but he didn’t think there was much they would be able to do for her…and then Xena made this all easier for everyone and she decided while I was on the phone with the doctor that it was time for her to go and they lost her while we were talking.
The last few days have been hard but today it has been better. I am reaching a point of acceptance. I miss her terribly and I still tear up or cry a little when I think about how that face isn’t going to be staring up at me while I work during the day or how I’m not going to unexpectedly wake up in the morning with her butt in my face. But I know she’s free from the pain and problems that she’s had to deal with, not only over these last few years, but almost her whole life.
We had 14 amazing years. We went from living in an illegal apartment with no heat when we first met to living a very comfortable life together with our wonderful family we’d created with my husband, his cat Pooh, and my other cat Loki. Even though Xena and Loki never really had much love for each other, which I say was because she actually tried to kill him when I brought him home as a kitten, I know he’s missing her a little. Pooh is just a little confused as to why Xena’s spot on the couch is empty and I haven’t shooed her out of it.
I don’t know what’s going to happen when I have to go and get her ashes in a few days, but once she’s finally back home I’ll really be ready to start the healing process.
Every day it will get easier but I will never, ever forget the love I shared with this little ball of fur.