(NOTE: Official CDP Spokescat Gabe passed away last night after 10.5 years of loving ownership by the Missus and myself. He was the most loving and intelligent animal I have ever had the joy to meet, and it was a privilege to provide him the best possible life under our roof. We had legitimately saved Gabe’s life at least three times over the last decade, and this CDP essay from November of 2005 discusses the first such emergency. As far as I’m concerned, every day since this 2005 incident was bonus time I got to spend with Gabe, and as Celia and I adopted him shortly after moving in with each other, we felt he had always represented our transition into adulthood and personal responsibility. Well, don’t worry about anything, Gabe. We can take it from here. I love you and miss you, buddy.)
As promised, I wanted to give everyone a full update on Gabe. First, the back story.
If you don’t already know, Gabe is one of my two cats. If you’re a newlywed 20-something couple who lives in an apartment, it’s a prerequisite that you pick yourself up a couple of cats. Upon moving to Madison some years ago, that’s exactly what we did.
Gabe is a Blue Point Siamese male. Since we adopted him from the shelter, his exact age is unknown, although we have since figured him to be about 5 years old. When we saw him in the shelter, his ribs were sticking out from his chest and he looked quite underweight. Since then, we have him at an ideal weight for his breed and age.
He’s an amazing and intelligent feline. He runs down the stairs when you call him, jumping into your lap and purring without fail. He hasn’t bit or scratched a soul, regardless of what awful things we do to him. When the Missus enters the apartment complex after work, he can tell she’s home before I can. He recognizes the jingling of her keys, separating the sound from all of the other jingling keys he hears all day. He’s playful and wildly affectionate, relaxed and Zen, brilliant and resourceful. He’s pretty much the coolest cat I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen thousands.
Gabe is a needy soul. He’ll cry when he’s not around you, simply because he wants to be in your lap. He’s never annoying about it; he just lets you know that he misses you when you’re away. When you come home from work, he’s right at the door to greet you. He’d fetch me my slippers if I wore them. Most people that meet Gabe say the same thing, that he acts more like a dog than a cat. His loyalty rivals that of a Golden Retriever, only he doesn’t need to be walked and can whiz in the house. He doesn’t have an enemy in the world.
Gabe’s past, however, seems a bit more sordid. Apparently, he was seized from a house that was overrun with cats, which usually means poor health and disease. The fact that he came from a place like this and still maintains his temperament is a sight to behold. It’s as if he’s making a decision every morning to be nice to everyone he meets. Not to mention, he’s a beautiful specimen. He keeps his coat smooth and well-groomed, sometimes spending hours on a rigid cleaning routine. At first glance, he may appear intimidating and stoic, but instantly becomes your new best friend. He has the prettiest eyes I’ve ever seen on a non-human.
When we brought him home a couple of years ago, we already had a Siamese female in the house. When she initially rejected his company, rather than fight back, he anxiously chewed the fur off of his feet. Make no mistake about it, this is a cat that loves and wishes to be loved. Now, the two of them curl up on the couch together most every night.
(He looks upset because he has an ass pressed against his ribs.)
Keeping his past and breed in mind, it wasn’t a surprise that Gabe contracted a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). We first noticed it a couple of months ago when we saw that he had taken to whizzing in the Missus’ bathtub. When cats get a UTI, it hurts too much to pee in the litter box, so they try to find a smooth, cool surface, like the tub (I’ve been known to do this on occasion when the toilet gets too repetitive for me). We were all set to take him to the vet, when he made a full recovery. We considered ourselves lucky, and forgot about the whole thing.
What we didn’t know was that Gabe had kidney stone-like particles in his kidneys and bladder. Just because he passed the stone and got over the first hump didn’t mean that he’d pull it off every time. This reached a head on Monday morning.
The Missus had called in sick on Monday, as she was feeling awful from the weekend. By the time she woke up, Gabe was already howling outside of the bedroom door. When she opened up, a clearly frightened Gabe ran and hid under the bed, which is something that he never does. Missus knew something was wrong, and tried to figure out what was up. Gabe was howling in pain and growling deeply, which was completely new for him. Not really knowing what to do, the Missus called me at work and filled me in. I told her to immediately call the vet and set up an appointment. I skipped out on work for the afternoon and raced home.
When I got there, the Missus was feeling rather helpless and scared, and Gabe was no better. He was still hiding in the bedroom, sitting in such a way that indicated that it was the only position that didn’t hurt him. We stuffed him into the crate and took him straight to the vet.
Gabe was in the vet’s office for no more than 30 seconds when we figured out what was wrong with him. As soon as the vet touched his tummy, he screamed in pain and hid under the chairs. “Your cat can’t pee,” the vet told us.
“This is an emergency situation that requires an immediate decision,” she told us. Cats can literally have their kidneys explode on them, killing them slowly and painfully, and Gabe was verging on this circumstance due to a severe blockage. A surgery needed to be conducted instantly, and the vet left the room to get us forms to sign.
For the few minutes me and the Missus were alone in the room together, we talked it over. Without question, we were going ahead with this operation, regardless of weather it meant we would have to live on cheese sandwiches for the rest of the year. The operation required for them to insert a catheter into Gabe’s bladder, working on removing the stones and allowing him to urinate on his own again. Apart from that, we needed a slew of antibiotics, special food and a lot of hope to make sure that he would be okay.
It should be noted at this point that if the Missus wouldn’t have called in sick that day, we would have come home to a dead cat. No question about it. Take from that what you will; I’m just giving you the facts.
We signed the papers and left the vet’s office. Several hours of waiting by the phone later, it finally rang. They did what they needed to do to him, the catheter was still inserted and he seemed to be doing as well as he could have. The thing with UTI’s is that the same thing could come back a week later. We’re hoping this doesn’t happen, but it’s very possible, and is another conversation for another time.
When Tuesday rolled around, we finally got a call from the vet’s office at 2:30pm. The catheter was removed; Gabe was urinating on his own and was ready to come home. We picked him up (along with a ton of medicine and food), gave the Sun Prairie Animal Hospital $500 for saving Gabe’s life, and settled him back into the house.
For the next two weeks, we have to force-feed him two different kinds of medication, feed him prescription food and put an ointment in his ears. If you’ve ever owned or been near a cat, you’ll understand why this will be almost certainly impossible, regardless of how nice they are. After two weeks, we’re taking him back in for a follow-up appointment, and scheduling him for a vigorous teeth cleaning. Remember the house overrun with cats that Gabe was rescued from? Apparently, the crazy cat woman didn’t believe in proper dental habits. Two of Gabe’s back teeth needed to be extracted, barely hanging from the sockets to begin with.
Don’t believe me? I saved the teeth.
Sorry about that; I just wanted to hammer the point home. What you need to know is that Gabe is safe and sound at home again, shaken but recovering. We’re all adjusting to the new routine; doing what we can to keep him healthy and happy. We must keep a very watchful eye on him, make sure he gets his meds and comb over his litter box daily, but it’s worth it to have the family together again.
Love you, Big G.