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Before you know it...

It's Sunday! Today is the day for relaxing in our family. Half the family is at a party for the Superbowl, supporting their beloved Chiefs, and the other half, including me, are playing video games or reading quietly. The cats are in my youngest daughter's room sleeping the day away while her fan hums to them. I am sure you have all seen on my Zelina social media, my personal social media, and my eldest daughter's social media, that her 13 year old baby is not doing so well. He hates going to the vet because the other animals stress him out (see below). My eldest daughter takes him whenever he has an issue just due to his age. The issue he was having last month was some difficulty peeing & was peeing on specific things in the house at random times (sometimes even the farthest away from the litter box!). She took him and he had a UTI. He got on some meds & it went away. That was over a month ago, the vet did a full workup and found him to be VERY healthy, especially due to his age. They checked his blood, urine, eyes, weight, heart, x-rayed everything they could. They said this cat was in perfect condition. We all breathed a sigh of relief and celebrated our Christmas & New Year's without much care.

Then less than two weeks ago, we noticed that he was doing it again; peeing in certain places in the house & on certain objects. So we closed off rooms from him and the other cats & kept all his pee spots tidy & un-peeable (make it smell stinky to him). We keep the litter clean at least twice daily, have multiple litter boxes for each cat & make sure they can always access them. We couldn't understand why he was still peeing. What made it stranger, was the fact that it wasn't consistent. When he had the UTI it was almost daily whereas now when he was peeing, it was once or twice a week. So we tried to figure it out (luckily none of it was on the carpet!). Maybe it was because my daughter started an internship & was working a job she doesn't necessarily love so she comes home stressed. Nope, wasn't it? Maybe he wasn't eating or drinking enough; no problems there. Maybe the cat access to the garage kept getting stuck, still no. Then my daughter noticed him doing something weird, because he's neutered, whenever he would squat down to pee he would slowly stand up & pee over the litter box! She said he looked upset at what he did & kept trying to cover up the pee on the floor with "litter". He would then run away like we were going to punish him (we've NEVER even raised our voice to this good boy). Finally my daughter & I just agreed to take him to the vet because he is an EXTREME good-est boy; he never does this with the exception of the UTI's. So she took him in & they did a urine test. They also weighed him again, didn't lose & didn't gain (good boy). He wasn't constipated & didn't seem to be in any pain when she was feeling all over. The vet said his eyes looked healthy, despite him looking at the vet like this:

Despite his stress, he did super well for the tests. Then the vet came back without him. She asked if he seemed lethargic & would breathe rapidly. My daughter told him no that she hadn't noticed anything & neither had I. She raised some concerns that he might have some heart issues & wanted to do an x-ray but she also stressed that it could be that way because they did a urine sample & checked his urethra so he's very upset and that could be causing the "heart issue". My daughter told the vet to do whatever they needed to do because it's her baby & they both (Her & the cat) agreed they're going to live in an old haunted house together and he's her familiar for EVERY Halloween forever so he has to live. She must have been in there forever because I had finished working out & showering when I got the text from my daughter.

Her precious boy, my favorite cat, is in pre-heart failure. When I first read it, I thought he was in pure heart failure and a part of me died - instantly the tears started rolling down. I just kept re-reading it to make sure those were the words I was actually reading. There's no way that healthy boy had a bad heart, they literally just checked it! I texted my daughter that I was on my way up but she was already on her way back home. How she made it back while crying is a miracle because she got out of the car just sobbing. So we sobbed together in the front yard and she told me everything.

The vet told her that the peeing thing for the past few weeks was most likely due to the new kitten, C.C., just not giving him a chance to breathe. She's always wanting to play with him, which is so sweet, but even while he's peeing. So she believes the places he's peeing are places that C.C. is not going to. She suggested to give him special potty breaks- just 5-15 minutes to himself to relax & let himself pee & then go play with C.C. Whereas the standing thing, they found some arthritis in his hips & back legs. Normally he doesn't just jump on anything because he's extremely good so we never noticed. She said while he's in that position that it's hurting his back legs & to relieve it he's standing up. She put him on the same medication my other daughter's cat, Fuzzy, is on.

My daughter told me between her sobs that the vet was crying as she told/showed her the x-rays. His heart & the veins around his heart are enlarged to 4x what they are supposed to be. The vet was unsure of what caused it to grow so quickly & why. She previously gave him another solid 8-10 years in early December. After showing my daughter the x-rays, she now saying we're lucky to have him until the end of this year.

Our weird little old man, has less than a year as of right now. I couldn't believe it. The vet said he can't feel it & he's in no pain. She claimed that if he does pass away, it will most likely be in his sleep peacefully. She wants to see him again in two weeks (on Valentine's Day which is ironic & 10 days before my daughter's birthday) to see if his heart has improved. If it has, then she will give him some heart meds he will be on for the rest of his life & will re-evaluate his life expectancy & see if he's still got another good 8-10 years. If not, she told my daughter they needed to talk about his life. The vet comforted her though by saying many cats live beyond expectancy but those words just killed her.

So the vet put him on some pretty strong heart pills, which freaked my eldest daughter out. She works at a place with lot of animals, the vets & staff there call the same pills that he's on the "death pills" or "on their last legs". She didn't stop crying & hugging the cat for the whole day, which admittedly made him more stressed. What made it worse, not to the vet's fault, that after she told my daughter all this, she told her the pills make him sleepy. She now won't let him sleep longer than 15 mins - 1 hour before 'mrrp'ing' him awake. After we let him out, fed him his pill (always such a good boy about it), we just reminisced on his life while crying.

While my children were growing up, we were primarily a dog family. We had many dogs over many years & my children always loved having pets. My eldest daughter was the only one that ever wanted a cat, later it was more specifically a black "witches" cat. We only ever had two before Darth Vader, one (calico) ran away & the other (orange tabby) we gave away due to a moving situation. Every time we moved into a new house she would always pick a room with the most accessible window just in case we ever got a cat. So finally, one random summer afternoon, my daughter had gotten home from work & was watching TV with me. In comes my husband saying "I've got something for you. The house that I was working on was getting rid of him & I snatched him up". He came around the corner & we saw him. The most beautiful black, bright-eyed cat just staring at us, clutching my husband's chest like it was life-or-death. He said "We don't know his past & what he's been through but he's still pretty young & he seems perfect for you". I was in awe, my daughter fell in love instantly. She took him up to her room & showed him her window that she saved just for him. I didn't know what to say to him but my sweet husband was really excited about giving my daughter the gift of a best friend & one that she's been begging for forever. He brought in the rest of the stuff & we set it up for him. She spent the whole night in her room with him, just watching TV & relaxing. He curled up on the foot of her bed & just slept the night away.

The next day however, she came downstairs in a panic. She couldn't find him, I told her it's a cat & they love to hide, plus it's his first day in a new house & he's nervous. We spent 2+ hours looking for him. She was devastated, we checked outside & were about to put missing posters up when I walked into the kitchen to check one more time when I looked up. There he was just sitting there watching us call him (which we realize he didn't like his old name & would never respond to us) & watching us panic. Just sitting there staring. We laughed & breathed a sigh of relief & fed him breakfast. My husband was right, we didn't know his past. Every loud noise, if we walked to fast, if we laughed, slightly raised our voices, certain toys, they all just scared him. It took him time before he would cuddle with someone other than my daughter & he would NEVER leave her room upstairs. Then about 3-4 months later, my eldest daughter & I were watching Star Wars & it was like cosmic timing. He sauntered like a king down the stairs and hopped onto our couch to the tune of the Imperial March. I got so excited I said "we have to name him Darth Vader". Though hesitant, (she wanted to name him Hades) she agreed. He actually responds to his name & loves it when we call him Vader. He will mrrp & purr right on over to us. Since then, its been a cake walk with Mr. Vader. We never potty trained him, he never tore anything up, all he wants out of life is his wet food, dry food, cat tree, & a good spot to sun-bathe. He's the best cat any person or family could ask for. He can/has turned cat haters into cat lovers. The employees at the vets office have a list of who's going to take him home JUST IN CASE we ever get rid of him (as if). We know a lot of vets cry about animals because they have a passion for them but at our personal vet, they love him. These years have flown by with him. We've moved 3-4 times, changed states, evacuated one hurricane, stayed in another, got him a kitten, got him a bearded dragon, got him a fish, multiple Halloweens & Christmases, etc.

So the moral of this week's blog post is first of all, adopt don't shop. Second of all, don't ever NOT adopt a black cat just because of their color, you will regret what you are missing out on.

Third & most importantly, take moments to love & appreciate your animals. They may only be here for a part of your life but for them, you are their entire life.

So love your animals & people because before you know it...

(Darth Vader With C.C. - He does a good job of raising her)

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