Look, I never said Lily was normal.
When I got her at the Chicago Animal Care & Control in April 2005, she was about a year and a half old, fully grown, long and tall, and weighed about 5.5 lbs, straight off the street/spaying table. I brought her skinny ass home to my college apartment and toyed with naming her Katharine Hepburn (so long! so tall! so orange!). She immediately got an eye infection.
This post gets long, so I broke it off for Tumblr dashboard readers. I have no idea what this does on Google Reader, so click through if you gotta, you lazy bums (whom I love).
So I took her to the vet, who gave me meds to give her and told me to feed her kitten food to pork her up a bit. By the time she got her next eye infection a few months later, the vet told me to stop feeding her so goddamn much, because I was gonna give her diabetes. Whoops.
Lily has never been terribly “with it” or terribly “coordinated.” She used to half-jump to my couch and kind of bounce off, then wander away. She was never sure-footed or lithe the way cats should be. Once she rolled off a windowsill in my Chicago apartment, where, by the way, I decided she needed a friend if I was gonna live alone and be at work all day. So in came Bear. Things started out pretty well.
They eventually settled into a nice relationship.
(They both got skinnier after this, I promise.)
So we all lived happily ever after in Chicago, except the time I changed their litter and then left for the weekend and Bear peed all over my couch. Otherwise, you know, the occasional eye/ear infection for Lil, but everyone was fine.
Then I had to be an asshole and decide I wanted to move to New York. My most saintly friend Megan offered to fly with me and handle one of the cats (because airlines know that one pet per human is all anyone can deal with and made laws about it). It was massively traumatizing (for me) because while Bear threw up her sedative as soon as we got on the plane and then sat calmly in her carrier for the next three hours, Lily LOST HER SHIT (not literally [yet]). By the time we landed, she was alternating between TERRIFYING SCREAMS OF “I AM AWAKE WHAT IS HAPPENING” and coma-like, horrifying stillness. I vowed to never do this again.
We moved into a 6-week sublet with relative ease. They were happy. The AC worked. The night before I moved out and into my real apartment, Lily pooped on the floor in front of the front door. I watched it happen. It had never happened before! “How strange,” I thought, “I hope she likes our new place better!”
And then she pooped on the floor at least once a day for two years. Except for the two weeks I was in Israel, when apparently she held it for the first 10 days or so. This was a less than pleasant experience for me and the people who hated her with whom I chose to live. Thus begins the guilt. Things were so wrong with that place and her that she had to crap on the floor all the fucking time. Nothing made it stop, not drugs or crazy litterbox measures or food changes.
I tried for about 3 months in 2008 or 2009 to give her away, to get her back to the happy (if off-kilter) cat I had in Chicago, to get her away from the crappy carpeting, the constant comings and goings of four live-in humans and most of that year’s Upright Citizens Brigade Sketch Groups, the fact that you could feel the subway underneath us even on the third floor, the place that had such bad vibes for her. Doing this made me extremely sad and guilty, so I wasn’t too heartbroken when the one lead I had on a quiet, calm place fell through.
Eventually, for everyone’s sanity, we moved!
(waiting on movers at the old place)
Things are better at the “new” place, where we have been for two years. She does occasionally shit on the floor, but usually only to inform me that I need to clean the litterbox or that she is pissed off that I have been gone for so long. Which is to say, it’s usually in front of my bedroom door or the litterbox. Occasionally, there is a dingleberry in the middle of the floor (tmi).
Meanwhile, she’s had an ear infection for, oh, three years now. Sometimes I take her to the vet for bloodwork and her ear meds and give them to her for two weeks as prescribed, and she’s good to go… for about two weeks. Then it’s back. She’s just itchy. Last time I took her in, a few months ago, they said she was just itchy. Always gonna be like that. Okay.
Something else weird happened a few times, starting way back in the old apartment. One day, I noticed that she was having trouble walking. She was wobbling, like her back legs weren’t working. I had two immediate thoughts:
1) Oh god, my particularly hates-her roommate is poisoning her.
2) Oh wait no, she’s just constipated.
After about 30 seconds of wobble, she pooped on the floor and went back to normal. I saw her do this twice at the old place and maybe three times in the past two years in the new place. Disturbing? Yes. Regular occurrence? Hardly. Did I chalk it up to digestion? All the time.
And then this Saturday morning, I was in the Hamptons with the feller & friends, and Futt called to tell me that Lily was doing the wobble, full-time. She was disoriented and couldn’t jump and was really not in good shape. Futt took her to the vet, who essentially diagnosed her with Something Wrong With Her Central Nervous System And Maybe Her Brain, Probably Caused By Infection. Of course, my immediate question was “OH GOD, IS IT HER LARGELY UNTREATED EAR INFECTION HAVE I CAUSED THE DEATH OF MY CAT,” to which the very kind vet responded that in no way would an ear infection turn into a central nervous system infection. She maybe has a brain tumor. She maybe has meningitis. I can’t afford to get my cat a spinal tap, so I likely won’t ever really know “what she has,” but we’ve gone from the wobbles and acting like she didn’t feel well on Sunday, to a wobbly but semi-normal Tuesday, to today.
Today, she is hiding again (a doesn’t-feel-well behavior). And this morning, she started jerking. When she shakes her head in a normal pet way, this seems to induce a mini seizure—her head jerks, her eyes can’t focus and jerk around, she loses all of her already tenuous footing, and she falls over. After a few minutes, she gets her iffy footing back, and then she goes back to hiding.
(emerging from hiding, just now.)
Meanwhile, when I went to go see how hiding was treating Lil, this is how I found Bear on my bedroom floor:
(Clearly disturbed by her sister’s situation.)
Though, Bear has basically followed Lily around all week. When Lil’s under my bed, Bear tends to be nearby in my room somewhere.
Anyway. I told the vet all of this on the phone today, and she says it sounds like Lily is having little seizures. This is definitely a new symptom. So we’re going back at 3:40 to see what the vet can see. I’m sure just getting there will induce one, so I’m not terribly concerned about replicating the symptom for the vet, though now I know that if I make her shake her head, she’ll do it without question.
That’s what’s going on with my cat. All the long story is basically to say that I have dealt with a lot with this orange weirdo, and even though I might be the only person in the world who actually likes her (okay, except Futt and maybe Kathleen and Saintly Megan), this has been a massively difficult week. She doesn’t seem to be suffering very much, until she flops over and/or seizes. It’s just hard to watch. It’s hard for me to leave, it’s hard for me to concentrate, it’s hard for me to sit here and wait till 3:30 when I can walk out the door with her to the vet. It’s hard not knowing how much each visit is going to cost me, it’s hard not knowing what the vet will say. It’s hard not knowing if anything we’re doing is helping her in any way. I just want my weirdo to be comfortable, safe, and as healthy as possible.
(all photos by me, except the good one (the first one), by Kathleen)