I’m so strong! I survived kittens!

Jeff and I were in the New Glasgow mall yesterday and one of the stores I usually browse was gone! In its place was the SPCA and a bunch of kittens! What timing! Just days after saying good-bye to Zeus.

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I’m happy to report that none of them came home with us. Although Jeff had his eye on a black and white one standing in his water dish!

We’ll be just fine with just one cat and one dog.

Life after Zeus

This post contains a lot of personal thoughts and feelings and details about putting down a pet. Probably not recommended reading material for anyone, but it’s how I cope. I blog.

Sigh… It doesn’t get easier.

So many things I told myself.. So many lies… It’ll be easier, he lived a long, good life, or… we had 3 extra bonus years together, or… he’s just a cat, it won’t be like losing a dog was.

Truth is, saying goodbye to a pet really sucks.

Everyone always says you’ll know *when*… and I guess it is true. I so badly wanted Zeus to pass away in peace at our home, mostly because he absolutely hates hated car rides. He would get so stressed, and sick (in every way). I didn’t want to have a traumatic last hour to his life.

As the days wore on after we returned from vacation, it was pretty clear that he wasn’t going to bounce back. He started going downhill before we left, although I didn’t want to recognize it at the time. He was eating less and his weight was down when he saw the vet before we left. By the time we were home from the Yukon, he was quite skinny, despite having a neighbour stop by to feed him regularly. Over his last two weeks, since our vacation, I didn’t see him eat at all. He still would come to visit us downstairs from time to time, but mostly he sat quietly upstairs in the front bedroom. He drank water, but nothing more. He’d purr when I visited and he’d let me take him outside so we could sit on the patio in the sun together.

Every day he turned more and more into a skeleton, and one of his eyes and a nostril had to be cleared of mucous often. By Sunday night I knew what had to be done. Although he didn’t seem to be in acute pain, he had to be miserable, his body was eating itself, and it wasn’t fair to risk him going out by seizure as his organs shut down.

One of the hardest steps to saying goodbye to a pet, is the act of calling the vet clinic, and verbally saying the words, requesting an appointment to put your pet down. Three times now, and I haven’t done it once without choking up and pinching off my voice. It is so hard to verbalize. It’s so final.

Luckily they understood what I was requesting and booked us an afternoon appointment. I worked during the morning hours because I knew Zeus just wanted to be left alone and didn’t want my constant attention. Mostly I just needed a distraction.

The drive to town was hard. Luckily he hadn’t eaten anything, so he wasn’t sick, and didn’t have a horrible ride. He walked right to the back of my hatchback, by the back window, stretched out and meowed from time to time. I tried to focus on driving the 30 minutes to the vet clinic, but did move my rear view mirror so it just looked at him.

I went in first, alone, to sign the consent form, and pay the bill in advance. I asked to have him cremated, with his ashes returned. I’ll likely spread them somewhere on our property here.

Then I had to go get him from the car, where he was waiting for me. So hard, so very hard.  He was so awake, so alert. He was all there, Zeus was there, his soul, his mind, it was just his old body that was failing him now.

They put a blanket on the table in one of the exam rooms and said we could wait for the vet in there. I had Zeus in a blanket from home. He was so boney. Like a skeleton with fur. I didn’t want to hurt him and wrapped him up tight. I hugged him and kissed him so many times as we stood in the room, waiting for the vet. He was purring and licked me back a few times. The vet who originally diagnosed Zeus saw his name on the appointment sheet for the afternoon, so he took the appointment. He pet Zeus and Zeus purred. So strange for Zeus to purr for a stranger!

We talked for a bit. He said Zeus did so good, so very good, so much longer than any other cat with such a tumor in their chest. He asked if Zeus would let them shave a bit of his front leg. I said I’d keep holding him in case. Then Zeus gave the vet a typical-Zeus snarly growl. It made us all smile.

It was over so quick. I held Zeus on the table and he slowly slumped and was gone. The assistant left the room. The vet stayed a bit longer, checked for a heart beat, and confirmed he was gone. He felt his legs then and said his muscles were completely wasted away. He seemed surprised he had still been so mobile. He left then, and said I could take as long as I want, and told me how to leave through the side door so I didn’t have to go out through the waiting room.

I kissed Zeus a bunch more times, and pet him. I told him how much I loved him and thanked him for being such a great buddy for so many years.  Similar to Winger’s passing, there was a sense of calm and peacefulness, that he was finally released from his cancer, and from all that ailed him.

But it was so hard to leave. How do I just leave Zeus there lying on the table? How do I switch from caregiver to just leaving? What if he isn’t really gone? Did his side just move?

A couple minutes later I slipped out the side door. I wailed when I got in the car. It was a rainy day and I made it even wetter as I cried all the way home.

Now, 3 days later, I’m doing okay. The only really tough part has been the moments between closing my eyes, and sleep. In fact I didn’t sleep much the first two nights, and watched tv until 2am or so when I could fall asleep on the couch without thinking.

Yesterday I went in the basement for the first time, where Zeus’s litter boxes are (he has two because he’s so picky… was so picky…). That’s where his pills are, and all the soft cat foods we’ve been buying for over 3 years, soft foods to hide his prednisone pill in, and gravy coated foods to coax him into eating. I cried. How could he not be here anymore?

After you lose a pet, for the first few days you can still picture them everywhere. Lying by the door, stretched out on the footstool, paws crossed. I think about how I’ll never panic, looking all over the house for him, thinking he must have gotten out, just to find him sleeping soundly in my armoir on my sweaters. I watched him go in there once and pull the door shut behind him. Funny cat.

I think about how I’ll never hear him purr, or hear him meow at the back door. I find his fur on my sweatshirt, and pause, not wanting to wipe it off.

I think about how strange it is to be here, but he’s not here. How it almost doesn’t feel fair. How come I’m here, but he can’t be. Why did he have to go? Why is this so hard when we know what the deal is when we adopt our pets. We know this day will come. I’m kinda done with this deal to be honest.

Sally, our other cat, is doing okay. She gained every pound Zeus lost in the last few weeks, and probably more. I think she just sat idly upstairs because he did lately, and ate all the food he didn’t. She’s looked around for him a few times, and now seems to be picking up her activity again.

It’s a real transition period now. Every time I see Sally out of the corner of my eye come into the room, my heart leaps because I think it is Zeus.

I don’t predict any prolonged period of grieving here, it isn’t like losing my dogs, Winger and Surf, within a couple months of each other. I just need to be sad for a bit. He might have been a real pain in the ass cat for everyone else, but I loved him. I think he just saved all his love for me, instead of spreading it around. He was a real good friend.

Here are some pictures I pulled from my archives. Here’s Zeus:

Zeus

Zeus (1999? – 2014)

I’m really going to miss my little buddy :(

Zeus
Zeus

I’ll miss your hugs, your grumbles, and hanging out with you by the wood stove while I get the fire going in the winter.

I’ll your meow, and your nails clinking the floor when you wouldn’t let me trim them. I’ll miss rubbing my eyes after petting you, and swelling them shut because I’m so allergic to you. Well maybe not that.

I’ll miss looking for you at 5:30pm, your pill time for over 3 years, those little inexpensive steroid pills that kept your tumour small enough in your chest to not squeeze out your heart and lungs.

I’ll miss your green eyes staring at me, and your purr, and the way you’d wrap your front paws around my neck when I’d return from a vacation, and rub your face on mine.

I’ll never know what happened to you in all your previous homes, or why you grumbled and chased the feet of everyone who visited. Thank you for choosing me, Zeus. Thanks for being such a good buddy these last 13 years. I love you so much my little Zeusie. Say hi to Winger and Surf for me buddy. They’ll be waiting for you.

Obsessed with all things Yukon

We’ve been home for less than two weeks, but we both spend our days trying to figure out how to get back to the Yukon. Dawson City, specifically, for me.

So as I explore all things Yukon, I found this treasure of a recording, of Johnny Cash reciting Robert Service’s “The Cremation of Sam McGee”. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did:

Post Tropical Storm Arthur

Well it is 7:45am and the wind is just starting to pick up so I got up to see what’s going on with former hurricane Arthur.

The only prep we’ve done is take down the patio umbrella, but I think I might go move some more flower baskets out of the wind.

The storm is heading for Yarmouth now, still just off-shore.

Already 34914 customers are without power in the province, so I just had a quick shower in case we lose power.

I will update this post throughout the day, if there is anything interesting to report :)

Update 8:18am:

58212 customers are without power already! Nothing much here, just a bit of wind, and one quick downpour.

Update 9:29am:

73068 customers are without power now in the province. Jeff is heading to town. He believes he’s storm resistant I guess.

Update 10:26am:

Can’t see how many people are without power now, Nova Scotia Power’s website crashed under all the traffic.

The wind is blowing the petals off my tall orange poppies :(

Update 11:54am: 

Jeff’s back from town. Wind gusts have really picked up. Power keeps flickering. News says over 100,000 customers in Nova Scotia don’t have power, but I still can’t get Nova Scotia Power’s website to load to see for myself.

Monty is freaking out. He hates power flickers and wind gusts. I’m not thinking it will get too much worse than this. Lots of leaves and branch tips all over the lawn.

Update 6pm:

Just got our power back. Yay! Spent the time napping and reading more of Pierre Berton’s The Klondike Quest big picture book. Temperature is down to 17C. Ahhh so nice. It’s been hot and humid all week.

138,725 customers still without power.

Hurricane Arthur

Earlier this week it looked like Hurricane Arthur was going to hit us straight on, but now it keeps shifting to the west, and lessening my concern.

Having it hit so much land before here, it shouldn’t be too intense. We’re only expected to get 60-90km/hr winds with a sprinkle of rain. We’ll be on the eastern, wind side of the storm.

Here’s the latest track from the Canadian Hurricane Centre:

From the Canadian Hurricane Centre
From the Canadian Hurricane Centre

I’m not sure the webcam will be fixed by tomorrow, but I’ll update you all as Arthur blows through!

Vacation 2014: Whitehorse, Yukon

The next morning we left the campground for the day, but decided to spend our last night in our van there again the next night. It was a nice big campground and we had our own fire pit for campfires (although it wasn’t dark of course ;) )

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Our first stop was the Yukon Wildlife Preserve north of Whitehorse.DSC_0122

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Vacation 2014: Skagway, Alaska -> Whitehorse, Yukon

After walking the main street shops in Skagway, we decided there was nothing else we wanted to do there and would start making our way back to Whitehorse (and the end of our trip! :( ).

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We crossed back into Canada near Fraser, British Columbia. This old building is on the railroad tracks right beside the customs stop.DSC_0077

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Vacation 2014: Dawson City -> Chicken, Alaska -> Haines, Alaska

It was hard to leave our beloved Dawson City, but we knew we had so much more we wanted to see in our second week of our vacation.

We headed for the Alaska border. First step was to take the ferry in Dawson City across the Yukon River.

Dawson City ferry
Dawson City ferry

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