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We Are All Who Remain
Jul 30th, 2017 by Ice Cream Jonsey

My cat died four months ago today. I was going to write this a month after Boggit died, but before I could, Willow died.

I was going to write this a month after Willow died, but before I could, Noelani died.

We didn’t grow up with a lot of death in our family and I am experiencing now what millions of others have. I should have taken Boggit in at two weeks and not assumed that him bouncing back with strength was just good health and not the steroids. Maybe I could have switched treatments. I would have drained my saving to put him on chemo now, easily.

But yes, I hadn’t finished grieving the premature death of my tuxedo kitty before Willow and Noelani died.

This has been the worst thing that has ever happened to me. They were beautiful. I think, aside from all the anger, the worst part is that my wife and I became “good” at our pets dying. What I mean by that is when Willow died and my wife handed her body to the vet, she didn’t support her head and it rolled backwards. When Noelani died, I made sure to cradle her head as I gave her to the vet because we’d had so much experience at this by now.

I’m going to post some photos now.


Willow


Noelani


Boggit

My Sweet, Sweet Boy
May 29th, 2017 by Ice Cream Jonsey

We had carne asada a couple weeks ago. The medications were working great. Boggit was bouncing around on all the levels of our house, watching the world perched on a blue plastic bin that we left upstairs for him. He was rolling around the garden when we adventured outside. I, a man that has been shunned by normal, polite society when it comes to cooking for humans, drafted a culinary tour-de-force for my little buddy, especially as his appetite returned.

The Creamery is a Denver institution and they make an amazing carne asada. “It’s for my cat,” I said, as I paid.

“Mmmm-hmmm,” they said in reply.

I went into a 7/11 to get him a big bag of Temptations cat treats. “It’s for my cat,” I said as I paid.

“Mmmm-hmmm,” they said in reply.

The nearby Safeway has this open bin that you can grab chicken wings from that I have mostly stopped participating in, due to the fact that Mel convinced me that it might be a tad “germy” and the fact that I am trying to eat better. I got some for him. “It’s for my cat,” I said, as I paid.

“Unexpected item in bagging area,” they said in reply.

Boggit loved it all. He gobbled up the food and put on weight! He went from 8.8 pounds when first diagnosed to 10.2 pounds. We tasted a lot of great foods. He got “Instinct” wet cat food for each meal, which some say is one of the best wet cat foods ever made. (#1 on Meowster Breakfast.com) He got to try Robb’s Famous Sockeye Salmon and Robb’s Famous Adjectiveless Curry and we had our little thing going. He sat right next to me or on me as I programmed at night. This is how well he was doing for the last month: we went from having him sleep upstairs in the bed to not having him sleep upstairs in the bed because he was so outwardly healthy that he was rambunctious. I was told that some cats don’t respond to chlorambucil and prednisone, many do respond and can prosper for a while, and some do great and live a long time. I just made the natural assumption that he was in one of the two latter groups.

He started getting sick again a few days ago.

Bad health came quickly. Cats, I have learned, will try to isolate themselves if they feel they are dying. He started trying to hide again. (We found him in the washing machine one day.) He stopped eating and was just vomiting yellow bile, which is just their stomach acid when empty. He stopped drinking water. I made an appointment with the vet for today. He got so weak. For these last two days he was pretty much bolted to me until we could get that vet visit. I was lucky enough to be able to work from home Friday afternoon and we got that extra time together. He had his moments where his tail wagged, though his breath was starting to go bad. I didn’t know what that meant at first. I don’t think he actually fell asleep over the last few days. He tried to get off the bed in the middle of the night just be near the water. Mel saw him try to get down and said he just dropped. She brought a couple cushions and slept with him on the floor till this morning.

The vet said that although he perked up, the lymphoma was still spreading and had shut down one of his kidneys. (One of the side effects of that is bad breath.) He was not doing well. He couldn’t really walk – he would put his tiny paws out and they could barely support his weight. The vet said that it could be hours, it could be weeks, but he didn’t recommend we try to extend this any longer.

We came home from the vet and he just couldn’t stand upright. He was having seizures throughout his thighs and legs and chest. I called a euthanasia company so that they could put him to sleep with us here, near the garden, next to Mel and me. They said they could be at our house at 1:00PM.

Mel and I held him, held our sweet little boy until then. He was getting worse by the hour and although we gave him a narcotic, I wanted the seizures and the pain and everything else to stop.

There is a thing I want to tell you, however. Because while I am not sure if I believe that there could really be an Afterlife, I am fully converted about the concept of the Rainbow Bridge.

Right as the euthanasia worker arrived, Boggit took four difficult breaths. He was already snuggled against my chest for the last half hour, but I held him even closer. He died hugging me, with me holding him tight, being told how much I loved him and how good a boy he was.

And, I mean… I have been a wreck on and off for the last month, but the one thing my little guy could have given me to maybe think that there is going to be a Sun again in the world is in passing away when he did and saving us the euthanasia fee. That is a sweet and thoughtful cat right there, everybody. I used to think that I dreaded strangers coming to the house, but I think Boggit sets the new high score there. He gave me the slightest bit of farce in the way that he could. He died in a loving household, being told about thirteen thousand times that his daddy and mommy loved him. We got to spoil him extra-hard for the last six weeks and I choose to believe that he knows how much he was truly loved in life.

I love you, buddy. I miss you so much. You will always be my sweet, sweet Boggit.

The Pinnacle Specimen of Feline-inity
May 10th, 2017 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Every twelve hours.

Boggit takes prednisone every twelve hours and chlorambucil every 24. Prednisone is a steroid and he’s had enough of it at this point that even Bud Selig would have had to do something. The thing is that before this, I hadn’t kept up with anything on any sort of regularity or discipline. OK, I can with my job but other than that a perfect life for me is a day with no firm plans.

It’s been a couple weeks and I haven’t missed one application yet. I’ve stuck at this without fail longer than I did most college classes. The place we get the drugs from is called Diamondback Drugs of Delaware, which — I will give them credit for this — was certainly catchy enough that I was able to memorize it. As it turns out, you cannot actually get drugs for a snake with them, only catties and doggies and blobpets. I can’t have anyone else give him medicine because if we mess up and he gets double doses that won’t be good for him. So I do it and it’s fine. It’s like that episode of Battlestar Galactica called “33” except that nobody is making the decision at any point to zilch out 1,200 cats because they spent three mystery hours with lymphoma cells.

Boggit is doing well. I have a sliding scale that measures good days versus bad days. If he is having a good day then he is a holy hell terror when I am trying to sleep. His favorite activities include jumping from person to person, jumping to person to person, talking from midnight to 4AM literally more than anyone else in the house that day and being adorable. When he’s having a bad day he just curls up in a small ball. That does have the side effect of me feeling well-rested, but I’d rather the former. Look, my understanding of what parenting is comes the well-acted and wholly touching concern that Nicholas Cage showed regarding John Travolta’s face at the end of Face/Off. But right now we’re getting more good days than bad days. I don’t know how many of either we’re going to get, but this picture is a couple days after he first started getting medicine and right now I have more time with this perfect goddamn cat.



And If This World Runs Out of Lovers
Apr 25th, 2017 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Pets at the pound have the worst names. My friend once got a mutt whose name original name was “Sarge.” “Sarge” (renamed Caffrey after adoption) is the most docile dog I’ve ever known. If he ever was the Sergeant for a group of soldiers, then I don’t think Dog Nation is winning that war. The thing is, nobody can say anything to people who drop animals off at the shelter, especially if they are no-kill shelter, because doing that is a kindness. But I think Boggit would appreciate it if we dropped the politeness going forward here. No, just kidding, he loves everyone.

Boggit’s original name was “Boppity.” He came to the shelter with two siblings, “Bippity” and “Boo.” I couldn’t remember the name Boppity, not that he was going to keep that anyway, so I called him Boggit after a character from the text adventure Knight Orc. “Fungus the Boggit-man” is a villain in the game where everyone is a villain. My boy is too nice, he couldn’t get a paw in that game. He could not get a single extended nail in the area between the floor and the bottom edge of the door in that game. He’s just too good, which is why I like that name.

The vet called yesterday. Confirmed: Boggit has lymphoma. OK. We figured as much. I was hoping someone left out a can of extra-white blood cells and he ate it, but no. This is bad but there are options. Well, choices.

You can put cats on chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The cost is anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000 depending on your sources and age of the Geocities page it was originally presented on. Here’s the thing, if there was a cure I’d roll up my sleeves and get to work. Get a second job, put money away each week, charge it, sell some stuff. Christ, there’s enough tchotchkes to sell around here to fund the discovery of the actual cure. But no, no cure exists. If it were just money, if I just had to sacrifice or whatever, we’d be doing this.

There is not a cure.

And in fact, from what I understand, while radiation can put the cancer in remission it means that the cat doesn’t have a great life for the five months of treatment. I want my buddy to have a great life for as long as possible. I decided to go with the other treatment option, which is a couple of liquid pills. Cats respond to this option in three ways: those that show no improvement, those that will live for another year and then a group that does great, longer than a year. I’m just hoping that Boggit is in that second group and anything else is a bonus.

On Sunday, Boggit and I went out into the garden. I never let him go outside that much before because I wanted him to be a healthy indoor cat. Well, at this point unless a hawk swoops down and flies off with him, I think that ship has sailed.

He seemed a bit overwhelmed at first. The newness of the environment has him hopping from location to location, digging his claws into the earth, meowing at me in solidarity. While he curls up into a basket we made for him for most of the day when we’re at work, it’s great to see him run around in the garden when outside. He knows not to go under the deck and frankly, while I’m out there, I can use the sunlight myself. At the end of our last time out, he hopped onto a chair and took a quick nap.

We are supposed to get some drugs to hopefully get him that extra year. We are putting the order in today. There is a bit out of my control here. The vet is calling the drug company to get the initial order. They are making them liquid and we got to pick the flavor. After confirming that they did not offer the taste sensations of pizza, saag paneer or Ice Cream Cones cereal, we went with chicken. The vet said that the idea is you get a month’s supply at first and see how the cat does before ordering a ton of it. OK, but if they ARE chicken-flavored and Boggit doesn’t like them then, hell, I’ll take them. (Cats don’t lose their hair during lymphoma treatment, so while I can’t shave mine for solidarity, I can just down the chicken medicine with him if there’s extra.) There’s a lot to go wrong here because the USPS has not been delivering our packages for two years. I finally – and this is after two years of trying – got a hold of a guy at the post office that is supposed to run things. I mean, who knows, maybe he’s not the end boss but just another clown to defeat to get to the end of the level. I am going to try very, very hard to not yell at this person to make sure we get our fucking packages now because this isn’t a box that contains some dice with extra THAC0s or a bust of Sinestro that I ordered though Amazon, this is medicine, so no more fucking around. My dad would scream at someone if I were the one who was sick. He’d revel in it. Sometimes you just want to scream.

One more thing. There is a difference when it’s a cat that has cancer instead of a person, of course. Well, there’s probably a hundred but this is my first time going through this with anybody. You don’t … you don’t have to appear outwardly strong around the cat. When I break down thinking about what life is inevitably going to be like without him, he cocks his head up, stands on my lap and licks my tears. I hope he forgives me for tasting like a chicken through all this.

All My Worst Days
Apr 24th, 2017 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Boggit had lost a great deal of weight. While initially suspected of just being a success story as the new picture of health in our household (“what’s his secret?”) he lost enough to where I took him to the vet. His white blood cell count was extremely high, he had anemia, he – the vet said – probably has lymphoma.

Shit.

There is something I want to desperately communicate to you. The one thing to take out of this (waves hands) all of this. Boggit is the sweetest boy of all-time. My fiancee and I combined households a few years ago, and we had already taken on pets from previous relationships. So there’s a number of them. If I keep writing this paragraph I don’t have to end it, which is that we have two golden retrievers and five cats between us now. (“We tell people six so we don’t have to tell them seven.” — apologies to Ben Parrish.)

I didn’t wake up one day dying to live with that many animals, nobody does, but it happens and we are a family and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I can easily sort the animals into two groups: those that are effortless and those that create and cause huge problems. Boggit and Noelani are the only two in the first group. Everyone else is a radical hellion capable of a diverse madness.

Boggit didn’t deserve this, which (not to be a jerk) I couldn’t say about a number of pets in the other column. (It’s okay, they don’t read the blog either.) I got Boggit on December 23rd, 2006. He was born sometime in October of 2006. He is ten and a half years old and to not act up once in ten in a half years is AMAZING. He loves laying on a person’s lap (almost the entirety of Cryptozookeeper was written with Boggit on my lap as I wrote code) he loves playing outside (he is an indoor cat, so he’s not allowed to do that normally, but when I have taken him out it’s the greatest thing) he loves chasing after moths and computer centipedes and loves the laser pointer and cat toys and playing tag and sleeping upstairs on the couch.

They were able to take some cells after his ultrasound, but we’re all pretty convinced that it is lymphoma. I am reading everything I can. I want to maximize the number of his good days. It’s easy to write this now, it’s been a few days. He’s so good at the vet because he’s chill. They didn’t have to sedate him to get the cells. I broke down on the way home. I let the lid off the cat carrier but he was happy to relax inside as we drove home.

“I don’t know how we’re going to get out of this one, buddy,” I said.

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