This blog is called The Cat Widow, after all, so I have to write about my cat.
My special needs cat Tumbler has saved me twice. The first time was when he chose me at the shelter where I adopted him and his sister in December of 2010. After bad fertility news and no luck being able to have a baby, I wanted a companion animal in the worst way. Tumbler healed my baby emptiness with his uncanny affection and helped me through a sad time in a way I find difficult to explain. His birth defects made him extra lovable. A cat is certainly no replacement for a child, but he helped me through the disappointment.
The second time he saved me was in 2014. Last April - a year ago now - Tumbler was very sick. I took him to the vet. X-rays showed major problems with his kidneys. They gave him fluids. They weren't very hopeful. Rick took him to the vet. They said he might have to be hospitalized. Gave him more fluids. Told Rick he had kidney failure. Gave us needles and a bag of fluids to give Tumbler at home like a kitty dialysis patient if we were willing to try.
They told us Tumbler didn't have long. They said we could give him subcutaneous fluids with the needles and he'd be comfortable until he died or we could bring him back in and they'd help us say good bye. Tumbler wasn't eating much, but he was still snuggly and hadn't seemed to lose too much of a quality of life. Devastated by the sudden fate of my cat who was only 4 years old, I tried to prepare myself for making either the decision to euthanize him if he showed pain/discomfort or to wake up in the morning to find him dead in his sleep. I was so, so sad.
Tumbler slept more and ate less. He got his fluids every day from the IV bag. I accepted that he wouldn't be around too long and even began going through funny photos of him on my computer so I could share them and remember him when he died.
And then, just a few weeks later, Rick died. Not Tumbler.
And the very next day, in a frenzy of trauma, bustle, and grief, I told Tumbler he was not allowed to die. "I can't handle it right now," I told him. I needed my cat to help me through the pain. I couldn't deal with one more loss on top of the terrible, awful reality that had just become my life.
And that very day, just like that, Tumbler decided to start eating a normal amount again. And he listened. He did not die.
In fact, glued to my side, he grieved Rick and dealt with the confusion of seeing one less person in the household. And (maybe for me?) Tumbler actually got...better. I gave him the fluids every day from his IV bag and he patiently accepted the process like a champ. When I took him back to the vet, they were stunned by the massive improvements in his kidney levels and couldn't explain it. They happily told Tumbler he'd surprised them.
I began giving him the fluids every other day instead of every day, thankful not to have to stick the poor cat with a needle every morning. But Tumbler was on a roll. He thrived on less fluids and returned to his old playful, rambunctious, goofy self. He still gets fluids every other day, but he doesn't let that stop him and it's impossible to tell anything is wrong with him (except for his original birth defects, that is). And a whole year later...he's still here...as awesome as ever - my miracle cat.