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Archive for January, 2008

I’ve just returned from a short business trip. I was gone just a hair over 24 hours, and the world did not spin off its axis. Unless your name is Petey.

All Petey’s needs were met during my absence. He had his medicine; he had an endless bowl of Petey chow; he had a warm, comfortable house; and the company of Beloved. It doesn’t matter.

Petey is M.A.D. Cheesed off. Angry as a bear with a sore foot. Mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it any more!

I know this because he is even more devoted to me than usual. I cannot exhale without ruffling Petey’s fur. I cannot go to the bathroom without a feline escort. Should I decide that I do not want a pair of big blue eyes starting at me while I do my business, I will be treated to plaintive cries of “oh-oh-oh” and the rattling of the door as Petey repeatedly body slams it.  As soon as I open that door, I’ll be welcomed like Odysseus returning after 10 years lost at sea.

And what of Beloved and sister Lilikoi? They’re the ones on the receiving end of Petey’s anger. In Petey-think, Beloved is to blame for my departure. Every move Beloved makes is suspect.  So, Petey must stare at him to gauge his next move. Will he get rid of the toy basket next? The cat tree? Petey himself?

Should Beloved actually look at Petey or take a step in his direction, Petey must run and hide. Then sneak back up on Beloved to start watching again.

 And Lili. Poor Lili. She’s the only one Petey can beat up on. So, he’s kicking her pudgy butt double-time, spitting out mouthfuls of spotted fur at an alarming rate.

No one is safe from the wrath of Petey!

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Petey Blur
Originally uploaded by alfagee

The photo you’re looking at is, indeed, blurry.

Petey has absolutely no time for anything but play, food, and mayhem these days.

Giving him his daily Prednisone has turned into a battle of the wills. I can catch him easily enough, but then all bets are off.

Petey thrashes like a shark in the midst of a feeding frenzy. And that pretty Bengal fur? It’s slick, like black ice.

Let’s not even get started on his ability to clamp his jaws shut. Or his special pill spitting talent.  So far, his maximum distance is 5 ft. We’re hoping he can be competitive at the Beijing Olympics.

I’ve won every battle. So far. And I haven’t started drinking heavily, either.

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Week 2 chemo, and all is well. This week’s drug (Cyclophosphamide, or Cytoxin) hasn’t caused anywhere near the bad juju that last week’s cocktail did. We are, of course, thankful for that. But it also means that Petey is being exceptionally Petey.

This has resulted in any number of conversations that begin with “Just because you have cancer, it doesn’t mean that you can…”

  • Marinate 3 catnip toys at the same time in your Drinkwell fountain
  • Steal a plastic shopping bag off the kitchen table, then take a nap in it
  • Stand on the back of the leather sofa and bat the cord from the blinds for hours on end
  • Cry and cry and cry until you’ve been given every strip of bacon cooked for breakfast
  • Knock your sister down, sit on her, then grab her by the throat when she tries to cry out for help

 It’s only 10:30 am. The list will no doubt keep growing. That’s my Petey 🙂

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Chemo week 1 is under our belts, and it was a trying one. Petey’s lost about 1 lb since the whole ordeal began, which isn’t awful but it’s not great either.

Petey’s never been a big eater. He’s a nibbler. But 3 bites x 412 times per day adds up.

His big sister, Lilikoi, on the other hand, takes after me. She’s all about the food, all day, every day. If Lili stops eating, the end of the world is nigh.

Our game of food roulette this week has brought these things sharply into focus. Petey needs to have something stuffed into him every 2 hours. I need to sit on the kitchen floor with him to make this happen when he’s got chemo belly. And Lili, well, she’ll be right there to finish up anything Le Petit Prince has deemed too bland/too smelly/too mushy/just plain gross/or just too much.

The girl has gained every ounce the boy lost, and then some. If this keeps up, we’re going to need a wheelbarrow to move her from one room to another. She’s starting to look like Jabba the Hut in a leopard suit. It’s not a good look for her.

Fortunately, Petey started eating actual cat food late yesterday. Some horrific looking stuff called Polynesian BBQ that has sardines, tuna, and grilled red bigeye (it’s a fish, not an eyeball,  honest). In another major stroke of good fortune, he’ll eat this without me sitting there cajoling him. My gag reflex thanks the powers that be for that little bit of mercy.

Last night, just before bed, Petey even crunched a couple of pieces of dry food. It’s a beautiful sound, I tell you. I could hear it in my dreams 🙂

UPDATE:  Petey’s bloodwork was normal, so he was able to get his second chemo treatment on schedule.

Let’s keep our paws and fingers crossed that this week brings better things.

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Petey made it through is first chemo session “like a champ.” He even had a brief, illicit romance with a spider monkey named Ginger. They stared longingly at each other from cages across the hospital suite. Alas, it was not meant to be.

And all was right in his little Petey world for oh, about 12 hours.

There’s nothing like the sound of a cat screaming and wretching at 3:00 am to wake you right up. Suffice to say that Petey is not a good puker. He makes Chinese opera death wails to announce the impending yarkage. And then he tries to execute the simultaneous run-and-puke maneuver on the Persian carpet. Never on the hardwood.

All this, and the Russian judge still only gave him a 7 for technical difficulty, and a 3 for style.

We’ve spent the rest of the week struggling with eating. I have opened every variety of stinky gross cat food known to man. Zip, zilch, nada. Not a morsel would pass his lips.

Finally, we hit on London Broil with lots of meat juice. But just a teaspoon.

Now, we’re coming off a 3-day deli turkey bender (the turkey slices must be quartered, placed on a paper towel, and served to Le Petit Prince in the spot where the dry food bowl usually resides). It’s like living with Paris Hilton, only not quite as dumb.

What comes after the turkey? So far, it looks like tuna is in the lead. But, I’m still rooting for roast beef. That’s easier for me to stomach at 7:00 am.

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Petey spent about a day and a half in the hospital, and got to come home much sooner than even Dr. Gil expected. He was a little skittish, but otherwise his regular charming (or annoying, if you’re his sister Lilikoi) self.

He was alternately sweet/silly/dopey/nosey/busy/and a few other dwarves. I remembered all over again why I love him.

And then Dr. Gil called with the news I had been expecting, but dreading. The fluid analysis and bloodwork were consistent with a diagnosis of lymphoma.

All I could think of was: How does a young, strong cat who’s never been sick a day in his life get cancer? Yeah, it’s not an original question, but grief and shock don’t usually inspire me.

But, there was some good (ish) news. According to Dr. Gil, if a cat’s going to get cancer, lymphoma is the cancer to get. It’s the most treatable, many cats can go into long remissions, and cats tolerate chemo better than pretty much any other creatures (especially human ones). The type of lymphoma Petey has (mediastinal lymphoma) is the bestest of the lymphomas.

Woo Hoo! We hit the cancer jackpot 😦

 Now all we had to do was decide what we were going to do about this. We could:

  • Do nothing but keep the poor boy comfortable, giving him a matter of days or weeks
  • Opt for a very mild chemo protocol, which would keep the boy comfortable, possibly knock back the cancer, and probably not cause very many side effects
  • Go all in and hit this mofo lymphoma with the strongest, most powerful chemo protocol known to felines — and hope that the cure wasn’t harder on the boy than the disease

I looked over and saw that happy little cat tangled up in a pile of fleece he stole from my scrap bag, and really, what choice was there?

We’re going all in. Putting all our money (and whooo-ey, it’s a first-class trip to Hawaii’s worth) on the Big MamaJama of the chemo protocols, The University of Wisconsin-Madison protocol.

Wish us luck!

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The New Normal


Petey, January 08

Originally uploaded by alfagee

We interrupt the unrelenting darkness of recent postings with this special photo bulletin.

Petey is still Petey. Just with less fur and more toxic chemicals!

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