My kitty Pan has been at the vet for the past few days. She’d been eating less and not being her bouncy self. She had a bunch of issues going on but are mostly related to her not eating. They weren’t exactly clear about why she wasn’t eating, but they figure an infection of some form. We tried a new vet that just opened near our house, and they have been fantastic, which is what you need when you feel like a failed pet owner. Pets are so challenging because you have to watch for changes then figure them out. They can’t just say, “hey human, this is what’s going on.”
The wonderful people taking care of Pan keep telling us what good health she’s in, that we’d managed to keep her hydrated even without her eating (we filled a ramekin with water and brought it to her where she’d nestled in), and we brought her in at just the right time. Too early, and it would have been hard to diagnose, and later she would have been too far gone. This should make us feel better, but no.
We asked if I could bring a sweatshirt to her to snuggle with something that smells like me and home. Not to leave my husband out of this, but she imprinted on me the moment I met her. I had no plan of getting a kitten. I went with a friend to see a litter of workshop kittens because she’d lost all her pets when her house burned down. We’d been letting her see our other cat, Dust, to get her pet time in until she was ready. I swear, I had no plan for a second cat. To be fair, I didn’t have a plan for the first cat. A coworker found Dust on her porch one morning, and she didn’t want another animal, so she was hoping someone would take her in, and that kitten picked me. Pan was the same.
Someone else had already decided to take her when I got to the workshop. She was a tiny gray and white ball of fluff with huge eyes and a small tail the size of a thumbnail. I thought maybe it’d been chopped off by some equipment, but she’s just part Japanese Bobtail. You could see the Maine Coon in the kittens as well. I knew the woman (let’s call her Jane) who had picked out Pan, but the ball of fluff kept coming over to me and crawling up my pant leg. I would hold her for a bit then put her down because you can’t say no to a kitten who has climbed you like a tree. She would nestle into my neck under my hair and purr. Jane was getting pissed. I can tell you this is the moment she stopped being my friend. Someone said to her that this fluff ball needed to go home with me. Pan had picked me. That Jane should take the other bobtail of the litter. Then they told me that Pan was mine. She was. Oh, and the friend I went with who had lost her pets in the fire took two of the litter, and they are pure Maine Coon beauty.
A few weeks later, when the kittens were big enough, we all took them home. The hubby and I tried doing the separation thing with the older cat in a different room until they could get used to each other. That didn’t last long. Pan drove me crazy all night. She kept waking me up and kneading my bare skin with her tiny kitten claws. She would make this mooing sound every time I fell asleep, so I’d pet and snuggle her. I so regretted taking her home. But eventually, she settled in. She got so much bigger. Her fluffball tail is the length of my thumb and looks like the pompom on top of a ski hat. She wags it when I talk or look at her. She greets me at the door when I get home. She herds me towards her food dish when she wants to eat for social mealtimes. She still moos when she meows. A mournful soft moo, and when you pick her up, she squeaks.
Over my years of being sick, she took the best care of me. When I was throwing up, she sat on the edge of the tub and put her paw on my back, as if to say, “it’s ok; we all throw up.” Anytime I was on the sofa curled up or napping, she was on me, stretching herself out and purring. If I have a headache, she wraps herself around my head. I had a couple of abdominal surgeries and slept on my back as I healed. Since Pan sleeps on my hip or feet, I put a pillow on my stomach to keep her from resting her 16lbs on my internal and external stitches.
Pan never left my side while I was ill. She still spends a lot of time there but has found a bit of independence over the past few years. When I’m writing or doing art, Pan sits in my doorway watching me or in the old orange chair. She still likes to join me when I go to the bathroom or sit on the sofa, but not all the time, like before, until she started not to feel well.
She and I have a blanket that’s the same gray and white as she is. I use it to keep myself warm, and she uses it to knead or “bliss out,” as my husband and I call it. It’s her blanket for sure. As she’s been getting sicker, that and my lap are her happy place. Since Pan’s been at the vet, our other cat, Dust, has been worried, and I keep catching her sleeping on the blanket. A place she doesn’t usually go.
When they relayed the list of issues Pan’s experiencing, it was so similar to the list of health issues I’ve experienced to the point that my hubby looked at me and asked, “Why did you give her all those things?” Right. She turned jaundice the morning she went to the vet, so issues with her liver, pancreatitis, and low B12. These are all things I’ve had or have now. It seems like she was trying so hard to absorb all those things, and they finally got to her. Other than that, she’s super healthy, so they keep telling us she should be fine. It doesn’t feel that way.
The vets have let me go in and visit with her, and each time I leave, she gives me the saddest look of why are you abandoning me, why can’t you fix me. It sucks. It’s expensive to have a kitty at the vet for multiple days. This has been the year of unexpected expenses for sure. But with everything she’s given me, it’s hard not to do everything for her. I miss her little purr button being turned on just by looking at her and her hopping up and wagging her tail when I walk in the room. And her long sad moos.
So, this is my ode to my kitty. My gluten-free Pancake, as I call her. The kitty that startles easily and leaps off all four paws at the squeak of a floorboard. The one who is so shy that she won’t move in front of strangers. My fluffy purr monster. Fingers crossed for a returned appetite and coming home ASAP.