It's going to be so quiet in here tonight – Got the Jimmy Legs

It's going to be so quiet in here tonight

This morning we put Lefty to sleep. After showing promising improvement since his seizures over the weekend, he took a turn for the worse and we had to say goodbye to him forever.

Since the incident over the weekend, we determined that Lefty most likely had FIP, a dangerously virulent disease that often kills its victims just as symptoms become apparent. Of the three common types of FIP (wet, dry, neurological), Lefty appeared to have the neurological variety. While the rest of his body seemed unaffected, the virus attacked his brain and caused a number of problems, some more obvious than others. We knew he had seizures but it took us a while longer to realize his vision had been affected as well. We're not sure if he was totally blind, he seemed to be able to follow large movements, but he definitely didn't have the visual acuity of a normal cat. But otherwise he seemed okay.

Since discharging him from the emergency hospital, however, Lefty had been fine. We set him up in a large crate so he could roam a bit without danger, and we catered to his whims. He loved formula so we stopped trying to convince him to clean his plate and just gave him the bottle instead. I started mixing some canned food into his bottles, which he readily gulped down. We think he would have consumed anything in a bottle, he loved it so much. Yesterday he topped his record and guzzled down two entire bottles, plus the plate food he ate during the day. One thing was certain, Lefty was not going hungry.

We had to give him several different medications, but this was old-hat for Lefty, a kitten who'd had oral meds nearly every day of his life. Aside from his fur getting crusted with formula, he looked pretty good. We gave him a bath and tried to help him relax. He didn't feel like playing but rather wanted to curl up with us, usually on our shoulders. He seemed drawn to our mouths and would sit next to our faces, first one then the other. As long as we spoke he didn't have any trouble getting to us.  Last night he even got a bit playful, rolling around on my shoulder and grabbing at my nose. It was a bit like the old Lefty, who liked to play with large objects like the corner of a blanket rather than smaller cat toys. Maybe he had vision problems even back then.

This morning I found Lefty in the throes of what I thought was a seizure. He was contorted and making guttural noises, his body twitching randomly. But a seizure shouldn't last more than a few minutes and this kept going. We couldn't tell if he was conscious or not, at times he seemed to be trying to right himself but most of the time he just seemed to be on auto-pilot.

After yet another endless, incredibly annoying livery cab ride to VERG, the vets took him to try to calm the tremors. Eventually the vet came to speak with us. He said the attempts to counter the attack wasn't working, and that based on the signs he was already 'checked out.' He said at this point there wasn't anything more to do, that maybe it was finally his time to go.

We had spent the weekend preparing for this moment, but then we were given a respite when we saw that Lefty was well enough to come home. Even though we knew something could happen again, we let ourselves consider that Lefty might continue to be around. And now here we were, back at the ER and having to say yes, we will put our 3.5 month old kitten down.

We asked to stay, and they brought Lefty in. The anticonvulsives had calmed his twitches down a bit, but he still didn't seem to respond to us. He still looked very cute, which made it all the harder, but we could tell he wasn't coming back from this one. The tragedy of a disease that affects the brain like this is that the rest of his body was really in fine shape, his heart was strong, his belly full. But I took some comfort in the idea that with the brain going first, it's less likely he was aware of what was happening, and I don't think he was in any pain. The vet administered the drugs (they had put in an IV catheter) and quiet seconds later it was all over.

We're very sad but take comfort in the way everything progressed. If it was inevitable, at least we got first, the reprieve (the extra two days after his initial hospitalization) and second, the notion he wanted for nothing until it was time to go. We didn't have much time with him, but we don't regret offering to take him from that guy who came into our vet's office with a 5-day old Lefty bundled up in a cardboard box …



We were there getting our cats Marbles and Jefe checked up when he came in, saying he had found Lefty in Jamaica, Queens, but didn't know anything about cats, much less neonatal kittens. The vet wasn't going to take him, they started giving him numbers to call. It's completely possible he would have called them and found somebody to take him, but he was already whining a bit about how he went out of his way to bring the kitten in. As a cat novice he thought that was already above and beyond the call of duty. We had a little experience with 'bottle babies' in the past, so with some grumbling on my part we offered to take him. We hadn't even seen him at this point and were surprised to see how small he was. We gave him his first taste of formula with a plastic syringe, right on the vet's reception counter. The vet examined him and gave us meds for the upper respiratory infection he would never really shake. We went home with 3 cats in tow, and the rest is now history.

We miss this teddy bear.


  1. Posted January 25, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    I'm bawling in the airport. Such a sweet soul.

  2. Posted January 25, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    I'm so sorry. Lefty was lucky enough to have 3 1/2 months of love and warmth (and bottles!) with you guys right up until the end, and that made him a lucky boy indeed. I'm going to miss seeing him on Flickr, I can only imagine how much you'll miss him.

  3. Kimberly
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Oh, we lost our beloved Duncan to Dry FIP over two years ago (we had him about a year). Such a terrible disease. I am so sorry for your loss.

    He was so lucky to have so much love in his short life.

  4. Lisa
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Bless you for taking care of Lefty and giving him love for his short life. My heart goes out to you.

  5. Posted January 26, 2012 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    Oof, so sad. He was very lucky to have you two to love and care for him during his brief life.

  6. minxielove
    Posted January 26, 2012 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    tears are streaming down my cheeks as i write this. the losses are so tough, keep sight of all the great successes you have had.

    r.i.p. lefty

  7. Posted January 26, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Dear Chris, I'm so sorry to read about Lefty. Know that you did all you can do and he knew he was loved right up until the end. Much love, Kate

  8. Posted January 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    I thank GOD for people like you. Thank you for bringing a bit of Heaven to earth.

  9. Sarah
    Posted January 26, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    You gave Lefty a wonderful life. He was happy with you. Thank you for making it possible for him to be the cute and silly little kitten that he was.

  10. Posted January 27, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Oh Lefty. He was such a little cutie. Maybe the fact that he was so young when he was orphaned meant his immune system was never going to be as strong as other kitties'? I'm so glad to have "met" him, even if it was only for a short time. He was the cutest little baby. Thank you for this post.

  11. indee
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    He was sooo loved and so fortunate to be cared for in his short life. I am so sorry this little guy has crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Thak you for all you did and for sharing his story with us. Goodbye dear little one.

  12. Ann Rose
    Posted February 5, 2012 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Thank you for giving Lefty all the love and comfort a kitten could ever dream of in his too-short life.

  13. lesterhead
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    So sad- too many beloved pets lost in 2012 already 🙁

  14. indee
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    sigh. still thinking of little Lefty.

  15. indee
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    i wish you guys love.

  16. Sue
    Posted March 9, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    My heart breaks for you every time you lose a beautiful soul… this little guy clearly has his angel wings now. You do an amazing service giving not just the necessities of life but the most important thing, real LOVE for all of these kitties. I'm so glad Lefty knew that love.

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