Some of you may have seen this on my Flickr site, but I wanted to post it here as well: Last weekend we lost our senior boy Dimples.
Dimples Appleby was the embarrassing name we gave him, its goofiness was in stark contrast to the severely malnourished and ill cat we took in at the end of last year. He was an 'Earptip Alert' cat: when a free-roaming cat is brought into the city shelter and is eartipped (the sign that a feral cat has been spayed or neutered and returned, as in a TNR program), the word goes out to Neighborhood Cats. This is the group that provides classes and certification in TNR and is invaluable in keeping eyes out for cats that otherwise go completely unnoticed in the system. The intention is to find the feral's caretaker and return the cat. Frankly, I believe the shelter should not even take eartipped ferals at all, but that's another story.
If the caretaker cannot be found (or does not exist), a plea is emailed out to the rescuers in the area to see if anyone can take the cat to assimilate in their feral colonies. When Dimples turned up we asked to take him, partially because he was trapped near us and partially cuz he looked a little like Mugsy, our all-time favorite feral who left us in 2010.
Dimples was only 6 pounds when we got him, about half what he should weigh. The shelter decided he was 10 years old, which might have been true. But he seemed much, much older. His teeth seemed to be in bad shape, so he had probably not been able to eat much for a long time. His coat was matted and filthy. But he wasn't aggressive, though I'm not sure how anybody that malnourished could be a problem. The vets fixed him up as best they could and we took him home. He needed to gain strength before the teeth could be dealt with, luckily he immediately began eating very well. He was also anemic, so we put him on antibiotics. He perked up quickly and that's when we realized how tame he actually was. He liked having his chin scratched and would purr loudly, stretching his neck towards you when you approached.
Once he was strong enough we got his teeth fixed and his mats shaved off. He grew friendlier, and we knew he wouldn't be moving out to the feral colony, he was staying inside the house! He relaly warmed up when we introduced him to Jefe, our big male cat who has his own set of issues. But he loves grooming cats, so it was a perfect match. They became good friends, and if separated, Dimples would whine in his froggy voice until they were reunited.
Things were going well for several months but lately I noticed that Dimples wasn't as active. He was still eating well and still loved Jefe so I figured it was time to return to the vet. bloodwork came back generally good, except for the anemia. It was still there, although better than it had been previously. We put him back on antibiotics, I would mix it into chicken baby food, which he happily lapped up.
A couple weeks into this, he stopped eating as much. He ate less and less over the course of several days, until he would only eat if I sat with him for long periods of time, petting him and offering him different foods until something worked. Plus, he seemed uninterested in following Jefe around. Clearly, he needed some help.
The vet took an x-ray and saw fluid accumulating in his chest and abdomen. His heart was enlarged. Apparently, heart disease is not unusual for older male cats. We put him on heart medication and I monitored him closely. But by this point, it was too late. Within 48 hours, Dimples passed away. For what turned out to be his last day, we brought him down to our living room so we could keep an eye on him, not realizing how close to the end he really was. I syringe-fed him a few times, but mostly we just tried to make him comfortable on the couch, petting and brushing him, something he really loved. By 1:30AM he had gone.
Not only are we sad to lose him so abruptly, it's especially sad to know that he had an adoptive home waiting for him. His would-be adopter wanted to give this old-timer what sounded like a great home with his senior female cat. He would have had an excellent retirement surrounded by love and attention, I wish he had a chance to get there.
We'll miss you buddy, sorry about your silly name. I hope we made the last part of your life better than it would have been otherwise. It doesn't feel like we had enough time with him, but we appreciate the time we got.