In early June 2004, some ugly political things happened at PACA/AAR
, an animal rescue organization. It culminated in a post
I made on LiveJournal on 22 July 2004 which not only explained the mess, but introduced our new foster kitty, Sean. I had met Sean at Kitty City
, a cage-free area of a local pet store's storage area, and given the sudden life-and-death need for fosters, callicrates
and I decided to help out, and Sean was the one I picked. He was about 8-10 months old, so I made his birthday officially October 31st 2003, the date as befit an orange cat. The women who had fostered him for part of the time told me she named him "Sean" because it was a good Irish name for a redhead.
Early on we discovered that Sean had a drinking problem. He would wait until someone put a glass of cold water on the floor, then knock it over. Over the years he would do it several times; pretty much whenever we forgot to mention his proclivities to guests or forgot ourselves. I may have told him, as a joke, that he was going back to Kitty City while he was still a foster, but by then he had charmed his way into Andy's heart as well. In October 2004 we switched him to foster-to-adopt and then promptly adopted him.
In Kitty City, Sean had been somewhat shy and was often hiding. The first few days he was at our house he was the same, hiding under the bed when I tried to introduce him to guests. Once he was used to us, he became quite the conversationalist. He was a very expressive kitty, and could talk about many subjects for seemingly infinite amounts of time. He also made a lot of sounds other than, "Meow," leading to one of his nicknames: Our little Wookiee. I would not be surprised if he had been a Wookiee in a former life. One sign that he had grown up was that he grew a mane, and thus also became our little lion.
Another of his endearing qualities was what we called being a knight in shiny armor. For that trick, he would wait until an empty soda sleeve (The "Refrigerator-size" 12-packs) was on the floor, then dash into one end so he his head popped out the other, giving the box an appearance of having an adorable orange face and a floofy orange tail. When not in armor he loved playing fetch, with his ball or string. He would patiently wait for one of us to throw the object, then pick it up and trot back, dropping it near one of us so we could throw it again. After he loved the ball to death he would occasionally play fetch with foil balls, when he wasn't playing soccer with them.
Andy's Dad made us a beautiful headboard for our bed. Sean decided he wanted to be in the Kitty Olympics, and would use the top of the headboard as a balance beam. He also began earning himself the nickname "Sir Prancealot" prancing back and forth on the bathroom sink as we did our morning getting-ready rituals. He always wanted plenty of pettings and praise, and would return the favor with purrs. He loved climbing on Andy's shoulder like a parrot, making him our parrot-lion.
He hated his kitty carrier and would never enter it willingly, though he would sleep on top of it if one of his sisters was in it. He was fascinated with things he could pick up in his mouth and carry around, especially if he could meow while doing so. He had a very loud meow, and it was indescribably funny the way it sounded when muffled by whatever he carried. His most common carries were balls, toy mice, and the air bags which replaced styrafoam peanuts. No matter how long the chain of air bags he would bring the whole thing in trailing behind him. He did this in the daytime, but especially loved doing it at night. Sometimes he would even leave a mouse on the bed, or drag all the "Air mousies" up onto the bed. We always told him what a brave hunter he was. We never had to worry about mice or air mousies when he was alive.
Although floofy and appearing to be an average-sized kitty with huge paws, under all the fluff he was actually tiny and very light. He was always thin, enough so that every time we took him to the vet for his annual checkup or his asthma, the tech would note it to the vet. His whiskers were very long; I imagine they were the size he would have been if he'd not been so thin. As far as I could tell, he simply didn't have any particular interest in eating. We tried using a special kitty inhaler for his asthma but he would have none of it. He was super-gentle, never using his claws or biting or scratching, but no matter what we tried, even both holding him, we never did get that mask on his face.
Sean was a very affectionate kitty, though he rarely let me hold him like a teddy lion. He would often sleep on Mount Mommy or Mount Daddy when we were in bed for the night, earning him the nickname of "Mountain Lion." He was also a little scamp of a voyeur, though he pretended not to be. He hated going to the vet, but once there he purred constantly and kissed the techs and the vets. He loved being chased, so much so that he would turn around and make sure we caught up to him so he could run away again. After meeting our kitties, especially him, my Sister-In-Law and her Significant Other adopted kitties of their own. He was a favorite of my Mother's and Sister's; Pamela even joked about kidnapping him so he could marry her kitty.
In late June of 2016 I took him to the vet to get his teeth cleaned, then went on some errands. When I got home the vet had left several messages on the machine -- they had found something in his nose and he wanted to biopsy it while Sean was still under. Fortunately when I didn't call back he decided to do it anyway. When Sean got home, for the first time ever he his under our bed and would not come out. Andy managed to coax him close enough to pet him, but otherwise he would not interact with us. The next day he finally came out and resumed being his usual affectionate self.
On July 6th, the vet called back with the verdict. Our little guy had nasal adeno-carcinoma, a particularly virulent cancer with a survival rate often not exceeding four months, once diagnosed. Andy and I had discussed what we would do if he had cancer, and determined that if he did, we would go for palliative care and quality-of-life. When the Vet gave us the news he said that the only thing which could treat the carcinoma was radiation, but that there were no pet radiation services nearby; the nearest was in Colorado. I think he was very relieved when I told him of Andy's and my decision. The radiation would only have bought Sean a few months, and he would have to be in his hated carrier for hated car rides, after which we would let someone hurt him, and he wouldn't know why.
After his diagnosis Sean had a rough patch. We weren't even certain he'd make it for two weeks, let alone four months. I ordered and then expedited a Cuddle Clone
for him because we really wanted to see him next to it. By the time it arrived he seemed to be doing better, and we continued to spoil him silly. Then I noticed he could not keep his kibble down. I took him to the Vet again, and the Vet prescribed some high-calorie high-fat gooshy food for him. Although Sean had never seemed to like canned food, he did eat this. At first it was a learning process to figure out when and how to feed him, but eventually we settled in to a routine of putting him in the bedroom (Or closing the bedroom door if his sisters were already there) and letting him eat until he meowed to be let out or he took a nap on the bed. Within a few months he would even let me know when he was hungry.
Despite the prognosis, Sean held on for over a year. As with all cancer patients, he had good stretches and some bad days. I can remember at least two occasions where Andy and I told him it was ok for him to go if he needed, but he bounced back. I started keeping track of when he did his favorite things and when he ate, so we could hopefully notice once he started declining. He had to go in to the vet several times: once for a antibiotic and a cortisone injection, and the others two just for antibiotics. At those last appointments he was down to six pounds and change, and six pounds even on the very last.
We noticed on around July 24th that he was spending more time just laying still on the bed, especially in the afternoons and evenings. He was still eating in the mornings and playing with his mice and air mousies in the mornings. We decided to call the Vet for potential euthanasia. They no longer did house calls but gave us some numbers to try. We finally went with Lap of Love
, a national network of veterinarians with a listing for a local vet. The Vet came over and did an exam and confirmed our worst fears -- I had been hoping out the faint hope that she would say he could live a little longer in hospice, but she said he was ready to go. She injected him with a cocktail of a dissociative, a euphoric, and several painkillers, then waited for him to fall into a gentle sleep. We moved him to the bedroom and spent a long time crying and petting him, and then she gave him the euthanasia. Andy noted how quickly he stopped breathing, and believes he had been holding out for us.
It's taken me this long to be able to type this up. Sean was such an integral part of our lives, and each day we discover new ways in which we miss him. He was so affectionate and silly and soft and sweet. He greeted us at the door like a little puppy might, and when I went out in the mornings to water the tree he would sit and watch me until I came in. Sometimes when I'm loading the dishwasher I still look for the spoon I used to stir his food. Andy even misses how Sean used to sit on his keyboard and manage to get his games into modes he didn't know existed. I want so much to be able to cuddle him like a baby again. Having to let him go devastated us, and we can only hope somewhere he's prancing around with cloud mousies and being hugged and scritched and loved as much as we loved him. Follow this link for full size Christmas Kitty Follow this link for full size Find Your Own Spot Follow this link for full size Sean-In-A-Box Follow this link for full size Parrot Lion Follow this link for full size Reality is Fuzzy Follow this link for full size Sean Portrait