Monday, April 2, 2012

Saying goodbye and welcoming a new family member

Two years ago, Aaron and I were looking for a second cat to provide a companion for our cat, Long John. Around that time, Aaron was touring Johnson County Animal Care and Control and while he was there, a Siamese cat was being surrendered. Because he'd already been surrendered there before, he would have likely been euthanized.
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He brought him home and surprised me that night with a little bundle in his arms. Within a couple of months, we noticed that Oliver had some litter box issues and had some skin problems. We took him to the vet and had a urinalysis and had his skin checked out. We also noticed that he was pretty impatient with Long John.
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Over a two year period, we made many trips to the vet and checked for all kinds of skin issues (from ring worm to mange) and allergies. We tested different types of food, litter boxes, litter substrates, and litter depths. We isolated him in a room by himself, and then rotated every other day with the other cats (we eventually got a 3rd cat). We tried three different types of medications to alter his mood to stop the overgrooming and self-mutilation.
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He came to us declawed, so he would not have made an ideal barn cat (in addition to the potential for infection from his skin issues), and so I asked friends and colleagues who'd had animals with behavioral issues for their advice. I also consulted with a vet who is working to become a behaviorist. Visibly he wasn't suffering, but clearly he was miserable. We chose to let him go several weeks ago, and we miss him terribly. I would love to extend a very sincere thank you to my friend Lise Greil (www.lisegreil.com/) for taking some wonderful photos of him before we said goodbye.
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Whenever I think about him, I feel very sad and start to miss him so badly that it hurts physically. My heart is broken, and I just wish that things had been different. We will be using his "room" as a dedicated foster cat room in his honor. I am so happy to have known him and glad that we gave him the best chance possible. Without a doubt, we will always miss him and his adorable ways; from his chirpy meow to his sweetness and affection.
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A few months before saying goodbye to Oliver, we welcomed a new member to our family. He's been a part of our household since the beginning of January, and we officially adopted him in February. He's very different because he was born with only two legs - just the back ones. He walks upright but does many things normally.
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He plays with Angel, our pit bull mix, and he likes to play with toys. He runs and jumps, and of course, enjoys treats! I take him to the shelter with me almost every day for work; he draws a lot of attention during potty breaks. It is so strange - we often are filmed or photographed. We love him so much already and cannot imagine our lives without him!
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A lot of people dive right in and try to pet him, but they don't realize that he is very shy. I try to warn people to go slowly, but they often do not listen. If you ever get a chance to meet the handsome little guy who has stolen our hearts - please go slowly!
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