Thursday, January 13, 2011
Ignacio Mooma Pobst
Iggy, aka Tripod, aka His Royal Fluffy Majesty, aka Fluffbutt, was born in August 1996. His mother, Jive, was my friend Mandi's cat, and I had pick of the litter. The only other kitten was stillborn, so Iggy was mine. When he was 5 weeks old I brought him home - a little too early, as I found out when he nursed holes in several of my sweaters and blankets. But he was just the cutest little kitten so all was forgiven, and he grew and thrived and we formed a strong bond.
Just before Thanksgiving 1997 he disappeared from my apartment. I put up flyers and contacted the humane society, and a few days later I got the call that he had been found, but was badly injured. I went to the shelter and picked him up, and could immediately see that his front left leg was probably a goner. He was so glad to see me he refused to stay in his box, so I held him on my lap and drove him straight to the Cat Clinic. I said "you're going to have to take off his leg, right?" and they said oh no, don't worry, probably not, we'll clean him up and take x-rays and call you in a few hours.
A few hours later when they called and said "well, we have some bad news about his leg" I was not surprised. There were some other options, I could have taken him to Seattle for experimental veterinary orthopedic reconstruction, but I could barely afford the cost of the amputation, let alone what it would have cost to try and save the leg. The clinic staff was very surprised that it didn't upset me to think about amputating my cat's leg, but I was just glad to have gotten my cat back at all. Even if I only got 90% of my cat back, that was still a lot better than I had really expected.
In addition to losing his front leg, Iggy's right hip had been dislocated and had to be surgically pinned. One of his canine teeth had been broken, so it had to be extracted. A few of his ribs were cracked. He was a hurting little kitty. The vet speculated that he might have crawled up into the engine block of a car and gotten his leg caught in the fan belt. We'll never know for sure; Iggy never would talk about it.
To pay for Iggy's medical care, I converted my already-scheduled birthday party into a fundraiser. The clinic even allowed me to borrow his x-rays and we displayed them at 419 to show people that we weren't making it all up. People packed into the house, paying $10 or $20 for a plastic keg cup of beer. I don't remember how much was raised, but I know it greatly exceeded my expectations. To this day I occasionally hear about that party from people I didn't know had been there, or who didn't know it was my cat. It has become one of those Bellingham legends.
Once he recovered from his major surgery, Iggy lived a happy and relatively uneventful life. We moved around a bit, and he made friends with many of the other cats, dogs, and people that we lived with over the years. His majestic fluffy tail and his silky soft tummy fluff were admired and petted by all. He was never shy about speaking up when a food dish was empty (or just low) even if he himself wasn't hungry. He slept on numerous couches, pillows, beds, chairs, and floors. He absolutely loved to roll on concrete. Being a tripod never slowed him down, but then, he wasn't ever interested in moving very fast to start with.
In the spring of 2009, when Conan was just a few months old, a routine trip to the vet discovered that Iggy had Thyroid tumors. The tumors were not malignant, in and of themselves, but they did cause his thyroid to be overactive, revving up Iggy's metabolism. He was constantly hungry and eating, but still losing weight. The only feasible treatment (kitty chemo was not in our budget) was a topical steroid cream that had to be applied to Iggy's ears twice a day, forever. However, we didn't feel comfortable having this topical steroid cream in the house around Conan, who was already becoming very interested in the kitties. One of his first words was "Iggy".
Instead, for the last two years, Iggy has had his own private dining room on the sun porch, where he can nibble extra-special kibbles and even enjoy canned cat food without having to share with the other cats. He's free to come into the main house or go outside whenever he wants, of course. He has really enjoyed having his own space, free of toddler attention or feeding competition.
Good times can't last forever, and this past December Iggy started to really go downhill. He lost weight until he is now just skin and bones. His majestic fluff became matted and straggly. We moved his private dining room into the bathroom, because he enjoys sleeping on a hot spot on the floor under the bathtub. In the last few weeks he has stopped showing much interest in food at all, just licking a little at the top of the cat food pate I put out for him before going back to sleep. He looks old, and sick, and tired.
I put off calling the vet for a while because I was scared that I would take him in and they would confirm my fears that Iggy is nearing the end of his life. But denial is only tenable for so long, and it isn't fair to let Iggy suffer because I'm afraid to face my fears of finally losing him. So tomorrow at 2:15 we are going to the vet. Perhaps they will have some treatment for him and he will recover, start eating again, and gain some weight... but I am not optimistic. I may have to let him go at last, and it's so hard. He's been my kitty for 14 and a half years, and I can't imagine life without his hard little head butting into my hand in search of pets, or his piercing meow demanding food, or his contented purring next to my head.
I'm going to go cuddle him a little more right now, and have a good cry.
Update: The vet examined Iggy, gave him some fluids, and tested his blood. The results showed that Iggy is OK except for the thyroid thing (no organ failure), and there's now an internal medicine we can try to treat the hyperthyroid with. So we're going to give that a shot, and see if he recovers. The vet said we'd see results pretty quickly if it works. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much, because he's just soooo skinny (4.5 lb), but I feel like I owe him the chance. If the medicine doesn't work, at least we tried.