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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Life on the Ranch

 The Three Amigos
Smokey, Buff Ruff & Boots

Sorry I have been AWOL for awhile. One of our older cats, Smokey,  developed symptoms a few months ago when one of our foster kittens, Blackberry, was diagnosed with calici virus. Because it is a virus, pretty much all you can do is manage the symptoms. Blackberry recovered very quickly but Smokey developed anorexia, which is a common side effect because one of the symptoms of calici virus is mouth sores. By the time Smokey finally decided to start eating again he had lost quite a bit of weight and muscle tone. For weeks I was enticing him with every soft food I could think of: meat baby food, canned cat food, yogurt, cottage cheese, scrambled eggs, canned salmon, canned chicken, canned white albacore tuna (less mercury than most), etc. I put fresh food out for him every couple of hours all day long and he was finally eagerly eating every time I put food out for him. I had to stand there to be sure he ate it and not the other cats and the dogs. But I believe Smokey's liver was already damaged and starting to fail. He seemed to be gaining weight. He is a former feral cat that doesn't allow you to pick him up or put two hands on him so I wasn't able to get him onto the scale to weigh him but just looking at him and putting hands on him when I could, I felt that he was gaining weight, albeit slowly.

We debated euthanizing Smokey but he had such a strong will to live that I couldn't bring myself to do it. I figured if the time came where he told us he was no longer willing to fight, we would help him cross over. 

Last Thursday Smokey did not meet me in the kitchen eagerly awaiting his breakfast. I found him curled up in a patch of sunlight near the wood stove. He showed no interest in food all day long. He seemed to be a bit constipated and had what we call "poodle butt" - where they get poop crusted on their bum. He would not allow me to gently wipe him clean. When I tried to help him by pressing paper towels soaked in warm water on his bum, he hissed, yowled, bit and scratched me. Finally Thursday evening we put him in the kitchen sink and hubby held him with leather gloves on while I gently sprayed his bum with warm water until he was completely clean. I put Smokey in the bathroom on a kennel heater with a soft fluffy towel, fresh litter box, fresh water and a small plate of canned cat food. He licked at the cat food and curled up on the kennel heater. When I went in Friday morning to check on him, he had just passed away. His body could no longer keep up with his incredibly strong spirit.

We buried him Friday afternoon on a south facing slope in the adult male llamas' pasture, facing south towards the lake. RIP Smokey.

Because Smokey was a feral cat, I know that the 10.5 years he spent with us as an indoor cat were far better than he would have had as a feral cat, especially as an outdoor cat. And I know he lived much longer than most ferals ever do. I'm just glad we were able to provide him with a loving, supportive home as long as we did.

Here is Smokey snuggling with Blackberry and Blueberry last September


Pricilla said...

Oh Brenda....I'm so sorry. It's so hard to lose them. You know you gave him a good life as you stated much, much better than he would have had outside.

Let's dream that he's running free with my Fred, chasing rainbows.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you had me hooked and hoping and then delivered quite a punch there. I'm so incredibly sorry- the death of a pet is always heartbreaking, especially under circumstances such as those. It does sound like you all gave him a much better life that he would have otherwise had.

Split Rock Ranch said...

Pricilla/Patty: It is so hard to lose them. I cried all day long Friday. My face was so puffy on Saturday morning I was shocked when I looked at myself in the mirror! I would like to think that he is running and playing with Fred and all the other furry friends who have gone before him. Shadow, Pepe, Spunky & Kelsey he never knew because they went before he did but I'm hoping he might meet up with them.
Nancy: I'm sorry it was quite the punch. I debated on even doing a blog post about losing Smokey but it was very therapeutic for me.

Sparkle the Designer Cat said...

I am so sorry to hear you lost Smoky and I know how sad you must be, but always remember what a wonderful life you gave him - a life he would not have had otherwise. Purrs to you.

randomcreative said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. :( It's always tough to lose a furry baby. I'm so glad that you did have as much time with him as you did.

Lin said...

Oh, how sad, pally! I'm so sorry that you lost your dear kitty friend. You certainly gave him (and all the other kitties) a GREAT life at your place and he sure had the best care possible. Sometimes we just grow weary of the battle....

I am sending love and prayers to you as I know how very difficult it is to lose a friend. I imagine Smokey now, at the Rainbow Bridge, wrestling Fred and all the other kitties and having fun. I hear the sunshine is extra warm there.

Love to you in your time of sadness.

Split Rock Ranch said...

Sparkle: Thank you so much. I'm just so happy that he isn't suffering. I was so worried about him every day and I slept fitfully every night for weeks.
RandomCreative: Thank you. 10.5 years is a long time and we still have his two brofurs with us, along with several other kitties we've taken in along the way.
Lin: Thank you so much. I need to come over and visit - I've been such a slug about blogging lately. I so very much appreciate everyone's prayers, love and concern lately. It means the world to me. HUGS

DayPhoto said...

We lost a cat to sometime like that...broke my heart. I still miss him. Tomas was his name.


Daisy said...

I am so sorry for your loss, but I feel glad that Smokey had a happy life with you instead of being a feral kitty. Soft purrs to you during this sad time.

Rest in peace, Smokey.

Split Rock Ranch said...

Linda: So sorry about Tomas. It is so hard when we lose them. :o(

Daisy: Thank you.

Anna said...

I'm sorry for your loss of Smokey. You gave him a far better life than he would have had if he had still been feral. You do so much for all of your animals.
Your post is a beautiful tribute to a strongly spirited individual.
Best wishes,

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Aw- so sorry- it's always so hard.

WillOaks Studio said...

What a sad story, so sorry for your loss. I think that's just the hardest part of this kitty love affair I live....the aging and the passing on. We miss them so much. So happy you could give him such an excellent life though, and your hospice care sounded perfect.