May 18, 2008. The first time we met. She was small, and scared, and her siblings picked on her, so she was hiding behind a piece of furniture. Rebecca looked at me like I was crazy as I tried to move the dresser to get to her. Was I sure I didn’t want to play with one of the kittens running around the room, basically throwing themselves at me? I was sure.
She came home May 22, along with her brother Aiden, just days before my birthday. She was just as timid, just as scared of me then. I had to tip the carrier to get her to come out, since she wasn’t accepting my food bribes. I had to earn her trust and her love, which I did slowly over the coming days, months, years.
I was single, had recently graduated from college, and was establishing myself in my career. She quickly became the biggest part of my life. All of my family and friends can attest to the strong (some may call it odd) bond that we have. We “talk” to each other and if I call out to her from across the house, she’ll answer. I’ve taught her how to play fetch, she hides my socks all over the house, and she is and has always been, my constant shadow.
No matter how many changes in my life - marriage, 6 different apartments/houses, kids - she’s always by my side. Sleeping on my side of the bed, sometimes under the covers. On the side of the tub when I shower. On the counter while I cook, no matter how many times I tell her not to be.
When Tom came into our life, she was skeptical, but eventually accepted him. And she’s now done the same thing twice more as I’ve brought home both E and G. She is such a huge part of our family.
Because it’s not enough to contain my mom guilt to the two tiny humans I’m raising, I also have cat mom guilt now too. I was aware her behavior had changed. I was aware that she seemed a bit off. But I was pregnant and chasing a toddler, and I explained everything away as adjustments to having a baby in the house and losing my constant attention. She wasn’t getting enough exercise. She was jealous. Except it was more.
It wasn’t just an occasional accident on the rug. I really was filling the water dish more than usual. She really was yowling more and racing around the house more. She really was stealing food more often and I wasn’t imagining the weight loss at the same time. My kitty was sick, possibly had been for a while, and I was too distracted to notice as soon as I should have.
Which is how I found myself at the vet with a one week old baby. Confirming my fears.
Maia has hyperthyroidism. Which has lead to heart damage. It causes weight loss, excessive thirst, makes her throw up… and the heart damage is making her heart race and blood pump faster than normal, which gives her the zoomies and causes her to yowl at all hours of the day.
So we’ve been consulting with vets and specialist and running tests and taking chest x-rays, and we finally have a plan. It terrifies me because it’s not exactly simple, and while it will cure the hyperthyroidism, it won’t fix the heart damage and we won’t know for a few months how successful it will be and what quality of life she’ll have. Best case scenario this will be a small blip and she’ll still have many, many years left with us. Worst case, we caught it too late, and we’ll have less time than we planned.
It hurts my heart. Even more now that E has bonded with her so much. She is no longer just my cat. She’s also E’s kitty. His “maow" that he asks for when he wakes up in the morning and as we pull into the driveway from daycare. I don’t just have the responsibility to make her better for myself. This is going to be the difference between him growing up with her, and forgetting that she ever existed.
She goes in for treatment today. She’ll stay at the animal hospital for the week, and then come home for two weeks of restrictions. She/we could use your prayers and good thoughts for a successful outcome of the treatment, getting through this week without her, and then the two weeks after while we try to convince E not to touch the kitty while she’s in isolation. I’m not sure what’s going to be worse.