Baby’s getting older

I got  an email from the vet. It was a “Happy birthday, Miss Iggy” card. My little baby is getting older.

When Iggy was about seven years old she left her place in the building down the street and went looking for a home. The woman who took care of her for years started working for a local shelter and began fostering dogs. Big dogs. Four or five dogs at a time in a one-bedroom condo with two adults and a cat. Iggy would have tolerated one dog, I think, but the rowdy gang that moved in were just too much for her nerves. She was taken to the vet and given a sedative that had to be forced down her throat every day. One day, instead of taking the sedative, she left.

She wandered from place to place, begging food and comfort, but she didn’t settle in one spot for very long. One day, she saw a door that had been left open in my mom’s building. Iggy walked in, looked around, jumped up on the sofa and said “Hi, I’m home.”

Andrew, the man who lived in the apartment, didn’t know a thing about pets. Never having pets as a child, he had no idea that Iggy would now be dependent on him for food and shelter. As a grad student, he was used to coming and going as he pleased. When he would go away for semester break, this was a problem. Miss Iggy would then have to go begging. She came to me and boy, was I an easy touch!

After about a year Andrew graduated and moved. Iggy came to live with me full time. She has been with me ever since. As I packed to move, she got very nervous, but soon realized I was moving to another condo in the building and she adjusted fairly rapidly. Through those next six years, every weekday Miss Igg would visit my mom at her condo — aka Grammy’s Daycare. Every night, she’d come to me for food and to play the in-and-out game. Weekend days were a mix; Iggy spent some time with me and some time with mom. Four years ago, mom and I moved in together and now Iggy just plays in-and-out from one apartment.

During that time, I started taking her to the vet for her shots and check-ups. Iggy is such a good little girl. There is never any trouble with her. A couple years ago, Iggy, like many cats in their later years, was diagnosed with an enlarged, over-active thyroid. I had the choice of sending her away for surgery or putting her on medication. Surgery was out of the question. The closest place is across the state and I wouldn’t have been allowed to visit her during the time she was there. Not only was distance a problem, but radiation would have prevented me from holding or petting her for about two weeks. I was told that the surgery was quite costly. The determining factor was actually Iggy’s abandonment issues. After being abandoned by her first human in favor of dogs, by her second human moving to another city, I wasn’t about to send her off. There would be no way to explain to her that she wasn’t being punished, I wasn’t abandoning her, and that I would be back. Also, the risk of a 16 – 17-yr.-old cat having that kind of surgery put this in the “unacceptable” column.

I tried the pills. First, I hid them in food. Then I hid them in treats or pill pockets. Last resort, I put them in a pill shooter, grabbed her twice a day, and shot them down her throat. She, in turn, stopped coming near me, stopped greeting me at the door, would hide from me, etc. Finally, I stopped giving the pills. I could either terrorize my now 18-yr.-old cat and extend her lifespan with pills while reducing her lifespan with panic. Or I could just let her live as long as possible with the disease, and be a happy kitty. Miss Iggy likes to curl up on my mom’s lap or sleep beside her until I come home. She sleeps on the chair next to me while I’m at the computer, sits beside me as I read, or curls up on my bed during the night. All the while she purrs as we pet her or she follows us into the bathroom, laundry and kitchen. Iggy like to go out on the patio during warmer weather. She peeks under the gate and watches the world go by. She keeps mom and me company while we chat. She pokes her head through the drapes to look out the windows. And of course she gets an abundance of “lovies” and “treatments” of scratching and massages.

Yes, Iggy is getting frail. Yes, I second guess myself with my decisions on her healthcare. Yes, I dread “That Day.” But in the meantime, I have a happy kitty who was saved from wandering the streets. I think she saved me in return. So …

Happy Birthday To You, Miss Ignatz! You are still, and always will be, my sweet baby.

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