Jul 082011

At the beginning of the month, our cat Maddie went to the vet to have some dental work, necessitated by an abscess. When she returned, I alluded to other health problems on Facebook.

We brought her in because one side of her face was badly swollen. The abscess was discovered,  she was given some antibiotics, and sent on her way with a follow-up appointment and the likelihood that some dental work was in her near future. After a second antibiotic shot (and an appointment for the dental work), the swelling seemed to go down a bit, and we figured the problem had been located and would soon be corrected. She had three teeth pulled, apparently due to an unidentified lump in the bone of her jaw (likely at least part of the reason the swelling was only reduced, but not eliminated, by the antibiotics). The lump was biopsied. Our best hope at that point was that this was a severe infection. The vet packed the hole left behind by the biopsy with a strong antibiotic gel, and we took Maddie home (much to her delight, as she’d had to spend a night at the vet due to some minor snafus).

Today, we got the results of the biopsy, and it’s pretty much the worst it could be: oral squamous cell carcinoma.

Surgery is not an option, since the mass is on her upper jaw (she could adapt to part of her lower jaw being removed, but this would essentially be removing part of her skull). Unfortunately, there’s really no option at this point but to appreciate her for as long as she remains with us. The vet has given her about two to six months. She turned 14 a little over three months ago. This isn’t the tragedy that we dealt with when Calypso passed last year. Callie was a kitten; Maddie has lived a full life. She is, however, a fantastic cat who could probably win over the heart of the most adamant cat hater out there (I have witnessed her being petted by people claiming to dislike cats). It’s going to be very difficult to say goodbye to her, though we now know that it’s only a matter of time before we’ll have to let her go. I may be strengthened against these things somewhat, having lost my first pet already, but… well, obviously, this is never an easy thing.

Maddie took a shine to me almost immediately when Gina and I started dating. Gina used to lament that when we watched TV, Maddie would climb over her to come sit in my lap. She is a super-sweet fuzzy thing that loves humans to bits… though she’s not always fond of other cats. She’ll frequently let the other cats know that with a hiss or a quick swat of her paw, but she never does that with people.

She is also, for lack of a better term, pliable. You can pick her up. You can hold her out in your arms and swoop her around the room and play Super Kitty (hey, sometimes I get bored). She will tolerate you speaking to her in a cheezy fake French accent, calling her “Madeleine, Le Chat Français” (sometimes I get really bored). She very much appreciates being petted, and likes to lick your fingers if you’re not petting her enough. She has a meow that, on the infrequent occasions she chooses to speak, sounds like it’s been affected by a lifetime of whiskey and cigarettes. She loves the belly rubs, and will occasionally flop on her back on the floor in front of you with a curt “mrow,” indicating the time is ripe for said belly rubs. She just loves being near people. She’s the cat that will follow us from room to room, and sit nicely outside the bedroom to greet us in the morning (we close the door to sleep… Sage occasionally yowls, but Maddie tends to wait politely for us).

This is one of the sweetest, gentlest, nicest cats I have had the pleasure to know. I will enjoy and appreciate her for the time we have left together, keep her as happy as I can… and I will miss her terribly when it’s her time to go.

 Posted by at 10:01 am  Tagged with:

  3 Responses to “My Fuzzy Madeleine”

  1. What a beautiful tribute to your wonderful cat. I’m so sorry to hear of her illness, and hope that you will be able to keep her pain-free as she moves toward the end of her life.

    We just lost our last cat a few weeks ago. I had promised him no more visits to the vet, so he died at home. It felt like a sacred process, that slow descent into the moment when his heart stopped beating. We were blessed that he didn’t suffer more than the inevitable loss of energy after he stopped taking in nourishment. It seemed like both a long time and a short time, but it was filled with loving gestures from both sides.

    Not an easy thing to go through, cats are such an important part of our families. But you and Gina and Maddie will get through it with grace and love and dignity, I am sure.
    Best wishes to you.

  2. I don’t know you, but came across your story and just wanted to tell you how sorry I am. Maddie has obviously been much loved and well cared for, and it will be hard to let go (it’s never easy to lose part of your family). Try to remember that she will be free of pain and you will see each other again one day.

  3. my cat passed away today.he had a tumor on his cheek.

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