Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sirenita to end struggle with diabetes; Milagrito faces cancer

Sirenita, 2009

For almost twelve years we've cared for two cats from the same litter, a brother and sister, which we named Milagrito and Sirenita. Born feral in Oakland, they were passed to us by Cris's sister, who was taking care of their mother. Cris tamed them and has largely raised them. They've had a good life in our house and garden, a hundred times better than the short, difficult lives they faced as ferals.

Cris chronicled their doings in dozens of blog entries which she authored in the voice of the male cat, Milagrito. High points: "Pets or Food?"; "The Eye of the Monster"; and perhaps her masterpiece "Sports Magic," in which Cris talked about the issue of performance-enhancing drugs in sports and the reputation of Barry Bonds through the allegory of Sirenita's ball-playing mania.

Last year we noticed that Sirenita was drinking copious amounts of water. The veterinarian diagnosed feline diabetes. Deciding against an expensive course of treatment that would necessitate frequent injections and much emotional upset for the critter, we vowed we would simply keep her comfortable and monitor her condition. That was in the fall, and all through the winter I dreaded the prospect of Sirenita suddenly declining and dying while Cris was laid up at home recovering from spinal surgery.

Thankfully, the cat held on through the winter, and a month ago even showed increased appetite and energy. But now, with Cris having largely recovered, Sirenita has taken a turn for the worse. She stopped eating about ten days ago, and has stopped drinking water almost completely. Though still responsive and not in obvious pain, she is now skin and bones, and I expect her to die today or tomorrow. We already have on speed-dial a vet who will come to the house to administer a lethal injection once Cris judges that Sirenita's quality of life is at an end.

Meanwhile, we were blindsided this week by another blow. Feeling a mass in Milagrito's abdomen, we brought him to the vet on Thursday. She said he has cancer, probably bone cancer. His condition is inoperable, and the decision not to treat the problem was even easier than with Sirenita. There's not much that can be done and he's not in pain. Depending on the speed and type of the tumor, he probably has only weeks or months left.

I'm much closer to Milagrito and found this news profoundly dismaying. The cats are sometimes demanding and often inconvenient -- I'm allergic to them, and we have a complicated protocol where the bedroom must remain fur-free, necessitating showers before getting into bed, which really cuts down on spontaneous naps or sex -- but they've been ornaments to the home and real emotional companions. Many's the time that Cris and I, after an argument with each other, have cradled one of the cats for emotional comfort. Not to mention their entertainment value; they've cracked us up more times than I could count. It'll be really different around here without them.

There's nothing else to say, except that it's sad when pets die, but their companionship is worthwhile, and I'm glad they accompanied us here.

1 comment:

Jackadandy said...

Gee. I'm sorry to hear of this double sadness. They sure have been an important part of your family and were a couple very lucky kitties with blessed lives.