Apparently, saying your cat is doing well on your blog is similar to bragging about your toddler finally sleeping through the night. It’s a bad idea and will only spell trouble. Unfortunately, this time that trouble broke my heart. I don’t expect anyone to read all of this, but I wanted to share it anyway since he’s in my every thought.
Buzz Kitty, aka Buzzers, Buzzaboo, Godzilla Kitty, BuzzaWuzza, Boo, Little Man, etc etc etc was born a stray kitty in early April of 2000. The first humans he met were not kind to him and he was found on a golf course with a badly burned face. Thankfully, the person who found him there was a cat lover who took him to the vet. After his face wounds healed, Buzz was brought to the animal shelter where I worked. He was about 6 weeks old and he was the most pathetic but happiest orange kitten I had ever seen. Everyone loved him and you could hear him purr from across the shelter – hence the name Buzz.
That June, one of my coworkers at the shelter came down with ringworm. Then the manager’s daughter did too. The only thing they had in common was that they both had played with Buzz. And sure enough, Buzz had ringworm. Unfortunately in an animal shelter setting, ringworm is BAD news and can spread quickly and be costly to treat. Knowing what his other option was, I volunteered to foster Buzz and pay for his ringworm to be treated. Most every vet I called told me I was being absolutely ridiculous and the treatments would be far too costly for a shelter cat. Then I found a vet who told me it would cost about $200 and I could pay in installments.
For the next several weeks, Buzz was subjected to full body dips in a stinky lyme dip every other day. My mom and I got ringworm. Buzz lived in my bedroom so that our cat and my father (who would have FREAKED out) would not get ringworm too. Life went on. Test after test showed Buzz still had ringworm, so he stayed on at my house and we continued treatments. While he was at our house, the ringworm had spread through the shelter and caused most of the cats to be euthanized, which breaks my heart to this day. Then in September, Buzz finally was declared ringworm free, so we returned him to the animal shelter. I missed him horribly at home, but my parents insisted that we could not have a second cat due to my dad’s allergies. After less than a week, someone applied to adopt Buzz. Someone I didn’t know… and if he went home with them we would never see him again. My manager held the application and let that adopter know that someone else had first dibs on him and gave me 24 hours to come up with something. So I went home and BEGGED. I promised my mom Buzz could continue living in my room and she would never know he was there. Lucky for me, she had grown to love that silly orange kitten too. And so, Buzz came back home to me where he belonged.
That Christmas, my parents went to Milwaukee and I stayed home because there was no one else to work the shift at the animal shelter and I knew those cats and dogs deserved love and attention too. Buzz and I had our own little Christmas and he opened the presents I bought for him. I’m not kidding – he ripped off the wrapping paper all by himself with very little help, and then he played for hours and hours with his presents. For spending it alone, it was quite possibly the best Christmas ever.
That May, I graduated from high school. A few weeks after that, I started sneaking Buzz out of my bedroom and after a while of getting “caught.” Buzz was allowed to roam the entire house as long as he slept with me at night. He had so much fun playing with Katze, who he had previously only known as a brown paw under the door. He loved sitting in my parents big sunny windows and watching cars go by and it frustrated him to no end that he hadn’t learned things like running up stairs or jumping in high locations in the confines of my room. Katze loved this, as it always meant he could get away from the little kitten who was always chasing him. After quite some time acting like they hated each other, they became the best of friends, playing together all day and sleeping together at night.
In 2004, SuperDad and I bought our house and two weeks later, the cats moved in. Much to my surprise, my big tough Buzz boy was scared to death of his new surroundings and hid under the bed for two weeks. Meanwhile, my timid scared of his shadow Katze was at home much quicker. Just when you think you have these cats figured out….
Buzz must have known deep down that I had always wanted a dog because he tried his hardest to be the dog I had never had. He knew how to sit on command and LOVED playing fetch. He would play fetch for hours if we would keep throwing the mouse for him and if we tired of the game before he did, he would knock the mouse down the stairs and run and get it and do that again and again. (Always made us feel guilty for forcing him to play by himself. LOL) He would greet everyone who came to the door right at the door and no one was every a stranger. Unless, of course, you knocked or came by late at night – he would growl at any car that pulled in the driveway or strange knock at the door. Better watch dog than either of the dogs! He also put up with a string of foster kittens/neighborhood cats that we had come through the house and usually was beyond hissing at them and onto cuddling with them within 24 hours. He was less than impressed when we first got Joe, but he adjusted quickly. While he never bonded with the dogs like he did Katze, he would share their beds or the couch with them on occasion (although he didn’t like being used as a pillow), but they always knew he was ruler of the house. If Buzz was in the hallway, they went around. If Buzz wanted their food, he was first in line.
Throughout the years, Buzz continued to love Christmas and often required us to been on watch with the Christmas presents because he would open them before the big day… and he wasn’t so good at reading the cards to who they were for. He especially liked the dogs presents, especially if they contained meaty bones or chewy treats.
Speaking of food, since Buzz was the first cat that I was entirely responsible for, I didn’t know that I wasn’t suppose to keep refilling his bowl full of kitten food every time it got empty, especially not for an entire year and a half. At his heaviest, Buzz weighed over 17 pounds. Even on diet foods and strict monitoring over the 9 years after that, he never lost much more than a pound of that. We tried several different brands and for the longest time, it was a mystery. Then one day we made a discovery – he had been eating the dogs’ food too! He also loved to beg for food at the table, sat between us on the couch during every single meal eaten in front of the TV, and played the “poor starving kitty” routine in front of the treat drawer any time we had guests. Grandma B was a sucker for this routine and kept him supplied in the treats. She was also his favorite cat sitter because she ignored the firm “one cup of food a day” rule and kept his bowl full enough for a week… despite her twice a day visits.
When Mason was born, we were very worried about how the dogs would do. Instead, the only one who had a problem with him was Buzz. He growled and puffed up every time Mason cried and once tried to jump into his pack-n-play when he was angry about the crying. Fortunately, it was a 6 foot jump that our tubby friend never would have made, had we let him finish out his plans. After the first few weeks, Buzz stopped growling and seemed to accept the new noisy creature. When Mason started spending time on the floor, Buzz could often be found crashed out near him, just hanging out. They were good friends up until early this summer when Mason hit him out of the blue with a bowl quite hard. Buzz wouldn’t come near him after that and I can’t say I blamed him. Running toddler Mason is still a bit unpredictable for me, so I can’t imagine what he seems like to the pets!
Buzz earned the name “Nurse Buzz” because any time I crawled into bed other than at bedtime, he was right there by my side. It didn’t matter if I was trying to catch a 15 minute nap at 1:00 or if I had the flu, if I was in bed and it wasn’t lights out, he was by my side. It was like he knew “this isn’t bedtime, something must be wrong” When I got my wisdom teeth out, he stayed by my side for three days, only leaving to eat and go to the bathroom. When Daisy died, he was there soaking up my tears in his beautiful orange fur. He saw me through sickness, sadness, and many afternoon naps and there never was a time when Nurse Buzz wasn’t on duty.
In May, we noticed that Buzz had seemed to have lost a lot of weight. Because he was always crawling in our laps every time we sat down and never did jump on the counters or anything, it was rare that we picked him up. But one day I happened to and I was shocked. My bowling ball of a cat was suddenly a lightweight and I knew immediately something was wrong. We got him into the vet the next day and he was down to a little more than 10 pounds. Which meant he’d lost nearly 5 pounds in about 6 months. Anyone know knows anything about cats knows that’s NOT a good thing. Someone had been throwing up quite a bit at home, but Katze has had bouts of throwing up all his life, so I had thought it was him, but it had obviously been Buzz. We ran his bloodwork and his counts came back bad. Signs pointed to some sort of bad infection so we started a several medicines for the infection, dewormed both cats, started probiotics, the whole 9 yards. The next round of bloodwork came back better but no where near good. The vet clinic wanted to refer us to the university but unfortunately they were three hours away. There were many possible things we could treat him for and one we couldn’t, which was cancer. We decided to take a shot in the dark and treat it like he had irritable bowel disease (which his symptoms mirrored) and in a few weeks, he was like a new cat. He was running and playing like he was a kitten again. The puking stopped. The litterbox was suddenly a happy magical place. It was like instead of 11 year old senior cat, we’d gotten the 3 year old Buzz kitten back. As we tapered down the drugs, some of the symptoms would come back and then we’d adjust again and they’d go away again. Trial and error, but we were so happy that we’d found our sweet kitten again and continued to play around with his food and his drug dosages.
On Tuesday, I talked to the vet and told her how good we were doing and we agreed that we’d continue on his daily dose of pred and that he’d probably need it for the rest of his life. One pill a day for an easy going kitty? No problem. On Thursday morning, I posted here about how well he was doing. Thursday night, some time after I went to bed. he died. He was begging for a treat and seemed fine when I said goodnight. There was no indication at all that he anything was wrong, but between me falling asleep and SuperDad going to bed, he passed away. I’m in shock and just so very sad. For anyone who knows me, my animals are my life. They love them as much as I love Mason and I’m one of those “I’d run in front of a bus to save my dog/cat” people. And now, I’m heartbroken. I’m so sad that he died without me by my side – my faithful nurse never would have let that happen if the tables were turned. He was only 11, I expected a lot more time with him, and I miss him so much already.
Godspeed, my sweet kitty. May kitty heaven be full of all the toy mice, cat treats, and belly rubs you can handle.