Thursday, October 20, 2016

Moving on...

As I mentioned in my previous posts, the past couple of years have been an emotional roller coaster ride for me. It's time for me to move on. A month ago, the BF and I decided to end our 8.5 year long relationship. It was a mutual but extremely sad decision that we reached due to "irreconcilable differences". Our dog gets to go to work with the BF everyday and so I decided to give up custody of him since it would be unfair for me to demand to keep him knowing he would be home alone for 9+ hours a day while I'm at work. It was a no brainer. They'll both be moving out at the end of the month.

Since the BF had never been a fan of cats, getting another cat after Zero's death wasn't really an option as long as we were together. When the decision was made to terminate our relationship, and that i was losing custody of Raiden, I went on Petfinder to find myself a new companion to help me heal. I was looking for a healthy, large, declawed, adult (2-5y.o.), male kitty, that was great with kids and dogs in case Raiden comes back to me. The kitty I ended up adopting is far from what I had envisioned, but she is exactly what I needed. <3

Meet Gimpiko 
I haven't decided if she'll get her own blog yet

Gimpiko (nickname "Gimpy" or "Piko-chan")
Gimpiko "Gimpy" (formerly "princess") is a tiny 7lb, 8 year old special needs
Main Coon with claws. She's confident and would hobble after Raiden to try to slap him. Which i'm working on with a combination of timeouts and treats for good behavior. It seems to be working. This little girl is super sweet, and seems to have been loved her entire life. But she's also had a lot of health problems her entire life as well. When she was adopted as a kitten she already had issues with her spine. When she was 6 (and about a week after Zero died), her family surrendered her to Town Cats Rescue because a family member developed allergies. She's been at the rescue for about a year and a half, and had a couple foster homes through that organization. They took very good care of her and spent a lot of money on her diagnoses and treatment. She has scoliosis, a fused spine, asthma/bronchitis, TMJ in her jaw that required PT, and removal of a bunch of teeth... among other issues. Her doctors think that most of her bone malformations are due to too much vitamin A when she was a baby. 

I wanted Gimpy to meet Raiden to make sure they would get along, and I was nervous about whether or not I can handle a special needs kitty. Gimpy's foster mom told me that if I wanted to we can do a test week. She came by last saturday and exchanged her for my application form and adoption fee which she said she won't cash in case I decide not to adopt Gimpy. I contacted her on Tuesday that I made my decision, and by Wednesday the adoption was finalized. They forwarded me all her medical records (which was a lot), and should be transferring the microchip registration to me today, along with one month of health insurance. If Gimpy needs immediate medical care, they have also offered to help out if they can. This organization is amazing, and I will be switching my Amazon Smile charity contribution to them. For those of you who don't know about Amazon Smile, it's a great way to contribute to your favorite non profit organization if you're an Amazon addict like me. 

Gimpy is seriously the gimpiest, derpiest, friendliest, drooliest kitty ever, whos meows often sound like hissing, and she contorts her face into the creepiest expressions (her face freezes all scrunched up with her tongue sticking out mid meow, and her third eyelid would randomly cover up her eyes making her look like a zombie). She makes me laugh.... a lot. She struggles to walk, and would occasionally fall over when she's trying to get up. But she doesn't give up. I thought it would take her awhile to adjust to her new environment, but within hours she was already out of her hiding place begging to be picked up and cuddled. I have a lot to learn from her. 


so much drool....

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

One Year Later . . .

Zeroichi's memorial marble which contains his ashes. 

One year ago today, I lost Zeroichi.  It’s strange that it just feels like yesterday but at the same time forever. Every cat I meet or see online reminds me of him, his warmth, his sweetness, his uniqueness. Holidays such as Halloween and Christmas were especially difficult for me since it was our annual tradition to take holiday photos. I take waaay less photos now.

The house still feels empty without Zeroichi. You would think I would be used to it by now, but I’m not.  I finally put his shrine away the other day, and was in tears, but I did feel some warmth reading sweet messages from friends and family who knew about the special bond we had. I was also reminded of how lucky I was to get Dr. Boltz for his final hours since her straight forward but caring demeanor helped me make decisions throughout the ordeal. She was not Zeroichi’s primary physician, in fact that was the first and last time we met, but she still made a monetary donation to the UC Davis Veterinary research center in his name which helped me heal in the aftermath.

2015 was an incredibly difficult year for me. Starting with the loss of Zeroichi on April 12, the bf and I hit a relationship hurdle/drama crazy enough to be scripted into a horror movie in July (which unbeknownst to me started right before Zero's death), followed by the sudden death of my spunky family dog Hidaka the weekend after on July 12.  My parents and I rushed him to the emergency clinic in the middle of the night, but he was gone by the time we got there. He had gotten a clean bill of health from his vet just a couple weeks prior to his death when we went in for his annual checkup, vaccinations and to ask about his occasional vomiting when he eats.  In October our HOA sent out a  $13,000 invoice to each homeowner for much needed renovations to be paid by December.  And finally a few health scares in my family including myself.  Things have been calm for the most part for 2016. But this past week has been difficult for me since it's been shrouded by death. Not only is today the anniversary of Zeroichi’s death, but I also attended a funeral on Saturday for my great aunt whom I last saw at her 100th birthday party in July who was well and very alert. Last week my friend of 35 years’ father passed away and I’ll be attending his funeral tomorrow. Yesterday a brother of a friend of a friend found 2 day old kittens in their backyard after their dog killed their mother. Only one kitten survived since its siblings bodies kept it warm.Thankfully its vitals were good, and was just very hungry. And just right now I found out that my friend's dog suddenly became paralyzed on one side, and they're trying to figure out what's causing it.  It’s been very difficult to stay positive, when it feels like the world wants me to be sad.

RIP 7/12/15

That said, there were some good in the past year as well in addition to the miracles that happened in the month after his death.  Most of which are related to animals of course since that is my place of happiness. Here are the highlights:

July – After the sudden death of Hidaka, my mom finally agreed to visit a doctor since her symptoms were similar to his (yes our dog) and my friend’s dad who just died from cancer last week. After multiple tests the results came back that she has some problems but nothing life threatening. Whew! 

August - My friend found more kittens, who ended up finding a permanent home with her sister.  Meet Peet and Philz:

October - As I mentioned before, my friends and I go on an annual haunted road trip in October. Our last one was in New Orleans. Although it wasn’t as haunted as we had hoped, the food was amazing. But there was one moment that stood out to me during our graveyard tour. The tour guide told us to walk around and stop in front of a tombstone that calls out to us. I found myself in front of a small lot that didn’t have a tombstone, and looked up since I heard a dog barking. There was a kitty (that looked nothing like Zero) across the street staring right at me. Upon eye contact he ran across the street, through the cemetery gates, and rubbed up against me. It felt like Zero’s spirit was trying to tell me he was okay. I forgot to take pictures of him since I was so busy crying and petting him.

December/January - The University I work for shuts down for 2 weeks over the winter break. Without Zeroichi, I knew I would be lonely in the house while the boyfriend and Raiden were at work. Yes! Raiden gets to go to work with his Dad. It’s awesome.  Anyways, during that time, we decided to foster some dogs through Coppers Dream, an amazing dog rescue program we fostered and adopted Raiden from a couple winters ago. We were able to help three dogs find their forever homes!


Griffin was by far our favorite of the group. By the time we realized that we wanted to adopt him, there were already a line of homes expressing interest in him so we didn't have a chance. He was only with us for about a week, but he changed so much in our care. But from day one, it was clear that he was the most loving, trusting dog ever and immediately bonded with me. As a stray, everything was new to him. Eating out of a food bowl, stairs, pottying outside, walking on a leash. The later almost gave me a heart attack when he wiggled out of his harness on our first walk and refused to let me put it back on him. Afraid he would run into the street I ran back into the house, and he thankfully ran/bounced back in after me.
He was so skinny.  :(

January – My doctor was concerned that I might have cancer due to my chronic IBS, and so I had to get a colonoscopy.  My dad got one too a week later. We were both fine. The prep for it was awful tho!

As you can see this past year has been a crazy roller coaster ride for me.  Do I feel sorry for myself? yes.  But I know it could have been a lot worse and I’m very thankful for that.  (knock on wood)

Please give your furry family a hug (and a treat for tolerating it) for me. I hope you all have a wonderful 2016. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Zeroichi's Spirit - An Epilogue

First of all, I want to thank all of you who read my blog post, and left me kind and encouraging messages. The heartwarming support I received from my friends and family, and most surprisingly the online community has greatly helped me deal with this painful loss. Thank you.

It's been exactly two weeks since Zeroichi died. Any mention of his name, a kitty sighting, even finding his fur sticking to my clothes still makes me break into tears. I miss him. But these bouts of tears are now shorter and spread further apart. For that I have a lot to be thankful for. 

Zeroichi's Spirit

Zeroichi was the sweetest and most considerate kitty my boyfriend and I have ever known. Now that I've had more time to think about his death, I feel that even in death he set it up so that I wouldn't suffer too long. He fell ill while i was at home, and so I was able to stay by his side. If he had gotten sick and suffered for hours while we were at work I never would have been able to forgive myself. Financially I was expecting to spend thousands of dollars, but because of the rare and rapid decline of his health, his emergency care cost less than a thousand (not including the mortuary services) so i got a refund for the deposit.  When the choice for euthanasia was made, I didn't really have a choice since there was no chance of survival at that point so the guilt of putting him to sleep will not be shadowing over me. Even on his deathbed he was the most considerate kitty in the world. 

I am not religious, but I do believe in spirits. Every year my friends and I like to go on a ghost hunt and stay at locations (in)famous for their hauntings. So silly as it may be, I think he stuck around for at least a week to make sure I was going to be okay. You might think I'm a little crazy, but I think he played a part in a couple of kitty related miracles that recently happened. 

In my last post, i mentioned my god-kitty Onigiri. I think Zeroichi helped facilitate that adoption. After 6 hours of hopping around a bunch of different shelters throughout the bay area, one of my best friends and her friend (I will call her A) ended up at a shelter close to home. When they first met Onigiri they didn't like her. She was peeking out of a kitty house glaring at them and hissing while they played with a younger, super friendly and playful cat she shared the space with. Onigiri was not friendly at all. After playing with the younger cat, they went on to visit other cats in different rooms. In the end they decided to go back to the room that Onigiri was in to find out more about the younger cat. At that point Onigiri's personality had taken a 180 and she had suddenly become extremely friendly! She even jumped onto their laps for pets. This was all happening one city over when I returned to the hospital to check in on Zeroichi. As the lethal dose of anesthesia was being injected, Onigiri's adoption papers were being completed.  "A" told me how shocked she was when she came out of the adoption office excited about taking Onigiri home, and found my friend crying in the lobby. She had never seen her cry before. That first Friday, Onigiri came to visit... which was a wonderful distraction and it felt like Zeroichi was coming home. They had the same eyes! 

Onigiri means rice ball in Japanese.
Zero's eyes and nose. 

Last Sunday, exactly a week after Zeroichi's death, my friend's sister's boyfriend found kittens in the trash. We don't know if the kittens were placed there by humans or by their mom. But they were about 4 weeks old and obviously adorable. My friend took care of them this past week, and took them to their new home today. She's heartbroken but since she already has 5 cats, it did not make sense for her to keep them forever. I even got to babysit them a couple nights ago for a few hours. So cute! 

Cappy, Freckles & Sushi
Zero's paw beans!
Raiden and the kittens.

Other things I'm thankful for:

Adobe Animal Hospital
They were absolutely amazing throughout the process. A few days after his death I received a lovely handwritten sympathy card from Dr. Boltz who took care of Zeroichi during the last 8 hours of his life. I picked up his ashes yesterday expecting it to come in a plastic bag, but instead picked up a beautiful personalized wooden box. They also made a heart with his name on it for me. The receptionist cried with me when she handed me his ashes. This isn't his regular vet clinic and so I was surprised and incredibly touched that they took such good care of me. 

Zero's shrine. 
Heart from Adobe Animal Hospital. 

My boyfriend and my dog Raiden:
We liked to joke that Zeroichi was my BF's stepson. They loved each other but it was nowhere near the bond Zero and I shared. As part of the grieving process, I did get angry with him and accused him that a part of him was probably happy Zero was gone. Which was unfair of me, since he has been nothing but supportive the last couple of weeks. He hasn't cried since that awful day at the hospital but that didn't mean he wasn't sad.

The BF is a very light sleeper and didn't like Zero on the bed while we slept. Note we don't have a door to the bedroom. So Zero learned to stay in the living room until he heard our alarm go off. Then he'll happily run over to chime in. When we adopted Raiden, they both stayed in the living room while we slept since Raiden was crated at night. They kept each other company. After Zero died, the BF knew I needed Raiden close to me so he started sleeping in the bed with us. But that didn't work out so well.  I would end up on his side tossing and turning to avoid squishing the dog. After a few days he was getting cranky, so I was able to train Raiden to sleep in our headboard in just one night! Such a smart little boy. :)

Raiden's new bed. 

Thank you everyone...
I was lucky to have Zeroichi in my life, and his passing has made me see how lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my life. His death has brought tears not only my eyes but to at least a dozen others close to me. The love and support that I have received from friends, family and co-workers have kept me going. My colleagues gave me a beautiful frame with his photos that I have used to create a small shrine for Zero. A friend made a small glass jar for me to collect his whiskers and claws that I may come across which i think would be perfect to store the marble I will be making with some of his ashes. 

I still remember the first time i laughed after Zero's death. I work at a university, and one of my fellows (i will call her S) brought me a cookie and told me how sorry she was about my loss. The next day another fellow brought me flowers and a sympathy card and said that she heard about my dad's death from S who she shares an office with. It's dark... but I couldn't stop laughing. S stopped by the following day to apologize for mishearing what had happened. But I needed the laugh.... it reminded me of playing grapevine as a kid. 

And finally, I'm thankful for this blog. Although there was a three year hiatus, I'm glad it exists. This is where Zeroichi and our memories together will live on. Your kind words were the neosporin to the painful gash in my heart Zeroichi's death left behind... and for that thank you. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Our Final Blog Post - Saddle Thrombus

Today, I sadly write the final chapter in Zeroichi’s blog. I know it’s been a few years since we made a blog entry, but this entry here will make up for it by content and length as it’s something I need to do as part of the healing process.

For those of you who read our first blog entry know that I was lonely for a furry companion when I purchased my condo in 2010. Although I was more of a dog person at that time, I felt a cat would be happier in my home. So on 1/11/11 I welcomed Zeroichi a wonderful 5 year old ragamuffin into my family. I’ve never had a cat before and was worried if I would even make a good cat mom. He made it too easy. I had just won the kitty lottery.

Everyone who met him loved him, and were amazed at how dog like he was. He would greet me at the door after a long day of work, come trotting over when I whistled, and he understood the “sit” command.  He enjoyed belly rubs and would even let me kiss his belly. He would snap my bra to wake me up, and loved to watch cat videos. He would always beg for food, so eating meals at home will never be the same. He would chase me into the bathroom and keep me company, so even going to the bathroom at home now makes me sad. …. I can go on and on…. I became obsessed with him. 

And now he’s gone. It all happened so quickly.  I’m still in shock and haven’t stopped crying since 8AM Sunday morning, when I found him lying on the living room floor in a short wet trail of urine and anal sac fluid. He likes to sit on a cushion by our sliding glass door to the balcony so he had dragged himself about a foot and half to a more visible location. His long wailing cries of what I later found out were from excruciating pain will forever make my heart hurt. Within minutes my boyfriend and I were out the door with crazy hair and stinky morning breath but we didn’t care. We rushed him to a 24/7 state of the art animal hospital which is located 5 minutes away with him cradled in my arms still meowing loudly in pain.

The staff at the hospital were amazing and quickly rushed us to the back of the hospital where they do surgeries and administered pain medication.  The vet on call told me that he was suffering from saddle thrombus and that he was dying from heart failure even though we brought him in quickly. He was never diagnosed with a heart condition. He’s been to all his checkups and I always got him the best cat food I could find.  After doing an ultrasound she told me that there was a 30% chance that she’ll be able to prolong his life with treatment by a year, but his quality of life will probably not be the same. I wasn't ready to give up yet so I agreed to him being hospitalized for observation and medication that will help manage the pain and break up the blood clots. Yes it would cost thousands of dollars, but financially I was prepared for this when I decided to adopt. He also has health insurance.   

This hospital is wonderful. I got to stay by his side throughout the exam. They allow visitations during business hours in ICU, so I was by his side when they settled him into an oxygen cage and tried to give him some tuna. At this point the pain killers were working and so he was no longer crying.  He even gave me blinks to let me know he loves me. Knowing he was in good hands I went home for a few hours.

At 3PM, my boyfriend dropped me off so that I can sit with Zero while he ran an errand to Target to make a return and pick-up some toilet paper. I was shocked when I saw Zero still in the oxygen cage. He was awake but he looked worse. Sure enough the doctor came to see me to let me know that she’s glad I came in since she was about to call me. The prognosis was not good. He seemed to have had a few more episodes while I was gone, and his blood sugar level was extremely low which was very unusual. His hind legs at this point were completely stiff and cold, but he still lifted his head to greet me when I got there.  I couldn’t really pay attention to what the doctor was saying but she said she was planning on doing some kind of procedure but wanted to wait until the next day after he’s stabilized. I said that was fine. Not long after that a vet tech came and drew some more blood, and tried to take his blood pressure but couldn’t get a reading since it was so weak.  I was crying uncontrollably at this point… again. Then over the speakerphone I heard, “Zeroichi has another visitor, is that okay?” My boyfriend had come back earlier than I had expected since he had forgotten about getting toilet paper. His timing couldn't have been better. That’s when the doctor came back and told me the awful news. The last blood test showed that his glucose level had dropped significantly even though they have been administering glucose which was a sign that his liver was shutting down. That multiple blood clots were traveling through his little body and shutting down his organs. She said this was happening very rapidly and that cases like this was extremely rare. And that at this point there’s no other treatment she can recommend that will save him. She offered to continue to administer pain meds, fluids and sugar if we want but that he probably wouldn't make it through the night. So we had to make the hardest decision any pet owner ever has to make and decided to let him go peacefully with us by his side. 

I got to pet him while they administered the lethal dose of anesthesia through his IV and watch the life fade from his eyes. My boyfriend was also crying and holding me at this point but he couldn't bear to watch. They gave us the option to go to a quiet room afterwards to spend a little bit more time with him. It was really nice to be able to cuddle him one last time since I wasn’t able to earlier with all the tubes connected to him.
Those 8 hours were the worst of my life. It's a nightmare… one that I wish I could wake up from. But it’s not a dream…. I’m never going to see my Zeroichi again.

The Future:

Zeroichi was a one of a kind kitty, and I know that I will never find a cat that can fill his shoes. He’s made many anti-cat people fall in love with him. A friend of mine after his death sent me a long email that she’s in tears. She has never liked cats, but whenever she brought her dog over for a playdate with Zero she considered getting one. He was that special. I don’t plan on getting another cat anytime soon… if ever.

When his cremated remains are returned to me, I will be turning him into a marble to keep him close to me. If there is a glass artist that you have personally worked with that you recommend please let me know.

It’s interesting how things work out. The day Zero died, a close friend and I had planned for weeks an outing to visit a bunch of different shelters with a friend of hers that was finally ready to adopt a cat. We were all looking forward to it. I’m thankful Zero fell ill before I left on that day long adventure so I was able to stay by his side throughout this frightening ordeal. While in the quiet room holding Zero, I texted my friend to let her know that Zero had died. She told me later that night that they were finalizing the adoption paperwork when she received that text.  I am now a godmother to a two year old white kitty named Onigiri. All of Zero’s things including 80 cans of weruva cat food now has a new purpose. We may have lost our dear Zeroichi, but I’m thankful another (adult) kitty has found a wonderful home.


His Last 24 hours: 

4/11/15 @ 4:00PM - Healthy, and curious as usual. 
4/12/15 @ 8:30AM - Hospitalized. medicated but still alert. 
4/12/15 @ 4:00PM - No longer suffering. 

He's been sick before. Mast cell tumors, horners syndrome and allergies... but those are nothing compared to Saddle Thrombus:

Even sick he managed to look adorable. 

He's always preferred dogs over cats, so he had plenty of dog play dates over the years. A year ago we decided to foster a sweet little chihuahua/whippet mix. They got along so well we decided to make him a permanent part of the family. Zero became a big brother!

He wasn't a fan, but he still let me dress him up. 

As you can see he loved to sleep...

his favorite place to nap. 

He hated bathtime, unless i took the bath with him. 

He loved to eat. He would eat anything I handed him, and would always be begging for handouts. 


just kidding. he didn't eat Mashi and Fleep. 

He also loved to play. 

Good bye Zeroichi, the most beautiful, intelligent, loving, caring, cuddliest, nicest, considerate, softest kitty I have ever known. I was the luckiest person in the world to have had you in my life, even though you were taken from me way too soon.

I miss you.... I will always miss you.