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.