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i am angry with the people who work at the shelter that he came from when i contacted them for help in the matter. i told them that i didn't want to have to give up my little cat, but that i was prepared to if doing so could get him the much needed treatment and relief from intense suffering.
even though i don't have an income, my partner does and had helped at times (i would use most of the monies i have had to pay for quality care for my little buddy) to cover the cost of extra care for the cat's increasing trouble with allergies. my partner is a full-time student and when he is not in class, he works and is very self-sufficient and usually has enough to support me as well.
due to circumstances beyond his control in the scheduling of his classes and the demand of his classes, he had to cut his hours slightly to make everything work. due to this, we were out less money than normal, which made it not only difficult for us to choose between a meal and a utility bill, but also made it more and more difficult to help the cat who was getting sicker and sicker as each day passed.
pentagram went from being this very sweet, affectionate, gentle boy to a withdrawn, obsessed, pained, and isolated creature. in response, i did everything i could to research what the problem could be and what i could do to help him get better. based on this research and the symptoms of the cat, i concluded wholeheartedly that he suffers from a rare disease called rippling skin disorder.
the enlarged pupils, the random crying and howling and darting from room to room, spooked and behaving mysteriously pained, skin along his spine moving, sensitivity to being touched near his spine, tail chasing, body mutilation was all present. one of the symptoms of this neurological disorder or triggers is allergy, be it to food or other environmental factor. in this case, the fleas triggered it for him. even before he developed feline allergy dermatitis, i could see the above described symptoms of rippling skin disorder.
the fact is, the presence of fleas just made it worse.
when i took him to the rescue shelter vet after they offered a free examination to prevent surrender, they knew, in writing, about his symptoms and my concern that he be tested for rippling skin disorder as well as be treated for his apparent allergy. when i arrived with my cat, they acted like they didn't know a thing about me and reacted puzzled about the disorder i had discussed.
when i came in to the vet office for the exam, they didn't address the problem with me. they saw his body and concluded that he had feline allergy dermatitis and gave me a cheap free antibiotic and told me to pick up some childrens liquid benadryl to help with the allergy. throughout my visit, i was being accused of not giving my cat flea treatments, and i was offended because my partner and i spent all the money we had trying different topical treatments for fleas.
we live in an area that due to global warming, has not had a freeze in two years, and has left our community with a flea epidemic with fleas that are resistant to most high quality topical treatments. since the flea population has thrived, they are hard to get rid of even with extermination. thankfully, we did have an exterminator visit our home to rid our place of fleas when we had them. the problem continued to subsist as a result of our townhome neighbors.
we live in a row of 100 year old townhouses, the wood floor is shared by all tenants and separated by thin walls. our next door neighbors are country folk and borderline animal hoarders. they have two very large dogs (Australian shepherd and Bloodhound) that they keep crated for most of the day (and force them to defecate in the crate) and three cats whom they adorn with cheap and toxic flea collars. they have a flea problem and are not interested in asking our landlord to have the exterminator over because they are afraid they will end up paying for the exterminating) no matter how much i clean (and i CLEAN: sweep, vacuum, mop the floors EVERY SINGLE DAY) the neighbors do not and i have never heard a vacuum or seen evidence of them cleaning in the time i have lived here. they have fleas and there is no way i can stop the critters from migrating here through the shared wooden floor.
you might say, why not call animal protective services on them? the answer is that yes, it should and will likely happen, but that it could realistically take MONTHS for the neighbors to be forced to actually take care of their flea problem, and i didn't have months to watch helplessly as my cat suffered during that time. that is because the vet told me that all it takes for the cat is to be bitten by ONE flea for him to suffer for weeks and that there were only a few flea treatments that work for the fleas in our area (that of course, THEY sold at really expensive prices at the shelter) that i had to protect him at all costs for the fleas. i was told that the benadryl could only be used for as long as the antibiotic was administered to take care of his skin lesions that were self-inflicted.
this led to a huge concern for me that he would NOT get better in this environment. i was angry at the shelter workers for doing the minimal in care because it was a free visit. it seems more to me that they offered this so that i didnt surrender him there. they made it apparent that they didn't really care about him. they even state on their website that they would prefer that animals that need to be surrendered who had been adopted from them be taken elsewhere and you can't even call a number to discuss with them about any problems- they just refer you to two 'specialists' who do the very least they can to turn you away.
so, i tried my best to see if the benadryl would actually work and my research suggested that it would at least calm the guy down. what i didn't know was that it would be nearly impossible to dose the cat with the benadryl because cats naturally foam at the mouth when the medicine is ingested. not only that, their senses are so much more piqued than ours and can smell the medicine in food.
at first, i tried giving the cat his favorite wet food with half a dose of the benadryl. he ate some but then got repelled at the fact that it caused him to foam at the mouth and he wouldn't touch the food. so, with the help of michael, i got the needle-less injector out and filled it with half a dose of the benadryl. pentagram is a VERY gentle creature and he clawed and bit at us so severely while we attempted to give him the meds to the point where we felt uncomfortable, he was feeling tortured by it and getting scared of the medicine!
so, we gave up on that after getting scratched to bits. then, he walked over to the dosed wet food and ate it without much problem. i was RELIEVED! he ate it all and licked the bowl clean! about twenty minutes later, i checked up on him to see how the meds affected him. i found him biting, scratching, and licking obsessively, to the point of drawing blood! he then spent the entire evening and early morning, scratching, biting, pulling out his fur, and mutilating himself to the point of causing injury.
let it be known that the benadryl DID NOT WORK for him in the least!i didn't feel comfortable with the way both the cat and i were treated at the shelter vet, so i was immediately reluctant to contact them and complain because they would likely accuse me of not doing something right, like give him the meds in the proper dose, though i was careful in my administering and gentle in my approach.
also, i had been planning on leaving for my hometown for a visit. i knew that my roommate wouldn't be able to handle taking care of my cat in the state he was in, so i planned on taking him with me to make sure he was getting his medicines. the problem is that he had been using the floor as his litter box. even though i placed the litter box RIGHT NEXT to the area where he would sit for hours, staring at the wall, he would walk out of his way to the heating vent underneath the coat rack and defecate there.
by doing this, the cat was letting me know how distressed he was. after the benadryl dosing attempts, he would run away from me every time i would try to hold him. the whole experience destroyed his intense trust in both my partner and i. knowing that we couldn't prevent one flea from getting at him and knowing we couldn't count on the shelter to actually provide him with the right care he needs, i had to make a very difficult decision.
the most compassionate thing i could think of was to find a really good no-kill shelter to surrender him to in my local community and the following day, that's what i did. my heart was heavy. i couldn't even hug him goodbye because he wouldn't let me near him because he was still traumatized by the dosing experiences. i placed him in his carrier and michael and i drove to the shelter to surrender him.
the shelter people were really judgmental of us and treated us as if we were poor, stupid, irresponsible, heartless kids who thought that our pet was a disposable toy. this is THE OPPOSITE of how we have ever felt or thought!!! the rationale was that if we couldn't do right for him despite our best efforts, that someone else could. the shelter could investigate, give him the testing he needs to rule out tumors, discover exactly what his allergies are, and give him the RIGHT meds for his neurological disorder in a lot easier manner than we could.
let me tell you, it was HEARTBREAKINGLY difficult to have to give up my beloved ptsd companion. he was there for me in ways that other humans could not. he loved me as much as i love him. we left the shelter in tears, not only from the obvious loss of our friend, but from the attitude of the shelter folk who seemed to look down upon us as if we were horrible people. i spent the day crying, forgetting that he was really gone at certain points. just looking at his food dish, his litterbox, his remaining toys, his grooming tools, all got me crying for him and missing him. thinking of his beautiful and gentle eyes and our mutual delight in our shared morning routine would send me into a grief so profound that i can't even put it to words.
i don't want anyone to say, well, you're too poor to have a cat, and you're an arse for having to give up something you love. i won't tolerate that. i am not ignorant, i did all the research and i am not heartless. i have a big big big heart and it aches for the company of my best friend. i tried everything, i skipped meals, i went without so that i could help my little guy suffer just a little bit less and that wasn't enough. i feel like a failure at times, but i know thats just the grief talking because the reality is that i tried until the very end. i tried and i still lost. the fight was not fair, and i was unable to win and help the cat on my own.
it will take some time to get over this. this loss reminds me of others in the past. i might not be here for a while due to my need to be with myself and take care of myself while i mourn pentagrams' absence. in the meantime, i ask for your understanding and compassion. i ask for you to hug and pet your beloved animal friend for me, to remember that you're still with them and that at least today, you wont have to find yourself making the difficult decision that i did.