Dec 12 2020

Farewell, Dasher

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Dasher in his prime

A year or so after we adopted Buddha, we randomly received a call from a cat rescue org we worked with: “You have an FIV+ cat, right? Would you be willing to adopt another one? He’s the next in line to be euthanized at the shelter where he is, and they’ve put it off so many times because everybody there loves him so much, but they just can’t keep doing that. I think he’s a himalayan, too…”

Well, for the record, Dasher was not a himalayan. What he was, was an energetic, curious clown with impulse control issues but an amazing capacity for love. From “romping around on the newly-changed sheets” (his favorite game) to “eat ALL the food” (his other favorite game) to “claim Laurie’s lap FOREVERRR” (his other other favorite game), Dasher brought light, energy, profound goofiness, and occasional yelling to our lives every day.

A year or two ago he was diagnosed with kidney disease, so we started him on a regimen of fluid injections three times a week. Unfortunately, that wrecked his heart (kidney problems and heart problems are each treated in ways that exacerbate the other, unfortunately). This past summer, he had an episode of congestive heart failure (basically, his heart was full of fluids that weren’t supposed to be there). To treat that we took him off the fluids and started a regimen of pills/diet to treat his heart and be as easy on his kidneys as possible, but we knew then that it was only a matter of time.

And so for the past six months, we have tried to treat every day with Dasher as a gift from the Universe, a little extra time… even more than the twelve extra years he’d already had from his rescue from the shelter. But yesterday, his breathing was rapid and labored. We took him to the Hope Center, where the vet basically confirmed the worst: it was a second round of congestive heart failure, and while it would be possible to keep him alive, he might very well be on oxygen for the remainder of his life and the muscle atrophy and other problems he’d been suffering for the past year would rapidly get worse.

Asking the vet to gently end his life was difficult and painful; even in the hospital, having trouble breathing, he was vital and curious and loving. Just being alive made Dasher happy, even with a blind eye, all of his teeth rotted away from FIV, a grape-sized lump growing under the skin on the side of his head, and everything else. If there was some way to keep his body as alive as his spirit, we would have gladly jumped at it.

It’s been harder on Laurie—she was his favorite, and she held him closely until he was gone. But it hasn’t been easy on either of us.

Farewell, Dasher. We love you, and we’ll miss you. Thank you for spending your time with us, and all you taught us. We’ll see you again.

Don’t harass Buddha in the afterlife, okay? He’ll kick your spectral ass.

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Apr 08 2011

Self-Flagellation Kitteh

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Most cats have a “rake” reflex, i.e., if they have a grip on something, they’ll grab it with their forepaws and kick/scratch it quickly and repeatedly with their powerful hind legs. This is devastating to their prey and is one of their primary means of killing something they’ve caught (the other being to break its neck in their jaws).

Dasher, our big ol’ goofball of a redneck rescue cat, has a particularly strong raking reflex on a hair trigger. He usually takes this out on toys, but he’ll rake anything that gets near his belly … pillows, treats, the fleshy underside of your arm, you name it.

This can lead to trouble when he’s trying to groom his belly or back legs. All he has to do is get into the wrong position and Whap! he’s kicked himself in the head. When this happens, he has a tendency to stop and look around in bafflement, trying to figure out what hit him, then attempt to groom again. Whap! He then identifies the culprit as one of his back feet and attempts to bite the offender in frustration — which of course sets off the rake reflex again.

The net result of all this is that Dasher will sometimes sit for minutes at a time repeatedly kicking himself in the face as he attempts to bite his own feet off.

Man, there are so many other people I wish would do that…

-The Gneech

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