Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bart - 1994-2008

Bart is gone.

The dates above were probably already set in stone due to his kidney disease, it was just a question of how long into the year he would make it.

Bart's been basically a member of our family since July 1994. We figured he was about 5 weeks old. Tiny little thing. Could fit in your palm, and about half of him was head.

He came as a package deal with Theo, who was 4 or so at the time. We got them at the Humane Society after our first cat was hit by a car. Brian picked Bart out, and Vicki couldn't stand to leave Theo there and asked if we could get them both.

Neither of us were ever particularly cat people.

But, you know, they grow on you.

Theo developed diabetes several years back, and we gave him two insulin shots a day for at least 4 years. At $60 a month and kind of being tied to the house ... it was a greater length than I ever thought I'd go to for a pet.

They went through that period where they decided that the litter box was optional and ruined carpeting downstairs ... and we went to lengths to stop them from that. Used everything from tinfoil to citrus and hormone sprays to the famous Catscram (still a major source of google search hits on my blog). Theo got broken of the habit. They both did at first but Bart had his lapses.

Theo's illness eventually caught up to him and we had him put down. I probably let him suffer far longer than I should have ... almost a good 12 hours. He was practically dead in the morning when I found him, and was still breathing that evening when we took him in to have him put down. And we still lost it when they gave him the shot. There was no question he was dead and had zero chance of coming back... and still...

So if you've been following along in your reader you know that Bart stopped eating late November 2007. Took him in, and he was diagnosed with kidney "failure" -- or "kidneys that don't work very well anymore but can be helped along with some simple procedures for a while".

At the time, Vicki's mother was staying with us getting over a severe illness of her own, and Bart was a great comfort and companion to her. There was no way I wanted him to die while she was still staying with us -- partly because of that and partly because she was already discouraged enough about her state of health ... having her companion in sickness die before she was over it probably wouldn't have been excactly encouraging.

We gave him periodic appetite stimulants and subcutaneous iv fluids. He started eating again, gained a little weight back (he'd already lost half his body weight) and acted fairly normal most of the time except that he was constantly drinking water. Constantly.

And then we had this episode Monday and yesterday where he could no longer pee. Took him in. He had blockage. The vet drained it and we left him there last night. It was apparently blood, probably from a bladder infection. But he was up and eating this morning and we thought things looked pretty good.

However, we had been warned of a possible "rebound" effect on his kidneys where the back pressure from his bladder may have further damaged them. And he started spiraling downward I guess late this morning. Got a call from the vet about 1:00 this afternoon. She gave me three choices, but I could tell which one she was leaning toward.

I had to call Vicki - mostly to buy time for me to think, but also to let her know what was going on. Then I talked to Jennifer a bit (she had a cat die from CRF as well... she had to put him down). And then I went next door to Linda's cube and talked to her and Jeff ... still buying time. And I called Dr. Stormer back and made sure I understood the nature of what was happening in his system and his real chances of recovery. Due to his age and the fact that his kidneys were already bad ... the prognosis wasn't good.

I was already breaking up before I got the words out to tell her to go ahead with it. Not real manly of me.

It's not really so much the knowing he's dead and gone, though of course that's a part of it. What really bugs me is the playing God part. Where you make the decision for another being that you know and have become attached to.... "I have decided that you will no longer have a chance to pull out of this. You're done."

Even when you know you were probably right ... it's that little nagging doubt.

Either way, it's over now. We decided several years ago that Bart would probably be our last pet. I don't feel any different about it now.

Still, all in all you can probably tell that I liked the little guy. I enjoyed having him around. He suplied a lot of mirth, comfort, warmth on your lap on a cold winter day. Annoying as he could be as he'd get in the way of whatever it was you were reading, or is exceptionally loud licking noises he made when he was bathing.... all in all we kept him around because we liked having him around.

Bye bye, Bartman.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your cat. Bart and Theo look quite similar to my Puzzles and Oliver.

    I just linked my son's blogspot onto mine. His first blog is about our pets. Photos of my cats are there, but maybe you'd rather not have reminders.

    May Bart rest in peace.

  2. Thank you, Sheila. You are very kind.

    Seeing other animals probably won't bother me. I must say that the sight of the picture I used -- my favorite Bart portrait I ever took of him ... didn't help a whole lot.

    That is Bart as I remember him. Cool. Often aloof but not unfriendly. Met the world on his own terms. From reading your stuff it sounds like you can relate.

    The next few days will be a little hard at home, if I remember the whole Theo episode correctly.

    It helps that this wasn't totally unexpected.

  3. I'm so sorry about your pet. I've had to do the same with some of the pets my children had when they were younger and even a dog that Liz had for a very long time as an adult. She waited for my visit so that I would be the one to take care of it for her. Have done that for her all her life. Guess I always will.