On February 7, 1992 we enjoyed a quite evening at home with our 3 cats, Tygrrr, Jezebel, & Garbo. Tygrrr was his usual entertaining self, racing, chasing, & then sleeping at our feet as we watched tv. We thought nothing of it when, as we turned in for the night, Tygrrr began his ritual midnight round, going from room to room baying at the ceilings. It has to be the cutest thing he does, he actually points his nose to the ceiling & crys out "wow-ow"(He's never been able to say "meow"). This evening he was very dramatic about it but we thought nothing of it, except to smile & shake our heads knowingly before falling asleep.
In the morning I found him in his favorite chair, he wasn't sprawled out in that relaxed cat way but half sitting in a very tense & closed in way. I could see & feel from the other side of the room that something was beyond wrong & with my heart in my throat I went to over him. As I came up to him & knelt down in front of the chair I saw he had no colour whatsoever, his nose was snow white, even his orange stripes were faded & his eyes were completely rolled back into his head, with no pupils showing at all. With so much fear in my heart I touched him, he was cold & stiff & showed no signs of recognizing me. I stood up & tried to call out to my sleeping family but my throat was closing up with fear. This small animal had meant so much to me in the 7 years I'd had him & the empty space he would leave by dying would be unfillable & unconsolable.
After quickly waking everyone I took him to the vet's, feeling that any action we took was in vain. Our regular vet Dr. Smith immediately diagnosed heart disease judging by Tygrrr's heart rate, which was 276/60 (about twice what it should be), & by the fact that his lungs were filled with water, that only an over worked heart would have pumped into them. Tygrrr was in fact drowning in his own fluids. We were told there was no hope but I insisted that we had the money & that we should try to save his life. He spent 2 days at this vets where they cleared out his lungs & then we transferred Tygrrr to the University of Guelph's Small Animal Clinic where he spent 4 days in the intensive care unit.
It was there on February 14, Valentines day ironically, that I was told that Tygrrr had Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a progressive & fatal heart disease in which the left ventrical continously enlargens until it fails. I was told that he had, at most, a week to live & although it was not said aloud it was obvious they were trying to tell me that it was his time, that euthanasia was most definitely an option. Selfishly, I was not ready to say goodbye in the clinical surroundings of the hospital & asked to bring him home so that he could die in familiar surroundings.
I was given all the information on Tygrrr's disease by bright & caring veteranarians (& their final year students) who told me that they had never seen such an advanced case of this type of heart disease in a cat. They were amazed that it hadn't killed him right away & that cats, in the best case scenario, didn't live longer than a year with it. We, unfortunately, were smack in the middle of the worst scenario medically speaking. So without much hope & a great deal of compassion they filled Tygrrr's prescriptions & sent us home. They told me not to expect anything from Tygrrr & although I was grateful to them & my cat that I was going to bring him home one more time, in fact & in heart, I expected a miracle...
Parts 2, 3 & 4 will be filled out over time
Part Two highlights: Tygrrr's illness was likely brought on by untreated asthma, which certain foolish vets sloughed off & treated with steroids, so you can imagine the anger I felt at how it could have been avoided altogether.
Part Three highlights: Tygrrr survives his original diagnosis with the help of The University of Guelph, Blue Cross Animal Clinic, his own strong will to live & some creative thinking on my part.
Part Four highlights: February 28.98 - After 6 years defying heart disease & continually surprising his vets Tygrrr's time finally comes & we say goodbye to one of the greatest companions this family has ever known.
Part Five: Read ~A Tribute~ that was written by my friend Evie based on the details of my last hour with Tygrrr.