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Cat Problems


Our cat Folds is going under the knife today. I feel ambivalent about this. The idea of cat surgery seems sort of ridiculous to me. How did we get to this point? Folds was living in the shed behind our previous house when we purchased it in 2002. She moved into our house in 2003. I evicted her in 2004 but she wormed her way back into the house later that year. We took her with us when we evacuated for Katrina; she disappeared for a month, hiding underneath my in-laws’ house. Her health has never been the same since. The vet says she has a hyperactive thyroid, so we started giving her methimazole in larger and larger doses. It seemed to help somewhat, but she’s hardly the picture of health and happiness. The vet eventually suggested surgery to remove one of her thyroid glands. I was surprised to calculate the cost of surgery to be equal to just about half a year’s worth of medication. From a strictly financial perspective, then, it would seem to make sense, assuming she lives another year. She must be at least ten years old. She looks about one hundred. (The photo above was taken before her health declined.) Of course there is always the possibility she might not survive the procedure. That would be a great relief to me, actually. I don’t particularly like Folds. She gets in the way around the house, constantly sneaking underfoot, and she tracks litter everywhere, especially into our bed. She’s got a nasty disposition and doesn’t seem to particularly enjoy being alive. Yet she seems so pathetic we can’t bring our selves to turn her out.

Indeed, our situation with all three of our cats raises ethical questions I have difficulty in resolving. What exactly is our obligation to Folds, and our two other cats? I don’t feel that we adopted any of them, exactly. It seems more like they adopted us. They were all volunteers. Archer, for example, was abandoned by her owners down the street back when we were living uptown. We started feeding her, and took her with us when we moved, and she’s been with us ever since. I don’t feel an obligation to care for every stray cat that comes down the street; that would be a full-time job. But at some point Folds and Archer and Crybaby crossed the line and became part of our household. At some point we felt obligated to care for them. It’s not a matter of personal attachment. I don’t care much for Archer, and I actively dislike Folds. Crybaby is OK, but to tell the truth I haven’t been able to love a cat since Lucy disappeared. Archer and Folds have not adapted well to life in our new house. Archer might be happier as an outdoor cat, but that raises other problems. Because these cats are old and have issues, I can’t imagine we’d find anyone who wants to adopt them. I couldn’t turn them out on the street. Euthanasia seems wrong. So in a sense I am waiting for them to die. It’s not really a good feeling.

Published inAilurophilia


  1. We have a similar situation with Chaz, our cat who we adopted after the storm. We had taken to feeding the neighborhood cats and he just started coming into the house like he owned the place, so we took him to the vet and gave him a name. He bites and can be really aggressive, for no particular reason we can discern. It’s made me think more than once about our obligation to him.

  2. Jaime Coffman Jaime Coffman

    My boy kitty, Bryce also has hyperthyroidism. He has been a “special” kitty since I was talked into taking him into the “herd” back in 1997. He was dumped at a co-worker’s in rural Alabama and something attacked him. His eye was sitting outside the socket on his cheek, and he had deep puncture wounds to the throat. His first surgery was to remove the eye. Next, was neutering, then he broke his hip–most likely due to his lack of depth perception. He later had two bouts of urinary obstruction. He was “re-plumbed” two years ago to resolve that issue. He has no voice and a heart murmur…then this year he was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. He is responding well to treatment with methimazole, so we’ll see. Overall he is a happy loving kitty despite all he has endured. If he had a tatto, it would say “No Fear.”

  3. My big orange cat baby was going to be tossed into a trash can with his brothers and sisters as a kitten. My ex-boss grabbed him and he found a home with me. This past summer he had bladder surgery that cost $3000. He’s one happy cat now.

    I do wonder how far things can go, though. A roommate of mine gave the cat she grew up with IVs for the 19th and last year of the cat’s life before she decided it was no way for the cat to spend what was left of her days on earth. I guess it depends on the situation – one’s history with a cat and all.

  4. David David

    I never observed Fold’s bad disposition, and once I started feeding her tuna behind y’all’s back, I thought she had a great disposition towards me. That said, she does remind me of Bill the Cat from Bloom County.

  5. Leaving my name off this one Leaving my name off this one

    I don’t know if this will make you feel better or worse, but you’ve pretty much described my relationship with my mother. This line, especially, was spot on: “She’s got a nasty disposition and doesn’t seem to particularly enjoy being alive.”

    It does make a loving attitude (towards mother or cat) difficult to maintain.

  6. Mark Gstohl Mark Gstohl

    You better start loving that cat! That’s what Jesus would do. You don’t want to end up in a fiery hell for eternity. Turn or burn brother!

  7. Medicine is one thing, but the cost of surgery for an animal is beyond what I’m willing to give. I love my cats and I would mourn them, but I can get more. I might see it differently if I had spent thousands on a pure bred something-or-other, but I don’t think so.

    I’m also all for eating them, I just don’t know if they’d taste very good.

  8. Julie (Marietta,GA) Julie (Marietta,GA)

    That’s good news! After reading your original post I couldn’t help thinking of what you guys went through with Milo.

  9. Yes, that’s the subtext. We’ve lost a lot of cats over the last decade: Bilal, Van, Lucy, Biggs, Milo… I feel like I’m forgetting somebody but that’s plenty.

  10. I feel your pain.

    My first cat lived to 15 years old with a hyperthyroid. My second cat is now almost 14 years, obese, diabetic (insulin shots twice a day), and has an anxiety disorder (kitty Prozac once a day).

    I love cats, but honestly, when Fatty McFleabag goes, that’s it for me. No more. With my luck my next one would probably wind up epileptic, paraplegic, and retarded.

    Best of luck to Folds.

  11. Julie (Marietta,GA) Julie (Marietta,GA)

    I’ve made that statement many times in the past but it never quite seems to work out that way. I recently lost my 20 year-old, Meggie. Shortly afterward a precious little stray I’d been feeding walking right into the house, into the bedroom and jumped onto the bed. She then curled up right where Meggie had slept for all those years.

  12. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    We Lub pubbies and Keeties…
    having worked for a busy vet office one time in my life…
    Merciful Euthanasia, Please.
    I used to go in and assist the Vet–nice and easy, Good Pubbie…
    the injection of Pento-Barb puts them quickly to sleep while I stroke them
    on to their doggy-or-keetie-valhalla.
    We used to get these whacked-out old ladies insisting on
    another cortisone-shot-to-the-spine of the totally-dragging-dysplasia
    victim-German Shepherd, completely ignoring the suffering of the dog,
    but insistent on not losing their Schmuppsy.
    Spending money on Cats is ridiculous….I should know!
    ….We Now Love having lots of birds around, instead of Keetie.

  13. this post and comments really made my day. 🙂

    thanks all.

    @adam b. you owe me a diet coke. i just spit mine all over my screen.. 😉

  14. […] seemed to be doing better immediately after her surgery. But a week or so later she took a turn for the worse. She was lethargic. Then she got more […]

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