Friday, June 09, 2006

Goodbye Sweet Bailey

Adopted on Venita’s 42nd birthday, August 10, 1994.

Euthanized June 9, 2006.

Bailey came to us as Brad. He was a perfect Tuxedo; beautiful. He had been “in custody” at a no-kill shelter since May 29, 1992. When he was trapped at a truck stop in Danbury, CT, he was believed to be about one year old. He was at least 15 years old when he was put down; we think he was older, maybe 18.

Brad resided in the “shy guy” room in the shelter and not handled or socialized to people. His first adoption a month earlier failed.

Brad was feral. He was terrified of people. Often, Venita wondered whether he was autistic.

Venita didn’t like the name Brad. She wanted to name him Crocker or Crosby. But he wouldn’t respond to a name unless it started with B. So Bailey he became. Jim nicknamed him Buddy. Venita nicknamed him Bail and BailButt.

It probably took about two years before we could even look at Bailey without terrorizing him. He would camp himself under the kitchen table and watch us. If he ever saw us looking at him, he would take off for another location. Should he have ever gotten out of the house, he would have been irretrievable.

Although declawed in the front, Bailey was a holy terror to corral for the annual vet visit. Once, as Venita was going up the stairs to corner him in an upstairs hallway, he jumped onto her back and pushed off with his back claws. He was strong! The only way to get Bailey in the carrier in the early days was to outlast him during the chase around the house.

As Bailey got older, and arthritic, we were able to approach him more easily, but he still let us know when we were not welcome by growl, or full-mouthed hiss, or getting up and leaving. Where Venita now lives, Bailey had 2 ½ rooms. For the winter, he had beds next to the furnace registers in the dining and living rooms. For the summer, he had the Florida room, where he could lay in sunbeams and next to the screen door for most of the day. His dining room bed was his “safe place;” and it was often there that Venita could approach him for petting, headbumping, and brushing. Looking back, Venita did not approach him nearly often enough. Out of the way like that, he was easy to forget. Sometimes, a couple days would go by without Venita seeing Bailey. He would sneak into the kitchen for food when Venita was on another floor of the house or sleeping.

There were times over the years that Bailey would join Venita in bed, but only after she had laid down and usually only while the light was still on. He was ever vigilant against the terror of people, even though he desperately wanted to love and be loved.

If Bailey hadn’t gotten along with the three other cats (Maxwell, Ennis, and Lily), he would have been returned to the shelter. But Bailey loved our cats. Small problem was that he wasn’t socialized to cats either. He would walk straight up to Max and Ennis and give them a full frontal headbump at anytime, even when they were eating. This lack of feline socialization persisted to the end. Bailey also didn’t realize that at 15 pounds, he didn’t have to be subservient to the bitchy little 9 pound Lily. She would haul his ass around the house, showing him that she was not the lowest kitty on the pole. But that was Bailey; a most gentle soul.

We got Bailey so that we would have an even number of cats. Venita thought that with four cats, everyone would have the chance for a friend. It didn’t work out that way, but the dynamics of four was very different from the dynamics of three, and we would not have missed a day with Bailey.

Bailey always had been overweight, but he got grossly obese the last couple years. The swinging cow belly look. With his weight, coupled with his arthritis, it was painful for him to get around. But Bailey NEVER failed to make it to the litter box, even though it meant having to painfully negotiate steps and sometimes brave a gauntlet of Jim and Venita watching TV in the family room. Starting in November 2005, Venita withdrew Bailey’s dry food and he slowly lost weight and became much more active again. He started jumping into the bedroom window about 2 months ago, an activity he enjoyed but had given up some time back.

Bailey’s desired weight loss continued past ideal and he started to look boney. About a month ago, Venita noticed a housewide bout of black-green diarrhea and mouth foaming, but she was on her way out the door to therapy. When she returned, she found Bailey on the chair in her room foaming at the mouth and oozing diarrhea. Directly to the vet that day and the next, but nothing but “no result tests” and shoulder shrugs. In the course of 6 months, Bailey had lost about a third of his body weight.

The day of the diarrhea/mouth foaming, Bailey stopped eating and didn’t eat again. Never pooped again either. Despite Venita’s best efforts at things like trying another vet and getting probiotics, appetite stimulants, SubQ fluids, and food soup into him, she was completely unsuccessful at turning his condition around. Yesterday, he “slid” down the stairs to the litter boxes, because he could command his back legs no longer. He was skin and bones. Venita scooped him up, put him in the “sick room,” and called the vet for an appointment today to put him down.

This morning Venita put Max into the sick room with Bailey. Bailey loved Max the most, because Max came to put up with the headbumps and would let Bailey eat and drink from a plate/bowl with him. Max didn’t want to go near Bailey (we suspect Max could “smell” the nearing death), but Bailey loved just having Max in the room. He started purring.

At the vet’s office, Bailey pulled himself around the room exploring and trying to give us his loud angry meow, which he could not manage except as a nearly noiseless chirp. The alternative vet and the vet tech were very kind with the procedure. Venita stayed in the room watching and crying; Jim couldn’t stay.

The vet sat with Bailey on the floor and gave him a rubdown to the sound of new wave music. He loved that vet and her touch. She gave him the first shot to put him into a “coma.” He really fought the effect, but finally rolled over onto his right side. She rubbed him more, and then inserted the IV line into his rear leg. As she started to inject the barbiturate, he took a final deep breath. The vet checked for a heartbeat, pronounced him gone, and invited Venita to stay as long as she wished. Venita stayed, petting Bailey’s silky black fur, feeling how pliable his body now was, headbumping him, until his foot pads started getting cold. She did not give him a belly kiss. Bailey had never allowed that in life, and Venita had promised him long ago she wouldn’t violate his dignity when he died.

Even though Venita would like to know what took Bailey, she is not having the vet open him up. The vet suspects diffuse cancer.

Venita will pick up Bailey’s cremains a week from Tuesday.

Saturday update: Overnight Venita had shaking chills and a temp of 103.6. She’s under orders to call the oncologist with that type of condition. She may just end up in the hospital this weekend.


Cheri said...

Oh Venita, I am so very sorry to hear Bailey could not pull through. You did so much for him and he had a wonderful life he never could have had anywhere else. And now you are ill on top of the grief. I hope this fever is not something serious to put you in the hospital. Please take care of yourself and keep us posted.

{Steve Rapaport} said...

Venita, missing you! My thoughts are with Bailey as he crosses the Bridge.

So glad to hear that the brutal chemo is over. Bring those white blood counts up, we need you healthy!

Hugs from all of us here in Stockholm!

Fairydragonfly said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. What a difficult thing to go through. And now with Venita feeling sick.. I suspect it is brought on by a saddened heart.

Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers.

Alice said...

I am so sorry you lost Bailey. But he's not sick anymore. I know how bad it hurts but we always put them first and do what's best for our fur babies. So sorry you are so sick. I hope the cell count goes up. Please keep us updated when you can.
Hugs and kisses

Julie Lafferty said...

oh Venita, my heart is breaking for you..I am so sorry that Bailey had to leave you..but he is no longer suffering..and you let him keep his dignity..I can't imagine how awful this is for you to deal with when you are feeling so sick..I wish I could ease your pain my friend..I will be sayiung extra prayers for you and for dear saweet Bailey to have a safe crossing!


Martha and Alley Cat said...

another broken heart in seattle....

please get better soon, make it happen!

xoxo,m and alley cat

Annie said...

Oh, Via!

When it rains it pours and yet somehow we find the hope and courage to go on. Even when we know the time will come, it is so heartbreaking to let them go. You were a perfect mom for Bailey and he found a wonderful haven with you. He knew you loved him, and cared for him with all your heart. He may be in heaven now, but he will live on in your heart and home forever. I am so sorry this happened at this time, and glad Jim was there with you.

Never give up hope of brighter days.

Sending Love, Prayers for relief and full recovery, and a future of Blessings your way,
Annie, Rudy, Tiger, and Ashley