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November 18th, 2011


i've been scrolling through my archives here on lj and have been shocked to see how little i've posted about peechee. shocking because anyone who knows me knows he's basically all i talk about and is the absolute center of my world. you can probably pick up on this due to the extremely high incidence of orange cats in my artwork. he's the rather plump ginger cat i've had since i was 17, in high school, back when i was hating everything about my life except his furry role in it.

i met him at a no-kill shelter called Orphans of the Storm outside chicago, which i still donate to strictly because that's where peechee came from & i'm forever grateful to have him in my life. he was cat #169, a stray estimated to be about 2 years old- though looking back, i think he may have been only a kitten. i named peechee after a band i loved at the time called the peechees but it's incidentally the word for cat in farsi as well. seems like every persian family has a cat named peechee. peechee lived with my parents in chicago and later california while i lived in RI and was in college, but i visited him and my family for months at a time. he moved back in with me when i moved to san diego and aside from some relatively minor medical stuff (asthma, mast cell tumors), it's been mostly happy, amazing times ever since.

my phone is evidence of this. it is 90% full of photos of him. he used to be a non-wandering outdoor cat, stepping outside only to wander 10 feet away and take a nap. he's never been a hunter. back in chicago, there was a spot under a pine tree in our backyard where he loved to nap on a bed of pine needles in the shade, hidden and quiet. in california, when he lived with my parents, they said after he moved in with me, strange cats started coming around, presumably missing him and looking for him. he became indoor only when he moved in with me as i since learned that if you love your cat, it's much much safer to keep him indoors - statistically, he'll live much longer - even if all he ever did outside was nap. he's been pretty okay with being indoor only ever since though he has the occasional moment where he sneaks outside to eat grass and barf it up.

he is truly the sweetest cat on the planet.

everyone says this about their pets, but peechee is exceptional - anyone who met him would agree. he greets us at the door whenever we come home, follows me around from room to room. lays his head on my lap when i work. purrs sometimes just if you look at him, he's just happy to have the affection. he doesn't hide. doesn't chase the finches. doesn't do much but snuggle, eat and sleep. doesn't scratch us, doesn't jump onto ANY surface unless he is invited up by someone. he is incredibly affectionate, a total cuddler, and i have never met another cat like him. we frequently refer to him as a "gateway cat" as he has convinced many cat-haters, animal avoiders, non-animal lovers, etc. to come on board. he wins you over completely. that's what he did to me the day i saw him at the shelter, cowered in the corner, being bullied by other cats. i shooed the bully cats away and he walked into my lap and fell asleep and it was love. i wasn't even planning to adopt (then or ever) due to allergies, but how could i not after meeting him.

i remember lying in bed awake at night, after i met him, in fear that someone else would have the opportunity to adopt him before i could convince my parents to let me bring him home. i think it was a span of two weeks before they finally agreed. when i brought him home, he was incredibly sick. one day he barfed up live, writhing worms. i rushed him to the ER, driven by my friend paula, while my parents were still at work. he had eye and ear infections, and he was scrawny. i nursed him to health, taking care to give him all his meds - the kind of thing that has forever made my family tell me that i missed my calling as a vet (which honestly, especially after our recent experiences, i feel is a high compliment. vets are amazing, courageous, heroes and i honestly don't know how they do it emotionally.)

peechee experienced heart failure this week, possibly while we were in rhode island for 3 days for a wedding.

we came home and we didn't know that's what was wrong with him, he was breathing a little weirdly - sort of heaving, but not audibly or anything. he had been coping with asthma for about a year, which we have thankfully been controlling without medications but rather with a restricted diet and air filters. i say thankfully, because had we given him asthma medication, surely he'd be dead at this moment. when we came home and noticed his breathing had progressed to labored, we thought "maybe it's time to finally start meds, our natural way is no longer working". we called our fabulous mobile vet (as the only thing that upsets peechee is a ride in the car) and she came by and said "i really think you should take him to the ER, this may not be asthma and i think this could be an emergency". we rushed him over, and he was immediately placed in an oxygen tank, given x-rays, and after the x-rays were revealed, we were told the bleak possibility that his lungs were 80% obstructed by a tumor and he probably would never come home with us again, to seriously consider euthanasia.

i lost it completely. michael and i both lost it completely. it was the last thing in the world we expected to hear. we kept him in the hospital, in oxygen, with an IV overnight and decided to opt for more testing in the morning to determine that that was in fact the case, and if it was, to consider keeping him on prednisone for a potentially short prolongation of his life. they shaved his belly and did an ultrasound and revealed that it wasn't a tumor and it wasn't asthma either (though asthma is present) but it was heart failure and it's bad and his lungs were filled with fluid. they told us he turned purple during the x-ray process. he stayed in the hospital for two days, endured constant testing, xrays, ultrasounds, consultations, etc so we could get all the info we could on his condition. i have never cried so much in my life. i'm crying as i write this. in bed, trying to sleep (not that i could, and i haven't really since this happened) michael said "i'd give anything for just one more day with him" and all the memories inside our home: the memories of him lying warm next to me as i sleep, the smell of his head when i kiss it, and his soft purrs when i'm not even petting him, just tortured me. i couldn't believe i might never have him in my life again. just minutes before we took him to the ER, he was eating, playful, peaceful. having trouble breathing, but behaviorally the same. how could this be the same cat we're being told is on his death bed? they told us cats hide their illnesses well but it seems unimaginable. he has always been so easy to read.

our priority has been stabilizing his health, stabilizing his breathing, and bringing him home as soon as possible, even if it's just to put him to sleep. they tapped 100mL of fluid from his lungs and his breathing improved tremendously. there is still a lot of fluid in his lungs. he was able to breathe outside the oxygen tank. we were able to bring him home yesterday morning, which feels like a miracle after we were told he might never come home with us again. i cried when he came in the door and lay down. he's not himself yet but it's to be expected after all he's gone through. he's on lots of medication. some of it could trigger kidney failure. the vet has told us the prognosis for a cat who experienced this type of heart failure is usually 3 months to live. possibly longer (a nurse at the ER said she had a cat who survived a year after heart failure), but possibly any day now. it's weird to be celebrating another possible 3 months with him, but compared to dying in an oxygen tank in the ER the night we brought him, it seems like a tremendous victory.

still, my heart is so heavy. i can't imagine ever letting him go. i will never be ready. we're praying he'll be one of those cats that surprise the vet with his longevity. i got a message from a friend and neighbor who watches peechee for us every time we go out of town and knows he's been in the hospital, and he said "don't worry, peechee's a fighter"

let's hope so. i need him to be.

he'll never recover from his heart failure, so it's difficult talking about this with anyone because it's not a "get well soon" scenario. but it is a "keep fighting the good fight" scenario, and i'm going to shower him with my love and we'll do everything we can to keep him as healthy as possible for as long as possible. i'm sure i'll update more about this in the future, but just needed to write something about it, to vent some of this incredible pain i'm feeling. my heart is so heavy and i can't stop crying.

i wonder if he'll have enough time with us for his belly fur to grow back. he has a white patch on his belly, and it's his softest part.

i'm so grateful to have another day with him, and for the life i've had with him so far.
i'll never be ready to let him go.

he is one of a kind, the most wonderful pet companion i could have, and every day with him is and has been a gift.

best friends
the peech

About Me

Hey, I'm Susie. I'm a painter, illustrator, crafter, musician, keeper of various pets and proprietor of the website boygirlparty.com

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