Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Luther



This morning while the kids were entertaining themselves, I found myself drawn back to my bed to finish waking up {the struggle is real} while I checked out the news and weather. My cat, Luther, was there on the bed. He is pretty much every morning. And night. And day. 

As I passed him, I reached out to pet him. My heart sank. He was bony skinny, and so suddenly. I swear two days ago he wasn't like that. His collar was loose, his vertebrae protruded and he was weak. The most troubling part, if you know my Luther, is that his meow was pathetic. 

Luther was born almost 13 1/2 years ago to my cat, Luna. I watched him be born in my bedroom. He was in a litter of 3. The other two were blah gray tabbies. But Luther was a dark, almost black tabby. He was huge compared to the other two. And he was LOUD. Right from the start. While the other tiny blind kittens gave pathetic "mews" Luther was alerting the neighborhood with his loud "WAAAH!!!" 

He still to this day has a loud, grumpy, whiny "WAAAH!!!!" 

Of the three kittens, I kept Luther. Gave him a fitting name, after the theologian, based on his temperament, and he's been a part of our family ever since. Never gave us a bit of trouble other than a bad attitude and demands for pets every morning. 


I called Justin and told him Luther was wasting away all of a sudden. Justin thought it was because he'd moved their food dispenser up to the counter in the basement laundry room so the dogs would stop raiding it. Maybe Luther hadn't been able to find it for a few days? Sounded reasonable enough. 

So Justin stopped home on his lunch break with fattening wet kitten food and Luther did eagerly eat some and I thought, well that's that! Poor guy was just really hungry and hasn't eaten a proper in a couple days. 

But as the day dragged on, I began to feel in my gut that something wasn't right. Calories weren't perking my Luther up. Feeling a little silly, I finally did the kids hair and loaded Lu up in his cat carrier and headed off to a new vet everyone has been recommending on Nextdoor. {Our regular wasn't returning my calls.}

I was pleased with the facility and that they take walk-ins. 

I won't beat around the bush. The vet asked the basic questions while he palpated Lu's tummy. He then told me he felt a mass in his belly about this {he held his hands up making a baseball sized circle} big and thought it'd be wise to x-ray. I agreed, x-ray away!

About 5 minutes later, the vet came back in the room and turned on the computer where an x-ray immediately filled the screen. 

"Well, first of all," the vet said. "The x-ray revealed a pellet in Luther's abdomen."

I tried to make sense of that right away, What's a pellet exactly? An owl pellet? What?

The vet went on to explain, they see this sadly too often. Luther had--at some point in his life, who knows when--been shot by a pellet gun. 

Sadness flooded me. I looked at my sweet cat, resting peacefully on the exam table. Who would do that kind of a thing to someone's pet??? Who treated "my boy" that way??? I was so sad. I started to cry. I'd never noticed any injuries on him. Luther knows how to use the dog door, but most of the time he stays inside, content to either eat or sleep on my bed. "Someone shot my cat?" "Yes, at some point. Who knows how long it has been there. Obviously it hasn't caused much trouble and is far enough away to seem unrelated to the mass, so I wouldn't worry about having it removed at this time."

But it got worse. 

The x-ray also revealed a decent sized mass in his abdomen. Near or in his small intestine. 

I mean, you have to assume cancer. Luther is around 70 years old in cat years. It was probably bound to happen some time, if he lived long enough. 

Justin showed up around this point, off of work now. We had to decide. 

Do we try and get a better idea of what it is with an ultrasound? But that was $500. 

Do we assume it is lymphoma and put him on trial drugs or see an oncologist for chemotherapy? But that is such a long shot and expensive and we don't even know exactly what the growth is, and he's 70, so how long will be really be extending his life and what quality will that life be on drugs?

We decided for the option that would give us the most answers. We felt we owed old Lu that much. He's been a part of our family since before our family was founded. Exploratory surgery tomorrow {Thursday}. It's twice the cost of the ultrasound, but still very inexpensive as this popular vet is well known for their low pricing. I've been Googling, and some people say their cat's exploratory surgery cost $3,500-$5,000! 

But we'll get more answers. The vet will either be calling me to say the growth was found and successfully removed and we could pick up Luther the next day and await biopsy results, or he'd be calling me before finishing the surgery to tell me it was impossible to remove. The latter would mean I'd be making a decision whether or not to wake Lu back up, or to let him rest in peace and avoid a drawn out death. Luther loves eating. And drawing out a death by cancer in the stomach would mean his life would be void of that one joy that is food. 

So I already know what my answer will be. 


And either way they will biopsy and test the growth so that we'll know for certain what it is. 

But still, we're praying that the vet will call after removing the growth, and that maybe Luther might still have a bit more time left to annoy me in the morning with his demands to be pet and have his chin scratched. 

I just want to leave this, though, with a thought about animal companions that has already been on my mind lately...

I was recently studying the life of David in the Bible. David was said to be a man after God's own heart. But David sinned when he took the beautiful Bathsheba for himself, and had her husband killed in battle by putting him on the front lines. 

David didn't really feel bad about this until he understood his sin through another man's loss. Just go with me on this:

2 Samuel 12:1 The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor.The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

 Anyway, David saw what he'd done, that it was just like what the rich man had done to the poor man and he felt bad about that. But that's not my point. I somehow took comfort, in light of our recent mass animal losses, in reading this and seeing that the Word of God acknowledges our possible bonds to our pets. One might think, it's a sheep in a world of starving hurting people, who cares?

But David cared. And David, remember, was a man after God's own heart. So you can be sure, when you're grieving the loss of a pet, that even though it's just a pet and not a person, God cares. I take comfort in this, yes I do. The Bible does not mock that man when it says that ewe was like a daughter to him.

I believe He made companion animals for our benefit and joy. And I'm so thankful for Luther, that he has been my annoying morning companion for so many years.

He's at the hospital and I'm missing his presence on my bed. I'll miss him in the morning. I feel bad that I used to get annoyed at his head-butting me for attention in the morning. I hope he gets to head butt me again.


Heather


P.S. The rich man who took and killed the ewe = the person who shot my Lu with a pellet gun.



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