28 November 2009

Black "Black Friday"

Here in the US Black Friday is traditionally the most important shopping day of the year. As hoped and wished for by retailers, Thanksgiving Day is merely an opportunity for families to meet and discuss their Christmas gift lists, so they can be acted upon the following day. This year in particular, I’ve noticed advertising going straight from Halloween to Christmas, with hardly any mention of Thanksgiving Day at all – I guess corporate America will be working to make Thanksgiving a gift-giving day as well ... Anyway, some stores opened at the stroke of midnight, some more conservative ones at 4:00 or 5:00 Friday morning. And of course there are throngs of people waiting, clamoring for the chance to spend their money.

Black Friday was black for me for a different reason: one of my cats died. He had been struggling to breathe for a few days, and I hesitated to take him to the vet, because he turns into a demon cat from hell when there, leaving both the vet and me with bite and scratch marks. He literally had to be wrapped into a towel each time so the vet would be able to examine him. So I waited, because I did not want to unnecessarily stress him out on top of him feeling bad already, thinking that maybe he just had a cat cold, which would go away after a while.

Yesterday he started breathing through his mouth, and when I saw that I knew it was bad ... we took him to the vet immediately, who told us that a tumor was leaking fluid into his lungs - he was suffocating. Possible treatment would have been to drain his lungs (which would have to be repeated several times), have an oncologist take a look at him, and have him undergo chemotherapy – all of which, of course, would have stressed him at every single visit. He would most likely not last another day or two.

So we decided to have him euthanized, only he fought so hard when they tried to put a catheter in his arm he suffocated from the stress. I wish he would have died a bit easier.

He was a very unique cat: Ten years ago he showed up in the back yard, facing down my own and my roommate’s cats, refusing to leave. So he stayed. I often thought he must have grown up with dogs, because his tail was constantly swishing back and forth, even when he was lying down and when there was no other cat around. He also never moved when he was (deliberately, I think) sitting in the way – he just knew we would never step on him. He was a fierce protector of his territory and often had scratches on his face; his right ear was permanently nicked. He was a lot of fun to play with and - in total contrast to his behaviour at the vet's - the most social of our cats – always the first to greet any visitors and vocally demanding to be petted – and in general a real sweetheart at home. I’ll miss him.

As soon as we had buried him yesterday afternoon, it started to rain, and then (a rather rare event here in the SF East Bay) a thunderstorm passed through. Afterwards the porch was bathed in a rather eerie light. It matched our mood.

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