Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The end of Zsa-Zsa

I've written about the animals in my life a couple of times. You may remember Zsa-Zsa from my post of Nov. 12, >November Archives, called "Great Stinkin' Cat Shit."

Zsa-Zsa, a 13-year-old orange Persian whose health was always much frailer than her spirit, took very ill over the Fourth of July weekend. I decided not to take her to the vet. In her estimation, vets were the most evil people on the face of the earth, and she had panic attacks when she had to go see them. Not their fault -- she had been mistreated in her first year of life, before she came into my home, and any attempt to grab hold of her and do anything to her brought on an extreme reaction.

It was months after I got Zsa-Zsa before she would sit next to me or in my lap, and it was several years before she got over her terror of brooms. At first, she would stay in the same room with me, but on the opposite side of it. She gradually moved closer and closer. Then she would sit on the back of the sofa, near me. Then next to me. Then, finally in my lap. She became a very affectionate cat with me, but suspicious of other humans, and she never got over her fear of being held immobile.

Zsa-Zsa's breathing problems required frequent trips to the vet and steroid shots in her earlier years, and she hated each visit more than the last.

She was finally weaned off the shots onto steroid pills, and when I became involved in the healing ministries, I practiced laying hands on Zsa-Zsa and was able to get her off the medication completely, which the vet said was much better for her overall health.

But now she was breathing with difficulty, and something else was wrong, too, because she was not eating, only drinking lots of water. I suspected kidney. With Zsa-Zsa's reactions to the vet office, though, I knew the panic attack getting her there and on the examining table would kill her. She was too weak to endure it. I decided to let her die at home, where she would want to be.

I thought Zsa-Zsa only had a day or two left on that Fourth of July, She was still with me Friday, the ninth, but still not eating, and breathing with difficulty. A friend at work, to whom I will always be grateful, found a vet who would make house calls. The vet came out that evening and determined that Zsa-Zsa was terminal, with shrunken kidneys as well as lung problems. Zsa-Zsa's heart was still very strong, the vet said. She gave her a shot of steroids to see if that would buy her some time.

It helped her breathing somewhat, and it gave me the weekend to spend petting Zsa-Zsa and fussing over her. Zsa-Zsa still wanted to be petted and stroked. Her legs were getting very wobbly, but she would come to me and purr like a buzz saw as I caressed her.

I called the vet and she came back yesterday morning. I petted Zsa-Zsa as the vet and her assistant gave her the injection that stopped all her breathing problems. Zsa-Zsa died very peacefully and quickly, at home, where she would have wanted to be.

Zsa-Zsa's ashes will be buried in the yard, with a rose bush or azalea bush -- I haven't decided which.

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