We had to have TLC, the subject of this post from 2011, put to sleep today because of cancer. I thought it would be fitting to repost this as a tribute to her.
When we bought our place here twelve miles outside of town a couple of years ago, three cats came along as part of the deal. For whatever reason, the previous owners didn’t want to take the cats with them when they moved, so we said we’d take over their care because we like cats and it’s always a good idea to have some outside cats on patrol when you live in snake country.
We suspect they all came from the same litter because two of them are solid gray in coloration and one is a combo of white, gray and orange. Two are neutered males and one is a spayed female.
The female has kind of been through the wringer physiologically, because besides being spayed she’d also been declawed and her tail had been cut off right down to its base, with barely a little stump remaining.
For want of much imagination at the time when we moved in, we named her “T.L.C.”, for tail-less cat. The other gray cat is “T.C.”, for tailed cat. The white/gray/orange cat we call “Nemesis” because he tended to pick fights even though he no longer has any “habichuelas” to contribute testosterone to the mix.
It seems he was neutered after he was an adult, so I guess old habits die hard.
T.L.C. apparently had been an indoor/outdoor cat. We learned this early on because she knew how to open the front door by jumping up and hitting the door latch hard, which resulted in the door becoming ajar enough for her to gain entry.
Although T.L.C. had been declawed, we already had an indoor cat and we were afraid the two wouldn’t get along, so T.L.C. has remained an outdoor kitty and despite some attacks from Nemesis, she’d done pretty well.
She even has a “husband” now in the person of Roadie, one of the two cats we rescued after they were dumped on our road as kittens and were living in a drainage culvert. She and Roadie (who was neutered at six months of age) get along famously and he’s been kind of her protector from any of Nemesis’ advances.
But…shit happens, as they say.
A couple weeks ago I noticed that T.L.C.’s left eye was watery and she seemed to be squinting a little more than what she does when she’s in her Love Mode—getting right up in my face while “making biscuits” with her soft paws.
I looked at her eye as best I could and didn’t see anything obvious or any bleeding. She didn’t seem to be in distress, so we just figured she might have scratched her eye on one of the spiny plants that naturally occur here in the hill country.
Her eye appeared to improve for a while, but then it got worse, so I started using some antibiotic eye drops that I had for my Himalayan inside cat.
(Eyes seem to play a big role in my life–from my Mother’s macular degeneration, to Neferkitty’s chronic dry eyes and conjunctivitis, and now T.L.C.’s dilemma.)
This last Friday (ironically the 13th) she had a lot of discharge coming from her eye and the pupil didn’t look right so I took her to our vet, a really nice guy who’s been in practice for many years and who has a wonderful bedside manner.
He took a good look at T.L.C.’s eye and said “You’re not going to like this, but the eye has to come out.” He then showed me how her eyeball had become somewhat shrunken in the socket and that’s why the pupil looked distorted. He thought she’d either been deeply scratched by another cat or her eye had been punctured by something sharp.
Either way, it had become infected inside and was losing fluid. Since the pupil didn’t seem reactive, he felt that she wasn’t seeing much of anything, if at all, out of that eye. He didn’t think it could be saved.
He tried to reassure me by saying that cats do very well with just one eye, but I was too busy mentally kicking myself for being a Bad Mother. (And not “bad” in a good way like 70’s icon John Shaft.)
The vet gave me an antibiotic liquid to give T.L.C. twice a day and said to continue with the eye drops three times a day over the weekend. We scheduled her surgery for today, Monday, at 8:30 in the morning. *Sigh*
We isolated T.L.C. in the room off the carport so I could give her the meds. easily and just to keep her as comfortable as possible. Through this whole thing she never stopped purring and wanting to be petted.
If it were me, I’d be pissed. But that’s the beauty of pets—unconditional love, whether we deserve it or not.
This morning, after a little over two days of antibiotics, we were surprised to see that the discharge had lessened to just some wateriness and that the pupil seemed to be more normal and appeared to be reactive to light.
But still—over the weekend I’d done a lot of Googling about her condition and thought that maybe this was just wishful thinking on my part. I really, really didn’t want her to have to lose her eye. She’d been through a lot of physical trauma in her life and still was the sweetest cat.
I reluctantly left her off at the vet’s office at 8:30 and did some errands in town for a couple of hours. Just after I got home the phone rang and it was the vet. My first thought was, “Oh, no…something bad has happened during surgery…it was cancerous…or worse…she didn’t make it through the operation.”
My mind tends to work that way. Just ask my husband.
But, thankfully, no! The vet said that he had wanted to take another look at her eye before his assistants prepped T.L.C. for surgery. He said he was amazed (his word) at how good it looked. He had even thought that maybe it wasn’t the same cat! So he called off the surgery and wants to continue with the eye drops to see how she does. He said the puncture wound may have sealed itself (it happens). That, along with the antibiotics, may have been enough to allow the fluid in the eye to restore the shape to the eyeball and reactivity to the pupil.
She isn’t entirely out of the woods yet, but he feels that she certainly is doing so much better that she deserves a shot at preserving her eye.
T.L.C. is home and back in her recovery room, having a welcome meal of kitty crunchies and is being spoiled rotten.
We’ve decided that her name “T.L.C.” now stands for “The Lucky Cat.”