This picture has defined my relationship with cats since 2007, the year I got Marley.
She’s been a huge part of my life since I inherited her. I’ve kept her safe and she kept me safe. Because I had her, I never thought I’d want another cat running around because it would feel like I was doing her an injustice by sharing my attention. She doesn’t deserve that.
Then I started dating Ellie who
might love loves animals more than I do. I had known for a while that she wanted a cat or a dog that she could call her own and I knew that she knew it didn’t make sense for her to have one until she settled into a post-college life. It would reduce stress on the animal and it would make it easier for her to find a place to live and work and all that jazz.
Then she found Luna. Even though Ellie knew she shouldn’t get a cat quite yet, she would troll Craigslist looking at what she could have. Admit it, you’ve done it before (I do it with motorcycles). Every now and then, I would get a report about the cats she fell in love with and I looked them up myself. She was right, each one was beautiful in their own way. But then she sent me a link to Luna, and I had a deep personal dilemma. She sent me an ad for a Maine Coon, the breed I’ve wanted to have since I found out about them. The dilemma revolved around Marley. Do I do her an injustice just so I could get a Maine Coon? To I take that special place in my heart for her and expand it
a bit a lot so it can fit a Maine Coon?
Ultimately, I decided against it. I truly felt I didn’t need another cat in my life no matter how pretty she was and whether she was a Maine Coon or not. Ellie, however, fell for that cat. Truly, truly fell for the cat. I get it, she was beautiful and fluffy and could be the perfect bit of comfort. I saw this before Ellie asked if I could watch Luna for her while she lived at her parents’ house, which wasn’t exactly cat friendly. I agreed because that’s what good boyfriends do and I wouldn’t mind having a second cat temporarily.
So that’s why a month ago, we could have been found driving through a pretty bad day of snow to pick up some beer (a belated Christmas gift for my dad) and to go and take a look at Luna to decide if she really was the cat for Ellie. We went to Forever Homes Rescue and met Debbie in the bar where she kept the cats (mind you, this was during this extra cold winter). When we met Luna, she was as beautiful as the pictures showed. She had a
few lot of mattes, she stank, and there was a chunk of something stuck to the end of her tail. But she was a sweetheart and Ellie and I both fell in love with her the first day.
Ellie agreed to adopt her and we loaded her into Marley’s crate and brought her home. The car ride home was full of Luna meowing to get out of the crate, rightly so, as she was a larger cat in a small crate. When we got her home, we quickly found out that Marley did not approve of the situation. She hissed a bit and ran under the bed, refusing to come out. Luna, however, ran around my apartment to investigate the space and decide how much of an upgrade her new digs were from the smelly old barn. I think she approved.
Ellie and I had to run out to take care of some errands, so since Luna was new to the space, we closed her up in the bathroom while we were out so she couldn’t destroy too much. Luckily we did, since she decided to poop on my bath mat. Normal poop I could have dealt with, but this poo was STINKY diarrhea and the worst part was the blood. Ellie and I instantly started to worry. We were on our phones looking up how serious and common runny blood stool was for cats. We quickly determined that it wasn’t very serious as long as it was treated.
Still, we couldn’t help shake the feeling that we had been cheated a bit. We adopted the cat only to find out it wasn’t in tip-top shape when we were led to believe she was. We gave Debbie a call and let her know what we found. She told us that Luna had had the same thing happen about a week earlier but it cleared up and she didn’t think it was much to worry about. Shouldn’t we have been told? I certainly thought so. Ellie and Debbie arranged a day for them to take Luna to see a vet, on Debbie’s dime (I thought this was fair as it was a preexisting condition that should have been treated for the cat’s well being).
At the vet, Luna was checked out as was her stool (she plopped a fresh one before I left for work, so I bagged it for Ellie so she wouldn’t need to do it herself). I think the vet said she had a virus of some sort and prescribed some pills to help clear it up. Debbie paid again, rightfully so.
Feeding Luna the pills was one of my favorite things. We stuck them into a bit of soft food so we could get her to take them and it turns out she loves soft food. Loves it. She would get super energetic when she knew it was coming and pace and meow like it was the best day in the world. Then, when the spoon of food and pill was lowered for her to eat, she’d jump up and wrap her paws around the hand holding the spoon and pull it closer, faster. I loved it.
After the full course of the pills, it seemed as though she had been cleared of whatever ailed her bowels. Ellie had also become obsessed with getting her as healthy as she could be again. Since when we picked her up she stank and had mattes of hair everywhere, Ellie took her to the groomer to get a lion’s cut. This was the best way to get the mattes out, to start fresh. It also cleared up the smell.
The downside of it, however, was that we saw how little Luna was. She was longer than my Marley, but far skinnier and very much looking to be underweight. This is what prompted Ellie on her quest to feed her the best. I think the food I feed Marley is fine (Purina for indoor cats, I believe). She eats it when she’s hungry and doesn’t when she’s not. Her weight self-regulates and I’ve never needed to take her to the vet (though maybe I should to figure out why she vomits so often, but I think that’s mostly unrelated). Ellie did her research and determined the food I feed Marley is generally considered to be very unhealthy by people who care deeply for their cats. There was something about grain and how cat’s should only be eating meat. So Ellie bought what I thought to be an overly expensive bag of grain-free cat food in the hopes that the healthiness of it would put some weight on Luna. It started to, but Marley discovered she liked it and it seemed to put more weight on Marley. Eventually after a few days, Luna was looking less sickly and pooping more normally.
But her poop problems came back. There was diarrhea again and some blood and at first, I hoped that it was a fluke but then the overpowering stench came back with it and it was a non-stop stream of diarrhea and smell coming from Luna (okay, not non-stop but when she pooped, also I find it funny that Ellie used to remind me how much Marley smelled bad and then she went off to get this cat which made Marley’s poop comparable to the spiciness of a red bell pepper to that of a Habanero).
This time around, Ellie made an appointment at her family’s vet and just kept Debbie in the loop about it. Boy was that appointment an eye opener.
Remember that chunk of something stuck to her tail? The groomer had cleared it away and left a stubbly chunk of tail a the tip for all the fur to grow back. One evening, while I was talking to Ellie on the phone, Luna was on the back of my couch staring at me. Then, out of nowhere, she grabbed the tip of her tail in her mouth and yanked out the fur. There was blood everywhere. I grabbed a paper towel to try to stop the bleeding and contain the mess but after I adjusted it to put a non-blood-soaked part of it on the tail, Luna wouldn’t let me touch it. She did this a few more times before she went to see Ellie’s family vet. It turns out that the tip of her tail was dead, in need of amputation, and Luna was trying to do it herself.
The second thing that was wrong with her was that she was grossly underweight. We knew this, obviously, and had tried to fix it. Apparently, the weight of 8.6 pounds on her vet paperwork from a few months before we adopted her was off by 2-2.5 pounds. That’s a quarter of her body weight which she lost in a few months. How do you not see that kind of difference?
The third, which might have caused her diarrhea (though the vet still wasn’t sure if it was) was that she had a very large heart murmur. Ellie’s family vet couldn’t see how this could be missed by the vet who had checked her out before. Ellie pointed out that the previous vet who had checked her out a few times was from a vet college and they were likely still learning, and to that I say, don’t give that person a license for a very long time. No animal should be so glaringly misdiagnosed like that.
Fourth, Luna’s canine teeth were in terrible shape and needed to be pulled. If they weren’t pulled and sealed properly, her sinuses would get infected as the canines on cats lead to their sinuses, I’m told. yet another operation needed on this poor cat.
Another thing was that the vet told us that Luna wasn’t necessarily the spry young six-year-old we were told she was. The vet estimated that she was older. I’m not really sure how he can tell, and it is only an estimate. The story we got from Debbie’s online advertisement for Luna’s adoption was:
Luna and her brother Biff were adopted from our rescue 6 years ago and due to an unfortunate circumstance, their adoptive owner had to return them to our rescue. We are hoping they can be rehomed together since they’ve been together since they were kittens but they may able to go to separate homes as well.
But then Debbie said she was six to us in person. It’s hard to know what to believe.
The last thing, which the vet really didn’t need to tell us because we could have found it on her paperwork, was that we were lied to by Debbie. You know how we were very excited to get a Maine Coon? That would have been nice to have, but Luna wasn’t a Maine Coon. All her paperwork said DMH which means she was a plain old, yet beautiful, Domestic Medium Haired cat. That’s like taking a Toyota Camry and slapping a Lamborghini badge on it before putting it up for sale.
The long story short is that Luna was a lemon. The sweetest of lemons who loved to snuggle on the couch while we watched TV. She stank, but we loved her. She was broken, but I have a special place in my heart for broken things (see my motorcycle projects). She needed love, so we brought her home and gave it to her. But neither Ellie nor I could afford to treat everything we found out was wrong with her (this was even before I found out about my tax situation). Luna, very sadly, needed to go back.
I was very hesitant about this. Yes, when Ellie adopted Luna, she signed a piece of paper stating if she couldn’t take care of her for any reason then she would return her to Forever Homes. But at the same time, Forever Homes didn’t take care of her like she needed. I’m suspecting the previous owner’s “unfortunate circumstance” was that all this about Luna came up slowly and didn’t treat it then the vet said you need to treat it and they couldn’t afford it. So when Luna was returned, Debbie was likely fed some story (what I don’t know) and believed it. Maybe it was the truth, but whatever it was Debbie didn’t put nursing Luna back to health as a priority. Part of this might have been incompetent vet students looking at her (you get exactly what you pay for). I don’t know. There was a lot about Forever Homes that I really am wary of and I didn’t want to send Luna back there even if Ellie had signed a piece of paper. This broken thing pushed her way into my heart (through the murmur I was diagnosed with as a child) and she stuck there. She deserved only the best.
But Ellie looked around and all the no-kill shelters in the area (which Luna definitely needed), were not accepting new cats at the time. There were no other options but to return Luna. With a heavy heart, I drove Ellie and Luna back down to Forever Homes in Harvard, IL to a Debbie who promised to get her better. I said next to nothing during the exchange because I didn’t want to accidentally start feeding Debbie a piece of my mind and then let that get out of control.
I truly hope that Luna gets healthy again. I hope that maybe Debbie will let Ellie know and maybe we could adopt her again (though I could see us being written off as potential adopters because we couldn’t care for her the first time around–which is a really gray area if you ask me). If she does, I’ll take her in a murmur filled heartbeat.