It is truly amazing how fast you can go from having a cat who seems perfectly healthy to one you have to let go just days later. Minh, our orange guy, fourteen years old, was born outside and a neighbor was feeding him when he was a kitten but didn’t want to keep him. We took him in when he was about six months old. You’d never know he was born outside – he was always super friendly (except to our cat Gilda, who he tormented.) When he was about a year or so old he developed stomatitis, an auto-immune condition that left him basically allergic to his teeth, and after trying antibiotics and steroids for months, we took him to a dental specialist who removed all his teeth. They told us there was an 80% chance the procedure would be curative; luckily we were in the 80%, and until just a few days ago, Minh has been one the healthiest cats we’ve ever had. At his annual exam just a couple months ago the vet said he didn’t look 14 and that all of his blood and other work was perfect.
Minh was a very confident cat and did well with most of our cats throughout the years. Gilda, who is afraid of her shadow, is the only one he tormented….I think he was okay with all the others over the years, and there were a lot. Minh was not a fan of the dogs, but tolerated them if they left him alone. Gracie, however, was Minh’s tormentor and chased him whenever she got the chance. Over time, however, Minh seemed to grow bored with that game and paid Gracie less attention when Gracie got obnoxious. Minh would just leave the room. (Gracie, too, had some training and learned to stop chasing on request from me.)
Minh liked being up on things. Kitchen counters, breakfast bar, bookshelves, window seats, cat trees…whatever he could find. In the last few years, especially, he hung out on the breakfast bar where Marley’s computer is and he would sit there while Marley worked on emails or whatever. He liked people and liked being around people a lot. He was not particularly worried about anyone who came to the house. He was one of the cats people would tend to see, and he might even come visit.
He also loved food. Loved. He was more like a dog on that count than he was cat-like. Probably from being born outside, he never missed a meal, and had we not locked him in one of the bathrooms to eat each meal, he would have finished in a flash and gone searching for whatever else wasn’t eaten elsewhere. He would often eat so fast that he threw up, and many years ago I switched him to a food that is thick and hard to eat quickly to slow him down a bit, and he would throw up a couple times a month instead of all the time. But the second meal prep began, you could count on Minh to be present, winding around your legs and doing whatever he could to hurry the process along.
He was a very personable cat, a pleasure mostly. He had his challenges with peeing around, though that got better in later years, even if it didn’t go away entirely. That aside, he was a really gorgeous and sweet guy.
Last Monday he didn’t eat his dinner. Minh never skips a meal so this was noticed, but we’ve had a couple of the fosters with a little kitty flu and we thought perhaps he’d gotten that. I took him to the vet and got him Cerenia for nausea and fluids on Wednesday, after he skipped both meals Tuesday. That had no effect, so brought him back on Thursday, and by this time he had a small fever. The vet put him on antibiotics, more anti-nausea meds, an appetite stimulant, and some pain relief. By late Friday I noticed that his abdomen looked a bit distended and I made a follow up vet appointment for first thing Monday morning (today if you’re reading this 11/24). Saturday he didn’t look great, and I gave him fluids at home in the morning. He didn’t eat all week, so I was hand feeding him whatever I could get down him, which wasn’t a lot. Saturday afternoon I was very concerned and we finally decided to take him to the emergency vet. He had a temperature of 104.7 by that time (top of normal is 102) and he was just down and out. They took radiographs and his abdomen was full of fluid, more than a pound. On Wednesday he weighed 10 lbs or so and by Saturday, without eating all week, he was 11 pounds 7 ounces, all of that fluid in his abdomen. They did blood work, and the vet was pretty sure this was an aggressive cancer, most likely lymphoma, and we made the decision to let him go and not have to suffer anymore.
Minh was a very sweet, elegant guy, probably happy to have been rescued from the streets and have a cushy home to hang in. He spent a lot of time on laps and just generally hanging around us…a happy guy for the most part. He was a quiet and confident cat, easy to love most days. We brought his body home with us after the emergency vet helped him cross that rainbow bridge, and let the other animals in the house sniff and know what happened, and he is resting in our unheated attic for now. In the morning I’ll take him to our vet to be cremated and his ashes will join those of so many of our other pets who went before him.
With Bodhi passing the final day of August, and the 2 week old kitten I had to euthanize in October, and now Minh, we are hoping not to have to do more of this soon. It has been a lot. The house feels a little empty without Minh today, and we miss him. I hope he finds some of his housemates on the other side of the rainbow bridge and there are many happy reunions there. Rest in peace, Minh. Thank you for gracing our lives for fourteen years.