Regular readers might recall back in April, when our beautiful cat Zakk went missing after our big move. You may also recall, that upon his joyous return 18 days later, I mentioned that he was on antibiotics for an infected foot. Well, that infected foot, soon turned to four and was diagnosed as Plasma Cell Pododermatitis – also known as Pillow Paw, a painful result of the failure of the immune system.
Zakky was given steroids, which calmed the condition down temporarily, but it came back time and time again. Weekly visits to the Vet meant that he became the perfect patient. Doctor Jess would open his cage, lift him out and he would head-butt her, while purring loudly and walking all over her keyboard as she tried to use her computer – just like at home. After a while, I no longer needed to hold him still while she put the needle in. She would hold his neck and he knew it was time to sit down, and when it was done, he’d continue his big show of affection.
He was screened and cleared for feline AIDS. He was put under anesthetic and biopsied. He was confined inside and still managed to tear his stitches. It was decided he suffered from an unknown autoimmune disease. His feet would continue to cause him trouble, and he would develop other complications over time. The treatment would involve long term steroids use, which would damage his kidneys and liver, and had already begun to lose effectiveness. A few days before Christmas, we decided to just give him one last big dose of steroids, let him have fun painlessly exploring, playing and generally being a cat, with the understanding that when he started deteriorating again, we’d end it before it was too painful. As the doctor took the needle out, she told me that it should hopefully see him through to February. It didn’t. Yesterday we said goodbye to Zakky.
I’m sad in quite a profound way, but the shock and anguish that I felt with Angus’s sudden violent departure is not there, for which I’m grateful. We knew it was coming, and the kids were prepared. I’m glad he was able to go with dignity, with me rubbing his ears in that special way he loved and the doctor whispering gentle, soothing words to him. We buried him near his favourite spot by the fence, where there the iron had been pulled back and the gap created a kitty shortcut. After the gap had been closed, Zakky had taken to sleeping there, as if he just went to the spot out of habit.
Zakky was not a cat to dish out affection everywhere, when he gave you love, it was on his terms. Which was probably a good thing because his love was intense. When it was cuddle time, it was Cuddle Time Or Else. Rubs and scratches were to be contained to the neck/head only, ears were to be rubbed firmly and only one side at a time. Touching his belly was strictly forbidden and picking him up was nothing less than an act of war. But cuddles at bedtime were the best. If I lay down on my stomach, he’d climb on my back and knead for several minutes before curling up to sleep. It’s the closest thing to a massage I’ve had in years. I’m going to miss that.
Zakky, from ridiculously ugly, alien-faced, flea-ridden, abused beginnings, to the most handsome kitty on the block. You were there for three changes of address, a marriage, 2 children, 5 other cats, 2 birds and a multitude of rats. You’ve survived being hit by a car, falling in a drum of oil, being trapped in another car with no water for 9 days, and missing in a bitter winter for 18, but this time you’re not coming back, and that’s ok. I think you deserve your rest.