Few people know this, but the center of the universe is a 10 lb. tabby cat named Kristen Ann.
She was a gift to me from my ex. He bought her from the Animal Protective League for $40. For that price she was spayed and had all her shots taken care of. From the first moment she was placed in my arms that fateful Christmas Eve in 2002, I was in love. She was soft and warm, with huge yellow eyes and little white toes on her front paws and when you held her she purred like crazy. 1153 called her the Mitten. She quickly became the fifth child in our house, and everyone spoiled her like mad.
Almost immediately, I think it was even that very first day, I became a complete basket case about her well being. I loved her so much, but I struggled to enjoy her company. Every time she curled up to me, or slept on my stomach, or looked at me with those HUGE kitty eyes begging for treats, all I could think of was "What if something happened to her? What would I do without her? What if she gets sick?" Everyone told me I was ridiculous, and I was. When I was younger I could never understand how people got so wigged out over their mangy animals. I'd never had a pet before. Kristen was my first, and the first time I laid eyes on her I understood.
In February I had to drug her to get her to Chicago because she hates the cage, and the car, and a 6-hour ride surrounded by both like so many nesting dolls was not going to go well without some dope. So I took her to the vet for her annual a few months early to make sure she was healthy enough for a tranquilizer. My vet in Cleveland declared "this is one incredibly healthy cat!" We packed up our lives and came here, and my amazing and resilient kitty settled in much more quickly than I had anticipated. All was going well.
On Sunday, I was sitting in my bed writing some lyrics while Kristen sat next to me having a bath. When I glanced up at her she was licking her arm, and that's when I saw it: an angry red rash, the size of a nickel on the inside of her arm. She had obviously been licking it like crazy for a while, because all the hair from around it was missing. I FREAKED OUT. She has skin cancer. She has a lesion. They're going to have to amputate. No, they'll just put her down. I'm a horrible kitty mom. How could I have not noticed this? She's going to keel over dead by morning. Jim and Heather worked on calming me down. It's just a little rash, cats get them all the time. The vet will give her some ointment and it will go away. It hasn't been there that long, it only looks that bad because she keeps licking it. I finally conceded it probably wasn't that bad, but continued to horde the guilt, because I'm shitty like that.
On Wednesday I took her to the vet. My vet oohed and ahhed over how pretty she is (because she is!) and how well behaved, and how sweet. She looked at the rash, said it wasn't a big deal, suggested I might want to have her teeth cleaned in a few months and listened to her heart.
And listened some more.
Finally: "Did you know your cat has a heart murmur?"
WHAT!?!?!?!?! I JUST had her checked not three months ago and was assured she was the healthiest cat alive. What heart murmur? The vet explained to me that she had a level 3 heart murmur on a scale of 1-6, and that the fact the she was checked three months ago and had no problems then was worrisome. A heart murmur could be just a ventricle that's not closing entirely, not a big deal, or a sign of a very serious heart condition for which she'll need to be medicated the rest of her life. How do we know which is which? We don't. Not without an echocardiogram, x-rays, ultrasound, blood work....
It was like my worst nightmare realized. I'm completely convinced she's going to die any minute. It's obviously my fault as well. Despite Jim and Heather and the vet all insisting that anything wrong with her is genetic, I KNOW that the truth is that I caused this by stressing her out to much and moving her across the country, away from 1153 and her home and everything she knew. The vet says that because she's asymptomatic, if there is a problem, we've caught it early enough that she should have a long and healthy life. But I know she's just saying that to keep me from panicking. The angel of my heart is going to croak and leave me here all alone and there's nothing I can do about it.
If you've never had a pet, don't get one. They break your heart.
Tests are forthcoming. I'll keep you all posted.