Monday, April 25, 2011

Bucky Boy

I've tried to blog numerous times in the last 3 weeks.
Every time leaves me in a heartsick pile of grievous pain.

But I know I would be completely remiss if I did not write this memorial blog to my loyal and loving Bucky. I owe it to him for all the joy he brought into my life. I can't imagine my home without my boy, my baby. Being a very special needs kitty from the get go made me bond with him even more than any other of my loved pets. I could relate to him, both of us being diabetic and insulin dependent. In the end, it was the wretched diabetes that lead to his decline in recent months and ultimately, dying in my arms of heart failure.

My favorite photo of Bucky

After Ziggy passed away in 1999, we said 'no more kitties.' We wanted to travel, and not having a pet to care for while away for long periods of time, would make things easier.

in early Dec 2000, Jen got a frantic phone call from her friend Tara at work. She worked in a large office park next to a very busy mall. On her lunch break, a commotion of people gathered in the parking lot. A litter of very tiny kittens were left in the planter, in the middle of the lot. People gathered them up, Tara included. She brought the tiny black and white kitten to her desk and found a box to put him in. She immediately thought of Jen since she knew we were cat lovers. "What do I do with him?" Tara asked. Jen was at my home when she called, so we offered to drive over to her work and care for the baby until she got off work.

When we looked in the box, there was Bucky so tiny cowering in the box corner. I knew immediately that he was too young to be away from his mother. We quickly put the box in the car and drove to my vet. I knew he didn't have long if we didn't act fast to feed him. The vet said he appeared to be 3 weeks old, weighed 5 oz and needed a special kitten formula, fed from a bottle every 2 hours around the clock.

Tara knew she couldn't fullfil the kitten's needs, living alone and working full time. I offered to care for him until he was weened. Tara said she would keep him after that time passed. Little did we know, that Bucky had other plans.

He soon learned how to eat from the bottle, biting the tip of the bottle nipple off so he could get more formula faster. LIke clockwork, he cried about every 2 hours to eat. He slept in bed with Terry and me, curling up next to Terry who threw off more body heat than me. He grew and grew, and got under our skin. He explored our home, and played like a little wild lion. He slept in Terry's office chair as he worked and sat on his desk, fascinated by the computer keyboard and moving mouse. The days turned to weeks and there would be no way we could give him back to Tara when the time came, she knew too. We named him after the smart alec cat from the comic strip 'Get Fuzzy.' Yep, Bucky was home.

As he began to transition to going outside, he befriended the neighbors and their pets. He loved to play with the other cats and followed dogs out for their walks. He actually intimidated many leashed dogs, as they turned their heads to watch a cat following them. He soon 'owned' the street, welcoming himself to everyone's yards, but they didn't mind. They all liked Bucky and affectionately called him "The Hooligan."

About the time Bucky turned 6, we went on a month long vacation. When we returned, Josh mentioned to us that he had noticed Bucky drinking more water than normal. After a few days of observation, his drinking and peeing escalated to non stop. I knew by his actions, that he could be diabetic. I took him to the vet and it was confirmed. His blood sugar was over 500!!

The vet asked us if we wanted to put him down. He explained that most people don't have a clue how to monitor a cat with diabetes or the time to do it. Also cats usually didn't do well once diagnosed and usually don't last a year. Of course I didn't want to put him down, I was more than willing to take care of him for as long as it took. If me, as a diabetic, couldn't care for him, nobody could.

Bucky seemed to do fine with his diabetes. If we noticed him starting to drink and pee a lot, I'd gradually increase his insulin. Over the years his dose went from 1 1/2 units to 5 units, twice a day. I knew how to gradually increase it as the disease progressed and his insulin resistance increased. The vet was always pleased how well Bucky fared. Bucky was a regular at the vet, spending days on end having his blood sugar monitored all day at the vets periodically and he hated it.

We had noticed in the last 6 months that Bucky was really slowing down . . . not wanting to jump, walking slow, wanting to sleep more, just generally lethargic. He had an infection and surgery on his forehead a couple months ago, and he slowed even more after that episode. His breathing became heavier and we knew that he probably didn't have much more time.

Saturday evening April 9, his breathing became labored. He didn't seem like he had any pain, but was uncomfortable. I called the after hours vet at 8pm and they said I could bring him in, but that they would just monitor him in a cage overnight until the vet came in Sunday morning. I knew I couldn't do that unless he got really bad. He would be much more comfortable staying at home.

I stayed up with him all night, comforting him. Neither of us got any sleep. I could hear liquid in his lungs and he couldn't lay down anymore without gasping for breath. He sat up all night with me trying to make him comfortable.

At 8am Sunday, we took him in knowing that it was the end. The vet xrayed him and his lungs were full of liquid, he was experiencing congestive heart failure. I held him while they got things ready for him to be put down. But the stress was too much for him, he died in my arms before they could ever give him the shot. It was the saddest moment I have ever witnessed. I still have nightmares about it. I think it would have been much better had he gotten the shot and went peacefully. :(

I will always remember how he loved me unconditionally even though I was the one who took him to the vet, bathed him, shaved him, gave him the majority of the shots and other medication, and all the other things he hated. He still wanted to sit on my lap in the evenings for his daily dose of love. He followed me around the house as my shadow, to see what I was doing. He waited for me at the bottom of the stairs, looking up in anticipation to see when I would appear, to come downstairs. He knew my words, "Good boy" and would respond by contentedly closing his eyes, knowing he was. He head butted and rubbed my legs, owning me as if to say, "You are my Mommy."

Bucky forever changed our lives . . . we will always love and miss him.


CowTown said...

Oh, I'm sorry for your loss with Bucky! He seems like an amazing kitty! :(

Just me said...

Oh, Jodi I'm so sorry. I know how much Bucky meant to you. Obviously you meant a lot to him too.

It is so hard to lose a pet. I lost my baby dog last November. We were at the vet's office, and it was not an easy passing either. Very violent in fact. I too have nightmares about it. I'm so sorry you are hurting. (((hugs)))