K is for Kitties

In today’s continuation of the A-Z Challenge, I give you:

K is for Kitties

I’ve known for 26 years that children weren’t for me. I can tolerate them when I must, but most under the age of twelve, irritate me like broken glass rubbed into my skin. I’ve lucked out that my husband shares these feelings, and for the nineteen years we’ve been together, we’ve shared our time with “furry” children instead.

Scientific discoveries in the past decade have shown that pet owners live longer, healthier lives. They’ve also shown that many animals are far more intelligent than we knew. Many have and can sense the emotions of humans. None of this is a surprise to me (or my husband). Probably not to other pet owners either.

After fostering many kitties and feeding a fair number of feral cats, we adopted two one-year-old brothers, O’Riley and O’Malley, back in 2007.

Riley and Malley in the Sink

Riley & Malley. Age: 4 months old.

These two brothers have one of the closest relationships I’ve ever seen in cats. So much so that I often have nightmares about what we’ll do when one of them passes. I know how that story plays out in most cases, and it isn’t a positive one. Both kitties have huge structural frames. Riley is mostly a tabby with some tortoiseshell thrown in. Malley shares tail stripes with his brother, but other than that, is a tan British Shorthair (think Cheeseburger cat, though this wasn’t apparent until he was older).

Malley and Riley, age 8

Malley & Riley. Age: 8 years old.

Riley developed pancreatitis six years ago and suffers from severe anxiety. Malley has asthma. (He even has his own daily use inhaler.) Upon moving to Seattle, both Riley and Malley suffered from severe bladder & kidney stones, which required surgery and a year’s worth of medicine and prescription food. Both are prone to crystals, so we’re ever on the lookout for relapse.

Five years ago, we adopted our first kitten–a Bombay spasticat we named DiNozzo after a character from NCIS. He was 3 months old when we went to the no-kill shelter looking for a kitten. When the assistant opened the cage of kittens, DiNozzo leapt out and crawled up my husband’s frame until he’d reached the crook of his neck. Then he wrapped his arms in my husband’s long hair and fell asleep. We knew which kitten we wanted to take home.

DiNozzo as a kitten.

DiNozzo. Age: 3 months old.

DiNozzo has had a life full of medical issues. He came to us with what was first diagnosed as feline herpes, which presents in cats as an upper respiratory infection. His eyes would swell shut for weeks, and he’d get congested. After placing him on lysine, the herpes went into remission.

At 7 months old, he developed a weak joint in his leg at the ankle. He had an MRI and was treated by three specialists. He suffered through 4 months of being in a cast, which he continually chewed off. After 5 months treatment, he suddenly healed. The experts chalked it up to a genetic defect.

Just over a year ago, DiNozzo developed a nasal infection that wouldn’t go away. Not anti-inflammatories, nor allergy meds, nor steroids would kick it. He shoots long strings of snot out of his nose (like an infant) and coughs a lot. Two months later, he began having seizures, upwards of 15-20 a day.

DiNozzo has his own internalist and neurologist and has had an MRI, spinal tap, blood work, a myriad of tests, and a nasal endoscopy to rule our various tumors and cancers. He’s tried every feline anti-seizure med on the market, run the gambit with all the antibiotics available for felines, and has finally been tested for feline herpes, which he apparently never had.

Many pet owners would give up or put an animal down rather than spend large sums of money on lifetime treatments, but for us, our kitties are our family. They are as important to us as any human child would be.

Some folks would think us crazy for these ideas, but I don’t think they know what it’s like to have a small kitten curl up against your neck and nuzzle with your heartbeat until he falls asleep. Fast forward to that same kitty grown up, and then falling asleep each night curled up against your chest. It’s a feeling akin to what mother’s feel holding their children.

Nothing we’ve tried with DiNozzo has worked. His seizures are down to 5-10 a day with the meds he’s on, but every time he sneezes (due to his nasal infection), things get worse. But we’ve not given up. If I wouldn’t give up on a child, I’ll be damned if I’m going to give up on my kitties.

Malley says don't work!

Malley prevents work from being accomplished. Again.

We’re currently trying a very, very strong NSAID anti-inflammatory that requires a blood test every two weeks to make sure we’re not killing his liver & kidneys. It appears to be doing…something, so we’re cautiously optimistic.

While my kitties take great pride in sprawling across the keyboard to prevent any work from being done, it’s a worthwhile exchange for the tail wags and chirrups they given when I get home, or the licks they give when they’re curled up in my lap.

My kitties are my family. They are precious to me, and I will enjoy these special needs cats for as long as they are here with me.


This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Every day (except Sundays) in the month of May, I’ll be posting about people, places, books, games, and other things that influence me as a writer or add a certain magic to my life. Join me in April as we explore a Hodge-Podge of Influences & Wayward Treks through the Fantastical.

Read more A-Z Challenge Posts here.

4 comments
LeetahBegallie
LeetahBegallie

Such cute kitties!
I love the story of DiNozzo choosing you and your husband rather than you choosing him! :P
All three of them are lucky to have such caring and loving fur-parents :)