amethyst73: (tazz)
[personal profile] amethyst73
Tazz was one of our first two cats.  He and his brother Bernie were included in the package when we bought our house in 2002.  We had always wanted cats, and the previous owners didn’t have room for them where they were moving, so we took them on.  The two boys lived outside for the first few years, where they played in the yard, hung out on the deck, and took shelter in the garage when it rained.  Tazz had a buddy in his outdoor, a little black kitty who later joined our household.  We’d often come home to find Tazz and Billie in the front yard, Billie intently doing whatever she was doing and Tazz watching closely.

About the same time that we brought Bernie into the house to care for his sun-induced carcinoma, we brought Tazz in too.  At first Tazz was not happy at being inside, and would tell us repeatedly, at length, and at high volume just how displeased he was at the whole situation.  But he figured out pretty quickly that being inside at night was considerably more comfortable than being outside, and he adapted quickly.
Tazz had a number of quirks that we never completely understood.  If he was sitting on the table or the floor, he would make sure to sit on something else.  (Literally, if there was a single piece of paper on the table and nothing else, he’d sit on the paper just for the sake of being on top of something.  We started warning the vet to pick his chart up off the table when we visited, otherwise Tazz would inevitably sit on that.)  When we were done showering, he loved to jump in the tub and lick at the remaining puddles of water.  He didn’t like my singing; I’d know my practicing was going well if Tazz pointedly got up and left the room. Like most cats, he liked to jump on the kitchen counters and into the window area above the sink to supervise when we were doing yard work, or just to lie in the sun.  We discovered one morning that he liked Scottish oat scones as much as we did, and had sampled half of the freshly-made batch overnight!  And while there are many cats who have been immortalized on the Internet, I’d like to think that Tazz’s contribution is a bit unusual: he added his voice to my recording of “The Owl and the Pussycat” that I did for Librivox.

When I’m sick, I sleep out on the living room futon.  Before falling asleep, Tazz and I would have extended discussions as to who would get how much and what portion of the pillow.  I don’t think he ever spent more than an hour or so at my head, but it was rather comforting to have a soft orange kitty purring into my ear while he did.  During the day while I was home sick, I’d pull the blanket up over the pillow and sheets to create The Biggest Kitty Bed In The World.  Once, Tazz sat on the futon with nobody else around, and I was able to snap a picture that Tazz could use if he ever made the cover of Time.  I’ve used that photo as my avatar on LJ and G+ ever since.

At various points, Tazz was diagnosed with gallstones and a mass on his pancreas - the second of which was initially worrisome and earned him the right to sit on my lap at dinnertime whenever he wanted to, and to get leftover bits of tuna if we were having baked potatoes with tuna and cheese.  The mass turned out to be nothing terrible, but Tazz enjoyed his continued dinner privileges.

Tazz’s biggest medical issue was that in the fall of 2013, he did something that caused his back legs to work less well. At first they couldn’t bear weight, as far as we could tell.  Once he’d adapted to whatever he did to himself, his back end bore weight but had a poor sense of balance.  As a result, it would often splay to one side or the other as he moved along, giving him a tippy sidewinder-like motion as he moved from place to place.  And occasionally his back end would just fall over with a thump, after which he’d pause a moment, get himself picked up, and continue on his way.  His ability to adapt to this new motion was really pretty remarkable.

It was his back end that betrayed him eventually.  In the last few weeks of his life, his hind legs were able to function less and less well, and he moved around less and less.  There was a brief period when he was somehow still getting up onto the futon with the other kitties despite finding it hard to move about; I suspected the other cats of hoisting him up with a secret block-and-tackle affair.  And eventually, even that came to a stop.  As far as we could tell, he largely stayed put on his pillow by the kitchen door, and we became very grateful for the absorbent pads that get used for puppy house-training.  We noticed that he was eating and drinking less.  He still loved laps and petting though.

Wednesday 1/14, Tazz got a tremendous burst of energy and hauled himself all around the house using pretty much the power of his front legs alone.  As I spotted him on the living room rug (where he hadn’t been for what seemed like ages), I got a sense that he was checking off an item on his bucket list.  That night, we found that his back toes had been curled under his feet the whole day and had been rubbed raw by being dragged all over the place.  We figured that he should get them cleaned up at the vet’s the next day.  Tazz and Fluffy, another of our cats, spent the night together in the garage as usual.

The next morning, much to my horror, I didn’t see Tazz anywhere in the open spaces in the little room - and he had never hidden before. I called his name several times, got Fluffy inside, then came back with a flashlight to see if he’d hidden back behind some old cabinets.  He’d come out in the intervening minutes, fortunately, but his poor back feet were in sad shape.  He’d also been developing a tremor over the previous week or so, which was worse than usual that morning, and he didn’t take much comfort from being on my lap.  I took him to the vet, who was able to get his feet cleaned up and bandaged, but she noted that his heart rate was about half its normal rate and that his paws were cold.  She recommended keeping him warm, and opined that putting him to sleep the next day rather than changing the bandages that were encasing his hind feet would be doing him a kindness.  I thought about that a lot during the day, and told Peter about it when I picked him up that evening.  Peter paused, then said “Let’s ask Tazz about it tonight.”

Tazz let us know the instant we walked in the door.  He was lying on the floor, clearly unable to lift himself up, and he cried when he saw us.  We were able to take him to the vet shortly thereafter and have him put out of his obvious misery.  I don’t have much experience with putting cats to sleep, but Tazz’s passing was the quietest I’ve ever seen: very quick, and with no twitching or anything in response to the injection.  It was obviously the right thing to do, and I will always be grateful to him for making the decision and the process so easy for us.
Thank you, Tazz, for teaching us how to be kitty parents.  You were an awesome, amazing, adaptable kitty, and we will always love you.
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