The story of a short life...|
This is no story with a happy ending. In fact, it's a sad story, and nothing I'm really proud of. But we all live and learn, I guess...
As long as I remember, I always wanted a cat. As a child, I begged my parents to get me a little kitty, but their answer has always been "no". There were ferals in the backyard I took care of, but it was not the same. I wanted a kitty to live with me, that would be my friend...
1984, when I was 18, I became depressive, and it lasted 6 months. It was the most horrible thing I've ever experienced, and after that, life has never been the same. Little did my parents (and everyone else) know about the nature of depression, and they thought it would cheer me up to finally get me a kitten! And of course it did, for a while, and even though it was no cure, it was at least something positive, something to take care of while the rest of my world was falling apart.
So it was that Aysche came into my life.
It was September, not the perfect time to get a kitten, but there was this newspaper add... A woman in Kassel was selling Persian babies... We arranged a meeting and when we showed up, there was only one kitten left - the cutest tiramisu-colored furball you have ever seen! At that time, she must have been 11 or 12 weeks old, ready to move to a new home... And so, Aysche became my little fur kid. Her name is Turkish by the way, actually spelled Ayşe. I had just read a book about a Turkish girl called Aysche, and I thought that name would be fitting for a little Persian girl as well.
We all fell in love with her immediately! She was a cute, lovable little being, never grumpy or destructive. She was just happy when she was cuddled and loved!
It was still a difficult time for my family. I was over my depression meanwhile, but in March 1985, my father has been diagnosed with cancer. It was especially bad for my mother, and I think Aysche became her closest friend those days, she comforted her every night she came home from hospital.
But it's been also the time we noticed that something was wrong with Aysche. Often, she would hide now, and she developed bloody eczema on her skin. We brought her to the vet, who was clueless. She got a treatment for her eczema, and as we noticed she was licking the concrete walls, we supposed she was lacking mineral nutrients, and we got her food supplements and vitamines. With those, she seems to feel better and became more active. But as the summer proceeded, we sometimes witnessed her falling down from the window sill were she loved to sit, and she became clumsy.
In October 1985, I moved to my own place. After the depression I suffered a year ago, the relationship with my parents was deeply shaken, and the situation with my father's disease didn't make it any easier. They wanted me to move out, and so I did. Even though I knew it would break my mother's heart, I took Aysche with me. At least this was a reason for my mother to show up at my new place now and then, otherwise I think she wouldn't have...
But Aysche's condition decreased after we've moved. It didn't take long and she wasn't able anymore to jump on a chair, she tried to lift herself up with her front legs... It's been pitiful and heartbreaking to watch. Also, her skin problems got worse, she lost weight, and her skin looked yellowish. But due to her long fur, you couldn't see how skinny she was. But one time we had to bath her, and when her fur was wet, it was easy to see she was only skin and bones - except for a big, balloon-sized belly.
Looking back, I cannot understand why I wasn't more alarmed by what I saw and witnessed! Even now, I feel guilty and bad about it. I always told myself "She's still a young cat, and she just cannot be that sick, and don't they say that cats have 9 lives?". Oh, how terribly wrong I was!! Okay, it was 1985, and little did we know about fatal infectious diseases in cats at that time! After all, she had gotten her shots as a kitten, so what can be wrong? I was either in denial, or I was just totally unexperienced and naive - or both!
1986 came, and things got worse. Aysche showed some weird behavior now, started sleeping in her litter box, and pooped and peed on the floor. It was annoying and - from my today's point of view - most alarming, but still, I tried to calm down myself: After all, she was still eating, so she cannot be seriously ill - that's what I thought.
Until that dreadful evening of March 7, 1986: Aysche was eating, and suddenly broke down crying in front of her bowl. I called my parents to bring me to the vet, and they did... The vet examined her, and this time she had no doubt: FIP, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, most likely combined with Feline Leukemia. At that time, I knew absolutely nothing about these things, and my vet admitted this was only the second case of FIP she had seen at that point.
I learnt that the disease was always fatal, and that there was no cure. Seeing my Aysche so miserable, I decided to help her to the Rainbow Bridge the same night. I was heartbroken, and another thing I'm not proud of is that I couldn't even stay with her when she was PTS. She purred on the examination table when we kissed her good bye, and only minutes later all her suffering and pain ended... She was only 21 months old.
Even these days, my memories of Aysche are still overshadowed by the knowledge that I have terribly failed as a cat owner! I know, I was young, I was naive, I was unexperienced, and people didn't know much about these diseases in the 80s... but all this is no excuse! I find a little bit of comfort in the thought that even if her illness would have been diagnosed at an earlier state, there wouldn't have been a cure. But maybe we wouldn't have let her suffer for so long. I really hope Aysche has forgiven me up there at the Bridge, and remembers the good times we had together.
With the knowledge I have today, all her symptoms are making perfect sense! The feline Leukemia broke out when she was half a year old. The hiding, and the exzema, are typical for that, as well as the fact that she felt temporarily better when she got her vitamines. Together with the Feline Leukemia, FIP often comes as an additional disease, as the immune system is already weak. Stress is another factor for the mutation of the FECV-virus to the fatal form, the FIPV, so it is most likely that this happened after we've moved. Now, in 2005, I know a lot about these things, but back in the 80s, I was absolutely clueless!
I had cats after Aysche, - and still have - and I swore to myself to be more careful and more responsible. These days, even if my cats show only the slightest symptoms of illness or discomfort, they go to see the vet, just to be on the safer side. And I would like to encourage everyone with a pet not to hesitate when he feels there's something wrong. It's better to be safe than sorry. Make sure your pet gets vaccinated. Use sources like the internet to inform yourself, and go and hear a second opinion if you think it's necessary. This is what I have learnt from my time with Aysche. It's too late for her, but not too late for all the kitties coming after her. Never again, I want a beloved fur kid suffer that much only because I'm blind...