Gus

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The Early Years:

Gus was purchased as a tiny kitten from a broker in Crest California during March, 1991.  He is your garden variety "Apple Head" Lynx-Point Siamese and was the last kitten of his litter to be purchased.  Like many new born kittens who do not receive proper veterinarian care, Gus showed all the signs of neglect from head to tail.

Aside from his tiny size, it was obvious Gus had been weaned too early when he began to suckle on our eyelids and earlobes.  He continues with this behavior today as a full grown, adult house cat.  From a human's perspective, there is nothing more disquieting than being roused out of a good night sleep by an eighteen pound pussycat that needs an ear fix at four in the morning.

 

The Formative Years:

After receiving quality veterinarian care and placed on a proper diet, Gus began to grow into a happy, playful kitten.  He was a natural at using the litter box but never caught onto the part where you turn around and bury the stuff.  Gus excelled when it came to learning by example.  He would observe how the other cat behaved (except when it came to burying poop) and then mimic her action.  With reckless abandon, he once tried to leap from the kitchen counter to the top of the refrigerator.  The only lesson learned here was physics, something about a body in motion..., impingement, and gravity.

As Gus grew in size and strength he quickly learned how to leap successfully from one surface to another.  He also learned how to open doors by reaching up and pulling on the handles, but his greatest feat was opening the refrigerator.  Never again would he have to wait for a human to tell him when or what he was going to be served.  Until this point in his life, a self-served meal was a loaf of bread or a package of macaroni pulled from the pantry.

 

The Formidable Years:

As Gus made the transition from a kitten towards adolescence, he began to lose friends in the household.  First, he began abusing Cindy, his lifelong friend and companion, by playing too roughly.  Abby & Sassy were becoming increasingly annoyed with his behavior and no longer would let Gus visit their cage.  The next in line to feel the onslaught of claws and fang was his loving human companion Liz as she traveled through the house with one of our recently adopted strays.  The student now becomes the teacher and the topic of that days lesson was "no more cats".  In all, Gus has punished Liz on at least three separate occasions for one reason or another, and with each attack came a visit to Urgent Care.  Gus' handiwork was beginning to attract attention from the medical staff at Scripps Clinic; and the fine folks from Infectious Disease Control were beginning to scrutinize his behavior.  It was time to teach Gus a lesson.

 

The Mature Years:

Today, Gus is a full grown evil tempered house cat.  With the exception of the planned, supervised outings, he spends his life indoors where there is plenty of food and entertainment.  Periodically, the neighborhood tomcats visit the property to do what intact cats do best.  This is one activity that seems to infuriate Gus beyond belief.  He will quickly go on the offensive, patrolling the house from room to room, with cries so loud you can hear him half a block away.

For the most part, Gus manages to co-exist with everyone in the house as long as he's able to maintain his position as leader.  The latest introduction of an iguana called Booger, led to a slight shift in the pecking order.  One swift, solid whack from Booger's tail was enough to convince Gus that life in this house is about to change.  Gus occasionally follows Booger around the house but keeps a safe distance in case the lizard goes on the offensive.

 

The Senior Years:

Because of Gus' aggressive behavior toward other felines, he must remain isolated while Cindy and Kiki have full access to the house with the exception of our bedroom.  Liz and I often take turns visiting Gus, sometimes watching television, reading or just simply snuggling with him.  During the late afternoon or evening hours we will open our bedroom door to permit Gus access to the whole house, but only while supervised.  During these periods of parole, the girl cats generally head for safe ground to avoid Gus' ambush attacks.  Kiki usually takes to her pen where she feels secure and believes she can defend her territory.  Cindy, having shared living space with Gus since he was a kitten, knows many safe hiding places throughout the house and takes advantage of her superior instinct.

This is Gus' prime time, when he has the opportunity to explore his domain and show the other animals that he's the boss.  He moves from one room to the next, vocalizing his presence with loud trills and cries.  Of course, Booger pays little attention to Gus while he's making his rounds on patrol unless Gus violates his personal space; his personal space is anywhere within reach of a tail strike.  After Gus has completed his patrol and convinced everything is to his liking, he will begin to settle down and take up position on his old chair in the living room.

 

Medical Update:

Early Friday morning on February 11, 2005 Gus experienced a serious decline in his health.  All the signs were there when I went to bed at 2:00 in the morning but I dismissed them because Gus has never been known for exhibiting true catlike coordination.  Later in the morning he was making unusual thud noises as he tried to make his way from our bed to the floor, again I did not make the connection that he was having difficulty walking.  Later that day, while I make the rounds for dispersing medication and emptying litter boxes, he remained curled up in his blanket.  Again, I merely dismissed this as typical "leave me alone so I can get my beauty sleep" behavior.  From the first onset of trouble, when I went to bed, nearly twelve hours had passed before he displayed unmistakable signs that he was in serious trouble.

It wasn't until I opened our bedroom door for Gus to make his daily rounds that I realized he was taking an unusually long time to come running down the hallway to greet me.  I whistled twice (usually it only takes once) and he still did not make his way to greet me.  Just as I was getting ready to investigate the cause for the delay, he appeared at the edge of the bed and jumped to the floor.  It was his landing that suddenly made me aware he was in serious trouble.  Without missing a beat, he stood to the best of his ability and tried to run down the hallway and greet me like he had time and again.  With every two or three small steps, Gus would tumble out of control.  He refused to give up and continued his struggle down the hallway to the front door where I always greet him at the petting rug.  My heart sank in my chest because I knew right off that he was no longer the same healthy friend he appeared to be only the day before.  He did not cry out in pain as if he had sustained an injury, nor did he give up the struggle to greet me at the petting rug.

This was the first time I actually grabbed up one of our loving pets and began making tracks for the veterinarian without being told at least twice by my better half to do so.  Liz was on the phone while I was placing Gus into his carrier and making steps toward the door.  I was afraid for little Gus, unsure of what the doctor would find during the examination and afraid for myself, worried that my good buddy was critically ill and only the memories of fourteen years spent with a good friend would return home with me.

The doctors at Rancho San Carlos Pet Clinic examined Gus right away and knew that he would require treatment at the emergency hospital.  They made the necessary contacts and sent me on a mission.  Fortunately for us, both the veterinarian clinic and emergency hospital are close to home and easily accessible.  The emergency hospital is running a battery of tests, mostly to determine what is not causing the problem so the basics will not be overlooked.  Gus was left in their charge for overnight observation but the prognosis is, for now, to treat Little Gus as a stroke victim and the doctor will call us with more information in the morning.

This morning the doctor brought us up to date with their findings.  There appears to be some blood in his urine, likely an infection, but they don't believe this to be the underlying cause of his diminished health.  His blood pressure is extremely high and they are medicating Gus to bring that under control as quickly as possible.  The doctors are still waiting for the results of the final blood test , hopefully this will narrow the field of possible causes.  For now, they believe his condition is one of vascular origin which means he has possibly suffered a stroke.  He still cannot stand and walk normally.  Further tests are being conducted and I will continue to update Gus' status on his Website.  Right now, I must get ready to go pay him a visit so he knows he has not been abandoned.  Some would say why the big panic, he's only a cat... I tell you, he's not only a cat, he is Gus.

February 12, 2005:

Tonight Liz and I visited Gus at the Emergency Pet Hospital where he continues to be treated for his stroke.  He remains connected to an IV drip to keep him hydrated and medicated.  His blood pressure is continually monitored because it was seriously elevated when he was admitted.  Until our visit, he still has not eaten or taken liquids on his own, and can not be released unless he does so.  The good news is that during our visit, I managed to feed him slightly more than a tablespoon of wet cat food.  He even attempted to use the litter box but was unable to comfortably move into position.  Little Gus is having a rough time and I can't help but feel sad for my good friend.  Liz and I left Gus in good hands and our drive home was full of discussing modified accommodations at home to help him adapt to a different lifestyle.

February 13, 2005:

While Liz remained home, catching up on well deserved sleep, I snuck off to visit Gus.  I can't go a day without seeing my friend and hoping he will ride home with me.  The staff at the Emergency Pet Hospital arranged for me to visit Gus in one of their examination rooms.  They were very cordial and accommodating, checking in every twenty minutes or so with no hint of a time limit.  One technician brought in some of the food Liz and I left from the night before, hoping my presence would put him in the mood to eat.  Sad to say, Gus barely tasted the food and never touched it again for the duration of my visit.  The tech did inform me that Gus was urinating on his own and made every attempt to use the litter box.  Gus did appear to be standing more but was not able to walk or prevent himself from falling over.  While this might seem like an improvement over last night, he's still no further along than Friday afternoon, the first time I knew Gus was having serious problems.  The doctor stopped by later to bring me up to speed on his progress and to discuss tests scheduled for the following day.  She seemed confident that Gus will be ready to return Monday afternoon and we should start making changes to his living quarters.  Returning home to quiet, familiar surroundings should only improve his chances of a good life.  I sure miss Gus around the house.

February 17, 2005:

Last night we brought Gus home after visiting another specialist in Rancho Santa Fe who has determined, with a high degree of probability, that Gus did experience some form of vascular event.  Further examination using MRI will certainly provide a clearer picture but will hardly reveal anything in the form of treatment that will improve his condition.  We will keep Gus at home, provide him with a quiet and comfortable environment and let him live out his remaining years as comfortable as possible.

There wasn't much doubt that Gus recognized the house once we released him.  He wobbled around to the usual spots, in the usual order, that he has always visited in the past upon returning home.  We suspected that he might need his litter box modified so he could come and go with ease, but that does not appear to be the case; to our surprise, he manages very well.

Cindy and Kiki still have not noticed his diminished capacity, and they maintain a safe distance while he is free to roam the house.  I suppose Cindy will take notice soon that he's no longer capable of inflicting the damage that he once delivered with little effort.

Thank you for taking the time to visit and catch up on Little Gus' health.  I will periodically update this page to keep everyone informed.

March 02, 2005:

I'm happy to report that Gus' condition has been improving day by day.  It is slow, steady progress but a path in the right direction.  The doctors are still monitoring his blood pressure until they are convinced a proper dosage of medication has been prescribed.  The latest test results indicate the probability of another blood clot release is minimal and Gus' health should progressively improve from this day forward.

We are withholding nothing in the way of food, including forbidden wet food which he once consumed by the truckload.  For this, he shows his appreciation by exhaling his stinky cat breath in my face while he rests on my chest at bedtime.  He has not regained any weight lost from his stroke, but he appears to have leveled out at fifteen pounds.  This is particularly good news since he's been eating more on his own and will not require the use of a feeding tube.

We're still waiting on improvements in the form of motor skills.  Gus no longer falls with every two or three steps, but he still is not fully in control when it comes to walking and running.  We hope all this will improve with time, but are definitely happy with the progress we see now and hope the trend continues.

 

Gus' Final Hours:

January 30, 2006:

This evening, when Gus returned home from an overdue medical examination I sensed a despairing feeling about my cat.  He did not strut out of his carrier as usual, but appeared to use his last ounce of coordinated strength to clear the confines of his kennel.  I picked him up and placed  him in his basket, the one Liz keeps next to our bedroom window where he always sought comfort.  There he rested painlessly, occasionally glancing up with his beautiful blue eyes as we assessed his condition and maintained constant vigilance.  A telephone call was placed to Pet Emergency Clinic to determine if sedatives had been administered to Gus to make him more manageable, as he often becomes belligerent and dangerous when placed with strangers in unfamiliar surroundings.  Although Gus was giving his handlers the thrill of their lives, he had not been sedated.  Hearing this, I became ever aware that Little Gus may very well have experienced another vascular event similar to that encountered nearly one year ago.

After kissing Gus on his head, I got up to arrange his yellow blanket on our bed so he will sleep and snuggle with us like he has for many years.  It is my hope that in the morning Gus will join me for breakfast and resume his normal routine of patrolling the house before Liz and I depart for work.  It is my fear that this morning was the last time I got to watch my good friend eat, walk and perform the way happy cats behave.

January 31, 2006:

On this Tuesday morning, not long after sunrise, Liz and I realized that Little Gus definitely suffered another stroke and his health had taken a turn for the worse.  His life was coming to an end and we both knew that attempting resuscitation would not restore Gus... not in the least.  The time was quickly approaching when I would have to make a decision, one I know to be irreversible.  Do I stand around and watch my good friend of nearly fifteen years struggle to draw his last breath, or do I opt for a humane solution to hasten the inevitable?  I chose to make one final visit to the Pet Emergency Clinic with Gus, only this time I would make a request for euthanasia with the stipulation of attending.  If there is any solace of having a friend or loved one around when you pass, I was able to provide that for Gus.  I continued to pet, caress and speak softly to Gus as the doctor administered drugs to end the suffering.  The doctor permitted me to stay with Gus in the examination room, for as long as I needed, after announcing his death.  For nearly thirty minutes I remained with Gus; recalling the good times, yet sad knowing I will never get to see him again.  On the lonely journey back I stopped to fill the car with gas, hoping the sobbing would stop before I returned home to Liz.  I have never cared for nor loved a pet more than my good friend Gus, no cat will ever replace him.