Thursday, 24 March 2016

Farewell, my darling Mini-Me

(Mini-Me, April 2008 - February 2016)

I haven't had the motivation or inclination to blog after the demise of my beautiful little Mini-Me. The past 12 months has been one personal tragedy after another. I lost 3 of my cats to illness in just 12 months. What could I have done wrong? They have all been neutered and vaccinated, and all my new rescues go through medical screening and full vaccination before they enter my home. They eat the best food I can afford and are shipped off to the vet at the slightest sign of illness and discomfort. They are all indoor cats and I take the greatest precautions to ensure their health and safety. I love them all so very much and a part of me dies with them each time I bid them goodbye.
Mini-Me is so named because she is a miniature version of her mother, Keisha. Keisha was a heavily pregnant calico cat who I rescued out of the dustbin of the Shah Alam Court canteen in April 2008. I made a nesting box for Keisha and allowed her to give birth in my home. Mini-Me was born in a large cage in my porch together with 4 other siblings, including Shadow, two days after I rescued Keisha.
As a kitten, Mini-Me had some health issues. When she was admitted to the vet for aspiration pneumonia, I made a promise to her that if she pulled through, I would never give her up for adoption. I have never regretted that decision. She was the most perfect cat I could ever ask for -- gentle and affectionate, with soft fur and a soft mewing voice. It pains me to think that I will never hear her mew or touch her soft fur again.
Mini-Me was never very strong. She suffered from frequent wheezing and rhinitis. Still, our 8 years together were largely happy and trouble-free ones. She slept on my pillow next to me every night. Together with the other cats, she received treats, health supplements, birthday presents, toys to keep things interesting and anything I could think of that could improve my feline children's quality of life.
Sometime after our Halloween party at the Wee Green Flat, I noticed that Mini-Me suffered from worse rhinitis than usual. I took her to the vet and she was prescribed flu medication. She seemed to improve for some time and then her illness recurred again in November. I asked the good doctor to give her a full medical check up, especially since Mini-Me was drooling and didn't seem able to keep her tongue in her mouth.
 The prognosis was dire. Mini-Me was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, an aggressive form of benign cancer. It was benign only because the cancer cells didn't metastasize to other organs, but it was deadly enough as it is. We immediately arranged for surgery and had a huge tumour removed from her upper jaw. There are no veterinary hospitals offering chemotherapy or radiotherary in Malaysia, and even if there were one, medical reports show that it would not significantly improve her life expectancy or quality of life. She would not be able to eat normally after chemo anyway.
I took her home and monitored her progress, feeding her painkillers and anti-inflammation medication daily to manage the pain and swelling, and herbal supplements to boost her immune system. She enjoyed a happy and peaceful Christmas at the Wee Green Flat with the others. She was able to eat her favourite foods and play with the scratching post and new toys I made for them.
In January, her condition deteriorated rapidly, and no treatment, supplement or medication could offer a chance of recovery. I sought the medical opinion of other vets and caregivers and the advice was pretty much the same -- manage the pain and keep her comfortable. Every day began and ended in a flood of tears as I began the process of saying goodbye to my beloved feline daughter, for that is what cancer is -- a long goodbye.
Mini-Me died peacefully in my arms in the morning of 8 February 2016. If Heaven exists, then I believe she is now reunited with her brother Shadow. I miss both terribly and wish things had been different. I wish there was something I could have done to save their lives.
Following Mini-Me's death, I set up a Mini-Me Memorial Fund to help another 5 animals in her honour (a reasonable and achievable target since I am not rolling in wealth), just as I had for Shadow and Chloe. Their memories live on in my home and my heart, and in the hearts of all they have known and touched in their quiet little lives.
Not a day goes by that I do not think of them and miss them and wish things had been different. The grief never really goes away but forms part of my memories and experiences.
I hope I have done right by you, my little Mini-Me. I am sorry I could not take away your pain and suffering. I love you. We will share a pillow again and I will be able to feed you treats again in another lifetime.

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