my brother reese

We came home from Auntie C’s lovely wedding shower and bachelorette celebration to discover a cat who willingly accepted pets and high pitched “hi Reese!” greetings from Caroline.

Something was very wrong.

She looked thin and when I picked her up I was alarmed that she felt like half of herself. She was lethargic, but still sidling up to any available warm body, purring away. I did some investigating around the house and deduced that she had probably not eaten all weekend and it did not appear that she had drank any water either. The cat typically gorges in our absence, draining her self-feeder and completely emptying her water bowl.

Something was very wrong.

A call to a local vet got us an appointment yesterday morning, which meant that the toddler would need to accompany me. As we sat on the steps pulling on her sneakers I explained to her that Reese was not feeling well. “I kiss her and make her better Mommy.” I told her that this kind of not feeling well involved the kitty doctor. “Reese get a sticker?” We rushed through grocery shopping and she assisted me in putting everything away knowing that she was going to help me put Reese in her “special box” to visit the vet.

Reese showed spunk by hissing and batting the side of her carrier when an immense but friendly St. Bernard sniffed in her direction. This was a good sign I thought. Her yellow inner ears and eyes were not and immediately my heart sunk – liver. The vet wanted to keep her – hospitalize her – to do some testing and while I love my cat, I am not the kind of pet owner who is going to blow the holiday budget getting her cat on IV fluids and a catheter. They brought in an estimate for her “hospitalization” and I hate to admit that I was torn, but I was. A call to Steve and a decision that we owed her at least this day to find out what was wrong, to see if it might just be an easy to clear up infection or something terrible she would never recover from. I did not expect Caroline to react so badly to leaving her there. Tears streamed down her face the entire ride home, “Reese, Reese, Reese.” How could she possibly understand and yet, how could she not?

The vet followed up with me during bedtime last night, explaining that she was doing just ok, but that she was much more alert than she should be given her liver levels – all of which were “markedly high.” One was 10.1 when the normal range is between 0 and 0.9. My poor Reese. I’ll be calling back later this morning to see if things changed overnight, but as the vet said, her recovery is up to her and whether or not she’s got the fighting spirit to power through this. A small fortune in, what is another day of IV fluids and monitoring? I suspect we will know one way or the other today which way this is going, but in the meantime there is a very sad little girl in my house asking constantly for “my brother Reese,” telling me “I want my Reese,” asking me when we can go get her, “when can she come home and we can pet her?” I don’t have answers for these questions, but boy are they ever helping me get through with a stoic face.

Steve’s away this week so I am facing this on my own, though he has been incredibly supportive to even allow the billion-dollar hospitalization of a cat he has often jokingly willed dead. She is an enormous pain in our ass in so many ways; a total heat whore, a horrid cat pee machine, a constantly underfoot menace. She is also a part of our family and without her at home the house feels not quite right. Something very important is missing. When Steve is away she is my shadow, trailing me through the house, sleeping beside me, reassuring me that the house is safe and all is well. I am off all day tomorrow for Veteran’s Day and serendipitously this is most likely the day she will either be on her way home or that I will need to say goodbye. Steve won’t be here to help me make any decisions or even to say his goodbyes if things go south, but in many ways this is exactly the way it should be. My roommates and I got Reese my senior year of college for mice. She was the only cat in the Greater Boston area to be found during the great September First Boston Move. She was spunky even then, having developed a rep with the staff for scratching and biting – “she’ll be an under the bed cat, you’ll never see her.” It could not have been further from the truth. She never left my side during the most traumatic/dramatic break up of my life. She moved with me to my first real apartment post college, into Steve’s life when we moved together to Cleveland Circle, out to the burbs, to CT, to our first house. She watched my belly grow, avoided the constant chirping of a newborn, and is now that toddler’s treasured pet… even if she avoids her most of the time.

She just can’t leave, not like this.


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