Saturday, April 17, 2010

In Loving Memory of Pink Floyd Vinson September 2000 - March 2010

This post is very long so be prepared if you decide to read. It is with an extremely heavy heart that I write this post...

Pink was maybe three weeks old when we got her. I had some friends in college that found her and two others on the side of the road. They were starving and their mother was presumably dead, as she was nowhere around to take care of them. Thankfully, my friends took the kittens and tried to find homes for them. I'm not sure what possessed me to want one, other than the fact that I grew up with a cat and a dog, have always been an animal lover, and I was finally living in a house (rather than a dorm) that would allow me to take one in and care for it. Justin and I had been dating about six months and he went with me to pick out which kitty we wanted. Pink stuck out to us for some reason...maybe because she was the runt. Right after we got her, I had to make a trip home to Decatur to pick up my car and return the rental car I had been driving after being in a car wreck a few weeks earlier. Pink was so tiny that she fit into the cup holder of the rental car and rode the whole way home in it. My mom helped give Pink her first bath. She was covered in fleas and was so dirty. She fit so snugly in the palm of my mom's hand and just cried the whole time she was getting that bath. My step-dad was allergic to cats so we made a "kennel" for her out of a cardboard box and blankets and set up house for her in the garage for the weekend. She was just the cutest, sweetest little thing. Let me back up a second - the Pink I am referring to was actually called Floyd at the time. Justin and I, having no experience in "sex-ing" cats, wrongly assumed that Pink was a boy. We are big Pink Floyd fans and after a long discussion, we decided that the cat was to be called Floyd. When we got back in Tuscaloosa we took her to the vet, where we learned that Floyd was indeed a girl. Floyd became Pink, and after a few shots and an examination, we were on our way with a cute, furry addition to our family.

Bringing Pink into my home at the time was probably one of the worst ideas I ever had. I lived with five other girls, one of whom had two - not one, but two - labs, one of which was a puppy. Another one of my roommates also had a dog, so needless to say, Pink has never been a fan of the canines and has been terrified of dogs ever since. She mostly stayed in my room away from the dogs, but there were times where she got chased up and down our enormous hallway, slipping and sliding on the hardwood floors. Justin and I would spend a lot of time at his apartment too and Pink was always riding back and forth with me. The drive wasn't long, maybe half a mile, but she loved to sit in my back windshield and watch the world go by. She was always really good riding in a car, as long as she wasn't trapped in her carrier. She didn't always have the best of times when she was at Justin's apartment though. here were times when I would leave her there while I went to class, and the boys didn't waste the opportunity to have some fun with her (tying strings to her tail, wrapping her in aluminum foil, etc). I think they unleashed the inner b*tch in Pink because she seemed to develop a slight attitude around that time.

I don't know when it started, but Pink became my constant shadow over the years. You know how they say that a dog is a man's best friend? Well, I guess that statement rings true for cats too - except maybe that means that a cat is a woman's best friend. Anyways, Pink and I were the best of friends. She was at my heels every step I took. We could have conversations with each other - she was a very vocal cat and would talk to anyone that talked to her. If I was sitting, she was in my lap. If I was lying down, she was lying on top of me. We have been constant companions for ten years. There are few people that have come into Pink's life over the last ten years that she has actually liked. As a matter of fact, I can probably count them on one hand....maybe two, but that's pushing it. She was just very particular about who she liked and who she let pet her, but her mommy was the one person that she held no boundaries against. And even with me sometimes, she was pretty particular. She would come and sit on my lap and I would start petting her, then all of a sudden she would be growling at me. TSometimes she just liked to sit on you without being touched. If she didn't want you to pet her, she let you know. She would meow and growl at you until you stopped. This made many people think that Pink was mean, a b*tch, evil, whatever. And from the outside looking in, she probably did appear to be all of those things. But she wasn't at all...she was just picky :)

Pink has always suffered from urinary track infections and has been on special food for them for a few years now. Since she has been on the special food, she has not had a UTI at all. All of a sudden a few weeks ago, she started showing the signs of one. We took her to the vet to check and sure enough, she had one. We thought this was very weird that she would have one all of a sudden. Not to mention for the last few months, she has seemed a little more ornery than normal. We use that word because it seemed like she had become an ornery old man - you know how men get in their old age, just picky and ornery - I can't even think of another word to use. Anyways, Pink has seemed a little more ornery than usual and would always growl at Lola (our other cat) when she got too close to her. We couldn't figure out why she was doing this but just chalked it up to old age. We just assumed that Pink was getting old and was just a little more particular than normal. So after a few weeks of being over the UTI, Pink seemed like she was back to normal.

On Sunday night, March 28, I woke up in the middle of the night. Pink was lying right next to me, snuggled up under my arm like my little teddy bear (this is how we typically slept every night, with her under my arm and snuggled up next to me). I pulled her in closer to me and noticed that where I was holding her was on her belly. She normally hates to be touched there, like most cats, but she didn't seem to mind then. I remember thinking how weird that was but I went back to sleep and didn't think much of it other than how I thought it was a little odd. Monday morning when I woke up, she sat on the bed and just hung out in the same spot all morning. Nothing out of ordinary, just being lazy as usual. When I came home from work Monday afternoon, I went to our room and there Pink was, in the same exact spot I left her in that morning. I immediately became concerned - she didn't get up to come greet me, she didn't meow at me, nothing. She just sat there. I went over to pet her and love on her and she just seemed different. Her fur looked weird, she had a funny smell about her and she just seemed extremely lethargic. I became worried that she hadn't eaten or been to the bathroom all day so I tried to get her up and moving around. She wasn't having any of that. Finally I got her to get up and jump down off the bed. I followed her all the way to the litter box and she slowly made her way there, went in and did #1 and came out. Slowly she made her way back upstairs and went right back to that same spot on the bed. At this point I became very worried. I had Justin check on her too just to make sure I wasn't overreacting and he felt the same way as I did - something was wrong. I called the vet to see if we could go ahead and bring her in and they had closed 15 minutes prior to my phone call. So we decided not to call the emergency vet and just see how she was in the morning. She didn't move all night long and was in the same spot when I woke up the next morning. She still smelled funny, her fur still looked weird...pretty much nothing had changed. I was so worried about her.

Justin dropped her off at the vet that morning and they called me a little while later to give me an update on her. The first thing the vet said was that Pink was very sick...her temp was 106.6 (normal for a cat is about 102) and she was dehydrated. They started her on an IV and began doing blood work. The vet began preparing me for the worst. She started going over the tests they were going to do (blood work, x-rays) and told me she would call me when she finished the tests. A little while later the vet called back. The first thing she asked me was if I was somewhere private away from my co-workers. I said no and asked if I should be. When she said yes I knew something was terribly wrong. I had already been crying all morning because I was so worried about her and all I kept saying in my head all morning was "my cat is dying". I just knew she was dying. Once I got to a private area, the vet told me that the blood work showed no white blood cells. None. Her immune system was pretty much nonexistent. She said she wanted to test and see if Pink had feline leukemia or feline AIDS, but that it could also be something in her bone marrow. Pink only had a few more days of life left in her. She said that we could look into doing a blood transfusion but she thought it would only buy her a few more days and then we would be right back where we were then. Basically we had a decision to make....put her to sleep or go ahead with the blood transfusion and buy her a little more time. I just couldn't bare to see my baby suffer so we made the decision of "humane euthanasia". I really hate that term. It's just so hard to feel that what you're doing is humane at the time. I know we made the right decision but don't throw in the word "humane" to make me feel better about it.

Once I gave her the decision she said she recommended it be done before the day was over so that Pink wasn't suffering any longer than she had to. I called Justin, left work and went to the vet to wait on him to get there. I was able to spend about 45 minutes alone with Pink before Justin got there. She sat in my lap and purred the entire time. I couldn't have asked for a better way for her to spend her final moments - purring in her Mommy's lap. I was just so happy to hear her purr and not crying. It's pretty rare that Pink purrs when she's at the vet's office so I don't know if she sensed something or was just happy to see her Mommy. I'm sure she felt somewhat better after getting some fluids in her but I knew it was just temporary. The vet came in and told us that the test for leukemia and AIDS both came back negative and that she had narrowed it down to possibly being cancer in her bone marrow, although we'll never really know. The lack of immune system explains why she all of a sudden got another UTI after not having one for years...her little body just wasn't strong enough to fight it off anymore. So Justin and I spent a few final moments with her and then the doctor came in with the injection. I decided to hold Pink the whole time so that her final moments were in my arms. I had no idea how hard that would actually be on me, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. The vet had to put the injection in slowly and bless her heart, she just cried with us the entire time. She just kept saying, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry" the whole time. I finally felt Pink's body go and I thought my heart was breaking. I cannot describe how Justin and I felt in that moment. It was the hardest thing he and I have ever had to do together and it tore us both apart. She was our first "baby" together and we've been through a lot with Pink in the last 10 years.
I wanted to just sit in there and hold Pink's body as long as I could but I knew I couldn't and that I just needed to let her go. Justin told me "Just let her go, baby" and I handed her over to the vet. She put her in a little coffin for us and we took her home and buried her in the backyard. We had our own little memorial for her and spent the rest of the afternoon crying with each other, looking through old pictures and talking about all the old times we had with her.

It's been two weeks now and I still cry about it every day. I look forward to the day when I no longer think about Pink and cry for the sadness I feel and the pain that envelops my heart. I want to be able to look back at our time together and smile at the memories instead of cry over the loss. The first few days were the hardest. Every time I walked into our bedroom I looked up expecting to see her on the bed. A shoe in the floor would catch my eye and I would immediately think it was Pink. All of those things made my heart break all over again each time. Coming home from work was the worst, when she wasn't there at the stairs ready to greet me as I walked in. Lola has mourned I think. It took her a few days though...maybe she thought Pink was just still at the vet, I don't know. That day when we came home, I changed clothes and put the shirt I was wearing on the bed. I actually put it in the same spot Pink had been lying in the last few days, and when Lola jumped up on the bed, she sniffed my shirt and that spot for a pretty long time. I don't know if animals can smell death or not, but she seemed like she knew something wasn't right. Once she started acting a little sad, it just broke my heart once again. She seems back to normal now and maybe one day we'll be ready to get her another friend. Right now the wound is still open and I know it will take it a long time to heal. Life goes on. It's been a long time since I have experienced a loss and you forget about how bad the pain is. I physically hurt from the pain in my heart. It's better now than it was, but it's still there. I'm sure in a way, it will never go away. I will look back on the last 10 years and cherish the time we had with Pink. I will revel in the memories and the happy times. I will fill the void in my heart and I will be able to look at her picture and smile. My heart will heal and the pain will subside. One day.....just not today.

I love you Pink Floyd Vinson.

4 comments:

Kelly said...

I'm sorry to read about your loss. A very touching blog about Pink and I loved the pictures.

Alice said...

Tiffany-
My heart goes out to you all. It is so hard to lose a pet, especially the one that was with you for it all. I know she's smiling down on you.

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