January 18, 2020

I cannot even begin to describe how heartbreaking that day was for me.

Back in November, Mark and I welcomed a new little furbaby into our family. We had been contemplating getting a third cat since Minerva is playful and curious, but Max is too old and lazy to keep up with her.  When Mark stumbled upon Jaden’s profile on the OSCatR Facebook page, he knew she was the one.  And it did not take a lot of convincing for me to agree. After just one visit to her foster mother, we knew without a doubt that little Jaden would be the perfect fit.  So we brought her home and re-named her Orla, after the character in Derry Girls.

Orla lived up to her namesake.  She was a was a special little weirdo who excelled at giving us sass and side-eye.  Not only did she have the most expressive face, but she was fast. It was hard to keep up with this little kitten.  In the blink of an eye, she would be gone, running off to explore some new part of the house.  Because of this, she earned the nickname “Usain Bolt”.  But the nickname that really stuck was “Nugget”.

Our little Nugget slowly integrated herself into our family, but it was soon clear that she was truly the perfect fit.  She snuggled up to Max in the cat tree or on the couch, played with Minerva in “The Tube”, and cuddled up to me and Mark whenever she could.  She would sit on our laps on the couch, curl up with us in bed, and lounge on fleece blankets on our desks in the office so that she could watch us work. Orla had a funny little waddle for a walk, and a breathless, squeaky little meow. But even though she wasn’t very vocal, she was capable of giving looks that said: “I own you. Rub my belly.” She was the most loving and affectionate little Nugget.

When we adopted her, we were aware that she would most likely have chronic upper respiratory issues, and we were prepared for that.  Whenever her eyes got goopy or her breathing seemed off, we got her into the vet and made sure she got the care and medication she needed.  Mark and I were fully prepared to care for her no matter what, and each time she needed antibiotics she recovered quickly.

Then we started to notice that she kept missing the litter box, and that she wasn’t as energetic as she once was.  And by the time the vet appointment we had scheduled came around, she was finding it difficult to stand on her back legs.  The vet did some tests and, after waiting anxiously for 24 hours for results, the bloodwork came back and the vet determined that Orla had an infection.  She couldn’t identify the cause, but figured that a previous infection had simply been too strong for the antibiotics she had been on and never really went away.  We were given new antibiotics and told to expect a call-back a few days later.

When the vet called to check in, Orla had not improved.  So the vet re-checked the bloodwork, called us back, and told us that our Nugget probably had FIP. Mark and I spent a great deal of time crying and discussing our options before we decided to go to emergency to get a second opinion.  And if we did have to say goodbye to her, we would have to go to emergency anyway since our vet was closed for the rest of the weekend.

Our time at the emergency clinic that night was agonizing.  We had to wait for hours after triage to see a vet, but they had been kind enough to let us stay in the exam room so that we could have some privacy. There were lots of tears and lots of snuggles.  After the vet came in to see us, she took Orla away for some tests.  When she returned, she confirmed our worst fears: Orla had FIP and we were going to have to say goodbye to her.

We were moved to the “quiet room” while our baby was given a catheter.  The wait was painfully long, and we learned that she had been fighting them and had to be given a little bit of sedation.  I was actually kind of proud that she wasn’t going to allow the vet to win this round without a fight.  When she was returned to us, she had bandages on both arms from her struggles: one yellow, and one pink with a heart.  I thought this was so perfect because everything we had ever bought for her was either pink or yellow (most of it was pink though).

There were many tears, and Mark and I snuggled our little Nugget as much as we possibly could before we had to say goodbye.

In May, my family and I had to say goodbye to our beloved dog, Toffee.  After the ordeal, I told Mark I didn’t want to go through that again for a long time.  I never expected I would have to say goodbye to one of my furbabies so soon after losing Toffee.  In a way, it was easier to deal with the loss of the family dog.  Toffee had surpassed the typical life expectancy of a cocker spaniel and had been showered with love, affection, and treats for almost 16 years.  And given his age, we were a little more prepared when the day came to say goodbye.

Losing Orla was so much harder.  She was barely 5 months old, and because we thought she was going to get better, we thought she had a long life ahead of her.  I think that’s part of what hurt the most – before that last call from the vet, we honestly thought she was going to get better.  We were unprepared for the sudden loss. I think it is going to take a long time for Mark and I to heal. Although Orla had not been with us long, we spoiled her and gave her lots of love every single moment she was with us.

From the stories I have heard, and the people Mark and I have spoken to, I know that the wonderful people at OSCatR also made sure that Orla’s life was filled with love.  I want to thank them for all of the hard work they do, and I am so glad that Mark and I were fortunate enough to adopt Orla.

She was not a part of our lives very long, but she certainly left her mark.  We will always love her.  I miss you Nugget.

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