My Cat Kanji is Dying of Skin Cancer

Posted: August 10, 2010 in Writing
Tags: , , , , ,

I took my cat Kanji to the vet because her ear wasn’t getting any better. Ever since I have known her, she’s had problems with her ears being mangy. I’m a pretty live-and-let-live pet owner — no collars and indoor / outdoor freedom, occasional wet fud and cursing them for being filthy fleabag dirt-tracking loveable spoiled brats — but after neighbors and girlfriend insisted they would cat-nap Kanji to take her to the vet, I had to act. And I knew that Kanji would hate me for it.

I inherited Kanji from the legendary six-month residence at the OB Saratoga crib. When I was forced to move out by unforseen witchery, I sat down with this cat that came with the property and explained that there were two options:

  • Stay here and find a new owner after I have spoiled you rotten treated you like the princess you are, or…
  • Come along with me and my ride

It was pretty clear, if you were there, that she chose me.

Scrapbook Kanji

Scrapbook Kanji / photo credit; LdlN

Kanji is an OB alley cat. She doesn’t take shit from nobody; she expresses discontent with bared claws and a wicked repeated paw whipping to feline, canine, and human alike. Moxie is her middle name. At her home at Saratoga, there were raccoons, skunks, dogs, opossums — never mind other stray cats — and Kanji would just sit relaxed but warily on the top of the porch table and let these creatures do whatever they came to do, as long as it wasn’t bothering her.

So Kanji decided to throw her lot in with me. When I had to move, I hauled her down to the Panorama Compound in La Mesa kicking and screaming, where I kept her in my studio for about a week before letting her explore outside. She spent most of her time either curled up on my futon at my feet or in the Mithril mines under the hosue itself. There were three other cats already on the property — Brother, Jedi, and Vader — who she decided were irritating and unworthy, so she would pointedly ignore them as much as possible. She loved the 1.1 acres of land to explore, yet seemed happiest curled up in the dark spaces beneath the house or — when she got used to being inside — being inside my room.

When I moved to Edgemont Place, she was furious with me — again — and although I kept her inside for a couple of days, at the first opportunity, she absconded to the beat-up wreck of a garage on the property, eventually becoming master of the rafters. Kanji would emerge when she heard the sound of my 1993 Nissan Truck engine after I would come home from a day of work at GreenHouse to miao and follow me to the house where I would have to open the doors for her so that Her Highness wouldn’t have to jump through the open window to get in and get some fresh kibble. If there is anything Kanji loves more than me, its her “fud”.

I eats on duh tables; dose udder onez kin eats below decks

dose udder onez kin eats below decks

git mah wet fud, hooman!

git mah wet fud, hooman

Handsome Girl Modelling School

Handsome Girl Modelling School

Because I have no idea where Kanji came from, originally, I also have no idea how old she is. This is just a strange fact that you just learn to accept. Also, she probably likes it that way because she’s a girl. The hoodrats around the Saratoga Party Palace called her “Cloud”, “Ghost”, and other nicknames because nobody really knew what her real name was. I forget who it was, but one of the older neighbors speculated that she belonged to the original owner of the house I was renting who had moved to a facility; apparently I was renting the house from his or her daughter. I think it was this neighbor that seemed to remember that her name started with a K. Kanji came to mind when I was playing with her; after a couple of years, she knows her name when I call it. It has taken equally as long to work on our relationship; she is still skittish and very particular about everything, especially touching her (she likes her butt scratched and if you don’t scratch good enough or long enough, she will bat your hand and tell you to get back to work).

That is why I never took her to the vet before. Every time I have to stuff Kanji in my truck or in a carrier to go somewhere, I lose her for about a week as she sulks and spits and swears she hates me. It’s a lot like having another girlfriend. I knew she wouldn’t run away, but I could always feel her eyes glowering from the shadows of the shed or the garage or from under the house shooting laserbeams of control into my head like some sort of feline Onceler: “you will put three open cans of warmed Turkey and Giblets wet fud, a diamond tiara, and a QP of White Lightning catnip in the bucket or I will eat your eyeballs out while you sleep.” Kanji is the master of making you feel like an abusive husband, looking at you reproachfully and measuring out her trust to you again by the spoonful. She is very intelligent and unlike many cats who can be memory-wiped with a can of Fancy Feast after a traumatic trip, Kanji will not forget the embarrassing and totally inappropriate “you-don’t-put-your-hands-on-me, my-FATHER-doesn’t-put-his-hands-on-me” treatment that vehicular transport entails. It is totally against the way a graduate of the Handsome Girl Modelling School is supposed to be treated. I love this about her personality, and I will very rarely overstep these boundaries and devastate her pride by forcing her into a 1′ x 2′ box to be taken to a strange person who is going to stick a thermometer in your ass and feel you up in the harsh light of a vet office.

Kitty Love-Love

Kitty Love-Love Kanji

It is indescribably awesome and horrible that I can walk out my front door, which overlooks this beautiful canyon that my brother Kleptus is guerrilla landscaping with native plants and find Kanji curled up peacefully on one of these old wooden Adirondack chairs half in and half out of the sun. The cancer that is melting away her left ear and left nostril is due to SUNBURN. Melanoma, essentially the same thing that humans (and dogs and even horses) get when sunshine is dangerous. It can’t be helped, except by keeping Kanji inside 24-7, and I won’t do that. Is it her fault that she wants to sleep in the sunshine and the long-term result is that she is going to die. Relatively soon. Every time I can touch her while she is alive is facing the fact that I am going to watch her face get eaten off by cancer, and I am directly responsible for her quality of life QoL). That is, until I make the awful decision for her that enough is enough, and it is time to go.

Wear sunscreen, sheeple. And how about we fix that ozone layer. I don’t have children, but I do love my cats as my kids. I have godchildren I adore. If you cannot get on board the “save the planet” bandwagon, then I think you give up your right to be on this green Earth.

So when does it transition from Kanji enjoying the sunset of her life and me having to decide QoL for her? She is still audacious and strong, she eats like a pig and mugs for attention like a kitten. At the urging of my girlfriend, Lilith de la Nuit, and my neighbors, Dawn and Jenne, I took a half-day off and stuffed Ms Thang in the cat carrier. I took her to Heather at Cabrillo Vet Center for Kanji’s first visit ever to the vet to check out this ear and nose thing. Now we know what it is, and what we can do about it. Heather was extraordinarily kind and sensitive, even though she was in the office with walking pneumonia. She is that dedicated to animals and their “Moms and Dads”. If money was not an option, there is pretty much nothing that can be done to save Kanji’s life. It is a matter of QoL for one to six months from June 15th, 2010. And this decision is mine.

Kanji humbles me with her bravery. She knows she is dying, and yet manages to ham it up and act like a kitten

Kanji-licious

The Duchess / photo credit: LdlN

and squeeze all of the attention and specialness she can out of her situation. When she mugs for some love, and you give it to her, she gets so corny that she wants to rub up against everything — including with her torn-up ear, where she rips the scab off and then shakes her head, flinging blood everywhere. It is ghastly and somehow beautiful that she does not care but for the moment. And for love.

[later, August 10, 2010]

I have had this blog post in draft for over a month and a half now, and I have realized that I can’t finish it just yet. I can just post what I have and do a Part 2 later on. Kanji has almost a whole ear missing and her nose is halfway gone, but she does not seem in pain or too much discomfort. It pains me to hear her sneeze occasionally, and snuffle a bit, but her big blue eyes say that it is not time yet. I am comforted that she has already beaten the odds of the low end of her possible time frame on the planet, and frankly, she is keeping me company, maybe more than I am doing service to her.

Every day when I come home from work, I whistle for her, and she usually comes trotting from the garage where she sleeps, or out from under a piece of lawn furniture with a raspy miao. She’s been waiting for me to arrive because I am reliable like that, and Kanji wants to point out that her special on-the-table fud bowl is empty. And that she missed me.

I will miss her, now and soon.

Comments
  1. Brin says:

    i am so sorry for you. it must be unbearably difficult. take lots of cat naps with Kanji, that way when she is gone, you can close your eyes and remember her next to you. xo

  2. Aurora says:

    This post made me so sad for you and your kitty 😦 I hope she’s not in too much pain, and from how you say she acts it seems as though she’s one tough broad!! Hugs. Lots of hugs.

  3. Diane says:

    What a beautiful tribute to Kanji. Just like Sm and Frodo she will always be a part of your life. Take care of her until she leaves for Cat Heaven.

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