Carrie Hammond
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The Value of a Grumpy Cat

Yes, they really do love us. And that's priceless.

Skitz - Photo Taken by the Author, also found on July Posts - Twitter/Facebook, my personal photography pages.

This is a writing based off my own experience with my furbaby, but overall I think everyone can find something to value in this story, I hope you enjoy the read~!

She's beauty, she's grace, and if you pet her wrong, she'll rip off your face. She is precious furbaby Skitz. Now, although she has a lot in common with your average household cat, I must assure that Skitz is in fact a whole human inside of a cat's body. She's got her own personality, will look at you judgmentally, and yes, she knows if you're trying to feed her anything besides her daily food, she KNOWS.

Now of course I say this all in good humor, but I'm really just trying to give you an idea about who my little Skitz is. I promise it plays a role later on. Skitz, in a lot of ways, is the owner of our home. She an inside/outside cat and these are her prowling grounds, every baby bunny on the farm has heard legend about the cat with dark grey fur and pure black stripes, and glowing green eyes that has haunted them forever, and how their ancestors met their end at the sacrifice of her paws, only to be half eaten and dropped on the porch as a gift to her humans. She wants in the house, the humans open the door. She's hungry, the humans feed her. This is the land of the cat named Skitz.

Skitz has always seemed to feel responsible for me and my brother; we're outside, she makes sure we're in sight. She has always followed us all over the property, making sure we don't end up falling in the creek, or kidnapped, ya see? She doubles as a guard dog. I think you get the idea. She's a cat with a diverse personality, and an Alpha attitude, with all the love and guidance of a momma cat.

Skitz got to where she wasn't coming in as much, and we figured she was angry at us. My dad had brushed her off the table the other day, HER table where he was sitting. So we didn't think much of it. Two nights in a row I went outside to try to get her in, she was laying under my Dad's truck. Stubborn, I thought. But she had a look in her eyes, a fighting look. I tried to give her food but she wouldn’t eat. I crawled under and got her, bringing her in. She didn't fight me like she usually would. Before if I picked her up she would have growled, tensed up like a ball of concrete, and sunk her claws into my arm for good measure. But not this time, she practically slumped against me in my arms. Something was definitely wrong.

Now when I say we usually don't take our pets to the vet, don't think we're cruel or careless. We've never had issues with our pets, or really had that many. Most were strays we got that either ran off or stayed and had a nice long life, only passing when they were old, in the warmth of our house with the people they loved. But Skitz wasn't that old, and I refused to lose my best friend to this unnamed thief that was robbing her of life.

I remember setting her on my bed, which she rarely slept in. She just laid at the end. I remember crying so much, I knew something was wrong and I didn't know what to do. She wouldn't eat our drink. She would try to stand, and simply crumble back down. The most full spirited, independent creature I knew... couldn't even stand. I remember throughout the night lifting up and watching her, relief coming over me every time I saw her flank move, because I was terrified for the moment I'd look down at her and find her gone, not breathing and still at my feet. I remember holding her that night and being terrified she'd leave me right there in my arms.

I called a local vet who was very nice, as money was also a looming issue; my dad applied for a credit card just to take her to the vet, which was a good thing we did considering what we would learn. But taking her to the vet, this is where the lesson comes in, and honestly brings tears to eyes even writing it.

They need us. Our pets need us, just as much and even more than we need them.

We don't even own a cat carrier. I had her wrapped in sweater in my lap, me and my dad piled up in the truck. She was trembling, she very rarely meows but this time she did, her head looking out the window. Only time she'd ever been off the farm was when she fell asleep in my dad's truck and he accidentally took her on a field trip to the store. The vet was a wait, Skitz was tense, trying to move, but she didn't have it in her to really fight me. I told the vet what had been going on, she was concerned. Skitz weakly tried to get away, her paws sliding on the metal weigher they used as a table.

They sat her down on weak feet, trying to get her to walk from vet to the assistant across the room. But she didn't, she used what seemed to be all her strength to walk to me, hiding behind me. She needed me to protect her, because she was scared, and in pain. And I was her owner.

This moment sticks in my mind the most because Skitz had always been looking out for me and the family. Following us as we checked the mail, if we got hurt and cried she was there, she knew something was wrong. And it might sound stupid, she's just a cat. But she's our cat, she cares about us. And here she is, as we found out on her death bed, and she didn't claws out at them, or hiss, or bite. No, she came to me, because I was her owner.

She needed me. And in that moment I swore to myself, god, the universe, I would do everything in my power to try to protect her, and help her. Because even though she's just a cat, me and my family are her whole world.

After a blood test, the vet told us that her red blood cells didn't even show up. She had FIV and it was killing her. She listed some options, but said no matter what we did, she probably wouldn't make it. I remember trying to hold back tears but I couldn't; my dad was angry, paid so much money to try to get her help, just to get told she was going to die. Even he cared about her. I mean, she'd been with us for 10+ years now. The vet gave us three options.

Option Number One: Euthanization. This option was just paying to have her put to sleep. Now if she was in immediate pain, this would have been considered. But we ruled it out. If she was going to die, she would do it at home, warm and comfortable with the people that loved her. Not scared with strangers on a metal table.

Option Number Two: Pump her full of steroids and see what happens. This option was with the hope that if they gave her some steroids it might would give her the push she'd need to fight it off herself, which the vet said was unlikely, but still an option. Considering how close she was to death, we'd just have to watch her for the next 24 hours to see if she improved. If she didn't we were told the only thing to do after that was Option One.

Option Number Three: Gung Ho. Now this option, was going all in. Putting her in a vet hospital for weeks, IVs, all kinds of medicine, blood transfusions, and I'm not exaggerating, thousands of dollars. (The average blood transfusion for a cat is around $500-$800. That's not counting the hospitalization and medicine.) And the vet pretty much said it wasn't worth doing this, she would more than likely die with this too. Not to mention she would die in a lot of pain, and still alone.

After considering everything, our only real option was Number Two. Morally couldn't do Number One and couldn't afford Number Three. So they did it, gave her a lot of shots, but with the mindset that this was a far stretch to try, and that we shouldn’t expect too much out of her; we would be lucky if she lasted another day, maybe two. I remember sitting in the waiting room with her while my dad did the paperwork, just silently sobbing. No one in there really knew how to react, I didn't blame them. I'm crying my eyes out cause I'm afraid I'm gonna lose my best friend. I remember the one of the trainees looking at me with a lot of pity, she had heard the diagnosis. And the receptionist coming from behind the desk and patting my shoulder, saying she was sorry.

Skitz peed on me on the way home, she was panting she was so hot, she was restless. When we brought her home and told me mom what the vet said, she teared up, my dad kept trying not to look cause even his old tough butt cared too, along with complaining about the $367 in debt he now was in for a dead cat. But he still pet her, saying the vet was stupid, she didn't know our cat, she was a fighter. And we all agreed, not so much that the vet was stupid, but that our little Skitz was a fighter, and taking her to the vet was the best thing we could do to give her a fighting chance.

After a little while, I sat food down in front of her. And for the first time in three days. She ate. Now I know what you're thinking, I must a cry a lot. Now, I don't think I do, but considering this was the life of my best friend, yes, yes I did. I cried like a little bitch. The first time she ate, I cried in relief. We pet her, and egged her on. Mawmaw (Grandma) always did say if you could get a critter to eat it'd be just fine, a saying we referred to every time she'd eat for the next week.

I was practically forcing milk and water on her, afraid she would get dehydrated. But she would drink it willing by the second day, and yes, more tears. More hugs, more kisses, than she'd ever had. For the next week, till she got where she'd push me off again, tensing up, claws in my arm. She was my little fighter.

Slowly over the course of a couple weeks she'd fight, and I mean fight. She was eating and drinking. She went from needing to be carried outside, and just sitting at my feet as the sun set to me carrying her out, and her moving around, even bopping our younger cat on the head when he got too close. To running out the door striking fear into the hearts of every rabbit on the farm.

Now, I have to say, no, she isn't completely better. We all know this, she still sleeps a little more than usual, doesn't fight off our affection quite as much. But she's here, and that's what matters. I remember us celebrating when my dad tried to pet her and she ducked her head, glaring at him. Our baby was back!

Now this was a journey, some laughs, lots of tears, and a whole lotta hope. But I'm not writing this to tell you about my amazing cat, although I will proudly anytime talk and tell legend about the grey cat with pure black stripes, glowing green eyes, and frightener of all bunnykind and her fight from the brink of death!

But, really I'm writing this as a lesson. No matter how independent or hateful our pets maybe be, or even if they're silly and full of life, at the end of the day they are ours. And although they may not need us every day, or hopefully any day, we are their world. We are their protectors, their feeding hand, their familiar face, their favorite annoyance, and so much more. But most of all, we are their humans, and when they need us we will be there, because they love us and we owe them that much.

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