In Loving Memory of
2002(?) - June 4, 2015
Lemon came into our lives at the beginning of 2007. We already had one indoor cat, Faith, when Lemon showed up tired and hungry near our back door.
We put out food and though she was fearful at first, she began to trust us as her food source. We named her Lemon because of her beautiful bright lemon-yellow eyes. At first I thought she was a feral cat, but she habituated to our presence too fast for that to be likely. I presume she was an abandoned pet, since she had no ID tag or chip.
We soon noticed that she was pregnant so it was too late to try to get her to our vet to be spayed. At the time, South Florida was experiencing one of our occasional cold spells and we were concerned that she would have her kittens outside in the cold weather. I looked on the Internet for information on cat birthing. I was confident Lemon could handle things herself if we could provide her with a suitable place to have her kittens.
We began to get her used to entering our garage for food. At first we left the door open so she could go right out after eating, but over a period of time we closed it while she was eating, then later let her stay in the garage a few hours, then overnight, and eventually she got used to spending more and more time inside.
Click below to see video of kittens nursing
The day after she gave birth, we noticed that Lemon was still bleeding a little and we were afraid there may have been another unborn kitten inside her, so we took her to our vet. Of course we also brought the kittens with her in the carrier, so she would not freak out. All the veterinary assistants wanted to see the newborns. The vet examined Lemon and felt for any problems but said she was fine and it was just a normal small litter. He cleaned up a bit of remaining blood and she had no further problems.
Click to see more video of the young kittens
The Three Kittens
Lemon was fortunate in that she got to spend her adult life with her beloved kittens. She would frequently lick and groom them and they would reciprocate. It was almost comical when big longhaired Tux would follow her around wanting attention. He loved his mommy and had severe separation anxiety whenever he was away from her for any length of time. She was usually very patient with him and seldom chased him away.
Click to see Lemon still cleaning grown-up Tux
Onyx seemed to like trying to grab toys waved on a line in front of him, while Tux was just as happy playing in a plain old cardboard box.
Click to see Onyx and Tux having fun
One of the favorite toys for our cats is a track containing a ball to swat at and push around. Starting with a simple ring, we added track to make a more complex layout. With the longer track we also added more balls since the cats really seemed to like the clicking sound they made when hit together.
Click to see them playing with the track toys
All Grown Up
The Years Go By
As time passed, we could see that Lemon was starting to slow down, but continued to enjoy lying in the sun and watching her kids. We are fortunate to have a nice screened-in patio and pool, so the cats can hang out and snooze either in the sun or shade, as they prefer. They have the benefit of being outside with the safety of being enclosed. Anytime we leave the house, of course, we bring them inside. While they have not fallen in the pool, we do not take chances by leaving them unattended.
Each day would begin with a familiar routine. After breakfast, as long as the weather was good they would head outside. Tux was almost always first in line at the patio door, since he wanted to look for lizards, though we tried to rescue them whenever the cats caught one. Little Boy was the best hunter, most likely because before we found him he probably survived on them.
On rainy days they were allowed to stay out if it was a light rain, because part of the patio is covered by the house roof. But if the electric field alarm at a nearby park sounded (indicating a chance of lightning), we got them in immediately.
While Lemon had always been found to be in good health during her vaccinations and veterinary checkups, in the Spring of 2015 we noticed her sneezing rapidly. It appeared to be an upper respiratory infection and we took her to our vet, who prescribed antibiotics. She had normal appetite and elimination, so we were not too concerned until it continued and got worse. We did not know for sure how old Lemon was, though our vet had estimated that she was at least 13 years old based on an examination of her teeth.
When we took her back to the vet he was concerned about a growth that was now visible in her palate, possibly growing into the nasal passages and probably a metastasis from tumor(s) elsewhere in her body. She was probably in pain, since she started hiding under the sofa as cats may do when they feel vulnerable. We suspected that this was not going to end well.
Even though the love and companionship of pets over the years more than makes up for anything else, there is nothing more agonizing than having to consider whether or not their quality of life has deteriorated to the point where euthanasia is the most humane option. There is seldom a definitive indicator; rather, one has to try to evaluate the current condition of the pet by examining their behavior and comparing it to how they acted when well.
No one wants them to suffer, but neither do you want them to be deprived of the joys of life prematurely by an irrevocable decision. If only they could talk and tell you whether or not they are in pain! Instead, you have to look for signs that they are suffering, many of which are extremely subjective.
In Lemon's case she still wanted to eat and drink, and she had no litter box problems. She continued to enjoy going out on the patio each morning. Yet she obviously had pain after eating, since she would paw at her mouth and we could see some blood on her paws afterward. While she did not vocalize or meow in pain, the fact that she hid in various places led us to believe that she was not enjoying her usual quality of life. She did continue to enjoy being petted and rubbed (avoiding the upper mouth near the growth); but we knew we could not let her suffer. It would only get worse.
Peace At Last
After a while, it became obvious that we had delayed the inevitable long enough. Lemon gazed up at us for help, obviously in distress; so we had her painlessly euthanized as we petted and reassured her. As the drugs took effect, she just totally relaxed and you could see that her pain was now gone.
Our friend and neighbor Marty made a beautiful memorial stone marker, which we placed at the spot in the back yard where we had first seen Lemon.
Rest In Peace, Lemon
Page created June 27, 2015
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