23 April 2007

Sammy, 1994-2007

Sammy, my beloved tuxedo cat, died on 21 Apr in my arms. As my last post indicated, we were winning the battle against his skin cancer. Unfortunately, his kidneys could not take the strain and they gave out. Thankfully, the end came quickly (about 24 hours from okay to dead) and he was not in pain at any point.

I adopted Sammy from an animal rescue. He had been turned in to them at about age 8 and had been there for 2 years, so he was about 10 when I took him home. I had him for 2 1/2 years and in that time he blossomed into a marvelous cat. When he came home with me, he weighed 20+ pounds, his coat was a dull grey with dandruff, and he didn't like being held. Worst of all, his weight kept him from being a cat. He couldn't walk more than 20 feet without a rest. He couldn't sleep on his side because he couldn't breath. And he couldn't stretch because his back was so sore. Well, after a month of convincing him that raw meat was actually edible, he lost weight, his coat became glossy, and he could do all kinds of cat things!

Then after a few more months, he started to truly trust me and became a love sponge. He learned that hugs were fun, a warm lap was better than even the sofa, and being groomed was pretty darn good! To say he returned my love for him is an understatement -- he returned a whole lot more!

I have a lot of good memories of him, which I will cherish. My top 5 are:

  1. He wagged his tail like a dog. Rarely would he lift his tail above his back, but instead he held his tail low and when he was happy or expecting a treat, he would wagged it slowly back and forth just like a dog. I've never seen another cat do this on such a consistent basis.
  2. He used to "help" me cut up the meat for his food. Whenever I would be standing at the kitchen counter, cutting up meat, he would come and sit next to my feet. Then he started reaching up to the edge of the counter. Then he found if he bumped my hand with his paw, I might drop a piece, accidentally of course. It was a fun game we would play.
  3. He was a great snuggler. If I would take a break from painting and go lay down on the sofa for a nap, he would appear and lay on top of me. If I let him into the bedroom at night, he would lay right next to me, under the covers. And anytime he heard me get out a DVD, he was ready to snuggle some more. All this from a cat who originally wouldn't let me hold him or pet him more than once.
  4. He loved scratching his back on the floor. Once he lost the extra weight, he discovered that he could roll over onto his back and squiggle across the floor, thus scratching his back. It was also a good laugh to see this large (he was 13lbs), distinguished (tuxedo cats look so formal) cat acting so silly!
  5. He used to like me to chase him around and then would hide in the shower. Again, once he lost weight, he became very playful. Sometimes he would follow me to the garage door and wait for me to come back in. When I did, I would reach down to pet him and he would take off running. I, of course, would follow him. His favorite 'hiding' place was the shower. (Black cat in a white tile shower stall -- not the best of hiding places!) What was truly funny was when he would do this right after I had taken a shower. Then he would rocket out of the bathroom, almost knocking me over sometimes, and get to living room to clean himself off! (Sammy wasn't a big water fan!)

I could go on and on about this special cat. He never complained (unless his dinner was late), always was there to give me a hug, and stole my heart. He was truly a wonderful friend who taught me, among many things, that older kitties have a whole lot of love to give.

Sammy, my dear friend, you will be missed beyond words.

19 April 2007

Sammy, Art, and Chaos

I thought I should post an update on Sammy and to let everyone know I'm still alive.

As for Sammy, the new herbal remedies seem to be working. That's good and bad. The good part is the tumors are shrinking and he's feeling a bit better. I'm even beginning to move from hoping this will work to expecting it to work. I'm not sure that's a good idea because he has a long recovery ahead of him, but at least I think the cancer is on it's way out. He still has a number of small and medium tumors, but at least the one in his mouth is now 1/2 the size it was.

The bad part of all this is the damage the cancer has done to his jaw and neck area. I won't go into details, but it's not pretty. This area will never be normal but it should be functional. He stopped eating on his own last weekend, so I've been feeding him with a syringe, but he can eat cat treats on his own. It's just the tumor in his mouth and on his throat has made him hesitant to eat enough to keep him going, hence the forced feeding. I do feel bad about doing it, and if the herbs weren't shrinking the tumors, I wouldn't force feed him -- it's not something I enjoy. But he his acting better and barring complications, he should start healing soon.

Now, all this chaos has meant I haven't done any artwork for a while. Nor have I listed anything on eBay. Nor have I worked on my website. I must have very limited capacity as I can only concentrate on Sammy. I know some artists claim to thrive on chaos and do their best work when their lives are a mess. Maybe they can, but I can't. This doesn't mean that I want to live a boring life -- doing the same thing day after day. No, I like a bit of chaos to spice my life up. I just don't want chaos to be the dominant theme of the month!

Anyway, I am hoping that I'll get back to work tomorrow. (I should be able to get a bit done between feedings and medication.) It won't be easy getting back into doing art after almost a month off, but I do have some paintings that I really want to do, so that's where I'll start. And maybe by the first of May, I'll get back to listing on eBay. And updating my website. And emailing clients. And.... well, all the other art business stuff I have to do. But I need to get working on the art first, before moving onto other things.

10 April 2007

Retooling my Life

I just thought I should check in and let people know that I'm still alive.

So is Sammy, my cat. He's getting his new herbal medicine every 3-4 hours day and night which means I'm exhausted. I don't know how he's doing because it's too soon, but I have my fingers crossed.

One nice thing about taking this time off from doing paintings for eBay is that I've been able to see things better. Fact of the matter is I hate my life. I hate doing quick paintings for eBay just to have things up daily -- there's no time to plan, craft and carefully painting a painting. I hate doing paintings without meaning -- there's no time to put 'soul' into a piece if one is suppose to do a painting a day. I hate having no time to doing anything else except thing about what's next for eBay -- there's little time to take care of my fruit trees, cook nice meals, or just relax. And I hate selling my art for ridiculously low prices -- one recenly sold piece netted me $2/hr.

So, thanks to Sammy, I quit. And I'm rebuilding my life into something I can enjoy and live with. This means I have lots of flowers planted outside and I eat most of my meals outside. This means I'll be doing larger paintings that may take me 3-6 days to complete, plus additional time to do the prep work. And this means that these larger pieces will have larger prices. While I still will be doing some smaller pieces, most will be larger. And I'll be only be listing 2-3 pieces a week -- 1-2 larger ones and then smaller ones.

And now, it's time for a nap.

02 April 2007

Bad News about Sammy

I really don't feel like writing much, but I also feel guilty about not writing. Things haven't been going too well here.

As I wrote some time ago, my cat Sammy had a small growth removed. Well, it came back and spread. It spread to the inside of his mouth, among other areas. Figuring out what he can and cannot eat has been a challenge. My vet, a homeopath, has no more medicines to try on him, so I'm on my own. For the last week or so, I've been using creosote tea on his tumors. This has slowed their growth and spread down and helped make him more comfortable. (He isn't sitting around looking miserable with his tongue hanging out since I started using it.) The problem is the tumors in his mouth -- how does one teach a cat to gargle with a nasty tasting herb tea? There's a couple of other herbs to try but I'm worried about running out of time.

Unless one of these herbs works, there will come a time where I have to choose between euthanizing him or putting in a feeding tube to give him one more chance. Right now, he's active (as much as he ever was), he's interested in eating even though it's painful, and he seems like he wants to live. But if these things change, then I have a decision to make. I'm not thrilled with making this decision alone, as hubby will probably be on the road.

Needless to say, I haven't had much energy left to make art, or list things on eBay, or do anything else. And my attitude is bad as I'm tired of people saying stupid things, when they even bother to talk to me. (It's amazing how people stop talking to you when you have a dying cat!) I'll get thru this somehow and I'll get back to doing art. But there will be changes -- no more daily listing on eBay, no more 'giving' my work away, more important/personal art, and more time for me.

So, if I don't write anything for another 2 weeks, you can guess as to what happened. Maybe you'll be wrong and the 'voodoo' herbs will work. I hope so.