Tink and Tank keep heaping health issues on. Just to screw with my head, they keep adding issues that are individually non-lethal, like a sort of "add a straw to the camel" game. They were in to my veterinarian last week for blood and urine samples, and for Tink to have his eyes checked, as he now has a corneal ulcer, in addition to small irritations on his face. They also had both lost some weight. They are both on an antibiotic, and Tink is on two eye medications. One was quite pricey, but since my veterinarian has been doing a ton of work for me for basically free, I have no complaints there.
Tank has now followed Tink into bowel incontinence.
Through all of this they remain alert and personality-driven silly little cats. My veterinarian said to feed them whatever they like (previously I had been feeding them just super-premium dry food so they were on a single food) so they have re-learned the joys of running for the sound of a cat food can pop-top. The weather is nice so they explore the porch. But even with the weather so warm, they quickly run back to their heater and huddle up as close as they can (I had to put a grate in front of the heater to keep them from getting too close). They still love to snuggle with me even though now they are forced to remain on a fuzzy towel.
But they hate that they are now confined a big two-level Ferret Nation cage at night and when I'm not home, instead of being allowed to roam at large. And slowly they seem to be losing their willingness to explore now that they are subjected to regular regimine of medications, baths, face wiping, butt wiping, and caging. Right now the door to the porch is open. They just looked up, and then snuggled back down in front of their heater, uninterested. Once the sun hits the big dog pillow, they might be willing to shift there. But for just breeze and open air, they are not willing.
I am quite aware of the impact their appearance has on people unfamiliar with their issues when they come to my home and see these two dudes coming running up. Honestly, if you walked into my house and saw these kittens you'd wonder what abuses I'd been subjecting them to. Half-furless, skinny little faces that look like they've been starved (but fat little bodies). Unthrifty fur that looks like it could be resolved with just a bath (nope!). Crust on their eyes an hour after they have been wiped. Poopy butts an hour after having a bath. Poor little bugs!
Anyone who knows me knows I am not a person who hangs onto cats who are suffering. I don't want to live beyond when I am happy with my life. Especially now that I have cared for a person who has died, I know there comes a time when you wish God would just turn off the switch and call you home, while you are still able to ask for it. I used have a wildlife control business and had to kill scores of rabies-infected suffering raccoons. As life-or-death decisions go, rabies is a fairly simple one. Rabies is 100% fatal for wildlife, so you never have to feel "I could have done more."
While I admire many of the changes that the so-called "No Kill" movement has brought to animal sheltering and rescue, I have issues with the extremes some people have taken it to--keeping animals alive just so we can say we did everything we could...even when the animal will ultimately be killed anyway, is miserable in his continued existance, or is confined for the rest of his or her life. I've watched countless on-line dramas of kittens "saved from the awful shelter who was going to kill him" due to serious health issues, have watched the fundraisers and veterinary efforts...only to see that kitten ultimately die or be put down.
Absolutely there are many successes as well. But it is a difficult decision. When is it about the animal, and when is it about us?
I've never had kittens like this, nor been in a position where the answers to questions still pending may not come until Tink and Tank are too far gone to save. Honestly, I feel they already are. I feel that perhaps there are issues they have that perhaps could have been prevented if they had been diagnosed two months ago. But now that they already exist, can they be reversed? I'm almost certain that when test results come back, the answer will be "These young cats cannot survive much longer."
But what if they say "Oh look, just an inability to produce an enzyme!" (for the digestive issues--obviously more is going on than that)--and I have already had them put down for something that perhaps could have been mediated?
Because I travel for work, this issue does not just involve me. It involves different people who have fostered these kittens and are scheduled to foster them in the future. It involves a lot of issues that I don't share on a public blog (I whine enough as it is).
But mostly it involves Tink and Tank, and at what point "enjoyment of life" tips into "just existing for the sake of an answer." We know that cats enjoy grooming, being clean, eating, playing, and enjoying the company of others. Basically all Tink and Tank have at this point is their comfort in one another and with me. And food. They love food.