This is one of the hardest posts I’ve ever had to write, because it means Dusty is no longer with us, and I lost one of my best friends.
We don’t use the word ”favorite” too often at Tabby’s Place, because we really do love them all. But Dusty was my favorite and has been for many years.
I remember when I first formed a bond with Dusty. He’d just been beaten up by Nuttin, again, and looked all pathetic and ashamed that he’d lost a fight to his archenemy. Back in those days, Dusty was just FIV+ and a huge, healthy cat who was not used to losing a fight. From then on, Dusty and Nuttin were kept separate, never to be in the same room at the same time.
Over three years ago, Dusty was diagnosed with cancer and given 4-6 months to live. I cried with him back then, hugged him, told him how much I loved him, and gave him a never-ending supply of wet food. But Dusty was a fighter; no way was a little thing like cancer going to stop him, especially now he was getting all that wet food!
Since then he added hyperthyroidism to his list of medical problems, along with early renal failure, severe dermatitis, and one of the worst cases of heart disease our medical staff had ever seen.
Then, to complicate matters further, he had stomatitis, a very painful gum disease. Left untreated, it can be fatal, as the cat cannot bear to eat; the pain is too much. With his heart disease being so bad, it would be very dangerous for Dusty to be put under anesthesia to have the teeth removed that needed desperately to come out. But eventually it was clear; we had to take this risk, or let Dusty go anyway, as he couldn’t continue in such pain. He had the surgery at the University of Pennsylvania with a “dream team” of surgeons, including a cardiologist monitoring his heart throughout the whole procedure.
Meanwhile, back at Tabby’s Place I was pacing the halls like a worried mother. Then we got the news; Dusty had come through the surgery and things were looking good! I was so happy and relieved. The next day, Dusty came back to Tabby’s Place and started his recovery, which he did in his usual Dusty style. He was soon asking for plate after plate of wet food, which I was happy to provide.
A few weeks ago Dusty went into congestive heart failure, and his abdomen began filling with fluid. Our wonderful vet staff tapped off the fluid several times, and we gave Dusty a diuretic to help stop the fluid accumulation. So, for the past few weeks, Dusty had been day-to-day. Each day we were wondering, “will today be the day?”, but still, in his Dusty style, he wasn’t done yet. Always the fighter, always the big strong boy he always has been, Dusty had a little more fight in him and gave us a few more weeks of loving this wonderful boy.
Dusty was never happier than when he was outside in “his” solarium, and he spent his last few weeks lazing in the sun, getting lots of love and attention from all his fans, chasing butterflies and, of course, eating lots of wet food.
Dusty stayed strong right up to the end, which came Monday morning. He was very lethargic and having problems walking. The vet staff thought he may have thrown a blood clot. When I looked at him, he looked so tired and I knew it was time to let my friend go. The Tabby’s Place staff rushed in to be with him, and we gently let him go surrounded by a circle of love.
Dusty, I will never forget you. Whenever I see the FIV+ solarium, I will think of you. Whenever I hear of someone battling against all odds, I will think of you, and whenever I come across someone so strong and brave no matter what life throws at them, I will think of my Dusty.
We could all learn a lot from you Dusty. You didn’t give up; you were such a strong fighter through everything. You just simply enjoyed life and took one day at time. I miss you more than I can say, but I’m so glad you were in my life.
I love you my sweet boy xx