I almost titled this post “Meet the Community Cats #9.”
But that’s not quite right; you’ve already met Boots. You just don’t know him in his Community Cat existence yet.
The funny thing about becoming a Community Cat is that it’s simultaneously awesome and disturbing (kind of like the song Pants on the Ground).
The awesome factor is easy to see. Living in the Lobby or offices means constant access to human bean affection and highly-coveted “junk food,” not to mention access to all the paparazzi – i.e. snap-happy visitors – you can stand.
But the disturbing factor is impossible to ignore. Generally, you only get to become a Community Cat for one of two reasons: either you so hate sharing a suite with 17 roomies that you’ve gone on hunger strike (exhibit A: Jenny), or you’ve developed a serious condition that makes us want to keep a close eye on you and dote on you shamelessly.
I wish I could say that Boots fell into the first category.
Where we left off in Boots’ story, he and brother/nemesis Pause were keeping us on our toes with their battles royale. Ultimately, Pause’s Boots-bashings became so frequent and brutal that we opted to separate the brothers. While Boots remained in Suite B, Pause made the move to Suite C (where, in the company of Tiny and Milo, he’s suddenly not such a brawler after all).
Meantime, we scheduled a big exam for the more bashful brother. Our vet had been concerned when she detected a heart murmur in Boots, so, just to make sure all was well, we put him on the list to receive a cardiac ultrasound. Often, a heart murmur won’t translate to anything worrisome in an ultrasound. On the other hand, it may point to that most common of feline heart diseases, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which needs regular monitoring and repeat ultrasounds.
Either of these outcomes would have been okay – not excellent, but okay. Many the young cat has been diagnosed with HCM or a heart murmur and gone on to live long, lively years in a forever home. In fact, a kind family was seriously considering adding Boots to their home at the time of his ultrasound.
Bashful Boots was such a good boy for the procedure. As gentle as ever, he put on his brave face and held still as the scary, noisy clippers shaved a small spot on his chest for the ultrasound probe. Dr. C and Denise spoke to him in gentle, soft tones that reassured him he was loved even in the midst of Big Scary Things.
But there was nothing to love about the sight on the ultrasound screen: HCM plus pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart).
At only three years of age, our brave, gentle Boots is already in heart failure. Heartbroken, his potential adopters decided they couldn’t give him the kind of care he would need and deserve now.
When I heard all this, my own heart leapt into my mouth and I felt my eyes burning with tears. “So how long does he have with us?”
That’s when the silver lining burst into gleam.
It turns out that “heart failure” doesn’t necessarily mean “going to die very soon.” (Who knew?) In fact, Denise and Dr. C reassured me, Boots may have many, many months – maybe even more – yet to live and love. A trio of medications, combined with close monitoring and repeat ultrasounds every 3-4 months, can help to keep our boy feeling good long into the future.
It was unanimous that the tuxedo snuggler should enjoy that future as a Community Cat. And so it is that bashful Boots has made the move to the Lobby.
Although he’s the youngest of the Community Cats, Boots wasn’t initially feeling his oats around his elders. Mr. Grey and Yasmine are about as far from Pause as Ringoes is from Neptune, but Boots wasn’t taking any chances. His first two days as a Community Cat were spent huddled under a blanket, then tucked beneath the long tank we use for Tashi‘s hydrotherapy.
But as you can see, the love bug with the big head, too-big heart and sweet soul has now found his courage.
As soon as Boots realized that Lobby = lap central, he was in his glory. No lap is safe; sit down for mere seconds, and you’re bound to be Boots-blessed. Your pants will be smothered in black and white hairs for a while, but your heart will be touched by Boots’ gentle spirit as long as you can remember.
Here’s praying that our tuxedo sweetie has as much life left as he has has love in his heart. I will keep you posted on our beloved new Community Cat right here.