Monday, September 6, 2010

Chaz Bono, March 2010-Aug. 10, 2010

Dear Mother Catresa readers,

This still just doesn't seem real, even after nearly a month.

My beloved Chaz Bono kitten, at barely five months old, contracted the deadly FIP virus, and had to be euthanized on Aug. 10. It was a shocking and devastating turn of events for a kitten who was so full of life, spunk, enthusiasm and love. As FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) goes, the symptoms came on suddenly and fiercely, like a hurricane, and stole Chaz's life within days.

And it still doesn't seem real.

My baby - an ultra-rare and special MALE tortoiseshell, a 1-in-3,000 anomaly - was so unique, and not just because of his XXY genes (see a few posts down for more about Chaz Bono, the transgendered kitten). His coat was a beautiful swirl of black and orange, and his purr-sonality was a precious swirl of friendliness, congeniality, love and affection. That baby just bubbled with joy and spirit, and showered me with x's and o's. Whenever I would walk into my guest bedroom, where he stayed with a littermate, Chaz would jump up and run like a puppy dog, and blast his purr like a motorboat. I would scoop him up in my arms, fall back on the bed, and go "Mwah! Mwah! Mwah!", kissing him and giggling while I lay him on my chest, with his back down. I would tickle his belly, saying "Bunny kicks, bunny kicks, Chaz-ee-poo!", while he thumped me with his furry hind legs.

And it just doesn't seem real that my Chaz-ee-poo is gone.

He had been up at a pet store, sharing a cage with his black brother, Sherman, for a few weeks. They still had not been adopted, as adoptions had been slow, and I was picking them up for a cage break at my house, and a medical break for Chaz. He was showing symptoms of a URI (upper respiratory infection), along with listlessness and a loss of appetite that came on quickly. Then, his sweet little belly - the one I had tickled so many times - rapidly bloated, as if he had swallowed one of those miniature basketballs. When I picked Chaz up, I immediately took him to the vet we use for an x-ray and exam.

I knew that the symptoms could indicate FIP, but they could also signify far less serious diseases, so I just couldn't think the worst. No, it can't be FIP. Not my Chaz.

But, alas, FIP was the heartbreaking diagnosis: the belly distention came from a yellow liquid that filled his torso. And that could only mean one thing: euthanasia. My baby, just barely beginning his life, had reached the end of his way-too-short time on earth.

And it just didn't seem real. This couldn't be happening.

As traumatizing as it would be, I very much wanted to be there for the euthanasia, to help escort Chaz into the next life, in Heaven. I knew I cannot yet go where he was going, but I wanted to be the last person he saw - and my hands, the last loving touch he felt - as he breathed his last on earth. But - due to both a power failure at the veterinarian's office, and a three-way miscommunication - I missed out on being there. I felt furious and crushed that I didn't get to say goodbye and share Chaz's final moments with him. Yet, now, I see the peculiar incident as a likely act of God, who knew that I would be so distraught that I would be out of work for several days, instead of one, and that I would be just a mess had I been there. (Though, if given the choice, I still would have opted for it.)

That's why it just doesn't seem real: I didn't see my sweet kitten pass away, so it's difficult to accept in my heart that it really happened. I feel like I can't quite feel the grief fully, because it doesn't seem like Chaz died. It feels, often, like he just got adopted.

And maybe that's how I should view this: that Chaz merely got adopted. Because in a way, I believe, he did: my dearly loved Chaz got adopted by God, and sat on Jesus' lap on that heartbreaking day I lost him.

I want to believe that my baby is now frolicking in an emerald-green, sunny meadow, with thousands of other kittens that went before him, beneath the fabled Rainbow Bridge. Chaz is glowing with health and free of FIP - and probably of litterboxes, too. He is blissed out with unlimited catnip fields, toy mice, and clean drinking water from a glistening, pure waterfall. He's found other people to tickle his belly, now back to its normal size.

Yes, my dear Chaz, you were adopted by God. I have to believe that. It's the only way I can survive this heartache: knowing that, though that awful disease claimed your life way too soon and robbed you of the life you deserved down here, you are now happy in another dimension. Waiting for me and your littermates to arrive and join you, once our time here is up. And smiling and purring from up above every time I rescue another kitty in need, just like you.

I love you, Chaz Bono. I am so sorry about what happened to you. And I will carry you in my heart, and tickle your celestial belly, for always - until we meet again.


Your Foster Mommy