I took a break from grading essays today to take Miss Minnie kitty to the vet. She has twice previously had cancerous lumps removed from her breasts, and now has two more. After a thorough exam, the vet thinks that the cancer has moved beyond the breasts into the lymph nodes, which are now swollen and hard. After much discussion, we have decided that further surgery will not change the course of the disease now, and will only weaken her. She is not a young cat -- at least 13 years old -- and frail in many ways. So our plan is to make her comfortable for as long as she continues to show an interest in food and life, and then ease her way out when life gets to hard for her.
Miss Minnie entered our lives in January 1996. We saw this little rag of a black cat running with an obvious broken back leg through the snow. She was holed up under an old, unused bridge over the creek near our condo. It took more than a week of putting out food before we could capture her, and get her to the vet. The vet was astounded that she'd been mobile at all given that her back leg was broken clean through just below the hip. It required multiple surgeries and metal pins to put Miss Minnie to rights. After all the x-rays and surgeries were completed, but while her leg still had its pin, we discovered she was pregnant. The only reasonable thing to do given her poor health was to do spay/abortion. Most of the fetuses were deformed due to the x-rays.
It was late enough in Miss Minnie's pregnancy that her hormone levels signalled to her that she had given birth. She looked around for kittens to protect, and found John and I. She treated us like her kittens. She would groom us, sit on our laps and defend us against the approaches of our other 9 cats, and attempt to herd us away from danger (like the top of the stairs). She was a fierce and protective mother to us. Ultimately the hormones faded and after several months, Miss Minnie settled in as a regular member of our human/cat family.