Friday, January 30, 2009

...only to live like royalty...

Every cat at the rescue center is special. They are treated with care, even far beyond that of many domestic house pets. Whatever they need it is there immediately, whether medication or surgery and even basics such as food or straw.

Many of our cats take medication daily, primarily for everyday health like vitamins, but many of them have aged to the point where medication is now just as important as an everyday meal. Prince was one of those cats.

Rescued from a circus in Peru, Indiana, Prince was one of nine tigers brought to the Rescue Center with memories of homes as small as a large dog kennel and abilities stretching further than roaring. Several of these cats came able to stand atop a telephone pole, all four paws. Others able to stand on their back two legs and walk in a circle. Cool to think about, but very sad when you realize the conditions of where these talents had come from. Could you imagine never being able to run?, to stretch out?, barely even walk? When you live in a circus cage and are only exercised for money and a cheering crowd, not only are the people at risk of an animal becoming aggressive from being caged, but also the cat in danger for their own life if they do turn on the crowd or their trainers. The circus is a dangerous life and defiantly not one fit for tigers: under nourished and poorly cared for.

Prince and Princess lived together on the West side of the center. Spending most of their days wallowing in a water tub, climbing a three tier tower, and lying in a box. No worries, screaming crowds, or small cages.

Cats have weird ways of passing on, many times disappearing to die alone or even hopping to a favorite place they haven't been able to reach for years. Unfortunately, last March Princess climbed the tower she hadn't conquered in years. Seeing that she was 18 years old, it was odd she pulled a stunt like this. As she reached the top, she had a stroke and passed away. Since her death Prince has never been the same.
They say that love separation is many times the hardest on animals and the stress of being alone will depress them to the point where they eventually pass as well. Prince was a prime example. He no longer went into the box which he once loved. He paced by day and from what we could tell never, NEVER, stopped walking. In all 20 years of life, Prince constantly walked.

In the past months Prince's health has steadily declined, his back legs unable to support his weight. We placed him on strong doses of Prednisone, an immunosuppresant that affects the immune system, many times used for kidney disease, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases...essentially a steroid. Just as with a pet at home, in the later years of their life you take into special consideration their pain, even the quality of life. The Pred, kept Prince walking (something he never stopped) and on his feet. The stagger he once had had ceased, his back legs supporting him again. When you take medications so often, they start to lose their kick and as with humans, Prince also had to take larger doses to keep him comfortable. His walk became a limp, the limp a stagger, and the stagger soon became a swagger to the point where walking a straight line was hard to do with out him dropping to the ground at least once.

Unlike Tish, Prince had no trouble eating and since he was taking a steroid, eating was something he loved to do most. He also continued regular excretion function.

Friday, Prince's health was falling fast, so was his back end. The spirit and life in his eyes had gone and his expressions were gray. He wasn't interested in his medication anymore and even struggled to visit us at the fence, something he once enjoyed doing. That afternoon we found Prince in Princess's side of the box, something he hadn't done in over a year. Motionless. Fred had already come to put him down, however, we feel Prince had the same idea. We poked his back side with a stick, hoping to rouse him from the box. Motionless. We saw him breathing, but no jump or reaction. We did tranquilize him just for precautions, no flinch, no movement, he just stayed still. He was ready.

It is always hard to put an animal down, but I believe it is harder to watch them suffer. At the end of their life you have to consider their comfort and the quality of life they are living, even if it does mean you have to assist them to the light.

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