Sunday, January 17, 2010
Welcome to the family, Ban Lu
Today, after a very moving family event, we stopped by the Animal Rescue League of Southern Rhode Island to get Ban Lu, our hospice cat.
What a sweetie he is. He's tall and very, very skinny, with a lovely marble pattern on his back and a meaningful expression on his face. He has a quiet meow and sometimes his voice cracks.
He's on special food to control his vomiting. "Not just regular vomiting - projectile vomiting!" exclaimed the shelter lady. She assured us that he does no projectile vomiting while he's on the special diet. He loves food, so we'll have to start putting Melody's regular old cat food up when Ban Lu starts wandering around the house. Right now, he's in kitty confinement so he can have time to settle in.
Ban Lu is said to be great with kids, other cats, and all dogs. In fact, we learned, he was the shelter's official dog-testing cat! And he was good at it! He endured dogs lunging at him, cowering from him, and bouncing around him. He even had a few opportunities to steal their doggie snacks (although the shelter staff watched him carefully to make sure he never ingested any - that would ruin his special diet).
When we arrived home, I fed him a small amount of food, which he picked at, and then I sat on the floor with him. He came right over and draped himself across my lap, looking up at me with that meaningful look and purring softly.
He seems sad, like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Or maybe that's just my imagination. I know he has terminal cancer. But does he? There's no way to know.
We have already discussed the hope that his cancer is a fluke, or a misdiagnosis, or benign, or something, and that he'll surprise us all and live a long, healthy life. I doubt it. He's only three years old and he's already an old, scrawny thing. He looks eight lives gone, poor guy. He doesn't appear to be able to jump, not even onto the lap of a person seated on a chair. I think this cancer thing is for real. But he doesn't seem to need pain management yet, and he eats, cleans himself, and enjoys being touched.
We'll have good times together, however briefly, and we take heart in knowing that his last months will be spent in comfort in a real home full of love.
I learned from the shelter's website that they are a "limited admission" shelter, colloquially referred to as a "no-kill shelter." I'm intrigued by the former, more official designation; it certainly is descriptive of the downside of a shelter that doesn't euthanize its unwanted pets. However, this means that they can't accept new animals until a cage is vacated, and some animals may stay for months or even years. Riley had been there since June, and Ban Lu since May.
If people like the idea of no-kill shelters, supporting those shelters is crucial. Otherwise, the bulk of the rescuing efforts will fall to the "open admission" shelters anyway.