24 August 2011

~Radio Cats~ My Boy Maverick

Best friends.
Be it animal or human,
either one is good for telling secrets, sharing moments,
and holding onto as the years pass by.
Drawing of Maverick done by a friend in 1995

Some of my best friends have been in the animal category.
That probably doesn't surprise you, does it?
I have never written about Maverick.
The Siamese cat who came into my life,
 stole my heart,
and drove me crazy for his first 5 years of Life,
until he finally grew up a little!
He had a hilarious personality and a great sense of humor!
From the day he came home with me as a kitten,
he always slept on my pillow.
When I would have a migraine and be in bed for days on end;
Maverick never left me.
He had huge crystal, blue eyes.....

He had a fondness for Playtex rubber gloves and always had one stuffed in his mouth!
Then he would walk around the house and yowl.
And yowl, and yowl, and yowl.
Really annoying at times!
He was a talker as most Siamese cats are.
Sounding very much like an infant.
Once when I was living in Florida, I got a call at work from my apt. manager~
I needed to get home right away.
The police were there.
Apparently a neighbor had called the police thinking I had left a baby
unattended in my apartment!
You should have seen the faces of the cops when they saw Maverick!
Sometimes I still think I hear his baby-like yowl.
And it makes me smile...

{When Your Best-Friend is Ill}

In 1995 Maverick became ill.
He was 8 years old.
He displayed signs of weakness, weight loss,no appetite, constant urination,
and curling up in spaces that were never places he
would have sought out before.
Maverick was a total comfort cat.
He loved his comfy bed and heat!
 Most Siamese cats are heat seekers.

All of his symptoms came together in less than 24 hours.
One of the strangest being his "seal points" turned grey,
along with his entire face.
Upon taking him to the kitty doc, my vet took one look at him and knew.
Knew that Mav had Hyperthyroidism.
A benign tumor of the thyroid gland.
This is the most common Endocrine Disease in older cats.
In 1995 Radio-active Iodine Therapy for felines was rather new.
The only place in Georgia (where I was living) to offer the treatment
was the
University of Georgia Veterinary School in Athens, Ga.

{To UGA We Went}

The day Maverick and I made our trek to Athens was so very sad to me.
I was basically signing over my cat for an experimental procedure.
I didn't know if he would live or die.
The only other option at this time for Benign Tumor Hypothyroidism in felines
was a medication.
It was not a cure as the Radio-active therapy was.
 And the biggest drawback~
the medication had to be
Given at the exact same time every day, for the rest of his life!
No hour late. No hour early.
And the cost?
Around $1,000 per month!!

{Leaving Maverick}

Before leaving my best friend I had to sign a million documents.
Because he was having Radio-active therapy,
I had to sign that if I ever got Cancer, I could not sue UGA.
If Maverick died during the procedure I could take him home to bury him.
When maverick did come home, he was not allowed to lay on my bed for 6 months.
Because he would still be "Radio-active" and leave small concentrations of it where he lay
for hours at a time, and the bed being where I lay 7-8 hours a night was off limits.
I remember after reading and signing everything, and holding Maverick on my lap,
I just about put him back in his carrier, and bolted out the door.
I didn't think I could just leave him behind to wonder why I had abandoned him
with strangers in this cold, institutional setting.
I knew that after having his injection of Radio-active iodine,
he would not be touched by any human for 30 days.
After day 30, he would be moved into a different setting for cats
and each morning and night a tech would use a
Geiger-meter to test his toxicity level.

Each day, the same wonderful tech would call me at the farm
to let me know what level Maverick was at.
All the vet students had fallen in love with Maverick.
I had left kitty toys with him for when he was feeling better.
Because he was the only cat being treated,
the vet students let Maverick have the run of the lab!
He would walk around with his Playtex glove and yowl!
They loved it.
They loved on him...
Radio-active Iodine Therapy is now very common.
There are even specific clinics throughout the U.S.
that only do this life-saving procedure.
Cats who have received this treatment are aptly nicknamed,
Radio Cats!

{Coming home}

On day 92 the tech called to say Maverick's
Geiger-meter readings were at safe levels for humans.
And he was cured! The tumors were gone.
{and his seal points eventually returned!}
I could bring him home!
I don't know who was happier on the drive home~
Me or Maverick!
He walked in the house and yowled.
His best friends, Lucy and Presley,
 were so glad to have their leader home.
Lucy and Presley were kittens when they rescued.
And Maverick became a "surrogate Mama"to them.
And later as they grew up, a Best Friend.

Over the years the 4 of us made a lot of moves, because of the horsey biz.
But these 3, Maverick, Lucy and Presley always took it in stride.
Unusual for cats, who by nature, are such creatures of habit.
On each move they always had each other
to love
to comfort
to play with
to cuddle and sleep with in their big wicker bed.

{Saying Goodbye}

Maverick left us on a cold Winter morning in 2008.
He was just a few months shy of 22 years of age!
Thirteen years had passed since Maverick's
experimental treatment.
Because so many people, over the years, had come to know and love
this quirky Siamese named, Maverick,
I sent a mass email with his kitty obituary....
The University of Georgia sent a most wonderful, kind reply.
They also let me know, that to date, he was the longest
survivor of their
Radio-active Iodine Therapy Program!
J buried him behind our old smoke house,
in his favorite blanket and with his last Playtex rubber glove.

He was some awesome cat.
But an even better best friend,
to felines, canines, and humans alike!
There are days I really miss him.

I loved him to the moon and back.........

Thank you so much for stopping by.
It's always nice to have friends come visit :)


How Radio-active Iodine treatment is performed in Felines.

The treatment itself is very simple, although done with highly sophisticated, expensive equipment.A preliminary technetium scan is done. Technetium is a short-acting radioisotope, which is injected, then absorbed by functioning thyroid tissue.A very specialized nuclear medicine instrument called a gamma camera takes pictures of the cat, and all the areas of absorption of technetium can be seen. This scan shows the size and location of the thyroid tumors so determination can be made whether they are benign or malignant. The veterinarian can then calculate a very individualized dose of radio iodine for the cat.That dose is given by subcutaneous injection, just like a vaccine. Since the thyroid is the only body tissue that reacts to iodine,
the entire dose is absorbed by the abnormal thyroid tissue. 


TexWisGirl said...

he lived a good long time because of you and the faith in those treatments!

Deb said...

What a special and beautiful kitty. I'm glad the treatment worked and you were able to have him for so many more years. Love the drawing of him.

It's always nice to see a post from you when I turn on the computer.

You and J have a nice evening!

(GBS) NewsFromTheHill said...

Twenty two!!! Oh I know your heart ached when he passed away. ;(

What glorious blue eyes! Siamese have such grand personalities.... but then every special pet does don't they?

Gail said...

What a touching story...and I am so glad you had those extra years with him.

Joyce Ann said...

Wow 22 years, how wonderful for you. That was your reward for being a trailblazer in medicine. What a wonderful story.

Lynne said...

I loved learning about Maverick Misha.
What a love!
And 22 years, I don't think I have ever heard of a cat living that long.

You write so beautifully, like drawing a picture.
Thank you ARTIST friend!

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

Misha, What a touching story!! I grew up with Siamese cats and they are my very favorites because I have such fond memories of them. What a wonderful, wonderful companion Maverick was! I know that Siamese are the longest living breed of cat, but I think given his 'challenges' his good long life is a tribute to your love, care and devotion to him!

Maura @ Lilac Lane Cottage said...

Hello Misha!
You are such a wonderful 'momma' to all your pets...large and small and they are well loved and cared for. Maverick was a very lucky kitty to have been loved by you. What a strenuous procedure to have to go through...I imagine they learned a lot from your 'boy'. Who'd have thought that he would live to the ripe old age of 22 after all he'd been through. That's proof of your love and good care. That drawing is a beautiful keepsake of your Maverick. This was a wonderful post Misha. I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday!
Maura :)

Flat Creek Farm said...

I loved reading about Maverick! Our old Ace kitty lived to the ripe old age of 21 (if my memory serves me correctly). Maverick was a miracle kitty! Very interesting about the radioactive treatment too. -Tammy

Flat Creek Farm said...

p.s. i love your blog re-do!! Heck, I can't even seem to find (or make) the time to post.. lol!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

What a neat story, Misha... Maverick was an incredible cat and gave you alot of love for many years ... AND you obviously gave him alot of love BACK... Glad the procedure worked for him.

Great story.. Thanks for sharing. Pets are just so special to all of us.

Hartwood Roses said...

What a wonderfully uplifting story!! Oh, the things we do for our cats. (We have Maggie, the world's most expensive Petsmart cat, so I understand.)

There's just something about a Siamese cat, isn't there? They burrow into your heart, and make us love them like no other. We always had a Siamese while I was growing up, and my dear husband surprised me with a blue point kitten for Christmas in 1993. (Take a look at the bottom of my sidebar to see our Cindy, named after Cindy Lou Who because of her big blue eyes.)

pilgrimscottage said...

Maverick couldn't have had a better person to love him.

Red Gate Farm said...

Thank you for sharing such a wonderful memory with all of us. As a fellow pet owner I know how much Maverick meant and means to you still....


Rural Revival said...

This just goes to prove, there is always hope and that hope you gave Maverick gave him and you 13 more years of memories. Sweet Maverick!


Bianca said...

Just read this story.... sniff sniff... bawling my eyes out.....
I had a cat like that, Sjaak. My baby, my everything for only 7 years. He dried my tears when the wanted baby never came, in lonely hours and lick my tears away. Sleeping under the cover next to me or on my feet when Henk was home. I miss that little guy still, even if I have four other babies now. They will never be able to replace him. He Was Unique. And so was Maverick.
In kittie heaven, maybe playing with eachother? who knows......
Thanks for sharing.

Donna said...

I am laying on my bed with Sinatra by my side. I think he is Maverick's brother! Wonder how that happened?? Maybe Heaven sent and I have believed it since the first day I saw Sinatra.