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“Our Little Letter M”

From: Seth Dillingham In Response To: Top of Thread.  
Date Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2007 7:01:39 PM Replies: 1
Enclosures: Xodus.jpg (31K)

We lost a special little cat today. Her name was Xodus.

Officially, you'd pronounce that the same as Exodus. We tended to call her Zodus, or Zodie-Pop.

Why the weird name? Birmans are traditionally named according to the year of birth: they're all 'X' cats one year, 'Y' cats the next year, then 'Z', then back to 'A', etc. Xodus was seven years old.

In her first year she was the New England region's Best Birman Kitten. We have the ribbons and the plaque to prove it. The picture above comes from that first year. That sweet face and the bright blue eyes melted the judge's hearts the moment they saw her. The pronounced 'M' on her forehead, the perfect head shape, the classic Birman stance, and the thick, deep coat all helped her to win over and over again.

Later we found that she wasn't the healthiest cat in the house. She went into heat in "stealth mode," and got pregnant (with the willing assistance of Xerxes) more than once without warning us ahead of time. She was a breeder, so getting pregnant wouldn't normally be an issue, but she usually had trouble with her litters and we lost a lot of her kittens. We finally had her spayed a couple years ago (in fact, we stopped breeding altogether, and got them all 'fixed').

Corinne has always said that Xodus was a great nap cat. They'd snuggle up in the afternoons and Xodus would just lay quietly under the covers, against Corinne's side, until nap time was over. The other cats were never as good, they'd sometimes wake her up too soon. Never Xodus, so she tended to get a little preferential treatment in the afternoons.

The same could not be said for Xodus at night. Instead of cuddling up with us and sleeping quietly, she would always come crying to me, head-butt me, and make her signature cry: "MMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm!" That sound and the mark on her forehead produced the nickname, "our little letter M."

Another of our cats, "CP", took a strong dislike to Xodus. Being a much larger cat (she takes after her father, Xerxes), she would chase her into a closet or under the couch, and then stand sentry for hours to make suer she didn't come out. We'd put a stop to it whenever we saw it, but could never teach CP to just leave her alone and we couldn't guard Xodus all day long. For the last couple of years, she spent a little too much time hiding from the other cats.

We came home early this afternoon to the sound of a cat in loud distress. She wasn't making the "m" sound now, but I knew the voice. At first I thought that she was just tired of being hassled by CP. I lifted the couch with one arm, grabbed Xodus with the other, and brought her to the bedroom so she'd be ready for Corinne's nap time. She ran for the edge of the bed to jump down, and I immediately knew something else was wrong: her back legs weren't working.

Corinne was quite upset when I told her — of course — and asked me to please call the vet. The office was closed (Sunday afternoon before Christmas in a small town? Duh.) but Cheryl called back about an hour later and told me to meet her at the office at 3:30.

The diagnosis was a (likely) blood clot in a vessel that runs along the spine (aorta?), about 3/4 of the distance from her head to her tail. She had no feeling in her legs or her tail, and her feet were cold. Treatment would be very expensive, would not reverse the damage which was already done, and was not guaranteed to even clear the clot. Also, many cats (and dogs) who get these clots will get another one a few months later.

Little Xodus was obviously in pain. She hadn't stopped meowing since we came home.

I made the tough decision, told Xodus how sorry I was, and stroked her head and her little M until it was over just minutes later.

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