I know that no joke is funny once you've had to explain it but I feel I must explain. If you follow me on social media at all I've made some jokes and posted a lot of pictures of Elvis and most of them seem to have fallen flat. So perhaps this needs to be said:
IT'S OK TO LAUGH!
In fact, please do. Am I sad about his diagnosis? Of course. Am I walking around wringing my hands and rending my garments? I am not. That seems like a colossal waste of the time he has left not to mention fucking exhausting. There will be plenty of time to do that once he's gone and I don't need any rehearsal for this one. Don't worry, I'll hit my mark.
Last weekend there was a day when I was pretty sure he was done for real. I had a plan about calling the home visit vet and when we'd schedule his death and I told myself to go to sleep and wake up and then decide. I had Pony Express come by to check my math and she felt it was solid decision making.
I woke up the next morning to a cat who was better than he had been the day before. Not a lot better but not the same and not worse. So I didn't call. I put the plan in my back pocket and I'll use it when the time comes.
My theory is that Elvis is like the frog in the pot. If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water they'll hop out right quick because it's intolerable. If you put a frog in a pot of cool water and increase the temperature very gradually he'll stay put because he has time to get used to the feeling.
Elvis has been terminally ill for over a decade. That's not an exaggeration. Nearly twelve years ago I was told he'd live a couple more years. I changed and adapted his medications, his food, his environment to accommodate that and all the other diagnoses he got between then and now. He's adapted right along with me. His life hasn't been perfectly comfortable but he's been able to be a cat and do cat things and pretend he was a dog for a while, too, because he loved Emily.
A couple of weeks ago he got the current diagnosis of a tumor on his jaw and inside his mouth (or possibly several of them, it's unclear and not important). I adapted his food and his meds and his environment to accommodate this. His comfort levels seemed to dip and his epic grossness levels seemed to rise for a few days and I took that pretty hard to heart because I feel strongly about my responsibility to keep him from unnecessary suffering. Once we got the food sorted out and I was able to give him the meds regularly enough to get him used to the process he seems to have rallied.
Now I have a cat who sometimes bleeds from the mouth, who has a weird little eye thing going on, who eats almost exclusively baby food, who sometimes gets stuff caught in his throat and has a momentary freak out, and who does a weird wheezing thing about once a day. That same cat jumps up on the counter to beg for a meal, knows which exits to take to hide from his meds (but isn't using them as much), jumps up on the couch to yell at me and drag my hand over to pet him, sleeps plastered against my leg no matter the temperature, and continues to sharpen his claws on the sofa arm.
So there's a lot to be happy about. His fur remains as soft and silky as it has been since I started giving him all these wacky supplements years ago. He continues to use his signature move of laying only the front half of his body on my ribcage for 5 minutes every time I lay on my back in bed. The fact that he still sometimes likes to explore the hallway outside the apartment and is still surprised every time someone comes out of another apartment is hilarious.
There's a lot to make fun of. I should get you guys a recording of his voice. It's what Phyllis Diller would sound like as a cat. His totally nonchalant, "just looking" face when he wanders into the kitchen in the middle of the day is fooling NO ONE. His humble surprise when I always open up another jar of baby food when he does that is ridiculous. He's got me hopping and he knows it. The way he looks like a furry walrus when he's lounging around in the air conditioned comfort will never cease to make me laugh.
Every day I wake up and take a deep breath to remind myself that this could be the day and I have to be open to the idea. So far every day I've taken a long, hard look at Elvis and he's seemed like the same cat I've had for almost 16 years just a little smellier and in my head I hear, "Not today, Satan!"
I'm considering posting pictures of him at the end of every day and hash tagging them #NotTodaySatan because that makes me laugh.
I encourage you to laugh with me.