Prince Charming

 I can’t remember anything that happened on May 3rd of 1999.  There are also a vast number of days in 2005 that I have forgotten.  Now that I think about it, all of 1973 and 1993 are lost to retrievable memory.  2008 is foggy as well, other than the Mariners were terrible, which is not that exact of a memory.  Life seems to only allow that one lives life or writes it down.  The time for both is elusive.  Last Thursday was another busy day in practice.  We did good work but I’m already fuzzy on the specifics.  I have practiced for roughly 5000 days and I constantly wish I could record and recall more from them.  I don’t believe that they are gone and consider today their summation.  But, when memories fade I perceive my window to be James Herriot closing.  I have had the pleasure of working on so many remarkable creatures.  I don’t want to forget when Pooh, Bala, Tessa, Bear, or Barney came into my exam room.  I need to believe that nothing good ever dies and when I write about my patients I feel like they live on.

       I’ve said before that I don’t like to admit that I have favorites but I clearly do.  I have treated and cared for many wonderful cats but my favorite kitty patient was a cat named “Prince Charming”.   Perhaps I was swayed by his name, but “PC”, as I called him, was regal.  He was a face rubbing extrovert who didn’t mind coming to the vet.  The face rubbing (also called bunting) cats that interact with the world by tilting their heads and then running into their environment with their face and full body force are the best.  Cat like this are so social that even when fearful and scared they can’t help themselves from rubbing their head and face on us.  With his outgoing personality, PC made friends wherever he went and whenever he came to the clinic.  

I met him within just a short time of working at Lien.  He started at Lien before I did.  His mom used to walk down to the clinic when she was in high school and see Dr. Lien.  She remembers when Dr. King was the new guy in 1968 and she was there, obviously, when Larry hired me in 1990.  Prince Charming quickly became my favorite patient over relatively routine care and I got to know him well treating him throughout his life.  His sister cat “Katrina” was sick when I first met the family and I remember seeing the two of them together many times.  PC was a tolerant and trusting patient.  He didn’t like us doing things like catheters and other things we do but he didn’t fight us.  And, he didn’t blame us.  I know I can’t back up that last statement but you always felt he forgave your interventions.  He seemed to roll with it and move on.  There was always another face rub to say, “we’re cool”.   

Later in his life PC developed lymphoma in one of his eyes.  He had to have that eye removed and started chemotherapy.  Lymphoma is always considered systemic and not just in one place.  He only tolerated a brief time on chemotherapy.  His mom and I decided his reaction to the chemotherapy was too intense and we didn’t push further treatment.  He did fantastic though.  The short time on medication put his cancer into remission.  His type of cancer typically will relapse in 7-9 months; faster relapse would be expected with incomplete treatment.  PC stayed in remission for over two years.  When it came back, it recurred in his other eye and there was little that would help him further.  His illness after initial chemotherapy was brief and transient and he felt great and was very much himself for the duration of his remission.

After PC died, his mom gave me some pictures of him that I recently ran across.  Her husband is now gone too and many of the pictures were with Glen.  I enjoyed the two of them so much.  I promised PC’s mom years ago that I would write someday about him.  This is a short tribute. 

All these years have passed and he’s still my favorite.

Timothy R Kraabel, DVM, DABVP (Canine/Feline Practice) - Outreach Chairman, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners