I’ve mentioned before about my cat Max, the one that somehow survived cancer despite all odds, but his brother, Alan, has dealt with just as much - if not more - hardships in terms of health problems.

Perhaps it runs in the family, but Alan is one of those cats that you’d be willing to do anything for in order to keep him going. Here then is the story of the sweetest cat ever and the unfortunate habit of the world to try and crush his spirit.

A while back, when we prematurely lost our cat Alex, my family decided we’d adopt two cats. Max was our first choice as he had a very outgoing personality, constantly meowing for us to take him home, but although Alan was sitting in the cage next to him, I was searching elsewhere for the second cat. My initial thought was that I should get an older cat since it’s harder for them to get adopted out, but when we put this much larger chunk next to Max in a play room, there was much hissing and aggression, so we knew that we had to keep it simple and go with the other striped kitten in the cage, so we settled on both Max and Alan.

Immediately we learned that the two cats were vastly different. Max was loud, curious, and overall a big spoiled baby who’d sass back. Alan was quiet and had a very feminine mew when he did speak, but he always listened and proved to be a surprisingly calm cat in all situations. When the shelter worker had to implant their ID chips, Max freaked out and clawed the heck out of his hand, whereas Alan just let him do his work. This trend would continue on later in life as Max would always argue while Alan would just do as he was told.

Interestingly, both cats were raised as indoor-only cats from kittenhood, so the outside world was always a complete mystery. If we left the door open, they would both try and escape, but in different ways. Max would bolt out and then stop just a few feet from the door, panic, and run back inside. Alan, however, would slowly wander out, but then he’d just keep wandering until you called him. Then he’d turn around and walk back inside as you asked.

By the time Max had his bout with his tumor/cancer and pulled through, Alan had only shown that he was a healthy, albeit fat, cat. He was active enough, but he kept getting bigger and bigger, until eventually something happened and he hit a breaking point. For one reason or another, he began losing an alarming amount of weight until he was nearly skin and bones. A trip to the vet told us that we would have to feed him ourselves, which proved to be nigh impossible, eventually resulting in the last-ditch effort: A feeding tube.

We felt bad for Alan as he had a tube sticking out of his neck, but he also got to walk around with a cool scarf to tuck the tube in when it wasn’t feeding time, so he seemed happy. He was never one to complain, even when we had to pull him over for feeding time, which required us to take a bunch of liquefied turkey in a syringe and inject it into the tube, then down it with some water. It was always strange as Alan would just sit there, and then begin cleaning his lips like he had just eaten. After about a month of this he seemed to regain his strength and started eating again, so the tube was removed.

Not long after this Alan’s weight went back up … and then promptly back down to anorexic levels, resulting in a second attempt with a feeding tube. Also at this time we discovered better what was happening: Alan had both hyperthyroidism and type-II diabetes. We were worried as Alan was a sweet cat, but his surgeries were beginning to cost a heck of a lot more than we could handle, and now he would need insulin and syringes, as well as specific diabetic cat food, so his overall cost was climbing higher and higher, eventually beating out Max’s original medical bills.

After the second feeding tube, the vet offered to adopt Alan for their office if we couldn’t afford to take care of him as they said he was the sweetest cat they had ever encountered. He would never fight when he was getting an exam, never freak when he was getting a shot, and never cause problems no matter what. He was just a sweet cat with a medical condition, and they said they’d be willing to care for him for free if things became worse. Lucky for us, with the new medication and diet plan, Alan’s weight picked back up and things seemed to get better. Well, they seemed to anyway.

The beginning of Alan’s original problems seemed to crop up after I had left for college, so I naturally assumed his health problems were all my fault. After leaving and returning again following his health getting set back to normal, I found that for some reason his back legs stopped working correctly. We have absolutely no reason why, and neither does the vet, but Alan no longer walks on his toes on his back legs, but rather the whole foot like a rabbit. This means that whenever he walks around, his whole foot galumphs around, which would be sad if we knew he was in any way miserable because of this, but oddly he isn’t. He still purrs regularly, especially after getting insulin shots, and always flops into the kitchen when he hears someone opening the fridge or making food, so we just smile along and call him “Floppy.”

On last seeing Alan just a month ago, he seems to be doing great. Better than ever actually! His weight has returned to a healthy level and he’s even using his back legs a bit more, though not enough to make him look anything but silly. He’s still an incredibly sweet cat and though he’s not as quick on the draw anymore, he’s doing pretty well for an older cat.

What I always found strange is that while he and Max would wrestle a lot over the years, particularly when they were younger, Alan would never win. He was the bigger cat, but he couldn’t dominate Max properly, until his feeding tube was put in. Then suddenly he figured out how to put Max in his place, and since then every time Alan is skinnier than Max, he’s able to whomp on him good. Oh to be a cat!

I suppose the lesson here is one that we all know: When you have a family pet that’s nothing but loving, you’ll be willing to put up with anything and pay any cost in order to keep them alive and healthy. Alan has be one of the most expensive cats ever, but even after talking with my parents about letting him go the next time he has a health issue crop up, he’s still flopping around, happy as a spoiled cat could ever be. And as far as I can tell, he’s going to be around for a long time more, flopping as he goes.

BIO: Chris Pranger is a former editor and writer for www.SimplyCatBreeds.org which provides useful resources to help cat lovers everywhere. Chris has now moved on to work full time for Nintendo of America which means he will no longer have any spare time to write his wonderful stories about the cats in his life. All of us here at the Daily Mews office wish him well.

Dogs Come when Called

"Dogs come when called. Cats take a message and get back to you."

"Of course, every cat is really the most beautiful woman in the room."

Edward Verrall Luca (essayist)

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