Hal – The Gentle Giant

Hal_350pxAll the cats we have helped are unique animals, but every now and then, one will touch us in a special way. We rescued Hal from the city shelter, where we had gone to retrieve another cat. We saw Hal and something about him touched us deeply, so we brought him with us as well. Living on the streets had left him with a cauliflower ear and we discovered he had become FIV positive. In spite of all he’d been through, he had a sweet personality and was a very affectionate cat. He was a big boy, weighing 20 pounds, but he was always calm and gentle. We thought of him as Mr. Cool, and he soon joined our community of foster cats.

Hal_1Hal was positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and although this cannot be transmitted to humans, it can move to other cats if they are bitten in a scuffle. Although Hal did not fight with other cats, we wanted to be safe, and he joined Magnus, our other FIV kitty, in a special room we had set aside for them. This was a glassed-in porch that with a heated floor that was bright and cheerful all-year around. Hal loved being able to look out at the back yard of the shelter house from the cat tree and beds he shared with Magnus.

In early December, 2011, we noticed that Hal was having difficulty in his litter box. Urinary blockage is very serious and needs to be dealt with quickly, so we took him immediately to the veterinarian. He spent several days in the hospital being treated for the inflammation and swelling that was blocking his ability to pee normally. He finally started to urinate on his own, albeit not in normal volume, and he came home with antibiotics and medicine for inflammation. We were optimistic that he would return to normal, but he continued to struggle to pee. He was blocked and in serious trouble, so we took him again to the vet.

Hal_2Hal spent Christmas in the hospital, and was his usual friendly self. He remained alert, curious about the hospital, and friendly with the staff. Unfortunately, he did not respond to treatment, and his urinary tract remained inflamed and badly swollen. There is a surgical procedure for male cats that reroutes the urinary tract to aid them in peeing if they have a tendency to blockages from crystals or other matter that forms in the bladder. We have seen this surgery work well for other cats with similar problems, and decided to give him this chance.

We were anxiously awaiting Hal’s recovery from surgery when the call came – Hal had advanced cancer. The tumor had invaded his urinary tract, and was causing the blockage and inflammation. We were prepared to treat this condition as well, but were given the sad news that the cancer was pervasive.

Although Fabulous Felines has a strict policy of providing medical treatment, no matter how costly, to any cat who can be restored to health, we had no alternative. There simply was not enough healthy tissue to allow successful treatment. The only humane decision was to let Hal go. Our gentle giant and friend passed on December 30, 2011. The memory of his friendship, sweetness, curiosity, and courage will remain with us always.

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