It’s hard to believe it was only 4 months ago that we picked up a flea infested, eye balls infected 4 week old tiny calico kitty. Jon and I poured our hearts into nursing the little fluff ball back to health. We enjoyed watching her grow and start to eat food on her own. We were shocked about her potty training skills, before she was big enough to get up and down the companion way, she would use the cockpit scuppers as a litter box! I mean it doesn’t get better than that! Her love of fresh fish, and her growls of ferocity when eating chicken always made us laugh. I remember the first time she made it up the stairs to the cockpit by herself, I was on the midnight watch, and she damn near scared me to death when I felt something climb onto my lap. I think that is what she was going for. Seems like we had her for years.
It breaks my heart to write about this. Last Friday we took Benita to the local vet in Quepos to have her spade and get hers vaccinations done. The vet recommended that because Benita’s breathing has not improved since the last time she saw her, that we take her to the vet in Herradura who has a X-Ray machine. So the following day Josh was kind enough to drive us the hour and half up to the little town.
When the vet saw us, she did not seem too worried about Benita, saying that her breathing sounded good and she had good oxygen in her gums. But she wanted to do the x-Ray to see why little Benita was breathing using more of her stomach than her lungs.
The x-Ray confirmed the worst. The vet was shocked that Benita had been able to live this long with such an injury. She had a Herniated Diaphragm. Because of the pressure difference between the two areas the diaphragm separates, Benita had to work very hard for each breath, which is why her breathing looking labored.
The vet showed us the difference between Benita and a healthy cat, we were saddened to see that the area where her lungs are heart are located had been invaded by the organs normally kept back by the diaphragm. The unwelcome do organs were taking up the space her lungs needed to breath.
Even though we noticed no signs of pain or change in her kitten attitude, the vet informed us that, first off, Benita should have died hours after the injury that caused the herniated diaphragm, and second she would not live much longer with this condition. The more she moved and played, the more the invasive organs would have pressed on her heart and lungs causing her pain then death.
So we opted for the vet to operate. She had warned us that the survival rate was about 50/50, because Benita was so young, she had very high hopes. We said our good byes and good luck, I cried a lot and kissed Benita 1500 times before they took her into the back, leaving me speechless and my eyes filled with tears. About an hour into the surgery we got the call from the vet that Benita did not react well to the surgery.
Because of the type of surgery, when the vet opened Benita up the pressure would change and she needed to lungs up to the machine to breath for her. Once she started moved the organs back into place Benita’s lungs collapsed and would not refill with the machine.
We are beyond heart-broken. We brought Benita back to the boat, said our heart filled goodbyes and had a quiet sea burial under a star filled sky.
The boat is not the same with out her, and Jon and I are doing our best to stay strong.
She may have been a Mexican street cat, but boy did she have high-class tastes. Her favorite blanket was made of cashmere, which she would spend hours kneaded and purring as loud as a kitten could, then would proceed to attack our hand or ankles. She always seemed to lay down or stand right under my feet, I don’t know if she was trying to kill me, or just wanted to see me trip over her. As much as I hate to admit it, she was such a daddy’s girl, she loved to be as close to Jon as possible while he was working on any kind of project. Gez that kitten was a good one.
Having a kitten on board made the stresses of cruising a little less stressful, we are heart broken now and will never forget her, but I cannot stop looking down every road to maybe see another kitten in need of saving.
RIP Benita we love you