Saturday, May 25, 2013

Lost It: Zevon

Ok, so I don't want to get too heavy or anything, but there has been a reason for my lack of posts in the last week.  One of our beloved cats died a week ago.  Zevon (pronounce it Zeeee-Vaughn) was a huge bad-ass and inspiration for some of my work, specifically my recent foray into the cat designs.  He was a barn cat that we brought home after my aunt's wedding in the country, along with one of his littermates and three other kittens from another litter in another barn.  I kept one of those, too--a Maine Coon mega-cat I named Clover. 

This was 2003...I had my own apartment, was a junior at KU, and working as a server at a restaurant on Massachusetts Street (since closed).  I brought them home on Halloween and started my new life as a Person With Cats.  They were so small and puffy and adorable, it was painful to leave to go to class or work.  

The top picture is from the first night he was with me.
The bottom is before I even brought him home when
he was still at mom and dad's.  He's lounging with his
littermate, another cute Persian farm cat.
So sweet!  Glad I had an English class that semester.  Their ability to weigh me down with cuddles really helped me get through all the books I had to read.
Napping with the babies post-Thanksgiving dinner.  I didn't know it then, but
I'd wake up with Zevon on me like this many more times over the next
ten years.

OMG!  The sweetness.

My best friend was a photography major and I took full advantage of her skillz and my lack of money to have a family photo session.  I gave the pictures as gifts to my family for Christmas, because obviously.

He never loved being held in the air that much.
So he began filling out a bit, his stripes started to come in...
Proof I was a server and not a stripper--see those ones and fives? 
That was as good as it got in my college town.
The summer of 2004, before this kiddo even turned one year old, his health problems began.  I noticed some scabs that seemed weird on his nose and ears.  Long story short, he was diagnosed with pemphigus.  Nothing we couldn't handle, just some steroids for the rest of his life every night before bed, no bigs.

And THEN, the last week of my college career (except that pesky last class I had to take over the summer), he broke his hip.  Out. Of. Nowhere.  So...they removed the head of his femur, which would naturally replace itself with scar tissue over time.  This surgery all happened when I was visiting my sister in D.C. with my now-husband, Sean.  Awesome person and inspirational artist T.J. took care of him during this time, doing physical therapy with him and taking him to vet check ups while we were gone.
Rocking his E-collar (Elizabethan, for those not in the know) so he wouldn't
chew on his stitches.
AND THEN IT HAPPENED AGAIN, six weeks later, to the other side.  By this time Sean and I had moved in together and I was taking that last pesky class.  The vet said that it was possible that it could happen again, and I was all like, "Psshht, naw."  Turns out it's some sort of syndrome that indoor, neutered cats under age two experience sometimes. 

So, we all got over that and continued on with our (nine) lives. 
Awkward teenage years.
Sean and I moved to Kansas City and I began making art.  Zevon was right there with me the whole time.  I think for a while the only thing I had on my first website was a picture of him sitting among the vinyl on my work table.  Always a great combo: sticky stuff and cat hair.
Modeling clock faces, winter 2011.

Lazy-ass studio assistants.

Sticker inspiration! 

Fall of 2012 I started drawing in my little wonky way.  I didn't want to be the Person With Cats who was also the Person Who Makes Cat Art, but after all these years and cats I decided to just go ahead and do it.  I needed a new cat shape from the ones I had been drawing (classic domestic shorthair, basically) and then looked over at Zevon...Well, he's a pointy-er shape than what I have, let's draw him!

Around the same time I noticed he was acting a little weird, then really weird--hiding, not eating.  After a very dramatic morning vet appointment, then a rush to the emergency vet, and lots of tests, it turned out he had some advanced autoimmune disease that they couldn't quite pin-point (also, usually a dog problem, apparently).  They shaved his tummy for a sonogram and his shoulder for a biopsy to rule out everything else, and after getting some meds and whatnot, he was back home and full of beans.
I mean, really, how bad-ass does he look here?  Warrior chic.
Throughout the winter his numbers (platelets, etc.) were up and down.  We adjusted his meds, kept adding more and trying new stuff, but the trend was down overall.  Every morning when I woke up with his stinky breath in my face I saw it as a gift.  I took many opportunities to snuggle and kiss his sweet face and pat his tummy (it was a great drum, especially after a meal). 

He started doing this hilarious thing where he'd fall asleep on the back of the couch so deeply he'd roll right off.  When he hit the floor, waking up, he'd just walk around like nothing happened.  "Nothing to see here, I totes meant to do that."
Super Sunny Cuddle Time with Zevon and Clover.  I'm hiding behind them.
They washed each other and we were a big pile for a long time.
March 2013
His quality of life was good up until the end, with only the last day being a bad one.  It was the toughest decision of my life, saddest day of my life, but it had to be.  I hope by sharing this I'm able to connect with those of you out there who have had to say goodbye to a loved one.  Also, if you get a diagnosis of pemphigus or another autoimmune disease, know that your sweetie can live a long and happy life, enriching yours for a long time.  There's new scientific discoveries everyday!  Chin up!
Never gonna forget those baby blues.  Never gonna forget my first love.
Squeeze your babes extra tight for me, ok?  The love of an animal is so special...

Thanks, everyone.  And remember, have your pets spayed or neutered!


  1. Des, as I write this, tears are streaming. I know how much you loove your kitties. I feel it with my girls every day.My heart breaks for you & I'm so, so sorry.

    I know that Zevon couldn't have had a better mommy if he'd spent a million dollars buying one.

    I love you, sister. Pets Hotel survivors for life.

    Xoxo- Kelly

    1. Aww! You're the sweetest! I was trying to be upbeat, but, you know, my heart is still ripped out. Thank you so much. Zoie and Asia don't know how good they have it.