Tailessa's Time

Yesterday at CPT was another difficult day. Morning routines included preparing the binturong food and making the kinkajou food for later in the day.... lots of apples! Unfortunately the bints and kinks don't favor apples or citrus, and in the cold months that is the majority of what is available for them to have. CPT is lucky to receive so many fruit and meat donations.

Tailessa is one of the caracals in my assigned areas. Her enclosure partner is Kiowa, another female caracal. Caracals are another small African cat and originate in Sub-Saharan Africa. A bit larger than the servals, they resemble miniature mountain lions with a characteristic black tuft on both ears (see earlier posts for pictures). Tailessa has a blurry history prior to coming to CPT- her tail is missing, and we're not sure if it is natural or if something docked it. Tailessa was between 12-15 years old.

I went with one of the keepers yesterday to take Tailessa to the vet because she had been sick for the last three days. She wasn't eating, drinking, and yesterday they found her looking worse. When I saw her physical responses and physiological state, I had the distinct feeling that she was not long with us. Poor baby was very, very sick. Once we got her into the vet hospital, I helped the keeper anesthetize Tailessa. Upon her physical examination we discovered a very deep puncture wound in her back leg in addition to signs of respiratory infection and the worst dehydration I've ever seen. After giving her fluids, we then gave her a special bath to remove the unexpected lice larva on her fur (CPT has had a great record for fleas and lice: none). Blood tests came back and indicated that Tailessa was in kidney failure, and combined with the puncture wound and severe dehydration it was clear that humane euthanasia was the only option, as she wound not recover from the other problems with kidney failure. I am sad to have witnessed another graceful cat's life coming to an end. I really value the moment I have when I acknowledge the passing of a life. Watching a sentient creature becoming a body, a shell, is an experience that one can adjust to but should never become desensitized to. Tailessa had brown eyes. My grandmother has brown eyes. I see no difference in recognizing the beauty of life, whether on four legs or two. Tailessa should not have suffered through anything we could have mitigated. Not all injuries result in death, but in Tailessa's case, making the pain go away was the only option.

I will again make a short note of the educational component of this experience, but only that the veterinarian provided information about injections and chemicals. Side effects of kidney failure were noted, as well as a microscopic view of zoonotic lice larva. We were unsure of what caused the puncture wound, but the inability to recover from the infection combined with the kidney failure caused the breakdown of her small system.

The small cats are just as lovable, just as loved, as the big cats. Tailessa's enclosure partner, Kiowa, will eventually have a new enclosure partner. Damien is another caracal alone in a bigger pen and he too needs a partner. CPT allows mourning period for cats who lose a partner so they can adjust. It is startling to see the depression in some cats as they realize their friend is gone. Hopefully Damien and Kiowa will be a good match, and three animals will have been helped out of this situation.

Tailessa will be cremated as all other deceased animals are from CPT. We have a memorial garden in the compound and an annual CPT family event coming up in which we honor and remember those who have died. Tailessa will be among them.