When Is It Time to Say Goodbye?

The past few days have been an emotional roller coaster for me. My older cat, Patches, has been having a very rough time since Sunday.  That night and most of Monday, he didn’t eat or drink anything, and he just stayed in his bed all day. So tearfully I was planning on taking him to the vet on Tuesday to have him examined. But then late Monday night he started eating again, so I started feeling hopeful. However, I did go to bed not knowing if he would be with me in the morning. Not only was he still here, but he was also eating and drinking and mooching treats. But his back legs weren’t working correctly at all, and he was having extreme balance issues. But he seemed to be getting stronger, so the Tuesday visit to the vet became a plan to go today. Today, he has continued to grow stronger; he’s still wobbly but not nearly as bad as yesterday. This is where the questions begin. Is he suffering? I don’t know, most likely in some ways, yes. Then there’s the whole quality of life versus quantity of life debate that’s been raging in my mind. I don’t want him to suffer, but I don’t want to cut his life short, either. It’s just so difficult to not be selfish and keep him around just so I don’t have to lose him. I mean, I know he’s 17 and nature is going to run its course, but man, that selfish side just wants to wring out every second I can with him. It certainly doesn’t help that the first anniversary of my mom’s death is rapidly approaching and the idea of a resurgence of grief over her swirling with fresh grief if I lose him is overwhelming. How much pain and sadness can I take before I crumble into dust? But then I think about how he depends on me to do the right thing no matter how much it breaks my heart. I just have to wait and see how he does in the next few minutes, hours, and hopefully days.

Turkey Wake-Up Call

Dawn seemed to rise earlier than normal the other day. The rising sun illuminated a flock of turkeys that were grazing in my front yard and congregating in my driveway. They were gathered five feet from my dining room window.  The window my dog monitors all day, and apparently the wee hours of the morning as well. I was alerted to them, from my cocoon of cozy blankets and quilts, with him barking his fool head off for what seemed like an eternity. As I rolled over, I noticed my cat sitting in the window that overlooked the driveway. He looked at me and then outside and meowed his “I’m hunting birds” meow. Curiosity finally got to me, and I left the warm confines of slumber and staggered sleepily to the window and looked out. My eyes widened, I had never seen the flock so close to the house and being able to observe them so closely would have been more interesting if I hadn’t been half asleep. My bed beckoned me back to its warmth and snugness, and after telling my dog to be quiet, I returned to it and went back to sleep. Later, when I went downstairs to start my morning officially, I found my dog sound asleep on his bed in the kitchen. Evidently, his morning had left him as exhausted as I was and even the temptation of going outside failed to rouse him from his slumber. I poured myself a glass of orange juice and sat at the table and waited for him to wake up before we could start our day.

A Question of Dreams

I had a bizarre dream last night that I can’t stop thinking about. I’m hoping someone out there can give me some kind of meaning behind it. I was in the backyard of my childhood home. There was a gateway to a side part of the yard where a little frog pond was. In the dream, the gate was open, and there were three of four large white dogs lying in a semi-circle opposite my cat Patches, who was also lying down. They didn’t do anything. They didn’t move, they were just peacefully in each other’s space. For some reason, I’ve fixated on the dogs being white. Usually, dogs of that size are black and ominous, the dogs in my dream weren’t threatening at all. It was almost like a scenic painting. If anyone out in the blogoverse could help me, I’d appreciate it. This one has me really stumped.

Elder Statesman Update #2

Today I took my cat Patches back to the vet for a follow-up appointment. We went into the examination room, and I let him out of his crate, and all he wanted to do was look out the window. The assistant tried to weigh him, and he was having none of it, he just wanted to sit at the window. She laughed and said, “Well, he’s friskier than he was last week.” As she said this, he hid behind a computer monitor so he could feel protected but could still look outside. This behavior made me feel better because this was his usual vet visit behavior. He has always loved looking out windows, and during the last visit, all he wanted to do was hide.

The vet said that he looked better, but his heart rate was still very rapid. They were unable to do a urinalysis on him today, but she said to just finish his antibiotic. She questioning raising his hyperthyroidism medication but then decided to wait and see how he did on it since he has only been taking it for a week. We have to go back in two weeks, and she will do further tests then. Until then I have to continue giving him his medications and, more importantly, let him eat all the food he wants to try and help gain some of the weight, he has lost, back again.

Update on the Elder Statesman

My cat, Patches, is showing signs of improvement! He has been out and about more than he has been over the past couple of days. Giving him his medications has been getting easier and this morning he showed that he forgave me by snuggling with me on the sofa right afterward. When he settled down, and I could feel him purring, I admit it, I shed a couple of tears. A few days ago, I honestly thought I was about to lose him, and now I’m hoping to have more time with him. And I’m not going to take a moment of it for granted.

Trying to Pill a Cat

Pilling a cat by yourself

is a practice in

Patience.

Holding a cat

That is wrapped like

A toweled burrito

In one arm

Pill popper in

The other hand.

Trying to wrangle

Him into opening

His mouth.

This morning’s

Double pill dispensing

Took almost

An hour

And left us both

Exhausted.

But my stubbornness

Is greater than his

And I know the importance

Of these meds.

I also know that

Success will be

A victory for us both.

I Wish Cats Could Talk

I wish cats could talk. Saturday night, I went to bed with my cat Patches appearing to be acting normally. When I woke up on Sunday and came downstairs, I found him hiding behind the chair in my mom’s bedroom. Immediately I knew something was wrong. Throughout the day, my concern only grew when he refused any food or water. I put a folded rug in the corner where he was so he wouldn’t have to lie on the floor and slid dry food, wet food, and plain water under the chair, so he only had to come out to use the litter box. I did this on purpose so I could monitor his urinary output. He did come out, for that purpose, several times during the day and evening. The most disturbing symptom he displayed was a kind of a moan he made when he exhaled. I watched him as closely as I could, while leaving him alone as well, and felt like he wasn’t in respiratory distress and decided to wait until this morning to take him to the vet. It was a long day and night yesterday because, at almost 17 years of age, I realize he doesn’t have much time left. But the idea of losing him so soon after my mom died was unbearable to my heart.

When I woke up this morning, my anxiety level immediately pegged out at a 10, and I went downstairs not quite knowing what I’d find. Luckily, Patches was still breathing, although the sound was now gone, and his eyes appeared brighter. Calling the vet, I wasn’t sure when I’d be going in. Luckily they were able to squeeze me in at 10 AM. So, off we went. Long story short, and this is why I wish cats could talk, my poor cat has a severe urinary tract infection, hyperthyroidism, and he is borderline diabetic. I had no idea he was so sick, and I feel horrible that, if there were signs, I had missed them. He has to take medication several times a day, and the vet seemed to be hopeful we could turn it all around. When we got home, I looked up hyperthyroidism in cats and was blown away. Weight loss, check. Increased appetite, check. Excessive thirst, looking back on it, check. Unkempt appearance, check. Vomiting, check. Many of his symptoms I just chalked up to him being an older cat and didn’t really think about it. So, that’s what my last couple of days have been about. Cats are stoic by nature and hide any symptoms when they don’t feel good. Patches has proved to be a master of this ability because, like I said, I had no clue he was so ill and I can only hope that the medications he has been put on will provide the relief and recovery he needs. He’s the elder statesman of my little household, and I’m just not ready for his presence to be gone from my life.

Peace Among Pets

WatsonPatches

The other night I had shifted from my spot on the sofa to the middle cushion to accommodate the needs of my overly jealous dog Watson and my territory-grabbing cat Patches. So, I had Watson settled on my left side, he had his head draped over my lap he was dozing and happy. Then Patches entered the scene so I patted the completely empty cushion to my right and coaxed him to hop up which he did. He turned around on the cushion and I was ready for him to curl up against me when he decided to cross over my lap and over Watson’s head and shoulders to move to the left cushion. Now, you have to understand that Watson and Patches have the quintessential love/hate relationship. Watson respectfully loves Patches, whereas Patches pretty much tolerates Watson on a good day. So I knew exactly what Watson was thinking when he looked at me unsure of what to do. Watson was currently occupying about 90% of the left cushion with his 40 pounds of fluffy red fur. I really wasn’t sure what to do either so I just waited and watched the scene unfold. Patches maneuvered himself into the remaining space and curled up against Watson’s rear end and went to sleep. After a minute of not knowing what Patches might do to him if he moved a muscle, Watson put his head back down and went back to sleep himself. I just sat there looking at these two animals seemingly happily “snuggled” up and felt my heart fill even more with love for my two boys who I am so grateful to have in my life. Of course, 5 minutes later Patches went from sound asleep to literally springing off the couch in one fluid movement, which startled Watson who nearly fell off the couch in the process and I had to catch him so he didn’t land on his head.  But hey, at least I had five minutes of peace.

My Elderly Cat Acts Like a Dog

My elderly cat acts like a dog.

It’s perfectly plain to see.

We brought a dog into our home.

Two years ago almost three.

At first the cat he was aloof

Paid no attention at all

To our furry new addition

During that first fall.

Then it was little things

That caught my observant eye

But then those little things became

More obvious as time went by

And now whenever I feed the dog

I hear his croaky meow

  And turn to see him on his chair

 Waiting for his hand out.

 Perhaps it is a piece of beef

Or bacon or maybe ham

But my little cat is insistent

I give him whatever I can.

I ignore the worried look

That appears on my dog’s face

To him it is a contest of attention

And he wants to win the race.

There are other things that happen

That would prove my case

But that’s a story for another time

So watch for that in this blog space.

Scheming Cats

Cats are the greatest schemers in the animal kingdom. I have two cats, Patches and Felix and I have seen the most amazing thinking go on in their brains. When Patches was an outdoor cat, he would go out on rainy days but want to come in a short time later. I would dry him off and put him down and he would go to another door wanting to go out. I always assumed his thinking was that sure it was raining outside the other door but maybe it won’t be raining outside this door. I’d eventually open the other door, he’d stick his head out and then retreat to my bed after deciding it was, indeed, nicer inside than outside. Needless to say, I always found hilarious to watch.

Another time Patches got stuck in our barn overnight. My mom and I had no idea he was in there but the next morning I saw him sitting in the barn’s upstairs window where he knew someone would see him. It blew our minds that he could realize that if he sat there the probability of him being seen was pretty good. I went out and opened the barn door and he came trotting out and into the house where he meowed loudly for his breakfast.

It wasn’t until we got our second cat Felix that I bore witness to just how much of a schemer Patches was. I give my cats a few treats in the evening. One night Patches wanted more than his share and I told him “No.” He went upstairs and I thought the matter was settled. A few minutes later though, he comes back downstairs with Felix in tow. The little goober figured that if Felix was downstairs he would get treats so then Patches would get a few more too, which he did.

I could tell stories for hours about my boys, who continue to surprise me with the way they are able to think things through and scheme to get their way on such a continuous basis.