Communion Of Dreams

An old, blind cat.
May 14, 2011, 10:33 am
Filed under: Health

She showed up 17 years ago, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, all mouth with a little skin and bones thrown in.

* * * * * * *

We call her “Her Majesty” now. Partly, a play on her name (she was named after Eleanor of Aquitaine, due to her feistiness if not her intelligence), and partly just because as she has gotten older, she has taken on a regal bearing which demanded certain sacrifices from her human servants. Like being fed *only* canned food. In small servings, so she doesn’t upset her delicate tummy. About once an hour, or as often as she can manage it.

She’s also become more, um, casual about her litterbox habits. My wife and I have become more adept at finding her little surprises. We’ve had to.

* * * * * * *

A couple of weeks ago, we first noticed something was wrong. Her Maj likes to curl up on my wife’s lap whenever she can, which is usually possible while my wife is working at the computer. And following dinner, when we’re watching a movie or something.

Anyway, she came into the living room, where we were on the couch, and wanted to jump up into my lap. This is somewhat unusual. The fact that she jumped headlong into the small lap table I was using was even moreso. And she was clearly disturbed by this, to the point where she didn’t even pull the usual feline “I meant to do that” routine.

Later, we noticed her navigating by whisker through the kitchen. And bumping into chairs moved slightly from their usual place.

* * * * * * *

“So, stroke?” I asked the vet. I love our vet. He only makes house calls. When necessary, he uses a surgical suite after hours at one of the local animal hospitals. He’s smart, personable, sensible.

He was sitting on our kitchen floor, holding Eleanor, checking pupil dilation and all her other vitals. He’d done this as part of a routine exam just a few weeks previously. “Probably. When did you first notice something was wrong?”

I told him about the incident with the lap table. And that she had a day a couple before that when she was lethargic and uninterested in food.

He nodded. “Probably, though she isn’t showing some of the classic symptoms of a stroke. It could also be a brain tumor or some kind of lesion. We could schedule her for a MRI, find out for sure.”

He looked at my wife and I. We looked at each other.

* * * * * * *

She showed up 17 years ago, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, all mouth with a little skin and bones thrown in. That memory flashed to me as I saw her there in his gentle hands.

“I don’t think we need to put her through that,” I said.

“Yeah, I’d only recommend it if you guys needed to ‘do everything for her’ for your own peace of mind. In the end, it really wouldn’t make much difference in either treatment or outcome. At her age, surgery to remove a tumor probably isn’t the best idea, and any cancer treatments wouldn’t help extend her life much.”

“We just want her quality of life to be as good as possible, for as long as makes sense,” said my wife.

The vet nodded again. “She’ll probably do OK for a while. She may recover her sight to some extent – cats are more resilient than people when it comes to such things. A baby aspirin every three days will help if there is a small clot which caused a stroke, and won’t hurt otherwise.”

“And we should expect more strokes down the line,” I said.

“Yeah. Probably.” He scritched her ears, popped a baby aspirin down her throat. He made it look easy. Then he let her go. “Don’t move the furniture around too much on her.”

* * * * * * *

Jim Downey

7 Comments so far
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I’m crying in a public place…

Comment by Sm

Sorry, Steve – wasn’t intended to be a tear jerker, just a slice of life with an old friend.

Comment by James Downey

Sorry this comment is so late; haven’t been on the ‘net all that much. But this is a tear-jerker for me, too. I had my beloved feline companion of 19 1/4 years, Natasha, put down in January. Basically, her body had given up on her. Her spirit hadn’t, and she fought the drug until the very end. The whole episode put me into a funk for a month.

It’s hard to see our pets grow old, become ill, with the end gradually but inexorably coming nearer. I wish you the best with Her Majesty and hope that the final ending is gentle and easy on you all.

Comment by Karen

[…] ‘Her Majesty’ is curled up on a pink pillow here in my office. She doesn’t venture too far now. Just wanders a bit until I pick her up, take her to be tempted with a bit of canned food, or some water, or a litter box. […]

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[…] Her Majesty is sleeping on the pink pillow in my office, content in the way that only an old blind cat can […]

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