Love Me, Pet Me, Feed Me!

I am pleased to report that Queen B is doing very well! She responded swimmingly to her vitamin B-12 injections (not that she particularly enjoyed getting the shots). Afterward, she’d be perky, her appetite would go up, and she would digest her food better. Since she would swing between constipation and diarrhea (never pleasant) due to her small bowel disease, it took us some time to strike a perfect balance in terms of the right Miralax dosage. She started grooming herself more, hanging out in my office with me (I’ve enjoyed having my office supurrviser “helping” me work), seeking us out for attention, greeting me at the door, and being very assertive (read: meower mouth and underfoot) about regularly scheduled feeding time. She is decidedly not a fan of Daylight Savings Time. When she says it’s food o’clock, there’s no dissuading her!

This is how my office supurrviser takes a well-deserved break. Her schedule is packed: begging for food, getting fed, napping, being ridiculously cute, birdwatching, sprawling, being brushed, purring, being underfoot, talking to her humans, giving tail hugs, being a reading buddy, and snuggling.

Because she’s been rather hungry and we want her to gain some weight, we’ve been adding feedings. Twice a day she gets medication mixed into her food (breakfast and dinner) and just simple wet food at lunchtime and late afternoon. Sometimes if she did not eat all the food from an earlier meal, we will offer her a small portion before bedtime. Of course, this means that Boudicca now thinks that she will get food when either of us is in the kitchen. (Cue begging.) At present she only likes Friskies© Paté (any of the seafood varieties) and Blue Buffalo kitten kibble (ahem, Queen B is most persnickety). Essentially Boudicca is eating like a feline Hobbit!

Of course, Garrus and Charlie are intensely interested in the food that materializes around Boudicca at regular intervals. Charlie’s motive isn’t solely about food; since he’s a busybody, he just wants to be involved with whatever is going on. Garrus, on the other hand, alternates between pleading and determinedly attempting to sneak past me and, in the most genteel way possible, pilfer Boudicca’s leftovers. (I’m serious. He slinks on his belly and acts like he’s invisible. He thinks he’s such a smooth criminal, even when I catch him mid-pussyfoot.) I’ve even caught the boys loitering around my office, apparently guarding Boudicca and waiting for their human (me) to bring forth sustenance.

“You do not have food for me? How…disappointing.”

I gave Dr. R an update on Boudicca’s progress, to which she was quite pleased. She encouraged me to feed her what she wants as much as she wants, with the hopes she will put on some weight and be a happy old kitty. Dr. R explained that this guarding behavior I noted with the boys is somewhat normal in cats. Since Garrus and Charlie have not been aggressive toward Queen B (every day Charlie tries to make friends with and/or play with her), Dr. R told me that this healthy cats do this around a sick or injured cat. Hooray for a peaceful multi-cat household! She approved the idea of giving the boys a tablespoon or so of wet food, especially if it helped distract the boys and made them happy while Boudicca ate her meals. Garrus could use the extra calories while Charlie does not (he’s at a healthy weight), so I could give him half a tablespoon. I’m also happy that all three cats like their new dental treats (also vet approved, yay!).

“Hi Mom! You found me in my new spot!”

All in all it’s a pretty nice day when I get sequential visits and affection from each of the cats. I have ensured that each has been properly smooched. Don’t worry. They are only slightly over-loved in this house.

Cute Alert

Lately all three cats have been doing little things that are just inordinately adorable. This is one of the many things that I appreciate about my pets: daily doses of cute! Here is a collection of some of the endearing things they’ve been doing…

Recently Charlie has been hanging out on the couch more whenever Boudicca hangs out in my office. Apparently he realized that the couch is indeed comfortable. Earlier this week I caught him in the act: chilling out and flaunting all of his belly spots.

“What? I found a new spot, Mom…By the way, this tummy won’t rub itself!”

This week Garrus has been more adventurous by lounging on the back of the couch while we sit. I was able to read with Garrus hanging out with me. He even came onto the bed twice this week for a half-snuggle! While he is often inscrutable, he does seem more relaxed and is becoming more assertive in asking for visits. (Because, unlike Charlie and Boudicca, he is not a chatty cat, he expresses himself entirely through body language. He also bunts and tail hugs to get attention. I know he wants to visit if he trots over to the bed in a particularly jaunty way.) Of course, he decides to ask for visits on his schedule. He is a cat, after all!

Egads! Boudicca deigned to share the couch with Charlie without a kerfuffle! Of course, Charlie seemed most pleased with himself, as if it was all his doing…

Occasionally Charlie makes overtures of friendship to Boudicca by bringing her toys on the couch. (Maybe he thinks that bringing a toy is the equivalent of a toll to get on the couch?) While his enthusiasm and persistence is admirable, he is nevertheless perplexed by Boudicca won’t play with him. He also leaves toys next to Garrus wherever he is sleeping and brings me toys on the bed. I think in the latter case he likes to show off his latest prize!

“Joy! Dad found all the springs I had knocked under the oven! Now I can lose them in hard to reach places again!”

Not pictured: Garrus plays with surprising zeal with the springs and, to my delight, carried one of them in his mouth earlier this week! It’s been gratifying to see that some of Charlie’s childlike playfulness has seemingly rubbed off on Garrus and encouraged him to branch out and play with all the toys with gusto.

The boys’ newest hobby is bug-hunting through the window. Sometimes Charlie chatters at the bugs (to what end, I don’t know). Much tail-twitching follows. Other times their reflections catch the light oddly so they look like creatures from a Stephen King novel.

Behold, Queen Boudicca in repose! I have always been quite partial to her ski slope nose. This week she has been very vocal about getting lots of pets, kisses between the ears, brushings, cuddles (including lying on my chest while I sleep and being picked up), and, of course, food. When I come home, I nearly trip over her because she plants herself on the inside of the door, meowing all the while in effusive greeting (complete with tail hugs). She still has not yet figured out that she is in fact not a dog.

International Happiness Day

Today is International Happiness Day! Who knew, right? I think it is most appropriate. Every day we are deluged by negativity in a variety of ways. It’s hard to stay positive and happy. Creating this blog was one way for me to give myself, and hopefully others, a small dose of joy. My cats bring me happiness and make me laugh every day. I hope yours do too!

Lately Charlie has been EXTRA cute. He has been very chatty lately–so many chirps, trills, and squeaks–both directed at me and just when he’s moving around: jump on the bed (chirp), look out the window (trill), see Garrus (squeak), talk back to me (chirp, squeak, trill, squeak, squeak, chatter). He’s been rather lovey and snuggly, especially in the morning and at bedtime, and he has demonstrated that he in fact knows how to knead! It only took him eight months to show me that he does knead when he is sufficiently relaxed and googly. When he does, he shows me all of his toes and purrs most rhythmically.

Charlie is teaching me how to be simply happy. Finding joy in the little things. Wonder in every day activities. Greeting loved ones enthusiastically. (I admire his persistence in trying to make friends with Boudicca. Lately he has been adding to his overtures of friendship by bringing her toys on the couch.) Playing. Looking outside. Happiness indeed.

Silly Cat and Dog Poses

Happy World Sleep Day! Cats and dogs, just like children, sleep in the weirdest positions. I often ask myself, “How on earth can they find that position comfortable?” Evidently they can…Hence the running theory that cats, at least, are part liquid…

Here Boudicca demonstrates the classic pinwheel sleep position with the half chin twist and her hind paws perfectly posed together. She may have started to purr in her sleep while I took this photo. Adorability Score: High

Charlie flaunts his spotted tummy while he sunbathes and flirts for attention. He also demonstrates marvelous neck and core strength by not sliding off the edge despite repeatedly wiggling and shimmying all over the platform. Great demonstration of multitasking: high level of cuteness, very loud purring and squeaking, successful eliciting of belly rubs, and prompting human caretaker to squee. Adorability Score: Very high

Here Sir Garrus demonstrates a variant pinwheel with the semi-held curled tail and paws hiding the face. Normally I can see his fang peeking out. Adorability Score: High

Here is Chiquita executing a classic “I’m a good, pretty girl. Please give me a belly rub” roll. Of course she gets them in spades because she is indeed a good girl and she is SO SOFT with highly pettable ears. Look at that face! Adorability score: TKO

Garrus appropriated the topmost cat tower platform and snuggled inside. It looks a bit cramped to me but I thought he looked cute hiding his face and holding his tail like this. Adorability Score: High

“Look, Mom! I found a hammock!” “Charlie, that is not a hammock!” “But…it’s made of warm…” Adorability Score: Moderate. It’s cute yes but I don’t want him to get in the habit of lounging in the freshly sanitized Cat Genie.

I have no idea how Charlie doesn’t get a crick in his neck when he sleeps in the cubby like this. But he likes it anyway. Adorability Score: Pretty Cute

Here is Nala, may she rest in peace. She LOVED boxes, and did not care if they were far too small for her. She crammed herself into small boxes, especially those with crinkly paper inside, and snoozed very happily inside! Her happiness level went up if said box was in Aaron’s office. This photo was taken in May 2015 when Nala was 14 years old. Adorability Score: Nostalgic High

A very rare Yin-Yang display (shown with Boudicca and Nala) in 2015! They very rarely slept so close together. Clearly they were in between napping and belly rub appointments. Adorability Score: Squee!

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Chiquita asks, very subtly, for a belly rub. Isn’t she adorable?

 

Do you find your cats or dogs in cute poses, especially in sleep? Do they sleep in uncomfortable-looking positions? Feel free to share in the comments!

Boudicca’s Recheck

Over the last two weeks, Boudicca has had intermittent diarrhea and bouts of appetite loss, and recently she had been straining quite a bit in the litter box. Aaron noted that she appeared to have lost weight as well. When I picked her up to put her in the carrier, she felt incredibly light. Since Tuesday was the vet office’s surgery day, I scheduled to drop her off in the morning so Dr. R could see her when she had a free moment (Dr. R is very popular). As usual, Queen B behaved herself in the cat ward, talking up a storm and making dancy paws whenever a tech stopped by to give her any attention.

In the afternoon I consulted with Dr. R. It turns out that Boudicca actually had been rather constipated, hence the straining. This isn’t the first time that this has happened but I had been caught off guard by the diarrhea. She had indeed lost a pound since February. While she responded well to the anti-inflammatory and the vitamin B-12 injections, she did not respond to the steroid, which indicated that she did not have inflammatory small bowel disease. So that leaves cancerous small bowel disease, such as small cell lymphoma. While of course I was incredibly concerned about this turn of event, I knew that this was a possibility due to our previous conversations.

Ultimately, I DO NOT have to say goodbye to Boudicca just yet. First, we have to deal with her constipation and find a balance there. Second, the anti-inflammatory improves her quality of life. Third, she is still perky, talkative, interested in engaging (i.e. snuggling), and demonstrates doglike traits like she has all her life. If she was lethargic, withdrawn, shuffling around, and recoiling from me, that would indicate that she was in pain and not herself anymore.

Following Dr. R’s advice, we gave her ¼ tsp Miralax mixed in with her wet food (apparently Boudicca is fond of Friskies Seafood Pate) and, after a couple of doses, she is no longer constipated. Her appetite increased and she is very vocal any time she thinks we are in the vicinity or preparing to give her food. Her Meower Mouthiness cues the boys, so then it becomes a party. (“Excuse me, may we have some of whatever Her Majesty is having too please? We would be most grateful!”) We distract them with toys and/or treats so they don’t come to investigate and inadvertently make Boudicca food insecure. (We have noticed that Boudicca prefers to not only eat in private but with me as her escort/bodyguard. She will often stop eating if she notices either Charlie or Garrus nearby, even if they are just walking down the hallway.)

Nevertheless, we will continue to monitor Boudicca’ hyperthyroidism, small bowel disease, and weight. Now that she is eating kitten kibble and small portions of wet food (we were encouraged to give her whatever she would eat), perhaps she will gain a little. I want her to be comfortable, happy, and as healthy as possible. I am cherishing the time I have left with my sweet, googly girl.

Caring for a Geriatric Cat

Greetings everyone! I realize that I have not updated Purry Home Companion in a while. I have been alternatingly busy with graduate school and a bit under the weather lately. Additionally, Boudicca, being a nearly 18-year-old cat, has needed a lot of care to stabilize her health (namely symptoms stemming from small bowel disease) and closely monitor her quality of life. Last week I was alarmed when Boudicca’s appetite markedly dropped and she refused to eat her wet food (which has her medications mixed in), both of which are most unusual for her. She will be seeing the vet this week for a re-check.

I had just finished brushing Queen B when she sat like this on the window seat. I liked the way the sun shone through the window and illuminated her ears and whiskers.

Given Boudicca’s age and health, I have had the difficult conversations concerning her quality of life and knowing when it will be time to say goodbye. Having these conversations and making these incredibly difficult, poignant decisions are the most challenging parts of responsible pet ownership. In 2017 I made the hard decision to say goodbye to my 16-year-old cat Nala, whose quality of life had markedly declined due to increasing arthritis, which in turn complicated her diabetes. In some ways, I think saying goodbye to Boudicca will be harder since she is my first cat who has truly been my own and, after all, she chose me to be her human. She has always been my sweet girl and I will miss her VERY MUCH. (Cue tears welling up as I write this.) Because the idea of saying goodbye sometime in the future has been in the back of my mind, I have been making concerted efforts to spend as much time with Boudicca and cherish the time I have left with my googly girl.

Boudicca and I recently enjoyed a three-hour lap time session. She has always been a very enthusiastic reading buddy, lap warmer, and snuggler. Her eyes appear very green here too!

However, as I write this, we are not quite at that stage. We figured out why her appetite decreased: she apparently decided to be abruptly finicky about her wet food. We discovered that she prefers Friskies Salmon Pate. We were able to get her to eat something else when she did not want to eat wet food, and we were able to get medication into her in order to control inflammation, nausea, abdominal pain, and keeping her regular. Her appetite has since returned and now she gets very talkative whenever either of us is in the kitchen, because she automatically assumes that we will give her more food. (Either that, or she forgets quickly that we give her wet food twice a day. She still steals kitten kibble from Garrus even though she has her own bowl.) With that said, she has had accidents this past week–so messy and so much cleaning! She is not grooming herself very well, so I brush her regularly and will have to bathe her soon.

Caring for older cats (i.e. mature, senior, and geriatric cats) involves many factors related to health and what to expect at each stage. Aging affects cats in different ways; some will be rather frail at age 11 while others are still robust at 18 or older. Behavior can change in elderly cats. In Boudicca’s case, she is fussier about food, sleeps more, grooms less, talks less, and can be insecure around Charlie, whereas in the past she was quite confident and untroubled by the presence of other cats (Nala, neighborhood cats outside) and dogs. She requires a lot more vet care and medication due to her health problems. Nala and Boudicca aged differently with certain symptoms appearing at some stages with one but not the other. Caring for a senior cat has been a learning experience for both me and Aaron through our experiences with Nala and Boudicca. We are balancing being solicitous with Boudicca’s needs while meeting the needs of Garrus and Charlie, who are respectively six and two years old and have very different energy, nutrition, and health needs.

Googly cat is quite googly!

Snuggle Now

The other day I felt a migraine coming on and took a brief nap to deal with it. I woke up to the sound of loud purring. A foot away from my head was Charlie, who purred even louder when he realized I woke up. Next to him was Garrus, looking sleepy and content next to his cuddle buddy. He might have been purring too.

But I could not move. Why? Boudicca had stealthily sneaked up onto the bed and camped out on my hip. I was not allowed to stretch out toward the boys or roll over. Instead of feline lap paralysis, I had feline hip paralysis! She did, however, graciously allow me to pet her and snap a photo.

“You will snuggle NOW and MY WAY!” Her Majesty Queen Boudicca decrees. At least she’s cute and googly in her imperiousness.

Caught between three purring cats…it could be worse.