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Geri-cat-rics: Aging Cat Issues
The Matriarchal Cat
Ramp for an Aging Pet
This sounds simple and useful.
We have three cats. Our busiest and newest is a male rescue cat named Skeeter, whose antics provide plenty for me to record. Also, we have Sammy, a plump and loving fellow. Last, yet the first to arrive, is The Goddess, our sole female.
We do not know The Goddess’s age. Obviously, she is older than her son. Equally obviously, she is older than our two-year-old Skeeter because MyGuy has lived with her for over 6 years. Do cats get gray in the muzzle the way dogs do in their sunset years? The Goddess is not changing fur color. Nonetheless, we think she is “mature” or “advanced” in euphemistic human terms. Really, she’s an old biddy and a cranky one at that!
MyGuy and I generally hold old school beliefs about pets. We feel that a family that takes the responsibility for an animal should shelter, feed, and love it. However, we do not agree with taking extraordinary measures or expensive measures (sorry, Betty White.) I guess we would hang a DNR – “Do Not Resuscitate” – sign on the collars of all our pets. Therefore, taking a pet cat for hip replacement, chemotherapy, or a cardiac pacemaker is neither in our schema nor in our budget. In theory, that is. This is our philosophical position. In practice, I suspect it will be tested.
I am worried about The Goddess. In the last couple months, she has changed. It started with a 24-hour vomiting bug. Sometimes the difference between hairball expulsion and puking can be a fine line. However, I feel it was an intestinal germ causing the emissions. Since it abated after one day, we did not take her to the veterinarian. After (or due to) that episode The Goddess noticeably lost weight. She has always been a petite yet gymnastically muscular gal – sort of a feline version of Olga Korbut crossed with Nancy Reagan. Now, sadly, her back haunches are hollowed out where she formerly had meat. When I pick her up, she feels so light. That’s the other thing. Her behavior is changing.
For all her prior time in the family, The Goddess had been the quintessential aloof cat. She reeked of independence and strength. No one could bribe The Goddess to sit with a human. She never wanted to do that. Now, though, she leaps to the arm of the chair every time MyGuy calls to her. This is very pleasant, but also very unusual. In my motherly worrying brain, I wonder if The Goddess knows her days are limited and thus deigns to show us affection? Furthermore, she permits me to hold her, kind of. Formerly, The Goddess led me on quite a chase if I ever wanted to hold her. Now, she has either slowed down sufficiently enough that my cat-catching average has improved or maybe she even wants to be caught so that her tired, achy little body can share warmth from the human holding her. Obviously, I worry about such things and ponder these events in my heart.
Cat Resting on Chair Arm
Bed Heaters for Cats
I think our cats deserve a little spoiling in their sunset days.
In my very amateur cat-mom status, I have long suspected that The Goddess has arthritis. I could be totally wrong, I know. Sometimes she seems to move her back legs awkwardly when going up or down stairs. Yet other times, all seems honky dory. Quite recently, when The Goddess hopped up to the arm of the couch (about 32 inches), her back legs missed. I remember an article in Ask the Vets’ Pets discussing that sort of behavior as a symptom of cat arthritis. Unlike the vet, though, I do not think MyGuy will start any medical treatment for her.
One must respect MyGuy’s position. In the world of pet aging issues, he feels que sera, sera. I generally agree, however, I am being put to the test. We will definitely love her and talk to her, pet her and scratch her head just where she likes to be scratched. Will we do anything more? Time will tell.
Photos and text copyright 2012 Maren E. Morgan, all rights reserved.