Friday, August 16, 2013

Longing to Hear Our Cat's (special brand of) Purr Again

Our Senior Cat has not truly been himself since we adopted our Second in Command Cat.

At first, the new young cat was a bit of a novelty. But something seeped deep into our Senior Cat's bones as he came to the realization that this cat was here to stay.

Senior Cat cracked my heart just a little bit when he started to shy away from my touch. There would be those first waking moments of pure, unadulterated happiness in his world and then Junior Cat would walk into the room and the bubble would burst. No, Senior Cat ... it was not just a dream.

Weeks evolved into months and our Senior Cat seemed to be resigned to his new room mate. They wrestled and there were many a cat-chase throughout the house. Our Senior Cat seemed to be regaining his sense of self and had no problem keeping Junior Cat in his place.

During this time, our Senior Cat developed what we called a 'rusty purr'. His purr sounded perfectly normal and fine on one end of the purr but on the opposite end (I'm not sure if he was inhaling or exhaling), it sounded 'rusty'. He used to have a Monster Purr that you could hear across the room. He started withdrawing his special purr that communicated his love for all of us after Junior Cat moved in. It was sad. When his purr got a little rusty, we told him it was because he wasn't using his purr enough.

Then came his pathetic new meow. He sounded like he had a frog in his throat. It was his meow that he used to let us know that he was hungry. Once again, we joked that he was doing this to get us to feel sorry for him. Junior Cat had monopolized our attention and we thought (hoped) that Senior Cat was just trying out a few new attention grabbing techniques of his own.

Senior Cat is a snuggler. He nestles up on top of us and adorns us with his presence. Junior Cat's arrival changed all of that. It simply made the snuggling time with Senior Cat (when it happened) that much more precious. But we started noticing something else. His purr. Again. As he inhaled, all was completely normal. On his exhale, it was like his chest collapsed. Something seemed very labored in his purring. It wasn't just rusty.

As the weeks evolved into months and the strange purring and voice changes didn't change, I started watching him more carefully. He was trying to be himself but it appeared to be harder than it should be. Everything about him just seemed ... slower.

He stopped playing with Junior Cat. We accused him of being a grumpy old cat and I didn't want to think it was anything more than that.

I have to give our Junior Cat credit where credit is due. He is a big, burly, young and healthy cat. Yet he is completely and totally submissive and respectful of his status in this household. He would cower his big, bulky head and nudge his forehead into our Senior Cat's chest. The body language seemed obvious, "Do you wanna play??"

Senior Cat bit whatever was closest (and would hurt the most). An ear. An ankle. A paw. His body language was loud and clear, "No! Go away!!"

In the background of this entire scenario was the fact that our Senior Cat seemed to be losing weight. We weighed him regularly and at last count, he was holding firm at 7.4 pounds. This was down from his regular weight but at least he was holding his own.

Despite all of these clues, I still wanted to believe that our Senior Cat was going to wake up one morning and start to regain his zest for life. I hoped.

Then came the scariest symptom of all. The one that we couldn't ignore. The one that wouldn't go away.

A handful of days ago, our Senior Cat developed (what sounds like) a croupy-sounding kind of cough. He would hunker his body down as if he was going to cough up a hairball. And nothing. Just this awful, painful sounding cough.

I hoped it was an isolated incident. It wasn't.

We took him to the vet last night and thought the x-rays did not specifically spell out pneumonia, that is what our vet told us that he most likely has.

She showed us his x-rays. There is a lot of gray area in his lungs. It should be black or white. Gray is not good in this case. It means air or liquid. Neither of which is a good thing. She said our cat's symptoms lead her to believe that it is not liquid. And this is good. She confirmed that cancer or a tumor or asthma are not evident. His heart is good. His organs are in good shape. But his lungs aren't.

She sent us home with a two week supply of medication. We should notice a visible difference within three to five days, if this is pneumonia. He should start to get some of his energy back.

I walked in the vet's office hoping that they could pinpoint his symptoms, give us some medication and send us on our way. We got very close to what I hoped for. X-rays, consultation, medication and the office visit aren't cheap. But at this point, it was the right thing to do. Our little black kitty was full of love, spunk and energy before all of this. I hope he is still in there...

Andre, our little black kitty, has been a part of our family for thirteen years. I've never loved a cat this long before. I want to believe we can fix this. He has a lot of lost purring to make up for.

Slight side-bar here ...

Just one word of advise. Before you take your pet to the vet, take them to the bathroom. I told our kitty to go to use his kitty litter before we left but he chose to have a short rest on the couch instead. The end of this story is a sad and traumatic tale that I wish our cat could tell from his perspective. It wasn't pretty ...

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