Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Soaking Up the (Cat) Sunshine

I am savoring all moments such as these ...
Our Senior Cat's health is slowly deteriorating. His enemy-without-a-name (maybe asthma? maybe cancer??) began well over a year ago and became something we started doctoring for this past fall, is evolving.

It started several weeks ago but I didn't want to believe it. Maybe this change of events was not a sign of things getting worse. Maybe as his lungs were healing and he had to hunker down and 'cough' (it appears more like a dry heave, but we have started calling it an asthma attack) to get rid of some irritant in his lungs. Maybe that vigorous petting worked up some flem. Maybe it the way he was being held. Maybe, maybe, maybe...

This past weekend, I could not fool myself any longer. The look in My Son's eyes told me that I am not the only one seeing this. He tenderly brought him to me after one such attack ... then Our Kitty had another attack before My Son could tell me about the first one. 

I doubled his steroid medication (he is on a very low dose and our vet has instructed me to act according to what I see) that day. I should have increased it sooner. Why did I wait? 

My eyes are watching for any change. Good or bad. Every purr, every spurt of energy, every little kitten-meow (he used to be such a talker; now he talks only if he really has something to say), every time he makes the moves to socialize with us is Big News. 

Yesterday afternoon, our Senior Kitty tried to hop into My Son's backpack. A typical move for him. It reminds us of better days when any box, suitcase, backpack or anything unusual was too much for our cat to resist. He simply had to hop inside and enjoy his new room with a view. Yesterday, he tried to hop in the backpack. Twice. He missed, the first try and the backpack and him toppled over. My Son rearranged the backpack to make it a little easier. This time, his front leg gave out as he made his move and he toppled over sideways. My heart cracked a little.

Later in the evening, I decided to have some cheese. Before I could arrange myself on the couch, our Senior Kitty was racing into the room with the look of youth and vigor in his eyes (he is an extreme lover-of-dairy). I shared my cheese with him. Not too much - but more than I normally would have. He looked so happy and kitten-like. How could I resist him?

This morning, he didn't come and greet me (as has become his new habit). The steroids make him very thirsty and though we do have an ample water supply downstairs by the cat food, with dog-water by the back door ... the small cat-water dish by the fridge is always bone dry in the mornings. Our kitty loves fresh water. So our newest little tradition is that I turn on the tap in the bathtub and let a fresh stream of water trickle down so our cats can enjoy a fresh water fountain experience. This novelty has almost guaranteed two cats waiting for me at the bathroom door each and every morning.

This morning, Senior Cat was missing. I assumed that he must have decided to spend the night in My Son's room so I didn't think too much about it. Don't worry. This is not as bad as I am making it out to be. The only concerning factor is that I found our Senior Cat resting on the back of the love seat in the living room. Apparently the desire to remain resting superceded his love of fresh water today. It happens. 

I gently caressed his head (he flinches at our touch a lot these days) and spoke gently in his ear. And the next thing I knew, he had followed me into the bathroom to enjoy the bathtub fountain. And his front leg gave out on him. Again.

He has gained a lot of weight due to his steroid medication. Our vet said that it is not unusual for older cats to have arthritis and topped with the weight gain, this is not alarming. But it is happening more often. Add that to his wheezing attacks and general slowing down ... it just breaks my heart a little to see that his holding pattern is slowly starting to deteriorate. 

So yesterday afternoon, when he hopped up on me as all of my Daycare Family were napping ... I just lapped up the moments. And took snapshots. This morning, I recorded his purr once again. His purr makes my heart sing.

Even Junior Cat (our ever-moving-blur) seems to be checking in on his partner-in-cathood in a gentle and caring way. This morning, he nuzzled his nose into Senior's fur and just inhaled. He then looked up at me, with his mouth open and his tongue sticking out in a fashion that makes one think that he has smelled something awful (our Senior Cat's coat is in meticulous condition - so I took offense at Junior's expression!). Later, he initiated a little bit of cat-play and Senior batted him off, in a polite sort of way.

We all miss the kitten that lives inside our Senior Cat. I still try to convince myself that maybe things can level off once again and we can enjoy a lot more months in a new holding pattern. 

His fur looks vibrant and he appears to be the picture of health. I know that animals don't show their weakness. I know that purring can mean that they are in pain. My head knows many things but my heart is holding on, wishing for more than we may have.
In the mean time, I am lapping up these moments like a cat in a sunbeam. Soak up the 'sun' whenever you can. You just never know how long it may last ...

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