Category Archives: Cats
Learned a New Skill Today
Did you know that if your cat is constipated because 1) he hasn’t eaten for five days and 2) his failing kidneys mean water goes straight through him so his stools get hard and painful, and you 3) don’t have a feline-specific enema on hand, that you can administer a warm water enema using a really, really small syringe?
Did you also know that once he’s produced a small nugget but can’t pass the main mass currently in his colon, that you can carefully inject more warm water up his poor straining pooper duper, then very, very gently get your fingers around said colon and help him squeeze it out?
Yeah, neither did I. Also didn’t know cats could sigh in relief but they can. In associated news J.J.’s GI tract is working and he’s pooping with a little help from his ‘rents. He will also be getting a daily stool softener from now on, and some feline-specific medical enemas are on their way from Amazon Just In Case (BTW, never use human enemas on a cat—the chemicals in it will completely trash the cat’s kidneys and possibly kill it).
In writing news I’m finishing up the edits on Shifter Woods: Claw in between squeezing poop out of my cat’s butt, so Claw will be out next Tuesday along with the Esposito County Shifters omnibus if it is the last thing I ever do. Phoo.
I’m Definitely Getting My Steps In
This is now my average day:
- Wake up, get cleaned up and dressed
- Come downstairs and feed the cats
- Change J.J.’s bedding, give him a sponge bath, and make sure that he eats and drinks
- Get him settled and comfortable, then get laundry started
- Grab breakfast
- Head upstairs for an hour to do some work
- Come back downstairs to check on JJ and see if he wants to eat or drink
- Switch the laundry from washer to dryer, start another load
- Go back upstairs and continue to work
- Continue to check on J.J. and the laundry every hour, taking time off at noon to eat lunch
- Mid-afternoon, come down and give J.J. his sub-q fluids
- Finish off the work day
- Go out and do the food shopping
- Make dinner
- Clean/fix anything that needs to be cleaned/fixed (today I relubed the deck for the treadmill)
- Cuddle J.J., tell him that he’s an awesome boy as he wobbles around the living room and kitchen, and get him situated on clean bedding
- Go upstairs, take a shower, and crash hard
Mind you, things will ease up once J.J. feels better and everything settles down again (or, to be honest, he dies). But for now I’m splitting my time between taking care of him and writing/editing, with as much housework as I can fit in around the edges. Think good thoughts for me, please.
So … Um .. Well…
I was upstairs in the bathroom this morning when Lyndon burst in and told me that he’d tried offering J.J. a small bowl of Fancy Feast sirloin flavor to see if he was feeling any better before we took him to the vet’s office.
J.J. started eating the kibble.
After finishing up I came downstairs and checked out the Elderly Gentleman. J.J. still looked like death warmed over but his goopy eyes were clearing up, he seemed more alert, and he was indeed nibbling at kibble. I gave him 150 ml of sub-q fluid, then offered him some warmed kitten milk on the basis that if he was hungry I wanted him to eat something that was mild and easy to digest. He swallowed the whole 3 ml syringe.
Okay, then. I gave him a sponge bath, plopped him down on some clean bedding, and he watched Lyndon make some breakfast. Over the next four hours I slowly fed him an additional 9 ml of kitten milk for a total of 12 ml by noon. He seemed ready for a nap at that point so I got him situated on a bed and headed off to the vet to pick up a fresh banana bag and some more painkillers, then came home and went upstairs to work. About a half hour ago I came down and picked J.J. up, carrying him into the kitchen while I filled a bowl of water for another sponge bath. That’s when he hung over my arm and meowed meaningfully at the food bowls.
I am not one to miss a signal. I washed him, put him back on his bed, hurried off to fill a shallow dish with kibble, and came back to find him standing (albeit propped up against the side of the futon). I got him settled down again and he happily gobbled down about three tablespoons of kibble (for a cat who hasn’t had any solid food since Friday morning that was a LOT) followed by a big drink of water. After that he curled up and went back to sleep.
Now, he is still old and in end-stage renal failure, that hasn’t changed. He is still going to die, if not today then probably soon. But our milestone was, “If he starts eating again, we’ll cancel the appointment.” He started eating so we’re keeping up our side of the bargain. He hasn’t tried walking yet but since he did get up earlier I wouldn’t be surprised to find him hobbling around the place in a day or two.
I don’t know if it was the painkiller I gave him last night that allowed him to sleep, or the good thoughts coming from everyone, or the fact that he is one stubborn little cuss. But for the moment it seems that J.J. has followed in the footsteps of Arya Stark.
Yesterday I put J.J. down in a patch of sunlight for an hour (his favorite thing in the world), then gave him 150 mls of sub-q fluids and got him very reluctantly to swallow about 3 ml of watered down Lick ‘n’ Lap. After that I gave him a long cuddle, reclining on the couch and letting him curl up on my chest with his head on my shoulder while I petted him and told him what an awesome cat he is, before putting him back on the futon to sleep.
He was in the same position this morning that he was in when I went to bed last night, and his bedding was soaked with urine. I bathed him, put him on clean bedding and switched out the wet pads and bedding, then ran out and picked up some kitten formula. He even more reluctantly swallowed about a ml before gagging, tossing his head back and forth, and holding his paws up in front of his mouth. So yeah, I think he’s officially done.
I’m working downstairs today so that I can listen for him and give him water every hour, change out his bedding as necessary, and give him cuddles. He still lifts his head when he hears my voice, but he doesn’t have the strength to get up or do much more than flick his tail. This is breaking Ramón’s heart because it makes J.J. still seem compos mentis, but I know how tired he is and I’d rather take him in to the vet now than make him suffer for another week or however long it would take before his body finally gives up.
His appointment is at 1:30 PM tomorrow. And I’m sitting here crying as I write this because I am going to miss him so damned much. But it’s the right thing to do.
A Visit to the Vet
We have the absolute best cat vet in Collin County, Dr. Dana Crigger at Cat Hospital of Collin County. She’s been treating the J Crew since 2011 and she’s simply amazing. She saw J.J. this morning and agreed with me that he had an upper respiratory infection and that she could treat it, but also said that he was in end-stage kidney failure (as was obvious by the smell of uremia on his breath).
We discussing putting him to sleep while he was there, but I wanted to 1) give Ramón a chance to say goodbye and 2) give the meds a chance to work and see if he might bounce back. She agreed that we shouldn’t take that final step until I was 100% sure that he was ready, but gently suggested that we make an appointment for Wednesday in case he fails any further.
Problem is, this cat has bounced back multiple times from being on the brink of death, and I owed it to him to give him a chance. But personally I think this is it. He has kitty dementia, is half blind and deaf, incontinent in pee and poop, and now quite apart from the end-stage kidney failure he can’t walk, refuses food, and has to have someone crouch over him and hold the water bowl for him while he drinks. But this will give us a day in which to spoil him rotten and show him just how much we love him. I’ve got a painkiller for him and will administer it as needed so that he’s not in any pain, and I’ll make sure he’s clean, dry, and comfortable.
Another vet once told me that our pets have a special blessing in that they don’t have to suffer until their bodies finally give up, that their human can do the right thing and make sure they’re not in any more pain. I’m holding that thought right now because it’s the only thing keeping me going.
After a long night of crying where I became fully convinced that it was J.J.’s time and we would have to take him on that final car ride on Monday, I came downstairs wondering if I would find a little black body curled up and cooling on the futon.
Yeah, no. J.J. lifted his head and meowed cheerfully at me while I started to get everyone their food. Then while my back was turned he got up, rolled off the futon onto the ottoman, then rolled down the ramp to the carpet where he wiggled into a patch of sunlight and basked. I ask you.
I brought him some water (he still won’t eat, not even tuna water) and noticed a king god hella killer eye booger in his right eye so I gently pried that out, then realized that he kept smacking his lips and tossing his head like he was trying to clear his mouth before drinking the water. I tried to look in his mouth and it seemed mucusy as hell, plus his breath was really rank.
I think the Elderly Gentleman has a raging upper respiratory infection. The other cats have been sneezing and the symptoms fit him to a T—eye and nasal drainage, squinting, no appetite, lethargy, some sneezing. And while a URI usually passes on its own in a younger cat, he doesn’t have the reserves to fight it off due to his age.
TL;dr: He’s going into the vet tomorrow (either our regular one or the ER vet if we can’t get a slot) to be evaluated and hopefully get an antibiotic shot, some B-12, and an appetite stimulant. This cat has been faking us out for years by appearing to be on the brink of death and then recovering at the last moment. Let’s hope he has one more recovery in him.
Not The Greatest of Saturdays
My cat J.J. is definitely not doing all that well Today I washed his bedding, washed him (it’s basically a sponge bath on the side of the bathroom sink, popped him with some sub-q fluids, held a bowl so that he could slurp up some water (one thing that hasn’t changed—this cat loves water and will drink at any opportunity), tried to get him to eat something (no dice on that front), then propped him up where he could see me while I did dishes.
I keep wondering if this is it and he’s reached the end, but he still tries to get up on his own, still loves drinking water, and his tail flicks like a metronome. We’re going to see how he does tomorrow, and if he hasn’t improved I’ll call out vet and make an appointment to have him evaluated and see what we should do next.
Because I have to take care of him I don’t have time to finish my edits and format Shifter Woods: Claw for release on Tuesday as planned. I’ll try to release Claw and the omnibus by Friday, and barring that I’ll do it next week, but right now I have to focus on my black velvet purrmonster.
There’s Writing, And Then There’s Real Life
Didn’t get a lot of work done today, unfortunately, because I spent a fair amount of the day playing hospice nurse to J.J. (aka The Elderly Gentleman) He’s been a bit weak and out of it for the last few days, so after tending to his morning care (changing out soiled bedding, giving him a sponge bath, and trying to convince him to eat some Lick ‘N’ Lap) I decided to head over to the vet’s for a banana bag (lactated Ringer’s solution—very good for dehydrated or ill cats). Luckily they know me well over there and were happy to provide me with the bag and a new IV line.
After watching a YT video to refresh myself on how to prep a banana bag and insert the IV needle, I gave J.J. his first bolus about an hour ago. He perked up pretty much immediately so he’ll be getting a bolus every other day or so. Luckily I did this with Jordan ten years ago so we have a setup next to the fireplace where I can hang the bag and sit with J.J. in my lap while the drip does its job.
Of course, J.J. wasn’t impressed with getting to sprawl in Momma’s lap and be petted while getting his sub-Q fluids. He pretty much sat there like, “Yeah, yeah, whatever. Let me know when I can go back to my bed.” He’s never been a lap cat and being old and infirm hasn’t really changed his opinion.
I’m also aware that this is pretty much palliative care at this point. He’s twenty-one and is going to pass at some point (I hesitate to say that he’s definitely on his way out because he’s gone through patches like this before and bounced back. That cat has a will of vibranium and will leave when he decides to and not before). At the moment he’s still eating, drinking, pooping, and peeing on his own. If he starts refusing food and water, then we’ll have the vet take steps but so far he’s hanging in there. And as long as he wants to do that I’ll keep him clean, dry, comfortable, and hydrated.
Cats and Stress
So, JJ the 19-year-old cat started throwing up pink foamy mucus on Monday. We researched it and it’s a symptom of a lot of things, including gastritis (stomach ache). I took him into the ER vet Tuesday morning, they did a full blood workup and exam, and said everything is normal, he just has an upset stomach. They gave him something for nausea and an appetite stimulant and sent him home.
Except he wouldn’t eat. Drank water just fine, would get up and walk around, but would not eat. We tried all his favorite foods: tuna water, Gerber’s baby food in chicken flavor, the works. He licked at a little baby food Wednesday night, and yesterday I got a half ounce of adult cat formula down him via kitten bottle, but we were getting worried.
Luckily we have the best damn cat vet in Texas (Dr. Dana Crigger, Collin County Cat Hospital, cannot recommend her enough), so when I called this morning and explained what was going on she said bring him in, we’ll work him up between appointments. She ran some other tests to check his heart (which is fine), then called me and said that he’s not concentrating urine but his kidneys are good. She then posited that he might be hyperthyroid. “But cats who are hyperthyroid usually eat ferociously,” she added.
I laughed hollowly and explained that before Monday JJ ate like a teenage linebacker, begging for food every time we went into the kitchen. “Ah, okay. I’ll send his bloodwork off to be tested for that,” she said. “How well does he take pills?”
“Like a trouper.”
She then administered another anti-nausea med, an appetite stimulant, and some Pepcid to reduce his stomach acid, and I took him home. The moment he got out of the carrier he went straight to the food bowls and nommed down. He’s been back to eat twice more, and is now curled up in one of his favorite spots digesting and snoozing. I feel like I’ve unclenched for the first time since Monday morning.
Also, older cats slowly lose weight and turn into skin and bones. JJ? Weighed 11 pounds at his checkup in December and 10 pounds today. I swear to God, the world could end and the only survivors will be Keith Richards, Betty White, and JJ wandering across the blasted landscape.
King of Blades, Day 2
Okay, the word count on King yesterday was 4,186, bringing total word count up to 12,355. I’ve introduced the second of the Four Elements (the leaders of the Aqua, Aeris, Terra, and Ignis magical chapterhouses), Grand High Magister Aeris Petyr Epilonious, who has arrived in Hellas unannounced to evaluate little Luna’s Aeris skills (and flirt with everyone in earshot — think Captain Jack Harkness as a mage). Matthias has just asked Danaë if if would be okay if he skipped day two of the celebratory games and took his old university friend Princess Helene Debare to examine his son Lukas (she’s a healer and apothecary). Danaë is not thrilled about this for a number of reasons, but can’t really say no. And the first of a series of strange events involving Danaë’s twin brother Darius is about to occur.
That being said, I’m grateful for the dictation function in Scrivener because this little gray poppet has decided that she needs to sprawl on my left arm right now, and will not be dissuaded from this belief. So be it.