Love has whiskers…

1st pictureCN: mention of suicidal thoughts

Five years ago this past Saturday, two white kittens were born. I, of course, had no idea of this. I had no intention of getting kittens any time soon. I had bought my wedding dress the day before and plane tickets to visit my fiance in England two weeks earlier. My life was planned out in ways that did not involve kittens in Canada. We’d roughly planned most of our small wedding and ogled wedding rings (he’d urged me to get my finger sized as soon as possible). We even picked out which town to live in. I just needed to save up and stay sane. Unfortunately the latter one was proving to be increasingly difficult.

I admitted that I was suicidal at the beginning of May and he broke up with me two days later. Then I finally went into the hospital a month later and he blocked me everywhere the morning after I was released.

2nd pictureTo say I was devastated would be an understatement. We’d been friends for half a decade and best friends for most of that. I trusted him completely and implicitly. He knew my deepest secrets and I’d felt that he’d always be there for me. Always turned out to be a very short time. Breaking up is horrible at the best of times, breaking up while deeply depressed and suicidal is absolutely horrific. And throwing my best friend into the mix made it even worse. I remember one night, messaging a friend and begging her to please stay online and chat with me. I wanted to die so badly and the urge to jump was so strong. I couldn’t do it while Colin was there but he was at Youth Group for another half an hour. The balcony pulled like a magnet and the thought, “just a moment [in the air] then it’s over” looped on repeat. Thankfully she stayed on messenger and chatted until Colin was home and I felt safe enough. I honestly don’t think I’d be here if she hadn’t. And then I had a dream.

It was one of those dreams that faded almost as soon as I woke up, leaving only the smallest pieces behind. And one of those small pieces was the image of a white cat. It lingered with me all morning right through us heading out, me to the lab for bloodwork and Colin to the pet supply store for, well, pet supplies. I noticed a cat adoption sign outside as I walked past and thought of that white cat then I decided I couldn’t be that lucky. I was unlucky in one way, the lab had stopped serving people who weren’t patients at that clinic, but I was lucky in another. When I asked Colin if there was a white cat up for adoption he informed me the only cats there were two white kittens. We immediately went to take a look.

Of course we held them. Of course we fell in love. And while I was waffling hard about which one to choose, Colin came up with a plan. Why didn’t we each adopt one? And so we did. It wasn’t that simple. They only took cash which necessitated a run to the grocery store and multiple transactions before we had enough paper money to cover both their fees. And we ran into Dollarama to pick up supplies to kitten proof my balcony (it was like the Fort Knox of balconies… I kitten proofed up to 6 feet, you know, in case they could jump really high).

And soon we were home, watching them nose around, sticking closely together. Our other three cats stuck together too and watched those little balls of fluff roam around. Thankfully everyone settled in soon.

For anyone who’s suicidal, I can’t recommend kittens strongly enough. One of them gets lonely… you can get three if you really want to spice things up… but two is perfect. Smudge and Lara were so small when they got here, small enough to crawl under the dresser and bookcase. And both still wanted to nurse. Smudge latched on (literally) to my stuffed lamb Rufus while Lara suckled on a bemused Blackie’s chest fur. Which was cute except they’d forget to go eat real food. Instead their nursing got more and more frantic as their hunger increased. I was already restless and awake multiple times a night but now it was with purpose. I was listening for that frenetic sucking then lifting them over to my side table where I’d placed their kitten food and a little bowl of water. Then I’d wait for them to finish and ferry them back to bed. This happened until dawn, which is damn early in the summer, when they wanted to go outside and play on my balcony. And I’d sit with a mug of hot chocolate and watch the sunrise and enjoy them playing with toys and each other.

The biggest part was that they needed me. I was lost. I couldn’t find myself. I wasn’t sure I was even worth finding. They didn’t care. They loved me and trusted me implicitly. I remember waking up once as Smudge, who was rolling around on her back, rolled right off the edge of the bed. And I caught her. It was one of those “I can’t believe I managed that” moments. Then I looked into her eyes and all I saw was trust. She had complete faith in me that I’d always catch her… that I’d always be there for her. It was definitely a moment for me, a realization that I couldn’t just off and kill myself. I could make excuses for family and friends that they have other people around… people with stronger connections… but that trusting innocence? She would never understand why I was gone and why I never returned – and no one could explain it to her.

I’ve got friends and family who love me dearly but, honestly, it’s not the same. Love often comes with strings attached, like guilt or embarrassment. Animals just give you love. They loved me for me. Not who I should be, not who someone thinks I am, not who I was ten or twenty or thirty years ago. Me. Right here, right now. They’re the glue that’s been slowly help stick this heart back together again, one piece at a time.

3rd pictureLara is the clown of the two. She’s chubbier and the one people see the most as she runs for the door as if it’s for her. She also likes to check in on zoom calls. I often have scratch marks on my arms and legs as she pats me for attention and doesn’t always remember to retract her claws. And she’s also the sweetheart of the group. If one cat’s going to be snuggling with another, you can be sure Lara was the instigator and often the one grooming too (as you can see in their birthday photo).

Smudge is the quiet introvert. She sleeps on my swing chair or perches on the table above everyone. She’s the only one who does either and I’ve long since given up on the table as she jumps back up the second I put her down (over and over). When she gets tired of the world, she retreats to a box in my closet, which she lies on. I’ve padded it with a soft dog blanket now to make it comfy. She play fights with Lara and gets along with the others but otherwise stays alone. Except for me. Every time I sit in the swing chair she lies on my chest, purrs in my ear, drools into my hair, and waits for a belly rub. She does this so often that one side of her is faintly blue from rubbing against my hair.

Smudge and Lara were born on the Vernal Equinox, the time when day and night are equal. A time of promise for more light and hope ahead. For two cats who spread joy to everyone who meets them, I can’t imagine a day more suited for their birth.

Happy 5th birthday! You two are the best kittens ever and deserve all the skritches and all the treaty-treaties and all the crinkle balls and plastic springs. I wish you many more happy years and I’m looking forward to spending them with you.

A cat and mouse tale…

If you want to know what kind of day I’m having, I can tell you. It’s a “which cat pooped in the food bowl?” kind of day. Although to be fair I think it was more of an Olympic kitty litter kick kind of incident and not an actual squat over the dish. The end result is the same though.

It pales in comparison to my experiences exactly two weeks ago.

Angel sleeping on my bed filteredFirst I saw my grandson on Saturday and shortly after got a gazillion scrapbooking kits (where a gazillion equals six). The next day was Valentine’s Day my cat Angel’s 15th birthday which is obviously very important and required plenty of attention, yummy food, and her favourite stuffed catnip carrot. I didn’t get much done on the computer that day. And finally Monday rolled around and I decided to devote the day to scrapbooking. The kits were already downloaded and sorted into the right folders and albums (I’m just a little organized) and all I needed to do was save my pictures from Google to My Photos then I was good to go.

Except the mouse. just. stopped. Right there in the middle of the screen.

Okay, that was irritating. Obviously the battery must have died, the downside of having a wireless mouse. So I got a freshly charged battery and nothing. Tried Ctrl-Alt-Del and tabbed my way to the shut down menu then the computer restarted with a frozen mouse. Moved the dongle to several different ports and… nothing. I even pulled the second mouse out of the closet (it was a set of two) and that one didn’t work either. At this point I was getting worried and so I called Colin.

His first suggestion was to try remote desktop which, luckily he’d already installed on my computer so I had no problems added it to my phone. I must say that trying to repair a computer by controlling the cursor via a tiny phone screen and one finger ranks just above getting a root canal.

*thinks for a moment*

Marginally

I tried for hours, both with and without Colin, before giving up. I uninstalled that damn mouse so many times!!! Colin wished that I could try with a wired mouse but I didn’t have one and didn’t have any money to go buy one so that was out. His only solution was for me to buy an SSD drive and then he’d coach me, via video chat, on how to transfer all my files over and then format my hard drive. You can imagine my enthusiasm.

Then I remembered my friend has an older computer and, sure enough she had a wired mouse and it worked!!! So we traded mice because my mouse worked just fine on her laptop. And, because of anxiety, it took me two days before I attempted to finish downloading those pictures and over a week before I could bring myself to complete this post. But there hasn’t been a single hint of trouble from the computer since we traded mice and I (thankfully) haven’t needed to buy a new drive of any sort.

And I still don’t know who the Olympic poop flinger is although, if I had to play money, I’d place my bet on Smudge. Then, a couple of days before the flinging incident, I had to give Blackie Boo a bath. She thought I was trying my hardest to drown her which made bath time very enthusiastic with lots of extra bath toys in the water like the pot scrubbie and the dish soap and very nearly a small vase of artificial flowers. Poor kitty. I picked her up to put her on my bed and she started flailing like it was bath time round two. She seems over it now, hopefully, or well maybe I should keep checking my slippers before I wear them for just a little longer. Just in case.

Above: Angel on her birthday
Below: Angel’s birthday layout (because that’s not extra at all). It’s the first layout I made after the computer started working again.
 
Angel's 15th birthday

No use crying over spilled salt…

I bought a bouquet of sunflowers last week and my twin cats immediately started acting like they were at an all you can eat buffet (don’t worry they’re completely safe for cats). I’ve been shooing cats off the table several times a day and I know they’re up there at night because there’s a layer of white fur across the table when I get up each morning. My “no getting on the table” has turned into “no getting on the table while I can see you”.

no more salt shaker

Who me?

I was sitting in my swing chair this morning when I heard Lara jump onto the table. I got up and went over to shoo her off, only to have her scurry around the table, mere centimetres ahead of me. I finally caught her then she slipped and kicked out, knocking over my salt shaker… which immediately tumbled to the floor and broke.

Of course cats and kids have one similarity. Immediately both Lara and her sister were in the salt and sniffing at broken ceramics. And, as with kids, there was no point in getting angry. So I signed with disappointment, moved them away from the sharp edges, and swept everything up.

It’s all a matter of patience. I’ll admit that I don’t always have an abundance of it, especially online. It’s something I’m working on. I can get quite sarcastic. When Colin was little he’d often ask, “Are you being scartastic Mommy?” and often I was. Both my kids are fluent in sarcasm now.

I’ve been doing well with patience in real life, it’s online that’s more difficult. I have a tendency to side with the underdog and when I see someone treating another person badly I step in and react. Of course the kind of person who attacks strangers isn’t the kind of person who backs down from an argument so then I’m embroiled in an online battle with someone I don’t even know. I envy the people who manage to waltz in, have their say, and head out without starting WW3. I don’t yet have that talent. Hopefully someday.

I have a high maintenance friend who is really teaching me patience. In some ways she’s amazing. She’s taken me grocery shopping and stopped off at stores so I could run in and pick up something. In other ways… not so much. Last week we went to a farmer’s stand. We pulled into the parking lot and she stopped while reaching for her mask.

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “No one’s wearing a mask.”

I looked and, yep. There were two employees and two customers, all of whom were maskless and they were all within six feet of each other.

“I guess I don’t need mine then,” she continued as she got out of the van.

I got on my mask and hung back a bit while she got in that six foot radius with everyone else. The other two customers left and I went forward and checked the ingredients on a clamshell container of blueberry tarts. Sadly they had both milk and eggs so I put the container back and bought the aforementioned sunflowers instead.

We were driving away when she told me to use hand sanitizer. I was going to use hers since she’d gestured to it then remembered I had my own. Then I remembered she didn’t want me using it in her van because the case is glittery. I mentioned that to her and she said to use it anyway, don’t use her container.

She then proceeded to berate me for picking up the clamshell container of tarts. I didn’t know who else had touched it. What if someone had covid? Wasn’t I concerned at all about my health? I should have had the employee read the long list of ingredients out to me. Meanwhile she’d stood maskless within six feet of four other people, none of whom were wearing masks. There were so many sarcastic comments I could have made. I decided none of them were worth it. Light sarcasm, like the kind I used with my kids, is fine for family and close friends. But regular sarcasm? You better brace yourself for ending that relationship if you have one. It’s the bomb of arguments.

All sarcasm aside, in the end I realized I really don’t need a salt shaker. I don’t think I’ve ever used it. Not that Lara did me a favour, it was cute, but it wasn’t anywhere near the end of the world. And while I’m patient with my cats, and hopefully the people around me, I’ll keep on working with my patience online. It won’t be easy but it’ll be worth it.

 

patience

Black Cat Appreciation Day…

Blackie relaxing

She’s so not a help when it comes to making the bed

Yesterday was Black Cat Appreciation Day or, as Blackie knows it, just another day. She got fed her favourite food and had cat treats sprinkled in front of her. She meowed imperiously from the bathroom and got fresh cold water poured into her nowhere near empty bowl. She rolled onto her back and mrowfed for belly rubs. She got her head skritched and her back stroked. When she got sleepy she napped on my bed or the bench. When she got curious she “hid” in the cardboard box or on a kitchen chair. Life’s good for Blackie.

We need to go back to 2007 to when the kids and I had flown to British Columbia for two weeks to celebrate my sister’s wedding and attend my grandfather’s memorial service. It was a wonderful family gathering of almost thirty people and we came home in good spirits to find a rather distraught cat sitter and a skeletal orange tabby.

“He just wouldn’t eat,” she explained, brushing back tears.

I made an emergency trip to the vet where tests showed our cat Pumpkin had cancer. He was euthanized the next day.

Two months later we were ready to welcome a new rescue into our home and knew just where to go. A friend volunteered with an animal rescue that worked out of PetSmart and offered to go in with us. We quickly fell in love with a three year old grey tabby and set to filling out adoption papers. That’s where we ran into problems. We lived in a high rise with a balcony and even though we lived on the third floor, the owner of the shelter was positive he was going to get out, leap over the chest high concrete wall and plummet to his death. She eventually turned us down.

So we went to the Humane Society. I told the volunteer that we wanted an older cat and she started leading us to the back past all the younger cats. Kait and Colin immediately pointed out a young kitten named Pete. I immediately pointed out that his eyes were both crusty and weeping. That sounded unnecessarily expensive to me.

The lady was waiting for us by the older cats when Kait said, “Mom! Look! This cat’s licking me!”

She giggled as I turned to look at an adolescent cat cheerfully licking Kait’s fingers. Kait bent down and the cat licked her nose. More giggles ensued.

The volunteer started walking toward us. “The older cats are all down there,” she said with a touch of impatience in her voice. She looked over at the cat we were clustered around and the impatience disappeared.

“Oh! You’re looking at one of our black cats! Let me get her out for you! Her name’s Blackie and she’s nine months old. She’s had all her shots and is spayed…”

She continued her speil while we oohed and aahed over the kitten. Soon the paperwork was signed, the fees were paid, and she was ours. We already had Angel at that point and the two of them settled in well together, they still get along.

That was a long time ago. Blackie’s going to be 14 years old in December. We picked Christmas Eve to be her birthday figuring that Christmas Day would be too busy. She’s lived in three different apartments and has had two health scares. One turned out to be her teeth and the other is a mystery, she just stopped eating for several weeks. She’s going a bit senile and sometimes misjudges the edge of the litter box and pees on the floor but otherwise she’s fine.

She has brought me so much joy and companionship over the last 13 years. I hope we have many more years together! You’re amazing Blackie Boo!

Blackie and Lara

Blackie and Lara

 

Making my way through the day…

20200219_100235_hdrMy apartment is quiet. Sun streams though the windows while I eat an orange left over from breakfast. The cats all look so very peaceful. Angel’s curled up to sleep while Lara grooms Blackie. Smudge, my more active kitty, is playing with a cat toy and Oreo’s sleeping on my mini trampoline. My apartment is the epitome of peacefulness. So why am I so anxious?

Anxiety, to me, is like an unwanted house guest that sneaks in and refuses to leave. It lays heavy in my stomach and reaches up to squeeze my lungs. Thank goodness for cats. Smudge just jumped into my arms and started purring and demanding head and neck scritches. I’m not back to normal but I am a lot calmer than I was when I started writing. And gently rocking never hurt anyone.

I am doing all the right things to keep anxiety at bay. My home is spotless. I try to cook the healthiest meals I can, depending on anxiety and depression levels. I go out for walks. I even found a walking buddy. But it still lingers.

I wish I had some amazing twist to add here, some cure-all for depression and anxiety, but I don’t. I take my medication faithfully, make sure I get out of the apartment on a regular basis, and still it lingers.

I guess, all I can say is to try and enjoy your life as best you can, despite your diagnosis. Enjoy the little things like the purring of kittens or the fresh new buds of spring. The big things are few and far between while the little things happen several times a day. And remember, on the worst days, that depth of anxiety and depression will not last. Be gentle with yourself and wait for it to pass, like diving under a wave. Let it flow over you and wash away. And with that, even though I’d much rather curl up in my swing chair, I’m going to track down a doctor then head out for a walk.

I hope you have a good day too!

One more day until Christmas…

I’m in a nostalgic mood today. Something’s off with Blackie. I don’t know what. She’s eating, drinking, and using the litter box. It’s something I can’t put my finger on. She turns 13 years old tomorrow so she’s definitely a senior kitten. And then there’s Angel, my most senior kitten who turns 14 years old in February. She growls at the other cats and has arthritis in her hips. But pain medication doesn’t work on cats, or so my vet told me. She’s happy as could be once she’s snuggled up someplace soft but her back legs are noticeably weaker.

So when I went to look for a song this morning, I decided to pick one that I loved decades ago when I was pregnant with Kait. Back then my favourite CDs were Solitudes. I loved how he wove nature sounds into his music. I didn’t have any problems finding Solitudes music on YouTube. My problem was finding a single song. So I present to you the entire CD of Christmas Wonder. Listen to as much or as little as you want… and enjoy!

Isn’t it ironic…

flat-blackieI was watching Blackie lie on my unmade bed today and marvelled at how flat she looked, as if she’d melded with the bed in some way. Then my mind wandered to an article I’d watched yesterday about a senior dog getting abandoned. I was on Facebook at the time, I scrolled once and there was another article about a 17 year old dog being abandoned because he was “too old”.

Pardon me but what the fuck?!?

I could write for a while about all the things pets do for us and it would all be true, but it’s not the important part. The important part is they’re our family and we don’t throw away family!

I know elderly pets aren’t always “convenient”. Blackie has accidents that have to be wiped up. She’s also lost a lot of weight so I’ve got her on wet food (another expense) and feed her when she’s hungry. Hello 3am.

Oreo’s getting senile. He’ll start howling on occasion, lost in his own apartment. Which means I have to go find him and carry him to my bed to sleep. He isn’t always sure when he’s done pooping and will leave the box too early. This means I’ll find a trail of poop from the box.. sometimes leading right to a peacefully sleeping Oreo, poop lying right beside his butt. He’s not exactly subtle. He’s also started wetting on the floor, I’m assuming because he’s temporarily forgotten where the litter box is.

Angel, the oldest, is doing the best. She has sore hips, which has me checking every cannabis store for CBD oil. So far I haven’t had any luck. So I make sure she has plenty of soft spaces… and she lies on Colin’s bed anyway. She’s Colin’s cat, she loves him dearly. He used to wear her draped around his shoulders like a scarf and she’d lie there, happy as can be.

Sure, there’s incontinence, anxiety, pain, and senility (and who the heck is throwing up) but there’s also joy and comfort. They don’t want to race around the apartment anymore. They’re not up on my bookcase knocking down the decorations (I see you Smudge) or crying because they’re stuck in the bathroom cabinet (I see you again Smudge). They are lap cats, content just to lie there and purr while occasionally licking your hand. They’re bed cats, content to snuggle against you for the whole night or, in Blackie’s case, snuggle under the covers. She likes the cave experience.

They are our family and, more importantly, we’re theirs. They expect, with the certainty of belonging, that they’ll be here forever. This is their home, their beds, their fuzzy carpets, their cat tree. No one say love was perfect or accident free. Love, in all it’s shapes, can be messy, glorious, painful, and poignant.

And it you’re dropping your senior pet off at a shelter, you have no idea what love is.

Happy little thoughts…

20181124_205307I went to my friends’ house on Sunday with Colin and, soon after we arrived, their brand new TV was delivered. Colin was such a huge help. The physical set up wasn’t that much of a problem, it was the programming that was the issue.

Colin patiently read through the instructions then showed my friends, step by step, how to operate their new TV. There were so many instructions and steps that I figure I’ll never own a TV again. I can download videos right to my phone or computer a whole lot easier! But he got it all working for them.

I have my first date on Sunday and we’ve been chatting back and forth. I think she’s even more nervous than I am, which is a feat. I’ve promised I’ll meet her right at the bus stop and she wants to go for a walk with me after lunch, even if it’s raining, which is fine by me. We’re going out for Indian food. Mmm… aloo gobi! I so hope this date goes well. I’m sure it will but am still nervous.

I’m looking at my cats sleeping peacefully around my room. I’m so glad I have them. They bring such joy into my life from how Lara runs screaming to meet me when I open the front door and how Blackie purrs and licks my nose when she’s getting petted. People talk about cats being cold and aloof but they’ve never met my cats.

I’ve been working really hard to lose weight for our trip to the Dominican Republic and so far I’ve lost 10 pounds. I still have three months to go so I’m sure I’ll lose a decent amount by then. I want my summer clothes to fit comfortably, especially my two new tops. I was going to share a picture of them but I already shared one a few posts down.

On Thursday I get to see Kait and her wee one. He’s growing and changing so much. Every time I see him he’s doing something new… from smiling to grasping items like his rattle. I’m looking forward to his happy smile when he sees me and having a face to face chat with Kait instead of just talking on the phone.

And on Saturday we’re having a family dinner at a Thai restaurant. They make the yummiest food. I love their tom yum soup and golden curry with rice. We’ve been going to this restaurant for about a decade now and haven’t got bored of it yet.

I’m really enjoying the new season of Doctor Who. The Doctor’s great and the stories are entertaining. That being said, I haven’t seen last week’s yet because Colin keeps stalling. If he stalls tomorrow I’m watching it on my own. It sounds nice to curl up on my swing chair and watch it on my phone.

Winter’s coming and they are forecasting a long, bitterly cold one so I’m going to start buying groceries that are easy to prepare for the days I’m weary plus a few frozen dishes for the days I just can’t find the strength to even boil rice. I can’t make winter go away but I can prepare for it. I don’t want to end up back in the hospital so I’m going to do what I can now to make sure winter is as easy as I can manage.

And now Colin’s wanting to chat before bed so it’s time for me to go.

The long goodbye…

A Blackie update
We had an appointment scheduled for Blackie to be euthanized on Friday the 2nd but cancelled it when she started eating Temptations cat treats. It was a hard call at the time because cat treats aren’t exactly sustainable but she seemed a bit perkier and I wondered if it was a step towards eating. I went out on Saturday to look for something more substantial for her to eat. I’d had a suggestion of Temptations cat food but Pet Valu didn’t have them. What they did have were oh my god expensive BFF pouches, all tuna with another meat added. The cashier assured me the pouches contained tiny morsels of meat, small enough to be lapped up, and she was right. Blackie lapped up about half a pouch then sprawled out on my bed to nap. That was the first time in a week that she’d sprawled, until then she’d stayed crouching in a loaf shape, paws tucked underneath her. And, this morning, when it was time for her morning pouch of food, Blackie marched proudly ahead of all the other kitties, her tail high in the air. She’s not eating an awful lot right now but she’s content and comfortable and that’s what matters.
An update on Blackie
She didn’t eat at all yesterday or this morning so I went to the vet to see what our options are. I got a pill that increases appetite and a can of wet cat food that’s supposed to encourage cats to eat. We also talked about euthanasia, which is $212 and way out of our budget. Apparently the Humane Society does compassionate euthanasia so, if it comes to that, I have a place to call.
I went to Pet Valu after that and picked up cat milk as a treat. I got a tin of wet cat food too called Havana BBQ. Apparently it was just chopped tuna, which is a relief. I don’t think any of our cats need anything barbecued.
The pill went down on the first try and Blackie was very unimpressed with me. I waited two hours, like I’d been told, then got her some of the mushy vet food while Angel got the tin of BBQ. Angel immediately glommed onto the mushy food, which Blackie had sniffed then turned away so I switched plates. Blackie immediately dove in and started eating. I was so excited! But then she stopped after about four bites and went to the bathroom door to be let out. I feed them in the bathroom so the hordes don’t overwhelm them.
So we’re still waiting and seeing. Blackie’s still content to rest. She went onto our balcony today and napped on the bench (despite the cold). She’s wanders around the apartment on occasion and loves being petted. But I’ve got a sinking feeling the end is near. She just can’t go without food for that long.
I’ll update more as things happen.
————————————————————————————————————————————

It was October 2007. I’d taken two weeks off work so I could go to my sister Sue’s wedding and attend my grandfather’s memorial service and interment. All the family came from around the world. We were surrounded by family for two weeks as we viewed waterfalls, walked on the suspension bridge, and just chatted.

I’d already known something was up before our trip. Our cat Pumpkin was six years old and the internet sites claimed he was senior. I clung to that as an answer to what was wrong. He’d wet outside the litter box a few times. Which was something that was fixed by buying him a litter box with a low entrance. And he just seemed off kilter. Then we came home from our vacation and discovered Pumpkin, who had earned the nickname Plumpkin, was nothing but skin and bones. He’d been his usual weight when we left and was skin and bones when we got home. We took a picture right before we left and another when we got home and he didn’t even look like the same cat. I’d had no idea cats could lose weight that fast. The girl who’d been watching the cats was so upset. I assured her it had nothing to do with her and it hadn’t.

We took Pumpkin to the vet, who instantly diagnosed him with fatty liver disease. He could be admitted and tube and IV fed until he gained enough weight but that was expensive and failed more than it succeeded.

I was waiting at the bus stop across the street from work when my cell phone rang. It was the vet office with bad news. The test results showed cancer, likely liver cancer, and there was nothing they could do, he was too far gone. We took him in to get euthanized the next day. We weren’t supposed to go on the bus without a carrier but the driver took one look at our emaciated cat and our tear streaked faces and let us on board without a word.

A month later we all wanted a new cat. Our searching led us to Pet Smart’s adoption centre. I’d told the woman that we were looking for an older cat and she showed us a couple, hiding at the back of their cages. Then Kait cried out, “Look at this cat!”

The lady’s first response was, “That’s not an older cat, those are kittens” and then she saw which kitten it was and her tone changed.

“Oh you want one of our black kitties,” she exclaimed. “Let me get the catch open.”

She nearly tripped herself in her haste to get over there. Then she opened the cage and Blackie fell into our hearts.

Blackie is our snuggler and the licker of noses. When she wanted food she’d march down the hall, turning regularly to make sure I was still following and giving a scolding meow if I wasn’t following quickly enough for her tastes.

Anyone who has ever worn black knows it can hide a multitude of “sins”, plus she still has her round little belly that sways as she walks. It wasn’t until I ran my hand down her back that I realized how much weight she’d lost. She’s a head scratching cat, not a cat that wants long, stroking pets. I have no real idea of how long she’s been losing weight. I’m leaning towards very quickly though. And, if that wasn’t enough, she started sneezing.

BlackieColin and I took her to the vet last week where she got weighed and checked out. She had a cold and the beginnings of fatty liver syndrome. The vet could do more tests but, since she’s 11, it would cost $260 for a senior’s bloodwork… on top of the check up fees. That was about $260 more than we had. So we got antibiotics and a brief mention of euthanizing. The antibiotics are done but the wheeze continues. Thankfully it’s in her nose and not her lungs. Her nose means a cold, while her lungs are so much more serious. But this cold is kicking her butt.

She’s currently curled up on my bed and she looks peculiar lying there, like half of her is missing. Which it is, she’s gone from 20lbs down to nine. She’s so tiny now, with bird thin bones. I can even feel her collar bones.

One of my Facebook friends suggested heating her food, which I tried with her leftovers last night. I was so hopeful that this would be the solution she needed. I heated her wet cat food this morning in hopes she’d scarf it down again. She followed me to the bathroom then refused to eat. She threw up green foamy bile instead, which, according to Google means her tummy is empty.

I’m hoping she’ll live longer. Long enough to lie in the sunshine on our balcony, while the air wafts delightful smells around her nose. Long enough to gain back some weight, enough to cover her collar bones and spine. Long enough to, once again, lead the parade to the food bowls. But I’m realistic enough to know that’s likely not going to happen.

We’ve had her for ten and a half years so far and that’s not nearly long enough. She’ll be sorely missed when she’s gone. And, as for now, I plan on making the remainder of her life warm, safe, and comfortable.

Reality is just a word…

I woke up this morning feeling discombobulated. Well actually I woke up feeling like I had to pee but as soon as that got sorted out I felt discombobulated. Like the rest of the world took a step to the left and I misread the instructions and took a step to the right. Everything looks the same but there’s something off. Chances are it’s me. Meanwhile life goes on, even if it doesn’t feel quite like my life. As if I’m running after normal… kind of like when I was a kid and tumbled off the wagon at the apple orchard. Running as hard as I can and hoping someone will reach over and help me back up.

My eleven year old cat Blackie has lost a bunch of weight, like half her body weight. I didn’t notice at first because she’s fluffy and has a big round tummy. Plus I usually scratch her neck and chin. But last week I ran my hand across her back and felt backbone. I did more rubbing and found her collar bones and her breast bone. I’d originally called that her keel bone but that’s in birds and I’d have to take another step to the right to get that far from reality.

Last night I sent Colin out to get wet cat food and he came back with Whiskas Duos. My plan was to get a small plate and open the tin in the bathroom. Colin pulled a Oprah instead, snapping off cans and handing them out willy nilly. Here’s wet food for you, you, and especially for you. They all loved it and, most importantly, Blackie immediately started gobbling it down. Then I looked closer and realized she was only eating the broth, not the chicken bits.

This morning, Blackie was sitting by the electric fireplace, just relaxing, so I got her a container and spooned it out on a plate. And today she started eating the chicken pieces. I don’t have a “way to go you’re eating chicken bits” award but if I did, she earned it. Then I made the fatal mistake. Smudge likes to lick peanut butter off my finger while I eat breakfast. She’d been there before I served Blackie but wandered off.

“Smudgie… Smudgie-pants… I’ve got peanut butter for you!” I called.

Smudge ran over, sniffed my finger and walked away. Behind her came Lara, Angel, and Oreo… while I blurted “I didn’t call you”. Soon they were all crowded around Blackie. I went from eating breakfast to turning into a cat bouncer. And all the while, Blackie gobbled away. When she stopped, Angel (our 12 year old) was the only cat left so I let her have a shot at the plate. Ten minutes later, the sounds of retching filled the air. I followed the sound to the bathroom, where Angel was busy vomiting.

“It’s okay baby. Sometimes food is like that,” I assured her as she gagged. It didn’t come back up last night so I’ll give it another chance, maybe it was just a coincidence. Maybe she took a step to the right too. Maybe the food’s different here. Whatever it is, she gets one more chance with wet cat food, otherwise she’s staying 100% dry.

I don’t know what time Colin went to sleep last night but I woke him up at noon and just now, at 12:40pm. Hopefully he’ll stay awake now because I want to clean up the living room today and all the mess consists of his computers and two chairs which he insists we need and I insist we don’t need… especially in the middle of the floor.

One weird thing I’ve noticed is I don’t rock when I’m typing. But today I’m rocking all the rest of the time. Maybe typing counts as stimming? Maybe that only works a step to the right?

I’ve got a prescription to give to my pharmacist. My psychiatrist does not like the sheer number of pills I’m taking a day, which would be ten. I just counted. So he’s switching out the clonazepam for another pill that also works as an antidepressant and will continue to drop and modify my prescription with each appointment. He also knows my blog address now. I don’t know if he was just reading it that once or if he’s checking in every once in a while. It was probably just a one time thing but, just in case, hi Dr. K.

With any luck, Colin will be willing to drop off my prescription today. Otherwise I’ll have to do it tomorrow. I’m not going out feeling like this. I have to cross an intersection of two fairly big roads and I don’t feel connected enough to my body to do that. I’ll stick with dishes and standing in the living room saying, “I’ve got half a computer tower here. Where do you want it? No, the centre of the living room is not an option.”

But maybe I’ll cuddle with Blackie-boo first.