Our senior feline, Daisy, has been in a slow decline for a number of months; most of it can be attributed to advancing age, as she is at least 13 years old. She has been losing weight, even though her appetite is still good & her activity level is virtually nonexistent, & it has become difficult for her to groom herself completely, due to a loss of flexibility. Lately, I’ve noticed a marked increase in her water consumption; she began to have trouble keeping her food down, & was miscalculating when using the litter box, which is quite out of character. Friday morning, I found that Daisy had been violently ill, leaving huge puddles of food & water several places downstairs, & wouldn’t come out of her basket even for a tuna treat (one of the few things that makes her come running.) I made an appointment with the vet & prepared myself for the worst. Daisy is the only one of my cats with a deep & life-long aversion to the pet carrier; when she casts a baleful glance at the younger ones playing in the crate (keeping herself at a discreet distance & leaving a clear path to the staircase) I swear she shakes her head & clicks her tongue in dismay over the younger generation. So I knew it was pretty serious when she only put on a token protest when I popped her into the carrier; the drive over was equally subdued, with only a couple of whines & whimpers, though she did piddle inside from nervousness. By the time we were settled into an examining room, she was hyperventilating & spontaneously releasing around 37 pounds of fur. Between the technician & myself, we got her calmed down enough to take her weight, pulse, & temperature.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I love our vet; she is one of those naturally perky people, with a deep love of animals & a quirky sense of humor. She could see right away that I was probably in more distress than my cat, so first thing she did was give me a hug, assuring me it would be all right. She thoroughly examined Daisy, alternately soothing her, peppering me with questions, & scolding me for waiting so long to bring her to the office (in my defense, I hesitate to take Daisy in because she gets so upset leaving the house, I feel it causes her unjustifiable stress) A light-hearted moment came while the doctor was palpitating Daisy’s abdomen, checking for any growths; evidently, Daisy’s nervousness made her a bit gassy- as the vet pushed & pressed, we were treated to an intestinal rendition of the “1812 Overture”, complete with performances from both ends & vocal accompaniment. We humans were reduced to a case of the giggles, while Daisy looked on in queenly disgust; I could almost hear her saying “We are not amused!”
The verdict was not as dire as I feared; she was obviously dehydrated, had picked up an intestinal parasite, & had developed a bladder infection. The doctor kept her overnight to load her with fluids & antibiotics, & ordered complete blood workup; when we picked up Saturday morning, we learned that Daisy has diabetes & will need to have twice daily insulin injections. Chris gave me a bit of a questioning look when we were told about the shots & the change to really expensive diabetic cat food (which all the cats will have to eat), but I just shrugged & said, “Welcome to the wonderful world of Geriatric Pet Care!” Daisy is already a fairly high maintenance cat; besides administering daily antihistamines (for her allergies & to avoid developing asthma), vitamins/hairball treatments, & brushing her twice a day (since she can’t reach all the spots anymore), we have to deal with the feline version of toilet paper stuck to her foot by washing the clumping litter from her paws & rubbing them with Bag Balm to counteract the extreme drying clay causes to the pads. What are a couple of injections, everyday, for the rest of her life? This is what we signed up for when we brought her home all those years ago- to give her the best quality of life we can & care for her when she can’t care for herself.
Now, I just need to perfect my technique for giving a cat a pill- I have to dose Daisy for the parasite with 3 halves of a bright yellow tablet, once now & again in two weeks. I’ve exhausted my camouflage tricks- she won’t touch the wet food loaded with crushed pill, & sticking it inside a tuna treat or some ground ham was a dismal failure- she just ate around the tablet. I have resorted to the direct method- mummy wrapping her in a towel, prying open her jaws with one hand, &
shoving the pill down her gullet gently encouraging her to swallow it with the other; the end result is yellow goo smeared all over & multiple puncture marks on my index finger. Note to self: wear gardening gloves next time- Daisy’s teeth are in surprisingly good condition for her age.