Saturday, July 25, 2015

Brief Update, Catwise

After Blue died last year, I was happy to stick with the four cats I had left: Ophelia, Zander, Jake and Tyler.

Since then, we've been up four, and down two. The current tally is six cats: Zander (17), Jake (15), Tyler (11), Maeve (4?), Stanley (1) and Tallulah (also 1, but three months younger).

ONE DOWN: Natasha Ophelia, 1994 - 07/06/2015

Ophelia was just shy of 21 years old when she passed away three weeks ago this coming Monday. She'd been very healthy up until her approximate 20th birthday in November. She was adopted at around 10 months old, so her November 9th birthday was assigned. For all I know, she could have already been 21.

Right as she turned 20, she began to look old. She'd already lost all of her teeth; her one eye was cloudy and the other in bad shape. She was getting deaf, but still playful. The vet diagnosed her with Old Age, said her liver was enlarged and kidneys decreasing, but other than that, OKish.

She had a steady but gradual decline from 7 lbs to three, and I don't know if she went into a coma or cardiac arrest or what, but I found her one afternoon not doing well, and of course it was after the vet closed. Given her age and increasing maladies, it didn't seem prudent to rush her to the ER to save her and give her another week or days, and after watching Blue die, I kind of knew she wasn't just sick, she was in the process.

So, I held her until she left. It took two hours for her to depart from when I found her. It was not entirely peaceful, but it wasn't as bad as Blue. She's in a tin up on the shelf next to Blue.

How we went up a few cats:

Last summer, an adult cat and three kittens appeared on my deck. I fed everyone, of course. One kitten was extremely friendly (Clancy). The other two were sort of friendly (two little black boys, Sleek and Floofy). The adult long-haired tuxedo calico wasn't having any of it. I code-named her Maeve.

A few days later, a fourth kitten appeared, a little tortoiseshell with a bad hind leg limp (Tallulah). She was the most feral of the babies.

Long story short, they sorted themselves out, and the three boys went AWOL before I could tame everyone enough to catch them; Maeve disappeared but made occasional random checks on Tallulah; Tallulah came running for food twice a day and responded to her name. After a month of patience, she finally bridged the gap and made contact, but I still couldn't catch the slippery little thing.

Then Clancy returned, and he'd grown a bit!

Or so I thought.

By the time I'd grabbed him, put him in the spare bath with food, water and litter, and spent some time snuggling with him, I realized that despite resembling the AWOL Clancy in so many ways including basic personality traits, his tail tip was different from Clancy's (I had photos). Somehow, I'd managed to grab a different kitten!

So began a couple of weeks of calls, ads, etc to try to figure out whose kitten this was. Well, it turns out, he's mine... and so he is Stanislav Katarovsky, aka Stanley.

Up by one cat.

During that time, Tallulah and I made progress, and then I finally snagged her, put her in the bathroom and Stanley in a big dog crate (which had to be moved from kitchen to living room front window to stop his consistent operatic vocalizations), and she became very sweet suddenly. Everyone went to the vet, passed with flying colors, and eventually they were successfully integrated with the rest and it seems like they've always been with us.

Up by two cats.

Mid-autumn, after a few weeks of a catless deck, Maeve shows up with a very large Stanley/Clancy clone with her. Must be Daddy, I assumed. Well, Clarence, as I'd code-named him, wasn't having anything to do with me except he sure liked my food.

Maeve was suddenly VERY friendly.

In fact, she whomped Clarence to tell him to keep away, then she DEMANDED to come inside.

Well, once in... not going back out. So since the kittens were integrated already and the bathroom was free...

Up by three cats.

Then we had to wait the requisite nine weeks to treat her fleas and/or lice, see if any FIV/FLV had brewed, see if her expanding waistline was due to consistent food or impending kittens, and meanwhile winter set in and it was COLD, and Clarence for some reason decided to stick around.

So I made Clarence a Warm Box since he refused to come in, and he somehow made it through the entire deeply frigid winter. (That box was WARM. Took a large cat carrier, lined the bottom with garbage bag then old towel then put a self-warming donut cat bed inside, then covered with an old comforter folded over several times. It was well-insulated. He came out sometimes because he was too warm.)

Up by four cats.

Maeve passed all of her tests. Vet couldn't feel kittens but couldn't see that she'd been spayed either. Anticipated due date passed, no kittens. Took her to the low-cost clinic for a spay, found out AFTER anesthetic and shaving (but thankfully no cutting) that she had a spay scar but no tattoo, no microchip, no ear tip. And nobody had answered the ads, nobody reported her missing...

But she still hasn't integrated. She would go after Ophelia with such viciousness I feared she'd kill her if left unsupervised. So, Maeve has been Bathroom Cat since last October.

Spring came, Clarence decided he didn't need food or a warm box anymore, and vanished. You'd think after months of daily feeding, he might just consider that maybe I was OK. (Nope.)

Down one cat.

Ophelia died in July.

Down two cats.

Zander is having a terrible time managing his kidney disease (yes, he was diagnosed last year, early stages) and metabolic issues, and he's gotten very skinny. I worry that we'll be down another cat within a year or so, but... it is what it is.

PS: Tallulah's leg injury healed up on its own, and she defied the vet's concerns that her growth plate was affected. She's just fine, the leg works, the toes have feeling, and it grew normally. She runs and jumps like a normal kitten, and she's grown into a beautiful solid little Tortie girl.

Stanley, once he became official, began to outpace Tallulah in growth. He is ENORMOUS. He is a 10-lb kitten with the longest tail. He's a total snugglebug and has expressive paws like Blue did.

I can only think that Blue sent everyone to me to fill the huge void in my heart.

I'm working full-time now at the University and I made it back to school, but I'm having serious reconsiderations about the career path. But we'll save that for another post.



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