Why, Ovaries? Why?

There is something massively unfair in the fact that I am one month and some change away from being officially in menopause, and I’m still getting PMS. Breakouts, a craving for sugar, lowered pain tolerance, swelling, heightened irritation, the works.

And I know why—my encysted ovaries are occasionally popping off a cysted egg, which degenerates and creates the hormones and other chemicals that triggers the PMS, thank you SO VERY MUCH PCOS. I’m just grateful that my uterus is staying out of this.

So I warned Lyndon that I probably won’t be in the best of moods for the next day or so and that I’d stay out of his way, and if I did get snappish it wasn’t him, it was me. Of course, this is also CATWATCH 2023: Day Four and J.J. not only pooped all by himself on his bedding, he pooped and peed on the big cat bed in the library. This required me to toss the bed in the yard and hose it down (I think I may be able to put it in the washing machine but it’ll require something to balance it during the spin cycle), wipe down and disinfect the floor, then haul the Elderly Gentleman into the bathroom for a full-on sink bath where I could wash the sticky poop out of his tail and undercarriage.

Considering that I was scared he wouldn’t be able to poop on his own anymore, I’m just grateful that he’s still able to do it and I don’t have to give him any enemas for the foreseeable future (although the medical-grade ones did arrive today). If we can just get him to poop on the pee pads or in the litter box, my life will be complete.

And now, if you’ll excuse me I need a shower and a large rum and coke.

CATWATCH 2023: Day Three

Allow me to preface this by saying that cat poop and enemas are about to be discussed so you might want to skip this post if you’re easily grossed out.

No? Bien. I figured that J.J., having resumed eating after five days of nothing in his system, was about to have some problems evacuating the digested food for an assortment of reasons. And lo, I was right because this morning he started straining to poop but nothing was coming out.

Bless Google, I looked up “how to give a cat an enema” and I’m glad I did. Turns out you CANNOT give a cat human enema fluids; it’ll wreck their kidneys and could kill them. Since that is the result we are desperately trying to avoid I decided to go with a warm water enema and order some feline-specific medical enemas online (they’ll arrive tomorrow, thank you Amazon).

As our vet gave us two doses of a painkiller for J.J. in very small syringes that would fit easily (well, relatively easily) up a cat’s anus, I squirted one dose into a glass bottle and stored it, then washed out the syringe and filled it with warm water, oiled the business end, and had Lyndon hold down J.J. while I administered it. He wasn’t happy about it but wasn’t wriggling or vocally complaining so I think it made him feel a little better.

And lo, about four hours later I came down and found him eating from the food bowls with a little nickel-sized turd next to his tail. After praising him loudly and disposing of the nugget, I realized he was still trying to poop but it just wasn’t coming out.

I summoned Lyndon and we got J.J. back into position, I refilled the syringe, put it up his poor straining pooper duper and injected the warm water. I then started massaging his belly to help soften the stool and make it easier to pass. To my surprise I discovered that he was so skinny I could actually get my fingers around his straining colon.

Very, very carefully, I helped him push out a stool about 1.25″ long and .75″ wide. It was clay hard, poor sweetie, and if you didn’t know a cat could let out a sigh of relief I am here to tell you that they can. The chamber was empty after that so I cleaned his anus and oiled it, then put him on a bed here in the library where he can relax and enjoy a patch of sunlight. He’ll be getting stool softener every day from here on in, and I’ll administer a medical enema tomorrow to help everything that’s still in his small intestine work its way out painlessly.

So I now have a new skill and know how to extract a constipated turd from a cat’s ass. You wish you had my life.

CATWATCH 2023: Day Two

J.J. had a lot of water this morning, two tbsp of Fancy Feast kibble, and a skosh over 100 ml of sub-q fluid, at which point he got super wiggly and wanted down, please.

Curious, I unhooked him and carefully put him on the carpet. He staggered about six feet, then fell over. I grabbed a tea towel and put it around him like a sling then let him guide me where he wanted to go.

The food bowls. Message received. He wasn’t happy with the usual mix so I put him back on the couch and gave him another tbsp of Fancy Feast and another drink of water, after which he passed out hard for four hours, which is unsurprising considering that he just did his first session of PT, essentially.

He woke up about ten minutes ago and polished off another tbsp of Fancy Feast followed with water. More importantly, he rolled onto his side under his own power so that I could stick the bowls under his mouth instead of having to hold them for him, and now he’s looking out the window at the rain and digesting. I’m considering this time to be a gift—as long as he’s comfortable and happy, that’s all that matters.

In other amusing news we got a tube of lube (get your mind out of the gutter, that’s my reserved table) for the treadmill and I spent about ten minutes loosening the belt, cleaning off the old lube on the deck with paper towels, re-greasing the deck, retightening everything and then walking on the running treadmill for a bit to spread the lube around.

One of the interesting things I found while cleaning the deck: a long black vibrissae, aka a cat whisker. Jeremy, Jasmine, and Jessica are clear because their whiskers are white and J.J. still has some black whiskers but doesn’t go anywhere near the treadmill anymore. I’m guessing this is a Jemma whisker since she likes to nap on the deck. Silly tortie.

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.


Palliative Care

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 Lyndon’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 all of our cats 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 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.

That Cat Is Gonna Kill Me

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.

Today Has Not Been The Greatest

I’m not feeling all that great today (body aches, intermittent fever, and slight dizziness due to clogged ears—no head or chest congestion/coughing, though, and the COVID test was negative so it’s most likely an allergic reaction to all the tree sex out there), J.J. is definitely not doing all that well, and I just kinda want to crawl into bed and sleep. Or cry.

But I can’t because I have an elderly cat to tend to, so I got up and washed his bedding, washed him, popped him with some sub-q, 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 Dr. Crigger and make an appointment to have him evaluated and see what we should do next.

The Cat Abides

J.J.’s still here, still drinking and peeing, although the eating and pooping has slowed down. I’ve been giving him sub-q fluids and that seems to help, and he’s sleeping a lot. There are two beds set up on the futon and Jessie or Jeremy tend to join him at least once during the day—a couple of days ago I watched in fond amusement as Jeremy carefully climbed into J.J.’s bed and curled around him, and today J.J. was back-to-back with Jessie for a couple of hours. I don’t know if they’re trying to keep him warm or provide some pack comfort, but I’m glad they’re doing it.

I’m also bathing The Elderly Gentleman daily and sometimes twice a day, depending on how he feels and whether he’s gotten pee or poop in his fur. It’s not a big deal—I stand him on the bathroom counter with my hand bracing him under his ribcage and wipe him down with a warm, wet cloth until he’s clean, then gently rub him dry with a terrycloth square. I also have to clean his undercarriage and I’ve become more familiar with his penis than I ever expected to be (his pooper duper I’m used to).

And yeah, this may seem like a lot to some people. But J.J. is the cat of my heart, and if I was old and tired I’d want people to take care of me as well. He’ll go when he’s ready (and if he needs medical intervention we’ll provide that, but so far he hasn’t shown signs of wanting that yet).

In the meantime he seems happy to curl up on his bedding and watch me make dinner, hang out with the twins, and snooze. As long as he’s content, that’s all that matters.

Auntie Em, Auntie Em!

The first major non-ice storm of 2023 just went over us and I have to say I was quite impressed. According to WFAA we had 80 MPH straight-line winds, lots of donder and blitzen, large hail in some areas, and a couple of tornadoes around the Metroplex (but none in Plano—yay for TI Skunkworks!). It’s now headed towards Arkansas and points east, and part of it is going to head north and dump a buttload of snow on the northern states from what the weather report is saying.

Of course, the sirens sounded pretty much continuously for about fifteen minutes while the light show went on outside. The power flickered a number of times, which apparently was the last straw for the UPS in my office that powers my writing desk because the battery went poof. Lyndon dug out a massive surge suppressor for me and I have everything plugged into that for now (I’m more concerned about everything being on a surge suppressor than a UPS. If we lose power and the desktop shuts down over night, oh well). There are a couple of places in the area where I can pick up a replacement battery so I’ll see about doing that over the weekend.

I am also sincerely grateful that we still have power, since apparently a lot of local friends don’t). The fence seems to be okay from what I can see and I’ll do a roof inspection tomorrow once it’s light.