Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Why Good Days are Splendid Days

Parker is doing well. He does not appear to be in pain and, as he sleeps in the same position for hours, I know he is not in strong discomfort. He plays a little and still wants to go outside. And he is still eating.

He has re-discovered Fancy Feast. After all the exotic varieties and expensive brands in which I have tried to interest him, he is, for the moment, eating Fancy Feast. Yesterday, he ate almost a tin of it for dinner, and then I cut up roasted chicken for his bed-time snack, and he consumed all the meat of a drumstick, and then some. And it all stayed down.

I watched Parker eat, hungrily, eagerly. When he cleaned his bowl, he wanted more. He wanted nothing at snack-time (eight o’clock) but before bed, he was peckish again, and had his favourite, chicken. Afterward, he stretched, and I stroked his still smooth and soft fur. We played: I pretended to step on him and he wrestled and kicked my foot. Finally, he groomed himself. He didn’t throw up last night or early this morning. Yesterday was a good day.

And yesterday was why good days with Parker are splendid days. He felt good. He filled his tummy and I know that he felt good. One day, he won’t. One day, he will not eat, and not eat ever again. He will feel pain, and no position in which he lies will bring him comfort. One day, the cancer that fills his body will win.

But not yesterday. Yesterday, Parker won. And yesterday cannot be erased. It is indelible, and long after he has left me, yesterday, and days like it, will remain. Yesterday was a good day. Yesterday was splendid.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Renn is Forced to Volunteer Next

I summoned the beasts for a roll-call last night. Once they were assembled, I asked who had not been to the veterinary recently. There was mumbling and a shuffling of feet. Tucker tried to bite me, which was his way of showing me that he had no teeth as a result of his last visit to the hospital, his teeth being the latest of his bits to be removed. Cammie hissed, her way of reminding me that I took her for yet another Cerenia injection last Saturday. Raleigh looked bewildered; he has already cost me an arm and several fingers at the hospital, so he was excused. Parker sighed. He was excused, too. I looked at Renn and Josie. My Chubs kept giving sidelong glances toward my big boy, trying to deflect my attention to him. I didn’t need my attention deflected. I knew it was Renn’s turn.

Well, there was no roll-call, really. If there had been, the cats would have ignored it. But in the line-up of animals who need to see the doctor, it is a fact, unfortunately, that Renn must go next.

Renn has been urinating in the bath-tub. Certainly, there are worse places he could go, but that is not the point. He always joins me to wait for the tub to fill on bath-night; it’s a highlight of our week. He must, rather intelligently, associate the tub with water, and perhaps with draining water. To use it to relieve himself makes sense. But it also may indicate a problem.

I am not overly worried about my big boy. I suspect that, if there is a problem, it is a minor urinary tract infection. However, a minor infection can lead to major issues, and is uncomfortable in itself. So Renn and I will be going to the doctor Friday afternoon. I imagine he will be as pleased as he looks in this photograph...

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

He Still Fits, So He Still Sits

There isn’t anything new to report from the cosy apartment, which, I think, is what I want: anything new, considering the situation, would likely be bad.

Parker is doing adequately. He is still eating; right now, he favours Tiki Cat wild salmon in salmon consommé. (I hope I haven’t jinxed it by writing this.) He generally eats a good dinner (after being without food all day) and much smaller amounts at snack-time and bed-time. Breakfast’s amounts can vary.

At one point, I locked Parker in the library with a bowl filled with a tin’s-worth of food, hoping that he would eat the whole amount through the day. He did, but then threw it up. This was followed by a refusal to touch that variety of food again. I have chosen not to repeat this experiment, as I can’t guarantee he will eat anything else, if he goes off his current menu. As well, the past couple of days I have found small amounts of vomit which could have come only from him. If he had had a full stomach at those times, all the food would have come up. Finally, there is the fact that, being hungry through the day, he is putting away a good amount in the evening, and under my supervision.

The Trout Towne Tabbies reminded me of sardines as a tempting dish. Parker did indeed eat a whole tin of the fish – then refused any other tins (the same brand and purchased at the same shop, but at different times), though he drank the juice from them. That is, unfortunately, how other foods have been stricken from the menu – a sudden and inexplicable disdain for them. I have heard of other instances of such behaviour among cats who are nearing the ends of their lives. This doesn’t mean that sardines won’t be offered again, however.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support and advice during Parker’s on-going problems. As with suggestions regarding the outsider-cats’ food and water, Cammie’s illnesses and all the other puzzles here at the cosy apartment, I appreciate the help and the company from those who read this blog. I am grateful.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Doors That Are Now Closed

I think the worst thing about a person or animal going before his time is all the possibilities that won’t happen.

Cammie has always felt about Parker a little differently than she has the other cats. This feeling didn’t appear to progress, and certainly didn’t become friendship, but over time it may have done. Now, I’ll never know.

Last night, Parker jumped on the bed for a snooze. Cammie is often there already, perhaps between the pillows. She looks up when Parker disturbs the bed but doesn’t move or make a sound. She settles back to sleep, even if Parker is just inches away.

Then, last evening, I noticed this. Parker’s tail was actually touching the princess, and she accepted it. I can’t think of any other beast of whom she would be so tolerant. Usually, there would be a hiss, a growl and a re-arrangement of positions. Not with Parker.

Why are some cats different than others, especially to other cats? What is it about Parker? What does Cammie see in him that is lacking in her other roommates? What does he lack that they have? It is an insoluble mystery; at least until that time when all mysteries are solved. Cats are spared thinking about possibilities; people are not. Sometimes I envy cats.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

So Far, So Good

Cammie went to the doctor at 10.20 this morning. Usually, Saturday mornings are booked solid at the hospital, but not today, perhaps due to the tremendously cold weather, when everyone sane, and those who don’t have sick cats, are staying indoors. I chose an appointment rather than just a quick injection of Cerenia for Cammie because I wanted her to have a once-over. I am glad I did.

By chance, our preferred doctor was on duty this morning; she knows my cats. She gave my princess the Cerenia she needed but also some fluids, which were also required; they often are, following Cammie’s episodes, as the vomiting dries her out. Everything looked and sounded good otherwise – heart, lungs, teeth – except for her pancreas, the touching of which caused Cammie a little discomfort. The doctor told me that it could be a sign of pancreatitis, but that repetitive vomiting could also cause this discomfort.

Cammie came home and I waited for the Cerenia to take effect (about two hours). After three hours (to be sure), I offered my girl some food, and it was pleasing that she wanted to eat it. (Sometimes in these cases, Cammie won’t feel like eating for as much as a day afterward, perhaps associating food with throwing up.) She has since eaten a second time, and has not brought anything up again. I am feeding her small portions, as I would rather have her hungry than consuming too much so soon after her illness.

Subsequent to these episodes, I never take anything for granted. She could still throw up in the middle of the night. But each minute that ticks by increases the chances of recovery. Also, what she ate hours ago will pass beyond the point of no return, and count as nutrition. I won’t jinx the princess’s chances by writing that she has recovered; I will simply state my hope for such a state.

As for my orange-boy, he is doing adequately. He is eating decent amounts of food, and, significantly, wanting to. He is not drinking enough water, though, and any adulteration of his food with even a small amount leads to its rejection. It is why I wish he were eating paté rather than a shredded variety. But it does have some juice to it, which Parker laps up.

Every hesitation to eat, even if it is just looking up while he chews, makes my breath catch. Is this when he stops eating? No, not yet. My sturdy-boy will stay a while longer.

So today has been a satisfactory one, characterised by guarded optimism. So far, so good.

Friday, February 8, 2019

I Sing in Praise of Dull Moments

“Never a dull moment.”

This is a common phrase denoting a hectic or exciting lifestyle. This seems to be my life at the present. But I long for dull moments.

Apparently jealous of the attention Parker has been receiving, Cammie chose tonight to have one of her episodes. For those of you unaware, Cammie will periodically begin vomiting. I have linked this action in the past to a severe food allergy. She may very well be allergic to everything edible but her current food, Z/D. The vomiting starts soon after she ingests any other kind of food, except, perhaps, for kernels of Orijen. This is not ordinary vomiting, as it continues unabated long after she has emptied her stomach. The debris she brings up turns pink with blood, and the spasms she experiences are undoubtedly painful.

The only antidote I have found has been an injection of a drug called Cerenia. Pills have no effect; nor does slippery elm. Therefore, Cammie must be taken to a veterinary hospital. She invariably has her episodes on weekends, often long weekends. The timing of this one is a little better than normal, as I can call our veterinary clinic early tomorrow, and see if they can fit her in before they close at noon. They have, in the past, given her an injection between others’ appointments. The doctors there are familiar with Cammie’s problems, and a few minutes may suffice.

These episodes are very worrying for, now and then, as in this case, they seem to have no discernible cause; they go on until relieved with medicine available only through a hospital, and there may come a time when that medicine is ineffective. Incidentally, my princess’ intense reaction to any food but her Z/D is one of the several reasons I cannot trust others to take care of the beasts during any theoretical absence on my part.

I will call the veterinary hospital as soon as they open tomorrow. I hope thereafter that Cammie’s life, at least, will recede once more into a series of many dull moments.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

How He Will Leave Me

Wednesday afternoon, Parker went to see his new doctor. What she had to say about the orange boy’s health was not pleasant to hear.

Parker is dying. He will probably be gone within a few weeks. He has cancer. I saw the x-rays taken of him, and the tumour is huge. It fills at least a third of the organ cavity. His kidneys and pancreas have been displaced, pushed aside, as may be the lungs. It was impossible to see the stomach because of the tumour’s size, but it too was likely moved from where it should be.

Parker’s appetite will continue to diminish, as will his consumption of water, which is already much reduced from what it was. He may be in a little discomfort now - I have noticed him lying more often than normally on his chest rather than his side - but not in pain. That may come. I declined on his behalf the offer of painkillers for now. It is a trial for him to be given medicine and I want to deny him stress for as long as possible. I also decided against an increase in his insulin. The doctor stated that it may make him more comfortable, but it would also throw his diabetes management into confusion. That may seem to be academic now, like repairing a house under an erupting volcano, but I don’t want any changes in his insulin dosage to mask the effects of the cancer, which I will need to see in order to judge when to give him pain-relief, and when to say ‘good-bye’ to him.

My orange boy was not happy at the veterinary hospital. He has been growing more and more agitated and angry at different locations and different people. I don’t know if this is a symptom of his illness, the cancer making him uncomfortable enough to be cranky with strangers and strange places. He remains friendly and affectionate with me.

He ate an excellent dinner last evening, after returning from the doctor, and kept it all down (a major concern when someone who eats little eats much). I will be feeding him whatever he will eat. The percentage of carbohydrates in his food means little now. He has gone off Temptation Treats, which he had previously enjoyed, but still likes his bits of arrowroot biscuit, so he will be receiving a dish of those from time to time, though not so often that he grows weary of them.

The most difficult part - until the moment comes when he has to die - will be determining when Parker will go. I hope he will make it clear to me but, as many who have had pets know, that is not always the case. I will watch my friend, and listen to what he has to tell me, and hope that I understand him. Until then, we will carry on, and I will try to forget now and then how he will leave me.