Friday, October 7, 2011

Standing Guard at the Gates of Health

I worry a great deal about my cats. I worry about the food they eat, about them not eating, about not playing enough with them, about them drinking enough water, about them getting out of the house, about them aging… The list is endless.

I take the cats to the veterinary every year for a check-up. Josie and Renn went in the summer. Tungsten and Tucker will go in December. (That should be fun: those two in the back of a car together; even in separate carriers, the orange one will not be pleased about the roly poly’s proximity.) The examination always seems cursory, a prod here, a poke there, up with the gums to see the teeth, staring into the eyes as if trying to hypnotize the animal. But, like most pet-owners, I trust that the doctor knows her business.

I always note through the year anything that causes me special concern. With Tungsten, it is three items. Her mouth seems to be drooping a little on one side. The last time I noticed it was four years ago and it was a sign of a small infection. But that was accompanied by extreme bad breath, which she doesn’t have at this time, so I wonder if the droopy lip is just something I hadn’t noticed before. There seems nothing amiss when I examine her myself. But then, I don’t know what precisely I should be seeking. I do notice more little dark brown spots - which in a human may be a danger sign, of course. But orange cats get these as they age, I’m told (by vets), like liver spots. It’s a danger sign of sorts, but this danger none of us can avoid.

I have also noticed a sort of skin tag on the bag of Tungsten’s neck, under her fur. I don’t think it is anything serious but again, it’s something to inquire about. The third item is very new. Tungsten seems to be eating hard food more often. She was at the bowl several times last night alone, which is unusual for her. Her appetite for soft food has improved only a little recently, and that is probably due to the more favourable flavour of Fancy Feast.

Otherwise, her behaviour is unchanged. She’s my oldest cat and the most active. After a visit to the litter-box following dinner, she will sometimes shoot across the ground floor of the house, launch herself from a cat-tree and come to rest on top of the fireplace mantel. I’m afraid more of broken bones in her little body than I am of anything else, really.

Josie, who passed her last examination with commendations, doesn’t worry me. Her weight is decreasing, though she is a relatively small cat, so she could lose some more. She is eating slightly less, leaving a little bit of her soft food most evenings. But she looks forward to its arrival and eats heartily, so I think she may just be losing a fraction of her appetite along with the fraction of her weight. She has trouble cleaning her bum after visiting the litter-box, but when I clean it, she is not giving me the difficulty that she used to. Josie is friendlier and healthier than ever.

Renn also did well during his exam. I worry a bit about his diet. He doesn’t eat enough soft food. He’s my fussiest. He does drink water sufficiently, I think, and though he’s lost a little weight, he remains active and strong. All in all, he is fine.

Tucker’s weight needs to be reduced. He is no longer the sleek torpedo he once may have been, cutting through the water with speed and agility. He’s become a tubby depth charge that has to be pushed off the ship and sinks with a gurgling sound. Well, he’s not as bad as that. He is too chubby, though. However, his coat is smooth and full, his teeth are good, his eyes are bright and he is energetic. But I felt what appears to be a skin-tag similar to Tungsten’s, and in the same place. That’s odd, and I will ask about it.

But I think the cats in my care are doing well. It’s important to keep an eye on everything about them. They can’t tell me with words what is wrong, if anything is, so I must interpret the clues when I find them. Anything out of the ordinary, especially with behaviour, may be a hint of something significant. Having anything alive under one’s care means constant vigilance. It’s tiring but worth it.

1 comment:

  1. I worry about my guys too, and always keep an eye on them on a daily basis. Had I not, my poor Dachshund who's going through a back problem right now may have been paralyzed. It's just something we do as dedicated pet owners. You have stunning kitties, by the way.