Wednesday, March 31, 2021

His Own Little Spring

We are almost at Easter, a commemoration of sacrifice and a celebration of resurrection. It is a time of renewal and hope. At the Cosy Apartment, indeed, things are looking up. Tucker is eating well this week. He should be eating more, and I may start supplementing his fare with syringe-fed Recovery again, but so far, I am pleased that he is both hungry and eating. If readers can stand one more entry about him, I will elaborate.

Because of the medicines he has been receiving, managing his health has been complicated. It is possible that the kidney powder he was prescribed suppressed his appetite. As an experiment, I removed that medicine from his regimen. A change was not immediate, though one did take place. It may have been a delayed reaction due to the kidney powder taking time to leave his system; then again, his renewed appetite may have nothing to do with that particular substance. And, his appetite may not last. If it does - say, for more than a week - I will re-introduce the kidney powder and see the result.

As I wrote above, I will likely start giving Tucker extra nutrition by syringe. I don’t want to do it right now, as I worry that he may associate that - almost as a kind of punishment - with not eating, and quit eating as a result. This is probably over-thinking matters a bit; however, Tucker’s mind is devious, even if he doesn’t know it, and I want him to get a head-start on eating again before I add another element.

Also, he is behaving better. He is a bit more active - another factor that needs consideration is that Tucker is just plain lazy - and in his natural good mood more often. He has wanted to explore the corridor beyond the apartment lately, walking cautiously away from his home, looking up at me every few feet to make sure I was with him, before deciding he had gone far enough and turning back, his tail well up and purring once he was safe again inside.

Tucker is sixteen years old, was subject to urinary blockages, is diabetic and prone to colds; he has dying kidneys and no teeth. But for now he is experiencing his own little renewal, a breath of personal feline spring. Next week, I will write about other cats; for now, the roly poly sausage thanks our readers for their indulgence.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Our Splendid Days

Early in February, 2019, after Parker had been diagnosed with cancer, I wrote an entry on my blog about how his good days were splendid days. I knew he did not have long to live - though, in fact, he outlasted the veterinary’s prediction by some months - but there were days when Parker ate well, played, walked in the sunshine, and purred. Those I chose to think of as splendid days.

Tucker is now facing physical tribulation. It may be asked, “When has he not?” The poor roly poly has fought urinary blockage, diabetes, had all his teeth removed and is now facing stage three kidney failure. He is being fed all sorts of medicines. Some days he is lethargic, and I think he is despondent.

But other days, he is his usual cheerful self. He meets me at the door when I come home, and talks to me about his day. I like to think he is telling me that he’s glad to see me. I pick him up and he purrs some more.

Mirtazapine has a sporadic effect on Tucker, and will make him eat well one day and not the next. On the days when he eats sparingly, I will supplement his consumption with syringe-feeding. It doesn’t put a lot more food into him, but it helps keep him going on those poor days.

He doesn’t play any more, but he will still smack the lint-roller if it looks like it needs it - and, for some reason, Tucker thinks it needs it often - and he will still purr when I play peek-a-boo with him. A good brushing is always enjoyed, and, now and then, he ambles over to me while I’m in the kitchen and rubs against me.

His blood-glucose numbers are re-arranging themselves, and I hope to see a new pattern emerge that will give me some control over them. Until then, my little sausage-shaped cat puts up with needle-pricks to the ears, though he can’t understand why they are being inflicted upon him. And his kidneys, dying, cannot cleanse his body the way they should, but subcutaneous fluids are helping as much as they can.

I have learned much from my cats. Parker showed me that if one day is bad, the next may be good, and the fact that it brightens the darker periods makes it not just good, but splendid. Cats don’t worry too much about the future, I believe, and so a good day to them is a good life, and a bad day is merely something to be endured until the next day brings something better.

While my Day of Remembering has past for the year, I note that Tungsten died six years ago today. She and Bear-Bear, Parker and Cammie, Raleigh and Josie taught me that while there may be misery and suffering, a cat forgets all of it on the good days. When there is clean water and a full tummy, sunshine to lie in and a comfy, warm bed at night, the bad days don’t matter as much. When there is purring, there are good days; when there is purring, there are splendid days.

For Tucker and me, these are our splendid days.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

On the Subject of Old Habits...

Do you recall a couple of entries ago when I wrote positively about the encouraging signs among the beasts resident at the Cosy Apartment? Well, never mind all that.

This morning, before I left for work, I found Tucker to be rather lethargic and uninterested in food. That really was nothing new. But there was something different about this morning’s behaviour. I gave the roly poly his usual injection of insulin; that made me wonder if he was having a problem with his blood-sugar. I took a reading of his blood. It stood at only 3.2.

Tucker has had habitually high numbers. His nadir – the lowest his blood-sugar count dips – is usually in the mid- or low teens. That is actually too high, but his doctor and I agreed some time ago that clinically Tucker was showing no signs of difficulty with his high numbers. What’s more, his ‘curves’ - monthly studies of his numbers through a whole day - were consistent. The veterinary and I were both pleased with where Tucker was.

Now, however, he had dropped to a place below what is healthy – rather than above it – and, as I had just given him insulin, it was bound to go lower. I resorted right away to corn syrup. Rubbed on the gums, it is absorbed quickly and of course adds a tremendous amount of sugar to the blood. Except in this case. I checked Tucker’s numbers fifteen minutes later and they stood at 3.0.

I gave him more corn syrup. The result was 2.8. Ten minutes after that, it had dropped to 2.5. I called my veterinary hospital’s emergency line. I was told that I could bring my boy in to the hospital, where he would be given an intravenous solution to raise his blood-sugar, and monitored through the day. By the time I was in the taxi with Tucker, I had given him a sugar-water solution by syringe, yet he was at 2.2. This was nearing coma-land.

Fortunately, the situation was taken in hand at the hospital. A few hours later, it was reported to me that the little patient had edged his way up to 4.0. The crisis was averted, and he was out of danger.

It is night-time now and Tucker is back with me. He was given a prescription of Mirtazapine, to stimulate his appetite. It has worked this evening and he had a good soft-food meal. Naturally, the doctor recommended a much lower dose of insulin; even so, for the next while, I will test Tucker’s blood before each shot. If it is in the normal range, or even below 10.0, I will not give him any. Testing will go on until a pattern is established. He will continue to receive his kidney-medicine; this has led to a loss of appetite in some cats, and I will watch for this. If it does that with Tucker, I will have to end it; if tonight is a model, though, I needn’t worry about it. It is given in a syringe of food, so that helps a bit, too.

He will also receive his subcutaneous fluids, as per schedule – though the schedule will be off a bit until the weekend. He should have been given some fluids tonight, but I think he has been through enough for today. I will give them to him tomorrow. Also, he is finishing up the last of his anti-biotic for the nasal or throat congestion from which he suffered.

There is a great agglomeration of drugs and medicine that Tucker is receiving, but some of that – the anti-biotic – will end within days, and the rest will sort itself out into a helpful pattern. There is no indication of what caused his blood-sugar to plummet, but if the kidneys are not working to clean poisons from the body, blood must surely be affected. With Tucker in stage three renal failure, I don’t suppose I can expect his blood-sugar and his diabetes to remain unaffected. I will have to be on my guard against this. The corn syrup probably had little effect this morning due to the insulin that was pushing the numbers down.

Once again, Tucker has suffered a medical emergency, and once again, the roly poly has come back fighting. Today’s battle was won, but the campaign goes on.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Old Cats, Old Habits

I’ve long said that cats are creatures of habit, and that they will maintain their routines forever - until they don’t. Sometimes, they change what they do, and other times, they won’t.

I noticed this during the weekend, watching Renn. He was lying on the rug between rooms in the apartment, probably waiting to turn up his nose at whatever I offered him to eat. He was lying with his front legs over a Kick-a-roo. He often does that.

It reminded me of a picture I had taken years ago. Below is a photograph from 2010 of a three year old Renn, lying on my slippers in our first apartment, even before we moved to the house. I chuckled at the time that he lie in such a manner. I no longer keep my slippers on the floor, but there are plenty of toys lying about, all ignored, and some approximate the size and shape of slippers - or the slippers approximated the size and shape of some toys.

Sometimes, cats change what they do, and other times, they don’t. Whatever made Renn feel in his youth that this position was comfortable is relevant today. There is something to be said for old habits, especially when retained by old cats.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Cautiously Forward

Things are improving here at last.

Renn seems to have recovered fully from his ordeal of a month before, which started with his dental surgery and continued with his reaction (possibly allergic) to the pain-killer they gave him. He is eating well (as much as he ever does) and, though his fur is still thin in spots, it will likely re-grow. If it does not, it won’t trouble him.

Tucker is currently eating well. He is under the influence of Mirtazapine, however, so that is stimulating his appetite at the moment. There is a possibility that his new kidney medicine is reducing his desire for food; after his respiratory ailment is cured, I may have to experiment with taking him off his kidney medicine and see how that affects his hunger. In the meantime, however, his nasal congestion is very limited. It expresses itself mainly at night, but no longer is causing him discomfort or sleeplessness. Even so, on the advice of a friend, I renewed his anti-biotic prescription just before the weekend, so there would be another week of it, without interruption. I think it is better to have it attacking an infection that is already on its way out than have the infection realise it doesn’t have any more medicine to fight, and try to make a comeback.

Neville appears not to have suffered much from what may have been his brief affliction with Tucker’s illness. His solid waste isn’t - that is, it’s very liquidy. That may be a symptom of what he caught from Tucker. If so, however, it didn’t affect Tucker that way. In any case, the Former Thin Man is eating well and is now talking about his food again, which is a good sign. He took up residence in the cat-beds just before the weekend; as he did when he had his fur shaved, he seems to have discovered that he rather likes lying in them, so he is spending more time in them, which is fine with me.

The important characteristic that each of the beasts is exhibiting is normal behaviour. Renn, Tucker and Neville are acting the way they should. That suggests to me that they are doing well. I won’t become complacent in the fight for their health but it shows that, at the moment at least, we seem to be winning it.

I want to take a moment to thank the generous human (I don’t know whether she’d want her name given) at Meezer’s Mews & Terrieristical Woofs (there’s a mouthful!) for the beautiful memorial badge she made for my Chubs, Josie. You can see it on the sidebar. It is most comforting to know that people who never met my old lady cared about her and how her departure has affected the Cosy Apartment and its residents. Kindnesses like this mean a great deal.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Do You Want the Good News First?

The good news is that Tucker is doing better. He is still somewhat congested at night, though not as bad as he has been. He is still not eating any soft-food except small portion of Instinct lamb and venison that was given to me by someone for my outsider-cats. The roly poly is still getting the syringes of Recovery, of course, because his kidney medicine is in them. Today, I renewed the prescription for his anti-biotic, as I feel that that is helping him, and I don’t want to end it too soon.

The bad news is that there is something amiss with Neville. He has been swallowing - without reason, so far as I can see - and periodically hacking; similar to Tucker’s early symptoms. He is, so far, continuing to eat, but not in the amounts that he usually does; nor is he eager for his food as usual.

I thought that he may just have a hairball, so I have begun dosing him with hairball medicine. I did that last night and he appeared quite indignant about it. He strode straight from the bathroom, where I gave him the medicine, to the heated cat-bed in the sitting room, and lie down in it. I can’t remember when he last lie there, if he ever has. Tucker came out of the bedroom at one point and saw Neville there from across the apartment.

Though Tucker is sleeping there less now that the weather is warming, I think he still regards it as his spot, and stared at the Former Thin Man from down the corridor for about twenty minutes.

Life with the beasts is interesting, if nothing else. I would prefer a life like my piddling bank account - something with less interest.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Good Signs

At last Tucker appears to be showing signs of improvement. For three weeks, the roly poly has been refusing most food, eating only a nibble here and there, and never enthusiastically. Over the last few days, however, he has been eating more hard-food, especially first thing in the morning. It is, unfortunately, not high-grade nutrition: last week, I offered him some of the lesser quality hard-food that I buy for the outsider-cats, hoping that he would like something, and he seemed to favour it, though he didn’t eat much until this week. He is starting to eat the perma-cats’ own food now, too.

As well, yesterday, he ate a small amount of Fancy Feast. It was only a quarter of a tin all told, but that is about the same amount he has consumed in total over the past three weeks. More important is the fact that he wanted to eat it.

Also telling was his behaviour at dinner. Included on my weekly menu is a meat-pie, which Tucker has always fancied. After I eat, I leave a little of the gravy for him and he licks the dish clean. It probably isn’t good for a diabetic cat, but it’s a treat just once a week, the amount of which would probably not overflow a thimble. But for the past three weeks, he as not been interested in anything I have eaten, not even this. Yesterday, he waited on a chair beside me while I ate and then licked the dish clean, as of old, even eating the little cube of beef I left for him.

On the weekend, I had obtained from the veterinary some anti-biotic, which may have tipped the scale in Tucker’s favour. I am surprised the doctor didn’t prescribe this originally. Then again, it may not have had anything to do with Tucker’s improvement. Nonetheless, he will be given the full amount.

I know my beasts too well to expect this to be an uninterrupted curve into restored health. But Tucker is doing better. His excessive saliva and mucous is gone and, though he continues to breathe roughly at night, the sounds are less severe and he appears to be less uncomfortable as a result. I continue to supplement his voluntary intake of food with Recovery in a syringe. That will likely never cease, as it is a means of giving him his kidney medicine; the powder would not be wholly consumed in any loose food to which it was added. And one or two syringes of concentrated nutrition twice a day won’t do that sausage of a cat harm.

So far, then, we at the Cosy Apartment are guardedly optimistic about Tucker. He is purring more and behaving a bit more like his old self. And he is even snoozing with his eyes open. I think the imitation of death is a good sign...

Thursday, March 11, 2021


Tucker is doing better. Last night was an improvement on recent evenings, when it seemed that he could barely breathe. His breathing, which had usually turned rough after sunset, was easier than it had been, and he didn’t salivate much at all. I think he was able to sleep some during the night. His nose is still clogged but not entirely plugged, I think. He even ate a little soft food. I have a wide variety available for the menu here, and I have been trying to tempt him with everything, regardless of its effect on his diabetes - first things first. He appears at the moment most to favour some of the relatively cheap hard-food I lay in for the outsider cats. I don’t foresee a difficulty in returning him to better quality later.

My roly poly was in a generally cheerful mood last night, too, purring more.

I will probably have to continue feeding him some food by syringe. The kidney medicine in powder form could be added to his food but even in good times, Tucker rarely eats enough at one sitting to account for his entire dose. Mixing it with soft-food, therefore, won’t get it all into him. I now mix it with a small portion of Recovery and then put it in a syringe. That way, he gets it all. He doesn’t mind it and it is over quickly. This method used just for his medicine will be less work for both of us than the four feedings a day he has been receiving for the past two weeks (seven on days when I am home), just to keep some nutrition going into him.

And I bare in mind that his ordeal is not over yet. Optimism is good, but is best indulged in the same way one steps from a car: not to be done until the ride has come to a complete stop.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Miss von Chubs Departs

“Josie. Josie? Josie!”

“I’m sorry, Doctor. I didn’t have my hearing aid turned on.”

Miss Josefina von Chubs rubbed her face against the doorframe in embarrassment. She was always forgetting either to wear her hearing aid or to turn it on, once it was in place. Doctor Bellen was always startling her, without meaning to. He was used to that, even if Josie wasn’t.

“Are you ready? The train will be leaving in a quarter-hour.”

“Oh, yes, yes, I…I think I am quite ready.”

Josie looked about her room. She had lived at the Cosy Apartment Feline Sanitarium for more than twelve years, and was a little reluctant to change her residence. But the time had come; she knew this and sighed.

“I will miss living here, I don’t mind admitting, Doctor. Especially the food service. It is very convenient. The staff never complained about bringing the food to my suite.”

“I can assure you, Josie, that they considered it a pleasure.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that. I was demanding at times, and impatient. I’m sorry about that. Will you let the clerk of the kitchen know? I…I haven’t been feeling quite myself of late, Doctor, as you’re aware. Sometimes I become confused. I swear, Doctor, there are times when I don’t really know where I am!”

Josie said this humorously, but Dr Bellen knew that it was the truth, and that her condition now worried her a little.

“I understand,” he said - and he did understand. “I wish the treatments we’d prescribed had worked more effectively. Then you would be able to stay here.”

Josie took a final look about, at her favourite bed, heated, which had been a great comfort to her; the water-bowls, conveniently placed; the tall saddle-topped cat-tree, which she was becoming unable to climb. It was all very nice, very homey.

She turned and walked slowly into the corridor with Dr Bellen. She always moved slowly now, but with determination; her joints ached rather badly, though, and she wobbled too much, causing her some embarrassment. She was concerned that she would not be able to make it to the station.

As if in answer to that anxiety, Dr Bellen led her outside the building, where she saw a taxi-cab waiting by the curb.

“Oh, we needn’t use a taxi, Doctor; it’s not far to the station,” she said, eyeing the soft upholstery of the vehicle’s rear seat through an opened door.

“Nonsense. You won’t be walking all that way. Here, let me help you.”

“Oh, well, if you insist…”

Being picked up used to annoy Josie. She would squirm and roll in a person’s arms. For the last year or two, though, she didn’t mind it as much. It’s funny how tastes change. The cushions of the taxi were as soft as they looked. The automobile trundled down the drive, past the different buildings of the sanitarium and out through the gate, where the porter saluted respectfully.

“I will confess, Doctor, that I never liked automobile rides, even in such as this vehicle,” remarked Josie. Indeed, the taxi was an excellent motor-car; old-fashioned, and not a modern, streamlined creation meant for speed. “They usually took me somewhere I didn’t want to go.”

“And now?” Dr Bellen regarded Josie sidelong. He was a little fearful of her answer. Josie didn’t respond. Instead, she looked around the cab, as if attempting to discover where she was by what she saw. “Josie?”

“Hm? Yes? Oh, dear, there I go again. I’m sorry, Doctor. I won’t miss episodes like that!” Josie laughed a little, to disguise her consternation. But she brightened and said, “Do you remember that conversation we had last summer, about when Tungsten departed?”

“I do, yes, clearly.”

“Well, I understand what she meant now - Tungsten, I mean. I don’t mean to denigrate your species, Doctor, but we cats are more sensitive than humans, and I know now that this is my time. I wish I didn’t have to go; the sanitarium is my home, and I have friends here.” She smiled at Dr Bellen. “But everyone must go to Samarra some day, and today, I must go. I’m not afraid; somewhat nervous, but not afraid.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” Indeed, Dr Bellen could hear the veracity in Josie’s voice, and knew that she spoke the truth. She was almost relaxed, a little sad, but ready for whatever happened next.

The station was not crowded; it never was. There were no crowds in Idylland, except on festive occasions, and then, people and animals were friendly and happy, and liked being in large groups. Otherwise, they collected in small parties here and there; nothing offensive or loud. A few humans and cats waited on the platform.

“We needn’t worry about your ticket, Josie. I have it already. You’ve a first class compartment to yourself. I’ve asked them to turn up the heat in there for you.”

“Oh that’s most kind of you, Doctor. Thank you.”

Josie didn’t need to wait. The train already huffed and puffed next to the platform, as if it had come into the station just for her. A few passengers had found their spots in the carriage. Dr Bellen saw that Josie was settled into her compartment, which had seats as comfortable as the taxi’s, and pictures of far-away lands on the walls. There was a poster advertising journeys to Samarra, and the colours made Josie feel almost exhilarated about going there. Dr Bellen pulled down the window a little, so that he could remain outside, and talk to Josie, who reclined against the thick stuffing of the seat’s back.

“I know what Tungsten meant now, what she meant by one’s destiny,” the aged cat said. “This is mine. I have had a good, long life; it started rather roughly… I recall, vaguely, something about automobile engines… Perhaps my father was a mechanic… The last dozen years have been quite enjoyable, despite the comings and goings of everyone at the sanitarium. But I’m old, Doctor, and I’m feeling even older. It’s hard for me to be comfortable enough even to sleep, let alone get about, and I am tired. So it’s time for me to move on, to go to Samarra.”

Dr Bellen smiled and commented, “You are a wise old lady, Josie.”

“Oh, all cats are wise, Doctor; it’s just that some aren’t smart enough to know it!”

Dr Bellen laughed, and told his friend, “I will see you again some day, Josie.”

“What? Will you be coming to Samarra, too?” This surprised Josie. She may have been wise but she wasn’t all-knowing. She had no idea that humans left Idylland, too. “But who will manage the sanitarium? Cats depend on it, you know.”

“There will be another director after me, and another after him. There are thousands of sanitaria around the world, big and small. Millions of people watching out for cats, and for dogs, and birds and all animals. Good Heavens, I thought you were a literate cat. Haven’t you ever read our brochure?”

Josie laughed and admitted that she had not. Her tastes ran more toward residential architecture, and books with pictures.

“Then I will see you again, Dr Bellen.”

“We will all see each other again, Josie.” The human paused before adding, “But I will miss you a great deal until then.”

“I will miss you, too, Doctor,” said Josie. “…Good-bye.”

The train had started to accelerate by then, and Dr Bellen stepped back. Very soon the engine had pulled the carriages around the far curve, where the trees of the woods crowded close to the rails. With a toot on the horn, the train was gone. The last Dr Bellen saw of Miss Josefina von Chubs was a little white paw waving from the train’s window.

The human stood for a long time on the platform, staring at the spot where he had last seen the paw. He wondered if he had been right to send Josie away at this time. Certainly, Josie herself seemed sure that it was time. But despite cats’ belief in their superior knowledge, they could not know everything, and they depended on people to help them at times. That was why the Cosy Apartment Feline Sanitarium, and others like it, existed.

When he had purchased Josie’s ticket, Dr Bellen had been asked by the station-master if he was sure he wanted a passage to Samarra. The doctor had of course said ‘yes’, but he could never be sure, not really; no one could. One just did the best one could, even doctors.

Dr Bellen realised that he was alone on the platform. One of the porters was sweeping the wooden floor with a broom. Birds were singing in the trees near by, and a now-distant train blew its horn. It would be passing over the frontier by twilight. Dr Bellen sighed and turned to leave. He had a sanitarium to run, and he was certain he was behind in some task or another.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Table for Two

When Arliss, the white and orange outsider mancat, first started coming to Café Cosy, I thought he might be acquainted with Sable, who had been visiting the food-bowls for a long time already. He often appeared soon after she had, sometimes sitting in the background while she ate. I fancied that they might actually be friends.

It seems that this is the case. Last night, Sable and Arliss came to see what was on offer. Initially, when I saw them, she was in the concrete ditch, and he was on the parapet behind her. At one point, she ran up the steps and either touched faces with him or smelled him. In any case, it was an act of familiarity, and Arliss didn’t move. If not friends, they are at least friendly.

When I opened the glass door to put food out, Arliss ran back to the corner of the fence and watched as I set the food down and Sable ate. Sable had seconds but didn’t eat them all. Arliss then came forward, finished off her late supper and had some hard-food. They left separately, but only because I opened the doors again to put out more food: Arliss was afraid of my proximity, and Sable was done eating.

I wonder now how they came to know each other. Sable’s sister, Sablette, vanished more than a year ago. It was, in fact, almost exactly a year ago that Sable reappeared, after she and her sibling had been absent for months. Whatever happened to Sablette had left Sable alone. I like to think that she has now found a new chum, someone to keep her company – and whom she can keep company – on bright days and in dark nights. It may have been Sable who led Arliss to Café Cosy. In any case, I will have to set a table for two, from time to time.