Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Eldest Cat

Our oldest cat, Edna, is somewhere near 16 years old. We adopted her from a cat rescue in the Reading area when Helen wasn’t quite two. She was the only female cat in the litter of kittens, and the only cream colored one among orange tabbies. We were just going to adopt one cat, but we left with two – Edna (named after Edna St. Vincent Millay) and Albrecht (named after Albrecht Durer). They were devoted to Helen and purred her to sleep, all snugged in among her stuffed animals. As she grew up and we moved, Edna became her helpmate and Albrecht moved on to other manlier pursuits like extended daytime sleeping and purring until he drooled.

Dan calls Edna “the sweet one,” and she is. She loves everyone who walks into the house, and will attempt to sit on their laps whether they are “cat people” or not. She’ll share her fur with anyone’s clothes. She’s not discriminating that way.

Last week she developed a neurological problem, and I caught her confused and weak at the top of the basement stairs. Helen and I wrapped her up in a towel and took her to the vet. She weighed in at less than five pounds. We sat with her on the floor because I couldn’t get her back into the towel and she was getting worse and couldn’t stand. She was suddenly a puppet with a very unskilled master.

The vet looked her over, drew a little blood, and attempted to get her to stand. Her head rolled in under her front feet and she tumbled. I cried. What makes me think I’m fit to have a pet? How did I get to be the adult who takes the pet “to the farm?” When the dog developed a brain tumor and could not longer eat or fend for himself, I drove him to the same vet to have him put to sleep. He was wrapped in a towel, shuddering, and I played Christmas music. It was September. I don’t know if this music was for him or for me. I doubt he could hear it.

When the vet said Edna wasn’t in pain, I opted to take her home, buy the meds, and see if she’d get better. So this week has been a regular schedule of applying the gel-based thyroid medicine in her right ear in the morning, making a small meal with crushed steroid in it, aiding in a trip to the litterbox, rest, another feeding, another aided trip to the litterbox, rest, another feeding, another application of thyroid medication (this time in the left ear), rest, litterbox.

Over the past couple of days, she’s regained strength, and is walking. It’s a wobbly start. It looks as if parts of her body are pulled by a large magnet while the rest of them are unaffected. But she’s managing, and trying, and eating well enough to “pile on the ounces,” as I said to Helen this morning.

This week she’ll travel with us to Nana’s for Thanksgiving. I’m thankful she’s still around, happy to have her weave her little furs into my black sweater.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Oh, Jenny, I feel your pain--literally. We've been on the same track this week. My 15-year-old Mickey was badly injured last week (we have no idea how, since he doesn't go out), and I followed the vet's directions all week, only to see his wound get progressively worse. I took him back yesterday, and the vet said it smelled like gangrene. More (and different) treatment. I think he turned a corner today, although the wound is just horrid. We're getting a second opinion tomorrow.

BEST of luck with Edna. Life with elderly pets is hard, but never have they needed us more.