Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Geriatric Cats...In Sickness and In Health

I was ready to go to bed early tonight (well, early for me...which means getting in bed before 11). Then I walked into the "cats' room" aka our house's master bedroom.

It was sitting on the futon.

In the middle.

They had gifted me with a poo-resent. And, not the easy kind to pick up.

As I was cleaning it, I realized that the carpet had patches of wetness. It turned out to be white, frothy spit up. An internet search led me to the high likelihood that one of my cat's has asthma (which I'd thought was a potential issue in the past).

Kidney disease. Hyperthyroidism. Asthma.

You may remember that I posted about both cats being diagnosed with their other health issues. One has kidney disease, and the other has hyperthyroidism. The kidney disease involves a special diet while the hyperthyroidism is treated with a pill two times a day.

At first, my cat licked up the cat food and the pill without hesitation. Now, not so much. I've had to start putting it in the back of his throat because he's grown leery of a small bit of cat food in my gloved hand. (Gloves because the medication is a known teratogen - cancer causing substance - and is can be transferred into breastmilk). Yes, I'm still breastfeeding and still of childbearing age.


I know this post could be met with a range of emotions from pet lovers. Hopefully those of you with pets and kiddos can relate.

First of all, I love my cats. I've had both of them since they were kittens. I met Jupiter when he was only a few days old. They've been with me over the last 14 years - through breakups, six moves, two states, life as a newlywed, and life as a mama.

I think most pet owners who are also parents (of both canines/felines and humans) can attest to the change of a relationship with your beloved critter(s) when you bring your newborn through the door.

Especially with a cat that has a track record of not being the friendliest around wee ones.

I've had guilt (shocking, I know) that they've been deprioritized in my life.
While they live in the biggest room in our house, eat high quality food, and enjoy low-stress, safe lives, they don't get attention like they did 4 years ago.

Now combine that guilt with two 14 year-old cats each with health problems. Deep. Sigh.

Human healthcare isn't cheap...and neither is animal healthcare. The special canned cat food costs $1.50 per 5 ounce can (or $3 day). The medication for Sol is over $30 a month with lab tests recommended every 2-3 weeks costing $74 each time.

The guilt associated with that? I'm spending more money on my cats than some people (or families) live on each day.

I would draw the line at certain treatments - treatments that (in my opinion) really benefit me (like chemotherapy or dialysis for a cat...that prolongs the animal's life for the human), but the treatments of special food and medication given twice a day help them to maintain good life quality. Sol looks years younger with his thyroid levels back to normal. His coat is shiny; his energy is better. He's enjoying eating again.

And how do they show their appreciation?

A poo-resent.

(I know that I'm anthropomorphizing them...but I can't help it).

So I'm washing the sheets and have spot cleaned the futon cover.
I cleaned the litter box.
I gave the special diet and the medication.
I gave special back scratches with stern words about using the futon for a substitute litter box.

Now I'm awake.
Thinking that I'm a bad cat mom because sometimes I feel like it's too much to manage 2 geriatric cats with health problems, a dog, two kiddos, two jobs, a marriage, and house renovations.
And knowing that no matter what I could never walk away from my cats (1. I truly couldn't do it and 2. The likelihood of anyone adopting a pair of 14 year old cats is about as high as winning the lottery and 3. I couldn't do it. I'd feel like I'd given up part of my life and said it was too much for me to handle. Like I could do the kitten part. The in health part. But when it came to sickness and old age? That's when I gave up.)

Have you cared for animals with health problems and/or transitioned from pet parents to pet and kiddo parents? Any words of wisdom?


  1. Awwww :( I love those cats! Sounds like you have your hands full. I'm thinking of you. xoxo

  2. Thanks so much, Sara! When I think of Sol & Jupiter, it reminds me of all of my Seattle friends who have loved on them. It brings back memories of cuddling them on the couch. Feels like a lifetime ago! Love you...