Tag Archives: cats

Feeling at home

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There he is, reclining across my test track, near an open window. Billy-puss has now been living with us for just over two months, and he has definitely decided this is his forever home.

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Billy-puss, the helping cat. Helping to distract me from paying work would be more accurate!

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Billy-puss, the supervisor. He likes to stamp his approval, and here he is making sure I was weatherproofing the Big Shed properly.

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Just a perfect Billy-puss size. Sadly, he soon discovered this gap on the workbench shelving was earmarked for non-furry things.

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Billy-puss investigating the cause of a loud crash at the front door the other day. A bumper issue of the Gauge O Guild Gazette, filled with AGM and exhibition news, made a serious dent in the mat!

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When you can’t find him, it’s more than likely Billy-puss is snuggled up in the alcove under our coffee table. He will happily spend most of the day in there. It’s out of the way and, more importantly at this time of year, reasonably cool.

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Cuddles are definitely a thing. He does like to be groomed—and with long hair we’ve very nearly got enough fluff collected to make a pair of gloves.

Best Beloved and I are very happy that Billy has decided he likes living here. He has more than filled the gaping hole left by Sophie. Let’s hope Billy Whizz will be with us for many years to come.

Sophie-puss

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In November 2013 we said goodbye to Penny-puss. Penny and Sophie were homed as a pair of rescue cats from our local branch of Cats Protection. All of our cats have come from CP. When Penny left us, Sophie became Top Cat.

We had originally thought both moggies were of similar ages, but it turned out Sophie was a bit younger than her chum. We didn’t know how many years we would have left to share with Sophie.

Penny was always the quiet one, but it was fairly obvious she kept Sophie in her place. With the Strong Paw of The Law out of the way, Sophie could fulfil her potential. That was to occupy any and every lap that came into the house, often times without asking permission first!

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Being a black cat, she always felt she should be the centre of attention, at all times, no matter how inconvenient. Cuddles came first, second and third, and more so once Penny had died. Sophie would be the one to get up to mischief, climbing onto wardrobes and disappearing behind settees. On one occasion, while we were having the central heating serviced, Sophie went to find out what was going on behind the hot water tank. She emerged, wreathed in cobwebs, looking like a feline Miss Havisham.

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Being a black cat, she was also notoriously difficult to capture in photographs. The best photos I have are when she was gallivanting on our large shed roof, where I was low enough to capture playful moments with her.

She had started calling plaintively and loudly, soon after Penny’s death. At first we thought it was just calling for her friend, but it soon became evident she was letting the world know, at volume and at length, what she had just been up to.

“I’ve just used the litter tray … I’d give it a few minutes if I were you … I even impressed myself with that one … No, don’t thank me, it was my pleasure …”

“I’ve just been out in the garden … it was a bit parky out there … I’m back in for a warm … any grub going?”

… and so on.

Cuddles and laps were the order of the day. Sophie and I would often end up having a bit of a tussle on the settee should I be so bold as to insist my lap be reserved for other uses.

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Old age catches up with us all eventually, and it was no different for Sophie-puss. When we homed her it was thought she might be eight years old. She’d been with us nine years, all but. That would make her not far off 18 years old, or around 70 in human years. A good age for a domestic moggie.

Sophie started having little collapses where her back legs gave out and she would soil herself. She would usually recover in a couple of minutes, and dash off to the food bowl as if nothing happened. The collapses started happening more regularly. Then she didn’t look well at all. Her breathing was shallow, and anything mildly strenuous would leave her out of breath for several minutes. We took her to the vet, fully expecting not to bring her home again. The diagnosis was heart failure—she’d always had a heart murmur—with the chest cavity full of fluid, and the collapses might be due to partial fainting, or possibly blood clots. The vet gave Sophie a vitamin injection, and prescribed some pills to help flush fluid out of her chest cavity and also help with the back legs.

That was about three months ago. The medication helped, when Sophie would eat the food containing it. In the past couple of weeks, her back legs had shown signs of some improvement. We had a new back door fitted in March, with a cat flap. After a little persuasion, Sophie decided she liked this innovation, and provided it was unlocked she would let herself in and out to her heart’s content. As the weather got warmer, she spent more and more time in the garden, following the sunny spots around during the day.

Accidents happened, usually involved missing the litter tray. We got used to cleaning up after Sophie. She was getting old, and we have to expect these things.

This week, though, things began to change. She was getting more confused. She managed to get herself on the garage roof, but couldn’t remember how to get back down. We had to effect a rescue with a ladder. Her eyesight wasn’t as good as it used to be, leaving her blundering into doors if she wasn’t careful. She didn’t want to sit on my lap at all—unheard of. Then she found a convenient low shelf near my workbench where she could curl up and sleep. That’s not usually a good sign. Cats are generally known to find somewhere they can hide when they think their time is nearly up. I made up a little nest of a blanket and some soft things for her.

Yesterday she barely moved. She did totter out to the kitchen for a drink, but tottered straight back to her little nest. She didn’t eat at all. She responded with a purr if she was stroked, but it was obvious she wasn’t really happy. We decided to leave her alone, monitor the situation and decide whether to make That Call to the vet in the morning.

We hoped nature might take its course overnight, but it didn’t. When she showed little signs of improvement, an appointment to have Sophie put to sleep was made for this afternoon. We went out to do our grocery shop, and when we got home, Sophie had died. We think she had either had a seizure or slipped and had a heart attack struggling to right herself. Either way, we hope she didn’t suffer unduly.

Sophie-puss has gone to join Penny-puss, and Snowy and Bootsie from next door. Perhaps even our old Tom and Misty will be there. Thanks for the cuddles and fun, Sophie. Yes, I shouted at you when you insisted on making a racket. Yes, you did like to land on my head if you felt it was time for breakfast. But we still loved you to bits, Charlie. You will be missed, especially on cold evenings when you warmed my lap while we watched telly together. Farewell, furry friend.

As has become traditional after the loss of a cat, we made our way straight to CP to see what new furry friends might want to make a home with us. We plan to go back on Sunday for a proper look, but we might have one likely candidate already. We’ll see.

 

Penny

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Penny, a photo by Snaptophobic on Flickr.

You might recall a couple of posts about Penny-puss over the past year or so. It was about a year ago that she was rushed into the vet surgery for some TLC.

We thought that was it, but she battled back. She lost her sight, had to cope with a boring diet of grilled chicken, but she managed very well.

Sadly, this past few weeks, she took a turn for the worse. A visit to the vet confirmed our fears it was old age, and bits of Penny’s insides were beginning to give up. It was decided to monitor things, and just manage her decline as best we could.

Today, sadly, Penny was obviously not well. She didn’t wake for breakfast, only emerging at lunchtime. She was struggling to walk, and had to sit down frequently as her back legs weren’t behaving themselves. We had a think, gave her a big cuddle, and called the vet. We sort of knew what the outcome would be.

This evening, at around 7pm, Penny was put to sleep. We were with her at the end, and she went quietly, without fuss. There’s a big Penny-shaped hole in our lives now, though I’m sure Sophie-puss will make it her business to fill it.

We think Penny was well into her teens. She was a rescue cat, and the rescue centre assumed she was probably between 10 and 12 years old. She lived with us for nearly eight years, so in cat terms, she was really quite old. We feel blessed to have made her last years as happy as we could.

Penny-puss update

Penny, woken from a snooze on the bed over the weekend.

Penny, woken from a snooze on the bed over the weekend.

Back in October last year, I related the story of our cats, and in particular our poorly puss, Penny. It’s time for an update.

The bad news first. Poor old Pingle is never going to be totally well again. She’s now all but blind—though that doesn’t seem to bother her unduly. Her tummy problem may never clear up completely, and we have to accept she’s not going to be with us for ever.

The good news, though, is the restricted diet, with medical assistance, has cleared up the poop and puke issues we were having. A boring diet of minced-up grilled chicken breast, with the odd sneaked mouthful of normal cat food (which we let her sneak, because it helps prevent her getting constipated) has worked wonders. No more surprises in awkward places, Penny now manages to perform her duties in her tray in plenty of time, and we’ve begun to award scores between 0 and 10 for the results! (0 being a mess, 10 being a perfect poop. I know, we’re a bit sad like that.)

The vet was very pleased with her progress. The medical treatment had been vitamin, antibiotic and steroid injections, sufficient for nearly a month at a time and a convenient way to avoid the vagaries of giving pills orally. After two treatments, Penny was eating well, and her tummy had calmed down. After our last consultation we agreed to leave the treatment out for a spell to see how things behaved.

So far, we’ve been scoring 3s and 5s, so we may need the treatment again in a couple of weeks. All in all, though, we’re generally pleased that Penny is as comfortable as we can make her. When the weather gets better, we’ll let her wander down the garden for a bit. Considering we didn’t expect Pingle to see Christmas through, we’re pretty happy with the way things are turning out.

Link to previous story.

Finally, apologies for the lack of posts of late. I’ve been a bit out of sorts with the internet in general, and I’ve also had a modelling project to keep me occupied away from the screen.

Penny-puss

We have two cats that live with us. We homed them from our local Cats Protection rescue centre, like all the moggies we’ve had before. The current pair, Sophie and Penny, also affectionately known as Charlie and Pingle, have been with us since Easter 2007. They came as a set, even though they are not related as far as we can tell. Sophie seemed to be the dominant one, always on the lookout for a vacant lap, howling for attention and so on. Penny was quiet, a bit introverted, and would accept a cuddle, but only on her terms. Over the years, though, it’s become obvious that Penny is the eldest, and therefore was Top Cat. Penny frequently put Sophie in her place, usually with a paw round the ear. Penny also came out of her shell, and turned out to be an adorable, cuddly moggy who loved to be nearby keeping an eye on what you were doing.

Our previous homings had been fairly poorly, and didn’t live long with us before they were called to the Great Cat Flap In The Sky. Penny and Sophie are pretty healthy. Well, Penny is actually quite a bit older than Sophie—we’ll never know exactly how old—and she’s now really showing her age.

We noticed things weren’t quite right when her poop wasn’t as solid as it ought to be. We also noticed she seemed confused and unable to march confidently about the place as she had done of old. We took her to the vet, who kept her in for blood tests and treatment. Everything seemed to check out fairly well, apart from being a bit anaemic and dehydrated. Penny got a course of antibiotics, but was otherwise deemed fit. Sophie didn’t like the way Penny ponged of vets, hissing and growling at her. That earned Sophie a black mark from the staff, that’s for sure.

We’ve worked out Penny has colitis, which means she’s not able to absorb all the moisture from the regular cat food (which is, frankly, mostly water anyway). This was why her poop was so bad. The antibiotics also gave her some incredible flatulence, resulting in some remarkable noises and equally remarkable fragrances from such a relatively small cat! Explosive puss poop and pongs! Not helping was Penny’s inability to point her backside in the right direction when in her litter tray. I have become resigned to clearing up spillages when I get up of a morning. At least it’s a laminate floor around her tray!

I checked on the internetz, and worked out what we might be able to do about Pingle’s poorly tummy. I checked with the vet to make sure they agreed with the diagnosis and recommended treatments. Penny has now been put on a special diet of biscuits which contain turkey and rice. Sophie, meanwhile, is still on the same old cat food diet, and it’s quite a job preventing Penny from piling her nose into Sophie’s bowl at feeding time!

It’s been a couple of weeks now, and things are beginning to improve. Penny is putting on a bit of weight again, and is more or less back to her old self again. The poop is improving slightly, wich makes it less of a chore to tidy up. Sadly, one thing isn’t getting better, and that’s her eyesight.

Penny seems to have lost most of her vision. She seems to be aware of contrasts, but she’s very wary when approaching things like steps, or changes in colour on the floor. An exploratory paw comes out and feels about before taking the next step. She’ll merrily blunder into legs, or Sophie—which is rewarded with a hiss and a growl—but she knows the local area well enough that she can find her way about fairly well. She can still hop over the boundary fence into our neighbour’s garden. She can hop up on to the window sill—though she will occasionally misstep and take a tumble to the floor. More importantly, she knows exactly where her food bowl lives.

We are slowly becoming accustomed to caring for a geriatric puss. Penny-puss must be well into her teens now. She’s still adorable, and still loves a cuddle, but we must accept the fact things may never be the way they were when that timid little tabby came into our lives. Eventually, her spring will run down. We’re not sure whether to find a replacement, since Sophie may not agree, or whether to just put up with Sophie alone until it’s her turn to leave us. It’s been a blast having two feline friends around the place, but I think I’d be happier with just the one next time we look to home a cat.