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.