Saturday, September 16, 2006

Bouncy Air and the Cat's in the Closet

We have a 21 year old cat named Portia. When the weather is going to change, she starts holing up in the corner of the closet where her poor old bones can ache in peace. I begin morbidly planning life without her. Then I see the weather reports and morbidly begin planning for life with a fibromyalgia flare-up and call my sister-in-law Shauna, who also lives with fibro, to see how she is doing. August is usually to worst month for me - the rapid changes in barometric pressure seem to have the worst effect on the fibro. The rest of the year isn't too bad actually, and my neurologist has gotten me on a regimen that prevents the flare-ups from cascading into migraine most foul.

A smattering of rain and the familiar ache in my outer ears woke me around 4 a.m. Lovely to listen to the rain, which I otherwise would have missed and also to be able to pill Portia. After all, I did stay home from Sheri's Colorado wedding just for this purpose - and here I've blown it, just about. Four a.m. isn't too delinquent. And our old girl is such a trooper. She still wants to be here. We don't want to leave her with a stranger taking care of her. We have friends who love her and would take care of her, but the pilling takes things to a new level of imposition. Plus, she is particularly fragile now, and one of us should be with her.

She has been our dear companion for 21 years. Twenty. One. Years. Carolyn's sister and her grandmother died during those years. My grandmother died. Carolyn toiled to earn her graudate and doctorate degrees in civil engineering, and Portia helped her by ensuring that the papers that she was going to need next did not fly all over the room, and that Carolyn stopped each day at 4 p.m. to pet the cat. Another companion cat, Lake Superior Agate "Aggie" died. Portia kept Carolyn company while I was hospitalized twice. She chatted with us for years when her crow genes were expressing themselves. Now, she has us well enough trained that she can just look in the direction of what she wants, or wants us to see and we will respond appropriately, so she doesn't need to vocalize except to protest when we have handled her clumsily and hurt her. She reaches for us the instant we stop petting her, likes to hold paws, and gives us eye-kisses.

I hope that when she doesn't follow us around like a puppy any more and tells us she is not enjoying life that we can see that and properly take care of her needs. She is arthritic, and it seems that while there is a lot that can be done for arthritic dogs, there is much less for cats. Her kidneys are failing, so she is on a low protein diet and an antibiotic. She gets metamucil and a glucosamine product for cats also. Oh, and massage daily. She can't bathe herself anymore, so she gets a regular bath about once a month and wash-ups as needed. We clip her claws and clean her cuticles, clean her ears, rub her face vigorously to dislodge all the loose tiny hairs, put non-toxic cream on her dry pads, clean her butt, groom her whiskers, brush and back-comb her, and use a finger-cot tooth brush on her gums and teeth. Yeah. We are a couple of those crazy old cat ladies. But there are worse things to be.

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