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One of the hardest parts about Boopsie's death is that so many of my reactions and habits are based around that cat.

"Oh, I shouldn't put this here or Boopsie will . . .no, she won't."

"If I do this, the cat could . . . no, she couldn't."

I'm cleaning up the floor where she messed when she lost bowel control, and using bleach. And I keep thinking how I really better keep that door closed so the cat doesn't have to deal with the bleach. . .

It's done

May. 13th, 2007 01:11 pm
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The Woburn Referral Animal Hospital treats people and animals with care and respect.

It took just a few seconds. They put the barbiturates in, and Boopsie was gone in just a couple seconds. Which means that she was already very weak and ready to go. She was obviously not holding on to life very hard.

We know it was the right decision, and we feel grief. And we know that the grief is appropriate and will pass in time. Right now, it's just a matter of feeling what we feel.

Don't feel bad for us -- we are dealing with it well. Which means that we're crying a lot, which is what "dealing with it well" means.

If you want to feel bad that you either never met Boopsie or that you won't see her again, that's fine, of course. But you don't have to feel bad on our behalf. We are grieving as is appropriate and good.
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We're going to be taking Boopsie to the animal hospital to be put to sleep. She is just staggering a couple steps, and collapsing, and just trying to make herself comfortable. We're petting her and singing stupid songs to her and crying a lot.

Part of me feels weird feeling this much grief, given how many of you are in the process of losing parents right now. And, for that matter, that she's had 16 wonderful years, and isn't really suffering -- she's just weakening to the point of death.

I love her so much.
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So, Boopsie was standing by her food bowls (plural -- since she's been sick, there are a half-dozen bowls with a half-dozen different kinds of human food in them to try to tempt her to eat), looking up at me expectantly. I kept refilling different food bowls with different things, and she'd wander over to them, take a tentative lick, then look back up at me.

Finally, I walked over to her meds, got her Pepsid tablet (the vet put her on heartburn medication), popped her jaw open and dropped the pill down her throat. And Boopsie walked directly over to her food bowls and started eating.

So, it sure looks like she knows "THIS pill makes my stomach hurt less so I can eat." Weird, hunh?
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So, we took her to a vet for an ultrasound to get some idea of what is happening, and how she is doing. Most of her internal organs look pretty good, but she's not eating. The vet suggests GI tract disease of some sort -- an inflammation in her intestines that is making her not want to eat.

She's got a very high heart rate (260 bpm, about, and about 160 is normal for a cat -- some of that was "being poked and prodded by vets", but not all of it), and high blood pressure. Those are related to her overactive thyroid, of course, and need to be brought under control. And she's not eating.

So . . . if we can control whatever's going on in her GI tract well enough to get her to eat, and if we can bring the metabolism under control, and the hypertension under control, then she may have a few more years in her.

Or not. We don't know, and maybe CAN'T know.

And the thing is -- this gets expensive.

So we now we have the awful task of trying to balance "quality of life", "quantity of life", and " time and money". What CAN we give her, what would she WANT us to give her, what are we going to do?

In some ways, if she curled up next to us tonight, and went to sleep purring and happy and warm and loved, and didn't wake up, there would be ways in which that would be good. At some point, and I hope it IS years away, we're going to have to make the choice of putting her to sleep -- I know a few cats who died of misfortune, but I know more who died because they became sick enough to be in enough pain that their people chose euthanasia for them. And part of me doesn't ever want to be in that position, and wants Boopsie to die a comfortable, peaceful, natural death, loved and at home.

But I don't think that's realistic. I think what we're actually looking at is choosing between expensive and labor-intensive care for the next several years, and eventually euthanasia (which is what many, many of my friends have done, and so I'd feel AWFULLY guilty if we didn't choose that), or palliative care for a shorter period of time, and then euthanasia.

What I WANT to happen is for Boopsie to wake up tomorrow miraculously cured. But I'm not really expecting that one.
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While Boopsie was staying with [livejournal.com profile] felis_sidus while we were in Florida, Boopsie started on a quarter-tablet of Pepsid to help with stomach acid, which may be one of the reasons she's not been eating.

Boopsie doesn't like getting pills -- she'll struggle and resist a bit. However, she ALSO will remind me if it's time for her pill. See, as much as she doesn't really LIKE the pills, she is, in some way, aware that it's good for her. Basically, she trusts me, Lis, and [livejournal.com profile] felis_sidus -- and she figures, if one of us does something like that, there's a good reason for it.

So, tonight was the first time I gave her the Pepsid. And she took it, and then walked over to her food bowl to nibble a little at it.

It really looked like a thought process -- "I've now had the thing which makes my stomach hurt less, so I will now eat." That she associated the pill with feeling better and with being able to eat.

Well, first, of course, I hope that it's working and DOES work like that. But there are a couple interesting, more general ideas this raises.

Boopsie identifies "Thing Trusted Person Has Done" and "Me Feeling Better". And she identifies "Pill That Makes My Stomach Feel Better" with "Stomach Feels Better."

Is it possible for a cat to have placebo effect benefits? Do cats have that level of cognition?

And, if they do, should animal drug tests be double-blind? Are they already?
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She's eating her third can of cat food today. (She gets to eat as much as she wants until her weight is back up.) Not gulping it or anything -- eating at a reasonable pace, snacking all day. It's just that, when it gets about done, I refill it. I can still feel her ribs, of course, but I can feel some fat over them. (Being a Very Small Carnivore, her fat levels change rapidly. I mean, I could gain or lose a pound in a day and it could be within the margin of error of measurement depending on my scale -- if she gains or loses a pound, it's obvious visually.)

Lis said, "Well, it's Lent. Clearly, she's been fasting."

See, Lis is pretty sure that Boopsie is Catholic. And specifically, from one of those weird Medieval sects that were into mortification of the flesh. When she was much younger, she used to lick patches on her paws raw until they bled, giving herself stigmata. (Then I moved in, and there were TWO humans to give her attention, and that went away -- it was a stress reaction, and she hasn't done it in ten years or so.)

"Hmm. It's Friday, isn't it? And the cat food I just gave her is fish."

In all honesty, I think Boopsie does this sort of thing on purpose in order to drive us nuts.
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Boopsie, our kitty, is old. She's sixteen, maybe seventeen. That's a pretty respectable age for a cat, and it's starting to show.

She's having somewhat dodgy kidney function, and her thyroid isn't great. These are fairly typical for a cat her age -- and they're among the things which kill old cats. I mean, if a cat dies of old age, kidney, thyroid, and cancer are all pretty good guesses of what caused the "dying of old age".

That said, she's in pretty good shape in most ways. She is alert and interested in the world -- this may be a side effect of the hyperthyroidism; she's definitely entering her second kittenhood. For the past seven years, Boopsie was either uninterested in or scared of the downstairs (we're a second-floor apartment that shares a first-floor foyer with the downstairs apartment -- it's not hard to describe how it's set up, but it would take time. We're an old Victorian which has been split into apartments). And now she's downstairs every time the door opens. So it's definitely a behavior change, although not really a personality change. She's still the same Boopsie, but she's more energetic and adventurous than she has been in years.

She's also pissing inappropriately pretty much all the time. I don't really know what to do about that -- we just make sure that anything we don't want pissed on is off the floor, and we put a tarp over the bed.

But the worrisome thing is how much weight she's lost. And why.

She's not been eating. And for anyone who knows her, this is truly disturbing. She's normally a glutton; she once weighed sixteen pounds. Now she weighs seven.

Ten pounds would be a healthy weight for her.

So I've been trying to get and keep her weight up. Part of it is trying to figure out WHY she's not eating. And the main thing I've been doing is trying to figure out how to get food into her.

She's pretty much entirely on people food now, because she's more likely to eat it. And I finally found something that she'll eat pretty much reliably.

My chicken soup. Yeah, she's definitely related to Lis.

I defrosted some of the chicken soup from the last batch I made, to try this out. I'd been suspecting dental problems, and wondering if she just didn't want to chew. And she has been drinking a lot of water, so I knew that she COULD drink.

So why not chicken soup? It's a clear broth version, and it's got protein and calories and stuff, and it's liquid. I know that alliums aren't great for cats, but my recipe pretty light on onion, like, one onion boiled in five gallons of soup (twenty liters).

And she'll eat it. So, between that and Oscar Myer "Oven Roasted" Low-Sodium Sliced Deli-Cuts Turkey Breast, I'm getting and keeping her weight up. But it's a challenge.

Boopsie is coming to the end of her life. I'm hoping that she'll be around for another three years, but I don't really think she will. I love that cat, and will do what I can to keep her healthy, and comfortable, and happy as long as I can.

And seventeen years -- seventeen happy years -- is a good life for a cat.

'Course, twenty would be better.
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IAN: Our cat needs a bath.
LIS: I've been saying that for a while.
IAN: But how do you bathe a cat? I mean, I've seen the YouTube video, but I don't want to do that.
LIS: How? You call a groomer.
IAN: [livejournal.com profile] agrumer? Avram Grumer?
LIS (patiently): Yes, dear. Avram Grumer is going to wash our cat.
IAN: Does he know this?
LIS: Naw, we'll just drop the cat off at his house. He's in New Jersey, right?
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Boopsie pissed on the bed. A very small volume, and bloody. That means it's feline crystalitis -- crystals in the urine It's sort of a pre-kidney-stone kind of thing that affects cats, and is quite painful. And it must have been affecting her for a while, which is why she was pissing other places than her litterbox.

Call the vet first thing in the morning; locking her in the bathroom for tonight. That's where her litter box is, and water, as well as many cool porcelain surfaces, which she's going to want to lie on to deal with the ouch. And that will keep her from pissing on anything that will be damaged by it.

The poor thing.
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You ever think how weird it is that cats LOVE tuna?

I mean, in the wild, it's probably the animal they have the LEAST chance of ever eating. It's a deep-sea ocean fish that is a hundred times bigger than a cat. There is NO chance that a cat EVER managed to take down a tuna. EVER.
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Last night, Boopsie started scratching her ears pretty vigorously. So I got a tissue and started wiping her ears for her. This worked pretty well -- I got a bunch of gunk out, and when I hit the right spot, she flopped over and her back leg started kicking. As if she was scratching, but about an inch away from her body. It was disturbingly cute.

But after I was done, she acted like her ear was still itchy, so I got out the bottle of cat earwash, which she HATES, did what I could to warm it up, then pinned her down and squirted it in her ear. She yowled and complained, and, at the end of it, she stood up, glared at me, went to scratch her ear again, realized it didn't itch, and glared at me more. It was pretty clear that she was NOT pleased that I had been right.
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Mine was mostly okay, but it started off poorly.

My wife put two bags of cat pee into my armoire.

See, it was 12:10 AM, just as Friday the 13 started, and Lis was going to bed. There were two plastic bags on the floor, in the doorway in front of my armoire that she thought should go in my armoire. So she put them there.

A bit later, I asked Lis why there was a huge puddle on the floor in the doorway in front of my armoire. Lis said, "Wait. What KIND of puddle?" We determined it was a puddle of cat pee.

Lis explained that she had taken two bags from the floor there, and put them in my armoire, and I pulled them out, and determined that, yes, the cat had pulled the bags over to where they were and peed on them. And then Lis took those bags and put them in the armoire, leaving a significant portion of the pee on the floor.

On the other hand, when she wrote me a shopping list for Costco, it included, "Soy milk, a bear full of cookies, apples, ingredients for chokklit pah."

I'm apparently going to be making my famous chokklit pah for a potluck for her co-workers. I used to call it "Auntie Debbie's Chocolate Dream Pie," but I guess it's now going to be called "Chokklit Pah."

Also, we picked up the final Lemony Snicket book today; I've read about half of it, but Lis wants to finish reading it before midnight. So I handed it off to her. About half an hour ago. She's not started reading yet; I may go and reclaim it soon. . .

My family.

Aug. 5th, 2006 10:29 am
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So, [livejournal.com profile] felis_sidus taught our cat a good way to take pills. We say to Boopsie, "Pill first, then treat." Then we give her the pill, and then give her a treat. So, while she doesn't LIKE getting a pill, she knows she gets a treat with it, and tolerates it.

This morning, Lis woke up with a headache, so I offered to get her some water and some ibuprofen. Because the cat was snuggled up on her foot, so she couldn't move. 'Cause, KITTY!!! YAY!!!

So I brought her the ibuprofen, and the water, and she took the pills and said, "Where's my treat?"


"When you give the cat a pill, she gets a treat. Where's my treat? I think you should get me one of those white chocolate covered cookies."

So I did.
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Why does our cat react to our dirty laundry as if it were catnip?
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Was pilling the cat. That means, for the three of you reading this journal who DON'T have cats that need medicine on a regular basis, holding the cat's mouth open, dropping a pill down her throat, clamping her jaws shut, and rubbing her throat to make her swallow.

I'm usually pretty good at this. But, this time, she wriggled out, and shook her head enough to slide the pill all the way across the kitchen floor. And it had gotten damp enough to sog into unusable mush.

"Well, cat, you think you've won, don't you? But I've got an entire bottle of these pills!"

And I did it again. And she did it again. Except this time, the pill flew sideways and smacked into the refrigerator.

And stuck there.

Score so far: Boopsie, 2; Ian, 0.

I'm posting this before trying a third time.
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Well, at least, that's what she typed into the URL field.

Then she turned the volume down, and attempted to set a "Favorites" key on my keyboard.

Okay, actually, she just walked across the keyboard, but at least she didn't try to sleep on it this time.
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There's a little of the potato kugel I made a few days ago left. Lis saw the cat sniffing at it, so, she put it in front of her.

Boopsie is now munching down on the kugel enthusiastically. I think she's going to puke in a couple minutes, though.
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So, I'm babysitting the tigerwolf cub today, and he's now sleeping comfortably in his crib as I type this.

Last night, [livejournal.com profile] jehanna came by to sleep over, as she's got a job interview today. And she was reading, and I was reading, and Lis was logged in, and we were all three of us sitting on the bed, just, y'know, not doing anything in particular except reading, and the cat came up on the bed and curled up among us.

And, well, that's the right thing to do on a cold winter night. Have a whole bunch of friends, of the two and four legged variety, just all sit together, reading, or knitting, or computing, or whatever, in the warmest room of the house.
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"So, she's still pissing, so I was wondering if switching to the anti-bladder-stone cat food would be a good idea?"

"Probably not -- the last two times we took urine samples, it was already acidic. There are stones that like it acidic, but switching to alkali food has other effects, so I wouldn't want to do it without more evidence that it actually IS a stone."

"Drat. I was really hoping it was something physical. . . but I guess it's probably behavioral."

"Yep, that's what it looks like."

"Something in her tiny little kitty brain. . . "

"Have you tried talking to her? Maybe talk therapy. . . "

"Yeah, which works better on cats, Freudian or Jungian?"

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