Saturday, January 17, 2009

Meow mixed up.

Sammy, our ancient rescue cat, is becoming increasingly picky in his dotage. Firstly, there is the matter of his pills. We get these absolutely magical things called 'Pill Pockets' from a site in the US. They're little balls of salmon-flavoured plasticene (I am only going by the flavour on the packet here folks, I've not actually tasted one) with a hole punched in the middle.

These things are a life-saver given the volume and variety of tablets rattling around in our old puss at any given moment. You shove pills inside them, pinch the hole shut and it's down in one. Sammy loves them but he's always been a bit funny about where he'll eat them. Usually he had to be beside the armchair but he'd sometimes take one on his cushion or near the rug. Now he has to be under a table and offered the damn thing three times. Sometimes he'll only eat it if I have warmed it up first in my sweaty, frustrated little palms.

Secondly there is the issue of his regular meals. He's always flip-flopped between favourite foods but these days he has to eat whatever we give him within 10 minutes or it's 'too old' and he will starve rather than touch it again. It can't be the same food more than once and sometimes he has to have his bowl on the sofa, other times under a table; others we have to move it a foot to the right to be near the door. Until we nailed it, you have no idea the amount of cat-food that was going to waste in this house given that he needs 5 meals a day to asuage his raging thyroid-induced hunger (we've downed his dosage to protect his kidneys and his pill routine requires it's own calendar). The food-dance is becoming pretty overwhelming, sometimes we have three separate flavours of cat food in the fridge plus fish, cheese, yoghurt and raw eggs all waiting in the wings.

Today, for example I brought him home some salmon that the spud had refused for lunch and Sammy would only eat it on the sofa from a flat dish or, better still, from my fingers. I put it in his regular bowl and he just sat looking both downcast and expectant until I lifted a piece out; where-upon he wolfed it down, his nose inches from his salmon-stuffed bowl.

Discovering his hidden needs was all trial and error stuff as he wasn't kind enough to inform us in writing and it took weeks. He would regularly go without food because we hadn't worked out his requirements - whole bowls of fresh, quality food were going to waste while he lapped up some water and regarded us balefully. We spent several weeks chasing him around the house with a series of different foods in different vessels before he revealed all his terms. Now that we know what to to it's a major relief as for the most part he is no longer getting us up at 4am because he is starving and we can feed him at midnight (when he will eat in the kitchen) which normally gets him through until 8.

It's not all good news though. The frog has just filled his regular bowl with new catfood and gone to bed. Sammy is waiting patiently under the dining room table, looking put out. I sense he's changing his terms again. Could be a long night...


Michelle said...

You are a saint to be so accomodating! Sammy doesn't know how fortunate he is.

Helen + ilana = Hi said...

We used the pill pockets quite successfully until one day the hole was not properly sealed and the offending pill was spotted. yipes. Did you know that the thyroid meds come in an ear gel. Yes they do. And dare even Sammy to spit it out from there!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Have you had Sammy's teeth checked? He could be in pain from rotten teeth or not able to eat properly. The trouble with cats is they don't always tell you what's really wrong. I had a cat named Otis who had to take medication for a heart murmur. The vet wrote out a prescription and I had to get it filled at the pharmacy. The long queue of people behind me found it most amusing that I was paying $100 for a cat's prescription.

Helen said...

You have my sympathies on this one. I adopted three cats 17 years ago, and in the last two years have watched two of them pass away. Feeding became an issue with all three cats in the later years, including the surviving old gent now sitting beside me on the bed. The two who passed on suddenly started losing lots of weight. One had to be put down, while the other died before I could get her to the vet.

With this last one, I told the vet that under no circumstances did I want to watch him waste away. But the vet told me that any cat that lives to be that old usually does starve toward the end, unless he's put down first. It's very rare to see an old cat go peacefully in his sleep.

Okay, that was a complete downer, I know. My old gent is giving me the eye over what I just typed and has told me, "Move along, you idiot. I'm not dead yet."

Sparx said...

Hi Michelle - I'm sure Sammy doesn't see it that way... I doubt he would have planned to spend the end of his years in the same house as a toddler somehow! But thanks for imagining it to be true!

Helen - Ear gel? Way? No Way! I will investigate forthwith. Although the pill pockets do rock.

WakeUp! Yes, he's got a little bit of gingivitis but it's not serious - our last cat lost all his teeth to it so we do keep an eye in his mouth... it's alright so long as he doesn't bite down.

Helen - I sympathise... Sammy is the second elderly cat that we've adopted and we've known a few others so I know the score... I prefer older cats but they do come attached to some scarey vet bills.