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Dooley Just Turned 15

–And I’m doing my damndest to fend off the inevitable

Cat lovers and pet lovers, in general, know that when we take an animal into our lives and our hearts, that one dreadful day, we will have to say goodbye.

Most days, just thinking about this sets my heart to hurting as my husband and I have ushered six previous cats over the “bridge,” where, if there is indeed a heaven, they’ll be waiting for us.

We have three furkids. Dooley, 15, Conor, 8, and Lorna, 6. Lately, since my formerly big dreams have shrunken to the point where I can barely remember what they were, my most fervent desire is to outlive them.

Something you should know about cats, if you’ve never “known” one, so to speak, is that one day they’re fine, and the next, they’ll do a three-sixty and have you snatching up your phone to call your vet.

This is what’s happening with Dooley, now. Always a champion eater who gobbled up everything I served up, one day, several weeks ago, he sniffed the food in his dish, turned around, looked at me, and walked away. As a reference, we primarily feed a wet diet with kibble as treats.

And yes, also seemingly overnight, he’s lost weight, and his frame has gone from sturdy to bony.

I watched him carefully. After he did the turnaround a couple of times, I took him to the vet for a look-see. Our guy did bloodwork and an exam and, other than some tartar on Dooley’s teeth, everything appeared to be okay. Our vet told us that the next step would be x-rays followed by an ultrasound if the first option showed nothing.

Now, we go to the most expensive veterinary clinic in the area, as we believe they’re also the best. We’re not wealthy by any means, but we’ve never skimped where our cats are concerned. But, this time, as their fees have gone up, we opted to “wait and see” and instead, administer an appetite booster, a paste that I gently massage into Dooley’s ear, the hairless part.

This works. Until it doesn’t. Over the years, I’ve learned a great deal about cats and their care so I’ve been trying every option available. Switching up the food. Elevating his dish so Dooley doesn’t have to strain his aging muscles. Offering him baby food like chicken in broth. Canned tuna. Everything.

The result has been touch and go and I’m sharing this in the event you find yourselves in a similar spot with your own cats. Whatever you do, don’t get angry. I know this from experience. It only makes the situation worse and you will feel like shit.

Yes, you will be incredibly frustrated. We’ve probably thrown out hundreds of dollars worth of cat food, so I know how it feels when your precious baby won’t even approach their food bowl.

As is the case with humans, when cats age, their senses are diminished, as are their appetites. If they can’t smell their food, they won’t eat it. If that’s the case with your senior cat, one thing you can do is drizzle tuna water over their regular food, or even better, try giving them bits of canned Mackeral, which is way stinkier than tuna.

Too, you can also purchase a high-calorie, nutritional paste at any pet store or on Amazon, that will help support your efforts. Generally, cats like the taste. You can either add it to their food or put a little blob on a paw and let your kitty lick it off.

Also, you might want to try smaller meals a few times a day. Sometimes, a smaller portion is less overwhelming to an older cat.

As a rule, we feed our cats canned food twice, daily, with “treats” given around mid-day, which they always clamor for, even Dooley. And therein lies a puzzle. He adores his kibble treats that I scatter on the laundry room floor, but if I decide to give him a bowl as a meal, he’ll eat a few crunchies and leave the rest!

Last week, I decided to serve all three cats a special treat. I bought a pack of chicken thighs, boiled them, and shredded the meat. I figured they’d go batshit crazy for this as they love chicken.

Not one of the three would touch it.

Yet, if we have a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, they’re all over it like sharks. I’m guessing the liberal seasoning has something to do with it. Go figure.

And such is the capricious nature of cats.

At this juncture, I’m going to do my best to give Dooley whatever he’ll eat. As long as I get some food into him on a daily basis, I’m encouraged. And, if it turns out that he needs the x-rays, he’ll get them. Because he’s our boy. And, our heart. They all are.

Remember, above all, be patient with your senior kitty. And take it one day at a time, folks. One day at a time.

Thanks for reading.

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Sherry McGuinn
Sherry McGuinnhttps://medium.com/@sherrymcguinn
Sherry McGuinn is a long-time, Chicago area, advertising/marketing writer, blogger and, for the last fifteen years, screenwriter. A big-time dreamer and proud of it, Sherry has had two short films produced, one in L.A., the other in New York. Both won several awards and screened at festivals but she is still "fighting the good fight," in order to become a full-time, working screenwriter. A passionate straight-shooter who never rests on her laurels, Sherry writes about damn near everything because how do you encapsulate…life? Unflinching in her determination to “just tell the truth,” Sherry strives to educate, engage and inspire others to follow their dreams. A lifelong animal lover and advocate, Sherry resides in a Chicago suburb with her husband and their three fabulous felines.

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