The Care and Feeding of our Aging Pets

jasmine2_editedMy sweet kitty Princess has been with me for about 12 of her nearly 14 years, and until about a year ago, was very low maintenance. Each morning I would make certain her food dish was filled with dry cat food, and that her water bowl had fresh water, and she was set for the day.

Now she always liked and got lots of attention from me; petting, scratching, brushing, playing with string toys chief among them. And one must never forget the evening tour of our home with her carried high so she could sniff and look at all the things too difficult for her to normally see.

Almost without warning, all that changed last year. We had just moved into a new apartment, when her behavior changed. She started losing a bit of weight, which given her size, wasn’t too bad. She also seemed a bit less friendly, and more secretive, which I attributed to the long hours I was working, and our new home.

One night when I came home from work, she didn’t greet me at the door with yells. Instead, after a long frantic search, I found her hiding under my bed. Within about 24 hours she was very sick, and I rushed her to a wonderful vet in my new town. The vet — and all her staff — kept their clinic open for us hours after they normally close.

Things were touch-and-go for a few days, and Princess made multiple trips back to the vet for further tests, check-ups, and treatments. It turned out that her immediate health problem, the one making her so visibly sick, was a urinary infection (very common in cats). The UTI was pretty easy to treat, and she began seeming more like her old self . But underneath that UTI were a whole host of “older cat” health problems, and with the vet’s help, we worked out a whole new routine for Princess.

I’ve had to drop the easy dry food diet, and now give Princess only canned food. This means multiple feedings during the day. I also have to mix one set of meds with her food in the morning, and another set in the evening. And then there’s the blood pressure pills. She actually gets human blood pressure pills. They’re tiny already, but I have to cut them into four pieces. Fortunately, she loves these little “pill pocket” treats, so I just tuck one inside and she’s delirious.

After nearly a year on this routine, we still struggle at times, but her weight is holding steady, and Princess is still incredibly active. She continues to play with a whole host of toys, and likes to get in some quality “chase the string” time each evening. Although she can definitely try my patience at times, I’m grateful for every happy, active day that Princess has.


11 thoughts on “The Care and Feeding of our Aging Pets

  1. AAR Sandy

    LG, I am so happy that Princess is once again her happy, playful self. Rufus will be 13 in June and so far we haven’t had any geriatric issues yet — other than teeth issues. My cat Rover lived to be 21 and she was remarkably healthy until she was about 18. Eventually, she became completely blind and lived the last year of her life without sight. There are SO many challenges to a blind cat, not the least of which was pee on the bathroom floor. She made her way to the litterbox, she THOUGHT she was in the litterbox, but, unfortunately her tiny kitty butt was hanging outside. It was a challenge, but as long as she was willing to keep going, so was I. Sending good thoughts for you and Princess.

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  2. Missie

    Hi Princess, you gorgeous gal, you!

    Bless dear Princess — and bless you, too, Linnie! I’m so glad she’s doing so much better under her new routine.

    Our little Ally is 13 this year. She’s blind in one eye and has lost much of her vision in her other eye, but she really does remarkably well — and she still has days where she is frisky and pouncy enough to strike fear in our hearts. ;-)

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  3. LinnieGayl AAR Post author

    Thanks, for the well wishes for Princess.

    Sandy, I completely agree with your attitude about your dear Rover, it’s the one I have with Princess. As long as she’s happy and keeps going, I’m going to do whatever it takes to keep her that way. And so happy Rufus is still healthy.

    Missie, what a challenge with Ally, but it sounds as if she remains very feisty and lively.

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  4. Missie

    Linnie, we think Ally sees better than what the vet thinks she does. Her biggest challenge, bless her, is that a cat we ended up adopting — a stray who showed up during Hurricane Ike, I think it was — is solid black. LBK (“Little Black Kitty”) is VERY difficult for us to see when she’s still and in the shadows or a dark spot, and she’s virtually impossible for Ally to see. LBK knows this and likes to use this to her advantage at times to pounce on Ally — which Ally does NOT appreciate in the least!! Can’t say that I blame Ally, either.

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  5. LinnieGayl AAR Post author

    Oh my, Missie. It sounds as if LBK is a bit of a tease for Ally. Although I suspect that she also may keep Ally more active. I’ve often wished that I had adopted another cat at the same time Princess came into my life, so that she would have a companion.

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  6. CindyS

    Amber went blind for her last few years and Emma almost died before we realized her liver was failing with a side of diabetes. Pills, needles, nose bleeds (from our dog who got nose cancer), missed litter boxes and finding just the right food for the newly finicky are all part of my memories of our wonderful pets.

    It’s all stuff I will do again – after Emma passed I knew I would never live a day without a kitty.

    We now have 2 young kitties and Bob and I laugh almost every day because they chase each other and have completely different personalities from those kitties that have come before.

    Meanwhile there is another kitty – I now think he is a stray – he’s been around for months at a time and then disappears. This time he came and it looks like he’s been attacked by something. I want him to come in and live with us so bad but he only comes out from under our deck once food and water are put out – then he needs to hear both doors shut before he crawls cautiously from under the deck. Now that I see he is hurt I’m trying to find out if I can trap him but I’m not sure he would adapt to being an indoor cat.

    And then one day a new dog. We miss having a dog.

    I’m glad Princess is feeling so much better and what a beautiful picture o her!

    CindyS (can obviously talk for hours about pets)

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  7. Missie

    Cindy — you sound rather like hubby and me. ;-) I can’t say whether I like dogs or cats better…I love them both equally, for different reasons, and yes, I feel out of balance when I don’t have both in my life.

    Linnie — I’ve read that critters are often happier in pairs or multiples, but it can be tricky. We NEVER thought we’d have another kitty in conjunction with having Ally; Ally has always been the Queen Kitty and then, as she grew older, started losing vision, etc., we just knew she’d never tolerate another kitty, nor we were wanting to subject her to that trauma. But LBK showed up, and she campaigned persistently to be a member of the household. It took MONTHS — over a year, I think — for Ally and LBK to reach some kind of detente (sp?), but they finally did…except for the occasional unwanted pounce and kerfuffle, they tolerate each other pretty well, and *thankfully* have never injured each other — seriously or otherwise — during any of their little skiffs.

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  8. Pingback: The Care and Feeding of our Aging Pets: Part 2 « AAR After Hours

  9. Pingback: The Care and Feeding of our Aging Pets: Part 2 – All about Romance

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