Alaska, my 17 year old cat, greeted me at the window as I walked up the stairway to the house. I could see him him meowing at me, though I couldn’t hear him. “Ah, the old boy must be feeling good” I thought to myself. It made me feel good too.
On his good days, when he hears my car he’ll come up and wait for me by the window. Until the last year that was just part of our routine. He is a bit like a dog in that way – vocalizing with excitement at the sight of me, and greeting me at the door when I walk in. But, these days, he’s not always at the window. And when he’s not, I worry. Usually, my fears are allayed when I walk in and he’s making his way to the door to greet me. And now, sometimes, I have to go roust him from his favorite sleeping spot, my office chair. I fear the day when I come home and I can’t roust him. And that’s if I’m lucky and he goes naturally.
OK, I’m getting morbid. Stop that. He’s having a good day. He’s got energy, and there are no tell tale signs of the horrendous diarrhea that’s he’s been having for a while now. The vet has ruled out other causes, and arrived at his best guess – IBS (or IBD) Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, or Disease. The first line treatment of that is strict dietary management with a single protein food that the animal hasn’t been exposed to before. They make special (i.e. very expensive) food to rule out or in the cause being food allergies. I tried it before, I really did. We tried the duck and after a few days, he stopped eating it. Then we tried the venison, and he didn’t like it at all. And I simply refused to try the rabbit, as my rabbit tends to snack on the cats’ crunchies, and that would be just all kinds of wrong. Besides, once you have a particular kind of animal as a pet, they get crossed out as an food option for both people and pets (except for chickens . . . but the story of Cluck Cluck is for another post).
Anyway . . . after I gave up on the diet option, I avoided my vet for a while as my old boy was doing OK. But, when he got the squirts again, I had to put my tail between my legs and see my vet, who put Alaska on Prednisone. The first week seemed really promising and then, ugg, it wasn’t. So, back to the vet we go.
Basically, my vet told me that I had to try the dietary management thing before we really knew what the problem was. And I told him I tried, but Alaska would have none of it. He then basically called me an over-indulgent push-over of a mother and who needed to grow a spine and to practice some tough love with him. So, he gave me some drugs to help with the symptoms for now until the diet change had a chance to take effect. And I went out and dropped $60 on catfood (each small can being $2.20 and a large bag of dry was $35). That was Saturday. I guess it was new enough that it was still interesting, so he ate it without complaint.
But now it is Monday and when I got home he was acting as if I had left him for a week without food. Yet, there was food, both dry and wet still in the dish. Such drama. First the meowing was somewhat plaintive, then he got downright pitiful. He jumped up to the spot where I usually give him treats and just sat there looking sad. Finally, when he recognized I wasn’t going to give in he got demanding. Now he is doing his keyboard dance hoping that if he annoys me enough I’ll relent.
It’s hard, but he’s not a stupid cat. He’ll eat when he gets hungry enough. Or he’ll eat when I’m not looking. Yet, I look at his little skinny body and my inner Jewish grandmother comes out and I just want to break out the Fancy Feast and tell him to “eat, eat.”
Ah, geeze. I gotta go get the rabbit out of cat crunchy bowl. At least someone here likes that shit.