July 13, 2010

Older kitties: joys and pains

Stella’s eyes are changing. Today her eyes are not very responsive to the light. When she opens them, the pupils stay wide and are slow to adjust to the light. The vet warned me on Friday that Stella might end up with detached retinas from the hypertension (high blood pressure).

Basette ended up with detached retinas as a side effect of her diabetes. The night she lost her vision, she wandered in to my office and sat by my feel like she usually did. The light caught her eyes wrong: her pupils looked like saucers filled with a murky grey-black fog. She could still follow my fingers and discern shapes.

Picture taken the night Basette went blind.

That night was the first night Basette was confined to her kitchen containment area with her food, litter, and bed all neatly arranged. Basette adapted to being blind — but she still had her hearing. (Basette only lived a few weeks after she went blind.)

Basette's self-contained world in the kitchen after she went blind.

Stella is a courageous little cat. We have both adapted to her deafness: I’m careful to tap the floor or the bed if she is asleep so I don’t startle her. How do you deal with a kitty is both blind and deaf? She’ll have to be confined (she will absolutely hate that) but it will be much safer for her. We’ll deal with that situation if we come to it.

Some mornings she is so quiet and still that I watch her chest just to make sure she is breathing. She looks so tiny and pitiful. She isn’t in pain. She still plays and goes after my hand if I don’t play with her enough. Her rear end is wobbly pretty consistently now. It doesn’t stop her from jumping up on the desk to be with me. I have taken to setting her on the floor or picking her up so she doesn’t have to jump around.

Stella is currently asleep on the desk. Her coat is in rough shape. I should give her a bath. (She will hate me.)

Stella and Kiesha on my desk.

I feel guilty for not forcing the high blood pressure meds down her throat. She was miserable from me trying (and 75% of the time failing) to force the meds. Instead of curling up with me every night she ran from me. We tried for three months to get her to take the pills. It seemed better to let her go without them. It came down to a quality of life. I chose to let her be happier… but at what expense?

She is dreaming now. Her little legs are twitching. This little cat has been with me for more than half of my life.

Kiesha, on the other hand, seems to be absolutely fine. No puking (except hairballs) and she is eating well. Like a vacuum. She purrs whenever I say her name and greets me at the front door most days. Not today though, which made me go look for her when I got home. She is curled up on my lap right now with her head tucked into my elbow while I type.

This last vet visit made me realize just how much Stella has gone downhill in the past few months. It’s been hard on her: moving, losing Ambush, and her kidney issue worsening. Instead of looking like a kitty who is half of her age, she looks like she is her age now. The vet said that she looks like she is 17. Poor little kitten. She’ll let me know when it’s her time. I hope we have more months together of her being in good health.

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