My Poor Kitty

Maine Coon Cat

In one week Charlie lost one third of his weight. The fluffy hair didn’t add to his bulk as usual. He was muscular for a thirteen year old cat—so the vet reported two years ago. How proud we were to hear those words. His fur glistened and he was so handsome. He was a show stopper whenever anyone noticed him.

Charlie is an outdoor/indoor, Maine Coon cat. A typical coon. Big fur, padded feet and lots of energy for the hunt. I got him from another owner when he was one year old. He was mostly an indoor cat then. Not much human company during the day. A friend of mine warned that Charlie would not last a week in our woods.

Fourteen years later, Charlie continues to roam our property woods and open spaces. As he romps around, he is alert to every unusual sound and movement—the reason why he has lived so long.

Not only does he roam freely, we take daily walks with Charlie down our quarter mile drive, through our wooded property along some of our logging roads and back to the house. A twenty minute jaunt. Usually Charlie just follows us. Other times he bolts ahead, passes by to jump up a tree trunk where he claws upward a few feet. He stops, looks back at us and revels in our gleeful accolades. He wants us to do the same. We oblige as we run and grab a tree in a fumbled effort to climb. He is unimpressed with our one foot off the ground and our fingers just caressing the bark. He jumps down and walks on.

cool it cat
My quick rendition of Charlie’s reaction.

Still other times, we walk Charlie on a leash. The restricted pet gear appeared as we decided to travel with him. Home alone is no fun for our kitty and a worry for us.

The first day was a traumatic event when a jogger approached us on a trail. Charlie had his eye on this tiny bouncing creature heading our way. As it grew larger, he panicked. I picked him up to calm him and when the “creature” turned up to be as tall as hubby and bounced up to us, Charlie propelled himself from my arms landing at the end of the leash where he twirled in a mass of fur, claws and hisses. As I reached into the frantic heap that was once my cat, the jogger said “Calm down cat… .” and disappeared down the trail.

I picked up Charlie and noticed his heart beating wildly and his leash had loosened so that he could have slipped out and run off into the wilderness.

Charlie is a home woods cat and people are not what he likes best—except for mom and pop. Whenever there is a threat of another human being or vehicle approaching, he sticks his head in the crook of my elbow and I hold him firmly until the “danger” is passed. Poor Charlie. Don’t know what ever happened in his kitten-hood that would account for this reaction. We are pretty solitary where we live and anyone visiting is lucky to meet Charlie. The UPS man hasn’t got a chance as he rumbles up our drive.

Sadly, Charlie has not been well as of late. Three weeks ago, he lost weight pretty fast. He wouldn’t eat. He was listless. After two days, I brought him to the vet’s. They discovered a broken front tooth with a swollen gum. They ground the stump down and prescribed two prescriptions: an anti-biotic and a stomach coating pill for reflux. Crush the pills, dissolve in water and squirt into his mouth with a syringe. “Meow!” Translation: “Not on your life, woman!”

At first, Charlie ate a bit more, but now he eats less every day and continues to loose weight. At fifteen years, we feel he is failing. It is so painful to watch him stare at his food. I move his bowl to wherever he decides to sleep. That is what he mostly does. No more romping and wanting to go outside. I prefer to keep him inside so I can keep an eye on him. Old age is not a blessed thing for any life form.

Give a Cat Medicine Step 4.jpg
Feeding Meds To a Cat

As I administer his meds, he grows leery of both Mom and Pop who must hold him down to control his reaction to this insult of forced feeding. Finally, Pop said, “It is no good to do this to him. He is failing. Let him be peaceful.” I looked into Charlie’s pleading eyes as he prepared to fight off the next dose. “Okay, Charlie. No more. Be peaceful. All done.” He understands “no more” and “all done” and he relaxed. Tears ran down my cheek as I put the meds away.

Today, Charlie chose to sleep wherever I happened to be. Right now he is snuggled on a blanket I placed under my desk for him to keep warm. Food does not interest him anymore. He is shown the water and food bowls several times a day. He visits his potty for his kidneys are working. Nothing else seems to be. Thankfully, he is no longer retching.

I love my poor, little Charlie. He’s been with us for fourteen years. He still finds the strength to climb onto the bed and sleeps near my legs. Sometimes he climbs up to my shoulder and purrs in my ear. I pat him for a while, then he disappears until morning.

It is so very difficult to lose a pet. I’ve lost others before. I cried for weeks afterwards.

All we can do is pet him and let him know we care. He knows. And he loves us too.

Good night Charlie. Sleep well.

Love, Mommy.

Floating Belties and Strong Daisies

Why has one of my latest paintings mysteriously changed position in my art bin? Floating, so it appeared to be, instead of sitting in proper position with the rest of the paintings.

“Hmmm.  Did Charlie (cat) jump into the bin and snuggle under the painting? I hope not!”
I investigate the other paintings. No paw prints, no chewed paper, not cat fur. That is strange. I adjust the painting so it is now standing as the others are in a vertical stack.

English: Belties at Old Bridge of Urr Belties ...
English: Belties at Old Bridge of Urr Belties (belted galloway cattle) in field by B794 above the hamlet Old Bridge of Urr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hubby walks in from his office. “I have to tell you, Hun, your latest pieces are really interesting. You are really good at revealing relationships in your paintings.”

“Thank you. I didn’t think you liked the last two.”

“Oh, no. They are really good. You’ve captured the feeling. The relationship between the two belties in your water color. You can see the affection shared between the two in your composition, and the posture of both cows. It really like it.”

I look over Hubby’s shoulder as he edits his latest letter to all his friends and relatives. He loves writing. Been at it for years. In my former employ as a teacher, I used to mail his stack of weekly letters as I arrived at work. I’d hand the collection with handwritten addresses to the receptionist  “It’s nice to know someone still writes letters,” she had smiled.

“Here, review my latest letter,” Hubby turns in his seat.

As I sort through the four pages, I am shocked to see my two latest paintings in his current letter.
“You photographed my paintings?”

“Yes. They tell a story. You captured the subjects and expressed more than the image.”

“Thank you. But you never asked.”

Hubby’s smile disappeared. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know it would be a problem.”

“I thought the cat had been in my bin. But it was you.”

“Uh, yes. Is there a problem?”

“Well, no one has seen my latest work and now you are dispersing an image of them to several people who either won’t care or will share it with others. That is not fair. You must ask first. If Jamie Wyeth’s new creation were shared that way, you would be sued. There is such a thing as copyright infringement.”


“Why did you photograph the daisy as well?”

English: Daisies
English: Daisies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hubby, smiles. “You captured something I didn’t notice. As we worked at logging, moving the branches out of the way, piling the logs and cutting some into firewood, you found a little daisy struggling to survive through the disruption we imposed in its environment. You plucked it up, placed it in a tiny bottle and gave it another life.

“Then you painted it. You captured its inner being, wanting to survive, reaching for the sun. It demonstrated strength. It spoke to me. It is a simple painting, but it caught my attention—I had to write about it. You have to keep painting because you are good at it.”


“I hope it is okay to send the letters as they are.”

Hubby’s words soothe and encourage me. They were simple paintings, not complicated as some seem to be at times. I am my own worse critic…isn’t every artist?

The printouts don’t really do justice to the colors used in the original artwork. But that is the printer’s fault. Too many browns I told Hubby as he first tested our new printer. He likes brown, I suppose.

“Okay. But ask me next time. Also, I recommend you crop the daisy better. You left one border in the painting. It distracts from the subject because it is not part of the composition.”

“Thanks, Hun.” Hubby happily edits his narrative.

“Charlie. You want some milk?”

“Meow,” the cat smiles. I swear it sounds like ‘Meowilk’. Charlie is almost human. Therefore, he wouldn’t nap in my art bin. My artwork speaks to him too: He’s afraid of cows. :-)

A Glorius Morning for My G-man.

G-man also known as G
G-man was her name. My son named her.

“It’s a female. Why G-man?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I just like it. But I call her ‘G’ for short. Can you take care of her  for me, mom?”

“Of course I will, son.”

So G stayed.

Several months later, G disappeared. I searched for two hours. She was just gone. Then I found a phone message waiting for me.

“Your cat was hit by a car. She is at the vet’s. I told them to keep her alive until you returned.” It was Julie. My future sister-in-law. I called her for more information.

“I saw a white fluff on the road’s dividing line and thought is was a sweater or a bag. As I  got nearer, I realized it was a cat. When I stepped out, I recognized G. So I brought her to the vet’s.”

It was now after 5 PM and they were closed for the day. But I called the vet ‘s office anyway. The vet’s assistant let me in and escorted me to G’s cage. She was blind, but she recognized my voice and crawled forward. She sat in her water dish but seemed unaware of it. She pleadingly meowed in the direction of my voice. Not only was she blind from the concussion, but her jaw drooped, her hind leg didn’t work right and I was sure her head ached. She was dirty, mostly with dried blood about her mouth. My heart ached to see her in such a state.

The assistant spoke with me about G’s fate. Because she was blind from a blow to the head and now had a broken jaw and an injury to her hind leg the recommendation was that she be ‘put under’.

“What’s the alternative?” I asked.

English: U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan (...
Surgery to save a cat.
“Wire her jaw, and take her home in a week.”

“How much will that cost?”

“We’ll charge for the surgery, but  she can stay and be attended to for a week for free. Then you can bring her home. We can’t make any promises that she will see again.”

I agreed. And within a week, I brought G home in an open box.  Her tail wagged when I walked up to our house. She recognized its smells and was happy to return home.

My dog, ShiSha, was excited to see her buddy back home. But after a few sniffs, Shi Sha turned away and presented no further interest in G.

Once inside, I set up a little stage for G on the kitchen floor. A box set on its side placed on a small rug for G to sleep in with her warm, familiar blanket. To the right of the rug, I set a litter box and to the left, I set a water dish and wet food. G learned to stay in that small environment identified by the boundaries of the rug as she waited for me to come home from work. Upon arrival, I placed her in my lap, rocked her like a baby and sang songs of encouragement.

She still had blood stained fur under her chin. When she felt better I washed her fur to remove the stains from her chin down to her chest. Perhaps she could smell the dried blood. Being clean again, she began to regularly wash herself without my assistance.

One day I set G outside in the grass. She was curious and the smells enticed her to explore. I realized she still couldn’t see because I had to  rescue her from an imminent fall from the edge of a high wall at the edge of the grass area. ShiSha was not impressed and continued to ignore G.

Weeks later, as I readied for work in early morning, G walked into the bathroom and stopped in front of the long mirror behind the door. I observed from another mirror on the opposite wall. She seemed to watch me through her mirror’s reflection of me. I moved my hand. She followed its movement. She meowed.  I picked her up. ShiSha followed me as I brought the cat to the bedroom. I placed her on the bed. She recognized her old play-mate ShiSha looking at her with ears perked and tail wagging. G walked close to the  edge of the bed. The dog and I watched as the cat jumped off the bed!

G-man also known as G
I can see clearly meow.

“G can see, ShiSha!” The dog got very excited and jumped onto the cat. “No ShiSha, don’t hurt her.” ShiSha was happy to have her play-mate and buddy back. She also wanted to play with G NOW. I calmed ShiSha who then followed G throughout the house. She didn’t bump into furniture and eventually jumped onto the couch. She lovingly grabbed ShiSha’s head as she accepted a juicy lick on the cheek from her buddy.

It was a glorious morning for all three of us!

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What’s A Cat For?

For people.  :-)
Cats have been around for a very long time. They have been around humans for about 9500  years. Can you imagine the fleas?

A Maine Coon cat.

When I adopted Charlie, one of my colleagues warned me, “He won’t last the six months at your place.” That disturbed me because I had lost three cats within the last three years. I hoped it wouldn’t happen again for Charlie loved to romp and hang around the woods outside our home. Ten years later, he still does!

More than once, I’ve searched for him at night or early morning if he hadn’t returned home by dark. He usually comes home when it was safe (I believe). He is a great hunter and a very wary traveler. That would account for his survival. He is a Maine Coon cat, which gives him  coloring that blends into our surrounding. He wears camouflage!

Our property is part of a forest. Wildlife from owls, hawks, coyotes, bears, fox and raccoons roam at different times looking for a meal. We found animal tracks in the snow around the perimeter of our house in 2009, identified as mountain lion. A neighbor photographed a mountain lion in our neighborhood that same winter. Another watched a lion in his back yard drag a deer off in deep snow. Scary. Now, I fret at letting Charlie out or before I go out at night.

I walked up to a black bear this last summer. He was more frightened of me than I of him. However, I know he is only about a year old. I watched momma bear and her three cubs the previous summer as they caught Charlie’s attention at the living room window. They were picking berries right by our door. The cat was ecstatic. The bears were so cute. But leave them alone and all is well.

American Black Bear (Ursus americanus), Réserv... 
My Black Bear friend.

My bear friend and I had unanticipated meetings this past summer, I felt he was obviously not accustomed to nor totally aware of his surroundings and unsure of what is perceived as a danger.

The bear and I had met about four times. Each time he seems to contemplate what to do next. Finally he remembers what mom said before he last departed to venture on his own, “Stay away from two legged animals who live in strange caves.” So he clumsily turns stumbling and crashing through the woods. If I walked up to this same bear and he were older, would he turn and run as before? I hope so.

Two days ago, as I walked our half mile drive, I heard a sudden crashing to my left among the trees at the edge of the drive. From the sound of each step, whatever it was, it was heavy. I stopped, anxiously determining what it could be. Then I realized it was my friend the bear. No other animal was as clumsy and noisy as he. I think we both kept an eye on each other. I had to return after retrieving the mail and there was no sign of my friend. He was probably up a tree like his mom taught him to avoid humans.

My cat, Charlie is still part of the family. I believe he thinks himself human. He understands some of our words and we understand some of his. Between his purrs, meows, growls and body language, I know when he is hungry, happy, angry, wants a treat, wants us to accompany him on a walk, doesn’t want us to leave or wants us to go to bed by 9:00 PM. He jumps on our chest in the AM telling us it is time to get up and be about our business, which is to feed him and let him outside! If we don’t feed him on time, no worry, he finds food for all. He meows while carrying a rodent in his teeth. As he approaches the door he indicates, “I know you are out of food, so come eat. I’ll share.”

That’s my Charlie cat.

Yes, cats are for people.

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