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.

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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.

Felicia is a Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler 20110311
Pine Warbler 20110311 (Photo credit: Kenneth Cole Schneider)

The weather is gloomy, rain comes in showers, thunder now barely audible as it travels West. Thud, thud. What was that? I swung around and stepped to the large, glass, double-door in my office. It has to be a bird!

On the ground, a tiny figure with colorful feathers lies motionless. The cat! Where’s Charlie?  Inside. That’s good. Main Coons are great hunters. Lucky for my feathered friend it was raining. Coons—all cats—prefer dry homes to wet forests.

One wing is spread open as it covers most of the bird. As I pick it up, its heart beats rapidly and delicately against my palm.

Very dazed.

I coo, “Are you okay?” No answer—what did I expect? Around me a dozen or more ‘yellow’ birds hover and flit from branch to branch. “Your friend flew into my window. I’m so sorry.”

A painful head.

It silently opens and closes its beak. Its eyes do the same. It must have a painful head. I cover the poor bird with both hands as a precaution for panic or another fall. What can I do? The other birds are calling to their friend. I’ll help your friend! I’ll ice her little head to stop any swelling. Maybe that will help. Stay, don’t go away, we’ll be back. I step inside with the bird as Charlie steps outdoors. The bird doesn’t move. But she (I feel it is a she) is still alive. She opens her beak. Gasping?


My free hand rummages through the freezer, I settle for a small bag of ground coffee. It’s very cold, perfect as an ice pack for the bird’s head. After about a minute, I remove the pack and make my way back to the door. Oh darn! The others have gone. Did they give up on her? The bird opened its eyes wide and seemed to be recovering. I try my hand at bird calls. “Tweet. Tweet?” I can hear them in the distance. Are they watching? I open my hand a little more. The bird becomes excited and panics. I close my hand a bit and whisper, “It’s okay.” As I pat her feathers and head, she relaxes. I slowly open my palm again, she adjusts her foot, perhaps to be comfortable. Such tiny feet! Does she feel safe inside my hand, which provides a familiar cover from the elements?


After several minutes, the bird sits and is more alert. She watches my other hand as it moves. A mosquito finds my arm, she cocks her head to watch it bite. With a breath, I blow it away but it returns. I bring the bird’s beak to the mosquito to possibly feed her. Nothing happens. The mosquito is annoyed and leaves.

It is about fifteen minutes since the incident. I must either cage the bird or return it to nature. Perhaps a tree limb, away from Charlie. The cat! He is still outside! It has begun to drizzle again—he’ll come. I call, “Charlie! Kitty come.”
Good, old Charlie comes running, unaware—I think—of the bird in my grasp. I step out, shut the door and whisper to my friend. I reach up high with palm open. She sits. “What’s the matter Felicia? Felicia means happy. You are a happy, little bird, able to fly thousands of miles with your friends. Felicia it is! So. Felicia, will you sit in the crook of this limb?” I gently move her tiny feet. I reach up high again to encourage her to climb into the pine tree.

I go now.

Felicia suddenly and smoothly glides downward into the brush four feet in front of me. She is hidden by a blackberry bush and small saplings. I reach for my camera. As I stoop and focus, she busily scratches under her wing, flits back and forth on the branch, looks at me, then at the ground. She jumps into the deep of ground cover and away from my lens. No picture—can’t complain. We spent over fifteen minutes sharing a crisis, a moment and a recovery.

I hope Felicia will be okay. Will she find her friends? Can she call out to them? Not sure.

Take care Felicia. Come again on your next migration. Next time, a gentle tap, tap will do.

Charlie Naps.

Inside, Charlie naps as I Google ‘yellow breast’ + ‘birds’. There it is! A pine warbler! And it is female! I knew it. That’s my Felicia!

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