|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.
|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.
|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.