Saturday, September 07, 2013

Why do we put ourselves through it?

Anyone reading these ramblings over time will no doubt realise that among my household, indeed at the centre of it, is a cat. Not any old moggy but Number One Cat. She is Portia, a marmalade tabby with very distinct stripes across her chest and down her tail. She had a sister, Jazz, who was honey-coloured but whose stripes exactly matched Portia's. Unfortunately Jazz died suddenly at about 8 years old.

These two cats were some 4 to 6 years old when we acquired them, and much uncertainty remains about their exact ages and indeed about the relationship between them. We took them as sisters but there are those who think mother and daughter would better fit. In temperament they were as different as chalk from cheese; Jazz lived up to her name being zany, loud, manic, greedy, adventurous and exceptionally curious. Portia on the other hand is gentle, restrained, silent and elegant. So different were they that Portia used to follow Jazz around, and we were never sure if that was to experience adventure or to keep a watchful eye on her sister. Suffice it to say that since Jazz died Portia has never again visited next door's roof to peer down their chimney!

Portia also has a very gentle, thoughtful nature. She dislikes being picked up and is not above showing displeasure by biting as a warning, but there remains something in her nature that is utterly endearing. She carries herself as a lady and is just a sweetie. She has always been free to leave the house during the day (she is kept in at night), but with rare exceptions remains within range of perhaps three or four of the houses around, or perhaps I should say their gardens. As she has got older her journeys have become fewer and closer to home, and anyone reading my last post will know the frantic activity and worry there was a week or so ago when she had not been seen for some 8 hours.

Portia is no longer a well cat. She has an over-active thyroid for which she is on daily medication. She also has an undetermined obstruction within her nasal passages which causes her breathing to be noisy and occasions a discharge, sometimes bloody. Sneezing has become a regular feature. Vets are undecided about the nature of the obstruction since determination would require surgery, and at something like 16 years old anaesthetic is an impossible contemplation. The obstruction is either benign (polyp or cyst) or malignant, but since there is no facial distortion the likelihood is the former. She receives daily steroids to reduce the inflammation.

Yesterday dawned as usual and we were pleased to see that Portia had eaten well overnight and she took her morning tablet well, went out and continued to eat. By 1030 she was listless and refusing to eat and deteriorated throughout the rest of the day, sleeping, walking in circles and being very vocal. We took her to the vet around 6 pm expecting to come home without her, so very ill had she become. Injections of steroid and a bronchial dilator were given as was oxygen, and we brought her home. Our emotions ran high and family members rallied round, hoping against hope that Portia would not leave us. As my daughter-in-law said, Portia is precious.

Around 9 pm we were able to persuade Portia to sample some freshly-cooked chicken. After three of four attempts she was beginning to eat, and soon the available chicken was gone along with the special food supplied by the vet. We went to bed a little encouraged. This morning we found that the overnight food had gone, Portia was clamouring to go out, her walking had improved and she generally was behaving and looking as well as she had at the beginning of the week. She has continued to eat well all day and has been sleeping around - in the garage, in the garden rubbish bag, on her favourite garden bench cushion, and in the house. We have no illusions. The skill and knowledge of the vets together with the efficacy of modern drugs is what keeps Portia going, and we are very grateful indeed, but cats! don't you just love 'em?

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