Toothless old geezer

He is approaching his 13th birthday, trying to put as much dignity in the process as he can, yet slowly and surely Loup-Garou is finding out that growing old isn’t really a cakewalk, oh no. He’s discovering the hurdles and hidden traps of advancing age and he’s coming to the decision that he doesn’t like it a bit at all.

First of all there is the tiny little problem of failing almost every jump he tries to undertake. It had Grumpy Man and The Mistress worried: watching the old black geezer gathering his haunches for a mighty leap, witnessing the power explosion that’s supposed to bring the wiry old body on top of the desired surface in a soaring graceful arc, and observing how he crashes back down to the floor in an ignoble fashion because he… missed his jump.

He hates that.

And then there is the deteriorating condition of his once lustrous and shiny pelt. It used to be all black, with a tiny tuft of white just on the chest, making for a dignified coat that inspires fear in the prey (who most of the time don’t even see him coming) and admiration in the simians (who almost invariably want to stroke said lovely fur). But now the white has been turning up just about everywhere – more and more obscuring the black, the hair has become coarse and brittle, the skin underneath less supple and far more susceptible to injury. No matter how hard he tries to groom it into perfection, his pelt will never attain the same luxurious splendour again.

He hates that.

At the same time his body seems to have lost quite some fat. He looks more skinny than ever. And he must be feeling skinny too, because lately The Mistress has observed him crawling into whatever warm spot Loup-Garou can find: lying under or next to the little wood-stove in the Work Den, sleeping on top of the cooking plate in the kitchen next to a nicely simmering cauldron of soup, snuggled up close to the orange-hot coils of the stone grill on the festively bedecked table… This new habit has a dire consequence, since fur can singe and skin can blister. And the old geezer just can’t understand how his proximity to the desired heat-source is connected to the new hurts on his back and tail. All he knows is that his simians yell at him just when he’s comfortably ensconced in the tray with hot ashes under the stove.

He hates that too.

Finally there is a new danger to our beloved old feline, the éminence grise of our little bewhiskered tribe… last week The Mistress, still grieving from the sudden and dramatic demise of Frankette, noticed that the drool coming out his muzzle was quite stinky indeed, and his front paws carried a noticeable pong that told of dire happenings the run-off of which he tried to clean. And so Loup-Garou was swiftly transported over to the Man In White (who surely must be thinking of charging discounts, the way I have been visiting his practice lately) where he was politely asked to come out of the travel cage and on to the MIW’s practice table. Which he did with a dignity rarely witnessed by the vet. He may be a crybaby constantly meowing his furry little head off whenever he’s in the cage, but he has no inhibition whatsoever on leaving it on his own, even not into the presence of the dreaded MIW. I hesitantly told the MIW that Loup-Garou may have lost a tooth or two, one fang that I was certain of, and that he may have some kind of infection in his mouth. The MIW deftly opened Loup-Garou’s muzzle, took a peek inside (much to the annoyance of our black baby who tried to claw him), and smiled back at me: “One or two ? My dear lady, it’s more a matter of one or two being LEFT…”.

Indeed, a forlorn tooth here and there… and way back in his mouth were a few wounds which were infected and one tonsil which was inflamed as well. How in the name of Bastet did he get clawed THERE ?

Well… see… we have the following theory: there is a feral entire tom trying to enter the House of Chaos, who has earned the undying enmity of both Bean Sidhe and Loup-Garou. There must have been a fight. Lou-Lou must have gotten hold of the other one’s paw and must have though: “a-HA ! Now I can bite him truly and well !”. And found out subsequently that it’s hard to injure a foe without proper utensils, and that when said foe has his claws inside your mouth he might be inclined to use them.

He hates that.

But for the rest he’s a very -extremely even- healthy specimen who is bearing his almost-13 years quite well. His lungs and heart are in perfect working order. His eyes, thought to be the cause for his mis-jumps, are still seeing perfectly. And his overall health is just splendid. It’s just that with old age come less strong muscles and those cause him to make mistakes when gauging the trajectory for his jumps. He’s simply not able to understand that he’s not as powerful and strong as he used to be, just like he had not taken into account that the lack of sufficient tools in the dental department would make him vulnerable.

But I suspect he hates it.

Picture below: nice and hot ashes a soft warm bed make…

Loup-Garou in bak en as

Sorry we haven’t been visiting the Carnivals and Friday Ark lately… too much grieving had to be handled. And The Mistress bought a lovely little motorbike (Skyteam Bubbly) and got entangled in Belgian bureaucratic mazes and rat-traps so she had to run to and fro’ in order to get her paperwork in order which took her 2 weeks !! The good news is: she can now ride her bikey to her job. The bad news is: the winter isn’t over yet.

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Renal woes

You would think that with 3 deaths last year, and Bean Sidhe narrowly surviving the game of Chicken he tried with -and lost from- a car just 4 months ago, the House of Chaos would be granted a respite from woes and worries, wouldn’t you ?

Wrong.

Oh, Bean Sidhe is doing mightily fine now. He’s still got a slight limp, because the torn ligaments in the knee of his left back leg may take a lot of time to heal or may never fully heal at all, and has trouble jumping. It might last for the rest of his (hopefully long) life, but at least he’s been seen climbing the garden fence several times now. He’s reverted to his usual noisy and complainy self again, reclining in splendour on whatever surface he chooses, daintily picking up titbits whenever they are offered to his august purrson, and loving the scratching post to death when I spray some liquid catnip on it. He still does avoid the road though.

But lately the simian denizens of the House of Chaos have started worrying about Frankette, who has started to lose weight at an alarming rate. We also wondered which of the kitties was taking leaks on the kitchen counters and sometimes on the cupboard/desk where our computers are.

When The Mistress finally decided to take a rake-thin and lethargic Frankette to the Man In White a lot of answers were answered all at once. But they are not happy-making answers.

He checked her heart rate and temperature first, which turned out to be quite fine. Then he took a look at her nose and mouth, which were far too pale, and that pointed towards anaemia or serious lack of red bloodcells.Then we had to struggle mightily in order to get a sample of urine from the poor little kitty. She was actually resisting the probe, clamping shut to the MIW’s dismay. Ultimately though he managed to get it through and out leaked a liquid that I recognized as having found on the kitchen counters. It was too light of colour and too odour-less to call “urine” but there it was. The MIW daubed a stick in it, then compared the slowly emerging coloured patches with a list on the box he had taken it out of. “At least, and be very grateful for that, it’s not diabetes” he remarked with a sigh of great relief. “But the protein count is way too high and that, together with the anaemia, is very bad.”

Frankette suffers from renal insufficiency.

And she is way too young for that ! At the age of hardly 4 years, when the onset of this deficiency is usually a year or 2 later, it points towards either a recent poisoning or a congenital defect. Now, taking into account that all of the Frankenkitties who had entered the House of Chaos had died very young (1 at 6 months, 1 slightly over a year old, 1 probably two years old), given that her sibling Franky disappeared before his second birthday, and also with the knowledge that at this moment only one other Frankenkitty seems to be around -and Frankette was one of the original 5 which had spawned the rest- the MIW concluded that the original 5 were born with a serious defect the 3 fertile ones had passed down to their offspring. Frankette has always been the most petite, she almost bled to death from an injured paw a year or so ago, she was never one for games and play-fights, and that too could be a sign of bad health.

So what was happening to her ?

She is literally peeing out her life and becoming a living skeleton. Because her kidneys are no longer functioning properly she drinks a lot of water and loses all the nutrients her body needs when all of that water is evacuated again. Hence the pale colour and lack of odour of her urine. And she has lost bladder control (hence the leakage on the cupboard and the kitchen counters) because of the amount of water she drinks. Her body also fails at producing new red bloodcells and is trying to get nutrients from any source possible – her muscles for instance, hence the dramatic weight loss. By the time we visited the MIW she had only 4 pounds of weight left.

And now ?

First thing was to rush to the pharmacy and get some food supplements Frankette absolutely had to have. There’s been a recent one from Bayer which would bind phosphor and thus allow her body to retain more nutrients (or something like that, the name is Renalzin and it’s a kind of paste you can mix in the food). Another supplement, VMP which I was already giving to Bean Sidhe, is on her to-feed-list as well. The MIW also told me to go to the market and get some chicken and rabbit livers. I was to avoid feeding her “normal” cat food and other stuff rich in protein but had to give her full milk (cow’s milk, and here I always thought it was bad for kitties… turns out she needs the fat in it desperately…).

The first time I offered it to her she would eat the liver, with the Renalzin mixed in. But after that she started refusing it. I tried to give the liver without the supplements, but it got refused again. At wit’s end I hurried over to the specialist pet store and got some Purina One food specifically for cats with renal problems and this she would finally eat and continue to eat. But the Renalzin was more appreciated when I mixed it in with her milk. On the 2nd of February she weighed 4 pounds 2 oz. On the 6th it had climbed to 4.4, and two days later we celebrated a nice 4.8 ! Frankette clearly thrives on the new cat food and the supplements. Her urine has become more yellow and stronger in odour as well. But she still remains too weak to hurry over to a proper place to deposit her waste and we have a busy time cleaning up after her.

The other feline denizens grow jealous. Too much fussing of our little patient makes them feel neglected. They try to shoulder her aside when she is eating – not too difficult a feat when you realize that for instance Isegrim weighs 3 times as much as Frankette does. Even Freya is twice that weight. Although I must confess that Izzy is currently the largest of our kitties… at slightly over 6 kilos he’s developed quite the paunch and we are wondering where he got it from. Couldn’t he share some of his largesse with Franketteke ?

Loup-Garou, approaching his 13th birthday, is also expected to develop renal problems by now. His recently acquired gauntness and more coarse fur are signs of ageing, but could herald a lesser functioning of his kidneys as well. So he too will be put on the new diet. Although we can’t keep him and Frankette from sampling the food of the other feline denizens, we can try to offer them the better stuff and thus prolong their lives. It’s the best we can do. We must accept that Frankette will never see that venerable age herself, but we can make the rest of her life a better experience.

Picture below: Oh, how mightily satisfied one can look after a nourishing meal…

Frankette
Update February 14th 2011: Sadly Frankette didn’t make it. After an initial positive phase she started again to refuse food, would drink only water and just a tiny bit of milk. She lost more weight and started to call out to us. The Man In White noticed that, next to renal insufficiency and anaemia, her liver started to fail as well and jaundice had started. I had to make the difficult decision and allowed him to gently nudge her onto the path over the Rainbow Bridge, where for sure her siblings, cousins and my faithful woofie Critter will be standing ready to give her the best welcome ever.

We will miss you terribly Poppemieke. You were such a coy and lovely thing, it was hard to believe you were a kitteh and not a superstar !