Updates on Cal

Giving a little Cal update, as he’s sleeping beside me right now on the couch.

After two inconclusive aspirations and a visit to the cardiologist, Cal is now on a tiny dose of daily beta-blockers because of a heart defect, and some occasional subcutaneous fluids to help with any dehydration due to his kidney issues. The mass is still unidentified, but he’s got so much going on with him at once, opening him up to find out what it is seems too risky at this point. He’s still playful and silly, but a little slower and sleepy due to his medication.

He keeps to his rituals, and stays close most of the time. He cuddles with any and all housesitters. He will only drink water from his Oprah Winfrey coffee mug. He didn’t gain back the weight he lost, but he hasn’t really lost too much more in the past couple of months. The biggest issue is food, as some days he’s less interested than other days, but he does eventually eat — especially when I bring it to him and let him eat whatever it is straight from my hand. He will sit nearby when I’m eating something, but he doesn’t want any table scraps. (And before you give suggestions, fellow Crazy Cat Ladies, the following make no difference: heating the food, baby food, the smelliest cheap food, people food, catsmilk, putting it on his paw.) He prefers to eat wet food at night when nobody is watching. In the morning his plate is sometimes down to crumbs and food smears, as if Kitty Cat Santa visited while we were asleep. During the day he appears to prefer kibble. On hot days he eats much less.

He has another vet appointment this Friday, to see how his kidney levels are doing and for another x-ray to see if the mass has grown in size. We opted last month not to do exploratory surgery, as there was a chance he’d be opened up only to discover there was nothing they could do and then he’d only be weaker afterwards and have to spend days at the hospital recovering. He does not like leaving the house, and the last aspiration, where they gave him Michael Jackson meds to sedate him, had him frantic and pacing for over 24 hours afterwards. I just don’t want him to have to go through even more and even worse than all of that only to get what could be an unhelpful diagnosis.

He has become a sweet older cat in the past few weeks, one who seems to sometimes get a little lost on his way down the hall, who loves his toys and his treats and any available lap. He’s still sweet Cal, but not the big, crazy cat of his youth. He still twitches when he over-purrs, but he still jumps up onto his favorite places and chases string and attacks tennis balls and urgently needs to know what is going on behind every closed bathroom door.

Being a bit rundown and senior in his demeanor doesn’t stop him from playing fun jokes on me, like pretending he’s dead so that I find him like this when I walk into a room:

(Most of that tummy fur has since grown back, by the way.)

I just wanted to say how much I appreciate everybody checking in on him with all your good thoughts and warm wishes. I’m grateful for every day Cal’s still here and happy, as I love him endlessly.

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  1. Lora

    As a fellow cat lover I just wanted to say my heart is with you. I hope Cal’s health improves and everyone is happy.

  2. Lora

    PS – I think every post you write should contain at least one (if not multiple) photos of this cute kitty.

  3. Melanie

    Sending him chin skritchies and belly rubs. And sending you all love.

  4. Rachel

    Our Fuzzy Ginger Menace Special Agent Carl Whiskers sends his very best purrs and mrowrs to Cal. Carl’s humans send the same to both Cal and his human!!

    Cats are the best.

  5. Mels

    awwwww, Cal!

    Pamie, this is sort of depressing, but if you see him trying to trick you into thinking he’s dead again: if his tongue is not sticking out, he’s almost certainly alive, because he’s using his mouth-muscles to hold it in his mouth!

    <3 *hugs* for you and *snorgles* for Cal.

  6. Kara

    Crazy cat lady weighing in anyway (with an 18 yr old with heart murmur who’s been on daily SQ fluids for 2 years) – the one thing that _did_ work with food for us is pureeing it with a bunch of water so it’s basically a mousse/slurry.

    1. Pamie

      This I have done, especially when it’s hot and I know he’s feeling super-thirsty. It works. …except when I thought it’d be brilliant to add an ice cube to it. That did not work.

  7. Ray Prewitt

    I am keeping my old buddy in my thoughts. If anyone can get him fixed back up, Miss (er Mrs. Pam) can.

  8. Avia

    Jackson (my feline menace to society) and I are sending good thoughts to you and Cal. BTW: Jack also does the “playing dead” pose. He finds it harder to hold the pose when I mention treats.

  9. Monica

    Glad Cal is hanging in there. He’s got a good human. I think my Otto knew I wouldn’t be able to deal, so he never let me know he was sick. Now I’ve got a box full of cat ashes, a “new” kitty Gus, old kitty Seven, and no idea what to do with any of them. Good thoughts to you and Cal, you’ve got lots more cuddles ahead of you.

  10. Monica

    Glad Cal is hanging in there. He’s got a good human. I think my Otto knew I wouldn’t be able to deal, so he never let me know he was sick. Now I’ve got a box full of cat ashes, a “new” kitty Gus, old kitty Seven, and no idea what to do with any of them. Good thoughts to you and Cal, you’ve got lots more cuddles ahead of you.

  11. Courtney

    I’m glad to hear Cal is hanging in there. We’ve all been there with older kitties, and I know we each have to make our own decisions for our animals, but I think you’re handling this beautifully. Know that if you have to give him subcu fluids at home, it’s totally doable; I’m a complete layperson, and I was pretty good at it after a year or so of a couple times a week for my senior cat. It really improved his quality of life and made it a lot easier for me to know when it was time to let him go.

    1. Pamie

      I do the SQ’s here at home. The only tricky thing is I can’t tell when he needs them. I’ve read that a cat with a heart condition shouldn’t get them too often, as they can make fluid accumulate around the heart and lungs, and I know the symptoms of dehydration look like the cat’s got a hangover, but it’s hard to tell when Cal needs them, honestly. I’ve been doing it every three days, but decided not to last night to see the difference and today he’s having a really good day. Ate all his food last night, eats anything I put in front of him, and he’s been vocal and cuddly and very much like his normal self. But I don’t want to NOT give him the fluids and cause some kind of crash or icky feeling that could’ve been prevented. I don’t know if the fluids are to keep him from feeling bad or to help him when he does feel bad. And the vets have been like, “Eh, well. Just try it every three days or so or whatever for now.” I like more science in my answers.

      1. Heidi

        Awesome update on Cal. So glad he’s doing well.

        I’ve been through sub-qs with several kitties and my thoughts on this “I don’t know if the fluids are to keep him from feeling bad or to help him when he does feel bad.”

        are that it really depends on the cat.

        Sometimes, on sub-qs, you never see a dip because you keep the crisis at bay, and other times it’s a picker upper when there is a dip.

        You are absolutely right that it’s a balancing act with a heart condition and my experience there was that caution wins because it’s easier to put fluids into kitty later if you need more than it is to get fluids out of kitty if you overdo it.

        You can also supplement with a little unflavored pedialyte mixed into wet food or baby food if you think he needs a “bump.”

        The fact that he’s eating and happy and perky mean you’re doing it right. I’m glad you’re done with aspirations so he doesn’t have to flush any more anesthesia through the kidneys.

        Best to y’all.

        1. Pamie

          He never had anesthesia, even though the cardiologist believed he’d tolerate it, but the sedatives they gave him for the aspirations made him so wonky (particularly the second time) that I felt like anything heavier was going to be a pretty big deal on his body, especially since he was already in moderate kidney failure.

          1. Heidi

            My confusion on the MJ drug. I thought that was an anesthetic. A family member was recently given that before a colonoscopy and it made her a weird combination of fuzzy and punchy for about a day and a half. But thankfully that was all it did.

  12. Hamish

    Best wishes for Cal, and to you as well. You have written so beautifully about your cats in the past, and ah, this is difficult stuff to go through for cat and human, but Cal is in the best of hands.

  13. Kat

    So so much love and good thoughts for Cal. I feel like a cat “hang in there” picture right now would be most appropriate.


  14. Pamela

    I’m happy to see that Cal is stable and in good spirits. I hope he stays that way forever. :)

  15. Kristina

    Awww, Cal. Glad he’s doing okay. My kitties do the “lie on back, act like someone bent me in half because really who would lie like this if they’re alive” thing all the time. So silly.

  16. Maya

    I have to be the crazy cat lady, sorry:
    My cat has the kidney issues too and got scary skinny until I found the miracle brand of cat food – Hi-Tor Neo Diet Cat food. I buy it online and its not that pricey (about $25 bucks for 24 cans) it really saved my furball. She actually gained a ton of weight and begs for more food now, which is crazytown for a cat with kidney issues. One time the supply stopped and I actually called the factory and spoke to the manager multiple times to get updates on when the cans would be shipping out again (I said I was a crazy cat lady). Trust me, this cat food is that good.

    1. Pamie

      Ordered. Thanks for the suggestion; will let you know how it goes.

  17. Heidi

    Maya — You completely rock. I love that you called the manufacturer. I have chased down more beloved and discontinued foods than I can count.

  18. Paul Tabachneck

    Aw, what a sweet strong kitty. Cal, dying probably sucks, and isn’t worth your time as much as getting more tummy-rubs!

  19. sooboo

    So glad Cal is enjoying life to the fullest! He’s looks like such a sweetie!!

  20. Cheets

    Long time reader, first time commenter. I’m glad to see Cal is doing okay.

    I’m in my mid-30s and never had any pets until a stray cat showed up in our garage a couple of years ago. We gave him some food and the rest is history. In fact, my boy looks exactly like Cal, right down to the white fur on the chin. Fast forward to today and I’ve got 4 cats in the house – all strays that charmed their way into my heart. One of them is a foster kitten who will soon be going to a permanent home. I had no idea how intensely I could love a furry, four legged animal. Cats are the best.

    Your love for Cal really shows and it seems that you are doing all you can to help him. He’s lucky to have such a loving, caring owner. Sending positive thoughs and purrs your way.

  21. Tamara

    Awww, Cal. I’ve been reading your blog for about 12 years. I’m not really a cat person, but I love YOUR cat.

  22. Jennifer

    Another crazy cat lady food suggestion: when my old guy started going downhill and losing weight, I tried every single wet and dry food that exists. I had the best luck with Weruva pouches(a relatively new brand). Radcat wasn’t around when my gato was, but if Cal ever had a thing for raw chicken that might also be one to try. (Both of these are at PetPeople.)

    It got to the point that I was following him around with the plate waving it under his nose to get him to eat, but I think that bought us a few more months together.

  23. JoAnna

    Glad to hear Cal is feeling a bit better. He’s lucky to have such an awesome human.

  24. LeAndra

    I’ve been following you since 1998 and always loved the Cal entries. Sending lot’s of kitty love to Cal!

  25. Nancey

    completely hard to believe that Cal has been around since Squishy. I have too! love to Cal and to you.. feel better wishes to him. One of the best posts I ever read, anywhere, anytime.. bar none was ‘And I love her’… omg, the posts of posts…

  26. juliejewel

    I would like to suggest a holistic vet/accupuncturist……. Dody Tyneway..
    she’s in callabassas (never know how to spell that)
    she did acupuncture on my 19 year old cat who was in renal failure and it bought us an extra 14 months with him…acupuncture on animals is really amazing…. and it was worth the schlep (818) 880-0838 –holistic vet #

  27. Jet

    Wish I could fix that. Lots of love to you both and kitty kisses for Cal.