Saturday, January 30, 2010

Norma, and time passing...

This is Norma. I think perhaps I've posted one photo of her on the blog in the past, from fairly far away. There's good reason for that. Norma is my last little house feral (after Schubert passed on of diabetes). She is one of my pet cats. Normally she would never let me this close to her pointing the "flashy thingy" her way. But Norma is sick.

I'd noticed last week that Norma's little "mow!" was quite loud. A loud voice on an old cat normally indicates someone is getting a little deaf. I took note of it, and made sure she was eating and drinking and using the cat box without a problem.

Norma lives upstairs, and refuses to come down. She used to sleep with Mark and I. She was the only cat who was permitted on the bed, and she reveled in her privilege. When I was alone and I moved downstairs, I would go up twice a day to give Norma treats and sit with her on my lap for awhile. I rearranged her room with couches and a bowl of toys. A very quiet cat, she would periodically explode into fits of wild play and I'd hear her thundering overhead.

For about a year she would come to the heat grate at precisely 10:00 pm and "mow" for Mark to come up to bed.

She finally gave up.

She has a jar of "special Norma food" in her room that the other cats don't get. When I visit her, I quietly (very quietly) scoop out a handful and leave it near her so she can eat it before the other cats notice she has something other than Purina One.

Nellie, a non-feral but skittish, fairly soft and plump cat, likes to spend her time with Norma, which made me feel better about the whole "alone upstairs thing." They cuddle up in this very fur-covered cat bed together.

The other day, Nellie started coming downstairs a lot, sitting in the kitchen, flirting with Ivan, and staring at me. I normally only see Nellie when I have a bowl of breakfast cereal. She loves milk and can discern the sound of pouring Cheerios from any point of the house. This was odd behavior for her, so I went up to check on Norma, who was crouched on the futon bed on the electric blanket I recently bought for the upstairs cats to toast on.

She seemed fine, but when I pulled up on her fur, it "tented" and she was clearly dehydrated.

She didn't want her treats.

She didn't want a/d mixed with water.

She was VERY unhappy when I syringe-fed her baby food and water. The fact that I was able to even attempt this with her was a very bad sign.

I gave her some sub-q fluids (also bad that she tolerated this), put a heating pad over a side of her kitty bed, and went to bed.

This morning, she is the same--alert but dehydrated, refusing to eat.

Can you say kidney problems, anyone?

Last night I was trying to remember how old Norma was. I was counting back to when I pulled her out of a Garden Apartment wall at Ithaca College. We named her after Norm, our wonderful landlord (and my boss at the time--he has since passed away) whose last name was "Wall." I know, bad pun. She had to be thirteen? Maybe fourteen? Norma gets a vet visit only every handful of years, and her most recent visit last year was a home-check. Other than a weepy eye/sneeze once a year or so (likely from having rhino or calici virus as a kitten) she has been an incredibly healthy little cat.

This morning, after spending time with her, I dug out her records and realized why I could not recall. The first vet who spayed her didn't write dates on her receipts! I remember that spay clearly because the vet didn't give a discount, and presented me with a bill for $252. I can still remember my stunned shock.

The earliest rabies certificate I found was 1994. And Norma was six months to a year old when I caught her. We thought she was a kitten when I brought her home because she was so small. Then she immediately went into heat. Whoa! She has never gotten larger than 5 pounds.

Norma is 16. Maybe 17!

Criminey! Yes, it's time for the kidneys to be a problem.

So I gave her more fluids and I'll try to get her into the vet today, but they are only open a half day on Saturdays. Why do all my cats get ill on weekends and holidays?

Poor little Norma.

(Post note for those who know my house: I have opened up the stairwell curtain and cranked the heat for her).


2Vamp said...

Pure sweetheart.... I hope the vet can do something about things. She's a Grand Dame, all right....

georg said...

Oh dear. She the same size and age of Miss Spider. Fortunately, Spider is a bit more social.

In a way, I'm sorry she didn't get to leave with Mark, for her sake.

Wildrun said...

Yes, she probably would have been happy cuddled up in bed with her guy, these last two years. Sadly, he doesn't read the blog so won't even know unless someone tells him.

possumlady said...

Best of luck with Norma. My sweet Butterball was 15 when he started going downhill. Yet, a few times of subq fluids really perked him up, but he never really regained his appetite. Keeping her comfortable and loved--even from a distance--is the best thing.

Chrissykat said...

Hugs to Norma & to you for taking her in and letting her be the cat she is supposed to be. Sending peace & warmth to her...

Gabrielle said...

Until this post, I hadn't given much thought to how long my dear Kenzie would be with me, and how sad it will be when similar problems arise with her.

What an amazing story you have with Norma, she's a lucky cat to have found a home with you. Best wishes.

Martha said...

A vet told me cats would live to 30 if not for kidney failure. He also said (and this was comforting to hear) that it's not a painful condition. I hope she'll allow sub-q to make her feel better if that's the problem. I'm sorry...Poor gal.

Old Grouch said...

Hope Norma is doing well.

It's strange how they settle in... they're there every day, you grow accustomerd, time passes, and, woah! All of a sudden it's been how many years???

Give her some lap-time for me...

Rebecca said...

I totally sympathize with the elderly cat syndrome. Dorothy will be 19 in June. So far, so good, although she's very thin. My best to Norma, and you.

Fearless said...

Awww, he seems like a nice cat, may he may want to be friends with my own cat.

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