Feeble Knees

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Food Lady

All weekend I've been kind of dreading this veterinarian appointment this morning.

Just as well we got it out of the way quickly, first thing. Our poor senior kitty's kidneys aren't working very well anymore, so the name of the game now is *fluids*, and lots of them. He gets to drink milk now as well as water, and the more the better. To help improve his comfort level and flush out his little system better, the vet recommended that we give him extra fluids by pumping them from an IV bag under his skin.

This being his third trip to the "VEE EEE TEE" in three weeks, he was not at all happy about it. So he was rather unwilling to let himself be poked and puffed up with IV fluids too. Oh the indignity of it! I tried my best to hold him down as he kept trying to crawl up into my arms and out of reach of his doctor. "Oh, I know, you want mommy," she said.

You do strange things when you love something as trusting and innocent as our kitty. In that moment I felt it was very important (God only knows why) to correct the doctor and clarify my relationship to kitty.

"I'm not mommy, I'm Food Lady."

* * *

Kitty once belonged to a little girl who adored him. When she brushed her teeth at night she would fill her cup with fresh water and he would jump up on the sinktop and gulp it down. That was twenty-some-odd years ago, as best as we can figure. Kitty came to live with my husband's family not long after, for reasons I don't know. But he's been in the family since the time Mr. F was in high school, back in the 80's.

By the time I first met kitty, he was my mother-in-law's constant companion. He'd sit by her feet or on her lap. They got to spend a lot of time together watching TV. There's nothing he loves better than company. When Mr. F. and I would visit, kitty would come right over and sit between us on the couch. We joked that he appointed himself our chaperone. We adopted him when my mother-in-law fell ill, about two and half years ago.

It seemed strange to have him refer to us by our first names, but mommy and daddy seemed too presumptuous as well. One day I admitted to Mr. F that since I'd only known kitty recently, I didn't qualify to be his mommy. Step-mommy didn't seem right either.

Kitty pretty quickly adapted to life with us, and in no time at all he learned the schedule. He would be up and waiting patiently for me by the bedroom door, then follow me eagerly downstairs to the kitchen where he'd alternately pace and wait for breakfast. In the evenings he sat at the stop of the stairs waiting for my return and for dinner. It was Mr. F., kitty's official spokesperson, who one day announced kitty's new term of endearment for me. Now, when I tell the kitty I love him, his spokesperson responds: "I love you too Food Lady!"

* * *

Back at home, kitty is doing ok, though he is leaking a little where the needle went in under his skin. He seems mildly annoyed by this and keeps trying to lick the wet spot on his back. I've been given instructions and all the supplies to administer the fluids twice a week. I hope we can do it, because it will help him feel better and more comfortable, even as things and time start to wind down. It's a little daunting though, this big IV bag and the box of needles.

I'm spoiling him more and more. Last night I discovered he really likes plain old chicken broth (low sodium, of course) so I added a tablespoon of it to his new prescription diet food, just to kind of take the curse off it. I probably wouldn't like prescription food either. Who would? Cold food is a problem. He's turning his nose up at it, though I know he's hungry. So I was upset but not surprised to learn today that his weight's dropped under twelve pounds now, where he once was a robust 12 lbs plus. We've got to figure out a way to keep his weight up.

I'm tempted to do that thing which I said I would NEVER do - that thing my mother did to spoil my other cat when I was away and she took care of him. My mother, convinced the cat did not like cold leftovers, began MICROWAVING canned cat food. For the cat! Oh he loved it all right, but you should have smelled the stench in the kitchen. Only a mother would do something like that, right?

Well, maybe a Food Lady might too. Maybe...
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