One of my first posts when I began blogging was about my cats, Jules and Lucy, in Living with Elder Cats. Lucy has made two subsequent appearances in The Cat Crunchie Caper and Elevate.
Today its Jules’ turn. As I mentioned when I introduced him, Jules has arthritis in his hips, which makes sitting a very laborious process as he lowers down at an almost imperceptible pace. Along with that, he is showing increasing weakness in his back legs, and his feet slide out from under him at times. We’ve tried to help by placing his food and water bowls in front of small rugs, so he skids less. BA also figured out that if his bowls are elevated with a riser, its easier for him to eat and drink.
Its harder for the old man to get around, so he mostly hangs out in the cozy sitting room off our kitchen, although he still likes to wander out and check out his backyard and deck. These “tours” of his territory are shorter, as he now makes a limited inspection and heads back indoors. He comes upstairs less, apparently saving his energy and joints. Despite this, he engages with us when we are hanging out in the sitting room, frequently seeking out a lap, and he remains quite interested in food and drink, which is a good sign. He may be slowing and he’s not yet done.
Like many cats, Jules prefers to be up off the floor and on a soft surface. In our sitting room, the chairs have fleece throws on them, and much of the time, two of the three are occupied by cats. As Jules’ legs continue to weaken, his “catlike” abilities are lessening. He doesn’t make great jumps from floor to table any more, and sometimes he struggles to go from floor to chair. If he misses, he falls awkwardly, not always landing on his feet. He hasn’t been injured, but its very sad to witness. Yet another tumble was the impetus for today’s project.
What would be a comfortable and more easily accessed place for Jules? BA and I both thought a lower, but still elevated seat or cushion. A first hope was a toddler chair. Unfortunately, the local Target and thrift stores didn’t yield any good solutions. There were a few online, but at well over $100., they weren’t what we had in mind.
So, I scavenged the house. A small low asian style table was found, along with a plastic box. I removed the front panel of the box, lined it with fleece, and installed a fleece wrapped cushion, all from my sewing closet. I used velcro to affix bed to table, and the prototype is done. I found a place for it in the sitting room and placed Jules in it. He looked a bit bemused, hopped off, walked back to the chair he’d been sleeping in and jumped back up and went back to sleep. Typical cat.
With aging or ailing individuals, the care and life choices to be made are similar for humans or pets. What matters most to the individual, what do they like to do? With Jules and Lucy, its a little harder to have the discussion, but having lived with them for more than 19 years, BA and I have a pretty good sense of what matters to the cats. Comfort and companionship lead the list, so that’s what is continuing to guide our choices for these beloved cats.
I’ve been following Susan Briscoe’s lovely and moving blog, The Death Project, about her own dying. Her most recent post concerns her partner Roy and her concerns for him after her death. You can read it here: via On Leaving a Loved One. I’m mentioning it now, as her last lines seem completely appropriate here as well. “It keeps coming down to love. And more love.”
Update–Three Days Later
Jules isn’t using the bed yet, but Lucy seems to like it. Adventures in Catland continue!
2 thoughts on “Living with Elder Cats, part 2”
This was lovely. It is sad when they age but it’s cool how you are trying to make things easier. He may not like the bed now but he may pretty soon I’m thinking.
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thanks for your kind response. I have the same suspicion on the new bed: adapting to its presence now, actually using it in the future.
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