As We Age…

It’s been a long time since we posted here. And mainly that’s for a good reason: Scout and Zoey are both grown, and our lives have settled into a wonderful rhythm. There simply wasn’t much eventful to share.

But as they say, Life happens. And now we’re back with an update.

Today I took Zoey to see Dr. C. On Sunday, she came into my studio, hobbling, and wouldn’t put weight on her back right leg. We stood around for five minutes or so, discussing whether a trip to the emergency vet at 8 at night on a Sunday was the thing to do, and in that small amount of time, she started walking normally again, as if a switch had been flipped. B said, “If I hadn’t just seen that for myself, I wouldn’t have believed it.”

I called the vet the next day, and they said to keep an eye on her and see if there was any change and if we saw it again. Instead of disappearing, it grew worse as the week progressed. So today, we made the trip to the vet’s office.

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After an exam, a long conversation, and two X-rays, Dr. C determined that Zoey has arthritis in her back right hip joint. The X-ray showed the damage clearly. Tonight, we gave her medication and pain medicine, and tried to let her be. She was a trooper with Dr. C, and I left feeling a mixture of proud mom and sad mom. Zoey is 81/2 years old, and I don’t know much about cats and arthritis, but man, that seems young.

On top of the arthritis, Zoey has feline herpes. Our vet believes it to be linked to the time she had an allergic reaction to her annual vaccinations, and is presenting itself now because of the stress she’s under, age, and a weakened immune system. It’s displaying itself in her eyes. Her right eye (the one with white fur around it) is red and inflamed and watery. So on top of meds for arthritis, she started a round of meds for this too. (Feline herpes is common, and cannot be transmitted to humans or dogs, FYI.) Zoey will have to take meds for this possibly for the rest of her life; there is no cure.

zoey in the kitchen

And so, in a matter of five days, Zoey has gone from being a healthy, happy cat to…well, she’s honestly a little ragged right now. It hurts to watch her hobble around the house, her back leg raised so that it doesn’t touch the floor. We’ll be administering her meds every day (the pain med via a syringe, the rest via edible “treats”), and monitoring her food and water intake (they need to stay balanced or it can negatively affect her arthritis meds).

As for B and me, now we enter into a new side of pet parenthood: caring for an animal that isn’t growing out of puppyhood or kittenhood, but into middle age and beyond. I was happy to see that the minute I walked in the door with Zoey, Scout ran up to check on her. It may have taken close to four years, but I believe the girls are friends now. :)

We’ll keep you updated on Zoey’s progress!

A New Start

2013 has proven to be almost more than we can handle. Between family health issues, busy working situations, and life in general, we haven’t had a spare moment to update you on Scout and Zoey. But now we’re past (hopefully) the craziness, and it’s time for a recap!

Last Saturday, we moved. I know, again. But this time is the last time for a very long time. Very. We don’t necessarily believe in “forever” homes, but this would be something like that. A home to grow into, however that may be. We’ll call it a “forever-ish” home. This is it.

Getting here has been harder than we anticipated, and it’s left B and me both physically and emotionally exhausted. Scout and Zoey have been real champs though. Through packing and relocating, we’ve been worried about how the girls would handle it, especially Zoey. Move-in day was last Saturday, and we waited until that morning to put Zoey in her carrier and bring her to the new house. In every single previous transportation experience, Zoey has emptied her bowels in the carrier within the first three minutes. The stench. You guys. It’s way too powerful, and horrible, to drive with a cat sitting in urine and waste in a cat carrier that’s in your lap. We started to put towels in the carrier to absorb the urine and help get us to the vet’s office. We minimized the reasons to take Zoey out of the house—ever. (Dr. C is always a champ about it. They clean her up when we get there and do their best with her. Gotta love a great vet.)

So we were understandably terrified of transporting her to the new home, but we did our best to keep these emotions in lock down on Saturday morning. We believe that pets (and kids, for that matter) feed off of their parents’ energy, so I tried to keep my apprehension under control as I coaxed Zoey out from under our bed and then gently fed her into the carrier. She immediately tensed up as her head neared the carrier, but she let me put her in it without trouble. Then we high-tailed it out the door.

On the way, she cried a few times, but nothing like the howls of agony we were waiting for. And no bowel movements! Zoey was truly remarkable and held it together better than she has ever done before. We got her settled in the bathroom at the new house, closed the door, and left her to acclimate while we hustled around with the movers.

For her part, Scout spent the majority of the day in her crate so that she wouldn’t be under the movers’ feet as they unloaded. It wasn’t fun for her, and we could tell that she was stressed and wanted to be with us exploring this new place. But that wasn’t in the cards until the movers left.

Scout has surprised us with this transition. Normally it’s Zoey who is stressed and anxious about changes, but this time, Scout has had the harder time. Zoey was almost bubbly when we let her out of the bathroom into the rest of the house, following us around downstairs, sunning herself in the dining room, and rubbing on the carpet. We’ve been in awe of Zoey’s relaxed personality these past two days, totally outside her normal demeanor in these situations. Scout, normally our bubbly personality, has been the opposite: stressed and concerned. She spent the majority of yesterday following us around with worry lines across her forehead as we unpacked, until she finally fell asleep out of exhaustion.

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We’re sure that as our routine falls back into place Scout will acclimate to this new environment. In the meantime, we’ve tried to settle her in by keeping the same breakfast and dinner routine, the same house rules, and lots of love and attention. This new home has a few areas that we’re excited about for the girls, namely a screened-in porch and a big backyard, so there will be lots for them to enjoy as we settle in to a new home.

An Update, in Photos

We took these shots of the girls the other day, and wanted to share:

zoey in the kitchen

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Things have been quiet here for the girls, which is nice. For B and me, well, it’s been anything but quiet! But we like that when we come home, the girls are always waiting, always ready for a snuggle and, in Scout’s case, a walk. They are very good at helping us decompress from the long workdays.

A Vacation and a House-sitter

I didn’t realize it had been so long since we last updated. Life has been pretty busy around here, and after many weeks of going, going, going, B and I are heading out for a long-awaited vacation on Thursday. Unlike last year, Scout will not be going with us. This time, it’s just Mom and Dad.

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Scout at Kiawah Island, SC, in August 2012

In the meantime, B and I are doing something we’ve never done: arranged for a house-sitter. A friend and co-worker of mine will be staying at our place while we’re away, which will allow Scout and Zoey to remain at home, comfortable, and somewhat in their routines. (This is our hope.) But as we clean the house a little extra in preparation, I find myself with that worrisome parental vibe going on. Please, please behave, I think to myself.

Please do not eat the rest of our books.

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Please do not pee all over the couch.

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Please do not try to steal the jar of flour and devour it in the living room (which I caught Scout doing on Friday morning, just as she was about to rip the lid off the jar and scatter flour all over the newly cleaned room). Please do not eat any of our house-sitter’s belongings (Scout) or throw up in her shoes (Zoey). Please do not get a sudden ear infection or have any other cause to be rushed to the vet’s.

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Please be kind to one another, like you were that random day you sat side by side on the couch and made me think hell had finally frozen over.

Do all of this because you love me. And because this house-sitter will probably spoil you rotten if you behave. It’s a good deal for you, girls. I promise!

Scout Springs a Leak, and We Try to Fix It

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Incontinence Update:

We didn’t last long after my first update regarding Scout’s new adventure with incontinence. By Thursday evening (last week), Scout had had another two accidents. So, after reading a bit more, we decided to give Nutri-Vet’s Bladder Control chewables a shot. We picked them up at PetsMart and gave Scout one that very night. She had a small accident last Friday (maybe the size of a quarter?), and since then, KNOCK ON WOOD, she’s been accident free. Here’s hoping that this works for a while. The towels aren’t coming off of the couch just yet, but we did manage to make it a few days without doing additional laundry.

Note: We did not start Scout on the full dosage that the bottle states, which would be two chewables for her body weight. We figured we’d see how long we can go on one chewables before upping it. What do we have to lose? We also realize that this solution may not last forever, but we’re okay with that. Scout seems okay on these chewables and doesn’t have any signs of increased energy or hyperactivity (side-effects according to what we read). As long as it’s working without any ill effects, we’ll keep at it.

The Day to Day

Not quite a week has gone by since we last took Scout to the vet’s for incontinence. Within that time, she’s had three accidents.

The first accident happened the day after her visit to see Dr. C, last Friday. It was a fairly sizable “dribble,” as we’ve taken to calling them. Sizable and unlucky, as her rump was conveniently situated off of the towel we had draped over the couch cushion. Oops. We stripped off the cushion cover and threw it into the wash. Then we sat down and made a game plan.

We are planning people. Give us enough time and paper (or an Excel spreadsheet), and B and I will have your life planned in no time flat. Seriously. If there was a career for making Excel spreadsheets and over-thinking things, we’d be rich. So rich. But instead we spend our time over-thinking our own lives and leaving everyone else to think about their own. Possibly better, for them at least.

The first thing we did was to start a calendar to monitors these dribbles. Nothing fancy, just a little mark on my cell phone calendar for every time Scout dribbles. By yesterday, it was at three, one for every day she’d dribbled: Friday (a puddle the size of the bottom of a coffee mug), Saturday (a smaller puddle), and Sunday (a little dribble the size of a nickle that we actually saw happen).

I should probably explain that last little bit, the part where we saw it. Yes, I mean we actually were looking at our dog’s downstairs at the exact moment that she, technically speaking, wet herself. It helps when your dog sleeps on the couch like this:

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From time to time, B and I will pause what we’re doing and assess the dribble situation. “Are we good?” we say to Scout as we glance at her privates. (All vanity has been lost. We are officially Parents, examining our pet-child’s anatomy with the gaze of attuned doctors gauging the outcome of a completed procedure.) She watches us watch her with a look on her face that is not entirely dishonest: “You guys are nuts.”

But our paranoia is not unwarranted. In the case of Sunday’s accident, the smallest of the weekend, we were able to catch it mid-dribble and take Scout outside to empty her bladder sans couch, the way we’d prefer it. Our method now is pretty finely tuned. We have two old towels folded in half and stacked atop one another spread across the couch cushions. No matter where she lays, there are two layers of absorption between her and the cushions. As long as she doesn’t empty her bladder completely, which it doesn’t appear she will (she does have bladder control, just not 100%. I’d gauge it at 90-95%), the towels are sufficient to catch whatever she might unknowingly spill. Then, we throw them in the wash and wa-la! Good as new. If company comes over, the couch can be dribble- and towel-free in seconds.

The other thing we did was to decide on a plan. At the end of this week, we’re going to assess how many accidents Scout has had and the severity. (Was it a little piddle or Niagara Falls?) Then we’ll decide whether we need to pursue giving her something to help assist those delicate uterine walls. If we decide to give her something, we’re going to try the homeopathic route before medication. A number of people on forums we found online have recommended various herbs and natural remedies that we’d explore first, and then switch to medication if Scout doesn’t respond.

But that’s ahead of where we are now. Where we are now is that yesterday was accident free. We’re hoping that today ends accident free too. At week’s end, we’ll see where we are and report back.

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*Some of you may be wondering why we don’t just make Scout not get on the couch rather than wash our cushions three days in a row. We talked about that, but quite honestly, other than a short list of things (peanut butter, fetch, water…B and me), the couch is one of Scout’s true loves. Really. We noticed an immediate change in how happy she was to sit with us “like a person” at night while we watch TV. There is real joy there that we don’t want to deny her because of something she has 100% no awareness of and would be mortified of if she ever realized it. At this point, these accidents aren’t tragic enough that they’re staining the couch or smelling, so we’re not going to make her give up the heaven that is the couch. That could change as the situation changes, but right now, that’s the verdict.

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