She Is Herself

MY chair, MY house – what are YOU looking at?

I have so many pictures, stories and thoughts that I have been sharing with you in my mind. 🙂 What, my telepathy is not working? Rats. I’ll try the old-fashioned way, but I make no promise that I’ll be able to get it all written.

Perspective – she got there all by herself – She conquers tall chairs!

FIRST, however – WC is VERY much herself. I think she has decided that she is going to live as long as I do, and make sure that my every day is all about her. Every hour. Every day. She was back to her demanding regal self within 24 hours. She is very fragile, no question about it. She no longer walks with any cat-grace. But she realized that life was happening on the 2nd floor and she came up to check it out. We locked her in the basement during Seder (carried her down gently, her yowling at the top of her lungs the whole way, plus pee’ing on the steps) and she came up the stairs several times to yowl at the door. Obviously difficult as walking is, she’s going to do it if she wants something. Not to mention getting up high on furniture to survey her kingdom and to nap in the sun. 🙂

Back to a preferred sun spot on the back of the couch for a nap

Guilt and Remorse

I am without doubt the worst cat parent that has ever been. I was trying to do what I thought was right. Instead I miscalculated and my poor little WC has paid the price. Look – her litter mate GC had the same ailments/illness as WC. GC got weak and died in a matter of weeks. GC went down to the basement, emerged only intermittently and then passed away.

WC began showing symptoms in August of 2021. Some days she was so weak, so fragile, so sad that we didn’t think she’d last a week. Some days she seemed so pathetic that we’d say “if she’s like this tomorrow still we’ll call the vet”. Then she’d perk up and eat and meow and march about giving us orders as if she’d never had a bad day in her life.

But there were a lot of those sad bad days. We kept expecting her to die any week now. We did NOT bring her to the vet because she HATES the vet. She always soiled herself on the way to the vet. Cried piteously the whole way. Cried there. So even as she got more frail, we said “well we know what’s wrong and why torture her by bringing her to the vet to hear what we already know – she’s old and sick”. We let her medicine and food plan lapse a few weeks ago because the vet wouldn’t renew them without a visit.

It’s now 9 months since we began thinking “any day now”. I ‘broke” and made an appointment for her. She smelled, she was completely matted. WC who used to have the silkiest smoothest fur in all of creation. She spent the day at the vets’. Being shaved, cleaned – inside and out. Poor thing – was given fluids inside and out. Yes, that means both ends. The vet called me 3 times during the day to give us progress reports. She warned us that WC was extremely bony and had lost lots of weight, despite the fact that we feed her on demand every 30 minutes. Perhaps cancer? But she’s over 19 years old, and we said no xrays, no heroic efforts.

They sent her home with a little jacket to keep her warm. They suggested fiber for her diet to help with ‘output’. Gave us a fatty supplement to help with her skin and health. Powder to sprinkle on her skin to help with the nicks on her from the shaving (she also had lots of old-lady growths on her skin that got nicked). Look at her. I feel so guilty, so awful, so wrong. If only I’d brought her in when I stopped being able to keep up with her matted fur?? The truth is that there is no change in her care going forward. She seemed so deflated yesterday. The bit of good news is that this morning she was back to meowing at me impatiently for her breakfast. AND she jumped up onto the couch where I do NOT have any protective cloths. I guess that might be her “in your face, mom!” moment. Sigh. My poor little girl. I feel so guilty that I seem to have done it all wrong and she had to pay the price. 😦

Her favorite spot – next to her daddy while he watches TV

Patient Update

If you look carefully, you can see he’s missing more parts. I think from various falls.

To my great surprise the butterfly is still with us. No, I have not named him. Yes, I did indeed go out and buy a bouquet of flowers for his enjoyment. It’s considered “enriching the environment”. It did not occur to me until after I strewed them about that they were going to die because they wouldn’t have water. I’ll either need to accept that fact and do nothing about it, accept it and clean up the dead flowers, or go buy more live flowers for the butterfly. I’ll let you guess which option is the most likely to occur. I’m definitely rethinking my former love of butterflies.

Before I added more water to the saucer. He needs the towels to keep from drowning. I think.

No surprise, WC is still with us as well. We had a day where we were sure that “this was it”. We’ve had many of those days. Yet again WC has rebounded, yowling to be fed if I don’t move quickly enough upon a demure meow. She’s still jumping up on furniture, cruising the downstairs. Checking out the humidifier is of great interest to both WC and BC. WC also likes to let me know when the litter pads need changing. WC likes to keep the staff alert and responsive. She has my husband completely under her paw. I suggested he and I might watch TV together. He looked distinctly uncomfortable and said that there was no room for me on the couch with him and WC, and that besides the couch was messy from her “issues”, and that really I wouldn’t enjoy being next to her. I have been displaced. And you all wonder why I am so cranky so much of the time.

She’s really a hobbit. I think this was her Elevenses

I’m very disappointed in my readership, I must confess. NOT ONE of you posted to let me know how long I might anticipate sharing my kitchen with the butterfly. Do you not realize that I need to climb up on the counter in order to see it? To refresh the water in the saucer? To make sure there is still food rotting in case it deigns to eat? Do you not realize that at this close proximity it is much more like a BUG than a butterfly??? I had to turn to the internet for hope – and you know how dangerous THAT can be. “For example, a swallowtail butterfly generally lives from six to 14 days while a monarch butterfly can live from seven to nine months.” Day 6. (and counting)

There is NOTHING patient about this one. “Stop aiming that ‘thing’ at me!”

Animal Hospital

I have NEVER wanted to be a veterinarian. NEVER. I don’t really have a problem with elderly sick human beings, but sick animals sends my stress-o-meter to outer space (because “sky-high” was insufficiently indicative). And yet, here I am.

see how the left wing is not fully unfurled? he’s on the bromeliad

The butterfly cannot fly. My son and I learned on one of my Arizona excursions, when we went to Butterfly Wonderland, that emerging from a cocoon is a precarious experience for butterflies. Although it’s “natural”, it’s not necessarily without complications and problems. My butterfly appears to have had a bit of an issue with his emergence. And I am pretty sure that he is a “he” given the source material on the internet. 🙂 And my sister (the true source). His left wing is damaged and he cannot fly. I figured this out yesterday because I kept finding him lower and lower within the kitchen, even when I’d moved him back up higher.

the lovely aluminum foil blockade – where is that butterfly????

When he landed in the kitchen sink, my husband wanted to “put him out of his misery”. I’m not sure butterflies have misery or existential despair. I rejected the proposal and told my husband to get the butterfly up onto one of the succulents in the bay window. Note that *I* wasn’t going to touch it. Eeew. It’s still all and all a bug. So the butterfly was deposited on the one non-succulent – a bromeliad that flowered beautifully last year but has done zilch since then. However that bay window overlooks both the sink and the dish drainer and I did NOT want to deal with another incidence of sink butterfly. I got out my aluminum foil and lined the edge of the window, making a barrier/landing zone for when (note: when, not if) the butterfly falls out of a plant again. He appears able to walk, and walk UP things, but the flying is not going to happen. Please – someone – how long do butterflies live??? I’m really NOT loving the aluminum foil. I’m really REALLY not loving the anxiety and stress of trying to find him when he is not visible. I went to take a picture of the lovely aluminum foil arrangement and I CAN’T FIND HIM.

i’m sleeping. i’m very comfortable.

And there is WC. Sigh. WC is old and sick. But NOT miserable enough for us to assist her on her way to her next incarnation. We are miserable enough that I personally am ready to leave her and my husband and see what my next life will be, but BC has nixed that. WC is very arthritic. Deaf. Weak. Wobbly. Starving to death (literally – her thyroid is burning food as fast, if not faster, than she ingests it. Yet she’s also extremely picky about the food as in – “yeah, I ate that flavor 30 minutes ago, what else do you have?” I’m grateful that she is still heading for the litter box, and remembering basic training, but her success rate is diminishing. We blame all the digestive upheavals on her, not BC, but I concede that might be unfair.

what? you DON’T sleep at an angle?

Every few days my husband and I say “I think she’s REALLY failing now.” We exchange sad glances, agree to wait 24 hours, and go on our way. The next day WC not only gets up on the couch, she gets up onto the BACK of the couch. She plays with the red laser dot. She yells at my husband to go sit on the couch and watch tv so she can snuggle up next to him. She is NOT ready to transition. I can’t transition her if she is still going about her daily routines, checking out events (when there is sufficient vibration or visual clue for her to know something is happening). Every day I run an analysis: am I being more cruel or more accepting? When is it abuse as opposed to loving and accepting a family member’s issues?

She might be “just a cat” to some people, but she’s our WC and we love her. That means I have to support her decision to not go gently into the night.

I still have a sweet little kitten face when I want.

Very Unexpected Visitor

Fairly certain this is a Black Swallowtail

Well. This was a surprise. I sat down to eat my lunch when a movement caught my eye. It was a butterfly. A live butterfly. Inside my house. On my grow light. 3 feet away. I did what any right-thinking person would do: called to my husband as I raced for my camera. Because after all, we know, if there isn’t a photo, it never happened.

I’m saying “what do we do with it?” since it’s going down to single digits again tonight. Obviously we can’t put it outside. My husband is saying “the cat will get it”. I’m thinking no way am I letting the cats get it. It didn’t look great – either it was starving or burned itself on the grow light or a cat had already gotten it. It didn’t look very stable once it tried to move. It moved off the grow light at some point and was between the planters. Maybe dragging a wing? a foot? NOT flying.

first round of feeding the butterfly, when I began to worry it was drowning, not drinking

So of course we tried to feed it. 🙂 I feed everyone and everything, even unexpected butterflies. Unfortunately I had no rotting food (that’s what my search turned up for ‘what do butterflies eat?’ but I did have a pear with a little brown spot. We put some sugar water, small pieces of the pear, and ultimately, some pomegranate nectar in a plate. The butterfly was still staggering, now back behind the planter. I pushed the plate near it, locked BC in the basement, and went back to my lunch

I got up to check on it and couldn’t tell if it was drowning in the sugar water or drinking it ecstatically (watch the video – you’ll see what I mean). In case it was drowning, I put a bit of paper towel near it so it could get its footing. I know NOTHING about butterflies other than that they are pretty and I like them. 🙂 It didn’t seem impressed by the paper towel…

having dined, returned to the grow light (see the added nectar in the dish)

After lunch I checked again. The butterfly was out of the dish (so it didn’t drown) and back on the grow light. I grabbed some catnip-flavored greenies, put them down in front of the basement door, and released the kracken! I mean BC. 🙂 Who devoured the greenies. I fed BC some wet cat food while I worked the daily crossword puzzle, then grabbed more greenies and BC. While BC protested vociferously (apparently she does not like being carried about) I took us both upstairs, where I strewed a trail of greenies from the top of the stairs to my office. 🙂 I’m hoping the butterfly decides/is able to fly higher. If so, I can move the plate of nectar out of cat-reach. (Although I’m not really sure where such a place might be.) Because I’m going to be very sad if my husband proves correct in this instance.

yay for the distraction power of greenies!!! and the lure of my desk

Actually – it was my day for visitors. It was raining/snowing this morning so I did not go out for my morning walk. When I pulled up the shade downstairs, I discovered my frequent morning walk companions had NOT been deterred by the weather!

I know they do a lot of damage, but I still feel delight seeing them

I Think This Is A First

Flowering vinca 🙂

Look! Purple flowers!!! I’ve had vinca vines many times in the past. I like having them trailing down from hanging pots, swaying with the breezes. I like them in my big planters lined on the front walk, ‘connecting’ lawn to flower. In all that time, however, I don’t think I have ever had them flower. I’m guessing that is because I usually don’t buy them until sometime in May, which might be past their flowering time. This year life continues to be ‘different’. No – this has nothing to do with the pandemic. This is about the seasons.

Dusty miller, vinca, mint, jasmine, and other stuff. dianthus???

The past winter was very mild. Other than some crazy cold days in February, it wasn’t that cold. I have been amazed at how many of my plants wintered over on the porch. Even my rosemary, which doesn’t make it onto the porch, survived. And thrived. Usually it hangs in there until February, then one night it will throw up its metaphorical arms and die. Not this year. I have all sorts of things coming back, which is great! What’s not so great is that for many of them I have no idea what they are. 🙂 Ah, the perennial question: Are they weeds or are they flowers?

dianthus? thyme, sage (ignore the little sign – it’s sage, not savory), vinca

Some things are recognizable- jasmine, vinca, dusty miller. The herbs: lemon thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, chives, lemon balm. LOTS of mint. I think the dianthus is back. But there is a lot of green that I’m not recognizing.

Amazingly healthy rosemary, mint, and green stuff.

I cropped the photos so you don’t see the 2 huge bags of potting soil and the huge bag of top soil. I’ve been buying more planters and pots. 🙂 I bought seeds again this year, knowing even as I did so that last year’s didn’t work all that well. Actually, my cosmos and zinnias did – I sowed them directly into the beds. I’m going to try again with radishes. I was unable to resist picking up 2 Romaine plants. 🙂 I really need a “support group” but I want the one that tells me what I’m doing is natural and healthy, not the one that tries to help me quit.

Obligatory cat photo. 🙂 You can actually see her little face for a change because of the sun!

A Minor Disagreement

My meetings started at 8:30 am this morning – scheduled to go until 2pm. I managed to get my phone out from under BC, but at 8:30 we were still disputing to WHOM the keyboard belongs. Sigh. By 9am thank goodness she decided she didn’t want it anyway. WC, however, made sure that the 9am call knew that she was being starved. 🙂