After a series of rainy mornings we had a lovely sunny morning Sunday, and the day remained sunny from beginning to end.
For the first time in days, Cookie had a little time outdoors on the deck and she and I enjoyed the breeze that felt oddly warm after days of frigid weather.
And for the first time in days Cookie was more active, walking around, visiting me at my desk, ate more and more easily, and just had a more relaxed look about her. Normally she and I will go outside when I feed the birds every morning, and sometimes later in the day as well. But with temperatures well below freezing I haven’t wanted to risk Cookie’s depressed body temperature and apparently neither did she, so even though she sat at the door and wanted to go, when I opened it she wouldn’t go out. Eventually she quit asking, just went to sit in front of the furnace vent in the kitchen with Mimi.
But on Sunday morning, in all that sunshine, I picked her up and carried her outside, and together we looked out at the bunny tracks in the snow and felt the sun warm us. I took her in but soon she was back at the door soaking in the sunshine. As the temperature rose we went back outside, she stepped out onto the deck herself and walked around exploring, stepped down to the flower pot that still held a cap of snow and licked some of it, then explored the deck some more, walking better all the time.
Back inside, she ate some more, walked around the house looking out the windows and generally being her congenial little self before I settled her and Kelly into the bathroom where it’s warm and cozy from the sun for their senior special lunch and naptime.
Still, I found myself once again hovering around her, trying not to actively worry (ha), to remain calm and relaxed so that I didn’t upset her but I knew I’d spend all day checking on Cookie and wondering what else I could do for her. I had planned on printing more cards and working on artwork and writing a few articles, the busy creative schedule that I’ve looked forward to in the new year, yet every day lately this has been the pattern as I plan my day then abandon a good portion of it for concern over Cookie. I don’t mind.
On Sunday I knew I’d never focus on what I had planned and decided I had to just leave the house for a while, break the spell, do something that both carried me away, relaxed me and filled me with inner strength to work with Cookie and accomplish all the rest I plan for my days and give poor Cookie a break. The sun shone on the snow and I wanted to be out there somewhere walking in it, feeling the stillness of a winter day, indulging in a little painting to free my mind from my thoughts and worries. I got in touch with a friend and we met at a local trail, went for coffee afterward and I returned with a painting and a lot of photos and a renewed spirit.
I’ve not doubt Cookie felt better as much for my absence as for my renewal by nature.
Cookie’s condition has improved since Christmas Eve when she suddenly couldn’t walk in the morning, her body temperature was low and she would not eat. She had compensated for so long but suddenly had to lower her standards. Intensive fluid therapy, vitamins and supplements and she’s more comfortable, eating well enough and walking better but I think we both know she’s losing a little each day in her battle with renal failure. Her hind legs, never strong to begin with, are still wobbly and sometimes just collapse; her right in particular just seems to have a mind of its own carrying little weight and slipping out to the side when she sits. A few days ago she could still get herself up onto the table and cabinet in the kitchen, but on Monday simply could not get up from the chair to the table. She’s been eating less and responding less, even to me.
Aside from all the supportive care, subcutaneous fluids and supplements there’s not much I can do, and where I have a day of work and projects planned I find myself unexpectedly spending more time, most of a day, checking on Cookie, trying to sense what she needs in this moment, trying one thing and another in addition to the regular treatments and just sitting with her on my lap trying to impart what energy and absorb what discomfort I can, finding myself exhausted in the effort, and we both sleep.
This is what Cookie has done for me all these years, just being at my side, quietly vigilant, the only living being who understood what I was going through with my brother’s injury and my mother’s illnesses and their effects on my life and my business, all my worries and my struggles with my creative self, our losses of other feline members of our household, Cookie has simply taken it all in and given me only her expression, “I am devoted to you.”
It is a year ago on Wednesday that my mother passed away. I know the memory of that time and the thought of loss is heavy on my mind as I remember my sister, brother and I keeping a vigil in our mother’s room for nearly two days. She had been in hospital and been hospitalized before that more and more frequently; I knew intuitively her death was imminent but didn’t know when and really struggled with it for a couple of months before it happened.
It was also the first time Cookie ever showed physical distress through her support for me. I remember calling my veterinarian saying I didn’t know what was wrong with her but she was lethargic and had no appetite, I gave her fluids though she wasn’t necessarily dehydrated, her temperature was normal and no infections, and my veterinarian reminded me that I was under a lot of stress and Cookie always took that in from me. All these years of absorbing my angst, but at turning 19 it was almost more than she could take, though she would never consider turning away from me, not doing what she felt was her job, taking care of mom.
She recovered as I started rebuilding my days and my business, but in May I could see she was losing ground again, and it wasn’t necessarily from my influence. Her June exam showed her thyroid had finally kicked into overdrive but her kidneys were slowing down. All this year we’ve done our best to balance this, and while she’s gone through all the days with me, following me upstairs and down, out into the yard and even to my shop a few times, I could see it was with diminished vitality though not diminished enthusiasm.
Poor little Kelly is pretty upset, both at Cookie’s condition and my worry but calming essences and supplements have slowly restored her balance, at least where Cookie is concerned. She is still afraid of all the black cats though they never threaten her; Cookie is the last of the cats she came to know and be comfortable with, and I don’t know how she will react when Cookie isn’t there for her anymore.
With a few changes I’ve made to Cookie’s diet and a few new supplements and reiki sessions I may be able to help her restore a little, and she may surprise us all and take that little restoration and turn it into a big one. It’s all up to Cookie, and I will do my best to keep my worry at bay so that I don’t upset her needlessly and impede her wellness. But I think I’m not facing this very well, in fact I’m not accepting it at all at the moment. While writing this I had Jelly Bean curled tightly in my lap, purring heartily his healing purr for me, and Mewsette quietly near me as Cookie rested in the next room; I didn’t want to transfer my anxiety to her as I wrote, she should rest and let the young ones take care of me for the moment. She has instructed them well.
This morning Cookie was sleeping in the bathroom where she stays overnight with Kelly, did not get up when I went in and could not control her hind legs when I picked her up and set her down to see how she was managing; that is not unusual the past few days and it only takes a few minutes to get warmed up and get a little more control. She dragged herself into the litterbox, then got out and walked to the landing on wobbly but working legs. I carried her downstairs and let her walk a few steps, the carried her to the cabinet for her breakfast, which she did not eat, only sat and purred loudly.
No sun this morning; it is overcast but not freezing. I picked her up and carried her outside, held her against my chest as we looked into our muddy back yard until I felt her gathering strength, set her down and let her walk around, unsteady but purposeful. She sat on the top step, I sat next to her and she looked up at me for the first time this morning, then gently put one paw on my lap followed by the other and pulled herself up. Curling on her side she faced the yard and purred, and we enjoyed a few minutes of the morning. Later I offered her breakfast again and she ate happily; daylight, fresh air, her deck, my lap, medicine for both our weary bodies. She and I will take it, for now, this comfort of each other and try to do a step or two better, just day by day.
All images used in this article are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.