Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Mewsette in June

black cat with keepsake boxes
Mewsette models some new things!

Typically it’s Mimi modeling my new handmade goods, but Mewsette got there first this time! She loves that wicker loveseat, it’s become her favorite place.

The girls and I have enjoyed a month of lovely mornings out in the back yard. We’ve had the most beautiful May weather on record, at least on my record: long sunny days with temperatures in the 70s and low humidity, cool nights, and lots of flowers. I’m thrilled to see some of the flowers, especially the native plants, I thought I’d lost reemerging and blooming in successions of color themes, first blue, now bright yellow giving way to pink and red. The spinach was great in pasta and pizza and soups and some of it’s in the freezer, the snow peas bloomed like crazy and are now producing bright green pods, and the newest seedlings have sprouted in the soil as I continue to rebuild my garden. Now, late in the month, the temperatures are rising to more of a summery 80s and possibly even 90 this week.

What’s up with Mewsette

black cat in water bowl
Mewsette really gets into the outdoor waterbowls.

It’s been a balm for what’s been happening with Mewsette, and her siblings, this month. Medical things were moving at a pace I had a hard time keeping up with along with caregiving, so I intentionally stopped posting around the beginning of the month but for a couple of updates. At my last update on May 11, Mewsette was apparently experiencing a lot more abdominal pain than dental pain, and weakness in a combination of a hypothyroid condition and mild anemia. Determining the cause was elusive even with a list of blood tests and some imaging.

And while her brother Mr. Sunshine provided a lot of comfort and energy in cuddling and spooning with her, it was almost a little too much for him as he began vomiting again with a fitful appetite. He put a distance there and other cats took turns comforting Mewsette, like Jelly Bean and Giuseppe and even Basil and Bella, just sleeping next to her, touching and sometimes a paw laid over each other. By mid-May Mewsette was becoming unusually weak and having issues with constipation, which worsened as the month went on. The ultrasound I’d scheduled for May 30 would be the key for both her and Mr. Sunshine, and thank goodness I’d found a very low-cost opportunity at one of our shelters.

Some signs of love and protection

On one particularly bad day, May 23, I began to wonder if I was going to lose Mewsette in the next few days as she seemed to be declining. The constipation is painful and exhausting for her no matter what I do. She would walk a few steps, then crouch down to rest, and go all day without producing anything.

Red admiral butterfly
A sign of transition?

We had a visit from a Red Admiral butterfly that fluttered through the area we were in. I once had 32 species of butterflies in my yard so all sorts of butterflies were very common. Since the deer encroached and ate most of my native plants I have had only little white cabbage butterflies aside from the very occasional visitor because my flowers are gone, and I have missed them terribly. I had seen no other butterflies in my yard yet this year, this was the first one, and I’ve been looking since I’ve planted flowers and some of my natives are back. This one stopped to rest, then took off for the sky. A message of transformation? A visit from a loved one who had passed on, Lucy maybe?

At one point Mewsette stepped up onto the pile of boards I’m building raised beds with where she loves to sun herself, and I saw something white on her back, like dandelion fluff, and went to investigate. I reached down to pick it off and look at it and realized it was a small white down feather, and seemed to have some spiderwebs intermingled with the fluff. I shook my hand a bit to loosen it from my fingers and it floated down and away and I petted her and walked away to take a photo of her sitting there on the wood pile. Then I saw a white patch in the center of her chest—Mewsette doesn’t have any white patches at all—and realized the bit of fluff had landed and stuck right in that spot, staying with her no matter what I was doing. I got a photo of it on her chest but she crouched down and then began walking and it floated away.

white feather on black cat
The feather.

Finding a feather symbolizes the presence of an angel or guardian spirit, the feather having fallen from their wings, not always, but in this case I was feeling it, Mewsette was being watched over and protected. The spiderweb symbolizes, among other things, the acceptance of change and the ability to adapt. I was letting myself think I might lose her, but I was not at all convinced, and neither was she. I had similar kind of mystical instances last summer with Mr. Sunshine as he neared his cancer surgery date, which was subsequently cancelled.*

Lots of care and treatments

I’m balancing a lot of support and palliative care for her through the days, and I’ve spent some pretty late nights observing her, and also noting that she often has a great appetite at 3:30 a.m. But it’s her dose of Felimazole, gabapentin for pain and Miralax for constipation and Cerenia for vomiting and Miratiz for her appetite, and a small dose of subcutaneous fluids, and two Chinese herb combinations and each a renal and enteric supplement, each day. Also, a small Assisi Loop for short treatments which Dr. Michelle brought for her dental issues but which works wonders on her abdomen. Whatever food she will eat, small bite by small bite, keeping everyone else out of it, along with treats. For a few days Mr. Sunshine needed all of that too, when he overdid it with comforting Mewsette.

Dr. Michelle has been stopping weekly with acupuncture and electromagnetic treatments like the Assisi Loop and a big mat that can fit all four of them because, even though it was intended for Mewsette and Sunshine, they all do everything together. I’ve been asking Ingrid for reiki treatments for Mewsette, and interestingly enough Mewsette pulls the energy to her abdomen and it helps with her constipation as well as her overall energy levels. By the end of the week, when I palpated her abdomen, what felt like a piece of stool had not moved in a few days, and I knew that was a mass, a thickened spot in her intestines or something else that was not a positive development.

My friend Sally had mentioned an animal communicator she works with, so I scheduled a session with her this past Saturday. At the start of the call she told me Mewsette had indicated that this wasn’t anything dire, she was managing it, don’t worry, but she did have frequent abdominal discomfort. That’s what I had felt all along with Mewsette, and the butterfly and  feather helped me keep the faith.

black cat on wood pile
Mewsette pauses to rest.

Ultrasound day

I packed up both Mewsette and Mr. Sunshine and headed off to the clinic for their ultrasound appointments, eager to finally know what’s going on inside of each of them. Mewsette was particularly weak that day, wobbly, and just lying down on the floor on her side. Sunshine wanted to stay with her, but he also wanted to stay in a corner he’d found under a table. Purrhaps they knew.

It was bad news for both of them. Mewsette has two masses, 3cm and 4cm, near her rectum, and her intestines just look as if they aren’t moving things along, some fluid in there. I knew that, but had hoped a chemo treatment of some sort would help. The veterinarian suggested that I even consider having her put to sleep right then. Not forcefully, he was very kind and compassionate, but he suggested I at least find a place for her to be on a fluid and prednisolone drip overnight to give her a little time.

They let me stay in the room since no one needed it and I texted and called and emailed to find what was available for her at urgent care or emergency or specialty, though I knew I had nothing to pay for the higher level places. Thank goodness for Dr. Michelle who helped me talk over the best option for her right then, no hospital, home care, she had other herbs and treatments and she would be available for euthanasia when the time came. I got a bottle of prednisolone for daily doses for a week and then weaning off. Back in the 90s my veterinarian and I put Fawn into remission for six months with prednisone, so it’s possible to get some meaningful time here.

Mr. Sunshine has small masses all over his liver and spleen, his kidneys are in early failure, but the cancer will come first. That was totally unexpected. We might do a prednisolone treatment for him too, but it will continue apace.

And Giuseppe and Jelly Bean

I see some of the same symptoms in Giuseppe and Jelly Bean and have been trying to find the money to get them to exams and some imaging. Jelly Bean has lost some weight and his famous appetite is uneven. Giuseppe has been very quiet since his diagnosis with hypertension, and he is not a quiet cat. Both of them vomit now and then and feel clearly uncomfortable. This kind of confirms for me that each of them likely has some sort of cancer, an end-of-life condition. I haven’t had cancer in a cat in 25 years, but I don’t forget. I’m going to get them in for exams and imaging and then likely another two ultrasounds as soon as I can.

I might as well know if I’m going to lose all four this year. If we can have one more birthday—July 26—and one more summer I think we’ll all be happy.

One of the biggest joys with these four was their greeting to everyone, even when I took all four to the veterinarian. They have always been so full of love and life. But it would not surprise me if they all leave together. I know they love me, but they have spent far more time in their lives together as a group of four, not even with Mimi for some of the time. Our relationships with our animal companions are important to us, but their relationships with others are important to them and come first in their lives.

I love each of the four individually and also as a group, but I have always had a special love for Mewsette, sweet and gentle with enthusiastic affection and a vivid imagination. I knew early on that she would stay with me because she would seem distant to most people when I knew she needed her space just to be, like me. I always felt a kinship with her that I haven’t with another cat. She will not suffer, but she will be here as long as she feels is right for her.

You can read their origin story here: They Rescued Me

Going forward

I gave Mewsette her first dose of prednisolone on Tuesday early evening and about four hours later she was more mobile and even had a bowel movement with no problems, ate a good dinner, ate 3 oz of Weruva overnight and used the litterbox in the bathroom. But she was very sleepy on Wednesday morning and through the day, though she was awake and alert when food was mentioned.

black cat on white wicker chair
A good long nap.

She napped for almost three hours on a wicker chair in the shade in the garden in the morning, not moving at all then slowly resettling, so I guess things are still in process with the prednisolone. When we came inside she sat up with interest when she saw me with a chocolate chip cookie, so I gave her bits of it that had no chocolate at all, and a little sip of milk. She is such a joy, and totally unique.

By evening when I gave her her second dose, she was walking around the kitchen with balance, following me, sitting up for a treat, so I hope to continue to see some progress. It’s going to be a long summer, but I can do this.

I intend to start posting again on my regular schedule because that’s what pays the bills, and I miss it. I miss sharing even sad things like this with those of you who follow me. Weekly vendor shows start this weekend, now into October, and communicating with other people is the best way to fight isolation, both in-person and virtual communication. And I need the creative efforts to keep me feeling good, not to mention the aforesaid bill paying.

If you’d like to help us with the costs…

As always, if you would like to help me with veterinary costs, which will Giuseppe and Jelly Bean and their senior exams. Morty still needs prescription foods until I can get him back to the veterinarian for some blood tests so we can find out more about his particular condition, and all of them need to eat. I want to keep them all comfortable in whatever way is best for each cat.

  • Consider a Custom Pet Memorial Votive for yourself or a family member or friend. Remember that they don’t actually have to be memorials—a votive with someone’s pet on it while they are very much alive is also a nice custom gift!
  • Visit www.PortraitsOfAnimals.net. I will give you a coupon to shop with when you donate.
  • I am building a “One of a Kind Shop” on my website so that it’s easier to see exactly what handmade goods are available, like those keepsake boxes up at the top and all new votive lamps. I had hoped to have it set up by now, but things are taking a little longer than expected.
  • And consider even a small portrait of one or more of your fine felines.

If you have any questions, please let me know! And thanks for any help.

*Last summer Mr. Sunshine was diagnosed with a vaccine site sarcoma, an aggressive cancer, and only surgery to remove it and all the surrounding tissue, like his whole leg and even part of his abdomen, would save him. He was a good candidate so I started raising money, one of the ways was to contact organizations that will help with cost of surgery or treatment for cancer or just simply veterinary care if the pet will be euthanized otherwise.

One night two weeks before his surgery was scheduled I was working in earnest on the last-minute emergency pet care grants, through the night until dawn, Mr. Sunshine here on my desk, all the windows open to the cool night air. Somewhere around 3:00 a.m. a song sparrow suddenly sang its song twice. It sounded so loud in the absolute quiet of “the middle of the night.” I will usually hear other rustlings or bird sounds after that, but just the sparrow song. 20 minutes later, again. A diurnal bird species singing in the night usually means it’s in some danger, but I neither heard nor saw anything with my flashlight. In various interpretations it means various things depending on the timing. Early, you are getting a message you need to hear, usually positive, supporting. A little later it’s a loved one calling from across the veil. Still later, the darkest hour, it’s a call of death, a warning of loss. This came in that hour, but that wasn’t the message I perceived, I felt it was a clear and positive message about what I was working on and Mr. Sunshine’s prospects, telling me to keep going.

A week later when I checked the lump on his side, I couldn’t find it. It had seemed to be growing smaller but I thought it was my imagination. But I checked him all over and it was really not there, but I was still concerned. I called PVSEC to let them know the lump had changed to the point I couldn’t find it because sarcomas don’t just disappear. I got in there the day before his surgery was scheduled and the surgeon felt him over, looked at his images and took one more. There is just a rough spot there, and likely it was only a skin granuloma that had begun to swell, and they often develop into cancer.

A day or two after that night, a black butterfly with cobalt blue dots around the bottom of its lower wing, a red-spotted purple, flew over the house, over my head and glided into my overgrown vegetable garden and landed on a leaf, posing for several photos, then flitting from here to there, then too high for me to see. A butterfly symbolizes transformation and rebirth, of course, and often that means loss and change, as it did when I lost Lucy and met these wonderful kittens and their mom. But I still didn’t feel that Mr. Sunshine was losing his life, or that I was losing the life I have through the changes of his loss. The black and blue are a duality, even a choice, the earth and the sky, or the earth and the water. There is so much other symbolism in the butterfly and its colors, but from the very first diagnosis with Mr. Sunshine I knew it would turn out alright, however that would be defined, but with no loss or emotional pain, or even physical pain. It’s as if it was a test of my faith in my own intuition, which has always been a challenge for me. Kublai, my first black cat, has also visited in my yard as a red-spotted purple–he was black with pale blue-green eyes. I did not trust my intuition or skills when he was ill and fading away for a year, and I lost him. He forgave me, and continues to teach me. Twenty-six years later, I think I’ve passed my final test. I kept my faith in my intuitions about Mr. Sunshine. I wasn’t concerned that I didn’t have enough raised for his surgery, or that my house isn’t set up for him to recover. I gave it my best effort and understood.

 


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pastel sketch of black cat in sunshine
“Mewsette in Sun”, pastel on Fabriano Tiziani paper, 7″ x 9″ © B.E. Kazmarski

Mewsette lets the warm sun wash her back while she sits and simply looks lovely. Read more and purchase.



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Bernadette

From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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