Watchful

Mimi is not well camouflaged.
Mimi is not well camouflaged.

A year ago at this time Mimi was very ill, and we couldn’t determine the reason why. I have been remembering this as the spring has come in, watching the light change in the kitchen and visiting the back yard with Mimi when we can, that last year at this time there was a very good chance I might lose her. Scrolling through photos of that time, outside in the sunshine and greening grass, inside with the array of medications and extra pureed food and syringe for feeding, I do not forget that a loved one can turn from health to loss in no time at all, and never to ignore even the smallest outward signs, or the inward voice.

To say I am thankful that she is still with me is a great understatement. I celebrate how I feel about Mimi among all the cats, mostly her children, and make no secret how I feel. At one time in my life I’ve had cautions about letting those feelings be known, afraid they’d be recognized and that which I loved would be taken away out of some sort of spite from the universe. I learned to let those fears go and wear my heart on my sleeve as it were, celebrating through my inspirations.

But last April it seemed I was being mocked in that and almost felt responsible for bringing on Mimi’s condition with that very outward celebration of my feelings for her. We had no idea what the condition was but the options were not good, especially when, through not eating for no reason we could find, she began to lose weight and then fears of dehydration and hepatic lipidosis after days of not eating much, days of vomiting and then not eating at all the knowledge that her body could cross a line that would not permit a return to recovery.

I had been watching, through March last year, that she kind of dawdled around with meals, especially breakfast, leaving to go look out a window as I served, coming back to nibble, then leaving, coming back after everyone else was done, not finishing her meal. I tracked this on my tablet of notes in the kitchen, trying to find a pattern. She insists on going outside each day and I began taking her outside even before I fed everyone breakfast, thinking perhaps she just wanted a taste of the outdoors so badly that she wasn’t even hungry. But then the vomiting started, just a little liquid and foam, but several times a day, and it was clear it was something internal, she would not starve herself simply to go outdoors. By the beginning of April she had quit eating altogether.

I had kept in touch with our veterinarian for a couple of weeks, and we tried various types of feeding  but decided on a deadline if she did not eat. A trip to the emergency hospital gave us a look at xrays and blood tests that were inconclusive and not very promising, and medications that didn’t really work, and we discussed IBD, lymphoma and other cancers. I balanced syringe feeding her with medication to stop her vomiting, and doses of sub-q fluids, and even more important than usual, visits outdoors. Watching the spring arrive filled with worry about her condition and upcoming tests and treatments I found it hard to believe that my best companion, my vital and loving Mimi, might be living her last days with me. Even my watching and tracking symptoms hadn’t been able to head this off by catching it in time.

It’s never too far from my mind that her daughter Lucy died of feline infectious peritonitis, and there is possibly a genetic link to the disease’s mutation from feline enteric coronavirus. FIP doesn’t always manifest as effusive FIP with fluids collecting in the abdomen or chest cavity as they did with Lucy, but sometimes with milder symptoms or the dry form of FIP which can be treated for sometimes years. Many symptoms of FIP are non-specific and mimic other illnesses, and there is no real test. The question, the possibility was there, but no way to find out for sure.

After daily conversations about her condition and some odd things I’d seen about the way she ate and swallowed, my veterinarian decided to go with a course of low dose steroids and high grade antibiotics and daily fluids on the chance she had some inflammation or a deep infection further down her throat, since all her teeth and her mouth and tongue were fine; when in doubt, treat the symptoms and look for changes. The vomiting stopped, I continued to syringe feed, then she began eating and drinking on her own, catching up with where she’d been. After two weeks blood tests showed all was close to normal, then later that she was in fine shape and the intestinal biopsy scheduled for May was cancelled because she was returned to good enough health that the biopsy wouldn’t likely find anything. I would keep watch for any sign of recurrence.

And so I have, and saw no signs of recurrence in the months following. This year as spring rolled around again her appetite began to waver and she again headed off into another room and looked out the window or asked to go out the door in the morning, and to sleep in the basement. Considering it might be a seasonal issue I talked with Dr. Michelle about some of the herbs we keep on hand for wellness and support, the whole body wellness immune support combinations as well as one called “Three Seeds” which helps support felines in many conditions, especially upper respiratory. This has helped my fosters through URIs and herpes flare ups, and helped Basil with his asthma symptoms. I gave her the support combination tablets and added Three Seeds to her food, and any sign of a wavering appetite have disappeared. Mimi still wants to go outside each morning, but she doesn’t miss her breakfast, and she does wander off to another room now and then, but sometimes eating a meal with six other cats is just more than she wants to deal with. Instead of eating on the floor, she more often eats on the cabinet between her daughter Mewsette and her favorite foster, Bella, reminding me of when she became “one of the girls” with Peaches, Co0kie and Kelly, and later ate between Cookie and Kelly. Her appetite is strong. And she is always with me, a good sign.

Mimi eats between Mewsette and Bella.
Mimi eats between Mewsette and Bella.

Knowing this condition is there, whether it’s an allergy or the seasonal nature is just a coincidence, I will always keep watch. Mimi is 12 or 13 now, and had a rough early life and came in with signs of IBD, though they are rarely a problem. The homemade raw diet suits her well, as it does all the others in the house. But I will never take their wellness for granted, always take note of any aberrations in their eating and litterbox habits, and always remember how close I came to losing Mimi, and others too in the past.

And a year later I am still grateful for the generosity of all those who donated money for Mimi’s care. The other frightening part of it all was that I might lose her simply because I couldn’t afford the tests and medications, especially when we had to keep looking for other possibilities.

Mimi looking imperious again.
Mimi looking imperious again.

It’s National Poetry Month and I’ve been reading Rumi lately. I pulled my copy of Coleman Barks’s translations of Rumi’s poems entitled The Glance: Songs of Soul Meeting, “the glance,” this mystical experience that occurs in the meeting of the eyes of the lover and the beloved, parent and child, friend and soul mate, a theme in Rumi’s poetry. From The Glance, a portion of the poem “What is the Heart”:

What is the heart? It is not human
and it is not imaginary. I call it

you…



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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


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© 2020 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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© 2016 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski
Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!
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Bernadette

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

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