Category Archives: Coolidge

How soon is it thinkable to replace your faithful feline companion when he or she passes on?

001Coolidge (1998-2015)

p1020095Effie (b. 2014)

Our shy and amazing Coolidge came home with us when he was nine weeks old. We wanted just one kitten, so he was separated from his sister. When I realized how shy Coolidge was—he let me know by hiding in desk drawers, which he did by pushing them open from behind, and then somehow pulling them closed—I regretted separating him from moxie little Sasha, his litter mate and protectress.

The Pet Protectors had rescued a litter of kittens from a feral pride, in a field behind a travel agency. They had named our little kitty Romanov, presumably because he looked like a Russian Blue. We renamed him Coolidge, after the presidential tradition of Garfield, selecting Coolidge among the presidents because he didn’t say much.

When we brought him home, Coolidge made a beeline for cover under the bed. I got down and extended a treat to him with my hand, and he deftly took it. But he wasn’t coming out.

We waited a few hours, and my husband put his hand on Coolidge’s back, and gently pulled him forward till I could pick him up. Coolidge looked terrified, but snuggled into my arms. He seemed to feel safe enough with us, but hesitated to leave the safety of the bedroom. I coaxed, and finally carried Coolidge into the kitchen and showed him a bowl of kitten kibbles. He ate them. I put him on the litter box we had prepared, optimistic that we would come home with a kitten. He knew what to do.

Coolidge had one more family member to meet: Hardy, our then 12-year-old Shetland sheepdog. They established a mutual tolerance and non-persecution compact.

We successfully persuaded Coolidge that he was too precious to go outdoors, and he never pushed the issue. The outdoors had been only trouble in his first two months of life. For one thing, he had contracted lungworm, which took close to a month to resolve with medication.

It was a month before Coolidge ventured into the dining room, but as he grew, he explored more. When he was two years old, he broke one of his hocks on a routine prowling mission. We suspect he incurred the injury prowling the rafters of the basement ceiling. The vet put a cast on his leg, with instructions to keep him confined to a cage, with no running or jumping, for 10 weeks.

My husband built a large cage for him with wood and light fence wire. Coolidge wasn’t happy, but he wasn’t as morose as I expected he might become. His quarters were in the living room, where I could spend a lot of time with him. I made an advent calendar to check off the days of our kitty’s captivity, and hung it on his enclosure.

Coolidge became diabetic when he was eight years old. He hated tinned food and would eat only kibbles, which are high-carb. I joined the Feline Diabetes Board online and learned how to treat Coolidge’s diabetes and how to cope with the sorrow of his compromised life. I checked his glucose and administered his insulin shots twice a day for the next nine years.

For the last two years of his life, Coolidge also had hyperthyroid, and I treated that as well. Then, at 17, chronic renal failure struck. There is no surviving it. Coolidge lived to be 17, which is exceptional for a cat with his health issues. He was never over-strong; he simply had people with a never-never-never-never-give-up ethos.

Coolidge surrendered his vitality on God’s time, without euthanasia, at home in my arms, on August 13, 2015, at 3:45 in the morning.  It was peaceful and awful at the same time. I held him through his throes. My husband built a wooden casket for our amazing cat of 17 years, and we put him in the ground in our small orchard. That was when I finally cried.

I called our vet when his office opened to let him know, and we commended each other for Coolidge’s good care over the rigorous years. But I had a question, and it was hard to ask, because I thought it would seem terrible. But I had to ask. I called our vet again at 4:30 in the afternoon. “Dr. A, I have never slept in this house without a cat!” (We had moved here five years earlier, when Coolidge was 12.) “I don’t think I can! Would it be horrible to get another cat right away?”

Our vet was not judgmental, but reassuring. “Sometimes it can be very healing to get another cat right away,” he said kindly.

My husband agreed. I called the pet shop that hosts select pets for the Animal Shelter. They had two kitties: a small, sickly male kitten; and a small, pretty, healthy, young, active, year-old spayed female Tabby, who less than half an hour later was ours! We named her Euphemia, Effie for short.

And no regrets!

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Filed under Action & Being, Animals, Cats, Coolidge, Effie, Photos

Effie’s New Frontier: Explored, found wanting, and for now abandoned

Our late cat Coolidge never had his teeth cleaned, nor was I willing to subject him to such a trauma, until he was 15. His teeth were all in place and found to be without decay, with some tartar. My diabetic 15-year-old Coolidge survived my worst anxiety, the anesthesia. I still felt my now former vet showed poor judgment. I simply do not believe it was worth the risk.

Effie is 19 months old, and her breath is sweet and her sharp teeth are white. I thought, and confirmed with our vet’s tech, that it would be good to start getting her accustomed to having her teeth brushed. Even just twice a year would likely waylay the necessity later in life of anesthetized cleaning by the vet. I thought it was worth a try, though I still harbor the observation that cats have lived long and prospered without ever undergoing the trial of having their teeth brushed.

Nevertheless, I dutifully picked up this  kitty dental kit at Petco today–finger and handle brushes so she has a choice, and chicken-flavored toothpaste.

Praise God Effie doesn’t hold grudges. She does, however, make her preferences clear. She also has a way of communicating that she is appalled with my incomprehensively insulting suggestion, and it must be retracted at once and never repeated. Acknowledged. Purina is not likely to make kibbles that will destroy a cat’s ability to eat kibbles. Effie eats both kibbles and a high-protein, low-carb tinned food.

Who wants to see a grin without a cat anyway?

P1010467 An idea whose time evidently has gone, at least until symptoms demand its return.

P1010468I cannot believe you would demonstrate such misapprehension of my sensibilities. . . !

P1010473Human, human, thy name is so Mud.

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Coolidge: A Tribute

Coolidge lived a life of protected luxury and taxing health challenges for the 17 years we were blessed to enjoy his company and inspiration. He inspired my two volumes of poetry, Glamorgan’s Tales and Glamorgan: He Who Would Be Cat. He was the inspiration behind my first blog, Mrs. B and the Cat, that I started in 2006; it morphed in 2007 to Oikos mou, and finally this blog in 2010, when we moved from Puget Sound to the Palouse. Coolidge was on board through the entire journey, until his passing four weeks ago, on August 13, 2015, at 3:45 in the morning, in my arms, from advanced renal failure.

Coolidge was diabetic for the past nine years. Every day of those years, at 6:30 AM and 6:30 PM, I tested his glucose and gave him an appropriate dose of insulin. He developed hyperthyroid, a very sinister condition for cats, in his seventh diabetic year. I put methimazole cream in his ear twice a day.

When he first became diabetic in 2006, he developed hepatic lipidosis and needed a feeding tube for nine weeks. He yanked it out so many times we quit taking him to the vet’s ER. My husband simply stitched the tube back in place when Coo pulled it out. After all, our cat could not know the tube was where his belly snacks came from. I cooked chicken breasts, pulverized them in a food grinder, and syringed the food into the feeding tube six times a day. Coolidge wore a body sock, supposedly to secure the tube. We called him Coodini, for his way of slipping off the sock so cleverly over his head.

Y2K wasn’t Coolidge’s best year, either. He was two, and he somehow broke his hock on a routine indoor prowling mission. A veterinary orthopedist operated and put his foot in a cast for 10 weeks. He had to remain in a kennel cage in the house to keep from running, jumping, or using the stairs. I put an advent calendar up on his cage so I could better stand my poor cat’s captivity. It wasn’t much help.

Coolidge was born into a feral pride behind a travel agency on Vashon Island, Washington. Once rescued, Coolidge was always an indoor cat. I had promised his rescuers, the Vashon Island Pet Protectors heroines, that we would not subject him to the hazards of the outdoors, and we kept our word. He had lungworm and a hernia from a raccoon gash when he was rescued at four weeks. He was the sort of kitten I could dedicate my life to keeping safe.

He wasn’t always cooperative. But a ripe age and natural causes, as horrible as renal failure is, presented God’s challenging assignments in a gracious light, and we were given the motivation to take up each new challenge.

Coolidge was a trooper and an unforgettable companion. He’s a hard act to follow. But little spritely Effie is taking up Coolidge’s charge as her peoples’ champion. I adore her to pieces. She’s no replacement–she’s the Cat of the House. God’s mercy astounds me.

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Coolidge: The end of an era

Coo BW

Coolidge

1998 Boy Cat Swing & Swat Champion of the World

June 2, 1998 – August 13, 2015

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