This one is for the surprisingly large number of my blog readers who have sent inquiries about the health of Sugar, Cathy’s and my cat, following her near-death experience late last year. The rest of you can proceed about your business…
Sugar bounced back amazingly after the acute kidney infection was treated and seemed like she’d shed a few years off her age. But it’s clear from her blood work that she has compromised kidney function and we were advised to do regular subcutaneous hydration if we wanted to keep her alive.
It took us a while to work out an M.O. for this, and at first our frequency was spotty. But hydrations about twice a week are now part of the routine, and Sugar tolerates them very well. She’s still eager to jump onto Cathy’s lap in her office chair and become a relaxed cat-puddle there, despite the fact that every few days or so this results in a whacking big hydration needle being poked through the loose skin behind her neck. (Cathy does the insertion with her right hand, holding the cat in place with her left; I work the valve below the hydration bag.)
Sugar will squawk indignantly when the needle goes in, but is then pretty compliant for about 7 or 8 minutes after, which typically allows us to get about a unit and a half of fluid into her. Eventually she decides she’s had enough, at which point she starts seriously squirming to get out from under Cathy’s hand and I know it’s time to shut the valve. Cathy lets go, she jumps off Cathy’s lap in a huff…and ten minutes later she’s back to purring at us as per normal.
It would still be hard for anyone who didn’t know it to guess that Sugar is an ancient with kidney trouble. She’s still bright-eyed, active, curious, and very outgoing to our guests. She seemed to be gradually losing weight for a while, which is a bad sign in an elderly cat, but that’s reversed in the last couple weeks – she’s gained a pound or two, maybe, and has a healthier layer of fat over her ribs and spine than she did in late spring. Our vet thought she was looking fine at her last examination.
Sugar is now about 6 months shy of being 20 years old. It looks like she’ll make it to 20 in style. Every day is a blessing – she was curled up against my bare right foot in my desk pigeonhole while I wrote most of this, half-asleep and tribbling contentedly to herself.
We know the clock can’t be turned back. If heart failure or a stroke doesn’t kill her, the day will come when Sugar has deteriorated so much that the last gift we can give her is a painless death. But that day is not today, and doesn’t look like it’s coming soon. Sugar continues to amaze us with her fortitude and delight us with a heart as big as all outdoors.