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It is always a challenge for me to keep my stress under control. And it is very important that I do so for so many health reasons. Recent research shows how stroking a cat can reduce blood pressure, and having pets is healthful for the family.
I really believe this to be true, but the last couple of months in my house challenges these facts. Our 16 and a half year old cat was suffering from hyperthyroidism and kidney failure. We kept her going on expensive drugs for several years. The joke in our family was that this cat took more drugs then we did. She took an anti-thyroid pill, high blood pill, and Pepcid AC. Kidney failure in cats causes the high blood pressure and gastric problems. Her BUN or blood urea nitrogen was up to 75. I read that around 35 the cat has only 10% of her kidney function left. But this cat, Prissy, just kept on going like an energizer bunny.
But toward the end, it was increasingly difficult to get her to take her pills. If anyone has ever tried giving a cat a pill versus a dog it is a completely different task. Cats scratch and bite and won’t stand for it. So we had to mix it in food which worked for several years. In the end, Prissy had no appetite.
This was always a sign to me that the animal was near the end. The vet said that “I should not consider the cat living out her life until the end, because it involved too much suffering.” So we agonizingly decided to put Prissy to sleep. Anyone that has made these end of life decisions with a pet, knows how much stress is involved. We had Prissy cremated and she is back in her beloved house.
After that experience, I said, “No more cats.” I am a dog lover that had house cats for 22 years because they kept dropping them behind our house. And basically my husband and I love animals.
All this time that Prissy’s life was ending, a black cat was walking around the property tormenting our dog, Pepper. I paid it no attention. Finally, I wanted to find out if it was a feral (wild cat) and called kitty kitty. Of course the cat came to me, and started living on our front porch. I was hell bent to find the owner. I went all over the neighborhood. A plantation house in the park said they had a black cat and I packed it up and took it there. It wasn’t their cat. Now my husband and I had to decide whether to give it shots which we did. (I was really stressed out because the cat had bitten me) It was a 4 year old spayed female. I advertised in the paper. Low and behold, I found the owner. The cat had been gone 4 months and came from 3 miles away across two major highways.
The next day the owner came and the cat would not go to her. I had to hand her the cat and it ran off. It took us an hour to get the cat to come back and I decided to fling it in my car and call the owner to come get it. I got scratched up on that one.
Well, the owner came and took the cat home. Two days later, our neighbor said the cat was back on their porch. We were getting a new roof and it took a week of banging and pounding on our hill. The neighbor said she would feed the cat until the work was done. We also found out more information from the cat owner that basically the cat was not house trained and liked to be outside. My husband and I decided we missed the cat so much we would give it an outside home. But guess what? The cat won’t have anything to do with us. Doesn’t trust us anymore. Many times I saw it and called it and tried to cajole it up the hill to no avail. Now my stress level was rising because I didn’t have that cat. I was worried about the cold coming.
The absurd scene I found myself in several times was chasing the cat around the neighborhood calling and talking to it. It went into the storm drain. I stayed there an hour sitting in a ditch, leaning over the drain and trying to get the cat to come to me. Eventually I was sitting there crying. I told her that she could trust us. That we would give her a good home. That we would not send her home again. She kept meowing but would not budge.
To add to the stress, one of the neighbors has a fish pond and thinks this cat is eating his fish. So the pressure was on to get the cat out of his yard.
To this day, the cat is now homeless living across the street. The neighbor feeds her, and I supply the food since she has another cat. At this point, I doubted the cat would ever come back. But guess what. The cat found our garage to be a refuge on cold winter nights. However, if we come around, she runs off. I’m thinking of getting a pet heating pad for the garage. My friends think I’m nuts.
Meanwhile, our dog Pepper is adding to the stress again. When we had the roof done, we placed a lot of the back porch things in the dining room. Without our knowing it, she climbed on placed items to get to the high buffet where her dog bones were stored. She broke a huge glass canister and at the bones with some glass. Then she dragged the bottom piece of jagged glass to the family room where she sits behind a table in the sun. She’s lucky she didn’t have stomach bleed or a cut up tongue.
Then she got into some stored old dog food in the spare bathtub and ended up getting fluids for diarrhea and dehydration. The next week she ended up with a hot spot on her back and somehow got into macadamia nuts as evidenced by our afternoon walk.
In the midst of all this stress, I decided the dog should see a holistic vet. She never looked well. Never had a shiny coat and has back problems. The holistic vet recommended people food, so now I’m cooking for the dog. She eats turkey, yam and barley combination along with a probiotic, vitamins, and liver herbs. The vet said that she sees these kinds of problems in rescued dogs, because they are found on the verge of death, rehabilitated and then loaded up with vaccines before they are adopted. It takes a toll on their health. Pepper is nine now. We’re hoping this cooking for her will lengthen her life. As I write this, I think we might have masochistic tendencies.
Right before Christmas we needed to get new wall to wall carpeting thanks to Pepper. We barred her from the living room and that worked out well for weeks. However, the day before Christmas Eve my husband took a tumble over the barrier, and luckily didn’t end up in the hospital. Then Pepper inaugurated our new rug just in time for Christmas Eve.
Animal stress is getting to me. We could all use some peace around here! We’re hoping for some in the New Year, but we are resigned to the fact that animal lovers have no peace. Not in this house at least.
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