Cats · My Thoughts

Jesse, My Geriatric Cat: How We Love Him!

Jesse, playing with my shoe

Jesse, my 19-year-old cat (92 years old in human years) has become an elderly cat, or according to cat websites, geriatric. I watch him and wonder about how much longer I will have him with me. I have learned to treat an older cat has many moving parts.

How old is your cat in people years? Jesse is 19 years old!

Now, every morning when we get up, Lin and I wonder if Jesse has survived the night. If he’s asleep somewhere, we check to see if he’s still breathing—both of us know the evitable is coming!

As a Siamese Silver Tip, predicts Jesse could live to 20 years old—one more year.

That’s hard to think about!

I found out in April 2016; he had feline diabetes, so we tried to manage it with a special cat food. That worked until August 2017, but we had to start daily insulin shots because of his high glucose numbers. The outrageous cost of the insulin shocked me, but his veterinarian convinced me Jesse had to have it, and immediately his numbers decreased. Over the years, we’ve increased the shot to twice daily and to three units of insulin each time. It has been at that dosage for a couple of years.

Last year, Jesse’s veterinarian put him on Cosequin because he walked on his full hind legs, and it looked painful. Early in his diagnosis of feline diabetes, the vet thought the diabetes had caused a type of arthritis in his hind legs. What a difference that medication has made. In fact, Lin and I looked into taking it ourselves, but it’s expensive! After he takes it, Jesse immediately walks upright on his back paw.

So, Jesse had done really well for six years with the care I was giving him, but at the beginning of this year, his vomiting got out of control—eight times in a little over a week. Cats with feline diabetes have a problem with vomiting.

Jesse hates traveling now! He used to do really well and accompanied me to southeastern Colorado any time I went. When I took him to his vet in Albuquerque in November 2021, he vomited and had a bowel movement in his carrier on the way to the office, so what a mess we had when we arrived. Thank God for the assistant who cleaned him up and his carrier, but right then, I decided that was his last trip to town.

When Jesse saw the Albuquerque vet the last time, she asked me to monitor his food because he had gained too much weight—he was up to 18.4 pounds. We wanted him at 15—16. We both laughed about it because this weight gain came during the pandemic, like most people in the world. Before, I fed him whatever he would eat in a day—no measurement. So, I measured out 2/3 cups of food daily. Whine, whine, whine—meow, meow, meow! But I stuck to it, mostly.

So, I found a new veterinarian near us here in the east mountains. Again, he messed the carrier, but not as bad as the twenty-mile trip to Albuquerque. The new vet did a complete geriatric workup on him. He had a potassium deficiency, which she thought was causing the excessive vomiting, but his diabetes was under control. Whew! What I worry about is kidney failure because of the diabetes. So, the new vet prescribed a potassium gel to put on his food.

It worked well for a month or so, then he stopped eating the food with the gel on it. So, I tried spreading it around on his food, but the way I did it, the food clumped together, and he wouldn’t eat the clumps. I gave into his whining and meowing and gave him more of his allotted food for the day, just glad he was eating because he had stopped eating all together. The next morning, the clumps remained in his bowl. Frustrating for sure! And the vomiting started up again, so I worked harder at spreading the gel around and forcing him to eat the clumps. I was semi-successful.

Last week, I went to southeastern Colorado for ranch business, and Lin took care of Jesse. He came up with a fantastic system. First, he measures out about a third of the food into Jesse’s bowl in the morning. Next, he meticulously measures out a little more than ½ teaspoon of gel. Then he takes one piece of cat food and dips it into the gel. After that, he puts it in the bowl and spreads the gel around. He continues with individual pieces of cat food until the measured gel is gone.

A stand off between Jesse and Lin!
A stand off between Jesse and Lin!

Jesse rebelled at first, refusing to eat the food with the gel, but Lin outlasted his meow-fest. Each day, Lin would report to me with laughter about how upset Jesse was with this new system, but it has worked. When Jesse eats the treated food, then Lin gives him the rest of the food. He hasn’t vomited in eleven days!

So, now that I’m home, I’ve had to adhere to the plan and not cave in and give him more food when he refuses to eat the treated food. So far, so good!

Jesse has a loving spirit and looks forward to each night we watch TV. The pandemic spoiled him with us being home so much. He crawls up on the arm of my side of the loveseat, ready for the evening. After I sit down, he crawls into my lap and stays there for the rest of the evening—so satisfied.

Jesse assists me in my Quiet Time
Jesse assists me in my Quiet Time

In the morning, Jesse snuggles close to me during my Quiet Time reading and writing and sometimes tries to assist me!

In the morning, after his shot, he curls up in a favorite sunbeam somewhere nice and warm. During the last few winter months, Lin has kept a fire going in our wood-burning stove and Jesse sleeps either in front of it or beside it—the warmest place in the house.

Jesse investigates his toys!
Jesse investigates his toys!

Finally, a geriatric cat of 19 years is old, yet Jesse still likes to play with his toys and be with Lin and me. For now, we’ve figured out the moving parts, the system to take care of him. I love him dearly and look forward to more days, weeks and months with him—maybe years!

Do you have a cat? A geriatric cat? How do you deal with his treatment?

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Cats · My Thoughts

Do You Own a Pet?

My pet, Jesse with a Christmas bow
Last Christmas, Jesse with a bow!

The answer for me is a resounding “Yes.” I rescued a Siamese silver tip cat ten years ago, and his name is Jesse. At the time, I was going through a divorce from my third husband. We had a dog I loved, and the Ex got the dog, so I yearned for a pet.

Petless, I floundered. Friends said I needed to get a cat instead of a dog because I traveled a lot and they’re easier to leave. One afternoon, one of my colleagues who pushed this idea repeatedly, called me and said, “Where are you?”

“I’m leaving a training and will be back at the office in about thirty minutes.”

She proclaimed, “Your cat is here!”

When I got there, she ushered me out a side door outside, and I saw this compassionate lady’s work: she had food and water out. She lured the cat with treats out of the bushes, and I was smitten.

The night before I had left the office late after doing a teacher’s training, and as I closed my door, I heard that eerie Siamese cry. I stopped to see where it was coming from, but it stopped, so I went home. I guess it was this cat.

But wait a minute! As an adult, I had never owned a cat! I was a dog person! I have had dogs my whole adult life—a cat??

We admired this sad, scared animal. She urged me, “Take him home tonight!”

My immediate response, “No, way! I’ve got to think about it,” so I went home catless, and felines ran through my dreamed all night.

After my restless night, I succumbed the next day, and this enthusiastic cat lady helped me buy a litter-box, scoop and cat food, and home I went with my new companion. I named him, Jesse, a name I was almost given as a child.

After he settled down and l examined him, I realized he had recently been cared for and wasn’t a stray. I waited until Saturday and took him to VetCo to see if he was chipped. He was! The veterinarian called the chip place, got the owner’s name and called them, then they called me and relinquished ownership of him to me! Jesse was officially mine.

Over the years, Jesse has been an angel for sure. He has made me laugh. He used to like to do late night antics after the lights went out like throwing my shoes around the bedroom and walking all over me.

Since Lin and I married, he’s not allowed in the bedroom because Lin has cat allergies, so needless to say, Jesse doesn’t wake me up with those crazy cat behaviors, but he loves to meow first thing in the morning! Lin and Jesse have a meow fest to start the day!

At first, Jesse wasn’t a lap kitty which I preferred, but I had shoulder surgery in 2012, and his instinct told him I needed extra love and care, so now he takes up residence in my lap anytime I’m relaxing in front of the TV, and I love it. In fact, he’s such a habitual kitty, he parks himself on the arm of our loveseat in anticipation of TV time.

In 2015, Jesse was diagnosed with feline diabetes. He was so sick at the time. Normally he weighed around 20 pounds—fat cat, but he lost down to 13 pounds! At first, we changed his food to diabetic cat food and that helped some, but then the vet added insulin and now has increased the dosage to 3 units twice a day.

Jesse loves our Christmas tree and hides under it whenever he can. After I add gifts under there, he gingerly steps over the packages to get out of his hiding place.

As Lin and I prepared for future travel plans next year, I texted my pet sitter about watching him. She is so conscientious about Jesse’s care. She related her concern about me leaving him during the winter with the possibility of a snowstorm and her not able to get him his insulin shot! Wow! So, we’re coming up with contingency plans. What an awesome pet sitter for sure!

My pet, Jesse relaxing
Jesse Curled Up & Sleeping!

I love this 16-year-old senile fat cat! He’s gained up to over 16 pounds now, and we have managed his diabetes. He’s aging before my eyes, sleeps curled up in a favorite place and moves slower. He loves the sunshine and follows it wherever it is during the morning. In the morning, I make sure I’ve given him his shot before he trudges upstairs to the loft to find his beam of sunshine. Often in the evening, Jesse meows at me like “It’s time for my insulin.” I wonder–does he know?

He’s just precious! I’m a committed pet owner through and through!

What are your feelings about pets? Cats? Dogs?

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