Elliott

A week ago, I realized that Elliott was ill. First, he became very vocal. He followed me around meowing and looking at me expectantly. Soon I saw that he was frequenting his litter box with no results. It was Saturday afternoon and our vet’s office was closed so off we go, to Elliott’s chagrin, to the Emergency Vet Hospital. After several hours, an ultra sound and x-rays it was determined that he had a urinary problem. Duh.

They were unable to get urine for a test, but sent him home with antibiotics and pain medication. The fight was on. No amount of begging, force or tuna fish could get the meds down Elliott. He continued to struggle to pee and seemed pretty uncomfortable until Monday morning when we went to our own vet.

Here they were able to extract urine for a test. They found a small amount of blood, but no crystals which were expected. As we awaited the results of a urine culture we tried different antibiotics and still he would not take them. . . not forcefully, not disguised in food. Surprisingly he improved and started to void almost normally.

On Thursday the vet called to say there was no bacteria and not to worry about giving him the antibiotic. Well, Elliott had already made that decision on his own! After a long discussion with the vet we decided that his problem was stress due to the grief of losing Zoe, his housemate, a couple of weeks ago.

I knew that Elliott was a lover. He spends a lot of time on my lap and sleeps with me every night. I did not realize the bond that he had with Zoe. He always followed her around, but I, and she I think, believed it was more stalking than affection. She would hiss at him and he’d leave her alone for a bit. Now I think I was wrong. Elliott misses Zoe and the stress affected his urinary system which is not uncommon for cats.

So, here I am, almost $700 later with a sensitive boy missing his girl.

Zoe
Elliott

Post from Elliott

Hi Readers,

My name is Elliott Mattingly. You may have heard of me, I’m pretty famous or is it “infamous” that I hear so often?  https://crookedcreek.live/2018/01/13/cats  

My Human (a.k.a. Sue) likes to make fun of my butt. I resent it and I do not know how to get even with her. If I could talk I’d tell her that her butt is big, too. Since I can’t talk, I’ve been searching and searching for a way to get her back. I could puke as Zoe does but I’m too refined for that although I do enjoy watching the Human clean it up. 

img_8695
See? My butt isn’t so big!

I do everything that I can to keep in shape and she knows it because look at the photos she takes. She must think I’m pretty good looking, but still she has to mention my almost 22# weight and my big butt. 

I decided to steal her blog for this entry. Never mind how I learned to type, but can’t talk, just work with me here. My diabolical plan to really get even with her is something I did learn from Zoe. Zoe can never be caught to go to the vet. I don’t know why she doesn’t want to go, but that’s her problem. I’ve seen how upset the Human gets trying to catch her so I decided that could work for me. 

Last week we had an appointment with our nice vets at the Shelbyville Rd. Animal Clinic. When the carrier appeared I ran under the king-sized bed and the human looked so ridiculous trying to get under there for me. She begged, pleaded really for some time, then she got mad and demanded I come out. I just sat and looked at her, licking . . . well, I won’t say where. I was quite pleased when I heard her calling the vet to reschedule. I tried to catch the date for the next appointment but wasn’t able to hear it. I’d just have to be on the lookout for that carrier to reappear. 

And today it did! I retreated under the big bed again and we went through the whole scenario from last week. I am good! Or so I thought listening to yet another call to cancel and reschedule. This could be fun for a long time! Zoe watched the whole thing and I’m pretty sure she was impressed and taking notes. 

img_6388
Zoe

So things got quiet for a while and I thought the Human must have left the premises so I wandered out to hop onto my window seat to watch the birds outside. I jumped, but instead of landing on my target two big human hands caught me midair and before I knew it I was in the carrier! No amount of crying and cussing made any difference, we were in the car and backing out of the garage so fast it made me dizzy. 

img_6067

I’m back home now and a little embarrassed at the scene I made. Dr. Patterson was so nice and I really enjoyed the exam and care, but the best news was that I have lost almost two pounds! It was worth all the fuss and bother to get that news. I knew the Human was jealous because she never has even a pound to celebrate! 

“Time spent with cats is never wasted.” Sigmund Freud

Cat Cafes

Have You Heard?

One of the brightest ideas for a new business has to be the “cat cafes” that have sprung up in many cities. Some are coffee joints. Others serve light food menus. The thing they all have in common is cats! These businesses are in partnership with feline adoption agencies. Cats and kittens are available for petting and holding and bonding, which is really the idea. 

Since I already own two cats I’m almost afraid to walk into one of these establishments. How about you? Have any of you readers had any experiences with cat cafes? If so, I’d love to hear about it. 

Thanks!

IMG_0466
ELLIOTT ~ 11 Y/O

IMG_3577
ZOE ~ 14 Y/O

 

“The ideal of calm exists in a sitting cat.”

                Jules Renard

 

 

 

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

Russian People

st-petersburg-2066974_1280

Women 

While in Russia I met many interesting people. There were men who were bus drivers and pastors and volunteers, but it was some of the women who I really felt that I got to know. The interpreter, Natasha (yes, really, Natasha) was a beautiful young woman in her early twenties. She never lost patience with my questions and never seemed to tire of explaining what it was like to be Russian. She was proud of her country and especially that unlike when she was young, now she has the opportunity to meet travelers from all over the world.

Then there was Maria who was about thirty or so, it was very hard to tell because she wore a scarf that appeared to cover a shaved head. Her five-year-old son, Eugenia, was with her. He was wearing undershorts and a soiled button up shirt. After talking with her through Natasha for a couple of days, I learned of her sad history.

She said that she had been born and raised in the Islamic tradition, but was no longer sure of that status. Her mother died when she was a child and her husband and father were both recently deceased and she had no “papers” to prove that she was a citizen. The government had taken her father’s apartment and she was left without a home or income. She and Eugenia had been living in a cemetery for weeks at this point with some food provided by a friend. She was looking for work and offered to clean the church (Central Baptist of St. Petersburg, membership of 1,200) for food for her son.

There were many older women who dutifully cleaned the church, so there was no work there for Maria. They were caring, giving women who had little to give, but soon though, Maria and her son had clothes and food and a few other necessities. There were those who offered to help her in trying to obtain the papers necessary for livelihood. I had no way of knowing the outcome for Maria and Eugenia. I look at their photos and wonder what their lives are like today.

Unfortunately, there was another group of women in Russia who worked in what some call the “oldest profession,” prostitution. Apparently many women were all over the country trying to live by selling intimate services. Below is one of the cards left throughout the hotel where I stayed. This is not a profession. And, it is not a choice many women make other than out of necessity. Based upon recent news from Moscow, the situation has not changed for this population of Russian women. 

fullsizeoutput_1694

Apartments/Schools

In St. Petersburg it seemed that everyone lived in an apartment. I saw no private homes, although I am sure there were some grand ones for those high up in the government, mafia members and others with access to wealth. 

I walked through an apartment complex that must have housed at least a thousand residences. There were no sidewalks, simply paths through the knee-high grass. There was a school that could only be identified by a couple of crude pieces of playground equipment, otherwise, the school looked like another apartment building. 

I visited a couple from Kentucky who lived in a ninth floor apartment and the elevator was out of service. I was rewarded by seeing a mama cat and her kittens living on the seventh-floor landing, making the climb work the effort. 

qVSkzCxaSL+ExCy+AKfaAg

Pushkin stock-vector-vector-portrait-alexander-pushkin-471393209

Alexander Pushkin was a poet and playwright who lived from 1799-1837 in St. Petersburg. There was a little town named after him and I was fortunate enough to be able to visit not only the park-like village but also a small hospital there. The facility looked more like a US nursing home of years ago. The beds were small and uncomfortable looking. Many of the patients who chatted away in Russian with clueless visitors looked old but it may have been due more to life conditions than chronological age.

One thing that I will never forget in that hospital was a very large printed, framed portrait of our then current US President, William J. Clinton.

Part 4 of 6

Theme graphic in title by Pixabay

Springtime Walk

Back to the Park

For various reasons, some more important than others, I have not been to the Parklands to walk for a long time. Mostly it’s just that during the winter months I’m a wimp about the cold temperatures and it seems that spring has been a long time coming here in Kentucky. Finally this past weekend the temperature was just right and I returned to Pope Lick Park, my favorite along Floyd’s Fork. Other areas of the Parklands are more elaborate and have very interesting features, but Pope Lick is more wild in places and more intimate, except for the soccer fields, but the walk around them illustrates kids and adults interacting in the most positive ways. Whether a team or family event, the atmosphere is competition at its best. 

The Walk

As I began my walk I eagerly looked forward to the signs of spring, but they were not as abundant as expected. Most trees had tiny tender leaves springing forth. There were signs of wildlife, but I saw only a few birds. I did document the extensive work of the resident woodpecker population.  The grass was mostly green, but there were dried grasses all along the trails. 

The further I ventured, the more interesting finds, including some of my favorites. There were cattails shedding like cats, mushrooms living well on dead trees and a sure sign of springtime, May apples. 

The 1.5 mile walk revealed very few wild flowers, or perhaps they are weeds, but they bloomed nevertheless. I wasn’t disappointed, but a little letdown that springtime was not waiting there for me as I had anticipated. 

The Encounter

Then I spotted a tree that was apparently very glad to see me!

2wKqJX2iTkGgAiHO38PeBQ

Cats Again!

Zoe & Elliott

A few weeks ago in Cats 3 post, I made the following statement:  “In these almost ten years of cohabitation, I’m unable to find one photo of Zoe and Elliott together.”

https://crookedcreek.live/2018/01/17/cats-3/

Those of you familiar with small children may know that they often make a liar out of their parents. When Mom or Dad says the child will not do such and so, the child will immediately do that. 

It seems my cats are no different. After all these years of not lying or sitting near each other, I now have about a dozen photos of them doing just that. Here are a few, just to finish their story. 

 

Cats 4

Trips to the Vet

fullsizeoutput_126e  Zoe

Taking Zoe to the vet has become increasingly difficult. Part of that may be that I now must do it alone, but the biggest factor is her fear of enclosure. She is quick to sense that something is up. It makes me wonder what she may have endured in her first year of life before she was given up for adoption. I learned long ago to not let her see the carrier ahead of time or she would hide where it is impossible to reach her. Currently, she escapes under the king sized bed and holds her ground right in the middle where not even the longest human arms could retrieve her.

Version 2

After doing some Online research I ordered a “Cat Bag” to transport her in an effort to help her feel more secure. It has a long zipper and adjustable velcro at the neck. A soft handle in the middle allows carrying the cat snugly in the bag. She said, “You’re kidding, right?” and the chase was on.  

She weighs less than ten pounds, but the total package consists of amazing speed, terrorizing screams and four paws equipped with dagger claws. Now almost twelve years old, Zoe is behind in vet visits for the first time. We are waiting each other out and I’m pretty sure who will win. Yes, the one with the claws.

fullsizeoutput_1227  Elliott

Elliott couldn’t run away if he wanted to. I simply pick him up and stuff him into his larger size carrier. Simple, until I start to carry the carrier! Really, I’m capable of carrying twenty-two pounds. I carry heavier bags of cat food and litter, however, those packages do not shift. Elliott cries half-heartedly as he moves from one end of the carrier to the other, keeping me off balance as I carry him.

ExuBnM1iT56bsYc8IYDh+w

With each annual trip to the vet, it becomes increasingly more difficult. The staff always sees my challenge and offers to help me get him back to the car, but I need to demonstrate that women (and senior women at that) can handle any job we accept. He is my cat. I can carry my cat. I always pray they are not watching my retreat wobbling to the car. 

I have a plan for Elliott’s next outing. We will meet the challenge.

fullsizeoutput_125c

 

Bottom Line

Zoe, Elliott and I are all seniors. We understand each other. We need each other. We love each other. We know that, one at a time, we will conclude our stay on this spinning orb, but for now, the three of us are making one another happy day by day.

 

So now you know that adopting a cat (or any pet) is a big responsibility. You probably knew that already, but thank you for reading about my life with Zoe and Elliott. I hope you have pets you love as much. Animals are wonderful. They give so much love and devotion and expect only that in return.

fullsizeoutput_1274
Night Prayers

Part 4 of 4

 

Theme photo in title by Kate Puckett Elliott

 

Cats 3

Here We Are in 2018

In these almost ten years of cohabitation, I’m unable to find one photo of Zoe and Elliott together. She has never warmed up to him. He has never learned that she likes her personal space. 

fullsizeoutput_126c

Monetary Liability

I am not exaggerating when I say that the medical care for the two cats combined is a few thousand dollars. Even though I have all the records and receipts I don’t want to know the actual total. I do recall that Elliott’s heart ultrasound was $350 back in 2008 and that his workup last year for a period of lethargy when I thought he was surely terminal was about the same. He was apparently just faking it since all his tests and exams were normal.

These charges are fair and are part of the deal when we take animals into our lives. The total includes annual exams and vaccinations as well as illnesses. Add to that food, litter, treats, toys, brushes, nail trimmers, bathing (Elliott loves his spa days, Zoe not so much) and laser pointers which are so much fun for cat and human and the investment is not insignificant. This fact is important to know before taking on the responsibility of a pet.

Are They Worth It?    

Absolutely, many times over, but if money is tight this may not be the time to adopt a cat (or other pet). 

Hard Decisions 

To the vets’ chagrin, Elliott has continued to gain weight. None of the counseling, handouts or warnings has worked. Not even four pounds when we adopted him, this week he topped the scales at nearly twenty-two pounds. It wasn’t that I did not understand the instructions or the cardiac condition that made being overweight a risk. I did. I do. But when there are two cats who live together and one is skinny and the other obese it is a dilemma. The only way to limit Elliott’s food is to put the cats into separate living areas and that is next to impossible in this space. So, the decision I have made, right or wrong, is quality over quantity.

Elliott was rescued on a railroad track when he was a kitten. There is no way to know how he got there or how he survived long enough to be saved, but he has been happy for all the years since. 

We are lucky that his murmur has not worsened in spite of the weight. He is a big fat happy boy whose heart is full of love. 

fullsizeoutput_960

Number 3 of 4

 

Theme photo in title by Kate Puckett Elliott

 

Cats 2

Elliott

Perhaps I should have known something was up when the person who was fostering Elliott insisted that she would deliver him to us in spite of our plans to pick him up. She also discouraged my naming him Zack. She assured me that he knew his name as Elliott. I had thought that Zack and Zoe would be so cute, but I didn’t want to confuse him, so I agreed that he would stay Elliott. As it turned out I don’t think he knew his name for about a year after he came to live with us.

When he was delivered our friends, Mike and Debbie were visiting. I thought the least upsetting for Elliott would be to turn him out of the carrier and into a room where he could be alone without us humans around, so we put him in an upstairs room with food and water and closed the door. In about an hour I checked on him to find that he had chewed or clawed a large piece of trim from the door frame in an attempt to get out. This was just the beginning. 

Dysfunction

When Zoe spotted this stranger in our midst she retreated to the top of our spare refrigerator in the basement. She practically lived in that private loft for the next couple of years. When she did venture down to eat or use the litter box Elliott wasn’t mean to her, but he stalked her. He followed her closely as she scratched and hissed at him. At times she made horrible screaming sounds and at others, she cursed in a low guttural growl. He was just a guy confused by his lack of popularity with this feline housemate. But, Elliott was a lover! He jumped into our laps, he cuddled, he purred. In spite of his concern for Zoe, my husband, Raymond, bonded quickly with Elliott. 

fullsizeoutput_b96

Within a few days, we took Elliott to the Shelbyville Road Veterinary Clinic to become an established patient where our pets had been cared for about ten years . Unfortunately, the examination revealed that Elliott had a heart murmur. During a later ultrasound, we learned that he had two septal defects, a.k.a. holes in his heart. We were devastated, not knowing what that meant for his long-term survival. The doctors would monitor his condition and advised us to keep him from becoming overweight. 

The Humane Society did the right thing and offered to take Elliott back but it was too late. We loved this cat in spite of all the trouble he brought with him. We were hooked on Elliott. Even Zoe was becoming a little more tolerant even though reclusive. A few years later when we moved to a condo she lost her basement sanctuary and has never been as happy. In fact, she has had a couple of stress-related illness, but she is resilient. She has managed to tolerate this big clumsy roommate for ten years now. 

And, that presents another challenge. Zoe is thin. Elliott is not. Leaving food out all the time is necessary for her, but detrimental to his need to be on a limited calorie diet. So, we continued our dysfunctional ways, loving both cats and trying to provide equal attention and devotion. 

fullsizeoutput_b98

My Point?

If I have one, I suppose it is that pets are a big responsibility. They require our time and a fair amount of work. They also deserve humans who are knowledgeable about their needs and compatibilities. It is not enough that we care and that we want to rescue at-risk animals. We need to be well informed of their needs. We owe them the same love and devotion they give to us. 

We have done our best to care for both of these cats, but if I am honest I know that Zoe was much happier as an only cat. We didn’t know that at the time we adopted Elliott, so we’ve tried to be responsible to both of them. Now as I care for them alone, I do my best to give them what they need.

The Best Part

We have adapted to the changes in life, a cat added, a smaller home, the loss of a caregiver and we’re still a family. Zoe still curses. Elliott still stalks. But, we have love. 

The cats do yoga with me most mornings. Elliott sleeps with me at night. We have neighbors and relatives who care for them if I need to be away for a few days. I would not take anything for my two cats regardless of the work and expense. They have made my life happier and I trust that is mutual. 

 

Part 2 of 4

 

Theme photo in title by Kate Puckett Elliott

 

Cats

IMG_2546
Photo by Kate Puckett Elliott – Australia

 

Advice 

Never go to a place where rescued animals are up for adoption unless you are planning to adopt. It can be heartbreaking. It can lead to a dysfunctional relationship. 

2006

Several months after the unexpected death of our beloved cat, eight-year-old Annie, we felt we were ready to adopt another cat. We went to Shamrock Foundation http://shamrockpets.com to select another cat who would hopefully be as loving as Annie. We did not find that cat on our first visit but we filled out adoption papers listing personal references and our veterinarian and agreeing to a home visit if requested. We wanted to be ready when “our” cat appeared.  

In a few days, we received a call that a nice young “tortie” was available. We had no idea what that term meant, but soon learned it is short for tortoiseshell. These cats are usually a combination of two dark colors with little or no white and the pattern is somewhat like that of the shell of a tortoise. Fun fact, they are almost always female, because the few males born are usually sterile. 

We went in to see this “tortie” who had been brought to the shelter because her owner had too many cats to care for. We watched as she played with balls and string and after about an hour decided to adopt this little girl who still had stitches intact from her recent spaying. 

Meet Zoe

fullsizeoutput_126d

2008

While shopping for supplies for Zoe at a pet store we accidentally stumbled into a nest of large cages containing cats for adoption. The Humane Society of Kentucky https://www.kyhumane.org from an adjoining county had about a dozen cats there. I tried to ignore them, but it was impossible. While standing by one cage a large caramel and white cat stretched out his paw through the grid and gently touched me. I instinctively stuck one finger inside the cage to rub the top of his head. That was an action that sealed our future as a family. 

After much deep consideration and discussion with my husband and friends, I knew I had to return for that cat. Long story short, (I know, too late!) We became a two cat household. Twice as much litter to scoop, hairballs to clean up and vet bills to pay.

Unfortunately, I did not consult Zoe. She would have clearly said “NO!” Little did I know that male and female cats (especially those who have been “fixed”) are not going to get along well. 

Meet Elliott 

IMG_0695

 

Part 1 of 4