There’s Life in the Old Girl Yet

Life with a 21 year-old cat isn’t always simple. Misha’s declining. There are days when I have to feed her a kibble at a time, and days when she’ll barely eat at all. There are times when I’ve spent the entire day trying to feed her, gone through the entire stock of what she used to eagerly chow down on, and dissolve in tears because she refuses it all. This is it, I end up thinking.

Then, as if the little wretch was just waiting for me to break down, she takes her arthritic self to her food dish and starts munching. Damn cat.

It’s hard, watching the end approach. Watching for the signs that the balance has tipped, and the bad days outnumber the good, and it’s time to do the kindly thing and call the vet. Right now, she still seems to be enjoying life. She’ll wander out to the porch on warm days and manage to climb up on her favorite chair, surveying her domain.

Image shows Misha lying atop the back of a recliner on the balcony, looking out towards the forest.
The queen on her throne.

She sleeps most of the time, but still takes inordinate pride in getting in to everything I’m doing, and getting on top of my work.

Misha is lying on my clipboard, looking very smug about it.
I put this down for one minute…

And, once I persuade her to find another spot, she settles for getting on top of my other work.

Misha's moved from the clipboard to my laptop. She's curled up on it looking very peaceful.
Misha let me have my clipboard – in exchange for my laptop. Sigh.

She keeps me up at the end of every night wanting a good snuggle, and wakes me up in the morning wanting another.

Image shows Misha pressed up against my side, with the blankets around her.
Misha tucked up beside me under the blankies.

And sometimes, she’ll faceplant in her blankie, looking for the absolute last crumb from her kitty treats.

Image shows Misha sprawled on her brown blanket with her face pushed deep into a wrinkle, looking for any remaining traces of treat.
Gotta get that last crumb. Never mind Mom shaking the bag.

She often gets so absorbed in her search that she doesn’t notice me giving her more until I nudge her. I love those days, because I know I can get enough food in her belly, and it’s adorable to watch.

I have no idea how much time we have left. I treasure every second. Okay, except maybe a few of the ones where I’m getting prodded awake by a cold cat, and a few of the ones where I’m being kept awake because she keeps changing her mind about whether she wants to be under the covers or not. But I know I’ll miss even those moments, so I try to treasure them, too.

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There’s Life in the Old Girl Yet
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15 thoughts on “There’s Life in the Old Girl Yet

  1. 1

    I’m not a pet person, but I married into a family of animal lovers, so I know important these attachments can be. It’s great that you have been able to enjoy her company for so many years, and she is lucky to have owned a person who truly cared for her, and took good care of her.

  2. 4

    We lost our elderly cat a few months back, after a long slow decline. Towards the end, she didn’t eat much but she was still recognizably her sweet self, wanting nothing more than to sleep on my lap while I read. We offered her anything we could come up with, for food. Have you tried chicken baby food? I understand that it isn’t great nutritionally for cats, but it gave her calories and she’d often eat more of it than anything else. She did love to eat chicken.

    I know how painful it is, to watch someone you love so much and know you can only do so much to help them. Sorry to hear she isn’t well.

  3. 5

    For those unfamiliar with archy and mehitabel:

    the song of mehitabel

    By Don Marquis, in “archy and mehitabel,” 1927

    this is the song of mehitabel
    of mehitabel the alley cat
    as i wrote you before boss
    mehitabel is a believer
    in the pythagorean
    theory of the transmigration
    of the soul and she claims
    that formerly her spirit
    was incarnated in the body
    of cleopatra
    that was a long time ago
    and one must not be
    surprised if mehitabel
    has forgotten some of her
    more regal manners

    i have had my ups and downs
    but wotthehell wotthehell
    yesterday sceptres and crowns
    fried oysters and velvet gowns
    and today i herd with bums
    but wotthehell wotthehell
    i wake the world from sleep
    as i caper and sing and leap
    when i sing my wild free tune
    wotthehell wotthehell
    under the blear eyed moon
    i am pelted with cast off shoon
    but wotthehell wotthehell

    do you think that i would change
    my present freedom to range
    for a castle or moated grange
    wotthehell wotthehell
    cage me and i d go frantic
    my life is so romantic
    capricious and corybantic
    and i m toujours gai toujours gai

    i know that i am bound
    for a journey down the sound
    in the midst of a refuse mound
    but wotthehell wotthehell
    oh i should worry and fret
    death and i will coquette
    there s a dance in the old dame yet
    toujours gai toujours gai

    i once was an innocent kit
    wotthehell wotthehell
    with a ribbon my neck to fit
    and bells tied onto it
    o wotthehell wotthehell
    but a maltese cat came by
    with a come hither look in his eye
    and a song that soared to the sky
    and wotthehell wotthehell
    and i followed adown the street
    the pad of his rhythmical feet
    o permit me again to repeat
    wotthehell wotthehell

    my youth i shall never forget
    but there s nothing i really regret
    wotthehell wotthehell
    there s a dance in the old dame yet
    toujours gai toujours gai

    the things that i had not ought to
    i do because i ve gotto
    wotthehell wotthehell
    and i end with my favorite motto
    toujours gai toujours gai

    boss sometimes i think
    that our friend mehitabel
    is a trifle too gay

  4. 6

    Hang in there, Misha, for as long as you can do so comfortably. Demand the love you deserve. And please accept my long-distance pets. I shall pet the proxy cats in your honor.

  5. 7

    Maw, Misha.

    Our tuxedo kitty passed some few years back, about a year and a half after his brother did, at the ripe old age of 16. Maybe he’d of had a few more years if we had discovered his liver tumor sooner, maybe not. I do still miss him, the puddin’. Even miss his brother’s toothy mid-night toe attacks, sort of. *sniff*

  6. 8

    Our old Spook is now 18 and holding up well, but last year he lost his appetite for a while and it turned out to just be a bad tooth. Hopefully your Misha will get to enjoy her summer.

  7. 9

    I love it when the crisis turns out to be something easily fixed! Here’s to many more years with the old boy. Thanks for the well-wishes!

  8. 13

    So many hugs if you want them. *sniffle* Thank you for the suggestion – I’ll try it if she goes off her feed again. She’s currently enjoying a rotation of Whiskas, tuna, and treats again, but now I’ll have some hope when she starts being a little refusnik. Poor things, they have a hard time of it before they go.

  9. 15

    Many years and cats – family and individual – ago, our family had an elderly tortoise shell named Katrina. She was a very contented old girl – we used to excercise her by taking her to the bottom of the garden and she’d run back as quickly as she could! She turn around to face the TV every time the cricket music came on and definitely helped me stay as (relatively) sane as I am. Nothing quite like a purring happy cat settled on your lap.

    Anyhow, when she was in decline in her last years we took her to the vet half expecting it would be The Last Trip and instead the vet suggested and gave her a steroid injection which gave her & us – from distant memory – a few more happy months. It certainly helped Katrina come good for a while anyhow. I don’t know whether or not this will work for Misha but it might be worth considering and looking into.

    I can so relate to this,having lived with and been owned by a number of great family pets including my first cat Munga white Turkish angora who owned me for many years before dying of old age (well being put to sleep actually) a decade or two ago now. I know how much it hurts.

    Please give Misha a pat from me and wishing you both many more happy moments and joy!

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