Despite his worsening asthma, Loki remains a devilishly spry cat for his age. Both he and Grendel will be twelve years old in February 2009. That’s the human equivalent of being 65 years old.
I see age beginning to slow down The Great Satan, however, and I see asthma taking its toll as well. His plotting, scheming, conniving ways have been subdued of late, less vile than they were some years ago. He still conspires to perpetrate evil at every opportunity, mind you, but his body no longer can support the near constant malevolence he once visited upon the world.
Kazon remains on a powerful regimen of antibiotics and steroids in an attempt to subdue his out-of-control immune system that seems intent on harming his own body. As ill as he was when I rescued him in the first few months of his life, it now appears that the terrible childhood he suffered has finally come back to haunt him.
Now a full ten years old in human terms, his own species would equate that age with being in his mid to late fifties. I see how growing older brings old ghosts out of the shadows and into focus. Yet he remains my Baby Boy, my Puppy, the one member of The Kids who I know could not survive without me. His emotional attachment to me is of such profound energy that it becomes palpable each and every day.
My high-maintenance cat, Grendel has suffered throughout his life with one ailment after another. From bone spurs in his hips to acute asthma to inflammatory bowel disorder (an immune system dysfunction) to kidney and bladder stones, Sponge always has made it through a difficult life with the grandest composure and perseverance. He remains to this day a proud, capable, fearless companion.
Yet as I always discuss with the vets, time proves over and over again that the next shoe will eventually fall, and we saw that next problem begin just a few months ago. With alarming weight loss and the onset of tremors, a lifetime of steroid use appears to have finally caught up with him. All examinations and tests indicate his shaking stems from neurological damage; one vet likened it to the appearance of Alzheimer’s disease. His age will not help this latest affliction, nor will his waning strength allow him to adjust as easily. Even today I saw him struggle to leap from the cat castle to the desk where he might enjoy a refreshing bit of ice water from my glass. The hesitation he now shows breaks my heart.
More than twelve human years old, placing him near 70 feline years old, Vazra recovered from near death and shows a youthful exuberance for life that dwarfs the survival instinct of many humans. His poor dental health two years ago spelled certain doom for him, what with it keeping him from eating and drinking and grooming, yet removing seven teeth gave him a new lease on life. He took his rescue in stride, quickly making himself at home with The Kids as a member of the family, and he demonstrates an unequaled ability to disregard hardship in favor of getting through just one more day.
As the oldest member of the family, I look at him now compared to when I rescued him and think about what might have happened had I not intervened. More importantly, I wonder about his health as he grows older. But those concerns aside, this Persian offers unconditional love and gratitude at every opportunity, and his newfound health and vitality bring joy to my heart every time I look at him and remember what might have been.
My Lion. Only six human years/40 feline years old, Larenti lives in a perpetual state of discovery, fear and timidity. He is the largest cat in the house, yet he also is the most afraid. Slowly he has shown increasing comfort; nevertheless, the unending reservoir from which he draws fright at even the smallest surprise continually worries me. Some horrific tragedy befell this poor soul before I rescued him. I only hope he remains on this path to overcoming that anxiety.
Larenti’s young age and juvenile spirit lend themselves to a good deal of energy and mischief. I laugh heartily when I see him play, when I see him stir up trouble by stalking someone in one of the litter boxes, or when I recognize his purring request for attention each night as he leaps atop the bed to join us for a spot of sleep. I trust he has many years left to travel, many days of quality and joy and comfort.
al-Zill is a child. Scarcely more than two years old, his feline age of 24 means he remains immature, rambunctious, meddlesome. I affectionately chastise him continuously for getting into trouble, whether it be destroying an entire package of toilet paper under the bathroom counter or endlessly trying to engage one of the other children in rough horseplay. Yet such things are to be expected from someone so young, especially someone with neurological damage as severe as his.
There are times when I forget about al-Zill’s mental incapacity; he leaps and runs and plays with rugged determination. Then there are times when that now invisible head wound becomes apparent: he still shows instability when I pick him up and set him down, his body convulses from time to time when he tries to run or leap or scratch a difficult-to-reach spot, and a simple shake of his head can throw him to the ground as though struck by some invisible force. However, he’s young enough to adapt, something he’s doing quite well already, and a full life stretches out before him so long as he remains in a safe place that can accommodate his special needs.
Like her brother Kazon, Kako has reached her mid to late fifties in terms of feline years, although her bad health early in life does not seem to have affected her quite so severely. Sure, she has a perpetual problem with her ears due to the mite infestation she had way back then, but medication every month or two clears that up and leaves her ready to tackle the world. And tackle the world she does.
Yet being a bitch is not all this Lady has to hold on to; she is, after all, Daddy’s Girl, and she claims that which only she can claim: being the sole female in the house. When I’m not home, she spends a great deal of time with Grendel, her man, but she’s all mine if I’m available. I see age taking from her little by little the energy she once had. This has in no way stopped her from ruling the roost. She proffers horrific cries when someone invades her personal space even if they don’t come within arm’s length of her; she defends her gentlemen (Grendel and I) with a fierceness unrivaled by great white sharks on the hunt; and she embodies the universal truth of no home needing more than one female cat, no kingdom requiring more than One Queen to Rule Them All. I think it’s her female superiority that keeps her from showing her age more than she does. I wonder how long she can keep up that dichotomy…
— — — — — — — — — —
Henry lived almost 22 human years—104 feline years—before his body stopped living up to his spirit’s expectations. Only in the last months of his life did age catch up with the immortal soul of a god that dwelled within his flesh.
Very much unlike the current members of The Kids, I did not bathe Henry in perpetual health care for every little infirmity, every little hiccup in the natural order of things. Instead, I focused on his happiness, watched him closely and did what I thought best for each problem as it cropped up, and in the end I found myself justified in the approach that favored quality over quantity without delving endlessly into unneeded, unnecessary, unjustified meddling by veterinary professionals.
Looking back on life at this moment, I question my present methodology with regards to my children…
Methinks the time has come for a serious examination of care, an unquestioned scrutiny of how I deal with The Kids and their well-being. Although I would dare not second-guess myself with regards to critical action in a time of need, I’m left wondering if my efforts, like so much human health-care that lends itself to more suffering and hardship, have made life more difficult for these cats who look to me for wisdom in cases where they cannot offer as much.