As requested: An Evie update

A few of my devoted and valued readers have asked for an update on little Evie. I am glad to say that she is doing great! Initially she had four or five types of medicine daily, in multiple doses. Now she’s down to two anti-seizure meds, several times a day, which will be continued indefinitely. No more eating problems–she’s gaining like crazy and feels heftier than she ever has been. Good news for such a tiny cat who was diagnosed as ‘anorexic’ at the height of her illness. The surprising part is how loving and playful she has become, making me wonder if she had been feeling rotten for a long time without me realizing it. She’s chasing the other cats and playing with catnip mice, and is very chatty and affectionate.

Being a cat, of course, she hates the medicine that is delivered via syringe down her throat. I’ve learned how to swaddle a cat (akin to herding cats, I’m sure) with a beach towel, essential to this task. Afterwards, she immediately hides in this DSW shoes shopping bag, as if that will change what has just transpired.

The cover story of Time magazine this week explores the surprising intelligence of animals and the lessons we can learn from our furry companions. Years ago, bringing kitten Evie home helped me identify with the impact of difficult or fussy infant temperament on a new mother’s sense of competence. Evie refused to sit in my lap and let me pet her, unlike all the other cats I’d owned (she is my ninth Siamese.) She would only tolerate being draped backwards over my shoulder while I paced and scratched her spine. I suddenly understood how hard it is for new moms with similar babies, who arch and pull away rather than cuddling easily into mom’s arms. Research has shown that temperament like this is likely hard-wired, for delivery room nurses can spot these sensitive, fussy babies within the first ten minutes of life and accurately predict which children show this predisposition when they are in kindergarten.

Even though I’m well aware of this fact, having Evie “reject” me in this manner was disappointing, to say the least. So her more loving kitty self is now a double joy, given that we almost lost her. And thank you all for sending your good wishes in our direction!

Just a cat

My bluepoint baby, Evie

I’m about to get sappy on you. You might want to get your tissues handy.

This is my dear Siamese kitty Evie. She’s nine years old, and she’s been in the hospital since Weds. Three weeks ago she had a seizure for the first time, and she’s gone steadily down hill since, refusing to eat or drink. The whole time I was away last week, she stayed under the bed. She only weighed 7 pounds to begin with and now she feels like an anorexic looks. There is still no definitive answer, after 6 regular vet consults, 43 possible diagnoses, an MRI, and abdominal ultrasound. We’re currently awaiting blood work to come back from Texas A&M vet school. And I visited her in the hospital today–who would have thought they had visiting hours at the specialty vet clinic? And of course Evie, like many in this country, has no health insurance–so I’ll just let you imagine the bills.

The entire experience has brought the ‘who says?’ mantra into my head incessantly. (I’m not just writing this for sympathy, truly–I do have a slight point.) When I related this process to someone I know well, I heard a story in return about a dog who was ‘just a pound mutt’ who was diagnosed with cancer. The treatment estimate was $5300, and so the owners chose euthanasia. And, the storyteller related, the veterinarian was a bit outraged and critical of their decision. While that may not have been a helpful stance from the treating doctor, who can judge? Until we’re in those butt-numbing vet hospital waiting room chairs for six hours, we just don’t know. Who says that we can put a dollar amount on our pets?

Research about the benefits of our valued pet friends is continuing to amass. Pets help us cope with stress, increasing our resilience in the face of change. Pet ownership is tied to improved health, from blood pressure to psychological well-being. I know that my three furry friends seem always attuned to my mood and plop themselves nearby when I’m feeling down. ‘Just a pound mutt’ can be your most stalwart ally. Difficult choices abound, when faced with serious pet illness, and we each have to choose what’s right for us. Today, the most helpful information I can offer to my readers who have beloved pets is: buy pet health insurance, if you can afford it. It’s certainly a value, cost-wise, if you ever have to face a critical pet health challenge.

Please send out healing prayers and thoughts for my Evie.