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[personal profile] uniquelyallie
My motto since being unemployed earlier this year and turning into a college student has been: "I suck as a cat mom."

Possibly four. Two have made it into his paw pads. One is almost in. The other is possibly a dew claw that's just thick and meaty. This isn't the first time it's happened, so I can't play the "I had no idea cats could get ingrown claws when they're elderly" card. It happened to Tailless Cat once and Skittles once before.

The problem: Both Tailless Cat and Skittles hate to have their paws handled. Tailless Cat more so than Skittles, but still, I've NEVER had to deal with cutting claws EVER. They all just kinda took care of it on their own.

The bigger problem: I can't take any of the cats to Petsmart for monthly nail trims because they all have heart murmurs, and Petsmart's grooming people don't work on animals with heart murmurs. Never mind the fact that they have those Banfield animal hospitals mere feet away from the grooming area. (I made the mistake of letting them know Tailless Cat had a heart murmur when I tried to schedule an appointment for her.)

But Skittles this time around... he's been really pissy for weeks. Like where he's growling at night when we're all in bed together. Or he'll snip at you if you're hanging out with him on the futon during the day. I'll be lying there, talking to him, petting him, and then he'll just snip. The other day, he almost nipped my nose. Back in November, we were without heat for about two days. (Furnace initially tripped a circuit, which maintenance guy repaired, but then it turned out to be a bad thermostat overall, so he had to come back the following day to replace that.) Skittles was probably having flashback to the polar vortex earlier this year... he looked miserable. So I let him crawl under the blankets. Doing so has turned him into a monster. He gets pissy whenever he jumps up in the bed, and needs to burrow under the blankets all the time now. If you hold the blankets up for him... as he crawls under... he'll growl. Once he gets settled in... which is usually up against me... if I turn at any point... he'll growl.

During the polar vortex, you could tell that Skittles was miserable. The apartment we were living in at the time had landlord controlled heat, and it was *controlled*. I get that it was so freezing that the thermostat could've been turned up to 90, and it wouldn't have helped... but while the heat was on... it was still so cold where there was ice on the inside of our windows, and basically all me and the cats did while Jason was at work was burrow in bed. Well, Callie was in bed with me. Tailless Cat would sleep under the heater, and Skittles would lie on the hardwood floor in the corner of the bedroom and look miserable. And while we were without heat for two days back in November... it wasn't polar vortex cold. It was in the mid-50's. But maybe Skittles had flashbacks.

And I'd like to believe that Skittles has been pissy because he has SAD. I Googled this back during the polar vortex, and while there's no concrete evidence that cats get SAD, there's still evidence to the point where vets have recommended owners get those SAD lights for their cats. I believe there's truth to that because, now that I'm aware of cats and SAD, I've watched Skittles. This summer and fall? He was in the best mood ever. Going into December, where it's been more gray, he lies around and sleeps a lot. The times when the sun does come out? He'll jump down off the futon and lie in it. There was one day where he freaking moved around the apartment wherever he could find sun, i.e., he'd start out in the bedroom, but as the sun diminished, he moved into the living room where there was a huge square of it left.

We also believe that maybe Skittles is going senile. He is 18. I did Google that when he first started being pissy.... because it blew my mind... he's NEVER growled and been pissy like this before. Senility in cats does happen.

Jason also believes... and this is a no-brainer... that Skittles is pissed off and hurting because of the ingrown claws. He still walks around. He still goes to the kitchen to eat and use the litter box--although there's been times when he's pooed in the bedroom... like maybe the pellets are too painful for his feet now--but still. There are claws that have grown into his pads to the point where we've got dried blood around the puncture hole, and a few small blood drops on the bed sheets.

I like to believe that once Skittles gets to the vet, gets his claws all trimmed up, and gets some steroids to fight any infection the ingrown claws may have caused... that he'll be back to being my big, sweet, goofy, friendly boy cat. But yet...

I keep wondering if it's something internal. Skittles was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy back in August 2012. He threw clots, which caused him to throw up SO much vomit in one session, was really lethargic afterwards, and also developed pancreatitis as a result. It took him about a month to fully recover, and he's been on atenolol and prednisone since. But... much like I did with Zora... I've let him dictate if/when he gets pills. For the most part, he's been awesome eating Pill Pockets. But there are times... maybe like for about a week or two occasionally... where he refuses to eat the Pill Pockets, so I have to use the pill shooter. (Usually this happens when he has a cold, or the Pill Pockets get "stale.") When I use the pill shooter, he definitely gets the pred, but not the atenolol, because he only gets a half of atenolol daily, and those pills are small to begin with. You half an atenolol, and it's impossible to shoot it down his throat.

Since he's been pissy, he's maybe gotten his meds about five times in a two-week period. Not good. He's refused the Pill Pockets--and we even got him a new bag--and he fights me hard when I use the shooter.

Combine this with... back during a May vet visit... his ALT values were a little elevated. High ALT is usually connected to kidney failure... even though there were no other indication that Skittles was developing kidney failure. Still, the vet sent him home with samples of Feline K/D... which I tried the dry with Skittles, and he refused it. (Some cats prefer the wet K/D. Others only eat the dry K/D. Others flat out hate K/D. I witnessed this with Zora.) The vet told me that if Skittles hates the K/D to come back and he'd send me home with a different brand of kidney diet to try.

I never did that. I never pushed the kidney diet on Skittles. I still have the bag of dry K/D... open, so it's probably nice and stale... and I haven't even tried giving him the wet K/D yet. And because my money situation sucks, the cats have been eating Crap Chow again more often than the Hills Science Diet Active Longevity that they usually eat.

So if we go to the vet today, and it turns out to be something internal... like he has pancreatitis again... or has developed liver or kidney failure... or somehow threw more clots that I was unaware of (that's unlikely... the vet said that I'd always know when a cat throws clots)... it will be my fault again. Just like when Zora was diagnosed with end stage kidney failure... everything that led up to her diagnosis... I was oblivious about. Her stinky breath (I thought she needed her teeth cleaned; she had vile smelling breath before). Her vomiting yellow bile (I thought it was because of the Crap Chow). Her losing her balance (I thought she just needed her ears cleaned). I took her to the vet, where I was told that she had kidney failure, and had lost about 70% of her kidney function. My fault. She died nine months later.

Just like anything internal that may be wrong with Skittles today that has nothing to do with his claws will be my fault.


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Allison Kelsey

December 2015

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