Favorite Nap Spot: previously: on papasan chair on enclosed porch in winter, on driveway or walkway in sun in spring, on lawn chair or floor of porch in summer. fall '08: on the bed!
Favorite Food: cat food "soup" (canned Friskies or California Natural mixed with water), Eagle Pack Holistic Select or Verus dry food, Trader Joe's cat tuna
Skills: survival, quick learning about human habits
Arrival Story: Dougal is a feral who first came around New Year's Eve 2007. He comes on our enclosed porch (through a cat door) for food and warmth, but will not allow us near him. We are going to try to trap, neuter, return him. (We THINK he is a He.) I didn't want to simply call him Black Cat, and I found that Dougal means "dark stranger" and MacDuff means "son of dark ones" so it rather suits him. As a free-roaming feral, I've no doubt he does consider himself the "Laird" of our section of town, although no doubt there are other ferals around who would contest that claim.
Bio: February 19 2008: Dougal was neutered, had a torn ear patched up, got a dose of Revolution (anti-fleas, ticks, worms and ear mites), and had medical testing and vaccinations today. He was ear-tipped (left) but it's not easily visible due to the angle of the cut. He is FeLV negative, but FIV+.
August 2008: After spending most of the summer hanging in the back yard with the other neighborhood cats, Dougal has again discovered the front porch, and is showing signs of wanting INSIDE the house. He needs to learn better manners first, as his idea of playing is love bites and claws-out swats, but he is willing to share the porch for the most part peaceably with the other cats, and is now more likely to rub against our ankles when we come near him than to shy away. I've managed to scritch his ears a few times when he's too busy eating to worry about being touched.
October 2008 - Dougal is getting chubby and quite gregarious. He comes running to the door when he hears us, constantly rubs against legs and feet, and is allowing us to touch him more, although I still use gloves. He has recently been introduced to brushing and seems to enjoy it. He also wanders into the house occasionally, noses his way around the main floor, then leaves. 2 days before Halloween he seemed to decide he was a house cat, and now spends most of his time napping on a bed or the couch, or following me around the house. He's not big on full physical contact, but he likes to be near me, and will accept head scritches and brief pettings. We even were able to use scissors on his hair mats, and his coat is getting sleek and glossy from brushing and indoor living. His old fight scars are also fading, so he gets more and more handsome. Maybe one of these days he'll feel particularly brave and venture onto my lap, but for now we're pleased that he's made enormous strides with very little drama from either him or the other cats. In November 2008 he had an abscess near his ear that required surgical repair; in January 2009 he had 2 broken teeth removed and an oral-nasal fistula repaired. He handled both surgeries well and easily accepted large doses of antibiotics, and his FIV+ status does not seem to impair his healing process, at least for now. Like Cow!Cat before him, I have used elementary Tellington TTouch (therapeutic touch) on him since he decided to come indoors, and in about 3 months he became quite the domesticated, mellow, full-body-contact-seeking snugglebug.
June 2 2011 - during a dental cleaning and extraction of 2 diseased teeth, abnormal tissue was noted in his mouth and likely extending into his left ear. Cytology indicates squamous cell carcinoma. Dougal needs power of the purr!
Once again Mama is having a terribly hard time writing for one of her angels. But she did want to share something furry special one of her Catster furriends did for us the night before I journeyed to StarClan.
This other Catster Mama offered me a distance Reiki session, to try to ease any distress I might be in and get a feel for how I was doing. My own Mama had no experience with Reiki before this, and she was absolutely stunned at how much I was able to communicate, across time and space, and how well it correlated with what she had been observing for the previous week or so.
Here is what the nice Reiki lady said about our session:
"Dougal was open to the Reiki last night around 10-10:30. First ,I want to state that I don't do distance Reiki often and this is only to add to what your intuition tells you. This was my impression: Dougal is not in a lot of pain. His throat hurts a little kinda like the beginning of a sore throat but he is not worried about it. His throat feels like he has a lump- like a stuck pill that won't go down. It takes some work to swallow and he is tired of it. But, not a lot of pain. He has some trouble getting air. Like a stuffy nose and an asthmatic feeling. He can breathe but it's hard to get enough air. This is a little worrisome and one reason he doesn't move around a lot. When he sleeps and rests he feels ok. Not good, but ok. (Kind of like when we are sick and find just the right spot on the couch and take a nap) When he moves around he is reminded of his troubles. His tummy doesn't feel like eating. He doesn't feel a sense of emergency, he is cozy enough in his nest. He didn't feel I could help him but it was ok I stopped by.
So,this is what I think from our encounter: if you are giving him pain meds. they are working.Some pain meds restrict breathing, i don't know if that is a problem or if something else is going on there. I don't know about the slight nausea. Maybe it is from not eating or maybe from the medication? He may have trouble smelling food to since his nose feels clogged up.Hope this helped a little. I hope something can help take the swelling down in his throat."
Well, as we know nothing could take down the swelling in my throat any more - I was already taking Metacam, and steroids were not an option with my heart condition. But Mama was so glad to learn that her impressions of how I was doing were mostly correct, and I wasn't in terrible discomfort, but I didn't think there was much that could be done to help my condition either. My breathing restrictions were due to the tumor growing larger and clogging my throat, but at least I wasn't panicky about that - I was just withdrawing from activity and interaction, trying to take things as easy as possible. And if did feel nauseated, as the Reiki lady felt, it was probably because I was unable to swallow properly, and was choking on everything that tried to go down my throat, whether it was food or medicine or my own saliva.
Mama feels terrible about having to send me to Starclan when she did, but all of these symptoms correlated with her own observations, and indicate the disease was very rapidly approaching the point where I would be in acute distress and struggling to breathe. I was eating so little that I was at high risk for developing hepatolipidosis (fatty liver disease), and I was very unhappy with Mama's attempts to encourage me to eat. In addition I was choking and gagging on my medicine, so she was worried that it wouldn't be as effective as it should be, since I was spitting out an unknown quantity. But she didn't want to give me more, and potentially give an overdose. Finally, as I was reverting to more and more feral behaviors, she was very afraid that I would get outside and not come back, and she would be unable to find me and help me at the end. She loved me too much to allow me to curl up in a thicket somewhere and hunker down for the duration, not eating or drinking and not getting any medicine to ease discomfort, just toughing it out in the cold and rain. It was kind of what I was showing her I wanted to do, but she wouldn't let me.
I was not the most cooperative kitty patient Mama has ever had, but she knows I couldn't help following my instincts as I got sicker. I left my life on earth as I lived so much of it ... a little suspicious, a little bit of a loner, resisting help from the hoomans even when I knew they were trying to take care of me. I didn't want to be bothered by Mama trying to clean up my copious drooling, but it did feel better to be dry for a little while afterward. The last few days, I didn't even want to be bothered with brushies, which I loved more than anything when I was healthy. When the whitecoat came to the house, and Mama was trying (and failing) to purrsuade me to come out from my safe place, I did my best to let her know I didn't hold any of what was happening to me against her. I blinked at her a lot, and she blinked back, so I know she knew what I meant. I just needed my space. I knew she didn't want any of it to be happening either, but even the nicest, most loving Mama can't shield a cat from his destiny. She could make sure my Daddy was there to snuggle me, and she could make sure it was a relatively painless passage to the Bridge, in my house and not at a scary stressy hospital - and not outside on my own. But still, I wasn't really ready to come here. I was only four years old. I liked my life a lot, and I was never going to give it up without a struggle.
As my furriends Calvin and Misha say, Cancer Stinks.
I am so grateful to be named Diary of the Day today. I can't quite believe it. I'm not quite used to things here at the Rainbow Bridge yet, but I can tell you the food is good and I feel like eating it!
I also can't believe how full my heart basket is. It makes me feel glowy inside that so many kitties have send pawmails, and commented on my diary, and made me pictures and given me rosies. I am furry grateful to all of you - it will take me a little while to send my thank-yous, but I want you to know each of these thoughtful acts means a great deal to me.
Calvin told me a lot of angels are going bowling tonight. I've never gone bowling before, so I hope I do okay.
I didn't know if I'd still have a secatary at the Bridge, but it seems I can still let Mama know what to write for me. Right now she's tired, so I'm going to let her sleep, but we'll be back later. I have a lot to tell efurrybody!
I also want to thank my wise angel furriends Misha and Molly and Alex and Tyler and Hazel Lucy for looking out for me these past few months. It will be nice to have furriends waiting for me when I get to the Rainbow Bridge.
I hope, since I once was a feral boy, that I'm allowed to visit the StarClan area of the Rainbow Bridge, even if I can't walk there all the time.
Tired, soft purrs,
Dougal MacDuff, Laird o' Lansdowne & By Wood in the Darbyshire.