A little black and white fluffball was trying to disappear behind two other kittens in a wire cage set up in a pet store. Her little white chin made her expression look so sad and lost. I reached in to pick her up and she tried to hide deeper in the crate. Clearly she was scared. No one knew how old she was or any history where she was found. Nothing. I could feel her heart pound as I lifted her out of the cage. She snuggled tightly into my folded arm as I gently I talked to her, running my fingers over her head and down her back. She looked up at me and then meowed. We looked into each other’s eyes and that was it.
"I’m your new mommy. Mommy’s here, Talulah."
My vet was a few doors down, so I rushed her over to get an exam. Other than being infested with fleas, she was fine. After a flea bath and testing for various things, I brought Talulah (yes, spelled with one "l") home with me to meet her new family of felines.
I had a feeling my only male cat, Tai (also a black and white), would be a good companion. I was right. He greeted her with a cooing purr and ever so lightly extended his paw to play. He was telling her, "It’s OK. You have your big brother to look out for you now." They were inseparable. That was 20 years ago. Talulah’s the only one of my four beloved cats left.
It’s the little things that make a big difference. As cats age, they aren’t as nimble as they used to be. They might not be able to take those high jumps onto your bed or sofa, or play for any extended amounts of time. They might get more finicky about food, their environment. Their sight and hearing isn’t always the same too. Like us humans, they need and deserve extra TLC.
These are five things I do to help keep my little black-and-white “Oreo cookie”‘s life a little better:
Talulah can lounge around and soak up some sun in several places in my home. She loves to take her sunbath in a chair by my patio where she can watch the hummingbirds and squirrels visit. One squirrel in particular comes up to the sliding door and puts its nose up against the glass to say "hello," as Talulah does the same.
On occasion, when she wants, I take her out for a walk within my home complex. There’s lush grass and trees. Even though she’s microchipped and has a collar, since she’s always been an indoor cat, I don’t take any chances. I bought a cat harness and a type of leash you can extend or pull back. She lets me know she’s had enough by leading me back home.
For anything to do with vitamins, food or medical needs, of course consult your veterinarian first. I’m very hands-on type of person, so when it came to things like administering sub-q fluids, I had the vet show me how to do it at home. Saves my cat stress from going into the vet; not to mention it’s financially beneficial. It’s important to keep cats hydrated as they get older, especially those with any kidney problems.
I look for organic cat food with DL-methionine, which is supposed to help keep the urinary tract pH balanced and stave off crystals. My vet recommended vitamin supplements, but Talulah didn’t like eating them. Solution? I put the tablets in my coffee grinder and pulverized them so I can sprinkle on her wet food along with other supplements my vet suggested.
As time goes by, your cat may not be able to jump as high or be slower climbing stairs. Easy fixes are available like putting a short stepladder leading up to your cat’s favorite hangout. I put one next to my bed and a decorative end table, next to a stack of drawers where she likes to hide in her cuddly bed by the window. Talulah will usually nap there for most of the day and has a great view of the trees, sky and other parts of the property.
There are some cool cat cozies for sale. Some you can rig on a windowsill where your cat can snooze in the sun and keep an eye on what’s happening outside.
To help with keeping her hydrated, she used to like to sip water out of my bathroom sink spout, but I bought a pretty water fountain and now she loves drinking out of that! Make sure you keep the water clean by constantly changing it. I fill it with purified water, too.
I noticed that even at 70 degrees in my home, it’s a bit chilly for me as well as for her, so to save on heating expenses but keep her warm, I have little sweaters she wears off and on. In addition, I put a heating pad (on low setting) over the top of her kitty carry, which is lined with soft towels and bedding. It makes for a nice toasty warm and cozy environment for her to sleep in.
Talulah gets bored easily with toys. I’m constantly buying new ones, but her interest and attention span is about five minutes. However, she consistently loves the “twinkie light,” which is a little laser toy that emits a beam of light. She tries to follow it around everywhere. Her other favorite is a simple ball made of a wadded-up piece of paper.
And of course, every chance I get, I make sure I give her as much attention and cuddles as possible. After my other treasured three cats passed away (the last one was almost two years ago), Talulah gets lonely, so I make sure when I’m home, she gets tons of affection. What I love next best to having playtime is when she snuggles up with me on my pillow at night or when I take a cat nap and we dream together.
Do you do any special things for your senior cat? Let us know in the comments!
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About Marina Anderson: Marina is an established actress, professional freelance writer, best-selling author (David Carradine, The Eye Of My Tornado), jewelry designer (The Flying Goddess) and publicist (The Media Hound PR) for clients such as Robby Benson, Ed Begley Jr., and music icon Alan Parsons and Gary U.S. Bonds, to name a few. She is also a personal manager and career and spiritual consultant.
Her film/TV credits include Dexter (opposite Jennifer Carpenter); co-lead in the Emmy-nominated web series Sophie Chase, Law & Order LA, and Desperate Housewives; supporting and guest star roles in Dangerous Curves, Sex & Mrs X (opposite Linda Hamilton), Forever Knight, and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (opposite David Carradine); the Genie Award-winning film 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould; and many other productions, national commercials, and voiceovers. Marina’s passion is helping animal rescue organizations. Look for her next book, The Adventures of Lulu the Collie, which stars her beloved dog, Lulu, daughter to Lassie VIII, and keep up with her work by following her on Facebook.
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