I live with a sweet little old man. He may be frail and thin, and maybe he can’t do a lot of the things he used to, but I love him just as much (and probably even more!) than I ever used to.
My cat, Pimp, is almost 14 years old, and he is STILL awesome.
I suppose at one point, Pimp was a kitten. I know he was, I just can hardly remember because it was so long ago. I suppose he used to play like crazy and jump to the highest point in the house and do other silly kitten things. I suppose he once fit in my hand and was just the cutest little thing.
He was all of those, and it was awesome. But now he’s tons of other things, and as we’ve grown old together (for the record, I am not “old” but I have done a lot of growing up between 19 and 33 years old), we’ve just literally grown together.
Hold on just a minute. As I typed that last line, it really just hit me. Pimp has been with me since I was 19? I remember that even less than I remember him being a kitten! I knew it, but maybe seeing it written like that just made it more real. Wow! Okay, back to the story …
So Pimp is 14 years old, and like you would when caring for any senior citizen, I find myself doing little things to make his life easier, and sometimes I just realize that he is doing things differently than he used to, because he’s simply getting old. But I love it all, and do it with a smile, because I’d do anything for my little man!
Pimp’s favorite thing in the world is to jump on the bathroom counter and drink out of the sink or enjoy the “sauna” in the bathroom while I shower. For the past year or so (maybe more if I’m honest with myself), though, he hasn’t been quite as accurate making it up there. He does a little wind-up, like he always has, then launches himself up to the counter. He makes it about 70-percent of the time. When he doesn’t, he just kind of misses; he either couldn’t jump all the way up or just miscalculated the height.
We have a new routine we’re kind of falling into now because of this. Pimp stands in front of the counter and looks up and meows at me. This means he wants to go up. A lot of times I let him do it himself, but more and more I’m finding myself just picking him up and putting him up there. I hope he doesn’t mind and that I’m not taking the fun out of it. It’s not that I don’t think he can, it’s just that I think it’s easier for him this way, and I’m all about making things easier for him right now.
Another big difference I have been noticing for years now with my senior kittizen is that he is getting more frail and thin. I call him “my little bag of bones.” At one point, Pimp used to weigh 23 pounds. Twenty three! Now, granted, he was fat with a capital F back then, but now he’s just plain skinny. Part of it is his hyperthyroid issues (which we’re treating and it’s going great!), but part of it is just age and a change in body shape. He’s getting hollower in the hips and his waist is more defined. I can feel the bones along his back and even his face shape has changed. He’s pointier now, and I even feel a bone on the top of his head.
And so I pet him a little differently now, but with just as much love. I used to say that “Pimp likes it rough!” and maniacally use both hands, one after the other repeatedly and quickly, to pet his back and kind of push him down. He loved it! Now I feel like that is just too rough for his frail body, and I pet him gently, smoothing my palm over his boney back, pretending I don’t notice. Now his favorite place to be petted is right between his eyes above his nose. It’s still plush there.
Pimp is also more finicky about his food now than he used to be. He’s eating less, and so I find myself doing things to make sure he gets enough food in him. Pimp takes his time eating. Each bite has to be chewed more, and pieces often fall out. Those have to be picked up and chewed again, and the process is repeated. Sometimes he’s hardly eaten when he leaves his bowl, and so I put him back in front of it and pet him while he eats more. He’ll eat more if I do that.
Last week, I found myself picking up bite-sized gobs of his wet food in my fingers and letting him eat it off my hand. We used to do this with treats, and so I thought it might make him eat a few more bites. It did! And so we finished off his plate like that together, me picking up pieces of stinky food in my hand, and him licking it slowly off. I didn’t even think about it when I did it first or while we were doing it; it wasn’t until after that I realized just what we’d done. I could feed him like that forever if he needed, but it was a new “wow, my cat is getting old” kind of realization.
Even his voice has changed as he’s gotten older. I joke that Pimp’s meow is more like a croak now. It’s kind of a mrrrrrreh. It’s raspy and aged, like a fine meow, with hints of purr. Sometimes nothing even comes out, and I ask him if his meower is broken. It’s not, of course, but maybe it’s just getting a little more frail like his body. You’ve never heard a cuter croak though!
What’s not any different, though, is how much he loves me and how much I love him. We cuddle up for bed together every night, still. Once the lights are turned out, that’s his cue to hop up and lie right next to me in his spot. He greets me at the door when I come home and curls up next to me on the couch at night.
And best of all? He’s going to live forever! That’s what I tell him anyway, so he better not make me a liar.
P.S. Pimp’s birthday is on the 4th of July! What do you say we have the whole country set off fireworks and stuff to celebrate?
Do you have an elderkitty? Tell us about your life together in the comments!
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