Sunday, November 23, 2008

The ZsaZsaBlog V

I'm pleased to report that Zsa Zsa -- currently known as "Zsa Zsa the Tan," or "Pinquevarnimeoi" in the Elvish tongue -- seems to be doing well. She's eating and drinking and has even started "talking" again, narrating her comings and goings with a squawk and a chirp.

I can't point to any one thing that's helped her, because I wasn't willing to do a controlled-study of her health. I just tried half a dozen potential fixes all at once.

To address her dehydration, I lowered the thermostat a bit to prevent the amount of dry air blowing around. More significantly, I stopped running my bedside fan during the night...I normally keep it going so I won't hear her snore (or the squirrels running around in the attic, which they do at all hours). Instead I just wear earplugs and I think both of us wake up with slightly moister throats.

I also did an intensive study of her water-mania. By setting up a collection of home-made contraptions in the tub I was able to figure out what she likes and dislikes about various forms of water. If your cat is obsessed with water, maybe this information will help you:
  1. She must SEE the water arriving in a rivulet; if you just bring it to her in a bowl she doesn't believe it's fresh.
  2. She doesn't, however, want to drink RUNNING water, which explains why her cat-fountain leaves her so unimpressed. No, she only wants to drink it once it's STOPPED moving.
  3. She doesn't like LARGE pools of water; they must be small and shallow.
  4. She doesn't want to actually get wet.
Therefore the BEST way to entice her is to let her see a big splash of water falling from the overhead shower. Then the water must stop running. It quickly forms into small, stationary droplets in the tub -- each about the size of a quarter -- and she'll happily jump in and drink two or three of them.

But after that the process must be repeated, maybe because by then she's forgotten that she saw the water arrive.

Incidentally, she WILL drink out of a deep pot or basin, but ONLY if she sees it arrive and ONLY if it isn't put near her food or directly in front of her. After a short period of time she'll sneak over and drink out of it.

I don't know what all this says about cat psychology, except that cats are mental.

So once I got her drinking it was time to get her EATING again, and as I mentioned before I did this by mixing a bit of cat food gravy and chicken in with her "proper" food and heating it for three seconds. After she ate it for a few days I stopped adding the gravy, which probably annoys her but she has continued eating anyway. She's even started eating her dry food again.

It's probably significant that her antibiotics (for her urine infection) have kicked in; she is no longer doing her "pee scream" and probably feels better in general. Finally, I'm spending lots of time petting her and chatting with her, which might improve her joie de vivre.

So even though she's still alarmingly thin (and she's developed an explosive sneeze), I think she's in the clear for a little while longer. I won't consider her out of the woods until she gains some weight -- and even then I think we're living on borrowed time -- but I hope we'll at least be able to spend one more Christmas together.


Anonymous said...

"But after that the process must be repeated, maybe because by then she's forgotten that she saw the water arrive."

I think the reason is that she is trying to make sure you are competent and well trained.

Eli McIlveen said...

Why is it every cat seems to have particular eccentricities around drinking?

Our guy has now become a bathtub drinker (and has to drink frequently these days - he came down with nasty diarrhea after the move, and we've got to get him checked out soon).

Glad to hear Zsa Zsa's having a better time of it.

Adam Thornton said...

Yes, it's true Bashford...I am finally allowing myself to be completely trained.

Last night I even let her sleep on my hair.

Adam Thornton said...

I do know some people with cats who say they've never had a water-drinking problem, but it does seem to happen more often than not.

I can only assume it's some evolutionary thing that worked well for them in the desert, but doesn't quite cut it in the home!

Hope your guy gets lots of water...try little puddles. :)

Kimber said...

Hurrah! Glad to hear Queen Zsa Zsa is on the mend. Borrowed time eh? That sounds a bit grim, but at least you will treasure every moment.

Anonymous said...

OK for the cat! Hopefully she has not had to click down one of the fabled 9 lives in order to remain with you.

Although I'm no cat doctor, I'll say this - her "weird" gene is definitely dominant. Or, maybe, as Bashford said, you ARE being trained!

I cannot imagine cats surviving in the wild if they are subject to such whims and idiosyncrasies.

Who ever heard of a lion with Asperger's Syndrome, a tiger with Tourette's, etc? Leapin' leopards! Maybe you should rename Zsa Zsa to "Monk"?

Anyway, since she has not yet tired of cat food (and thus, life itself), happy and healthy cat wishes to all, and to all a good night!

Adam Thornton said...

Thanks, Kimber & Gary! I don't want to get TOO hopeful just because she has "broken down" so many times since August. But then, she's far beyond her warranty. :)

Yeah, cats DO seem to have a touch of Asberger's! It's probably due to cramming their barely-domesticated animal nature into a human wonder they get a bit weird.

Syd said...

I'm sorry to play Devils Advocate but I feel her kidneys are shutting down. For one thing, stop feeding her any food for "Urinary tract health".. UTI happens more often than kidney failure, so they pack food with stuff that is harsh on kidneys but keeps the UT clean.

Home dialysis can help too.. you give the cat regular injections of water beneath the skin. Zsa Zsa will not like that, but as a diabetic, you know the torment!

Whatever it takes to take a load off of her kidneys, so the little things can keep going.. I lost my last cat to kidney failure at age 16. The bonyness and hypothermia are normal for an elderly cat, I found a heat pad on the lowest setting may help when she doesn't have you to cuddle against.

Good luck, it sounds like she's not ready to go at all, and hopefully has a few more years!

Just make sure she has lots of water, and good food without that "urinary tract health" crap. Hugs.

Syd said...

I was checking up on your blog and just had a new thought: When my cat was near the end, one of her pofficial diagnoses was "hypothermia". I I gues.. think of how elderly folk are more susceptible to it.

It might be better to get a humidifier than to turn your thermostat down, if you want her to not dry out in the dessicated winter air. For one thing, you won't get cracklies when you pet her!

Also think about an electric blanket. Things went downhill fast for my cat, so I used a heating pad on low. Zsa Zsa sounds like a tough girl so invest in an electric blanket (never a bad thing in the winter), set it on low, and put it where she chooses to sleep. (I know you cannot tell a cat where to sleep). That way she'll have warmth for the times she's not curled up on you.

If she gets dehydrated again, ask your vet about hydration.. my vet said you can improve an elderly cats health by injecting fluid. I couldn't afford it, but you may be diabetic sympathetic as to needing a shot now and then.

Cats don't live forever, but they DO tell you when they are suffering. When they just crawl off in the dark.. that's suffering. They politely try to hide it. But they can also live into their 20s.. I once knew a 23 year old cat. Skin and bones, but she ran the house as a matriarch.

Everything you do for her helps, how much is up to you but you have alleviated her discomfort and given her new leases on life, so every day she greets you is a day you can remember that you really HELPED.

Hope she feels better soon!