The Laments of an Aging Cat

05 February 2008 · 3 comments

When Toto was younger, she was an agile hunter. She would fly across the lawn and nab unsuspecting birds in mid-air. At the old house, she would sit beneath the rhododendron, and then make a dash and leap to catch birds at the feeder. At night, she would spring gracefully from the ground to the nightstand, not making a sound.

But now she is no longer graceful. She’s almost fourteen years old. Somewhere along the way — about the time we moved from Canby to Oak Grove — her agility evaporated, seemingly overnight. Now it’s a challenge for her to leap from the floor to the couch. She’s clumsy — all claws. It’s sad to see, because I know that deep in her heart she still wants to be a hunter.

This morning we’re sitting in the parlor, writing. Well, I’m writing — Toto is keeping me company. She’s watching the birdfeeder outside. A screechy jay keeps landing on it, declaring his woes to the world. Smaller birds stop in once and a while.

Toto finds this all very interesting, and she’s been practicing that special cat cackle that means, “Birds, I will eat you.” But of course she won’t eat them. She no longer has the agility. I know it’s probably just my imagination, but I think this makes her sad.

Sitting above her, latched to the window frame, is the fake crow that Kris gave me for Christmas. I’m not sure what the crow’s intended purpose is, but I use it to torment the cats. “Oh look! A bird in the house! And it’s coming after you!” Toto, however, isn’t scared of it — indeed, she finds it fascinating.

After cackling at the jay at the feeder for a couple minutes, she’ll look up at the crow. She’ll stand on her hind legs, lean against the frame, and reach for the fake bird. Toto wants it. But she doesn’t put much energy into. I think her bones hurt or something. Maybe she has arthritis. I feel so sad for her.

1 Tiffany February 5, 2008 at 09:20

Poor Toto girl. Maybe you should buy her a mouse and let her play with it in the bathtub. This way she can be a great hunter without much effort.

2 Mom February 5, 2008 at 15:57

Toto’s tailless half-sister, Stevie, may be younger than Toto but she doesn’t do much, either. She either sleeps all the time or comes upstairs and stands outside of my closed office door while I’m on the computer and meows at me. I worry about her getting older and weaker, but so far she seems to be in pretty good shape.

Do cats get arthritis? That might be a subject worth Googling. I know that dogs do. I’m sorry that Toto seems to be losing energy. I think Tiff’s suggestion is a sensible one, although I have to ask — a real mouse? Please keep us updated on how Toto reacts if you implement it. ;-)

3 pril February 5, 2008 at 17:18

Cats can get arthritis. My oldest cat, Spot, is 15. She just had a checkup and the vet says she’s extremely healthy for a cat her age except for some arthritis in her back legs. She’s a big cat, on top of it. But i remember when she would climb my leg to get to a cracker, or she’d run up the curtains or bound around the house being goofy. She likes to sit on the porch and look at stuff, but doesn’t go after it.

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