Ms Mud

1300/13th August 2023

For two days we gave Toby gabapentin to help relieve the pain in his joints.

He appeared to lose control of his already wobbly legs and he looked frustrated.

He eased himself down and slept. As I watched, I almost hoped he would just drift off, free of pain.

Grant and I had a non-conversation by which I mean we didn’t say what we were both thinking.

Toby is mostly with me these days and my opinion was “not yet”.


We stopped the gabapentin and Toby seemed to come out of a fog.

He looks happier, but how does one know what is in a cat’s mind?

In my experience, it is very obvious when a cat wants out. They stop eating and hunker down.

At this stage if they are clearly suffering, it seems wrong not to help.


If the animal is not in distress, I think it is kinder just to make sure they are comfortable and let them go in peace.

As awful as those final trips to the vet are for us, how dreadful for a beloved pet to have that as its last experience?

How betrayed they must feel we say.

More likely, they are terrified.


In the end, I like to believe I become objective. After so much *pre-grieving, my emotions are numbed and I become robotic. A defense mechanism. It lasts just as long as it takes for the final injection to do its work.

At which point, collapse and the beginning of second-guessing the decision.


This is the nature of the contract we accept when we invite animals into our lives.

There are other challenges as well…


It’s an excuse, but having 11 cats can be distracting.

Because they are not able to communicate verbally, we must be attentive, especially as they grow old.

Though I have read about blind cats and witnessed how well they function, I was in no way prepared when Lucy lost her sight.


All I knew for sure was that I must restrain my need to help her.

She had to learn for herself how to navigate. All I could do was place everything she needed nearby and always in the same place.

She learned quickly.

At night she cried at times, feeling insecure I supposed. I reassured her.


Penny with her urinary tract infection, Toby wobbling, Willow joining the walker’s club was occupying my mind.

But I should have been paying more attention to Lucy.

Her nightly wails may not have been insecurity or disorientation after all.

What finally drew my attention, where it needed to be?


A shy street cat came to help me in the garden back in Washington. Never expecting to get involved with her, we simply referred to her as Blackie.

Had I known she was going to adopt us, I would have named her something more thoughtful.

And If I had known how closely she would stick to me, perhaps I would have called her Velcro.


Once off the street, Blackie became a little stout. It’s not a good thing for a cat to be overweight , so I have always tried to limit her treats.

How could I think she wouldn’t notice?

Lately, I thought Blackie was getting a bit solid. Then, one day I noticed that she was under Lucy’s bench, stealing her treats.

Thus alerted, I made a point of watching and it belatedly came to my attention that this was not a one-off theft.

It was a thrice-a-day event.


Lucy being so fluffy, you wouldn’t know if she became emaciated.

She won’t be picked up either. Try it and you will get shredded.

Enough with the excuses. Lucy has been starving while Blackie is turning into a blimp.


Because I didn’t nip it in the bud, Lucy is now afraid of food because she has learned that each time she eats, she gets pushed aside. Her safe place invaded.

To encourage Lucy I sprinkled the food with Forti Flora which smells really good. Lucy took a tentative lick or two but then anxiously turned her head from side to side, awaiting the assault.

And the aroma of Forti Flora draws the attention of other cats.

Close the door?


Writing it makes it seem so simple.

With cats, nothing is simple.

Lucy’s little world is in one of the larger rooms where several other cats lounge about waiting for room service.

Ring the dinner gong!


The thing is, we don’t really want all of them in close proximity for their food because…fiasco.

What happens with crowded feeding is that they start to sulk and nobody eats.

They need personal space don’t you know.


Close together, one of them bumps into Tinkerbelle who gets mad and jumps on Sophia who screams. The man shouts and it is circus-time.

Just move Blackie.

It is, in fact the only option. I tried it last night, but it’s like when you try to catch a cat for a vet visit. Round and round the room you go while everyone else gets agitated.


Advanced planning required. Meaning: closing the door early inhibiting access/egress for the others.

You do not get away with closed doors in a cat household. Not if it’s a single cat, certainly not with 11.

In any case, I must now deprogram Lucy who has learned that eating brings attack.

Sighted, she would have chewed up another cat that attempted to steal her food. Now she cringes.

Since this discovery, I stay talking softly to reassure her, not very successfully.


Last night I spotted Blackie out of the corner of my eye and swatted at her.

Blackie is very nervous and immediately feeling bad, I got up to say sorry.

She fled from me, her chosen person.

Now my name is Mud.


This morning we debated getting an enclosure for Lucy to keep Blackie at bay, but after going round in circles about how it would work we seem to have decided that it is too complicated.

In frustration, I threw up my hands saying I would figure something out.


If I had been paying better attention I could have prevented all this from happening in the first place.

Blackie came back after 10 minutes to make sure I wasn’t mad at her. Or maybe she just has a very short memory span.

But somehow I have to get food into Lucy.

I’ll let you know how that goes.


*Pre-grieving is a term that was used by author Chris Chester in his very poignant book:

“Providence of a Sparrow”

It struck me that this is what so many of us torture ourselves with.

8 thoughts on “Ms Mud

  1. Wow – the complications. In the past i have had more but right now just one who at almost eighteen is suffering some inevitable difficulties. We too are figuring out how to live with the very vocal complaints – this cat was always a big talker – and gabapentin has been on the list as well as arthritis pain reliever. All best in all your decisions on your cat family.

  2. The pre grieving – I remember that with our spaniels. Oh, poor Toby – my heart goes out to him. And dear Lucy 😔 … how does one know what is the right thing to do to keep your pets happy and content? But I still think you’re doing great Carolyn – you never have to doubt that you’re doing what’s best for your cats.

  3. I understand pre-grieving completely. When I see how slow and tired Ollie has become, I try not to think of the inevitable. I could definitely not manage 11 pets, and have no idea how you do it.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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