Today Charlie and George are exactly two and half years old—and I am Officially Tired of reporting on their near-death experiences. Before we even met them both came close a couple of times—their four litter mates did not survive. Then Charlie had a disastrous reaction to anaesthesia during an operation to remove a polyp, resulting in brain damage—from which he’s made a remarkable recovery. Then George ate a bird infected with salmonella and spent a couple of days in kitty ICU—though, like Charlie, made a remarkable recovery (without brain damage).
Last week, it was George’s turn again: this time it was poison. But yet again, he’s made a remarkable recovery and is more or less back to his old self–except he’s very jumpy, and sticking much closer to me than usual. There again, they’ve both been jumpy and sticking closer to home—mainly because we’ve been travelling for the first time in their lives, and they Do Not Approve.
I’ve already talked about one set of travel we did in September/October. A week later we had to be gone again for a visit to Saint Martin’s University in Lacey. Then last week Kelley had to make an unexpected five-day trip back to Florida (but that’s not my story to tell). She left at five in the morning and by ten o’clock George was very unwell—drooling gallons (he sat on the threshold of the family room and living room for five minutes, and when he moved away there was an actual pool—not a few drops, a pool about 18 inches wide)—not eating, and barely able to move, and when he could move wanting to drag himself under the sofa where no one would be able to reach him and he could die in peace. He behaved in much the same way with salmonellosis. It took me a long time to figure out what the problem was, and I am enormously grateful a) that I didn’t figure it out until he had already turned the corner for the better, and b) for his strong constitution.
George’s downfall was a broken bottle of diluted grapefruit essential oil.1 It smashed on the bathroom floor the morning Kelley was leaving, and Kelley swept, then wiped, then actually washed the floor—because oil, because slippy, because I don’t walk well—before she left at zero-dark-thirty for the plane. George hates the smell of citrus so I’m pretty sure the closest he got to the grafefruit oil was walking across the swept wiped, and washed floor then licking his paws. And that was enough.
Because here’s what I know now that I didn’t then: grapefruit is a deadly poison for cats. So much so that if they ingest any, do not, under any circumstances, administer an emetic—because if they even breathe in the fumes from the vomit they could die. Yes, it’s that bad. But as I say I didn’t know that until George was already clearly improving: salivating less, coming for comfort, eating a bit. Oh, don’t get me wrong, he still looked woebegone, and he was moving like a little old man, but he was no longer trying to escape himself and everyone else by crawling into a hole and dying. I found out that evening about the grapefruit oil, looked it up, and my stress went through the roof. I was up most of the night fussing over George, until he basically gave me the, Oh stop *fussing* for heaven’s sake and let me get some sleep! look, and Charlie came and laid his paw on my forearm and looked at me gravely as if to say, I’ve got this, go to sleep. So I did—only to be woken three hours later by the two of them having a knock-down-drag-out fight then thundering all around the house—up and down curtains, over and under furniture, knocking things off the counter—then yelling at me comprehensively about their empty food dishes. So, yeah, George is fine.
And he’s a bit different: much, much more cuddlesome.
Image description: Large tabby cat clinging desperately, possessively to a white woman—his paw is curled around her forearm from above; his tail is curled around her arm from below—relaxing on an ivory sofa with a big mug of tea
Charlie is too—though of course that’s as likely to be the result of the miserable weather we’ve been having the last 10 days as any sudden increase in gratitude:
Image description: A screenshot of a Seattle Times article with a photo of waves crashing against a pier and below a single sentence, “A tornado warning, heavy rain, hail, high winds, severe thunderstorm, snow and a small earthquake were part of a mixed bag of events that occurred during a dramatic Tuesday in Washington state.”
So, before that little incident, how have they been? Fine! Happy, healthy, curious, plus in-my-face, on-my-keyboard, complaining about the service, and assuming a new throne.
The throne, of course, is Charlie’s: I have a new wheelchair (more on that in another post)2, which has become the most expensive kitty bed on the planet:
Image description: Photo of an all-black wheelchair against an orange wall warmly lit by candlelight. A small tabby cat is curled on the chair fast asleep.
George, when he’s not coming for lap time, is mooching treats.
Image description: Two photos of the same tabby cat posing on the same brown velvet cushion. On the left he sits upright looking sweet and sad and soulful (but you can just tell he’s laying on thick). On the right he sits in half profile meatloaf style looking full, smug, and not-far-from-sleep
Both of them are now proper cats. That is, when they’re not running around outside killing things, or mooching food from us—even Charlie has started to enjoy cat treats3—they sleep. Charlie’s three favourite daytime places are my exercise machine—a NuStep, which is a recumbent cross-trainer—my wheelchair, and my lap. They sometimes compete over laps.
When Charlie can’t have a lap or my chair or the exercise machine—or just when it’s colder than usual—he seeks out the second most expensive cat bed in the world, which is our Denon receiver.
At some point I plan to do a whole blog post about our new AV setup, but for now I’ll just say OH MY GOD I LOVE MY DOLBY ATMOS SOUND! I love it so much that I’m seriously considering spending an unreasonable amount of money to hunt down and buy any of my favourite music that’s been remastered for Atmos. It’s that fucking good. No, it’s better: it’s mind-blowingly magnificent! If you’ve been dithering about getting something similar, just do it. It is so very worth it. One drawback: George doesn’t like the sound moving around the family room: it’s so clear and convincing and so precisely placed that he can track it to within inches but can never see it. It freaks him out. But hey in this one regard, humans win.
Charlie used to be bothered by it, but now doesn’t get fussed. Perhaps it’s because of his brain damage—I’m pretty sure he spent some time seeing things that were’t there, and now not seeing things that are there is just another manifestation of the weirdness he’s grown used to—that and the fact that he’s always been less skittish than his brother. But, yes, he too loves his audio receiver.
I’ll leave you with a picture of him posing as the Emergency Medical Hologram from Star Trek: Voyager.
Image description: A poised and alert tabby cat with perfectly curved whiskers sitting before a blank TV screen on an audio receiver with his tail curled precisely around his paws, looking quizzically into the camera
Perhaps I’ll post another Kitten Report over the holidays. Meanwhile, feel free to catch up on previous kitten reports.
1I use it as a mosquito repellant; it contains nootkatone—which is an even better repellant than DEET and absolutely nontoxic, to people. You can drink the damn stuff. I dilute five drops of essential oil with several tablespoons of neutral oil and it works like a magic shield. Also, it smells nice. I can recommend it. But obviously not for cats.
2 When I say expensive, I’m not kidding. But, oooh, it’s supercool!
3 They like Orijen, original flavour, which are whole-prey (muscle, organ, bone) dehydrated raw food pellets. They love to chase them.