Friday, December 5, 2014



Woody was not included in my "eulogy" post about Spite.
Spite had already reached his senior years when Woody joined our family in 2011. He was a fuzzy kitten who had been apparently abandoned in our yard. Spite was curious and polite from the first. I don't remember that he ever growled or hissed at Woody.

Treat time!

Woody, however, even as young as he was (four months, according to the vet's estimate), was determined to establish himself as the dominant cat. I put two bowls of cat food down, and whichever one Spite was eating from was the very one that Woody would decide was his! Spite often would graciously concede and move to the other bowl; sometimes he would leave, deciding he had eaten enough.

Beginning to eat

Woody, being young and still kittenish, wanted to play, but Spite wasn't interested. Sometimes Woody got rough. He grew fast and soon was larger and stronger than Spite, and Spite was a little afraid of him, I think. He began spending more time outside, where Woody wouldn't go (he is really a scaredy-cat in many ways). As Woody matured, the two cats became companionable, but never close friends. That's why I didn't include Woody in my last post.

Uneasy peace

Not only did Woody grow larger, he also grew "fluffier" - first his tail. Suddenly, almost overnight, it began looking like a bottle brush! I said to him, "Woody! Where did you get that tail!?" It looked like a squirrel's tail! He has tufts of hair on the tips of his ears and between his toes, and a fluffy "mane" around his cheeks. His back is smooth and soft, and his belly is fluffy. I looked up "Maine Coon cat" on Wikipedia, and he fits the physical description to a T. I'm sure he must be part Maine Coon, though; if he were full blooded he wouldn't have been a stray in our back yard. Someone would have been looking for him with a hefty reward, and no one was. There were no signs, no ads, and no notices at the vet's office.

Woody is a sweet cat, but very shy. He hides when anyone comes to visit, and he won't go out, except right around the back patio when we are outside with him. He'll sit in our laps in the evening when we are watching TV or reading. In the morning after breakfast he nearly always enjoys "coffee time" with my husband, sitting in his lap while he has his second cup.

Coffee time with Woody

We have been worried about him this week. He hasn't eaten since Saturday noon. I don't think it's grief over Spite's passing, and I don't think it's from being left alone for a day and two half days over Thanksgiving. He did eat while we were gone. I took him to the vet yesterday. I think it's a hairball; he tried to cough it up twice without success. She (the vet) thinks it gastritis or pancreatitis and gave him a shot for nausea and some pills to relax his digestive tract. So far he's still not eating; I'll have to take him back to the vet.

UPDATE Sunday, Dec. 7 - Woody started eating a little bit Saturday. I'm glad he's starting slowly, to give his system time to adjust. He still seems to be feeling all right, relaxed, affectionate, and purring.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Spite the cat is gone

Double Exposure
Spite and Crystal in Daphne

Spite when he was young and healthy
Spite when he was young and healthy

He'd been losing weight since last spring, went periods when he wouldn't eat and we kept him going all summer, sometimes with smoked pork from a barbeque restaurant and Swanson's reduced salt chicken broth. When he did eat, which was more days than not, he was eating prescription high-calorie cat food, as he had lost 2/3 of his weight.

He had been diagnosed with a heart murmur and diseased kidneys, but he kept on going and seemed to enjoy life, taking regular walks around the yard, basking in the sunshine and even catching an occasional chipmunk!
Until yesterday, November 20. He tried to walk, but his hind feet were dragging and he couldn't keep his balance. Even his front feet wanted to turn in. My husband told me about this while I was out running errands. When I came home, he tried to stand up and come to me, but couldn't. I gathered him up in my arms, and called the vet. While waiting for the scheduled time, I held him in my lap, and gave him another bowl of chicken broth. He drank what he wanted, then relaxed and would have slept, but it was time to take him.

He taught our grandchildren not to be afraid of cats by being his patient, sweet self. They stopped screaming and running to their mother when they saw him, and even were eventually able to pet him, cautiously.

Our son got him, probably in 1999, as a kitten. He was with a colony of feral cats that lived in the alley behind his workplace. Our son's co-worker fed them, and later took the kittens to a shelter. She persuaded our son to adopt the black male, even though he lived in a "no pets" apartment (thus the name "Spite").

We kept Spite off and on, when John went out of town or if he knew the landlady's son was coming by for a repair job. John was keeping him inside, so we did, too. Our other cats went outside (three of them then, Frosty, Shadow, and Crystal). Spite looked out the window longingly. He tolerated my attention and petting, but didn't enjoy it. When the other cats came in, he would go to them, greeting them with friendly chirps. But they spit and hissed at him - very rude!

When our son went to Belgium in 2000 to earn his Master's degree at Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven, we took Spite, and told John we were going to let him go outside. Spite loved the outdoors, and didn't mind going out in any kind of weather, cold or rainy, even snow. Our other male cat, Frosty, didn't want to go out in the rain or the cold; he shook his foot, but he had to go out when Spite did, so he wouldn't be thought a sissy! (The girls, Shadow and Crystal, didn't care; they stayed inside where it was warm and cozy.)

He grew to be a big cat, weighing 14-15 pounds without being fat. He could jump great heights: to the top of the china cabinet and the tall bookcases! He would look down at us, seeming very pleased with himself, and got down as easily as he had gotten up.

We moved from Birmingham to Daphne in 2003, to a bigger yard next to a cemetery with a pond and an occasional flock of Canada geese and other birds. (Shadow had already left us, and Frosty couldn't tolerate the tranquilizer prescribed by the vet to help him endure the long auto ride, so we arrived with Spite and Crystal.) Spite spent many long, happy hours outside exploring, as well as inside. He made friends with the neighbor's cat, and helped her eliminate the rats in their storage building. He also made friends with our human friends, and was always very sociable.

Spite seemed to tolerate the move to Montgomery in 2013, but developed a bad habit of "thinking outside the box," the litter box specifically. That made us very unhappy, as we had purchased new carpets, so he moved to the sunroom, with a private door to the outside. That was his only bad habit; he was a very sweet, affectionate, and sociable cat. He will be greatly missed by us. This spring we may plant a hydrangea shrub at his final resting place.

Spite's last day
Good-bye, Spite. Missing you

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Praise report

No prescription pain pill (hydrocodone) since Thursday night! Three days ago! I had one in my purse to take at or about 8:00 Friday morning (had to get up early to take granddaughter to school), and I forgot. Never thought about it all day, and remembered it that night.
"Hey!" I thought, "I forgot my pill this morning, and I'm not hurting. I won't take one tonight and see how I am in the morning."

Saturday morning, I was fine, and have been fine since. I'm only taking 2 Aleve tablets once a day now.

Doing drugs
(The hydrocodone are not in this picture; I keep (kept) them separately.)

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Yesterday I graduated from Physical Therapy! No diploma, not even a "report card" (that will be faxed to my surgeon), but a few hugs and promises to tell everyone I know about Premier Physical Therapy in Montgomery, Alabama. They are super!

My final "score" was 107 on the flexion and 3 on the extension. I can't sit on my heels, but I haven't done that in years, decades actually. I have function for everything I want to do, my daily living and activities. I will continue to exercise at home. Today I walked about a quarter mile in our neighborhood.

Yesterday was a busy day. After therapy, I got my hair cut and took food and visited with two ladies from church. They are sisters; one has had cancer surgery and the other has moved in to take care of her. They are sweet ladies and have always been friendly to us, since we started coming to that church shortly after we moved.

Then, we helped our son and daughter-in-law by one of us (me) staying with the children while the other (my husband) brought them home from the auto shop where they got oil changed and other services. They didn't want to go out to supper with us, so went to Chick Fil-A all by ourselves. ;-) Today, we reversed; Tommy stayed with the children and I took son and d-i-l to the auto place to pick up the car. We then took a trunkful of clothes that are now too big for me (Yay!) to Goodwill. I bought a book by Maeve Binchy there, and we ate lunch at Jim 'n Nick's Barbeque - a pulled pork sandwich for him and Brunswick stew for me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Second knee surgery update

I saw the surgeon last Friday, Oct. 17, for a follow-up visit. He was very pleased with my progress: my extension (straightening) is perfect(!) and my flexion (bending) is 95. He said I could quit therapy if I want to, or keep going for more improvement. I said I want to keep going to try to get a little more bending, so he wrote me down for 3 more weeks. I will see him again in mid-December for a final check-up.

I went to therapy today (Tuesday) instead of Monday, as we kept the grandchildren, and we're having our chimney repaired, so Tommy wanted to be at home with the chimney work while I stayed with the grandchildren. The older one was at school, and I took the baby and the 3 year old for a walk several blocks down their neighborhood. The weather was very pleasant. We saw a worm, and granddaughter was very proud of herself because she didn't "freak out." She was leery of it, and stayed as close to me as possible.

So, I went to therapy today and will go again tomorrow, then Friday. Today I got to 100 with flexion!! Woo hoo!! I've been working on it at home, bending as much as possible and holding it to a count of 10 or 15 even while I am sitting apparently doing nothing, and bending at the fireplace, with my foot on the raised hearth (when the men are not here working), and still doing my heel slides.