Yep, I have a cat.
In the summer of 1996, I decided I was going to get a pet – the first that was mine alone, and not a family pet. I was attending business school and living in a very small place in New Haven, Connecticut, at the time so I decided my lifestyle (and home) wouldn’t be fair to a dog (dogs to me have pretty much always meant big dogs — growing up, the English Setters were the little ones). So I decided to get a cat. I saw an ad in the local paper – somebody had found a kitten that appeared to have gotten separated from his mom and lost, and the good samaritan that found him was looking for a forever home for the little guy. I picked up Harley that afternoon.
You know how some people say their cats aren’t really cat-like? That they are more like dogs? Yeah, that’s not Harley. Harley has always been, well, largely unpleasant to everyone and everything except me. There are a few exceptions – he likes the petsitter and a few others – but he really is pretty much a one-woman cat. In fact, my dad doesn’t believe me that he can actually be super affectionate and playful. Probably because he can also be quite ornery and has been known to pee out of spite. I love him, but I admit, he doesn’t always make it easy. He’s pretty much a curmudgeonly grouch.
So… Harlen James is 15 now (for the handful that know the reference, Harlen James is to be sung to the tune of Kenny Rogers’ “Reuben James”). In the past few months, I noticed he was getting a little scrawnier (he’s a small cat) and wasn’t grooming himself as well/as often as normal and his coat was getting a greasy feeling. I largely dismissed it as old age. But, in the last month or so, he’s peed in inappropriate places multiple times – not just the occasional, mad-at-me, spiteful pee – and his coat is constantly getting matted. So I took him in to see the vet late last week, fully convinced he was in kidney failure. The vet had the same initial diagnosis, but wanted to see the blood and urine test results before coming up with a treatment plan.
But when I spoke with Dr. Murphy regarding the test results, he asked if I wanted good news or bad news first. Good news? He’s not in kidney failure. Bad news? He has hyperthyroidism. So what does that mean? It means I have to give an old, ornery cat a pill twice a day, everyday. [Cross fingers and knock wood, it’s actually been pretty easy so far – bless that pill syringe thingy.] In three weeks, we’ll go back in for more tests to see if he also does have some mild kidney disease that’s being masked by the hyperthyroidism. But all in all, much better news than I was expecting!
I may be imaging it, but it seems like he’s already starting to feel a little better.