Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Craving Peace

I had to do errands yesterday, but as I was putting on my coat, I heard screaming from the bedroom. Our senior male cat, Snalbert, was attacking our fragile little Snicky on the bed.

He had also done this last Thursday, for the first time in many years, and it was horrible. She'd peed all over the floor that time and, because she has chronic renal failure, there was a LOT of it. (Fortunately, for the same reason, it's very dilute and hardly smells. And even more more luckily, there was a full spray bottle of Nature's Miracle on the dresser next to where the attack had occurred. Calling this product a "Miracle" is not an exaggeration.)

Snicky didn't pee on the bed this time, thank god, and she wasn't hurt either time, but this was still very troubling. I was afraid to leave the cats alone. What if Snalbert attacked the kittens next? They'd be terrified, and it only takes one traumatic event to turn a happy-go-lucky kitten into a cowering scaredy-cat for a long time. When it happened last week, I called the vet, asking if ringworm pills can cause aggression. She said no, but pointed out that Snicky smells like lime sulfur (Snalbert hadn't been dipped himself yet), so that he may not be able to recognize her, a likely reason for his attack. Dipping all four cats would either eliminate the problem or make all hell break lose.

Yesterday, I spoke sternly to my sulfurous Snalbert, peeled him off Snicky, and, as he tried to fight with me, tossed him (rather harder than I intended) into the bathroom for a "time out." He howled behind the door; the kittens came running in alarm. They like him. I wondered what he was saying. I  moved Snicky to a high perch that she likes, so she'd feel secure, and let Snalbert out, with another lecture. He knew he was bad. He had not been acting like himself all day: he wasn't sociable with my husband as he showered and shaved, wasn't interested in breakfast, didn't howl conversationally, and didn't start to purr when I'd ask him if he was a nice pussycat — which always elicits an instant response. What was wrong?

I was on the way to the vet's office with insurance forms anyway, so I reported this. My vet wasn't there, but the assistant recommended Feliway, one of those pheromone-releasing oil diffusers you plug into an outlet. It calms cats down about half the time, they charge $38 for it, and it would probably aggravate my allergies as much as lime sulfur dips. I said I'd think about it.

I did my errands, including a visit to J. Crew, where they had none of the styles I liked in colors I liked. I was still able to see that the cinnamon is all wrong, burgundy is a bit drab, and "vintage forest" is beautiful. Their turtlenecks are extremely long again this year; they make me look short. So my craving is focused on a forest V-necked cardigan, which is sold out online and way too expensive at $168 anyway. But as I was leaving, I spotted a cotton, tissue-weight turtleneck in that color, at the bottom of a stack of black ones, in my size, for $29.50. Perfect.

I paid with my $25 gift card but stupidly forgot to show my husband's school ID. If I had, I think I would have had to pay about 7 cents.  Oh, for dumb. I just might go back... it's the principle of the thing.

I returned home, with many bags of groceries, to find all four cats unscathed and hungry. They all eat canned food, about five or six times a day. We also do a lot of bowl-washing and lugging home of cans. Oh, for the many past years of blithely pouring kibble into bowls twice a day and being done. Now we're syringe-feeding, mixing lysine into food, and opening lots of extra cans when a flavor turns out to be dud. But it's fun to occasionally see them all eating at once, when I've picked a flavor they are in the mood for. The kittens get fed whenever they want, and so do our fragile, finicky older cats.

Usually, I hit the pillow these days and sleep like a log, but I was awake much of last night, worrying about Snalbert. Then it hit me: along with his ringworm pill, we've been including a tiny quarter of Snicky's cyproheptadine pills, at the vet's suggestion. It's an appetite stimulant, and when he was sick for a month with a virus, he hadn't been eating enough. He's been getting it for weeks now. Aha!

First thing this morning, I looked up the side effects — agitation and aggression are among them. Problem solved. I can't wait for Snalbert to go back to being his old self. But how had I, my husband, and the vet all forgotten about those cypro pills? Live and learn.

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