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Published: Sunday, 8/31/2014

Age is catching up with dear feline friend

Mary Alice Powell. Mary Alice Powell.
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Call it Kitty Curb Service or just plain love.

By any name, Geranium is receiving the extra attention that she requires in her golden age, and her deep purr tells me thank you.

The beautiful cat with piercing yellow eyes and long, soft black fur doesn’t complain, but it’s obvious that we are nearing the end of her life’s journey. I say we because when you own an animal it is your responsibility for their care from the first day until the very end.

Our journey together began on the day I rescued her on the road that I just happened to take when my road was freshly tarred.

When I stopped to see friends and they suggested I take the cat that was living on mice in a roadside woodpile, I couldn’t get to her fast enough. There was no struggle to catch her and there was no question what to name her. She soon found the big pots of geraniums on the patio a perfect napping place, so that was it.

For some reason we tend to know dogs’ ages, down to the very day and month, but cats’ ages are often approximate. I am quite certain that Geranium and I connected 20 years ago.

She just hobbled into the office to lie down close to my chair as she often does, and I felt compelled to say “Good morning sweet pea, I am just writing a story about you.”

Did she understand that? Of course not. But she does understand when I carry her food to the second floor because she no longer comes downstairs to the kitchen every day. When she doesn’t eat the wet food that I take to her and place on a colorful placemat with water and treats, I return to the first floor and open a can of tuna for her.

Geranium’s aging process is most noticeable because of the difficulty she has going up and down stairs and because for the last few nights she has not jumped on the bed, but has curled up on a thick rug on the floor. She no longer jumps on my lap the minute I sit down to read or watch TV, but curls up near my feet. No matter her condition, she is as close to me as she is able to be.

The first few years were pretty rough for both of us. I am sure that some people would have opted not to go the extra mile and money to save a stray cat. But when the young cat couldn’t walk and kept falling down soon after I brought her home I called a veterinarian.

I added that while she was at the clinic, he might as well spay her.

The vet found and was able to remove half of a tumor that was in Geranium’s ear canal, causing her dizziness, but after anesthetizing and shaving her, he discovered she had already been spayed. That proved that either a previous owner had thrown her out, or that she ran away.

She has endured, and I have paid dearly for two other surgeries. One surgery was to remove the rest of the tumor in her ear. Years later a tumor in her stomach was removed successfully. I want to believe that because I agreed to the surgeries that were advised for Geranium’s survival she has had a long life.

Those of us who love our cats want to believe they have nine lives. Only yesterday I had an opportunity to believe in that old tale when I was certain Geranium was much worse.

After getting in the car to drive to Toledo to stay overnight, I thought, what if I came home and found Geranium had died in my absence? I got out of the car and ran in the house to say goodbye, give her a kiss, and make sure she had fresh water.

At that, she obviously was afraid I was going to take her in the car as I often do when I am gone overnight. She ran out the door and hid under a trailer where I couldn’t reach her.

Her surprising show of agility and judgment delayed my departure until she made up her mind to go back in the house. Sure enough, when I returned home the next day she was back upstairs waiting for lunch. She much prefers home to motels.

Aren’t animals wonderful? Don’t you sometimes think they are smarter than we are?

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor. Contact her at: mpowell@theblade.com

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