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He Lives To Nom Another Day

We had quite a scare this week, the little orange dude and I. With a seventeen year-old cat, one becomes acutely aware that any day could literally be his last.

At first, all I knew was that something was Not Right.

Every morning we have this routine: I dish up his breakfast while my coffee is brewing. The coffee and the cat finish at about the same time. I sit sideways on the couch with my legs up, and he curls up behind my knees. I flip a throw blanket over both of us, and spend the next 20-30 minutes watching whatever on television while I drink my coffee. Then I get up, and he stays behind under the blanket, and that’s how he sleeps for the first half of the day.

But Wednesday morning, he didn’t want breakfast. He made me lift him onto the couch instead of jumping up himself. And after he was under the blanket, he couldn’t get comfortable. He tossed and turned and got up and flipped over on one side and then the other.

Eventually I peeked under the blanket and asked him what was wrong. His expression was so distant and disconnected that I was immediately alarmed.

We rushed to the vet, had a big wodge of his neck shaved so that they could draw blood, and the vet asked when he had last had a bowel movement. I realized that I had no idea. I mean, I live in a small home – the smell is usually a dead give-away, even if the madcap post-poop “victory lap” doesn’t tip you off. But I don’t really pay attention to the timing.

Constipation can be extremely serious in older cats. It can mean surgery or bowel damage, and it can be a secondary symptom of a more serious condition (like diabetes or kidney failure). If they go off their food for very long, there’s always the risk of a fatal condition called Feline Hepatic Lipidosis.

The vet gave him a shot of penicillin and a shot of cortisone/painkiller, which seemed to ease some of his pain.

I took this picture Thursday afternoon. I knew that it could be the last picture I ever took of him. Uncharacteristically, he showed no interest in the camera.


By Thursday night, he was looking pretty bad. Bad enough that I started to wonder about going to the 24-hour emergency clinic. His little belly was so distended, and drum-tight. But he was drinking water, and eating a little bit (deli meat)(it was the vet’s recommendation)(he likes roasted turkey best, but you have to shred it up with your fingers). So I crossed my fingers, and held off.

Finally at about 3AM I heard the tell-tale sound from the litter box: chuff chuff chuff. I’ve never been so excited for cat poop: I almost couldn’t wait for him to finish scratching in the box before I dashed in to double-check. And after a second poop around 10AM, he was virtually back to normal. Belly soft, back relaxed, tail held at its usual jaunty angle.

So that’s the moral of the story: Has your old cat pooped yet today?

To celebrate, I tried to participate in the Cat Breading meme. But he insisted on eating the bread, instead.


Even after I explained that cats can’t taste carbs and can’t digest them. He begs to differ.

(And like so many old men, he’ll be on a daily dose of Metamucil from now on.)

20 comments to He Lives To Nom Another Day

  • Oh orange cat, that was scary!!! Glad everything is okay!

  • two silver cats

    I don’t think I have ever cheered out loud at the words “chuff chuff chuff” before.

    I tried doing the cat-breading thing too, and the larger of the two silver cats had the same reaction. Granted, this is the same kitty who, as a seven-month-old kitten, managed to entertain himself while I was away at work by managing to cover every square inch of my apartment floor with a very evenly-distributed layer of cornbread.

  • two silver cats

    I should say… cornbread CRUMBS.

  • So happy to hear he is better! HOORAY!

    I also almost died from laughing about his old-man Metamucil. I’m imagining him hitchin’ up his kitty-pants and stirrin’ up a glass of fiber juice while shaking his paw at those kids who won’t stay off of his lawn. Tee hee!

  • tari

    Goodness that was a scary post. Glad the old man is ok.

  • Northmoon

    May he live many more years in excellent unconstipated health.

    I have never heard of ‘cat breading’. You really do find the most bizarre combinations – sweaters on trees, Kindle with chickens, bread on cats. Some of their expressions were priceless.

  • Cristina

    The “post-poop victory lap” made me giggle! We’ve always felt our 13 yr old Gil was just running from his exceedingly stinky poo instead.

    Very glad the old man is feeling better. No one feels right when they can’t poo!

    I also love the visual Kara described in her comments!

  • Yes, I know that victory lap well. Not that the current felines have done it, but former ones did.

    So glad The Old Guy is doing well again. Metamucil — heh!

  • Kathleen

    Our older cat does the victory lap, as well. Have always thought of it as Poop Panic but will now be thinking of Apocalypse Now: “Smells like…victory.”
    Wishing orange cat many more laps to come.

  • Hey, doesn’t everybody feel better after a good poop?
    Glad your old duffer is feeling better.

  • Canned pumpkin, in some cases, works similarly to metamucil. One of my parent’s old cats (she lived to be 21) was given that on occasion.

  • What a Harrowing Tale! I’m so glad your Old Man Cat is feeling better though.

  • Ginny

    I am so glad Kimble is feeling better. Our oldest is only 16 but getting frail. I keep a much closer eye on what he eats and drinks. After reading this, I think he is going to get some deli meat when I shop today.

  • Heidi

    PHEW!!!!!! When I read the title of the blog I got immediately worried even though I knew he was ok. I had to giggle when I read about the post-poop victory lap, cause my giant orange Scooby cat goes completely MAD, and then I smell it (and honestly, I think he must be sneaking into something truly vile) and it alllll makes sense, lol. Go Kimble!

  • I know exactly what you mean. Our old cat is 18. Every morning I check to see he’s still moving out of his bed. Every day we check his eating/peeing/pooping to see that everything is ok. One day without poop means he gets cheap cat food which makes his poop loose. 2 days without poop would mean a trip to the vet. It’s really like caring for an old man!
    And he’s just as grumpy. :-)
    I’m happy to see your old guy is ok.

  • Oh noes! I’m glad it all worked out in the end – that is pretty scary.

  • Sara

    Gwyndolyn used to shake her cane at the neighbor cats, yelling “Get off my lawn, you whippersnappers! I’m calling the vet on you!” Generally they snickered at her little flowered house dress — she disdained the curlers, though — and wandered off eventually.

    Cats do like sweets: they’ll drink sugared milk in preference to plain. I’m sure they taste the sugar in the bread. Rashid was a carbo-munch, and Melvin loves salted crackers.

  • Erika

    Kimble is much more of a dapper old man, sort of like Tom Selleck, where he’s still very “Ladies…!” but now his hair is gray and his joints creak.