I miss my Nuala. I adore the little kitty who she’s morphed into, but I really miss all the magical behaviours that made her incredibly unique and special. Of course, I didn’t use this blog to gush about her level of amazing-ness. You all have kitties who are unique, charming and loving – you didn’t really need to hear about mine. I will say though, in many ways Nuala was different from any kitty I’d fostered or been owned by. She had a sweet charm and chattiness and a deeply loving nature mixed with just enough naughtiness to make her irresistible.
A lot of this has changed and I don’t know if it’s because she’s sick, she’s aging, or because the dynamic of the house changed and she adjusted to her ‘new reality’. Nuala is more quiet, withdrawn, not bouncy and happy any longer. She is hesitant. Her bouncy confidence is not there. She is a lot less chatty. She’s broken her beloved routines and also the house rules.
Nuala is sick. She really hasn’t been herself since Cooper arrived. You may think it’s a shift of adjustment to a new cat – and I watched this closely thinking that as well. First of all, Cooper gave Nuala FHV – feline herpes virus. It’s a respiratory illness. She got it mid-level bad, and had trouble breathing and needed to have steam sessions to help her. It was a long 2 weeks. She was miserable and confused and deeply sad.
She never really bounced back. After the last effects of the virus ebbed away, she remained less bouncy and less engaged.
Over the past two months I noticed weight loss. At first it was a good thing – she lost the inactivity-pouch she was developing on her belly since she lost Mouci. That was strange: Mouci was barely active. 18.5 years of tired. They didn’t play: but they were bonded. But somehow, Nuala’s activity dropped when Mouci died. So she lost her excess tummy… but then she seemed to continue to lose weight.
She’s been lethargic, less chatty, less … herself. Try explaining that to someone who doesn’t know your cat! If you know your kitties on an emotional level, you observe things about them almost sub-consciously. That gives you a gut-feeling about them. My gut wouldn’t keep quiet. She was not thriving.
Then, about 8 weeks ago, I took her outside on her harness for 1.5 hours. Our backyard. She loved it. But within the next day or two the itch began. She was over-licking her paws, biting at her nails obsessively, and she developed a swollen lower lip a couple of days later. We watched her carefully, and the symptoms eased, but they were still there. Her paws looked fine, but she continued to lick and bite at them too much.
A couple of weeks ago we took her to the vet. He gave her a cursory exam and told us that she had ulcerated gums. The lower lip was also an ulcer. He felt it was a food allergy. He suggested changing her food. He said if it didn’t improve we could give her steriod pills: since it had been about 3 weeks and the licking behaviours were pronounced, we decided to give her the pills right away. So she’s been on a reducing dose of pills for about 3 weeks. And we put all three cats on a kitten food that we know Nuala has tolerated well. She’s still licking her paws. The lower lip bump is gone and she has a bit more energy. She’s still not thriving – I can’t put my finger on it.
I think it’s almost too coincidental that she was outside the day or so before the onset of this. Did she get bitten by something? Did she eat a bad bug? Is there some sort of toxic weed growing in the garden? Is she allergic to something? I keep thinking environmental agents.
I don’t know if it’s the food… our kitties eat a food-mix. We buy 3 or 4 foods and mix them for taste, variety, nutrition etc. I had mixed up a new ‘batch’ in our big food-tin about 2 weeks before onset I think. We put all that food aside. Could it be the new Wellness? Could it be Nutrience? The other food is one that’s been constant for ages – Whiskas for taste. Was there a 4th? It’s unlikely their treats since they’ve been getting these for about 5 months. It’s so hard to pinpoint.
I’m worried about her. I’m watching this as closely as I can. And a week after she’s done the steroids, she may need to go back to the vet. Send good kitty thoughts to our little girl.