Pippin is my big, bold, gorgeous new cat, all fluffy & huge & complicated. He’s full of goodness, sticks with you, & never goes does what people expect. Just like my latest novel. Which you can find here bit.ly/sharpedgekmh, if you’re interested. One last thing they have in common:L very long tails.
That’s all. I expect there will be a new cat fairly soon, and eventually there will be more novels. It’s gonna be fun to see how (or if) the trend continues.
There’s no deep meaning to this post. It’s winter solstice, my sleep patterns are all thrown off by the long dark nights, and that leaves me antsy & tired at once. I decided to amuse myself, and this happened.
It might be hard to tell, social media algorithms being what they are, but I’ve been pretty much checked-out for a few days. The reason? Merrykitten got his diagnosis, and I’m not dealing with it well. At. All.
It isn’t dire, but it’s bad. His specialty labwork ruled out liver issues and hypothyroid, which leaves only congenital megacolon as an explanation for his symptoms. Basically, due to birth defect or possibly pre-birth injury, (cause may forever be a mystery) Merry’s guts just aren’t ever going to work right. It’s technically the same condition a lot of middle-aged cats get, but cause matters.
(TMI bodily function warning)
Merry is 16 weeks old, and he has now been to the vet 5 times in 2 weeks for bowel cleanouts. He is getting 2 meds direct by mouth, one every 6 hours (which yes, means once at 2 AM) and one every 12 hrs. He’s now on prescription canned food, which he gets in spoonfuls every few hours because he’s ravenous all the time but can’t be allowed to gorge. Also I have to hide his brother’s kibble, because Merry’s guts can’t handle it, which means Pippin’s feeding has been thrown off, which is, y’know, the kind of thing that leads to minor kitty constipation which is…UGH ANXIETY-INDUCING FOR CATMOM.
And all this isn’t a “it’s hard, but it’s only while he’s sick” situation for Merry. It’s a forEVER thing. BEST case is that the meds start working at a dosage he can tolerate and things get moving so he’ll only need them every 8 hours along with the prescription canned food. Every day. Forever.
Well. Forever until he develops a tolerance to the meds and/or he manages to eat something/do something that throws off his gut and he locks up again. Then he would have to back to the vet for more enemas and med adjustment, and so on. Expensive (even with pet insurance) painful, frightening and confusing for him. Rinse and repeat.
There is a surgery option. But. JFC. If there’s no complications, recovery involves issues like “most cats have proper formed feces again within 6 weeks.” (Which means some don’t.) And persistent diarrhea is another outcome. AND the megacolon can still recur. Merry is only 4 months old. And he’s a cat. How much can we justify inflicting? I don’t know. Who would we be doing it for? Him, or us?
In case it isn’t clear between the lines, guilt is ripping me apart. I feel like I should be able to say, “he’s my beloved baby, I’ll do anything for him, at any price,” but I guess I am a monster, because I can’t. I can’t do litter box hypervigilance+prescription canned food+meds for 20 years. I did it for 3 with Scooter, and it nearly broke me. Other people do. Other, incredible, admirable people do much more. I respect the hell out of them. But I don’t have that in me, selfish monster, that I am.
So anyway, Spouseman & I are staring down hard choices. Not ones we have to make immediately. I hope. Fingers crossed Merry’s meds kick into gear this weekend. But even in the best case, his condition simply isn’t sustainable for us longterm, and I–I just don’t know how I’m going to deal.
And if he doesn’t stabilize soon, which is entirely possible–no. I can’t bear to look at that bridge yet, much less think about crossing it. Is pre-grief a real word? I think it should be.
We’ve had a good couple of days in episodes between my flakeout meltdowns. Both kitties are being spoiled rotten with all the petting, brushing, games of toy fetch and strategic napping. Did I sleep in the bathtub with Merry the night after his Really Bad vet day? Why, yes, I did. He was so sad and lonely, apart from his brother for the first time ever. And Spouseman slept on the couch with Pips. This week, kitties are back together in Big Kitty Safe Space overnight. Progress, of a sort.
Our furbabies are both precious and sweet and I am going to keep trying to focus on making good, sweet moments with them while I have them both and also do as much normal life stuff as I can while I do it.
I have been plowing through fluff reading to escape reality (New Murderbot! Raybearer! A whole new mystery series!) Multiple readers have made a point of sharing kind things about my writing with me this week. (Why, yes, I am a shameless affirmation sponge, capable of soaking up praise even in the Worst Of Times ) I haven’t been able to write a word until this, right now, but I have done some graphics escapism and some convention prep and lots of plot-dreaming.
And I’ve been stress-cooking, so dinner last night was crockpot pulled-pork sliders on homemade rolls, & tonight there was marinated chicken on the grill with fresh cucumber salad. Life goes on when food goes on the table.
Next week, I’ll tackle the scary task of following up on multiple communications I have dropped, missed and/or didn’t have mental processing space available when I received them.
Anyway. Thanks for reading to the end of this update. I wish I had happier news to share.
Reward picture of the adorafloofs from earlier today:
June flew right by in a haze of reality-grounded action. The garden finally got rain (oh SO MUCH RAIN) the house is dry, and both the kittens are doing well, despite sneezles, poopiness, vet visits, and so on. I’m volunteering at the Botanic Garden again this summer, and it feels weirdly normal and wonderful to be there for half a day each week. Words are getting written in my WIP Ghost Town on the regular, not fast, but steady, and that’s great. In the not-so-great column, there’s my wrists, knuckles, both feet and one hip, which are being exhaustingly grumpy about the up-and-down weather.
All the goings-on have left me consistently low on spoons & creative energy. I haven’t posted here, and I have um, today to write a June subscriber newsletter.
SO. The blog is getting the “throw something on the page, already-past-deadline” treatment, and the newsletter’s gonna be a June/July double feature.
Since I should put SOMETHING here on the website, I’ll drop a few words about Various Things I see on my regular neighborhood walks with Spouseman. Why? Because I feel the need to share something, and I’ve been wanting to mention these things for a while.
Thing the first: someone a few blocks over decorates their lawn with a line of rubber ducks, all different sizes, lined up in decreasing size order like a mama duck and a line of ever-younger ducklings. The family changes course whenever someone does the mowing. I think there are more ducks this year than last.
Thing the second: another house we pass on our walks has a different flag hanging outside every month. There’s a QR code on a post at the edge of the property, and if you scan it, there’s a little online page explaining why that flag was chosen. Sometimes it’s pretty obvious, like this month, it’s rainbow Pride Flag, March was Ireland, etc. But it’s cool that they provide the information for anyone who wants to know.
Thing the third: the city has planted a lot of linden trees (aka American Basswoods) in our little block of blocks. They smell heavenly this time of year. I was ridiculously happy when I realized we have TWO basswoods on our block. We also have a larch, which is unreasonably amusing to anyone who’s ever watch Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Thing the last: the names of several dogs Spouseman and I had already nicknamed as we passed their yards or briefly chatted with their owners.
Daisy The Long Dog (she’s a Basset) Wilson Leash-Biter Fierce-Defender George Malley Stay Leo the Bear
Someday we’ll learn the proper names of Big Bernese, Trailer Dog, Pretty Brindle Girl, and The Proudest Poodle, but so far, we have only seen them from afar. They are all very good dogs.
House and yard pics will happen here eventually, also writer-reading updates. But not this time. Here’s a single teaser kitty pic, because they are too adorable to not share.
We introduced a new room to the furbabies on Saturday to celebrate their first successful week with us. Okay, no, that’s a fib. We expanded their range by a room because I wanted to take a bath without hearing sad kittens howl their separation anxiety to the uncaring universe from behind their Kitty Safe Zone wall.
Sir Pippin BigFeels toured the new place, found it uninteresting, and decamped downstairs (galumph gaLUMph THUDthudthudthUDthud) to the basement to pester Spouseman, who was trying to play video games.
Master Merry Slippyfeet was similarly unimpressed. He wandered back to the kitchen to have a nosh and a drink. Me, I brought down my post-bath comfy clothes and started the bathwater. While I puttered about, setting out my fluffy towel and bath sundries, Merry returned to the scene, flopped onto the bathmat, and pretended to fall asleep.
I say pretended because the INSTANT my back was turned to pick out a bath fizzie, he jumped onto the tub ledge and–being nicknamed Slippyfeet for a reason–promptly fell into the half-full tub.
Now, this isn’t my first inadvertent dunking rescue. I’ve had cats most of my life, and several of them were NOT surefooted precision jumpers. It’s why I never add bath fizzies until I’m in the tub and thus obviously on-hand to intervene.
All that is to reassure you, dear reader, that Master Merry fell into clean water, not water full of soap and perfumes that would have to be laboriously rinsed off. Still, it was deeper than his little paws could touch bottom. Much frantic paddling, sneezing and crying ensued.
Like I said, not my first cat-dunking. I reacted fast. Maybe 3 seconds from first splash-and-squeal to scoop, scruff, and a swift water skim-down with both hands. The noise attracted an audience. Pippin arrived to supervise although he wisely watched all the action from the hallway. Spouseman helped by handing me extra towels and taking pictures.
Then it was swoop into the big fluffy bath towel. I cuddled him and rubbed him dry for a minute or two, then let him loose when he was ready to attempt putting himself to rights.
He was dry in 15 minutes and took a nap on a blanket with Pippin. And I admit it was nice seeing him Clean and Fluffy a few hours.
Since that exciting night the kittens have endured their first toenail trimming, suffered through a couple of personal hygiene wipedowns each, and enjoyed a visit from the air conditioning technician. Their Kitten Safe Space became VERY cold while many New and Mysterious Noises happened, but the whole time they were intrigued and curious, not scared. Brave boys, these two.
They’re growing like weeds, too. They were 3 lbs when they arrived, and now they’re both 3 lbs 12 oz +/- an ounce. It’s wild how fast they chow through kibble, and not as thrilling how quickly they produce waste for me to haul away, but that’s all part of the process. BUT THE CUTENESS!
Life has been mostly pets, purrs, cleanup, feeding and Creative Cardboard Construction since their arrival, BUT! I have added 1000 words to Ghost Town, so I don’t feel like I’m losing all forward momentum.
(But mostly pets and purrs. And watering the new plantings.)
Hm. I owe the blog an update about the yard. Perhaps next time. This is enough news for one post.
Oh, right–EXCEPT FOR THESE SHORT WORDS FROM OUR SPONSOR! (Me. It’s more words from me.)
I write books about moms & grandmothers & saving the world, you will love them & should read them. Check it out here: The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday
Chateau Herkes is now home to two (TWO!) 10-week-old kittens. Meet Pippin and Merry, also known as Peregrine the Perilous and Meriadoc the Mellow. Pippin is the tabby, Merry is the tuxedo.
Their arrival continues a lifelong tradition of stumbling across Just The Right Cats at Just The Right Time.
These little furmonsters showed up on the life radar and landed in our family by a string of coincidences so unlikely no one would believe it if I put it in a fictional story.
I mean. Really.
It starts when we happen to take a neighborhood walk at the same exact time the owner of a home a few blocks away happens to be out front walking one of his cats on a lead. Okay so far. Reasonable. Believable.
Also entirely believable? That Spouseman and I stop to chat with a fellow cat person. We’d never seen anyone at this house, but the garage was often left open to cat-height, and we’d seen cats come & go & peek out the windows.
We introduce ourselves and admire the fine cat who is lounging upon the grass, and we enquire whether it is a Maine Coon, as it is Huge And Fluffy and Gorgeous. Conversation ensues. It turns out Fester Sylvester (the cat) is inDEED a Maine Coon, and also the son of one of the other cats in the household. There’s even a visiting cat, a breeding queen who was accepting the attentions of suitors.
Coincidences are racking up! Now we have a fine gentleman who is not only the owner of several felines, but also an owner of pedigreed Maine Coons and someone who works with breeders in the area. Still believable, but a certainly a fortuitous encounter for us about-to-look-for-Maine-Coons people!
We admit we love MC’s and will be on the search for some soon, and explain our situation.
I’ll summarize that situation here as briefly (HAHAHAHA me, brief?) as possible.
It’s been two years and two months since our beloved Scootercat died. He was big, black, talkative, and rambunctious, and for 18 years he enjoyed fabulous health other than some serious arthritis in his hips. His decline in his final months was swift and relentless. When things reached a point when we realized we were holding onto him for our sakes, not his, we found the strength to let him go, but damn, it was hard.
We always intended to get another cat or two or three, but the time was never right. First we were grieving, Then we were relocating from our old home to a new one (an even older house, as it turned out) Then we began upgrades and updates on the new-old house, with all the stress, noise, dust, and upheaval attendant on such projects. Inflicting all that change and stress on new pets felt like it would be One Thing Too Far for everyone involved.
Now let me pause to make 100% clear that this house has clearly been a well-loved bungalow since it was built. The previous owners did a beautiful job of maintaining the original interior and modernizing essentials like windows, kept up on repairs, and did critical kitchen and bathroom remodels. But it was built in 1929. All the individual upkeep work was due for consolidation, and other parts were due for replacement. It took time & money and DID I MENTION THE CONSTANT UPHEAVAL?
The last major work involving concrete saws, drills, rumbling earthmovers & strangers coming in & out of the house just wrapped up. (It was all very pandemic-safe, no-contact, outside-ventilated areas, exterior entrance to the basement FOR THE WIN)
The night before our fateful walk, actually–we’d decided it was FINALLY cat search time!
So here we are, standing on our neighbor’s front lawn, sharing our saga of “finally ready to bring cats into our home,” and he says, “My girl had a litter of kittens in March. Want to see them?”
Now what are the odds of that? Uh-huh. Multiply that by the odds that both kittens are amazingly friendly and sweet and just PERFECT, and also not yet under contract to anyone else? Yeah.
That’s how it works for us, I guess. Fast forward a couple of weeks, and our new furry overlords are officially members of the family and rulers of their domain.
That domain currently consists of a Kitten Safe Zone (for overnight and other times they can’t be supervised) plus the kitchen/family room/Spouseman’s office area. As they master the finer points of ambulation, coordination, and personal hygiene, more areas of the house will be opened for conquest.
I’ve astonished myself by getting ANY writing done in the last week, but I have! In some ways I work better when I have a reliable schedule PLUS a distraction to push against. These little guys are plenty distracting as well as totally adorable.
They will be on social media, but I keep the best material non-public. You can support me by signing up here for the free monthly newsletter that comes straight to your inbox, ask for an invite to my Very Quiet Discord server and/or follow this blog.
Two final pics to tempt you into newsletterland:
I’ll share the stories of my past cats in future posts. Unless I forget.