Reub's journey

23 January 2012

The possible cat

Every few days I have long distance phone conversations between myself and my 90 year old mother, and also my older brother Je, retired from the trucking business. In Wisconsin Je lives an hour's drive from our mother, who has multiple long-term care specialists looking in on her daily. We, along with my other older brother, Jo, hope to keep her in her home for the duration, because that's what she wants and we're trying really hard to make it happen, although we have our doubts. Especially Je and me.

Illustration by Enrico Pinochi, early comic artist and  Disney illustrator
She spends too much time alone, and probably overdoes her pain-killing drug, Oxycontin. She might last longer in a retirement home, where somebody would regulate her meds, and where she would have more social contact, where somebody else would cook for her. But she tells us she wouldn't like the cooking; she hates small talk, and doesn't want to pay for any of it. Who could blame her?

"Marco" Wood engraving, Carl Montford

A few days ago, after visiting her,  Je loaded his two wonderful dogs ( a springer and a golden) in his car, and she said "You're taking them? After all the times I've had them? You're taking them?" She was exaggerating of course; she hasn't had those boys for a weekend in quite a few years, but it went straight to Je's heart, my big tough brother. He called me, and we talked. Our older brother, Jo, it turns out, had tried to take a dog to her a couple of years ago, a little shitszue lap-dog. She had sneered, "That is NOT a dog." End of discussion.

And now she simply cannot handle any dog, no matter what she thinks. Conked out on painkillers and the exhaustion that comes with 9 decades, she sleeps until 12:00 many days. This is not the lifestyle for most dogs, who must be greeted, exercised and fed by 9:00AM.

But what about a cat?

Miniature painting by Clarissa Peters (1809-1854)

Je and I made a plan. On Wednesday he plans to take her to the animal shelter, where he hopes she will be attracted to a cat. A cat that he will be willing to take when it outlives her.  Because no animal should have to go back to a shelter, and Je and I are are both willing to teach our dogs to respect a new cat if that's what it comes to. Especially this cat.


  1. A cat is a nice idea. I have had both over the years and cats are much easier to care for.

  2. That sounds like a wonderful plan, Kerry... particularly if your mother is reasonably steady on her feet. There is no doubt that animals soothe people and make us feel needed and loved. And I wouldn't worry too much about the dogs, down the road. Cats also have a way of letting them know who's boss. ;)

    Please keep us posted.

  3. Let's hope she and a cat make contact. And I hope, when old age stymies me, my kids are as concerned and caring as you and your siblings are.

  4. You may want to stay a few days and see if she remembers to feed and water the cat and make sure it does not trip her and make sure she has no new allergies. I know, I am such a pessimist!

  5. This end of life thing is hard especially when you don't live nearby.

  6. Laoch: Cats are less demanding of certain things for sure. I do wonder if she will buy into getting a cat instead of a dog though.

    Hilary: Thanks Hilary. I hope she's steady enough on her feet. That's the biggest worry. I'll let you know what happens.

    Pauline: Thanks. It seems like what I do isn't really enough. I live far away & it's hard.

    Tabor: Not a pessimist, just a realist. The risk of tripping over a new pet is the biggie here. But something tells me it's the right thing to do anyway.

    Ellen: That's for sure.

  7. That sounds like a great idea to me. some cats that have been surrendered may have a bio that includes "dog-friendly".

  8. Aunt Jean has had about 3 different cats in the past 5 years and they are such good company for her. She loves having them around to talk to, to welcome her when she comes into the apartment. And cats can pretty much feed themselves if you put out enough food for them. Jean even has a "fountain" that constantly fills the water dish. She heard somewhere that cats like moving water!!

  9. ER: I was hoping for one of those dog friendly types. It makes it so much easier if the cat doesn't bolt.

    Merry: 3 cats in 5 years? Really? That's a lot. When we had Alfonzo the doc recommended one of those fountains to encourage him to drink more water; it cost $40 and he didn't like it!

  10. Y'all:
    Jeff offered to take her to look at kitties today, but she said no. :(


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