Archive for February 24th, 2009|Daily archive page

Continuing cat confusion

I took Mom’s cat to the vet today. Just a checkup and vaccinations – proof of vaccination is required in the assisted living facility. I’m only four months late on updating his annual vaccine, so, not too bad… The cat is doing fine. He has lost two pounds since August on this vet-provided food (good for his bladder, but also for his waistline, I guess).

This business with the cat is somewhat maddening. Mom called yesterday to say the cat had gotten out, but was now sitting next to her watching her talk on the phone. I’m pretty sure he had never left the apartment. I told her I was going to be taking him to the vet, and she said she didn’t think she should come along. I wholeheartedly agreed, mostly because taking Mom anywhere adds many minutes to all portions of the trip. She is able-bodied, but a very pokey walker. So today when I showed up to pick up the cat for the vet visit, Mom said she wanted to come with me. I told her it might cause her to miss dinner, which was true. So I didn’t think she should risk that. “But I want to be with him,” she moaned. Really, she was whimpering a little. But I held fast, already running late and knowing she would slow me down way too much. I told her he’d be fine, we’d be back before she knew it. She walked me to the car. The whole time, she just seemed sort of rattled.

On my way into her apartment, two of her friends stopped me to talk about how confused Mom is about the cat. One said she had been crazy all day wondering where he was. I told them how I think that if she can’t see him, she doesn’t think he’s in her apartment. And maybe because of that lack of conceptual thinking, when she is out of her apartment, she thinks he is out, too. She talks about him being all over the building, upstairs, downstairs (there is no downstairs) and I simply cannot guess what she is referring to, except perhaps her own movement around the place for meals and activities. My sister had a similar theory about Mom’s attachment to her earlier cat, one with which she was completely obsessed. Mom would say the cat was afraid to be alone at night, that she didn’t like to be left alone in general. My sister thought Mom applied all of her worries about herself onto the cat. It made pretty good sense but had never occurred to me.

Mom was semi-obsessive with the two cats until recently. When the other cat died, it’s as if a piece of Mom’s brain broke off. She is unclear about how long she has had this cat, how old he is, what his name is, what his sex is, whether she has one or two cats, and where this cat is at any given moment. It’s odd, just listing that, I recall that one of her friends at the facility said Mom doesn’t know the five W’s about the cat. So true. She runs through them at any opportunity, but she retains nothing. But she can remember that she thinks she is running out of cat food.

So unfortunately, many conversations lately with Mom have revolved around the cat, but have made no sense at all. And it’s as if she has an inkling that she isn’t making sense. I have asked her numerous times if she would prefer not having the cat anymore so she doesn’t have to worry. But that does not seem to be the answer. That suggestion borders on upsetting her.

A bright spot at the vet: I really like my vet. We always talk about health issues, perhaps because I worked for years at a medical center. He has a somewhat defective heart, and has gone through five pacemakers because he had to get one when he was very young. He also has an aging mother, but she lives alone and seems to be OK for the most part. And then we were talking about Mom a little bit, and I told him Mom had wanted to come along. “Tell her she did,” he said. I cracked up. Good answer. He felt a little guilty, but I assured him that it’s OK to joke. Mom would even probably get a kick out of that one.

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