My mom, the cat

Mom called this afternoon. “The cat has escaped,” she said. I truly don’t know what to believe when she reports this now. I asked if she could see him somewhere there in her apartment. “Right now I’m using your telephone,” she responded. I really don’t know what that meant. She tried to describe how she had lost track of the cat. She wasn’t making sense. She didn’t seem as distressed as she was the time the cat actually was gone, having trotted off to a neighbor’s apartment. “Do you want me to come over there?” I asked. “Yes,” she said.

Today it is 68 degrees and sunny, so conditions could have been worse for this surprise afternoon visit. I arrived at the facility, signed in and picked up Mom’s mail, mostly junk. The receptionist wasn’t at her desk, so I couldn’t ask about whether the cat was loose. I went to the apartment, knocked and walked in. No sign of Mom, but big fatso kitty was sitting by the window, in one of his favorite spots. That was a relief. I had noticed some wheelchairs near the door to the first-floor lounge when I walked in, so I assumed Mom was in that lounge for an activity. I quickly scooped litter, flushed the toilet and scanned the cat food bowl. More ants. I threw it out and replaced it with new food. The food bag doesn’t appear to contain any ants, so they must get to the food once it’s in the bowl on the floor. I could see a fair number of ants on the floor and behind the closet door, where there were tiny crumbs of cat food. I killed as many ants as I could with a paper towel, wiped up those food crumbs and then vacuumed that part of the floor. When I was done, there was still no sign of Mom.

I went to the lobby, and Mom waved to me from the lounge, which was crowded with residents. A glance at the wall calendar indicated this was a St. Patrick’s Day trivia activity, but the activities director was away getting coffee, so I scooted in to give Mom a quick hello. She walked out and we hugged, and she went back to her activity. I told her the cat was fine. She seemed sort of uninterested in why I was there. One of her friends told me not to worry about her.

I ran into the day nurse in the lobby, who said, “Did you hear your mom was in the back parking lot today?” No, I had not heard. It is a beautiful sunny day, so I’m hoping that’s why Mom decided to take a walk. The fact she went out the back instead of the front, however, is a little unnerving. The housekeeper found Mom and brought her back in. She did not argue. She did say that she no longer had an apartment, something she has said before. She is just so confused. The nurse felt compelled to report it to the administrator because if she didn’t, the receptionist probably would, according to the nurse. I asked her to please keep it nonchalant, to not make a big deal. The last time the administrator was worried about Mom escaping, I ended up staying over two nights in her apartment, missing work, generally feeling terrible about everything, losing sleep and getting a cold. Mom also will take a drug at 5 p.m. that will relax her to a near stupor and, I would guess, make a walk outdoors seem very unappealing. The nurse and I hoped we wouldn’t talk again, because if we did, that would mean the administrator wants me to do something, or that he insists on hiring a “sitter” nurse to watch outside her door overnight so she doesn’t leave. So far, no word from the nurse, and no news is definitely good news in this case.

So others’ theory that Mom talks about the cat to describe her own behavior and movement around the facility seems to be spot on. There isn’t really any other explanation for how she talks about the cat getting out, going to places he has no business going, and somehow being retrieved and put back in his place.

One other thing I noticed was a near-empty jar of almonds on the bathroom floor. I had thrown this jar away on Saturday, considering it likely very old and stale, and also spying a single piece of cat food among the few remaining almonds. My mom the scavenger likely would have ended up eating that piece of cat food, I feared. So I threw it away, only to have her retrieve it from the trash. This time, I threw it away with the dirty litter and sealed the bag shut. I don’t know why it’s such a big deal to me, but I do not want my mother to accidentally eat cat food, even if it won’t hurt her. I just can’t handle that.


1 comment so far

  1. Karin on

    I know you have qualms about your mom having to go over to nursing care when her money runs out, but if it’s like my grandparents’ place was, you’ll appreciate at least one advantage: the doors require a code to get out. So you won’t have to worry about your mom wandering, which is such a stressful thing to have on your mind all the time…..

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