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The Luckiest Girl On the Lower West Side (New Hospice Cat)

(I hope that you’ll listen to “Luckiest guy on the lower east side” by The Magnetic Fields as you read this update. It’s Lucky Lester’s theme song.)

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Day 8 as a Kells Kat

My newest hospice cat, Lucky Lester, makes ME feel like I’m the luckiest cat mama to have this 21 (yes, TWENTY ONE!) year old fella with the most adorable dimple in his chin as part of my family. My mom calls this guy L2, as a nod to how I sign my initials.

Lucky Lester could be the poster child for naming guardians for your companions during estate planning. He came to Feline Friends through a neighbor of his late, loving human father. His papa didn’t name a kitty guardian in his will, so a neighbor “helped care for” the cats for 6 months while trying to find new homes for them. I’m very glad this neighbor didn’t take them to Animal Services, because I’m certain that Lucky and one of his sisters (who is 22 yrs old) would have been euthanized right away. This neighbor did the best he could, but he didn’t always see the timid cats who were in hiding and didn’t see that Lucky’s health was declining. He did notice that L2 stopped using the litter box, but didn’t connect that detail to the fact that the only litter box was upstairs and that Lucky’s safe place was downstairs. Sadly, the only food and water were also upstairs and when Lucky stopped eating, the neighbor didn’t notice immediately. He also didn’t realize that this little guy had completely stopped walking.

Fortunately, the neighbor contacted Feline Friends before it was too late. L2 was in pretty bad shape and he probably wouldn’t have lasted another week without intervention. Lucky was unable to walk at that point and it took enormous effort for him to use his front arms to drag himself a few inches from a bed to a food dish. The first few weeks after rescue, he stayed at the Feline Friends Cat House and Adoption Center. Initially, he lay by his food dish so he could eat without dragging himself to his bowl. He wasn’t able to get into the litter box, but he tried to drag himself there. Ever so slowly, Lucky regained strength in his upper body and was better able to drag himself between a cozy bed, food and water dishes, and litter box. After a few weeks with me, he’s gained enough mobility in his hind legs that he consistently gets all the way into his litter box. He consistently surprises me by getting up onto furniture that I would’ve guessed were out of reach for him. Yeehaaawww!

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Day 1 as a Kells Kat

Our Lucky boy has kidney failure, liver failure, diabetes, arthritis, and misc mobility issues. He doesn’t have control over his fingers or toes, so he controls his movement from his wrists when he washes his face, swats at toys, and grabs my hand to pull it toward him. Some of his health problems are probably due to anorexia and we hope they’ll improve – or totally reverse. Other problems are permanent so we know for certain that we’ll be treating those for the rest of his life. His mobility issues are interesting and we’re having to diagnose based on how (and whether) they improve as he has day after day of regular, healthy meals and exercise.

When someone first joins my family, I put a lot of effort into accommodations. L2’s hearing and vision are not great, so I use scents to communicate with him and textured rugs to help orient him. For example, every time I leave the house, I carry a lavender sachet with me to kiss Lucky goodbye. That way he knows that he won’t find me by wandering around the house. When I return home, I kiss him hello while carrying a strongly scented catnip toy. L2 is the quintessential curious cat who is extremely determined to explore. Because he had very little control over his legs and it took a lot of effort and was painful for him, I created The Lucky Express. It was a sturdy box to which I tied a rope so I could pull him around the house when he wanted to explore. I could also lift the entire box when he wanted to explore higher areas. (He’s uncomfortable being picked up because his organs are so bloated right now.) The box was lined with a blanket that is the only blanket I have with that texture. L2 quickly learned that when he sat in that box, we’d go on an adventure around the house. I’d make a choochoo sound as I used the rope to pull The Lucky Express from room to room. I watched him closely to see whether he wanted me to stop or lift him up or otherwise provide him an opportunity to explore different areas of the house. He stopped using it when he had enough control over his legs to get around more easily on his own.

The Lucky Express

The Lucky Express

To make it easier for Lucky to get around the house, I lay down rubber-backed rugs, yoga mats, and non-skid rug pads along his preferred paths throughout the house. It looks cluttery and weird, but he can move faster and easier. He always joins us in the kitchen as I prepare meals and he RUNS to his place mat to enjoy his dinner. By “runs”, I mean to the untrained eye he’s just a hobbling cat. But knowing how slowly he usually moves, I can tell when he’s doing The Lucky Dash.

The precious little man has an adorable gait because he marches in a different way than most cats. (See my video of him marching.) Most move opposite arms and legs with each step: left front arm with right rear leg, then right front arm with left rear leg. Not our Lucky! He moves both left front arm and back leg, then both right front arm and back leg. It’s pretty darned cute! Since he doesn’t have the best control over his hind legs, after a few steps the legs are all moving at different times. At least they’re all going in the same direction!

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