Friday, July 11, 2014
We used to say our Benny was teaching us how to get old. After all, he'd go down in a heap once in a while when trying to jump up on a table. Once upon a time we thought that was funny. He slept more often too, and lost his yen for kitty-ish terrorizing. He just plain had a whole lot less fun. He was just getting old.
But he was doing it with, well, cat-like dignity.
Then he started howling. He's 14 years old; that makes him significantly older than we are in cat years. Now neither of us has begun nightly howling for no good reason. We may have that to look forward to.
Then it abated, for no good reason either. But lately the werewolf thing is back, in spades and spells, three or four or five times a night for no apparent reason. His food bowl is full, he's got plenty of water, and he lives in a nice new home that's clean and cool in summer, warm in winter, a place to die for. He doesn't go out, so he's not troubled by coyotes or taunted by blackbirds. Humanly speaking, he's got no reason to howl.
But he does, often and loud. And apparently he's not alone. Old cats howl just like dead fish stink. And they do it, experts say, because they get senile and they don't like it at all.
Well, who would? Here's the morning news: Benny's got felinish Alzheimer's. Maybe. He howls because he doesn't like feeling disoriented, experts say. His hearing may be going or gone. My wife says that sometimes she thinks he's going blind. Not that he runs into things or anything. Not yet. He's simply become the quintessential old grouch, I guess, and he's got good reasons.
And he does strange things. He'll come down here and walk around the room a half dozen times as if readying for a trumpet blow that'll bring down the place. Round and round he goes, like the army of the Israeelites. I sit in the middle and feel like the heathen awaiting judgment.
Cat vets call it Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). So if sometime you're over at our place and blue-collar Benny stars wailing away, we'll likely explain in a sorrowing tone of voice that he's suffering, sigh, from CDS. Don't let it bother you. Just raise the volume on your voice a bit and put the howling out of mind. Take another glass of wine.
Truth is, poor old Benny, the misguided ancient, could well be subject to a encyclopedia of medical horrors.
There he goes now, in fact--hear him?
My father-in-law, who's 95, says that getting old is not for sissies. Bennie would agree, I'm sure. Dad's still got a wonderful, playful personality; but he doesn't walk well and his hearing up and left years ago already, like gone. You've got to yell almost to be heard.
Maybe Dad needs a roommate.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 6:43 AM