Adios to a Friend

I said goodbye to Gypsy this morning. She was fourteen and was always a loyal and loving companion. She was an awesome cat.

We rescued her along with four siblings from one of our out buildings in 2008. We gave away three and kept Gypsy and her litter brother, Dobie.

She was a feisty kitten. We’d feed all five all at once and she was always first to the feast where she’d lay claim to “her” pile of food, straddling it and hissing and spitting; it was hilarious.

She’s been an exemplary cat , very opinionated and headstrong. Example, when she was still a kitten I found her sleeping among the branches of the Christmas tree.

She loved her naps and spent a lot of time snuggling with me.

Most of all I’m going to miss her kisses. That’s right. Miss Gypsy (as I often called her) absolutely loved to give me kisses, right on the lips.

Adios, my sweet girl, I’m already missing you.

Thomas Fenske is an author living in North Carolina.


dobieIf we were having coffee today I’d admit I’m worried about Dobie’s health.  One of our many cats, Dobie has had the hardest time of it.  MasterCat First-Class Bailey had a serious knee injury and surgery about 10 years ago but he recovered nicely.  A few others have been to the vet for minor problems over the years.  Ah, but Dobie has had chronic issues since a very young age.  He is prone to urinary tract issues.  This happens with neutered male cats sometimes.  I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting the symptoms.

The real problem is the fact that we have many cats and a dog. It is almost impossible to keep him on the straight and narrow, food-wise.  His biggest problem is also his greatest love … dry food.  He just can’t eat it without eventually going over the edge. To the other cats’ dismay, their dry food intake is limited as well.  I don’t know why, but cats really seem to like dry food.  I think it is the crunch.

Anyway, I look for the symptoms. If I see him licking “himself” a lot, notice him straining in the cat box, or even worse, straining just about anywhere, I know he’s heading down the road to bad things. It doesn’t take too long before you can see he is just not feeling well at all and sometimes he will begin to vocalize his pain.  Usually, it is a combination.

The worst case is a total blockage. It is a serious medical situation and can result in renal failure and death.  It’s not an immediate problem, but once blocked the clock is ticking and it doesn’t take more than a couple of days.  Of course even if it isn’t an emergency, if he is so uncomfortable he’s making painful noises, it is high time to get him some relief.

The day to day routine is wet food only, plus a regular dose with a type of cat-treat with various compounds including cranberry to acidify his urine to prevent the formation of the crystals that tend to form in his bladder.  I’ve tried to keep him on premium cat food but it gets expensive and he doesn’t like most premium cat foods.  The few brands he craves are available at only a few stores around here and they are not particularly convenient.  Cost should be no object since sometimes the vet bills can be enormous.

Still, with so many animals, poor Dobie gets tired of his own routine and that is a hard thing to police.  I’ve even seen him crunching down on dry dog food if I let my guard down. Often, he just balks at his special “treats” and the other cats go on alert when they see him getting individualized treatment.  Of course, they all love those treats and will gobble then down whole.  I usually have to break them down into smaller chunks to get him to eat them.

I had a hunch he was developing a problem last Thursday and was watching him closely. Yesterday the  “licking” began and last night I noticed him take “the position” and yep, that was on the bed and I wasn’t fast enough.  Luckily his mood was still good and he still had a good appetite.  He also got quite a bit out. Not great for the linens, but great that he wasn’t totally blocked.  I got his treats down him at the full dose level and gave him some anxiety medication that helps ease the stress that makes it worse (if he can’t go he gets frantic and tries harder and harder).  So he’s at the vet today, and will hopefully provide a urine sample before they close.  There are prescription foods that actually break down the crystals (which he hates but he will at least eat the dry food). The urine sample would also indicate not only crystals but also infection. About half the time there’s been an infection, so we’ll see if he needs antibiotics.

So, slurp down your coffee, I need to be ready for when the vet calls.


Thomas Fenske is a writer living in NC …

Katzenjammer Kats

 Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina.  His debut novel, The Fever,  is NOT about cats, but it IS currently being offered for free in ebook form.  Check his web page for details:

A Clowder of Cats Over Coffee

If we were having coffee, I’d have to tell you about the kitten. “Yes, another cat,” I’d say.

We already have eight but this one just showed up about a month ago, living in the crawl space under the house. I was afraid we had a litter or something, it was so tiny. But it was alone. I waited a few days after I first saw it, just to check for more, or to see if it found its way home.  We have one outside cat, Buddy, abandoned by a family who moved away. He basically came with the house. He was the source of food for the kitten. So one night when I fed him I pretended to go into the house and here she came, right on cue. I was shocked at how tiny she was, I estimated she was no more than three months old. Smart too. She already had the food routine down pat.

I have some experience with feral cats and I knew one thing immediately, this cat, although wary, was not feral. She had been handled. Once the ice was broken, it took very little time for her to let me pet her and pick her up.

Was she cute? She’s a kitten, how could she not be cute.

Of course we don’t need another cat but understand this … all our cats are rescues, most from a feral mother who turned our detached garage into a nursery before I finally trapped her and had her spayed. Then I released her back to the wild. She came and went in the years after that, always coming back to hang around a little. Sadly, after about five more years she was hit by a car. I found her in the road not far from our house. She probably lived longer than she might have as a permanent unwed mother, but it was sad.

That’s the thing about five of our cats, since they were her kittens we know their story. Two others were adopted from a local shelter, so we know at least part of their story too.

 But this kitten is like Tex, our other cat. He showed up one day about nine years ago. He was smallish but the vet thought he was full grown based on his teeth. What a cute full-grown 8 pound cat we thought. His life on the road had obviously been long and hard. He’s a monster now, pushing 20 pounds, paws almost twice the size of any of our other full-grown cats. I assume his development had been interrupted by the rough conditions of his life on the road. He wasn’t feral either.

That’s the thing about strays like Tex and the kitten … you wish they could tell you their stories. I mean, she’s still a baby.  How did this tiny thing appear at our house, barely weaned?  How did she figure out how to survive?  How did she find her way into our crawlspace, then find a warm cubbyhole to sleep, then find food, and so quickly learn the routine?  She probably started out getting Buddy’s leavings, but pretty soon I think it was Buddy who was dining on her leftovers.

She’s headstrong and assertive and smart as a whip.  She’s a survivor.

“And,” I would add as I drained the last of my cup, “she’s found a home.”

I’m a writer living in North Carolina … for more information about me and my current and upcoming publications go to

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