What’s something you never want to do again?
Have another cat. Not because I regret having Misha, but for a whole bunch of other reasons, First, I feel so attached to Misha that it would be unfair on that other cat, because I’d always want him to be like Misha and probably even if he was “better” than Misha in some respects, like being more cuddly, I wouldn’t be satisfied because I’d want him to be Misha. Also it would feel similar to as if I decided to get myself another mum or another sister if Mum or Sofi died. A new cat would definitely be out of question if I no loonger lived with my parents, as I don’t think I’d be capable to take good enough care of it. Even if I’d move out of here and live more independently while Misha would still be alive, as much as that would be sad and heart-breaking and despite he’s officially my cat, I wouldn’t take him with me. I can’t imagine giving him his eye drops when he gets his eye problems, or locating and successfully cleaning his vomit, or keeping track of where he is so that he doesn’t go out. I know blind people who are so keen on having a cat that they hang a bell around their neck so that they can know their whereabouts, but sheesh, if it were you, would you really like to hear a ringing sound every time you move? I wouldn’t feel good torturing someone like that, just because I WANT a cat. And my other reasons are consistent with those of my family’s, who also feel the same about having another cat. While knowing Misha has been one of the best things that happened in my life, I think we all feel a sense of guilt towards him at the same time. Because, well, let’s just say it out loud, in the grand scheme of things, he’s quite clearly not happy with his life. A cat who cries like Misha does when he wants out can’t possibly be happy. He thinks he’d be happy if he was an outdoor cat, which, practically, is not the most viable option for a Russian blue who has no idea about outdoor life and has always been mollycoddled, spoilt and taken care of, not to mention has had very little contact with other animals and is very anxious by nature. He can act very courageous sometimes when interacting with seagulls through the window, but that’s as far as his courage goes. He’s not even used to dealing with as much stimuli of all sorts that are out there in the world, so it’s a bit as if you kept someone in isolation and sensory deprivation for years and then you just let him out free and expect to act sane and calm and know what he’s supposed to do.
It’s also not a viable option for a pure-bred cat owner. You don’t buy an expensive, pure-bred cat to let him roam around freely so that someone can steal him or a fellow feline can annihilate him. So why do you buy a cat? Good question. Well yeah, ‘cause I WANT! I’m no better than those people who hang a bell round their cats’ necks. I have quite conservative views on animals, at least for today’s standards. I am not a vegan, animal rights activist, ecologist or other selfless tree hugger. Same about the rest of my family. But the longer we live with Misha, the more we feel like we’re not fair to him. Sure, if not us, someone else would have bought him and he’d still suffer. It’s difficult to think of a life scenario for him where he wouldn’t. But if we didn’t get him, we wouldn’t be contributing to it.
If you don’t let him out, he cries his lungs out and everyone is sad, stressed out and frustrated to no end. If you do let him go in and out as he pleases, he isn’t safe. If you try to control it and let him out at a certain time, keep an eye on him and make sure nothing bad happens, he’ll stilll cry as soon as you get him back home. Autumns and winters are very much bearable – if you don’t go out too much and if it’s not too sunny – but springs and summers are more of a nightmare each year. Especially for my Mum who has to keep an eye on the door constantly so that no one leaves them open while going out. Misha wakes up with the sun and starts roaming around the house, stopping by every window and serenading it – the sun – mournfully at the top of his lungs. He doesn’t even get much sleep, because every opening of a window or door, every sound of someone going in and out, of a bird calling, of Jocky barking, of people talking outside, every breeze or sun warmth coming through the window wakes him up, so he’s constantly undersleeped and cranky and properly hyperactive. It’s impossible not to feel pity for him, but also his constant meowing and howling and crying drives people nuts so it’s also pretty much impossible not to snap out at him at some point, especially if you’re someone like my Dad, which doesn’t help him at all. Sometimes my Mum gives in to him and lets him out on a terrace, or is just so resigned and desperate for a bit of peace and quiet that she lets him go wherever and for how long he wants, and every single day he’d go further, until at some point he’d go so far that it would start to feel really dangerous and my parents wouldn’t be able to find him, until finally at some point it’s usually one of our neighbours who would call worried that they saw Misha’s fur gleaming somewhere in the distance and give us a hint of where more or less he might be. We suppose that, if nothing bad would happen to him in the meantime, he’d always come back at some poiint, but taking such high risk and waiting when we know that he’s two houses away and could go further feels very silly and irresponsible. Every time he comes back – regardless of whether he wants it himself or someone has to bring him home – as soon as the door closes behind him, the crying starts all over again, except it’s more obnoxious. At some point my Mum realises that letting him out only makes him feel more upset and doesn’t help anything, so again the strict rules are put in place for Misha.
I know not every cat is like this. Perhaps even the majority are not. My aunt also has a Russian blue cat who is as laid back as it gets, in fact he seems to me like he’s on the opposite extreme to Misha, he can happily sleep on a rug and even when you pass him by and almost step on him he won’t move an inch. Sasha (the kitten we got on a whim a year after Misha and had to rehome after a few months because Misha didn’t tolerate company of his own species well at all) was a very cheerful kitten who didn’t seem to need much at all to be happy, just a bit of attention and play, and some food that doesn’t need to be as sophisticated as Misha’s, anything edible and nice-smelling is good. Sasha did have a problem with pooping in every place possible except not where he should, the causes of which we couldn’t establish for a long time and which seemed to be emotional in nature, but eventually it turned out that it was Misha who must have scared him away from the litter box and that’s why he didn’t want to poop there but would rather do it anywhere else. I have no idea why Misha’s like this. I guess it’s just like with people and many just are born with weird brains for no apparent reason. I remember once reading an article about some study that claims that cats have a tendency to be anxious if their owners are anxious too, and vice versa. We’ve always thought it interesting how Misha and me are so similar in many ways, and same about Sofi and Jocky, and earlier Sofi and Sasha. And there’s such Polish saying that I guess could be roughly translated as like the stallholder, like the stall, which basically means that what is yours is like you, and my Mum always says that whenever the topic of Misha and Jocky being like me and Sofi respectively pops up. 😀 So perhaps it’s me who is responsible for Misha being “weird”. Misha’s mummy, with the very original name of Hansa Luft, had some problem giving birth to her offspring and so Misha was born through a C-section, and we’ve heard from a vet that used to be Misha’s vet that cats born via C-section apparently are more likely to be “weird”. Misha’s behaviour has always reminded me more of a severely traumatised shelter cat, so that sometimes I was wondering whether something awful might have happened to him at his breeder’s. He’s always been very fearful, wary of touch and closeness with people, easily upset by things – I mean even things like slight, unexpected movements, a minor furniture rearrangement or something laying on the floor that wasn’t there whenn he looked previously. – He’s always overgroomed himself, though thankfully it never led to some more serious complications like I’ve heard it does in many cats who do. He doesn’t purr like normal. I have absolutely no problem with that, I love his quiet, soft purr which is more palpable than audible unless you literally put your ear to his chest or face, but the truth is that it just isn’t a normal purr.
Last year, as you perhaps remember if you’ve been around on here back then, Mum took Misha to a behaviourist and he said that the only viable option he sees is to medicate Misha and he gave him fluoxetine/Prozac, which really shocked me initially but, like, what else can you do, I guess there’s no talk therapy for pets that you could try first. 😀 So my Mum gave him that Prozac, which wasn’t easy to administer at all because it was pills and it must be a nightmare giving pills to a cat judging from their struggles. Mum had to wrap Misha up in a blanket so he couldn’t move and scratch her or run away, force open his mouth, give him the pill, close his mouth and hold his face till he swallowed so that he wouldn’t spit it out. Not fun. It wasn’t long until Misha started to recognise the signs that it was pill time and would run away and hide. Moreover, the fluoxetine was making him very drowsy and he wasn’t quite himself. His crying had reduced a lot, indeed, but not because he felt calmer or happier, just because he slept through pretty much all day long. When he was awake, he continued to cry. Mostly though, it felt like there was no Misha anymore, just a little ball of fur with no Misha inside. He mostly hid under beds and didn’t want to interact with us almost at all. Sometimes I would find him somewhere and cuddle him and he’d seem to fall asleep in my arms but that was very clearly simply because he was totally indifferent rather than was in a more cuddly mood. I might’ve as well been cuddling a lifeless teddybear. At some point both my Mum and Sofi started realising that he doesn’t even actually sleep when he is under those beds, just lies there on his belly staring emptily into space with his eyes wide open. He ate very little. When he was awake and you’d call him, he’d just look at you and continue sitting like a statue where he was, a bit like he was too weak to carry out the complicated activity of motivating himself to stand up, standing up, moving his paws and walking to wherever the calling was coming from. Not even Mish ice cream did the trick. So finally, with all the pill troubles getting worse and Misha clearly not feeling well, Mum said she was worried that he could just die one day while laying sleeplessly like that, and we decided it’s best to stop giving him the Prozac, because we wanted Misha back and it was starting to feel rather creepy. He gradually did come back, and his crying wasn’t so much of an issue anymore, so we were hoping that perhaps it will just get better.
But this year, spring came again and finally it seemed like my Mum has reached her limit and was at witts end for what to do, as she and Misha basically kept repeating the same cycle with this whole going out thing every year, as if hoping that finally there will be a time when it’ll work and everyone will live happily everafter, whatever “happily” might mean for poor little Misha. And she said that perhaps he should try Prozac again, maybe if she stuck to it for longer than last year, which was only about a week, he’d start tolerating it better and get back to his normal self. And so she started giving him the pills again. She has even been to the vet, asking if there perhaps is another medication that Misha could take, that he’d perhaps tolerate better, or a different form of fluoxetine like liquid, but, surprisingly to me, he said that no. I did some research beforehand and there clearly are people out there who give their cats fluoxetine in liquid form or even topical, or use feromones to deal with emotional problems with cats, so I wonder if he’s just opposed to anything else or what. Instead, he actually said that Mum could even give Misha one whole pill rather than just a half as last year – one half in the morning and one in the evening – and if it’s a problem she could hide the pill in a bit of food. He clearly doesn’t know Misha. I honestly don’t even understand how other cats are so gullible that they can eat a pill with food just fine. Mum tried it first thing last year, but Misha would spit it out as soon as he’d taste the pill in the food. I sometimes feel like veterinarians underappreciate animals’ intelligence. Like when Misha once had to have a urine test, he was supposed to pee into some fake litter, and, much as we expected, he didn’t, because it wasn’t his litter. Is Misha really in a minority who is too smart/hypersensitive? I kind of doubt it, though I know nothing about other cats.
Also there didn’t seem to be much point in upping his dose if the lowest one zonks him out so effectively. It’s not like he’s aggressive or something. I don’t think I even realised before that SSRI’s can be sleepifying like that, but perhaps it’s just different with cats’ brains than people’s.
He’s started taking it at the beginning of May and it’s clearly going better this time than last time because he’s a bit more social and lively than he was then in that he doesn’t hide so much and even plays a bit when he’s awake and is a lot more cuddly and a bit more relaxed than he normally is which doesn’t seem to be just a result of indifference, but he still sleeps through most of the day and night. It always used to be so that Misha woke up first, now he’s often still asleep when I wake up, and I’ve been rarely waking up before 9 this month, most of the time around 11. He yawns literally AAAAALLLLLL the time, and despite he sleeps so much his sleep seems to be very shallow, so perhaps that’s exactly why he sleeps so much more to compensate for it. He also seems very weak, or tired or I don’t know how else to call it. Just acts as if he had very little energy and reacts to everything very slowly. The pill administering hasn’t been easy for my Mum, because it’s so unpleasant for them all and my Mum is worried that he’ll develop bad associations with her, or will at some point totally refuse to take the pills, but we always try to give him something yummy right after he swallows it so he can forget about everything as soon as possible. I also firmly believe that, as much as Misha is very anxious, he also has some really impressive amounts of patience and gentleness for people, I’m not exactly sure how to describe it. I know that Mum actually realises it herself too, because he showed this virtuous trait of his very much during and right after Sasha’s stay with us, and Mum herself called it that Misha has a very “noble character”. So that even if people have to do something unpleasant to him, or do it thoughtlessly or accidentally, even if it affects him a lot he keeps being gentle-mannered, as classy as ever and good-naturedly understanding and forgiving of his peeps’ countless weaknesses. I think he might just understand in his little brain that Mum’s new whim is to give him this yucky pill every day, and he really doesn’t like it but, oh well… he still loves Mum. Today it actually went very smoothly and Misha didn’t even protest at all, so there’s hope that it’ll continue to go in this direction.
But the biggest concern for me is that he has almost stopped pooping. I mean it’s really getting serious, because yesterday he cried so loudly and pitifully whenn he was in the loo, and was there for so long but nothing came out. Normally you could almost set the clock by his pooping, he would poop every day at pretty much the same hour, unless his breakfast was a lot later than typically, but now it’s good if he poops every three days. Unfortunately Mum wasn’t home when Misha cried yesterday in his loo so she could hear it, only Sofi and me did and told her about it, oh yeah and Misha very clearly tried too but Mum can’t speak his language. He ran to her as soon as she came back (he doesn’t really run much ever since he’s been on fluoxetine) and made a wailing sound which made us laugh because it sounded as if he was saying “Muuuuuummmmmmmyyyyyy!” And then kept following her and crying. She wasn’t particularly concerned. Probably because she didn’t hear how awful it sounded when he was in the loo. I’ve given her my card already when Misha first started to seem constipated and have been telling her for a long time to buy him some Miralax and she keeps saying that she will but she still hasn’t despite going to town almost every day.
So yeah, really, I most definitely wouldn’t want to make another cat feel unhappy like that.
What is such a thing for you? 🙂