October 14, 2013

Cat Tales: Happy trails until we meet again

By Carol Mills
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — As many of you know by now, some of you found out through the Nita Johnson pipeline, I retired at the end of September.

I will miss Carrie, Willie, and all the gang, but I want to retire while I’m well enough to enjoy it. I have osteoarthritis in the large joint in my right thumb. I can still type but I can’t lift anything too heavy.

I’ve also had four of my six cats to become sick one after another. I will now have more time to take better care of them. One cat, who was 13, Little Willie, died on September 7 after spending a little more than two weeks in the hospital. The vets couldn’t find anything wrong except he was losing red blood cells and not producing more. He had never been sick before.

They even gave him a transfusion but that didn’t help for long. I went to visit him in the hospital every two or three days. That Saturday, the 7th, I had gone to visit him and to see if he could come home. He died while I was in the waiting room a few minutes before it was my turn. I never even got to say good-bye.

The same day I took Little Willie home I also took home 5-year-old Flopsy who had been in the hospital for three days. She had been throwing up but the vet couldn’t find anything wrong.

The next cat to get sick was 5-year-old Peanut. She had also been spitting up but, unlike Willie and Flopsy, she was very dehydrated. She also stayed in the hospital for more than two weeks. She has lost some of her kidney function and I have to give her a dose of IV solution every morning and every night. Since her veins are so small. I have to give the solution threw a port the vet inserted under her skin on the back of her neck. I feel like Florence Nightingale. I will have to do this for as long as she lives. The vet said she would not live to be an old cat.

Peanut has used up three of her nine lives. I first rescued her when she was a kitten who had come into my yard from under the fence. She had a scar on her left eye and a small piece of a twig in her right cheek. I think she had been running through the bushes and got hurt that way. The vet said the scar would dry up and he removed the small twig.

The second time I saved her was when she climbed up a tree and almost hung herself on her leash. Luckily my sister was there and she’s very tall and was able to get her out of her leash. Peanut was lifeless. I thought she had broken her neck and was dead. My sister kept rubbing and shaking her because she thought that was what she was supposed to do. I immediately, out of instinct, cupped her little face with my hands and started blowing into her mouth. I did this once and nothing happened. When I did it again, she started moving a little. When I did it the third time, she started crying and I knew she was all right. The third time I save her was this bout with partial kidney failure.

The next cat who stayed in the hospital was 13-year-old Macy — for three days. He got out last Friday. He had been throwing up, but when he was in the hospital, he didn’t throw up once. He started throwing up the next day at home on Saturday morning. That afternoon, he threw up a 3-inch hairball that hadn’t shown up in an X-ray. He’s better now except for having diarrhea which I am treating with Albon.

I changed to a different litter hoping it will help.

On September 20 the newspaper gave me a retirement party with pizza, pop, and cake. I told Carrie, the editor, I didn’t want any fuss made over me when I retired. Willie, the publisher, told me we were having a party and if I didn’t like it, he would fire me. He also wrote a funny speech that made me laugh and cry at the same time. He said I talked way too much and took care of all of the critters I could. Only the latter is true. The newspaper gave me a $100 certificate to my favorite hairdresser. I don’t know if that was a hint or they couldn’t think of anything else to get me. The employees at the paper also took up a collection and gave me a card with their signatures on it.

While cleaning out my desk, I came across all the thank-you cards I received from people and students over the years. I want to thank all the people who made my job easier from the regular folks to all the professionals.

I worked at the former News-Leader from 1993 until 1998 and at the Sentinel-Echo from 1999 until now. That’s a total of almost 20 years. Before that I worked part time for a tax office for one season. Before that I worked as an accounts receivable clerk for 18 years at an area hospital, while at the same time running a coal business with my ex for five years. When I was in high school, like most girls, I babysat to make a little money. I also made most of my own clothes from material I bought with that money. When I went to Union College, I double majored in English and French, and did office work and gave out exam papers to students.

That’s a grand total of almost 50 years. I have never quit any job I ever had and I’m not quitting now. I thought it was time to retire.

If I win any first-place awards at the Kentucky Press Association meeting this January, I will try to attend, providing someone will let me ride with them.  In Willie’s speech, he said they had to wait on me to get my hair done so that I would look nice for the meeting. He also noted they had to make room for a gallon of pre-mixed screwdrivers I took with me so that I could drink a little before the free bar opened. That’s an exaggeration, should anyone think I’m more than just a social drinker. It was a quart and not a gallon and it was meant for me and anyone else who wanted to share a drink before the bar opened. KPA is only once a year by the way.

I’m not saying good-bye because that seems so final. I’m not going anywhere but home. I may, from time to time, be a contributing writer to the Sentinel-Echo.

Happy trails until we meet again.