cats disabilities, comfort, communication, love, protection, security, sharing, uncertain future, vision, wisdom
It hurt to watch her confusion. She was in a corner of the room trying to find her way out, turning first to the left and then the right. Not able to bear it any longer, I went to her and helped her find her way. Samantha is my 15-year-old Siamese and she is going blind.
We got Samantha when she was just four weeks old and weighed one pound and she was, from the beginning, my husband’s cat. She bonded so with Richard that she took every step he did and when his truck pulled out of the driveway, she would stand at the kitchen window and cry. Needless to say, Samantha grieved hard when Richard died.
In August of 2016, I noticed a significant change in Samantha’s vision. One day she had some minor near vision problems, and the next day (it seemed) she was walking into furniture and walls. Samantha’s vet saw cataracts but couldn’t explain why the change was so sudden. I was frightened for Samantha, concerned she might injure herself. I was told to keep everything just as she remembered it; no rearranging of furniture or putting anything new in her pathway.
I was encouraged when my daughter told me of a friend’s cat who was blind and had lived a number of years with the quality of life. I began speaking to Samantha when I neared so I wouldn’t frighten her. If I find her unsure about a direction, I talk her to the place. If she is unsure about her aim for my lap, I lift her to me. It seems there are times she can see a little more than others and I haven’t figured that out yet. It doesn’t seem to be connected with lighting.
At first, Chloe was puzzled by it all. Samantha would jump from my lap into Chloe’s space unintentionally and Chloe would think it was a call to play. When she responded in play and Samantha would run from her, Chloe was perplexed. It didn’t take long, though, for Chloe to understand there was something new going on with the cat she had shared space with for nine years, and she began to make adjustments for her, just as I did. One temptation I have to constantly fight is to do too much for Samantha. I know she needs to do as much as she can for herself.
I am trying hard to keep the balance of affection between Samantha and Chloe.I croon my love for both of them and tell Chloe how much I appreciate her helping me care for Samantha. I’m one who believes animals understand a lot of what you say and intuitively know the rest.
I hold to quality of life for animals, as does our vet. At 15 years of age, I won’t put Samantha through surgery. Neither will I shut her off in a room for safety’s sake. Right now she still finds her litter box and makes sure to cover it well like the lady she has always been. She can find her food and water and reminds me when it’s time for a mid-afternoon treat.
Samantha, Chloe, and I will walk this journey together and when there is no longer quality of life for Samantha, I will let her go with the dignity and respect she deserves. There will be no way to avoid the heartache of giving her up. For now, we will make our time together as good as it can possibly be for the three of us. We will build memories. And give lots of love.