I went in to this with some false confidence. I figured if I just believed it would be easy, then it would be easy. In addition to just doing the IV fluids, I’m also “training” Jerry. Thankfully, we do this every other day, so we all get a mini-break.
Day one of the training / administration, Duke was hanging out with us, watching what we were up to (sometimes I swear he’s like Google and observes and then regurgitates what we’re doing). I actually got the needle in the first time. Duke was NOT happy, but we got fluids started. Where I faltered was while I was asking Jerry to confirm if the fluid was flowing (“asking” is a rather kind way to put it; it was more of a frantic ISITFLOWING?ISITFLOWING?ISITFLOWING?) I was trying to restrain Duke instead of letting him walk around. So the needle came out. I tried to get the needle in a second time immediately after, with the lure of wet food, but Duke was wise to us and was not having it. He was rewarded with pets and treats and I was forgiven with purrs and head butts.
The third attempt (still Day 1) was about an hour later and we administered the fluid in my office. I didn’t restrain him, yet we didn’t close the office door. He sat for a while, but the coolness of the famotidine hit and he didn’t care for that. He tolerated it a little longer, but then had enough and he ran. If he walks, we can follow him easily, but he thought Jerry was chasing him, so he ran fast and POP, needle out. So Lesson #2 = perform in a more restrictive area so running isn’t an option. I realize this sounds like a no-brainer, but we were working on Lesson #1 = don’t restrain. We got all of the famotidine in him (which coats his belly so he doesn’t feel sick) and about 75-100ccs of fluid (goal is 125cc).
Treats and purrs were exchanged and the best sunny spot in the house was found for lounging. I chalked up Day 1 to a success.
Day 2 was dispensed by the vet tech. I was out of town for a few days, and Jerry had only seen it done once by me, so on his way to his follow up appointment at Cleveland Clinic he dropped Duke at the vet, went to his own appointment, then retrieved Duke and both were comfortably at home. We also figured out Duke’s transportation / car sickness issues, so he made the trip both ways without vomiting. WIN! HUGE WIN!
Day 3 was Wednesday and I did the IV by myself. The bathroom worked best because the space is large enough for him to walk around, but he can’t run. He can hover in corners, but not get under anything. The needle action went a little better this time, but I only administered about half of the dose before the needle popped out (okay maybe I didn’t do a great job).
Day 4 went pretty well. I did the IV by myself again because we think it’s less stressful if only one of us is in the room. Duke followed me in the bathroom and he enjoyed some treats while I set up. He knows what’s coming when I pet between his scapula. I try to move the needle to different locations, but he may be sore there as well. I’ve learned a little better how to hold the IV bag so it flows faster and I’ve got the famotidine piggy back down good. Duke does NOT like it. He doesn’t fight, but he’s not happy either (would you be?). We got 100ccs in today, so I’m pleased with that. My baby flinched away from me when I tried to pet him, which turned on my faucet of tears. I let him out of the bathroom. Had a cry and a good hug from my hubby. About an hour later Duke crawled up next to me on the couch. I got purrs and snuggles. Here is the up to the moment picture of Duke – just resting with The Mama.
Jerry accuses me on a regular basis of stealing his cat. If you’re a cat owner, you’re laughing, because you know perfectly well that it’s the cat who chooses – people can try- but if a cat doesn’t like you, she will straight up leave and move into the neighbors’ house if she likes them better. In our case, Duke did choose Jerry. I wasn’t even there. I was just a pleasant accompaniment.
Seriously, how could you NOT feed this boy?
It was the spring of 2009. Jerry had moved to Texas to run one of our properties. A cat appeared one day, meowing at the back door. He had a whole Lady and the Tramp routine. There was a loud meow to get your attention, then when you opened the door, a very cute (but still loud) meow, with BIG, striking green eyes. He did this cute paw thing where he would raise his leg and stretch his toes in and out like he was kneading the air. It was straight up adorable and you were compelled to feed him. He was skinny and dirty, which only made you want to feed him more. He’s no fool.
One day Jerry opened the back door to the demands of the scruffy cat. The mercury was creeping up and the smart kitty was hot. So he walked on in to the AC and plopped down on the kitchen floor. There was no invitation. It’s just how it was going to be. I received a call at our home in California from someone posing as my husband, “So what would I need to do if I wanted to keep this cat?”
It’s worth mentioning here that my husband is (was) not a cat person. I was already an accidental cat lady when Jerry met me (really, it happens by accident). When we moved in together I brought Simon and Jerry tolerated it. After Simon passed we were catless for a few months. Then came Cecilia and months later, Theodore. Two was the “limit” and while Jerry had approved them both, I initiated the adoptions. He has since become The Cat Whisperer because any cat will come to him, but at the time, nearly ten years ago, this call came as quite a shocker.
I gave him a list of things to buy and the cat took to hanging out with him during the day, following him to the management office (where there was AC). At night he began choosing Jerry’s company over hanging out in the broken down Fire Bird he used to live in. He’d steal Jerry’s socks and hide them. He’d meow to go outside to relieve himself. Never, ever an accident indoors. Such a smart boy.
Ah, but how’d he get his name you ask? Ohhh, that swagger. This cat had a swagger like no other. He owned everything. He was the Texas Cat. He was like John Wayne. He was The Duke.
It’s been a challenging week at Casa de Copelan. My hair needs to be washed. My face is puffy. My heart is tired. We are entering a phase of the New Normal, yet I don’t know what that is or really what it means. I only know that what was will no longer be.
Duke is my youngest. He was unplanned. Yet as many unplanned things turn out, he is one of the best things to happen in my life. Duke is my constant companion. We have great conversation, and he snuggles into my hip nook every night. We cook together, and he hangs out with me when I get dressed every morning. He’s not much help with laundry or cleaning, but he will kill a spider for me when asked to do so. Yes, Duke is my cat. Or rather, I am Duke’s human.
Two days ago, Duke was diagnosed with Stage IV kidney disease. It’s serious. Very serious. He was displaying some subtle, odd behavior such as occasional vomiting and some excessive water consumption. Though not obese, this big boy weighed in at 15+ pounds at his peak. Even though he was on a diet, he seemed to be looking a little too slim in the hips for my liking so this was the trigger that led us to the vet. If I look back, perhaps he’s been slightly lethargic – it’s hard to tell with cats who sleep 20 hours a day. But he is still jumping to to the high places, he maintains his Alpha status with his brother and sister, and still brings me ALL of his toys in the middle of the night. He is 100% on task even if he’s not feeling his best.
Yesterday Cassie the vet tech with the huge heart took lots of time to teach me how to administer IV fluids to Duke (and shared a much needed hug with me). The plan is to add enough fluid to his system to help his kidneys function. While the vet could make no promises, he is hopeful that we caught the disease at a place where the fluids will help. All of Duke’s other numbers are perfect, so if we can get this under control we will have more time together. I don’t know how much time that will be. As long as it’s quality time for him I will do whatever needs to be done.
In the meantime, I’m starting The Duke Diaries. Yes, you will be seeing more social media posts about Duke and I’ll be sharing the stories only Duke could make happen. He’s an incredible creature and sharing his story makes my heart happy. I think it will make your heart happy too.
With love and gratitude,