Sam's Story continued
Sam and Scamper's New House
After looking at a few apartments we found a duplex with our name on it. It has two stories, a bath and a half and - guess what! TWO screened porches, one downstairs and a bigger one upstairs. Also, lots of windows in the rest of the apartment, with windowsills that come fairly low to the floor - easy for lazy cats to reach. Hardwood floors to slide the scatter rugs on and two staircases to chase each other on. When we were on the second floor, there was a staircase, but for the cats, it only went to a closed door. With two open staircases, a cat can even chase herself if nobody else wants to play! (Notice I said HERself.)
Neither Sam nor Scamper had ever been through packing and moving before. I kept telling them how much they would like their new home an picturing the porches and stairs, and I gave them Walnut flower essence for change and Mimulus and Aspen for scary times. They informed the animal communicator that they were fine with the whole idea. (There is an excellent article on the emotional aspects of moving with animals at BruceButcherServices.com ) Sam wanted to know if his food would change, where his bed would be, would he be able to see out, and was the little girl (from downstairs) coming with us. ("NO.", "Okay. Just wanted to know.") And that sure is our Sam! Scamper wanted to be sure she'd have plenty of room to run. She was feeling a bit frustrated by the mountain of empty boxes blocking her usual running space. I, too, was finding the mountain more intimidating than the packing, so I sorted the boxes and cleaned out a corner to stack them in. Scamper and I were both happier with that arrangement. Still, moving is inevitably stressful for everyone involved.
After 27 years of marriage and 14 or 15 years in the same apartment you can sure accumulate a lot of Stuff, especially a book lover-quilter-crafter like me and a computer geek like Bill, and both of us kitchen oriented as well! To say nothing of all the cat toys...Sam and Scamper stayed out of my way while I was packing boxes, but they seemed to enjoy checking out the changes at the end of the day. We started with attic storage, so most of their familiar furniture, beds, toys, etc stayed where they always were until close to the actual moving day. It's not a lot of fun packing stuff in the extreme heat and humidity we had this summer, but at least it was less frustrating than it would have been if the weather was perfect and Bill and I couldn't get out on the trails or in the canoe because we had too much work to do.
After what seemed like an eternity of packing and moving boxes into a storage unit, we finally were able to get into the new place on the first of August, to face chaos and seeming eternity of unpacking boxes! We did lots of paring down during the packing process, and are doing even more during the unpacking. It definitely needed to be done, and after a bit of separation anxiety, I began to feel relief to have a lot of Stuff gone and a little more open space in our lives.
I did everything I could think of to keep the stress on Sam and Scamper to a minimum. On the day that we moved the most furniture to begin staying in the new place, I brought Sam and Scamper to the office, which was closed that day and kept them there where it was quiet until everyone was gone and things were quiet at their new home. We did have a couple other days with lots of people moving stuff, but I was able to shut them either in the bedroom of the old apartment, or on the upstairs porch at the nw one.
The upstairs porch immediately became and continues to be the safe haven. The first day or two, Scamper was very reluctant to eat and would not eat at all unless Sam was right there eating. He explored the whole house the first night, found the kitchen, recognized it for what it was and announced he'd like something to eat. He thinks eating is usually done in the kitchen, but Scamper wouldn't come downstairs. It took several days to straighten that out, and now Sam thinks room service to the upstairs porch is a lovely thing so he doesn't have to leave his sunbeam. He was a very good big brother while Scamper settled down, staying not only with her, but between her and the door/danger.
With stress, there's always the possibility that any existing or even past condition can worsen or flare up. For a few days, Scamper's left eye was a little squinty, but that cleared up and is now just fine. As far as I can tell, Sam's eye issues have remained steady. He had his pressures checked a couple weeks before the move and the doctor was very pleased with Sam's overall progress. His pressures were not too high, but were not quite equal, which is the goal. He showed just a hint of inflammation and we are still not completely sure which is the chicken and which is the egg between the inflammation and the pressure. At that time, it was decided we could decrease the anti-inflammatory drops (which Sam hates and tries to wipe out of his eyes) to just the left eye every other day. Once again, Sam's congestion and sneezing immediately lessened, but did not stop. A couple weeks after the move, I missed a dose, and I'm pretty sure most of the next dose went down his cheek instead of in his eye. I then became a non-compliant owner and stopped doing the anti-inflammatory. Within a few days, the congestion cleared up almost completely, making eating much easier and more pleasurable for him. Although he will still sneeze when he gets his other drops, he clearly feels much better overall without the anti-inflammatory so I'm using a commercial homeopathic eye drop that I hope will prove to be a good replacement. There are a couple of other prescription anti-inflammatories, but they are steroidal and not ideal for a cat with an immune system already compromised by FIV. He still gets his Azopt three times daily and his Timolol two time daily. And now, he has more places to try to hide when it's eye drop time, his current favorite being under the porch glider.
After three weeks, they're chasing each other up and down the stairs, and Scamper comes downstairs alone to play with her toys when Sam's too busy sleeping. And she does enjoy chasing herself up the stairs! She also enjoys beating up toy mice under the bed at 4:30am.
We're all getting used to the new sounds. The rest of our house, and in fact, the neighborhood is pretty quiet in general. However, none of us are quite used to downstairs sounds when we're upstairs, and the next house is quite close. Our front doors face each other and sometimes it's hard to tell whose front door we're hearing. By the time we get used to the difference, it will be cold and time to close up the windows, and then we should be sure which sounds are ours and which are someone else's! The spring will come and we'll open up the windows and adjust all over again.
It took us a few days to get the upstairs porch up to Sam's standards. The glider had to be taken apart to get it through the hallway and we needed to put in a shelf so he could be comfy to watch the world. Now that that's done to his satisfaction, I'm pretty sure he thinks he's become King of Everything. The porch is quite a bit higher than anything close by except for a couple of trees. Although our back yard is all paved for parking, our neighbors have lovely gardens and conveniently placed bird feeders so he can watch butterflies, birds and squirrels. He can watch the two cats that sit in the window of our neighbor's downstairs apartment, and in spite of his questionable vision, he can see the white feet of the fluffy tiger cat that patrols the area at nights, and probably a few other night visitors as well.
Sam still has an issue with vomiting his food back up less that 10 minutes after eating once every 10 or 12 days. We'd really like to change that pattern and have had him on an herbal to warm his digestion. That seems to have improved things from once a week to the current pattern. The next step is to make a change in his diet, so I'm just beginning to slowly switch him from chicken to beef. I already know he loves it, so the gradual change is so his digestive system can adjust to the different protein. More on that next time.
Other things we have to look forward to: Sam goes to the local vet for his pressure check in September and if that goes well, back to the ophthalmologist for a recheck in January. Bill says we'll have all the boxes out of the storage unit by the end of November, a few at a time so it won'[t be overwhelming. Our screened porches both have all combination windows, so we'll find out how comfortable they are in the winter. Certainly the upstairs one should be toasty enough for happy kitties on sunny days at least. Sam and Scamper wish everyone happy falling leaf chasing and a cool, crisp and sunny fall.