Sam's Story continued
Scamper's First Christmas
We anticipated Christmas and all the decorations with caution, wondering how Scamper Elizabeth would deal with her first Christmas tree. she usually stays away when there's a lot of back and forth foot traffic, but she stayed close and watched us decorate the tree with wide eyes and much curiosity. Sam stayed in the room long enough to grant his approval and then went off to nap. Napping is Very Important, you know. We went to work the next day wondering what we'd find when we got home. We're careful to put only unbreakable ornaments on the bottom third of the tree, as well as icicles made of solid aluminum (no angel hair or the plastic tinsel strands that cats like to eat). We found three ornaments removed from the tree and carefully left a few feet away. They were returned to their proper places. That night Scamper went under the tree and would bat at an ornament and look at me to see what I would do. I looked her in the eye and told her to be careful. She seemed to understand, and afterward would occasionally play a little with what she could reach, but the most fun was going for a slide on the white fabric I put around the bottom of the tree. Since that didn't cause any problems and was easy to set to rights, it was fine with me. I have lots of stuffed animals, mostly teddy bears, but one particular soft sculpture reindeer became her sitting-under-the-tree pal. The two kittens that live downstairs from us denuded their tree, which had to be removed a couple days after Christmas when the male started thinking seriously about swinging from the branches, so we were very proud of our Scamper. Sam didn't express any interest in taking anything off the tree, but he moved their night sleeping quarters to the ottoman right in front of the tree.
My sister and I have a tradition of just the two of us getting together a few days before Christmas to exchange stockings and have lunch. Although Sam is quite sociable and always comes out to check out company, I didn't think we'd see Scamper. She really surprised me by coming out and sitting nearby while we had lunch and even going close enough to sniff Nancy's shoe and allowing herself to be touched.
Sam's been having some issues, first with his ears back in August, then with a few fleas in November. Around that same time, we had a leakage problem in our bathroom that spread under the tile into the subfloor. We had to keep the trapdoor to the tub plumbing open to try to dry out the problem. I covered the trapdoor opening with good old sliding window screens to keep curious cats OUT of there. I'm quite sure there's mold and mildew in the flooring, on one litter box is right next to this opening. By early January, Sam was very itchy, scratching, licking and chewing himself furiously. When I brought him into the office and got him under the light, he looked pretty moth-eaten and had lost a good bit of his usually very thick undercoat. We started him on some Chinese herbs and the degree of itching lessened within a few days, although after a few weeks he developed some digestive issues so we switched him to a homeopathic which has helped a great deal. his undercoat is growing back in and he's doing much better, although still has some itching and needs his ears cleaned often. Skin issues take what seems like forever to clear up, but he is clearly feeling better and running and playing more that he has in some time. His annual bloodwork looked good - liver and kidney values looking just fine, and his teethe looked good. He has gained about a pound (we had increased his chicken necks and his food a bit), but he didn't look it with his undercoat so thin. I've gone back down about a half ounce on his daily intake since I don't want him to get any heavier! I've learned the hard way that it's a whole lot easier to keep the weight down than to take it off when it gets too high.
When I put him in the carrier to take him to see Dr. Kathy, he was curled up with Scamper in front of the window. I had two top-loading carriers in the room just in case...so I scooped Scamper up and much to the surprise of both of us got her into the second carrier! I almost let her back out because I thought she was going to panic, but she settled down so into the car we went. Sam was instructed to be a very brave boy and show her how it's done. I've never known her to bite or scratch intentionally, so it was even possible for Dr. Kathy to get in a brief exam without taking her out of her carrier. Scamper has a bit of a chronic herpes (upper respiratory) virus which manifests in her squinty, goopy left eye, a rare cough and an occasion al bout of sneezing. we put her back on the mushroom product to boost her resistance to the virus. Dr. Judy, who is also a shelter vet, suggested lysine which she uses for all the shelter cats with upper respiratory issues. She's just been on that a few days. Otherwise, she seems healthy, and her coats is like black silk velvet. She weights a hefty six pounds. I though she might go back into hiding for a few days, but she had forgiven me by the time I got home that night and the next night spent a couple of hours curled upon the ottoman with Sam on my lap and her on my knee - the first time she's done that for more than a short few minutes.
All in all, Sam's had a rather uncomfortable fall and winter, and Scamper's had an eventful one. He plays less when he's uncomfortable, so she's been coming and asking me to play. She has a three foot scratching post that she loves - both for scratching and for play attacking. They curl up in a big gasket together at night and pig-pile on me in the morning. Scamper has been with us just about a year, and what a long way she's dome! Sam's girlfriend is a special part of our family. Next time, I hope to report that Sam's coat is soft and thick again, and we'll see what other challenges they can come up with for us.