Living with Feline Dementia (CDS)

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Many of you have met Lolita already, housemate extraordinaire of Cherry. Although I adopted her together with Cherry (they were a package deal at the shelter), Lolita had to stay back another 10 days in the infirmary to recover from her second tumour removal surgery. Lolita is 15, a cancer survivor, half deaf, half blind, with a constantly blocked nose, incredibly nervous, and displaying clear signs of feline senility.

This little angel who lived under the bed the first two weeks of her life in my house, has transformed into the sweetest and most affectionate grandmother cat one could ever ask for. Just a quick backstory here for those of you who are just coming onboard for the first time: I am on the list of volunteers at the animal shelter for palliative adoptions, especially the senior cats who basically just need a loving home to die in instead of a cold metal cage. When I chose to adopt Cherry and Lolita in 2018, I was told that Lolita would be a palliative adoption, and she would just have a few months to live. Lo and behold, we just celebrated her second “adoptiversary” and she is still very much around.

If I move furniture around, Cherry will ride along one of the chairs or sofas and think of it as a great adventure. Lolita takes three days to adjust, and will zero in on the sofa, because that is the only familiar thing to her. She was horribly confused during Christmas when I covered the sofa with a bright red throw rug, making it unrecognisable for her, so she huddled up to the TV for the next week until she figured out where the sofa was!

She sleeps 22 if not 23 hours a day, getting up to use the litter or to eat. Easily spooked by unfamiliar feet, smells or strangers, she will run as fast as her geriatric legs will allow, and on most days she forgets she has a voice. Oh but this little sweetheart can purr and snore at the same time, and it sounds like a cross between a trombone and a chainsaw, but she likes to hold hands in the dark, and be cuddled right after eating.

Lolita needs help with grooming, be reminded that she needs to walk, and in terms of lucidity, we have good days and difficult ones. On the difficult days you just have to pick her up, hug her and place her gently on her favourite cushions until she makes peace with the world again. We have had a few accidents with soiling, but not too many, as she is just in the initial stages of her CDS. Ironically, it is this lost and confused look that makes Lolita an easier cat model to work with, if you remember an earlier blog.

There are days when Lolita will stare blankly at the ceiling or a wall, and I have to wonder if she is having a conversation with ghosts. But even on her difficult days she remains angelic and affectionate, and am grateful for every day with her.

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