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The Old Man goes to the vet


The Old Man back in his wild years

We call Shadow The Old Man. He’s the senior cat around this joint, the last cat who moved with us from Blackthorn Ave west to Long Branch. There were actually two cats the local kids called Shadow and they looked identical. Their dad was a big old tom called Pooh, one serious lion.

Both Shadows had a good sized beat to roam around Blackthorn. They were sewing their wild oats, footloose and fancy free. Neither cared a damn for humans. They would never come up for some attention or affection but they were always around doing what street cats do. Then one day one of them was beat up bad by I don’t know what. He had injured one front leg and one back leg and he had a hole in his neck that looked bad. That’s when the cat who became our Shadow showed up panhandling at the back door.

We fed him a couple times since he was in no shape to kill rodents or scarf through local garbages looking for the remnants of Portuguese grilled chicken dinners. After the second day, though it became clear he needed some medical attention, so off to the emergency vet we went. It turned out his legs were just bruised up. The vet gave him an antibiotic and some fluids, cleaned his wound, and said, “he’s a lovely boy, and he’ll make a good cat for you.” Obviously Shadow thought so too, because he never left.

We figure he’s around 17 now. He’s much more frail then back in the Blackthorn days. He’s got quite a bit of grey hair these days, and not a lot of hair on his backside, making him look like a cat with no bum. Last year, we had him in for a check-up and he was diagnosed with the beginnings of kidney disease.

This morning Shadow was scheduled for a check-up. Let me say that unlike our dogs, who love going to the vet, our cats are decidedly against the whole idea. First thing this morning, I brought out the pet carrier. Gracie immediately began a meow tour of the house, spilling the beans. I’m sure each meow said, “watch out, somebody is going in the clink.”

Shadow likes to sleep on our bed after breakfast, cuddled up with his buddy Jack Shadbolt. I had discreetly placed the carrier outside the bedroom, standing up on end. My idea was to casually walk up to the bedroom half an hour before our appointment, pick up Shadow, put him in the carrier and head off to the clinic.

I went back downstairs as I had a good hour before our appointment. Ten minutes later I heard the unmistakable sound of the pet carrier falling to the ground. I ran upstairs. All the cats had scattered except for Miss Canada AKA Bunny AKA Phyllis, who was in the box. OK, back downstairs to practice fiddle for a while before our appointment.

It should be easy, right? No no no. I went back upstairs in plenty of time. Miss Canada was still in the carrier. I encouraged her to leave, then walked over to the bed to pick up Shadow. As soon as he saw the carrier, the scene turned into something out of The Exorcist. Legs akimbo. Claws out. I got scratched up pretty good before finally getting the little bastard our sweet boy into the pet carrier.

Shadow was as good as gold at the clinic, as I expected. If I try to clip his nails at home, you would think from the ruckus I was torturing him. I can’t do it without sustaining significant damage to my person. At the clinic, he politely sat still while Dr. Z quickly clipped his nails. It took no more than 30 peaceful seconds.

We’re getting blood-work done to see how advanced his kidney disease is. His teeth are a mess, so he’s either going to need antibiotics or some dental work or both. First we’ll look at the blood results. The goal will to keep him the most comfortable and give him the best quality of life we can in his senior years.


  1. Kitty kidneys tank slow, fortunately. I had an acupuncturist in to treat Apricat of blessed memory, and it actually slowed down his kidney disease though the main issue was his arthritis. Usually you can do dental on a cat with not too bad kidney failure.

    His rusty black coat is so beautiful.

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