State of the Newton

I’ve written about Blackjack and his cancer so much over the last year that you might have forgotten we have 2 other cats.

Newton is our elderly orange kitty. He’ll be 18 in April, and we’ve been together for over 17 years. He’s lived in 2 states, in 4 different homes, he’s seen Blackjack and Roulette join our household, and seen his brother Jefferson pass away. He’s been on meds for the last 3+ years because he has hyperthyroidism. Yet he keeps plugging away.

After his vet appointment in November the vet upped his meds by 50%. And then over the holiday break he came down with a kitty-cold, for which I took him in last week and got him some antibiotics. The vet said that in older cats sometimes sniffling and sneezing is just a respiratory infection, but sometimes it’s an indication of something worse, like a tumor. Fortunately, the antibiotics seem to have taken care of his symptoms (with 2 days of meds left to go).

Newton’s always been a small cat – I think he topped out at a little under 10 pounds at his heaviest – and he’s gotten smaller in his old age. He’s now at about 6-3/4 pounds, and he is definitely boney. I’ve actually been worried the last week that he hasn’t been eating enough, although he loves wet cat food when we give it to them, but I have seen him eating his dry food in the last couple of days, which is a relief. But he’s so small that I’ve been worrying about him. Fortunately, he hasn’t shown any indication of being unable to do things he normally does, like jump up on the counter, or have trouble going up the stairs.

What he has done is slowed down. He was a manic cat when he was younger, and now he’s sedate. He plays a little, but not very much. He used to run all over the townhouse, but he hardly runs at all anymore. He does sometimes get that old spring in his step when he’s trotting around, though. But he spends a lot of time sleeping, and he especially likes to sleep in the hallway from our bedroom to the master bathroom, which we think it because it’s warm – we have a thermometer in the closet there, and it’s consistently 2-3 degrees warmer there than any of the other places in the house where we have thermometers. I don’t know that Newton has arthritis, but maybe the warmer temperature is more comfortable to him. He’s never been big on purring, but it’s been a while since he’s purred, that I can recall.

It seems like he’s slowed down a lot in the last few months, so when I take him in to get his blood work retested later this month, I’ll ask the vet whether the increased thyroid meds may be slowing him down. The vet who checked him out for his cold said his heart rate seems to be under control due to the meds. I just hope it’s not too under control. He’s also been getting picky about taking his thyroid meds, enjoying pill pockets less than he used to. (He eats them more enthusiastically when they’re fresh. But since they come in packs of 45, they get less fresh long before they run out. I’m trying to figure out how to store some of them so they stay fresher.)

If all this sounds like I’m preparing for the worst, well, I guess I am. He’s an old kitty, most cats don’t make it to his age. And he’s slowing down. And I know he’s not going to be here forever. And after Jefferson’s quick departure, and with Newton showing signs of his age, I guess I’m steeling myself to not be quite so blindsided when the time does come. It doesn’t help that Blackjack’s condition makes me more aware of Newton’s age.

I’m trying not to think about it too much, though. But I am trying to give him more attention and affection, especially when I realize he’s been snoozing up in the hallway most of the day and hasn’t come down to hang out with us. I’m grateful that he’s still healthy and comfortable. I miss the little troublemaking cat he used to be, but I’m glad the old snuggly guy he’s become is still with us.

And I’m really glad that he seems to have given up on meowing his head off in the middle of the night!