My Name is Leo

An adored cat deals gracefully with a jaw tumor while his owner quietly falls apart.

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Location: Philadelphia area, Northeast, United States

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Seven-Month Mark

Today is seven months since Leo's jaw tumor was discovered.

Since my last post, we've been having some eating issues, but I'm not sure if it's because his tumor got a little bigger or that I made the mistake of giving him milk one day and that's all he wants now.

He's been eating less of his food each meal - maybe 1/2 to 2/3 of the little Fancy Feast can. Plus he still has this finicky thing where I can't feed him the same flavor two meals in a row. And he currently hates his old favorite, Salmon.

But the good news: Leo is now tolerating having his face and front legs washed. I gave him milk one day after doing so, and now he is sitting through it without fighting because he wants the treat.

This is somewhat major, at least aesthetically, as it means I can actually pet him without feeling stiff, sticky fur where fluffy used to be.

He's been letting me wipe off his face after every meal (that I don't reward, and he actually purrs during this) and I washed his front legs three days in a row. His little heart is no longer racing when his leg (I do one at a time) is in the water. I also did his tail two days in a row and it was back to its full plume glory (albeit with a little bit of stuck-together on the ends.)

The legs and tail-washing do earn him a little saucer of milk. So far he hasn't had any lactose intolerance issues to make this a problem. I don't think he can actually get all that much into him anyway, since his tongue sticks out the side his lapping is hampered. (But he doesn't seem to mind.)

For anyone considering washing their unhappy-with-water cats -- here's my patented method. For the face I use a paper towel (Bounty, if that matters!) warm water and just a drop of liquid soap. Squeeze out all water until it's just damp. I can't think of a great way to describe this, but I fold the p.t. into my hand so it's not like a giant wet thing is coming out him. Just enough to go underneath a couple fingers...which I then stoke across his face. I start at his whiskers and wipe in the direction away from his nose. Then I rinse off the paper towel, or get a fresh one that I use just water on.

I used to avoid his whiskers, until I wondered if the reason he was being finicky was that there was old dried food in his whiskers. Once I tried wiping there, I found he actually liked it.

Needless to say, you want to stay away from the eyes..

For his legs, I fill up a plastic container (large takeout Chinese soup size) with warm water and dish detergent. Stick one leg in at a time and use my hand to wash up and down his leg and between his toes.

Yes, it's all a giant pain in the butt. But better than seeing kitty covered in goo and fossilizing cat food.

Leo would not tolerate any of this in the beginning. It's making me realize you can train a cat.

Still, you can't get near him with a dry tissue or paper towel. He runs in the opposite direction.

He has been behaving very badly as far as jumping on counters to try and get to people food. Probably always did this stuff at night when no one was around, but now he is getting bolder.

I took photos of the mostly-clean Leo to post, but time restrictions deem they will appear here another day.

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