Tuesday, July 12, 2011

feline therapy

True confessions: I am prone to anxiety and depression.

I am amazed at how the cats help reduce my anxiety and depression. Playing feather or string with Nahum is the best mental health therapy I have found. Cuddles with Max used to be amazingly therapeutic as well. I am hoping Buddy's cuddles may hold similar therapeutic value.

The cats also create a significant amount of anxiety - mainly fears concerning their health and impending death.

Buddy continues to have medical problems. The anemia continues and now he frequently parks by the water. He doesn't drink all that much, he sort of hovers over it sometimes soaking his chin in the water. He has gotten so soaked, I have had to dry him off a few times. Meanwhile his appetite remains strong and I haven't noticed any extra output in the litter box.

Kidney disease has been ruled out as his urine concentration "looks good" (this makes me very happy to hear, I like good looking urine!). The recent blood samples that were sent off to the lab all came back clean, meaning he doesn't have any nasty viruses. The vet seems stumped. She decided to rule out Cushing's disease, something that apparently is rare in cats. The results came in today - he doesn't have Cushing's (again I did the happy dance as the anxiety was released).

I am not sure what the next option is. We discuss it with the vet again on Wednesday and meanwhile keep an eye on Buddy.

While awaiting the Cushing's disease results I was quite aware of my intense anxiety. While curiously wandering around in my anxiety, I realized I have been reluctant to fully bond with Buddy for fear he would be diagnosed with some horrible illness and I would lose him. For some reason when I took him in I had a weird feeling that he might not be with us long.  By not fully allowing Buddy into my heart, I was trying to protect myself from the future pain of his loss. For most of my life this was my default way of living, intentionally choosing the chronic displeasure of loneliness and superficiality to mitigate the overwhelming sting of death. Now, I try to choose to step into the risk and go for the emotional ride while looking for healthy ways to grieve and manage the resulting anxiety.

One of the many things I love about playing with Nahum is it helps me be fully present to the moment. Nahum exists in the present moment, he doesn't worry about the future. He is very bonded with Willow and yet (unlike me) he doesn't worry about her death. His anxiety about Willow's future death doesn't stop him from getting everything possible from the moment. I have much to learn from my cats - fully give myself to the moment and not worry about tomorrow. Or as Nana used to say, "don't let tomorrow's clouds hide today's sun."


  1. Ah...you said it all so well! We are so lucky to have animals to teach us how to live in the moment...they are such little Buddhas! Thanks for your honesty.

  2. Lovely post and we are all with you when it comes to the fear of losing our loved ones whether they be human or not. My cats are my family and I worry about them like no other. I spent many years adopting the older cat, the one that no-one wanted at the shelter only to have to let them go within a few years. Each time I said 'good-bye' it hurt more than the last but I never regretted taking on the senior cat to give it a few years of unconditional love. They taught me to love and let go when the time came. I felt peace within my heart once the grieving subsided. I felt honoured to have had the opportunity to share my life with them. I guess you just have to weigh it all and see if in the end it makes you a more fulfilled and happy person to have known them. I'll be thinking of your Buddy and pray his health improves. Having a good vet, one that you trust, is gold. Hugs, Deb=^..^=x4

  3. As someone who is well-acquainted with depression, your post certainly resonated.

    My fur family (and it wouldn't matter if they were cats, dogs, horses, etc.) are both my greatest joy, but also my greatest stress. I didn't think too much about their passing until Chumley died suddenly 4.5 years ago (blood clot). Then I became a bit...paranoid. Now, with Annie's passing 146 days ago, I live each day in dread, knowing the boys will get sick and die no matter what I do. Right now I would say my negative emotions around the fur kids outweigh the positive ones--i.e. I'm more stressed than I am joy-full with them in my life right now. I hope that gradually that will shift as more times passes--it always has taken me a VERY long time to get over losses/upheavals. Just my nature. But right now I don't ever want to adopt again, feel I can't go through it all again.

    We'll see what the future brings.

    In the meantime, you are correct in that we could learn a lot from our four-legged companions, who certainly know how to live in the moment far more than we silly humans do.

    As for Buddy...I'm glad the tests are coming back negative, but am sorry for the continued mystery. He didn't even have a Convenia injection, did he? (The 2-week antibiotic shot.) That has been known to cause anemia in a *small* percentage of cats, even death.


  4. You are so right - mom says the same thing that it can be so hard to focus on the right now. She tries not to worry about all of us all the time. But, remember this - you found Buddy for a reason....no matter how long he is with you, his entry into your life happened for a reason. We are glad his tests came back ok and hope you figure him out soon!!

  5. Boy do I know about that emotional ride you mention. When Bastet was diagnosed with a terminal illness I could scarcely eat or think for months as I tried to save her. I have never been such a mess as during that time.

    After she died I finally had a to see a grief counselor and she reminded me of something to do that would have helped. It's a Buddhist-type practice I had forgotten to apply in my distress. You may want to try it because it can be surprisingly helpful. It's to focus on where the feeling is in your body:go inside the *physical* feeling *rather than* the thoughts about the feeling...and breathe there. Just keep returning to noticing the physical feeling.
    By the way, there's no chance your little guy is getting garlic or onion in his diet, is there? That can cause hemolytic anemia.
    Anyway, sending good thoughts.

  6. Thanks for your comment on my blog. :)
    I have found that blogging about anxiety is actually a great relief. I hope it helps you as well...
    Has Buddy been tested for hemobartellosis? Just a shot in the dark, but it's an infection that attacks red blood cells, and it's curable.


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