Life After Kuno

Readers who have been here for a while will know that my cat, Kuno, and I have had some difficult times since she moved into our new house last fall and that she left to go live with my parents a little while ago. I’m glad to say that it’s been for the best. 

Since moving back to the countryside and returning to life as an indoor/outdoor cat, Kuno’s chronic illness has gone into remission. She got a disease as a kitten; I think the vet said it was feline herpes, but it’s been nearly 8 years since that appointment, so my memory is rusty. It doesn’t affect her day to day, but when she gets stressed, it flares up and she gets respiratory infections. If her stress is alleviated or she adjusts to the change that stressed her out, the infection dissipates, and she recovers. If not…

Kuno was sick from November through June. Constantly. Her coughing spasms would almost knock her over sometimes, as she would lean further and further backwards, trying to clear her sinuses. Her eyes watered. Some days, she just looked tired. I took her to the vet at the beginning of it. I was worried because she had been ill for 14 days or so. They gave us pills and medicated treats to help her recover, but they didnt help. She stayed sick.

The two of us would watch the feral cats from the windows, Kuno’s tail swishing wildly in anger. I hoped that the house was airtight (smellproof), but knew it wasn’t. She could smell the cat colony, see them in her yard, yowl at them, but never interact with them. Never chase them away or claw at their faces. I was happy that she wasn’t spraying the house or defecating in the hallways. I bought her a pheromone diffuser. It helped, but it wasn’t enough.

And so, my cat lives with my parents now. Not with me. But she is the only cat for several acres, the only cat claiming territory. She can feel secure and rest well. And I… I just enjoy and mourn the silent days and empty house. She is doing better. No one is pulling down my curtains, breaking my posessions, or crying and scratching at 3 am. But no one is purring on the couch, coming over to see me, or calling when I enter the room. 

It’s bittersweet, but I will be ok.


Making the Call

I decided to take Kuno to the vet after all, and we scheduled it at a time that my husband could come along. Car rides are much easier with two people, because the driver can handle the road, and the passenger can hold and stroke the panicking cat. He drove, and I tried to comfort Kuno as she yowled and shifted and turned and tried to climb on the dash and so on.

Those scared, overstimulated little meows are so hard for me to listen to. I hate doing things that put her in that state of mind, but sometimes, it is necessary. At least this was better than our 4 hour drives- like the one where my car wasn’t fully secured, and she escaped into the snow, and I had to pull over and chase my terrified cat through a graveyard while we were still 2 hours from home. That was awful. 

Anyway, we just went to the vet a bit ago, and things went… well, normally. She was scared in the car, with a rushing pulse, diluted eyes, panting, and those yowling cries. We got inside and she was cautious about the environment and everything, but calmer than before. Nervous for the first few minutes of the appointment, and then golden for the rest of it. Scared on the drive back, frantic to get out of the car, and very happy to be back in the house. So overall, that’s a win.

I learned somethings too: Kuno has herpes, which is a chronic infection for cats. Once infected, the cat carries the virus for the rest of its life, and stressful changes in the environment cause flare ups. These flare ups are the respiratory infections that I’ve seen her fighting throughout her life, from the very first day we had her. It seems very likely that her whole feral colony was infected with the disease at once, and now, even 7 years later, Kuno still struggles against her disease.

This has been the most severe infection I’ve seen her with so far, but she’s got a bit of medicine now to back her immune system up and keep the viral load down, so hopefully, things will turn around. 

Hang in there, pretty kitty. I love you more than you know.

Watching Her Suffer

Kuno is sick right now. She has been sniffling and coughing for a few weeks, and I hate it so much. If she was any other cat, I would just scoop her into her case and tote her to the vet, but I don’t know if it’s worth it to make her suffer through the long car ride, the vet visit, and the second long car ride. (In case you didn’t know, I wrote earlier about Kuno’s intense fear of cars and the injuries she inflicts on herself while trying to escape from cat carriers.)

I’ve done a bit of research and found that respiratory infections are more serious in cats than they are in humans. For humans, colds are relatively common and may simply be a part of life, while many mild feline ailments actually manifest as digestive troubles or skin problems.

I have been going back and forth about whether or not I am a bad owner. Is it worse to give her two panic attacks in a single day or to let her body fight this infection alone? If I do take her to the vet, those panic attacks ware likely to weaken her immune system further (just like stress affects humans), but she has been so sick lately.

Being responsible for the wellbeing of someone else is hard, especially when I can’t communicate with her. I wish I could explain the car rides or ask her if she feels more or less energetic than she did yesterday. Instead, I just have to watch her symptoms, monitor her eating and digestion, and make my best guess.