If you’ve ever wondered what Begley means, that’s your answer: little hero. In his head, he is. He once tried to pounce onto the back of a deer. God knows what he would’ve done with it if it hadn’t run away. He’s also a very thoughtful cat, in the sense that he thinks a lot. After lower back surgery, when I couldn’t pick him up and couldn’t sit up or cope with his weight on my lap, it was Begley who worked out a new routine. Whenever I was going upstairs, he would stand in the middle of a step above me, high enough up that I could reach him without bending. We’d slowly make our way up the stairs, with Begley getting stroked all the way.
He has a freakishly logical mind. At 5ish one summer morning, I woke up. I heard a noise and looked over. Begley was standing with a paw in a wedge heel sandal. As I watched, the sandal started moving. Then I noticed a circle of shoes. There was one sandal sized gap and the last sandal was being eased towards it. Then I noticed the circle wasn’t empty. Begley enjoys moving things for the sake of it – flat boxes propped against the kitchen counter were constantly being shoved over until they blocked the back door in the kitchen when I was moving house – so this wasn’t a given. Inside his shoe fence was a giant moth with its wings pulled off. That thing wasn’t getting away on his watch.
That’s Begley. The real Begley, not the one hoping to get elected. Smart as hell, ridiculously sweet, quietly stubborn and a bit wierd. Ciara and Begley are 11 so I decided to get screening blood tests done with their vaccinations this year. When my last cat reached this age they weren’t available and I wish they had been. My vets are incredibly fair on pricing and gave me two for one but I’d have done it at full price. Ciara’s absolutely fine. Perfect results. She’s at the ideal weight for the first time in years (see this old post and this follow up for my rather unusual explanation) and she even has all her own teeth (I feel I should thank the hundreds of mice who’ve died over the years to make that the case). I’d noticed Begley had lost some weight but I put it down to the hot summer. He was still within the normal range at the weigh in. Then the blood test results came back. His thyroid was just outside normal (normal’s 30-60 and he was at 63). The vet wanted him back to be re-tested in three weeks. I tried to convince myself it was a fluke but I could see the weight was still falling off him. Sure enough, he’d lost more by the time of the weigh in. The next morning I got a voice mail message just as I pulled into the office. The test results were back and he’d gotten worse.
That was a nightmare of a day. I overreacted, panicked. For years when you have a pet you can ignore their short lifespan but then a moment comes where they’re suddenly old. So a part of my heart broke loose when I got that message. I couldn’t even bring myself to look information up online. The message said she’d left a prescription for me so I left work early, driving home past a pet crematorium (which is never pleasant but was particularly hard that day), and picked up both of our prescriptions. I reckon every cat owner worries about being able to get medication into their cat when a long term condition’s diagnosed. I was quietly hopeful. Begley’s logical mind comes into its own in situations like that. Case in point: a couple of years ago he had conjunctivitis. One eye was a complete mess and I whipped him out to the emergency vet at 11pm on a Saturday. There was no way it could wait until Monday so I figured I may as well get him help straight away. Nobody likes eye drops. It’s instinctive to flinch. He flinched and squirmed for the first couple of doses but then he started to feel better. The next time, he stayed perfectly still when I sat him in my lap, his whole body tense with the effort of not flinching.
But then he started to visibly gain weight after about a week. He started hanging around waiting for the tablet at the right time. Then he went further. No fuss. I popped the tablet in and he quite deliberately dry swallowed it down without my having to clamp his mouth shut and stroke his throat. 10 days from the first dose, he’d accepted the need to get it done.
“ok. That’s done. Now put the camera down and give me a belly rub”
When you see a cat voluntarily dry swallow a tablet, you realise it’s actually quite difficult for them. Hell, I take between 20 and 30 tablets a day – I should be an expert on the things – and I can’t dry swallow them. I’m incredibly lucky that Begley’s being so sensible. I know someone else whose cat was diagnosed hyperthyroid and she just wasted away because they couldn’t get the tablets down her, no matter what they tried. Begley’s managed to reverse the trend and hopefully has years ahead of him. Yes, I could’ve forced the tablets down him but he made his own decision so I don’t have to. So, I just wanted to share this because I’m hugely relieved to see him improving and I’m proud of him.