Happy 19th Birthday to Niles!
I don’t know the exact date, but it was just about this time in 1999 that Niles made it into the world. Since then, he’s been my little buddy, my sidekick, my couch finder. When he was young, he could jump from the floor to the top of the fridge. He was fast, slim, and loud.
So what’s changed?
Well, he’s still slim and loud, but slightly less fast. He can’t jump to the top of the fridge anymore, but he can still jump over the baby gate I put to keep him in his room at night. Why does it have to stay in his room? Because sometimes, he forgets where the litter box is. He yowls a lot at night, but he’s always done that. I think the hardest thing to adjust to is that my little friend has gone completely deaf.
One day, Niles could hear, the next he could hear a bit, and just like that, it was gone. Our vet says that cats, after about age 16, can lose their hearing seemingly overnight. He wasn’t too concerned by it and said that Niles can still be quite happy. And he is.
Living with a deaf cat is a little bit different. I use a lot of hand signals and he’s learned what they mean. He’s very quick to arrive when he sees me waving the food dish. It’s easy to scare him, though, so I have to approach carefully. He yowls louder than before because he can’t hear himself, which caused him some anxiety at first (for both of us), but he’s calmed down since then. He’s gotten some extra love and petting, and he adores being groomed.
I can’t pick him up like I used to and squish him with hugs. I have to gently lift him and administer gentle comfort.
He also doesn’t bathe himself as well anymore, so I use kitty wipes and a brush to groom him and he loves our grooming time.
Caring for a senior cat isn’t exactly like having a young cat; it’s a different experience, one that can be frustrating but also very touching and rewarding. Niles is still Niles. He’s still my friend, companion, and couch finder. He just needs a little extra care these days, and I’m ok doing that for as long as he needs.
Happy birthday to my little buddy.
And lastly, that time when Niles represented Senior cats in an ad for Pet Health Network. He’s a natural.