I have two Bengal cats, Hamlet (shown above) and Ophelia (below), who are half-siblings and ten years old. This isn’t considered old for a breed that supposedly lives to be 20, but both have developed hyperthyroidism. Symptoms included weight loss, increased appetite, throwing up and somewhat erratic behavior. While I learned on PetMD.com that hyperthyroidism was relatively common for cats over 9 years old and therefore the likely cause, as a responsible pet owner I nonetheless wanted it confirmed by my veterinarian.
So I started with Ophelia, who had gotten especially skinny. Somewhere in the vicinity of $1400 later, I was told she had hyperthyroidism. <sigh> She is now on medication that costs more than mine, her lab work is in normal range, but she still hasn’t gained weight, even though she’s eating about 50% more than before. I should be so lucky to increase my intake like that and lose weight! In my dreams!
So, as my budget allows, Hamlet will be next. For now, I have him on an herbal remedy I found online for hyperthyroidism. In spite of the fact they claim it has “bacon flavor” it smells like a distasteful herbal remedy. I put 50 milliliters in his food twice a day, which of course annoys him since it apparently makes it taste funny. If you have a cat, then you know how they are about strange smells and tastes. The good news is since they’re hungry all the time, he eventually eats it. The bad news is that I’m now feeding these two four times a day instead of twice. The even-worse news is that sometimes their midnight snack doesn’t hold them long enough so breakfast occurs on demand at 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. As a retiree, trust me when I say those times are now considered in the middle of the night.
Bengals are typically 1/8 Asian leopard, giving them some wild blood. This accounts for their interesting spotted and marbled patterns and coloration, plus their behavior is different than the usual garden-variety feline, too. For example, Ophelia will fetch her toys like a dog. She has a propensity for tight places, which has resulted in numerous near-emergencies over the years. They can jump like you wouldn’t believe, love high places, like on top of cabinets, and they’re quite vocal. Even as I write, Hamlet is standing in front on my computer monitor meowing for his afternoon snack. This is often not a normal “meow” but more of a howl-yowl-growl medley that sounds downright creepy to the uninitiated.
And that sound at o’dark:30 is pretty grating. Upon exiting dreamland, my first response is usually to yell, “Shut-up, Hamlet!” That works for about ten seconds. He persists, and when I still don’t get up, he starts to play dirty. He starts digging on my top-down/bottom-up window shades which are quite vulnerable to his claws. That gets me out of bed, and usually in a less than happy frame of mind, as I stumble into the kitchen, haul out a can of cat food, and dish it up. Usually that shuts him up and I get to go back to sleep for a few more precious hours.
So a few days ago, I wake up to the usual howling and notice it’s still dark outside. I check the clock: 5:15 a.m. I am not a happy camper. We exchange the usual dialog with me finally serving their breakfast along with various uncomplimentary comments. I go back to bed, just get comfortable, and the yowling starts again, punctuated as usual by molesting my blinds! OMG! I am furious! How dare he complain about the food at this hour? He persists, I get up again, do some more yelling and even give him a well-deserved swat so he jumps down from the windowsill and away from the blinds.
At which point I notice that it’s amazingly light outside. Really bright. What the heck was out there? I push up the shade and get a brilliant blast right in my face. The Full Moon, listing toward the western horizon. I live in the country where it’s dark and it was an amazing sight, especially over the lake, where it was reflected in what can only be described as incredibly breathtaking. I enjoy it, awestruck, for a few magic moments, then finally go back to bed.
Later that day, in complaining to my neighbor, a fellow pet lover, about Hamlet’s antics that morning it suddenly all made sense. Hamlet wasn’t asking for breakfast at 5:15. He was telling me to look at the Moon! Stupid human! Of course I felt horrifically guilty for yelling insulting names at him, to say nothing of that swat on the behind. I’d never seen anything quite like that Solstice Full Moon before and neither had he.
He’d been pouting under the coffee table all morning, so of course I gave him a profuse apology accompanied by a peace offering of some fresh catnip from the yard.
But I still felt incredibly guilty.