Yesterday Charlie was particularly snappish to Ivy. Of course she’s a kitten and he’s 12 years old. But he’s not normally this grumpy with her. He puts up with a lot.

He was coughing terribly. For weeks I kept thinking it was allergies, because I was suffering from them too. It was worse when it rained. So I thought of mold.

But then I looked at some of the photos I’d taken of him in the past week. And I realized: something is wrong here.

So I just up and took him to the vet and asked to be worked in.

fall gourds

He had a temperature, the vet told me. Then they took x-rays of his lungs. He showed me the x-ray and said that Charlie’s heart is enlarged and he has a heart murmur. Plus he has fluid on his lungs.

So he gave him a shot and a dose of a heart medication as well as a diuretic. We rushed home because I knew he would have to urinate soon.

I just gave him his second doses this morning.

I feel bad. I feel guilty. That I continued to think it was allergies and was giving him allergy medication. Though much of the time he would keep it in his cheek and spit it out.

I kept calling the vet’s office telling them about his cough and asking how much allergy medication would eventually help him, so I was trying to get it right.

But I feel terrible that I let his cough continue without taking him in. That I got it wrong.

charlie on the couch

When we have pets, no matter how old they are, they may as well be infants. Because they can’t tell us what is wrong.

We have to watch them closely and hope we’re doing the right thing. That we’re giving them the best care.

No matter how good a pet Mom you are, you feel terrible when your baby is sick and just have to hope you get them the proper care.

I thought back to Abi, who deteriorated so quickly right before my eyes. And I remember wondering: Did I miss something? Is there something else I could have done?

Last night I sat in bed and cried with those thoughts in my head. With the stress of what the vet had told me that I was not at all expecting to hear. I cried because I miss Abi.

Charlie is right beside me as usual. He isn’t as grumpy. I think he may feel a bit better for which I am very grateful.

charlie on the couch

Ivy seemed so perplexed yesterday morning when Charlie kept snapping at her. She’d jump away from him and go find something to play with. She’s pretty resilient.

But then yesterday when Charlie and I went back to the bedroom for the night, Ivy did not follow as usual and jump up on her stack of quilts.

I got up and looked and she was still on the couch in the dark. I waited for her to join us, but she didn’t. I started calling her and talking to her.

Ivy at the patio door

Finally she joined us. I wondered if her feelings were hurt. (Are cats evolved enough to get their feelings hurt?)

I petted her and rubbed her tummy, which she loves, and told her that Charlie was sick and didn’t mean to be grumpy.

You’re probably wondering if I’ve gone a bit dotty living here with my pets talking to them like humans. But they’re my babies.

This morning they’re both here on the couch with me. Ivy has already managed to find the paper towel I bring in here with my cup of coffee that I had stuffed in the cushions.

She has already ripped it to shreds. So she’s ready for her morning nap.

Charlie hasn’t been coughing as much so I hope the medication is already helping him.

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  1. Poor Charlie!! My Lily has a heart murmur also, the vet diagnosed her with it many years ago. The last time she was at the vet I was told her cancer is back. They wanted to do more tests, but she’s more than 16 years old so I declined. I’m not putting her through treatments, she’s going to live out the rest of her days in peace.

  2. Heck, what’s wrong with talking to your pets? I did all the years my three doggies were all alive, and I still mourn them YEARS after they passed. The reason I’m petless since 2004 is because I couldn’t stand the thought of growing ever older and having to deal with another pet or maybe two in a row depending on how long I live dying on me, or dying before they did and not having anybody to take care of them! So now I talk to my “tribe” of squirrels that come from blocks around to get fat on the nuts I feed them all year long. Some are so fat right now leading up to winter that they are waddling. I also talk (yell is more like) to the radio and streaming video on my computer and TV shows, LOL! So ease up on yourself woman. Being communicators is the natural state of the human condition, not some kind of aberrant behavior.

  3. Don’t be soo hard on yourself Brenda. Remember you are not a Vet ….you and all animal lovers and owners give our little guys and girls lots and lots of TLC which is just as important as medicine. They know we love them.

  4. We have 2 cats…brother and sister that are rescue pets. Their home life was terrible for 10 years and when we got Baby and George they had no idea how to be cats or accept love. They are extremely jealous of each other and George will pout, look so sad, turn his back on you when he feels like his sister is getting more love then him. We have only had them 2 years but they are a part of our family. Cats are just different creatures. I do hope Charlie gets better soon.

  5. I think maybe all the encouraging words have been said, Brenda. I think you have some of the most caring, concerned readers there are. But that’s because that’s what you are. I know that from some of the posts you have written and from your responses to readers. I am sorry Charlie has been so sick, poor baby. And glad that you now know what is wrong. I, too, feel as if I weren’t on top of my dear Tavi’s condition as I should have been. I don’t know if I’d gotten him to the vet sooner whether it would have made a difference or not, but I wish I had. With the cancerous tumors it’s so often that there is nothing to be done but watch your pet get sicker and sicker. But, like others have said you can only know what you know. We must forgive ourselves for making a wrong call. As humans we make mistakes which are sometimes so painful, especially when they involve the ones we love. It’s just the way it is and we must not punish ourselves but learn what is to be learned for the next time. Otherwise we harm ourselves, our spirits and our abilities to live in the world and to love. Hard lessons, sometimes, yes?

    Just to chime in with almost every other post I admit that I, too, talk to my pets and to myself all the time. We are creatures that have a need to connect and relate to others, so if our pets are our “others” then we relate to them! By the same token, we “relate” to ourselves. So we here are all in good company!

    I hope Charlie continues to improve. I send my love to all three of you. And pats and hugs. Take care and be as kind to yourself as you are to your four-leggeds, Brenda.

  6. Sending healing and hopeful thoughts for Charlie to feel well soon. Did your vet mention if Charlie has anything contagious for Ivy or did Ivy pass something to Charlie?

  7. That happened in September to us too!!!! 9 year old cocker spaniel. He’s feeling 85% better! Just coughing sometimes and losing some water weight and more puppyish!!!!! He takes his pills so well. With your attentive care Charlie will be feeling improved in no time! It’s not terribly uncommon. My father has much the same and takes similar medications. Love em like your own kiddos!!!

  8. I have always talked to my fur kids, some people don’t get how much our pets understand. Your a great Mum. I hope Charlie is on the mend quickly. Hugs

  9. I have always talked to my pets. I talk to myself also but that come from living by myself I believe. You are a good pet mom! Hope Charlie starts feeling better.

  10. I hope Charlie starts to heal with the medicine. It’s so hard having an older pet. Zippo (19-1/2) now has high blood pressure and is drooling out the sides of his mouth; two things he didn’t have just a few weeks ago. Add that to his hyperthyroidism, cataracts and glaucoma, slight kidney disease, and being mostly deaf….and he takes a lot of time and care! But that’s OK – like you said, our pets are our babies. You’re not strange for talking to your pets – I talk to mine all the time. I think most people who live with pets do that.

    1. I hope Zippo gets better. I know how much you love your cats, Melanie. You’re also a very caring person. Hard to believe he is 19 and a half!

  11. I talk to Molly so no, your not crazy and I’m so glad Charlie is feeling better. They are your babies and if only they could talk, but you did the right thing getting him to the vet. It sounds like he is recovering nicely and Ivy will forgive and forget her brother being snippy with her. Don’t beat yourself up. Relax and enjoy your evening with the babies. Your a wonderful mom!
    Carol and Molly
    xoxoxo

  12. Oh yes… their feelings can definitely be hurt! Even harsh words can hurt their feelings. If/when we leave our kitties for a few days to go somewhere, when we get back they ignore us for a few days. And especially if just one of us is gone overnight or something, our Maddie girl (3 year old rescue cat) will absolutely have her feelings hurt and totally ignore the one who was gone. They also get cranky if their routine is not followed. And yes… we both talk to our cats all the time, even my hubby who never did like cats, until Maddie, as a kitten, stole his heart. Now she is his baby and he talks baby talk to her all the time! Who would have thunk?

  13. You are a loving, caring and kind mama, and both Charlie and Ivy know it. I am praying that the medicine will make Charlie feel better. I know it is impossible not to worry. When my little ones get their feelings hurt, they pout for a while. But maybe, as others have suggested, Ivy just realized Charlie needed more attention at the moment. Keep us informed.

  14. Sorry, I did not mean to be anonymous, not sure how that happened. I hit the Enter key. I thought we had to hit Post Comment before our comment posted.

  15. Well I just got back from the vet. I rushed my baby there to be worked in as you did. His allergy meds are not working and he is wheezing terribly along with chewing himself into oblivion. I was up with him all night. I Googled his current allergy med only to find out it causes lymphoma and some dogs have died from this medication. While they wanted to up his dosage I opted for a shot, so they gave him a shot of Cytopoint which is not working as yet. We do the best we can and we take them to the vet when they are sick. The head of my vet clinic was named vet of the year and he misdiagnosed my little Jack Russell and he died in April after they ran test after test for the wrong thing! If they don’t know what is wrong how are we supposed to know? I do see someone else there now for just basic things of which I thought a skin allergy was one. She is quite good and was the one who found out that my little Jack Russell was in actuality eaten up with cancer. My point being don’t be so hard on yourself because you are doing the very best that you can. I do not, however, follow my own advice because I will never forgive myself for what happened to my Jack Russell even though I took him to the vet regularly for months before he died. I told them over and over that they needed to do x-rays which they assured me they did not. And at the very end the one who discovered his condition did so through an x-ray! Even when we do the very best we can we have to rely on others, like our vets to do their best and they don’t always.

  16. Yes Brenda, absolutely yes! Talking & whispering to all our pets is completely normale! I became a pet-mama at 20. Panda lived a long life. Throughout the years I’ve rescued & adopted many doggies & kitties. Also it’s easy to question how we care for our sweeties. I do it all the time. Especially with rescues from years back. Unsure if I knew if doing the correct thing. Well, we can’t be too hard on ourselves. I try my best with Missy & Gidget every day. They are both healthy, ☺ happy AND definitely loved. ❤ Both give us all wonderful entertainment and fun times. Wish I could rescue others in need of a loving home. Too old now. Well, maybe. One more (older) pooch. They need adopting so much. Thousands of older pets everywhere. A real shame to me. That makes me feel I should be doing more. Well, after my surgeries coming up, will consider adopting a 10 or 11 year old. I sure hope to still be helpful to a needy pooch.

  17. I know cats can sense illness in someone. She may fell Charlie needs you and is staying away to allow him to be attended to.

  18. Brenda,

    Please don’t beat yourself up. You did make calls and you did ask questions. You always have their best interests at heart and without having a crystal ball, you are doing the best you can. Praying for relief for Charlie and peace for your worried heart. I understand.

    Susan

  19. Hi Brenda,
    You have done a great job taking care of Charlie. He couldn’t have a better mama. If someone has a pet and doesn’t talk to them, then what is the matter with them?!!

  20. Dear Brenda,
    God knows our pain and Charlie’s. Little Ivy Lucy understands.
    Peace to you…as pain fills your heart. You are being loved &
    In my prayers.
    Big blessing to you and your precious little ones.
    You can’t do more…you give your heart.
    Love,
    Martha Greene

  21. I talk to my dog all the time Brenda, everybody does. Lol. It’s alot better than talking to yourself! I have b4 in a super market trying to remember a recipe. Then felt like I had to explain myself cuz I was embarrassed in front of a cute guy. He wasn’t there a few seconds ago! ?

    I’m teary eyed reading this post! Here comes a big virtual hug!
    You are doing everything right concerning Charlie, you have good instincts and your a super loving pet Mom!
    In will keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers!

  22. Hugs and prayers for Charlie and for you also…Please know that you are the BEST mom ever, to these two little lovies, just as you were with Abi. Oh, and I talk every single day to my cat, and when I brush her in the morning, I sometimes sing to her too. I really think she’s ok with that, because she waits every morning laying on the floor next to me, waiting while I put on my make up and curl my hair. When I put the curing iron away, she knows then it’s her turn for her beauty treatment. Just remember, what you’re doing, they both know you LOVE them. Sometimes I think they are smarter than some people I know…..

  23. The vulnerability of our sweet pets can be so heartbreaking. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are doing something now and that’s important. I hope Charlie improves quickly and your little family gets back to normal.

  24. When someone is sick, we all go, including vets, to the most common, everyday diagnosis, like allergies instead of enlarged heart. You’re a very attentive pet parent. You tried to cureCharlie’s cough. Only passage of time could have told you that the allergy meds weren’t working. You’re doing all you can. Charlie is in your good loving hands.

  25. God bless the people who speak to their pets, worry over them, take care of them, and, finally, grieve over them. These are people gifted with compassion, hearts of gold, and beautiful, unselfish souls. Never mind those cold ones who would laugh and think us foolish. “What does it gain a man to conquer the word, but to lose his soul?”
    Brenda, you did nothing wrong with Charlie or Abi. Yes, animals “know” things – and all of yours realize they are loved and cared for unconditionally. The saddest thing about this post is that I wish all of your faithful readers could have crowded into your room and hugged and cried with you last night. I’m sorry you were alone with your sorrow. Next time it happens, imagine all of us there with you. You know we’d be there in a second if it were possible!

    1. I totally agree with all of Joyce’s words and also wish we had been with you last night as you were sad and doubted yourself. Never doubt the love and compassion and care you provide to your pets. They have warm homes, food, plenty of petting and toys to play with, not kept outside cold and shivering and unable to move around like some people treat animals and I have no tolerance for that and say so. There is a special place in heaven for people who care for our pets as much as we do. You can’t do any more than you are as medicine is tough many times to diagnose as is with humans and their searching for answers.

  26. I’m glad Charlie is already showing improvement. I know when they get old it is so hard to know when to take them to the vet (which can be stressful in itself) or just treat them at home. Poor Ivy, she didn’t understand. Yes cats do get their feelings hurt and I bet she just didn’t want to bother Charlie even if she didn’t know what was going on. Oh and I talk to my pet all the time, I would be Dotty if I didn’t. Big hugs to you and your furry babies!

  27. We have a cat that we talk to all the time and our kids have dogs that get talked too and loved on all the time so talking to your pets to me is normal I even talk to myself and answer so to me that’s normal too Ha have a great day

  28. I hope Charlie boy continues to improve and glad he already seems better.
    I talk to my dogs all the time and don’t care if anyone thinks I am dotty! They are really smart and understand everything I say. I would be lost without their companionship.

  29. I know how you feel. When Romeo started coughing all the time I was constantly at the vets office looking for something to help him. We cannot help but worry about our fur babies, and I do not apologize to anyone for how I talk to my pet or treat him/her like my child. They ARE our child.

  30. Hi Brenda,
    Glad you took Charlie into the Vet. My daughter just had the same thing happen with her 13 year old Boston Terrier. He too had the same symptoms not so much coughing but showing he was gasping for air and breathing harder with exertion. So they took him in and they had to put him on an IV of lasix to get all the fluid off his lungs and heart. His heart is enlarged and he has a murmur too. After keeping him all night and his breathing better with the IV he is on a daily medication too. He is like a new puppy again. So if the meds work for Charlie you will see a big difference. I will keep prayers and good thoughts for Charlie.

  31. I am a young 67 and talk to my pets all the time. My daughter is 41 and she talks to her pets. They respond and learn how much they are loved. When my children were young I talked to the pets but not nearly as much because they had attention from the children. My Cindy cat does get her feelings hurt if I do not follow our routine. I love this about them even when I am tired. I do my best to follow through. They are much more loving when they know we care about them. You are not at all dotty just enjoying the pets you have.

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