Musings of a recovering...

12-18-2023: Toto in the morning

I don't have kids so I like to think that I have a relatively high level of access to solitude, but 2 very old cats challenge that access. Really it's only one who presents the challenge: Toto.

His balance is poor, his strength is quite high, his visual senses are questionable and he has a penchant for communicating with a soliloquy of angsty cries.

I've spent a lot of time with Toto. I've watched and learned some of his habits. I like to think that I've learned something real about how to help him relax.

Instead of giving him lots of extra attention with pets or shouts when he wanders the halls crying, I now aim to slowly walk to him, call his name once to help him orient and then encourage him to a familiar place. Sometimes he goes to the couch, often to my bed or sometimes to a foot stool. If he doesn't want to settle and relax, then I try to interact and play with him. He's 18 but about once a day he still likes to attack string, jump between vertical surfaces and walk around outside.

Today's video is an unedited clip of how calm he can be with a bit of encouragement. He had just walked along side me as I made coffee. Now that I had finished and wanted to look out the window, Toto was able to stay calm and sit near me. He is also now comofortable using my mobile milk crate platform which is satisfying to see.

Another reason I wanted this video was to evaluate how much direct physical attention I give Toto while he is calm. In the past, I would pet him whenever he was trying to sleep near me. Over time I finally observered that it's better to leave him alone if I want him to remain calm. Obvious in retrospect. I limit most of pets now to times when he is obviously awake and not when he is relaxed. With some caveats, this has helped a lot for him to be relaxed when I'm trying to do desk work at home. One caveat is that if I do a lot of moving in the house, he does not seem to relax. Watching me do yoga is a very upsetting time for him. Cooking dinner and walking in the kitchen can also be a trigger, but I've started putting a foot stool at the edge of the kitchen so that he can watch is showing some promise as a tool. He likes to watch what is happening from small selection of surfaces... I think.

That's it for installment 1 of Overthinking Elderly Cat Care