Dispatches from Pops: One Year Ago Today
I can hardly believe that it has been one year, but exactly 365 days ago, Sauerkraut became a permanent part of our family.
When she first came to us in January 2014, she was a runty, grouchy looking little thing. I thought, well, we have the little cousin of Grumpy Cat for a while. She was instantly a fan of sitting, climbing, and sleeping on my shoulder. Me, not having been raised with cats, was somewhat dismayed. A cat on my shoulder was not something I initially took to. But with Sauerkraut, it did not take long for her to firmly, permanently make her own room in my heart.
We quickly learned she had some challenges. She would not react like a normal cat. When you stood right behind her and clapped your hands, not even an ear would twitch, and she gave no indication she heard you. She would not react to loud noises, or any noises at all really. We thought there was a possibility she was deaf. We have since learned she is not deaf, but only reacts when she is good and ready to. Sometimes she does not do what a cat should do to protect herself from danger, which sometimes alarms us!
After her spay surgery and our adoption of her, we later found out she has a heart murmur. It is not a bad one, but is detectable with just a stethoscope.
After watching her behavior, Humom has realized Sauerkraut likely also has Feline Hyperesthesia, also known as "Twitchy Cat Syndrome". Sometimes the fur along her back will ripple, and she will suddenly start scratching herself incessantly. She has recently scratched her chin so obsessively that she has worn the fur away in spots. The disorder will also display itself in sudden, unprovoked running or jerking, or twitching and thumping of her tail, as if she was startled. Hyperesthesia is an abnormal sensitivity of the skin, and is most commonly caused by neurological disorder.
Interestingly, one of the best treatments for Twitchy Cat Syndrome is... wearing clothes. Which we trained her to do from a very early age. Since she was to the vet so often when she was a kitten, Humom trained her to be in a harness and walk on a leash. Sometimes she only wants to sit and eat the grass in the front yard, but she is comfortable with the harness. A corollary to that has been to dress her up in kitten clothes, and we got in the habit of putting little dresses or bow ties on her. She took to it immediately, and usually is much more eager for us to put it on than take it off from her. When she hears the bag of clothes coming out, she runs right to us from wherever she is in the house.
There have been some detractors to our dressing Sauerkraut in clothes, that "cats do not like that" or "it is not normal" but it has been the best treatment for her disorder you could imagine.
In any case, I look back on the past year with awe and amazement, that such a little disorderly, drool-in-her-sleep, grouchy-looking creature could occupy such a large parcel of real estate in my heart.
I am truly blessed to be her Pops.