Last night, as most nights, Tyler the Cat plopped onto the bed beside my head and sang me the song of his people; it’s often the last thing I hear before drifting to sleep. And when I open my eyes the next day, he’s there to greet me. Sometimes, in fact, my eyes open because of him – he tap-tap-taps me on the head with a paw. Most mornings, however, he’s simply happy I’m awake, doesn’t care if breakfast is late, and picks up his song where he left off.
We feared we were going to lose him last February, when we took him to an emergency veterinary clinic on a Sunday after a week of failing health. A battery of tests revealed that his BUN and creatine levels were off the charts. The vet explained that his kidneys were failing and hinted that it might be best to put him down.
Instead, we took him home. Our thoughts were quite simple: If it was his time, his time would be with us. We’d keep him comfortable and, in the meantime, pursue whatever reasonable measures we could. An ultrasound soon revealed one of his kidneys had shut down due to a blood clot that then either withered or burst, but that the other was fine. We introduced a new renal-friendly diet (easier said than done) buttressed by a potassium supplement and, as important, started a daily regimen of subcutaneous fluids.
The results were near-miraculous: Within six months, his levels were in the normal range. The fluids were reduced to every other day. Now, 13 months later, he cajoles me into playing with him – or, as he did yesterday afternoon, tricks me out of my seat. After a day of working from home, I shut down the work laptop and fired up my MacBook Pro, and signed onto the Neil Young Archives to watch the Fireside Session – Neil performing a half-dozen songs for those of us self-isolating at present. Tyler poked his head up, batted me on the leg and seemed to want to play. But as soon as I got up, he jumped into the chair.
We’re not out of the woods by any means, of course, but – for now – we’re on an even keel. He, and we, have adjusted to a new normal.
Which leads to this, totally unrelated item: the Welsh singer Duffy, whose Rockferry album is one of the new millennium’s great works, shared a new song with BBC2 Radio presenter Jo Whiley on Friday March 20th and posted the note she sent Whiley on Instagram. “It’s just something for you to play people on radio during these troubling times, if you like the song of course. If it lifts spirits. I don’t plan to release it, I just thought a little something might be nice for people if they are at home, on lockdown.”
(For those unaware, she recently revealed that she went through a harrowing ordeal that caused her to pull away from public life; that she’s chosen to share this song with us now speaks volumes about her soul.)