Status Update: Guinea Pigs and Cats…and a bit more about my Dad


Here’s Cookie, slurping down every last bit of his Vitamin C supplement.


Cloudy likes his Vitamin C as well. 

They both like this stuff so much that sometimes they will play tug-of-war with Cloudy’s syringe.  He gets a larger dose than Cookie because he’s a larger guy, so it takes longer to consume.  Also, we give Cookie his dose first, and once he’s done, he wants more, so he goes for what Cloudy has.

The boys get their Vitamin C every evening. 


Cookie is also still getting the probiotic paste to help make sure his little gut is working properly.  Julia or I will put a little blob of it on our finger and Cookie licks it off and looks for more.

I wish companies made kids’ medicines (and adults’ medicines, for that matter) taste as yummy and appealing as they do for guinea pigs.

And one more picture – just a selfie – me with Cloudy.  He’s so cute.


Anyway, that’s where we are with Cookie and his issues.  His left eye still doesn’t look like the right eye yet, but he’s eating well, we are feeding him a better proportion of hay and greens, and he is perky and snuggly, so hopefully things are on the right path.


And the other night I brought Audrey home.


Audrey was my Dad’s cat.  He got her around a year ago or so, from the local Animal Rescue League.  He’d spent a lot of days hanging out with the cats, getting to know them, narrowing down his selection, until he finally settled on Audrey. 

She was probably 5-7 years old, if I remember right.  The info on her said she didn’t like other animals, so she was a perfect indoor companion for Dad, who had no other pets. 

She shared his love of watching birds at the feeders outside the living room window, but her interest seemed…different…from my Dad’s.  Her tail twitched.  She made little throaty cries as the delicate feathered creatures flitted oh-so-close to her.

She also kept an eye out for intruding neighborhood cats. 

She did not like them. They were trespassing on her property.  And they were trying to catch her birds.  She’d hiss at them and race from the living room window to the dining room window or the porch door, glaring at them and probably cursing like a sailor-cat at their gall.

There was one in particular – a gorgeous orange tabby.  I saw him most often, so he either lived very close or really liked our selection of flying prey.

Audrey wanted to GET him.

One afternoon, the Saturday before Dad passed away, I was at the house along with a visiting nurse from Hospice.  This wasn’t our regular nurse – we’d called Hospice earlier that day because Dad’s mood and behavior had become uncharacteristically hostile.  He told the CNA that morning to “get the hell out” of the house, and called the CNA and my sister “bastard.”  He didn’t want them bathing him or cleaning him up or changing him or moving him.  He slapped my sister. It was probably a combination of pain and dementia and another step closer to the end.  My sister was understandably upset – I talked to her from work and notified Hospice – they put in an order for a different medication and arranged for the on-duty nurse to come out later that afternoon. 

After work I picked up the prescription and took over for my sister.  Of course, by the time I got there Dad was in a better frame of mind and was watching a Red Sox game on tv.  A couple of hours later the nurse arrived, a tall gentleman who reminded me a little of the singing snowman – Sam – in “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  He was very kind and patient and asked me about Dad and I told him how Meredith and I were taking turns staying at the house and taking care of him along with the Hospice and private CNAs.  He said we were wonderful daughters – or something along those lines, I don’t remember exactly – but it felt so good to hear that.  We needed that positive feedback so much – it was like not knowing how thirsty you are until someone hands you a glass of water and you actually get to drink the whole thing.  Okay, maybe that didn’t make sense, but it made sense when I was typing it, so it stays.

Anyway, he came in and met Dad and visited with him and talked to him for a while.  He asked Dad if he was a veteran, and then thanked Dad for his service. 

And Dad cried.  So did I.

More talking, more listening.  Sometimes Dad was lucid, other times his mind and words wandered.  But he was calm and amiable.

Toward the end of the visit, I can’t remember how this came up, but they were talking about things Dad loved to do – flying, photography – and Dad paused and then said “There are so many things I’d still like to do…but I guess I can’t.”

That has stayed with me.  The anger in the morning, and then what he said that afternoon.  From that day on he slept a lot more.  Didn’t really eat much except a bit of watermelon.  A sip of coffee.  Maybe a bit of ice cream.  But not much.

That Sunday, the day after his angry outbursts his breathing was different.  I sat with him as Mere came and I was supposed to go to work at noon, but first I said I’d be late and then I cancelled all together because I didn’t know if he was going to die and I didn’t want to just leave Mere there by herself, with neither of us knowing what might come next.

I didn’t work the next day, July 4th.  Or the next day, either, my birthday.  I couldn’t.  We stayed with him on the 4th, and I slept over that night and spent the day there as well.  Meredith came over at some point that afternoon and I went home to have my birthday dinner with my husband and kids.  I was glad to go, and I felt horrible leaving.  But I would be back the next morning.  It was my scheduled day off.

And then, Wednesday morning, while I was stuck in beach traffic about ten minutes from Dad’s house, he passed away.  Meredith was with him.  I pulled into the driveway and she came out of the house and she didn’t usually do that and I knew just looking at her and she shook her head and her face crumpled a bit and I’m sure mine did too and we hugged and cried. 


I just realized I’d started telling that whole story to tell you another thing about the cat. 

When the Hospice nurse was just about done with his visit, we were standing there in the living room, my Dad was in his bed watching the Sox game, and I’d opened the front door to let some air in. 

We were talking, watching the game, when all of a sudden there was a LOUD, crazy noise in the room and I looked over and Audrey had seen that orange cat in the front yard and she RAN STRAIGHT UP THE SCREEN DOOR in an attempt to get at him. 

Fortunately the latch held and she had to drop from the top of the screen to the floor.  I didn’t have to lose my mind trying to catch her or stop her from attacking the orange cat.

But really.  She ran up the screen.  Bottom to top.  I think maybe she thought she could just go straight through and when that didn’t happen she just kept going.

We three humans sort of froze, looking toward the door, not knowing, at first, what had happened.  After that, we laughed.


Audrey stayed at the house by herself for the rest of July.  Meredith and I stopped in to feed her and give her fresh water and deal with the litterbox. 

I wasn’t ready to bring her home.  I needed to make a lid for the guinea pig cage first.  And then we had a softball tournament out of state, and I didn’t want to leave her here, unsupervised.

But this past Monday night, after work, I got Audrey and some of her possessions, and drove her home.

She spent the first night in Bill’s and my room. 



She was very, very happy to be with people.  Julia slept in the room with me and Audrey.  Audrey couldn’t get enough of the attention and the scratches behind her ears and under her chin.  Much purring took place.

And over the next few days she relaxed and grew comfortable in her little queendom.





And then we let the Audrey and Scratchy meet.



That’s Scratchy on the left and Audrey on the right.  Their markings are very similar.  It just occurred to me that on Audrey, who is about a third of Scratchy’s size, the markings look like pictures of land masses before the continents started splitting apart and moving all around on Earth’s face, and on Scratchy it’s more like where all the islands and continents are today.  Of course, he’s also shaped more like the planet, too….

Anyway, mainly this new relationship has consisted of hissing and Scratchy running away.  Audrey’s territory is the second floor,


Scratchy’s is the basement,


and they share – sort of – the main floor.

Audrey has only hissed at the Guinea pigs once.

So far, so good.

3 thoughts on “Status Update: Guinea Pigs and Cats…and a bit more about my Dad

  1. Thank you for sharing about your dad.

    I love the analogy of the land masses to the cats’ markings! 🙂

  2. Ugh, what a summer. My sympathies. Lost Mom in April and Slinky-mom yesterday. Good to hear the Guinea’s are doing better. You are such a kind person.
    Slinky-mom’s daughter has been roaming the house looking for her. Wasn’t expecting that they seemed so independent of each other.
    All the best for you and the kids this school year!

  3. It’s such a bitter thing to lose a loved one. We will meet our loved ones in a better place someday, all we can do is our best with what we’ve been given. I’m sorry for your loss. On another note, I have something which may protect your daughter from any complications of Lyme disease should it crop up again; mine was caught ten years too late and I came up with an effective protocol to kick its ass. If I am lucky enough to have this post be moderated before it gets posted, then please do not post it; I’ve been pretty persecuted for daring to say that lyme disease goes chronic, my posts have been taken down from Reddit, I’ve been mocked by every doctor I’ve met and denied insurance and medicine, and so on and so forth; it’s a political nightmare. Lyme disease is usually a mild illness if it gets treated quickly enough with antibiotics, but there is a chance it could crop up again if the person is exposed to extreme physical or emotional stress. No child deserves this, so I am sending what’s working for me, to you.

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