Scooter the Siamese cat celebrated his 104th birthday (in cat years) on January 27 — by playing. He sprinted from bedroom to bedroom, chasing Ann and being chased by Ann. Thanks to a boost from a wise vet, Scooter was feeling like a young cat.
Just two weeks before his 104th birthday, Scooter was acting like a very old cat. We were worried about him, rationalizing his lethargy by thinking “he’s just old.” Fortunately, Ann knows a vet (Dr. Kimberly Stagmeier) who practices veterinary homeopathy. Ann called Kimberly and described Scooter’s behavior. Kimberly mailed a homeopathic remedy for Scooter. Ann put the potion in his food. He ate, walked three feet, and threw it all up. Even though we were disappointed, we persisted. Scooter kept the next dose down and became a wildcat.
Since that day, Scooter wants to play several times a day. He announces he’s ready with a low, gritty yowl. Then he gallops from room to room, begging to be chased. When he gets to the middle of the room, he spins in a semicircle or finds somewhere to hide. If he’s being chased, he flops over to get a scratch or bucks like a bronco. At other times, he charges the chaser, veering around the clumsy human feet at the last second and rushing into another room. Sometimes he runs to the stairs and ducks down behind the top step, peeping over the edge, ready to attack. He runs with a hopping motion, his back humped up, with his tail bowed. I laugh every time I see it — unless its 4am, when the piercing growl-yowl is not so funny and the sound of a galloping cat does not allow restful sleep.
Ann has developed some hand motions for playing with Scooter. She acts like a tai chi master on speed, and Scooter reacts wildly to her hand signals. He spins, bucks, sprints, rolls over, purrs, and chirps. I play hand mouse with him. I get down on the floor, put my right hand flat on the floor, and move my hand rapidly in a figure eight pattern on the floor. Scooter chases my hand, pounces on it, and holds it with his front paws. If the hand tries to get away, it gets a well-deserved bite. He doesn’t bite hard, but he lets the hand know he’s still a beast that deserves respect.
Sometimes during play he takes a time out. He goes to his litter box, pees, and then blasts out like a car in gravel, litter flying. But even Scooter can’t evade the effects of old age. His balance isn’t as good as it once was. He did his spin move in a doorway and ran head-on into the doorframe. It sounded like someone hit the wall with a hammer. His head is hard but he was a bit dazed by the collision.
During these hard times, when pessimism is rampant and the worst qualities of humanity too often dominate the news, Scooter lives as an example. None of us are too old to play like a child and laugh for a few minutes. It may be the highlight of our day.