Life Lessons I Learned From My Cat

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

Hi everyone —

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post. Unfortunately it has been a hectic — and frankly extremely sad — few weeks here at In Brief Legal Writing Services. As many of you already know, our mascot, Eli “The Cat” Bogdanovic, passed away a week ago at age 13.

He was fine when I got back from London — or at least he seemed fine. But during the first week of June we noticed he no longer wanted any kibble, which was highly unusual. Gradually he lost interest in his food altogether, but was still drinking. After a harrowing weekend, I took him to the veterinarian on Monday, June 10.

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat. 1/1/06 – 6/17/19

To make a long story short, his initial assessment showed evidence of significant dental issues and alarmingly elevated kidney values. He was hospitalized for four days and I visited him twice during that time. We brought him home on Friday, June 14 and he seemed to be doing well. But the next morning, he made it clear that he no longer wanted any medical intervention, even here at home.

So we made the incredibly difficult decision to let him leave us on his terms here at home, with us, where he knew he was loved. And that’s exactly what he did.

Life won’t be the same without him.

He was more than a mascot for my business. He was my best friend. He never let met down. He was a great listener. In fact, he was my officially unofficial “therapy cat.” He was a great teacher. I learned so much from him. I learned:

  1. Don’t give up on people, no matter how many times you’ve been betrayed or how badly they let you down.
  2. Once you do find someone you can trust completely, you’ll realize everything else was worth it.
  3. A true friend will always stand up for you no matter what.
  4. Live life on your own terms.
  5. When all else fails, turn on the charm.
  6. Sometimes, silence speaks volumes.
  7. Loyalty is one of the most precious commodities on earth.
  8. Those that you love most fiercely are the ones who need it most.
  9. If you get a second chance at anything, make the most of it.
  10. Life is wonderful, but it is incredibly unpredictable and incredibly short, so make the most of every day.

Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Life with a scary smart cat

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

Official disclaimer: I am not a crazy cat lady. For one thing, I only have one cat. For another, I harbor no illusions that he is my “child,” and I do not treat him as such. Eli is definitely a cat.

Having said that, after living with him for more than nine years, I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s a genius. Seriously. This is one scary smart cat.

How do I know? Simple. Through personal observation, that’s how.

Anecdotal evidence

The other day for example, my 11-ish, (possibly) Birman/American Shorthair mix, was clearly looking for something when he came into the living room. He’d already eaten, but I knew there were some leftovers on his saucer and asked him if he wanted his “crumbs.” He promptly went to the spot where he usually eats, and didn’t find his saucer there. So he came and sat in front of me.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

“Go on,” I told him. “Go and find your crumbs.” I didn’t point him in any particular direction. I didn’t tell him where they were. I simply told him to go find them. And he did.

In past posts, I’ve shared how I taught Eli to sit, so I won’t do so again. However, it’s interesting to note that while he does sit on command, he usually sits when he wants to. To me, this is a sure sign of intelligence. He thinks about it. If it’s in his best interest to plop his butt on the floor, that’s what he does. If he doesn’t feel like it, I can tell him to sit until the cows come home and it won’t make a bit of difference. Like I said, Eli is definitely a cat.

A few other things of interest:

  • If I tell Eli to go to his “number two person,” he goes to my mom.
  • If she tells him to find his “number one person,” he comes to me.
  • If I ask him to “show me out,” he goes to the door.
  • He comes when he’s called (if it suits him)

Room for debate

Of course, there’s always room for debate. And there’s been plenty of debate about just how intelligent our pets are. There’s been plenty of debate about how much they really understand, how much they remember and how much self-awareness they truly have.

Skeptics say that dogs and cats don’t really understand what we’re saying. They say that our pets only understand body language and tone of voice.

Personally I believe that our pets do understand those things. I know for a fact that they understand and appreciate the love and kindness that we share with them. As living, breathing creatures, they need those things.

Don’t we all?


Another day, another crisis

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

“No matter what happens, remember it’s not your fault. Animals are difficult to understand sometimes.” — S.A. Witten (Grandpa)

As I write this, Eli is at the vet — again. And I’m worried sick.

Those of you who have been following this blog since the beginning know that he had a serious health scare earlier this year. He emerged from that (relatively) unscathed and I thought the worst was behind us.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Everything was fine until Friday, when he started coughing. Those of you who have cats know that sound … that cringe worthy sound that usually means Fluffy or Princess is trying to hack up a hair ball. Yes, it sounded like poor old Eli had a really bad one — but he didn’t puke.

On Saturday morning he jumped on my bed at the crack of dawn. In and of itself that is not unusual. The fact that he yowled, hissed and took off for no apparent reason is highly unusual. The fact that he curled up in a little ball and refused to eat all day was also highly unusual.

Over the last couple of days, he’s eaten a little bit of kibble — and that’s it. And that’s highly unusual as well.

This morning, I had the unenviable task of corralling him and putting him in his carrier for the five-minute drive to the veterinarian’s office. Needless to say, he was not very happy. That’s par for the course.

At the office, the vet listened while I gave a detailed description of Eli’s symptoms. She then recommended blood work, an x-ray and exam. I agreed and headed for home.

As I opened the door and came up the stairs, I realized how quiet the house is when Eli’s not around. And I thought about something my 101-year-old grandfather told me on Saturday night.

“No matter what happens, remember it’s not your fault,” he said. “Animals are difficult to understand sometimes.”

So is life.

That’s enough

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

“I’m beginning to think that the definition of a healthy cat is one that has never been to the vet.”

– My mother.

My poor cat.

Until recently, Eli went to the vet for his shots and a check-up once a year. He also went to get his nails trimmed every three months.

Since January 15, he’s been to the vet three times. A fourth visit – this time for surgery – has been scheduled for sometime this week. Needless to say, he’s not very happy about this turn of events. And it should go without saying that neither am I.

By now those of you who have been following this saga know that I initially took Eli, who just turned 10, to the vet for his regular appointment and nail trim. I also mentioned the small lump I’d found on his back, and agreed that the vet should take a sample of it as a precaution. Three days later I learned that the little lump that hadn’t changed color or size since I discovered it was, in fact, a tumor.

In Brief Legal Writing Services owner Alexandra Bogdanovic's cat, Eli.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli under the Christmas Tree. Christmas 2013. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

The vet then recommended an ultrasound to make sure that the cancer hadn’t affected Eli’s liver or spleen. Again, I agreed. I also agreed to let the vet get a blood sample while she was at it. Later that day, I was relieved to learn that the ultrasound didn’t show anything horrible; it seemed that after all the drama, a simple operation to remove the mass was all that was necessary.

But, no. It couldn’t be that easy for poor old Eli. The vet did an about-face, saying the surgery we’d initially scheduled had to be postponed until the results of his blood analysis came back. And when they did, it turned out that some of the indicators for kidney function were within the higher end of the acceptable range.

So instead of bringing him in for surgery last Friday, I had to bring him in for more blood work and a urinalysis, instead. The only reason I agreed to those procedures is because the doctor said the results could determine whether they have to take any precautions with the anesthesia when he does have surgery.

I told her that I was kind of concerned that all of this traveling back and forth was taking a toll on Eli. Not to mention what it was doing to my nerves. We’ve both had enough — or to be brutally honest — more than enough.

He’ll have his surgery, and that will be that. Even if the blood work and urinalysis do show some other issues, I am not subjecting him to any more invasive procedures, and I will limit future vet visits as much as I can.

I take pride in being a responsible pet owner; I love Eli more than life and I want him to be healthy. More importantly, I want him to be happy.

He and I have had a great eight years together, and I pray we will have many more. Having said that, I know  I can’t control the future, and I have no idea what it holds.  But I can promise this: as long as Eli is alive, I will do everything in my power to make sure he has the best quality of life possible.

In the end, can anyone ask for more?

On a personal note

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.
Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

It has been a rough week here at In Brief Legal Writing Services.

On Monday, I learned that the little lump I found on Eli’s back is a tumor.

The good news — if there was any — is that this type of tumor is fairly common in dogs and cats. From what I understand, it tends to be more aggressive in dogs, and affects the liver and spleen in only a small percentage of cats (approximately 10 percent). In most cases, surgery to remove the lump is all that’s needed.

According to the vet, an ultrasound is the best way to determine whether an external mass is the result of cancer affecting the internal organs, so we scheduled one for Wednesday. The next steps would depend on the results.

Before the ultrasound, I tried not to borrow trouble. If anything I took comfort in the fact that the lump was small; that it hadn’t changed shape, size or color since I noticed it; that Eli’s behavior hadn’t changed and most importantly, neither had his appetite.

Being a realist, I also thought long and hard about what I would do in the worst-case scenario. I came to the conclusion that I would not subject him to extensive surgery, no matter what. After all, he just turned 10. I’ve had him — or more accurately, he’s had me wrapped around his little paw, for just about eight years now.

He came into my life in February 2008. I was living in Virginia at the time and had just come home from Australia, where my family gathered to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday and I got to watch my favorite football team win the Super Bowl.

The New York Giants won that championship thanks to some heroics by my favorite quarterback, Eli Manning. So imagine my delight — and surprise — when I glanced at the Fauquier SPCA’s flyer on my way out of the office one day. If memory serves, I stopped dead in my tracks and yelped, “Holy crap! The SPCA has a cat named Eli!”

I went to the shelter and instantly decided to adopt him. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t take him home right away. He stayed at the shelter so he could be neutered, and as I drove home alone, the sun, which had been noticeably absent all day, peeped out from between the clouds.

I picked him up after work on another cold, dreary winter afternoon a couple of days later. As we drove home together, the sun, which I hadn’t seen all day, made another appearance.

Perhaps it was a mere coincidence. Or maybe it was a cosmic sign of approval from my cat Heals (named after New York Islanders and New York Rangers goalie Glenn Healy) who had died of cancer six months before.

In any case, it didn’t really matter. All I knew for sure is that it was definitely meant to be.