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this time, for sure!

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[ A view up a tall, rocky hill that’s really pretty steep in places. It’s the same one I went partway up, with the boys, a couple months back. ]

(spoilers cos I know y’all worry: he’s fine)

Two days after Christmas, I decided, was gonna be the day we’d finally get to the top!

… except it didn’t happen that way.

We got out of the van, I set up my backpack the way I like, we set out for the cliff … & Loiosh wouldn’t follow me up.

Just. Would not.

He’s loitered, before. He’s gotten distracted. He’s been a stubborn butthead. But he’s never just … completely refused me like this before.

I went back down, picked him up, & carried him about twenty feet up. He wandered around there for a bit, then headed back down.

He just … didn’t want to.

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[ Loiosh, an orange tabby wearing a green harness, stands on a rock, body facing the camera, head turned just a bit to look off to the right. ]

He climbed around on rocks & was photogenic, he gave me vigorous headbonks, he even went up a tree, he just didn’t want to go up that hill.

I’m not gonna force him. So we wandered around down at the bottom of the hill for a while. There were ravens saying rude things, so he hadda keep an eye on them.

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[ A closer view of Loiosh; he’s looking up and to the right, nose lifted to catch the smells. ]

I got a great picture of lichens.

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[ A tiny clump of green-grey spiky lichens on a bed of brown ponderosa needles. ]

& found what I’m pretty sure is amaranth, although I forgot to grab any to bring home.

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[ In my hand, a red-brown stalk covered in small spade-shaped seeds. ]

& we just hung out some.

I was worried. I’ve been kind of worried for a while — he’s just seemed … a bit off.  & then he’d go tearing off across the house, & I’d tell myself he was fine. But then I’d get worried again. Of course I was worried! He’s my baby!

He had a vet appointment coming up anyway, & I’d planned to ask them about his knee anyway; this just added some urgency to the whole thing.

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[ Loiosh stands on a fallen log, side to the camera, head turned so he’s almost looking right at me. ]

My vet’s on the other side of Albuquerque, cos they’re good people & the local ones don’t impress me any, so we drove into town the night before & spent the night at a truck stop. I took Loiosh along on a little walk to toss my dinner trash, & we managed to run into three different people who took the time to pet him & give him a bunch of love.

The DIFFERENCE that made. He purred. He leaned on peoples’ legs. He stood on one guy’s shoe. He SHAMELESSLY begged for More Petting. He gently reminded people that they had somehow stopped petting him for a moment & could they just fix that maybe? By petting him more?

He trot-trot-trotted back to the van with his tail in the air, my happy boy, & slept on my face that night, & trot-trot-trotted into the vet’s office with the vet tech the next morning, not a worry in his mind.

Y’all, he’s been DEPRESSED.

I really, truly thought just getting him out into the woods was enough for him, & it turns out that it’s not.

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[ Still on the log, but I caught him halfway through turning around to walk the other way. ]

Fortunately, even with the plague, it’s an easy fix. Friday I drove us into Grants, where we wandered around the park for an hour or two, he accosted several people for love, & I didn’t have to get within ten feet of any of em. & the change in him is AMAZING. His appetite is better. He’s got more energy. He’s flopping down to nap, instead of hunching up. I pick up his harness & he WANTS to go out.

I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure it out, but now that I know what’s going on, I can DO something about it.

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[ Loiosh, trot-trot-trotting down the log & off to the right. ]

Of course there’s still his knee. The vet tells me it’s likely bothering him a LOT, more than I’d figured, even with the knowledge that cats hide things. But it turns out that’s an easy fix too! There are painkillers that work great & are safe for cats these days, & since his bloodwork all came back fine (& what a relief THAT was), he can be on the less expensive one. So he’s got a new prescription on the way, & the vet assures me that soon he’ll be back to his old self. Awww yeah!

Also? Oh CRAP. Now I’m gonna be back to barely being able to keep up with him.

& here’s a random picture of Tom, because I know he’s got fans too.

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[ Major Tom, a big grey tabby wearing a black harness, sits on a log, almost-but-not-quite facing the camera. His expression is dignified but his ears are tilted at different angles. ]