Mordecai had been getting fouler tempered over the years. It had become a family joke to quip that no one should approach him barehanded while he’s sleeping. And absolutely no one is to scratch him anywhere except behind his ears and under his chin—which he still loves. 

This big black behemoth of a cat had never been so ornery. Before the age of ten he’d been the sweetest-natured of beasts, rubbing himself between legs trippingly and bouncing off walls playfully well into his middle age.

Despite his size he’d never been a fat cat—just a big one. Panther-esque even now in his early teens, he lumbers lazily to the food bowl or litterbox and back to one of half-dozen favorite spots he protects with a stare that says, “go ahead….make my day.”

In the office for his yearly visit it was hard to believe this cat could be so ill-tempered. Mordecai’s two healthy canines protrude comically from his upper lip, lending him a not-so badass façade for all his owners’ anxiety over his personal flaws.

Then again, I guess you have to know him in his natural habitat to question that vampire grin. According to his owner, it promises a couple of unpleasant punctures should he be inadvertently touched anywhere except around his head.

Because of his behavior, Mordecai hadn’t seen a vet since before his inner Sybil materialized. But a punctured pad, the result of some seriously curled front toenails (no way to trim those bad boys with that nasty temper) finally occasioned a multi-family member pillowcase chase and his eventual capture.

Here at the hospital, however, Mordecai was the very picture of pleasant catdom. Sometimes the stress of a new environment has a way of changing behavior patterns…but not always for the better. Luckily Mordecai is one of those who chills in resignation at the sight of a scrub top.

Nonetheless, a full exam revealed his grouchy side whenever his back was manipulated. His muscle mass and coat quality had also suffered, the former due to lack of exercise from stiffness and discomfort, the latter likely the result of poor self-grooming habits (often the result of pain on the required twisting maneuvers).

X-rays confirmed the diagnosis: moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the spine, hips and elbows. Who wouldn’t be ticked off by attention to all these stay-away zones?

A course of anti-inflammatory medications (Metacam every three days) combined with some occasional non-sedating opiates (Tramadol) and the obligatory nutraceuticals (glucosamine, chondroitin, green lipped mussel extract and the occasional course of Adequan, for good measure) has turned him back into the pussycat of years past.

This guy is my most obvious example of success in the relief of chronic pain in cats. He’s done so well his owners are actually considering a hip replacement for him. With his fine labwork and extreme good health in other respects, Mordecai’s a model candidate, despite his thirteen years.

Given their success rate with procedure in small dogs, we expect our local surgeons (experts in teensy-weensy hip replacements) to consent to his candidacy.  If so, stay tuned…I’ll have a lot more to talk about on the subject of Mordecai the monster kitty.