Last week in my column, I talked about all of the sweet, wonderful messages that I received from hundreds of people who are following the journey of Old Fella. Now, I would like to tell you of what the last week of March was like over the course of several days. And as I said last week in my column, it was a week I never would want to relive.

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
Last week in my column, I talked about all of the sweet, wonderful messages that I received from hundreds of people who are following the journey of Old Fella. Now, I would like to tell you of what the last week of March was like over the course of several days. And as I said last week in my column, it was a week I never would want to relive.
At the beginning of that sorrowful week after I admitted him to Hillside Animal Hospital in Frostburg, Old Fella had a peaceful overnight. The report that first morning was that Old Fella had a very small appetite, but he did eat a little. He had a good quantity of urine output, but still no bowel movement (I have to keep a close eye on him even at home because he does have chronic constipation that I have to address on occasion). Dr. Tom said that O.F. had gained a few ounces and he was still taking his medications and had his IV fluids.
I will continue the rest of the story as if it were happening right now.
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At the present time, my baby is snoozing. I will post another update around 2 p.m. today. As far as the donations for my baby's veterinary account - my bill is currently well over $500, and because of your generosity, my Fella Friends have donated $460. This makes my heart swell with such love...not because people are helping me pay for this hospital stay, but because people love my cat. Can you imagine a community loving an old scraggly, once a street thug kinda cat? I believe in love, and I believe in hope. There is always hope.
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There really is not much that is new to report about his health. Dr. Tom will return at 4 p.m. today to reevaluate. Old Fella is resting comfortably and still taking his medications and his IV fluids. He is still only eating a little bit of  food. A total of $625 has been donated to help with the inpatient stay for our favorite 18-year old boy, and this has covered his first day and night yesterday. Today's charges have not been added to the bill as of yet. I am so thankful...humble. I can't tell you how much it means when a community like ours pulls together and helps one another. I will do my best to pay it forward, that I promise.
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Dr. Tom had to deliver the cold hard truth. Old Fella is in bad shape, with what Dr. Tom believes is end-stage kidney failure. Old Fella is pretty anemic and unfortunately his temperature is 96 degrees...not a good sign at all. Dr. Tom wants to continue some more IV and medication treatment, although he has to be careful not to over-hydrate. Old Fella is still not eating much at all, and unfortunately, this has been going on for about 2 weeks. I did ask how much pain my boy is in, and Dr. Tom says that he is most likely very uncomfortable - like we would be if we had the flu, for example.
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This is heartbreaking, and, of course, I knew last year that his medical conditions for an 18-year-old cat would most likely take him from me. My Old Fella's days are numbered, and when he is discharged from the hospital, I will make every remaining day of his life worthwhile and full of love and compassion. The donations from Fella's Fans now total $668, which includes my $200 deposit upon admission. Thank you to all of you who have donated so far to Hillside Animal Hospital and through PayPal. Love to all.
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There is just one change, and that is that his temperature is 98.4. I am thankful for any teeny, tiny positive direction for my Old Fella. Donations are now at $678, including cash donations and PayPal. Thank you all for the love and prayers, my friends.
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Wonder if he misses me as much as I miss him? Last night was so hard for me. I did not go to bed until about midnight and I got up this morning at 6:30. Six hours of staring at the ceiling, coloring on my phone like a 6th grader, and hoping that my Old Fella is strong enough to get through all of this. Praying that God will give me lots more time with my boy.
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Old Fella's temperature is slowly coming up. He is on a heating pad and still receiving a good bit of IV fluids. They are force-feeding him with a syringe so that he can get some food into his system. Ava and I will be visiting Old Fella around 2 pm, and of course we are very excited to be able to see him and touch him and talk to him!! I will post another update today around 4:30 and let everyone know how the visit went and what his status is at that time.
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Dr. Tom insists that Old Fella stay another night so that the IV and medications can be continued. There are over 300 people or even more who are following this story, and I want to take the opportunity to say thank you for caring about my old man.
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My four-year-old granddaughter Ava and I had a chance to visit with Old Fella this afternoon. He appeared to be happy to see us, and I was able to get him to eat just a little soft food. Many of you know he's a picky eater, and they were giving him chicken and beef. He's a salmon fiend, though! They are going to see what they can do for him to get him to eat something...anything. There has been no improvement in his temperature, I was so hopeful that it would be up when we got there to visit. We took some pictures, and Ava wanted to sing her favorite song to Old Fella, so we did that. As much as I loved getting to visit with him, it was sad...bittersweet. He tried to get up several times - he can't, he is as weak as a baby kitten. He has no muscle strength, and his back legs kept splaying when he tried to move. I put his legs back under him and just hugged and held him close to me - trying to warm him up. He feels so cold, my poor baby.
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He is staying another night, but I am bringing him home tomorrow. He just is not improving, and I cannot see leaving him in the hospital away from the home he loves. My hope is wavering that he will pull through this. I can't bear the thought of his suffering. My heart can't take it. I pray for a peaceful night's rest for him, and then tomorrow is another day. I know Dr. Tom is doing everything possible, and I am thankful. I am also blessed to have a community praying for my Old Fella - even crying for a simple old cat and all he has been through. I love each and every one of you. Thank you for walking this journey with me. Just a cat, some say. To me, though, he's always been more than that...so much more. And, only those who understand the love between beast and human get that. The rest? Their loss.
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FINAL CHAPTER...today is the day my Old Fella comes home. I had made this decision late last night that regardless of this morning's report from Dr. Tom, I was going to bring him home - home where love is everything. Dr. Tom reported that some of his numbers are coming up appropriately and some are going down as they should. But, some of his lab numbers are still unreadable and off the scale. Dr. Tom says Old Fella has gained some ounces since he came to the hospital, and that is a positive direction. However and regardless - I am picking him up today at 5 pm, and they will show me how to do fluids under the skin, how to encourage eating. I will need to do this twice daily through the weekend, and take him to Hillside twice-daily so that he can continue his medication.
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Then...there is Monday afternoon. The day I will say goodbye to my Old Fella. The day my magnificent cat will cross the rainbow bridge - where he can run free and continue his happy life. And yes, I believe he will patiently wait for me - waiting for the day when I can rub his ears and scratch his head every single night. Love to all who follow this story.
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Old Fella and I are on our way home...home to the Baughman Street White House. The final report from discharge today was rather encouraging. Old Fella now weighs the same as he weighed 2 months ago - 9 lbs 6 oz! - big difference between now and when he was admitted, when he weighed one pound less! He is very alert, and I found out that he has actually been using the litter box in his cage. I had just not thought to ask about that before. I was just thinking since he couldn't walk that he was just not using the box. He needs to have a BM, but he has had good urine output all along. The technician taught me how to give fluids under the skin, and sent me home a bag of fluid with his usual two medications, no more lasix and a cream that I rub in his ear every evening to increase his appetite. We can feed him anything at all that he will eat, so I am going to get him some canned salmon, some hamburger (he loves that) and add some broth to his Fancy Feast and his Pro Plan to see if he will lick that up and maybe get some of the food as well. I may have to get him a less-deeper litter box so that he can get in easier, so that's just a drive to PetSmart. This boy is something else!
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Old Fella had a peaceful evening last night, and took his place next to my pillow for the night. He tries to get up by himself on occasion - he's thinking about the litter box and how to jump off of the bed to get there. He's thinking of his bubbling water fountain where he can get a cold drink anytime he is thirsty. But, he just can't. His bed space was prepared with pads underneath the sheets so that if he could not make it to the litter box, he would be fine where he was. As it turns out, he could not get up by himself, he cannot. Throughout the night, I checked on him many times, I touched him and whispered sweet things to him to calm him down. I can tell more this morning that he is frustrated with not being able to move and do what he is used to. After we returned home from Hillside, there was an area prepared for Old Fella on the couch where he could spend the afternoon while I'm working on my book. He drank and drank and drank some fresh cold water, but would not even taste the salmon with some broth - his favorite. Still not eating a thing. But, he found enough strength to jump from the couch to the floor. It was so sad to see how he just went down - splat and splayed. Picked him up, stroked him and took him to his bed.
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Each morning and evening he goes to the hospital for his three medications (he won't take them for me), and his 1.5 of fluids. I am praying so hard for God to lessen my baby's suffering, and waiting through this storm to see if Old Fella will improve at all. Monday looms - like a dark cloud - hovering, watching, covering the sun for a time. Tick tock, my beautiful silver boy. Til then, love is all around, and God's eye is on the sparrow.

My dear friends...my Old Fella is gone. At about 7:30 pm on Saturday, March 30, as I laid beside him - gently stroking him, hugging and kissing and whispering all of the sweet nothings I could muster.

God blessed my life when this old street urchin came into my life last July - which so happened to be a very difficult month for me. I will be forever grateful for our time together. You see, we really needed one another. He was so devoted to me, and I to him. Bedtime was the best - time we spent showing affection and love, and Old Fella's gratitude. I knew from the start how grateful he was to have love, and a home and delicious foods and treats. But, of course, I knew he would not be with me forever.

Backing up to the beginning of this dreadful week on Monday night, he told me that the end was near, and I believed him. We were eye to eye, while he was getting his 30 minutes of ear rubs and head scratchings. We just had that kind of connection - Old Fella and I.
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When it came time on Saturday night, this is the ending I wanted...just like this. To hold my baby while he passed, in the arms of the one who loved him most in all the world. God is good, God is great. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he's watching me. Thank you to every single person who has loved, prayed for and supported the life of Old Fella...meow.
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"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are gray. You'll never know dear, how much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away."

Until we meet again...

In the conclusion of my "Simple Humanity" series, I will share some of the most beautiful terms of endearment that I received from some of the most wonderful people in my life. These are the people who helped make my journey from beginning to end one of love, compassion, sacrifice - the circle of life. I will remember these and hundreds of others for the rest of my life.
if anyone is interested, I do have a few of the February editions of Allegany Magazine remaining, where Old Fella has a feature story. There are also Whiskers, Inc. Kitty Kat Kalendars, where Old Fella is Mr. August. I am in the process of creating Old Fella Cookbooks, which will feature a condensed version and photos of Old Fella's story, as well as 300 local recipes. Cookbooks are $17 each, and profits from the sale will benefit Whiskers, Inc. - a local rescue non-profit 501c3 organization in Westernport, MD that rescues the homeless, injured, abandoned, abused and forgotten - run by executive director Missy Smith.
If any of my readers are interested in any of these items, or would like to contribute recipes to the cookbooks, please email me at tmorgan0305@gmail.com.