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The Elbert Files: Our old white cat 


Fiona, our white cat, is going blind.

Or at least she was for a few days. 

Fiona is a purebred Scottish fold. We acquired her late in life; late for both her and us.

She’s the 14th cat Amy and I have had since we got married and moved to Des Moines in 1975.

When we got her, her name was Squeaker; I guess because her meow sounds more like a squeaky toy than a cat. 

Because of her Scottish heritage – and because all of our cats have multiple names – we call her Fiona McSqueaker, among other things.  

She was about 10 years old when she arrived four years ago. 

Initially, she was very standoffish. But after several months, and after spending time with Jody, our cat sitter, Fiona came around. She won’t sit on your lap or let you hold her but she will let us pet her, particularly her stomach, and she’ll snuggle above our heads when we sit in a particular overstuffed chair.  

Scottish folds are long-haired, and Fiona has a soft white coat with a Raccoon-striped tail and a small ash-like mark on her head. Like Persian cats, Scottish folds have smashed faces that give them a perpetually grumpy look. 

Fiona is relatively small, only about 8 pounds, which is half the size of Cooper, our other cat, a male red tabby. They get along reasonably well, but pretty much eat and sleep in separate rooms.

Before we got Fiona, she was hiding behind shelves at Smitten Kitten, a cat food and grooming supply store on 28th Street north of Ingersoll Avenue. The store has shop cats and occasionally helps place cats whose owners can no longer care for them. 

Amy was told that Fiona was a breeder cat and showed up at the Smitten when her biological clock expired. Having spent most of her life giving birth and raising kittens, she wasn’t particularly social. She was placed once before we got her but returned because she was too shy.  

Amy brought her home as a replacement for Alex, a large male Persian, whom Amy’s mother had acquired as a kitten. 

When Frances Craig, Amy’s mother, passed in 2008, Alex joined our household. He was a beautiful animal and was used in photo shoots for magazines produced by Meredith Corp., where Amy worked. 

Alex was one of those cats you could dress in human-like clothes; we have a large framed photo of him wearing a tartan vest and bow tie. A bootleg picture from the tartan-vest photo shoot can still be found on the internet if you Google “Alex the tabby Persian in a tartan vest.”

Back to Fiona’s vision problem: Recently, Amy noticed that her eyes were dilated during the day and she was bumping into things. We had another cat, Bridget, who had gone blind, so we knew the pattern. 

Our other blind cat got her name because Amy rescued her from the Grand Avenue bridge over Walnut Creek near 63rd Street during the 1993 flood.  

Bridget was sitting on the bridge and looking like she was about to hurl herself into the swirling water, when Amy stopped the car and picked her up. Amy took her straight to the vet before bringing her home to mix with the three cats we already had. 

It was a good thing she did, because Bridget had an infection that the vet said was painful and would have killed her in a matter of days. 

I don’t think we ever knew what caused Bridget to go blind, but Fiona’s problem is high blood pressure, which the vet diagnosed by putting a small blood pressure cuff on her front leg, just like my heart doctor does with my arm when I have a checkup.

The doctor recommended giving her tiny blood pressure pills. 

We’ve had enough cats that I know some cats you can pill, and some you cannot. 

Fortunately, Fiona is a pillable cat. She’s been taking her medicine regularly, and her eyesight seems to have improved, at least for now.


Dave Elbert

Dave Elbert is a columnist for Business Record.

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