Mom loved our cats. I confess that my husband has turned me into a cat lady and at one point, we had four Siamese. As you might know, many Siamese cats talk constantly, demand attention and can behave similarly to dogs.
When a loved one is not acting like themselves and you still don’t know exactly what’s wrong, you want to believe that there is an easy fix. Maybe giving Mom something to love and take care of would be the solution we were looking for. Getting her a Siamese kitty seemed like a great idea!
When someone is starting to experience dementia, it isn’t a good thing to give them something that comes with instructions.
Our daughter Alli and I made a big production of introducing Mom to her new pet. We drove up to her house and presented this little bundle (a 16 week old Chocolate Siamese kitty) with grand fanfare, balloons and a cake. We were so excited!
Mom was not.
Alli and I looked at each other and thought this was all very strange. Why wasn’t Mom overjoyed? Why wasn’t she holding this adorable creature that we had chosen especially for her to love? She loved our cats, so what was the problem here?
We set up the litter box, dishes, food, and a bed. Mom had pets all of her life, but she didn’t seem to understand our instructions. We explained that little baby kittens need to be kept in a small area like the family room and kitchen until they get used to smells and their environment. We told her it would be best to keep the doors to the dining room and back hall closed for a week or so to create that smaller space.
Alli and I both took a deep breath, said our goodbyes to Mom and the kitty, and drove home. We walked inside to hear the phone ringing. It was Mom saying that she “couldn’t find the cat.” She wasn’t happy. We got back in the car, drove the hour it took to get there, only to have to rip her house apart to find the kitty. We found him tucked inside a very small space in back of the dining room china cabinet.
It was clear that our idea just wasn’t working. Alli and I returned to our home with Mom’s new kitty, and our two Siamese cat household became three. The next day, Mom had no recollection at all of meeting what was to be her new pet.
Suggestion: Even in the very beginning of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, instructions that were once easy to follow become almost impossible. Introducing something new can be very frustrating for the person. Even something as routine as a remote control for the TV becomes a challenge. Keep that in mind even when your intentions are good.