How to Have Happy Days with an HIV-Postive, Formerly Oudoor Cat with Inoperable Cancer


ORNJI (and Me) Continuing Christmas Story Savoring Moments,Days -Cancer, Videos

When we first got word that Ornji’s liver cancer had spread  and that there was no cure I was pretty down in the dumps- but not for too long. It was a blow to learn this only six months after we thought a near miracle-cure operation ‘got’ everything to now hear that this type of cancer spread was inoperable and incurable. The only option besides doing nothing was chemotherapy, which ‘doesn’t work well,’ according to the vet for  this type of cancer and , at best , it would only ‘buy’ some time for Ornji. Well, SOME TIME is better than no time and improved quality of life is better than the alternative – and, whether it’s the chemo doing better than expected or Ornji’s attitude or something else  or all the above, we’re having some very good, rewarding days right now.  Thanks to Ornji and our wonderful vet/clinic/staff for helping to make a difficult situation -along with our ‘attitude adjustments’ –  not only tolerable but enjoyable and rewarding, as you will see.(This is our latest update on Ornji to the true, sometimes surreal, story that began several chapters ago -SEE LINKS BELOW)



It’s been about a month and half since Ornji cat began his bi-weekly  chemotherapy treatments , early November, 2016 .  Ornji  just had his fourth or fifth treatment yesterday and , according to all reports, is doing very well. Put our report at the top  and write  down for us that Ornji IS DOING GREAT!  How long this will  last nobody can say  but right now Ornji seems to be as happy and content  , doing as well as we’ve ever seen him , first as an outdoor cat for three years, and now the last sixth months since he was forced to become an indoor cat if there was any hope for him to have a chance of getting better. This after  we have learned that Ornji’s cancer , which had already been found in two lobes prior to the July operation, now is widespread  and there is ‘no hope’ of  getting rid of  the widespread cancer, which  is inoperable – but chemo could possibly buy some time and quality of life for Ornji , and that’s what we’re now all about after getting the diagnosis early November.



We could have remained down in the dumps and given up, just counting the days, but we decided to go with the chemo. We were given no promises or guarantees, only that chemo is expensive and doesn’t really work well for this type of cancer but that it can ‘buy’ a cat some time-however long we don’t know or want to know. We’ll just take one day at a time and see how many fun, HAPPY DAYS (our new theme) we can enjoy. After all, I’ve had a couple cats who didn’t make it past a diagnosis and were put down that same day, so this is all good , even though it will not last … but then nothing does.



So, with money that we might have spent on travel – we don’t travel anymore (a long story) – we will put it to a good cause: Ornji. (Not that we wouldn’t have found the funds somewhere but…)  We will spend the time together , as much as possible and try to make the best out of what could have been a bad situation. We will attempt -and already have succeeded- in  squeezing lemonade out of the proverbial lemon.


Instead of living life as before , appreciative but with no great plans and schemes , so to speak, we have decided to RE-GEAR and get the most out of each day, squeezing more good times out of what will probably be a few months at best , than we or others might get  out of a full pet life.  I know people who have little interaction with their pets, as if the pets are furniture. For us, it’s just the opposite. Friends may not see me quite as much unless they come by here to visit as I want to spend as much time possible with Ornji.

New ‘double-wide’ outdoor ‘extension’ viewed from outside -Ornji will ‘graduate’ to from the ‘single wide’  following this photo [now even more outside space even Zack can enjoy at the same time]. Below, with Ornji enjoying the new extra space. This outdoor extension has greatly added to Ornji’s quality of life. A mostly outdoor cat until six months ago, Ornji would greatly miss his intersection with the outdoors had not we come up with this ‘extension’ , putting to good use  some large crates we had bought in April for an ill-fated RV trip.




Even if everything changed tomorrow , it has been a rewarding experience, getting up early every morning along with Ornji, playing to Ornji’s every whim or need , just being able to see Ornji happy and  enjoying life, himself,  now perhaps more than we’ve ever seen him ! After all, now Ornji has the best of both the  indoors and outdoors worlds – the warmth and comfort of the indoors yet the continued enjoyment  of the outdoor air and wildlife he can at least view if no longer chase  from within his ‘extension.  ‘


I’ve carefully tried to think through what’s very best for Ornji so these limited days will be especially less stressful and make life more enjoyable for Ornji (and thereby, myself).  Perhaps this will even give Ornji extra days; I could be wrong but it can’t hurt. Among these things is giving Ornji one extra , expensive supplement (that will remain nameless as I don’t want to promote something that I’m not sure about) which his doctor feels can’t hurt and well-researched literature says may be helpful; this along with his usual ‘Ursadol’ medication for liver he’s been getting in liquid (fish) form for maybe a year now – something Ornji readily tolerates and  even likes due to the fish flavor.  Ornji doesn’t play much like most younger cats – we assume Ornji is around six years old – so it’s been important to find things too keep Ornji active and happy, and the ‘outside extension’ has been the number one key

I’ve even kept Zack cat separated from Ornji, at times, since Ornji sometimes,  in weaker moments, appears  intimidated around the much larger Zack, walking around him rather than through him.


DAILY ROUTINE Not So Routine -Continued…




Looking back to July following  Ornji’s Liver  Cancer surgery. After being relegated to the indoors, this ‘outdoor extension’ became critical for Ornji’s happiness and probably has helped give him something more  to live for helping his mental outlook, perhaps even prolonging his life.


Ornji back in his extension, now a ‘double wide’ which even Zack can fit in at the same time. This simple indoor- outdoor ‘invention’ has opened up Ornji’s life like nothing else since he was forced to become an indoor cat six months ago when he came down with cancer. Ornji is one of those cats who. though he accepts the indoors, LOVES the outdoors and his life wouldn’t be half what it is without him able to run out every morning and spend sometimes HOURS ‘with’ the birds, squirrels while ‘lounging.’ Just as I’m writing this here comes Ornji to enjoy the outdoor extension, already  after one pm – his second or third time today – when he ‘s usually in the back of the house napping by now.



BORROWED TIME – An Everyday ThanksGiving nee Christmas Story about Ornji and Me  – Enjoying Both Our Bonus Days together – chapter 1

Taking us back to the beginning of Ornji’s journey, here . I sometimes  forget that it’s not just Ornji but I’m having BONUS DAYS, too, as I, too, had cancer, some  10 years ago , and without my inner voice that overrode  two doctors’ views I wouldn’t be here today. So, even though Ornji is the focal point of these pages, I guess I have a right to take part in the Savoring of Bonus Days, too,  in a similar vein as Ornji.


Chapter 2 – A Christmas Story – Ornji survives 3 Alarm Fire and another chemo

It’s not just chemo that Ornji had to survive this holiday season. As if we needed a Christmas house fire on top of everything else, it happened and , if not for an inanimate object that saved the house -and us, we might not be here to tell about it.



As I’ve noted ELSEWHERE, we’ve got a whole routine now, beginning At 5 am most mornings. This is no routine (as in boring) but a daily adventure nobody knows how will end up. We’ve even had a couple birds fly into the house ( which we learned  to safely remove back into nature).  In so doing, Ornji has encouraged me to go to bed earlier (and make me healthier , wealthier and wiser- well, maybe at least healthier)

Where I live the the morning is THE time of day. It’s where the sun comes up and shines -only a few hours- but it shines and Ornji is right there to enjoy it. Perhaps an early person/cat, himself, it works perfectly, and it’s made an early person out of me….

5 amFeeding time I (Sometimes 3 am) Ornji, after usually sleeping in the adjoining carpeted bathroom /bed, meets me as I’m getting up and we chase down the hall to Ornji’s room at the other end  where Ornji has his main feeding area. We open up one of Ornji’s favorote  wet foods and also put out some healthy dry food, which Ornji normally eats the first time. If Ornji rejects the food we try again with a different food, as Ornji – and any cat with illness can be, and has a right to be, picky. Ornji loves his food and has a good metabolism, usually eating quite a bit, It’s still dark – only colorful Chinese lanterns lighten an otherwise dark indoors. Occasionally, Ornji will want to go outside instill dark – only colorful Chinese lanterns lighten an otherwise dark indoors. Occasionally, Ornji will want to go outside in his ‘extension’ but this normally won’t last very long , if at all and Ornji and I chase each other back down the hall to bed

7 am sunrise and outdoors – With the sun coming up Ornji comes into his realm, ready to seize the day – and hopefully, for him, any bird in site (but it never happens any more)…  but he’s been there , done that. No more birds, please. Been there, done that. Ornji will usually run down the hall again, with me, stopping by the food dish for a little while,this time enjoying perhaps  a snack of ‘pate loaf’ or maybe just some kibbles, before going outside where he LOVES the creeping morning sun, now just about targeting the patio deck and the  ‘double wide’ extension, perhaps  a snack of ‘pate loaf’ or maybe just some kibbles, before going outside where he LOVES the creeping morning sun, now just about targeting the patio deck and the extension ‘double  wide’ he will soon enter; we rigged it special for Ornji so he could  continue enjoying his beloved outdoors yet still connected to the house so not to escape and still have the creature comforts of home. Around 8 am I think about going back to sleep but usually stay out in front of house especially if Ornji is still there enjoying the rising sun. My computer is right there and often Ornji will come back in from outside and jump up on the desk where the sun also shines at this time (see video 1 at top). 

9 am- Sun is usually in full glow by now, shining down on the  extension and bathing the front of the house –and Ornji – in sunlight.  Ornji is usually out enjoying the outside during this limited window of sunlight. (By 10 am, the sun is almost gone, not to return until the next morning; we’re down in a valley)

Ornji will usually go back and forth after this ,between outside and inside, visiting me on desk or leading me to the food dish, either in his room or in kitchen. It’s quite charming to see the way Ornji is in charge, unlike Zack , who pretty much accepts things in his good natured way.


MORNINGS also consist of Ornji running up and down the hall – not sure it’s for the strategically-placed water bowls or just to run – while striking out with his right paw at the often strategically-path-blocking Zack. (Zack and Ornji have what might appear to a human as a strange relationship, consisting mainly of  Zack sitting his big 25-pound frame anywhere he can to block the much quicker Ornji in his charging path. The confrontations usually only consist of a swipe or two; I assume it’s more in the nature of of  ‘cat play’ but if it goes on too long I’ll usually put Zack in his room so Ornji can have an unobstructed cat run.  It would appear to me that Zack is more the aggressor than Ornji, though Ornji does a pretty good job sometimes going out of his way to  strike out, too, but under the circumstances I will give the benefit of the doubt to Ornji. Perhaps the brief encounters between Ornji and Zack are good for them, though  I must also keep in mind that Ornji is HIV positive and we don’t want that transferred to Zack – which could , reportedly, only happen if Ornji were to bite Zack.


Around noon, Ornji will usually head to the back of the house where he has a nice bed in the quiet back bathroom, but that could change anytime. For some days he will prefer to stay in his room near the front of the house where he has beds, a cat tree , big window , litter box, and, of course, feeding station.

Ornji will usually come out once in the after noon if I’m home but I use this time, when things get dark to go out and do my errands. Back around 5-6 pm is when Ornji will usually want dinner and he’ll come out to let me know.

Evenings are usually less eventful after the sun has gone down and and the current winter weather is too cold for Ornji to venture outside into the extension – though, believe it or not, on occasion he will -even late into the evening.



Along with all the other positives, Ornji has had good effect on my schedule, encouraging me to go to bed early (which is necessary if I want to get up at the crack of dawn with Ornji). Instead of staying up late nights to one or two a.m. we’re usually asleep by 11 pm or midnite. Of course, getting up at 5 am can be a challenge- but it can also be rewarding to be there with Ornji, and Zack, while watching the sun come up. What did they say about ‘early to bed , early to rise makes one healthy, wealthy and wise’? Not sure about the wealthy and wise part but I do feel pretty healthy I must say.



We even make the most out our weekly car rides to the went to  which Ornji no longer objects and even seems to enjoy seeing the world go bye from within in his safe ‘windowed’ crate from within the car. Ornji seems to tolerate humans better than other cats and animals and the vets have come to really enjoy him and comment on Ornji’s progress accepting the chemotherapy.
Of course, Ornji is always glad to come  home from chemo or in between ‘CBC’ lab checks to be back in his familiar territory.




Cats are all different and Ornji is a more serious and efficient cat than Zack. He KNOWS what he wants. Just like when he took me to his basement ‘to be’ new home the first day he arrived here about four years ago, Ornji leads me to his food areas when he’s ready to eat.  (We don’t leave food out all the time so as big brother Zack, who has a weight problem, won’t eat it. This way I can also better monitor how much Ornji eats. Because Ornji is  not overweight (like his big brother Zack, who sometimes ‘steals’ Ornji’s food before I can remove it in time, I allow Ornji – a grazer- pretty much whatever and whenever he wants to eat.  It’s important that he eats and Ornji has maintained his weight at 10.5 pounds right along. Of course, finding the right foods -Ornji can be a picky eater- and knowing when to give him what has been a big part of our success.

Just being around most of the time when Ornji normally eats has probably kept an extra, important pound or two on Ornji, plus I think he likes me being here for food time, much as people being together at meal time (despite a recent statistic I read that 57% of people eat alone – probably not necessarily by choice). Just another tip to the wise, if you’re going to go through such procedures as we’re going through why wouldn’t you want to be together for  what one  might later lament as ‘time too short together.’ So, seize the time now, we say.



I usually use these feeding times to squeeze Ornji’s medication and supplement in the corner of his mouth with an eyedropper Ornji readily tolerates (thankfully). Where forcing pills down cats’ throats is a near impossibility for me to do, this is so EASY, just as was administering ‘SUB-Q FLUIDS’  when I had to use them during the touch-and-go period before Ornji was accepted for his cancer operation in July; I remembmered how I had done that previously with Pucky-dog 10 years earlier when I first started going to this wonderful vet clinic


GOOD FROM BAD – FUTURE UPDATES – No doubt there will be more HAPPY DAYS ahead with updates for you. But, regardless of  the future, what ‘borrowed time’ we’ve already had has been so rewarding – just to see Ornji happier than ever.  The cancer diagnosis really  woke me up and encouraged me to seek even more out of life for Ornji and me than we were getting heretofore. While life seemed to be going well even before Ornji’s cancer diagnosis, we’re getting more out of each day now. We have a ‘plan of attack’ for  a full, daily schedule rather than the previous , more casual, less-fulfilling approach to life. Now , if I can just carry through this attitude to the rest of my life I’ll be doing GREAT! At least I have a chance with goals already set; without Ornji and his diagnosis I might not have ever gotten the inspiration…  By the way, these blogs in ‘Favorite Furry Friends’  are a part of the whole plan, giving more meaning to our efforts,even part therapy, while sharing with friends and the world, perhaps helping others along the way as a side benefit, which helps us not meant at all to lecture as the title ‘How To’ might infer 


HAPPY HOLIDAYS from Pucky and Roscoe, Ornji and Zack! 

Roscoe (l) and Pucky(r) who I  inherited from my dear sister Joan following her passing,in 1999. I made this picture for Joan in 2002 as I knew she would have loved it and I doubted Roscoe,18,  and Pucky,16, would be around together much longer. In fact, Roscoe would pass four months after this picture, which is a favorite. I had wanted to dress Ornji in similar attire, which I had saved, to celebrate Ornji if he made it to December 25, which, of course, he has. But, alas , I decided this was ‘not Ornji’ and didn’t want to stress him out. Zack would probably not fit and the two would never pose together , so that was scrapped, but I’m so grateful that Ornji IS here , or WAS here on December 25 and hopefully for some time to come. HAPPY NEW YEAR from Ornji ,Zack and myself and posthumously from Pucky, Roscoe and Joan, too

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