Off To “Les Landes” (And Traveling With CRD Cats)
And we’re off!! After much planning, thinking and (lets be honest) procrastinating we finally managed to load-up LMB and head out. Yeah!!
We’re headed to the beach, a straight shot West from home to the Atlantic Ocean where we’ve heard the waves are wild and the beaches go on for eternity. In other words, just our kinda thing. However this time we’re also traveling a bit differently, mostly because of old paws and all that comes with them. Our new normal…
We Will Explore The Old Moors Of France, “Les Landes”
Our plan is to meander in the slowest way up a massive green bit of the SW French coast called “Les Landes”.
These are the old “moors” of France, known through the mid-1800’s as a marshy place where land was periodically burned off for sheep pasture, and shepherds walked on stilts for miles across soggy uneven pasture to tend to their herds (the stilt-walking skills of the area were legendary).
But then a crazy thing happened.
In 1857 Napoléon III ordered maritime pine trees to be planted in massive quantities across the marshes in order to dry out the land, stabilize the dunes and halt the erosion and malaria that were rampant in the area. It was the biggest plantation of trees in modern history at the time, and led to the creation of what is (still today) the largest man-made woodland in Europe. And it was an incredible success!
The local industry adapted (to lumber & pine resin extraction) and the landscape was forever changed. Forest now runs thick through almost a million hectares of land area, and the coast is wild with spacious beaches protected by over 200 km of sand dunes and natural grasses. Plus in fine French fashion, it also happened to lead to better wine. The forests stabilized the local climate and protected the fine grapes of Bordeaux from the damaging salt-laden winds of the ocean. We are all eternally grateful…
There’s More Than Just Forests & Beach Here
Plus there’s more than just beach & forest here. This area is the birth-place of European surfing, so it’s packed with famous surf-spots & seemingly endless surf schools all across the coastline. Apparently all the French surf pro’s live right here.
It’s also home to the tallest sand-dune in Europe, la dune du pilat, plus it boasts the largest green-route network of bicycle trails in France (over 300 km of dedicated bike trails with over 1700 km of bike-able itineraries!) as well as several large inland lakes that cater to windsurfing, boating & other water sports.
Oh, and rather importantly. Since there are many remote spots in the “Landes” it also happens to be a favorite spot for naturalists, including (so I’ve been told) some of the best nudist campgrounds in the country. A rather useful little thing to to know before you arrive, whether or not your tenancies happen to lie in that direction….
Admittedly It Took Some Effort To Get Us Back On The Road
It’s wonderful to be back on the road, but I’ll have to admit that it took a bit of an effort to get here this time.
Home life is cushy and comfy and everyone gets into easy routines that are hard to break. It’s so easy just to stay in that zone. Road life is also quite comfy (especially in LMB) but it’s a part-time thing, so we’ve all got to break out of our routines to transition into it. We both find that surprisingly difficult!
When we were fulltime RVing in the USA we never had to worry about loading up, or getting ready, or leaving anyone or anything. We were just always “at home” and always traveling. There’s a simplicity to that lifestyle that is just so clear-cut & straight-forward.
With part-time travel it’s different. We actually have to plan to LEAVE, and that means getting out of our home and out of our day-to-day comfort zone. There’s a heavy inertia to that whole motion…
Our Paws Are Getting Older
The other thing that makes the transition harder is that our paws are getting older.
Polly has slowed down a bit but is still doing fabulously well, especially now that she has two knees of steel. She loves to travel with her “pack”, and smell all the new and interesting things that come her way, and is still happily capable of hiking 4-5 miles per day. She’s a real trooper.
But our dear old cats are a different matter.
Both recently passed their 17th birthday and in the past year they have really started slowing down. Rand is still a spectacularly pudgy & young-looking lady, but Taggart has gotten quite a bit thinner over the last year and both cats have been drinking & peeing much more than should, sure signs of health issues. We’ve been aware of this for a while, and have been monitoring (and supporting) them for a time, but recently their health has gotten one step worse.
Both Our Cats Are Now Stage 3 Chronic Renal Disease
Before we embarked on this trip we took cats to our local French vet for a regular check-up and she told us the news I pretty much expected to hear. Both our cats have Chronic Renal Disease (CRD), and their creatinine levels have now risen to the point that they are towards the end of IRIS level 3, meaning they have lost ~85% of their kidney function. It is super sad to hear.
CRD Is A Common “Old Cats” Problem
For those not knowledgeable about CRD*, it’s very common in older cats and unfortunately it’s not something you can cure.
Once the kidneys start to deteriorate, it’s a progressive and irreversible thing. You can manage many of the symptoms and improve/extend your cats lives immensely, but there is unfortunately nothing you can do ultimately to reverse the disease.
Also it’s not uncommon to miss the problem altogether until it’s quite advanced. Renal disease is graded by international guidelines (IRIS levels) that run from 1 to 4, and your cat may not show symptoms early, or they may not show anything at all until the later stages.
*More Info -> For those wanting to learn more about CRD here are two excellent links:
- Tanya’s CRD Site – One of the BEST all-around resources & community on CRD. Incredible site.
- IRIS – The International Renal Interest Society. All the official info.
We’ve Known This Was Coming For A While
Of course we’ve known this was coming for a while.
We noticed symptoms in both cats (Taggart first, followed several months later by Rand) some time ago and have supported them with meds (Semintra) and natural support (slippery elm bark = wonderful stuff for nausea/vomiting) on a daily basis for some time, and that’s kept them pretty happy up until now.
However our recent vet-check has confirmed that we need to majorly step up our support program.
At IRIS level 3/4 cats needs extra support especially fluids (to help flush out kidney toxins), extra support for loss of appetite & nausea (both of which are very common), renal foods (if they accept to eat them) and specific supplements such as potassium, B-vitamins & phosphorus binders (all to be administered as needed, based on blood results). It’s A LOT, but IMO it’s also worth it to make our furry family feel better.
What this means for our motorhome travels is that we now have to bring a CRATE-LOAD of stuff….
Thankfully we have a wonderful vet, and some fabulous cat-savvy neighbors (hello Annette & Mikael!) who have helped provision and prepare us for this trip. Thanks to both of them we’ve learned how to inject our cats with fluids (super scary the first time you do it!!!) and have assembled a medical cabinet of natural & pharmaceutical supports worthy of mini-Oscar. The whole ensemble takes up 3 whole compartments of LMB, but who needs all that extra space anyway? More prepared, I do not think we could be….
This Is Our New Normal
I’m not gonna lie. Watching our beloved pets age is super tough, but we have to accept that this is our new normal.
Like everything in life, it’s just part of the many transitions that we will have to make as we age ourselves. None of these transitions are easy, but we have to face them whether we want to or not. The only thing within our control is how we manage these obstacles as they come through our lives.
The cats are also the main reason we’re not going to travel too far (or too hard) on this trip.
We’re taking a slo-mo tour of the SW Coast, staying no more than a days drive from home while we see how our paws adapt to their new program. Our cats are still happy and active (albeit a smidgen more vomity and cranky) so they are doing fine, but we do need to be more attentive and adjust our travel to their daily needs. C’est la vie! Or as my French neighbors would say “C’est la life!”.
So, We’ll See You On The Beach!
So that’s our update. Bottom line is we are on the road, headed towards the beach and ALL the paws are along for the ride. Plus we ARE super excited to see what we’ll find. Will the coast be crowded? Or windswept and wild? Will we discover a bit of LA, or see hints of our beloved PNW? Either way we are SO ready for the adventure, and can’t wait to share it with you all on then blog. See you on the beach!
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this blog post may be affiliate links, so, if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. WheelingIt is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
hanna soule says
Oh Nina – I so can relate to your blog today! My cat died of this desease and it is heart-wrenching and it is the truth: for cats, for peope, the facing of old age and sickness. And as you say, the only thing we can control is our response to it and your response is beautiful: Take what you need to support the decline and go anyway for adventure and fun! And I do wish you the best in your new exploration, with all the people and paws on board!
It’s tough to manage the balance, I can’t deny it. As long as the kitties are doing well we’re going to keep doing our thing. And hopefully once the time comes we’ll be able to let them go with grace. Wish it weren’t so, but I know all kitty owners go through this.
Kevin Hogle says
I rarely comment on blogs but I’ve had several cats that have required fluids. It pulls them out of the kidney failure funk they get into. Please remember this will really help them.
Yeah we’ve already noticed a big difference with the fluids. It’s been a tough habit to get into (needles have never been my thing!) but I’m getting there. Both cats do feel and act significantly better after they get them.
Diane Borcyckowski says
I feel for you and your aging cat syndrome. I have a 15 and a 1/2 year old boy who is suddenly gotten very skinny and drinks a lot of water. He has a great appetite and still plays with the younger six-year-old catAnd races around the house with little energy attacks. I have not yet taken him to the vet because he seems happy and content .But watching him get skinnier is hard for me because I know where this is going.. I imagine this is quite life changing for you given your need to stay close to home. But it does my heart good to see how well you take care of your babies. Many blessings to you all.
Oh Diane, please get your boy tested for hyperthyroidism. Ask the vet specifically to test his T4 levels. The symptoms you listed sound exactly like it (getting skinny, drinking more, but tons of “kitty like” energy). It’s treatable, so don’t be scared to go get him tested. But it’s also important to treat it, as it can have a hugely detrimental effect on his heart and other organs. Best of love to your boy and you.
Sally G says
Ah, Nina….. been there and done that, so u really understand how you and Paul are feeling. We lost the second of our 2 traveling kitties in March this year – both succumbed to a combination if chronic kidney issues and general age- related systems failure. Its wonderful to be in the position to support them as they begin dealing with these issues, and to keep them as healthy as possible to the end.
We became part timers, like you, just before we lost our little girl, and then went out in the RV for the summer, it was brutal getting back into the RV without her, so once we returned to our new home base (southern AZ) we adopted to adult cats from the local shelter. These guys add so much joy to our lives, dont ther! The least we can do is take good care of them and love them, while recognizing the inevitable heartache of knowing they will leave us too soon. I hope your trip goes well.
I’m so sorry you lost your baby, but I’m also incredibly heartened to hear you let two new members into your family. How lovely for both you and the kitties! I can see us doing exactly the same, because I just don’t think we can live without. Our paws enrich our lives in so many ways. It’s a privilege to take care of them for the unconditional love we get in return.
Sally g says
Thanks Nina – yes, it was really hard, but adopting these two has helped. You are so right about it being a privilege to have our fur babies in our lives.
Be happy !
So glad to hear you and the paws are on the crawl and adjusting to the new normal.
And I so get that inertia when switching modes. We’re finding it true now that we full time travel, but part time by different modes. We love them all, but the switch between time is tedious.
Have a wonderful time at the beach! Love and miss you all tremendously.
I was thinking of you guys as we were loading up LMB, and wondering if you were feeling similar things in your own transition. In theory it should all be so easy, but in practice it’s tougher. I guess we are creatures of habit just like our kitties.
Good travels to you in the van! Can’t wait to hear about all your adventures West. We’ll be with you in spirit.
Oh, I know what you’re going through with your paws. We have travelled with two dogs and two cats for ages … one dog passed away last year, and we have been dealing with kidney problems in one of our cats. When diagnosed, the vet told us she could “last two weeks or if you’re lucky, maybe a year.” Four years along, and she’s still playing and content (she’s 17, too), although tempting her with a daily smorgasbord of food is hit and miss. We were told she has about 1/4 of a kidney working. So don’t despair! There’s an IV bag hanging over the RV couch for her subq injections and trust me, giving those injections will get easier as time passes. Good luck with your fur babies.
That’s so heartening to hear Laurie!!! I have to admit those SubQ injections have been the scariest adjustment for me, but I’m getting there! The cats really do seem so much happier after I do them. Thanks so much for commenting, and I wish you the best of continued success with your baby!
Diane Borcyckowski says
Thanks Nina. I did not know it was treatable. I thought it was just aging because he eats really well and plays. I will take him to the vet asap. ❤
Yes unfortunately those are the symptoms too. Lots of appetite (eating a bunch), but loosing weight nonetheless. Plus lots of play energy.
If your boy is hyperthyroid then the first line of treatment is methimazole twice per day. I’ve written about it on the blog if you do a search. The key is to start at a LOW dose (no more than 1.25 mg per dose). Whatever you do, do not start at a higher dose! There is also a cure called I-131. Both my cats have had it (and been cured).
Either way, if he is diagnosed I highly recommend joining the Facebook “Hyperthyroid Cats” group. Very supportive and knowledgeable bunch. And don’t worry, it’s manageable. Best of luck to you and your boy!
It is a rainy day in your beloved PNW and the perfect time to actually catch up on some of my favorite reading. Your Blog is tops on that list! I can relate to your sense of inertia and the adjustment to rolling again. We recently transitioned back to full-time in a larger version of our WeBeGon and are traveling just far enough to be within a day or two drive from our moms who’ve been hit with some significant health challenges recently. As of now, there’s a window and we seized upon it to soothe our souls among the forests, rivers and beaches of Oregon and Washington. I’m glad to hear that your band is on the road together in your new normal way. I’m looking forward to reading about your upcoming adventures and also still catching up on the past ones. Life has finally slowed down enough to do that. Enjoy yourselves – Imkelina
Oh Imkelina , I’m so happy to hear you’re getting to spend some quality soul-time in the PNW forests and beaches. As you described it I could feel myself there with you. And I’m so sorry your mom is going through difficult health issues. I certainly know what that feels like, and completely understand your need to stay close. My heart goes out to you.
I wish you the best of time in your new fulltime RV.
Pamela Wright says
You can tell your cats have lived the best life with them being 17. They are very lucky to have such dedicated and caring parents. Hope they do well on the trip with their new treatments. Polly is quite the hiker! I love when I see a dog with its own pack.
You described the part time MH life perfectly. It isn’t the same as full timing, for sure. I really liked having everything with us. I have done pretty well at having a set of necessary things for both places. I’ve found it is easier to store items not used all the time in the MH. I figure the MH is always with us either under the car port or on the road. So once I use something from the MH, I put it back. But there is still a lot of packing. Thanks goodness we are able to have the MH right by the house. But you are right, you have to plan to leave. Good we both did leave and are enjoying life on the road again.
We’ve managed to shorten the packing process a smidgen too. We now have a set of stuff permanently in the motorhome (plates, kitchen items etc.), plus I have several storage boxes inside with stuff we know we’ll use. Oh and I also have a packing list now…very useful!! Hopefully we’ll get better at this packing stuff as we do more mini-tours.
Diane Borcyckowski says
Thank you so much for the information. I will print it out and take it to the vet with me.
Angie Quantrell says
Awww! It’s so hard to watch pets age! But you are on top of things! Good for you. Travel safely and enjoy the time. Gorgeous doggy picture at the beach!
Responsible animal owners should realize that when they keep the animal alive and suffering beyond the time when it should be euthanized are doing so, not for the animal, but because they just can’t bear to loose their suffering friend. Most of these sick animals have given their providers many years of love and companionship, yet they are made to suffer by people who think that medications to keep the animal alive a few more months is ok. Responsible stewardship means putting the animal out of its misery.
Totally agree. Our cats are not close to being there yet. For now they are living full lives, with medical support, as many older cats, dogs, and for that matter also humans do. When we are no longer able to keep our cats comfortable and happy, we will help them pass on.