Tales of the
Moggy Horde
cat face
How I learned
To Stop Worrying
And Love Bast

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cat line drawing
Sun., 6 Jan. 2008
It was a quiet New Year's at home, followed this weekend by a ferocious set of rainstorms. All is quiet with the Moggy Horde. Kate is doing well and eating with a strong appetite. I've seen her eating the dry food again. Excellent!

As soon as I have my next paycheck in hand, I'll take Tosca in for a complete blood work-up and FIP test. She seems perfectly healthy and eats like a pig, but I'll feel better doing the tests and having full info to work with. It's part of my resolution to make my vet rich in 2008. :P

Tues., 8 Jan. 2008
Saffy is sprawled happily in my lap and I'm happy to have her there, even if it does make it difficult to type. She has her front paws crossed under her chin and propped against my right arm.

I find that I need to stand guard for a few minutes after I put gooshy food out for Kate. Tosca, who is shaped like a furry beach ball, is an eating machine. After she inhales her own food, she tries to take over the other food bowls. She also lectures me VERY LOUDLY if I'm not quick enough with putting the food out.

Sun., 13 Jan. 2008
Wow, Samurai cat armor! Gorgeous stuff. Check out his other art, too.

I have actually found some cat treats that Kate likes! She loves them, in fact. They are bits of dried salmon. They have a pungent smell, which probably helps because I can see that she reacts to the smell unlike other treats I've tried to entice her with.

Thurs., 17 Jan. 2008
I have a pair of warm boots I keep in my office to wear on the cold days. They come well above my ankle. When I pulled them on this morning, there was a practice golf ball in my left boot. Given the height of the boot and the fact that it was still upright, I could only conclude that one of my dear moggies had actually dropped the ball into the boot. The cat form of putting practice. Given her tendencies to fetch, I figured it was probably Saffy. Sure enough, she trotted up to me five minutes later with the ball in her mouth and dropped it at my feet.

Plastic practice golf balls make great, cheap cat toys, by the way. They're quick and light to bat around, somewhat bouncy, and because of all the holes the cats can easily pick them up and carry them around.

Tues., 22 Jan. 2008
My cats are junkfood junkies. I bought them treats that are pure organic flakes of salmon. For the first few days, they were enthusiastic. Then suddenly...they won't touch them. So I bought another type of pure organic treats. Nice healthy ingredients, no filler, no bad stuff.

They liked them for maybe two days and once again the dainty noses go up in the air and they refuse to touch them. Tosca complains about the lack of treats. I guess I'll have to be a bad Mother Cat either way -- give in and buy them junkfood treats or give them no treats at all. :P

Sun., 27 Jan. 2008
We heard a soft "kwump" as we were falling asleep. It's the kind of sound that isn't outright alarming, but enough to warrant turning on the light. It was Pippin, knocking over a laundry basket full of clean clothes so he could curl up on them.

It's interesting to watch the different ways the moggies react to the Red Bug (the laser pointer). Kate doesn't even seem to register it. Tosca pointedly ignores it. Saffy and Opal (the twin torties) go after it like fiends made of lightning. Those girls are astoudingly quick and agile. Pippin will sometimes chase it down, but once he's gotten tired of it, he is completely blase about it, even when the Bug is on his own paw. Ho hum. Whereas Opal will squeak and jump if she sees the Red Bug "land" on her.

Tues., 29 Jan. 2008
Tosca had her visit to the vet this morning. She warmed up her vocal chords the entire way there. I adore my new vet and it's clear that he truly loves cats. He was quite taken with Tosca who sang arias for him. She's such a well-behaved girl. The only drawback is that she wouldn't stop purring, so he wasn't able to listen to her heart. He used a technique I've never seen before to try to startle her into dropping the purr for a moment. He held her face and blew a short, forceful breath in her face. Then he did it again. It didn't work. When she's decided to purr, she purrs.

I took Diva's records with me. Given the unknowns around her death, I thought it might be a good idea for him to look over her results and see if they suggested FIP to him. He didn't see any indicators of that. Based on what he saw and what I told him, his guess was probably something like lymphoma.

We're doing a standard blood work-up on Tosca, plus FIP test. She seems to be in excellent health, so this is more of a precaution than a serious worry. He thinks she might be hyperthyroid, though. Her thyroid is enlarged and she has the voracious appetite, so we'll see if there are indicators for that. At least that's something that is easy to treat.

Wed., 30 Jan. 2008
The vet called today with the results from the blood tests. "We have two problems," he said. Tosca is extremely hyperthyroid, but that was no surprise and that's treatable. The news that I didn't want to hear is that her titres were high on the FIP test. Ideally, you want the titres to be zero. A moderate reading would be a 1:400 ratio. She had a 1:1600 reading. This is not good. It's not the end of the world, but it's not good. He said she's "in a gray area" because the rest of her blood word, thryoid aside, looks fine, meaning there are no obvious signs of active FIP. But she could be in the early stages of developing it.

I picked up the Tapazole for her (damn, I remembered it being expensive and it sure is) and the plan is to retest her in two months. Normally, he would immediately recommend doing the radioactive treatment to deal with the thyroid, but in her case, he wants to wait. If we retest her in two months and the titres have gone up...she has limited time left.

Like I said, not the news I wanted to hear.

It also means I'm going to take Saffy in for the FIP test as soon as I can manage it.

Sun., 3 Feb. 2008
Saffy goes to the vet early tomorrow morning for an FIP test. She seems healthy in every respect, but there's no way to predict the results. She's in my lap at the moment demanding a bit more attention from me.

There, scritchies have been given. Tosca has been on the thyroid pills for a few days, but she seems as hungry as ever. That worries me, actually, because it reminds me of how Zebedee was. I'm hoping it takes time for the thyroid condition to settle down and that her hunger will calm down eventually.

Tues., 5 Feb. 2008
Yes! Good news from the vet. Saffy's FIP-exposure test came back negative. She was a very good girl about going to the vet yesterday, though she was quite unhappy about it. She cried at me the whole way there and burrowed underneath the towel I'd put in the carrier so that all I could see was her little nose poking out.

This is a tremendous relief in light of Tosca's results. Randy and I have discussed moving Saffy inside the house. Bast only knows how that will go. I discussed it with the vet who also thought it was a good idea to separate her from Tosca until we know more about Tosca's situation. I'm not as worried about Kate because, frankly, she's such an old cat.

We'll probably try the introductions over the weekend so that we can be here the whole time to play referee as needed.

Sun., 10 Feb. 2008
First thing yesterday morning, I brought Saffy inside, gave her a rubdown with Nature's Miracle, and introduced her to the house and her siblings. You'd think I'd brought a ravenous cat-eating monster into the house. No "Oh, look, it's our long-lost sister!" welcome. We've had nothing but major hissy fits all weekend from Pippin and Opal. Saffy, on the other hand, ignores the hisses and growls (except late Sat. when she finally got fed up and growled back at Pippin once time) and wanders around crying and crying.

Saffy is happy when Randy's in his office and is mostly hanging out in there. His office is large and filled with shelves and boxes that provide plenty of hiding places. We have food, water and a cat box in there for her. She does go up and down between floors, but mostly to be where we are.

Pippin and Opal have been keeping to our bedroom, refusing to interact. It was so bad at first that they were also hissing at each other and at Randy and me. Pippin even had the temerity to whack me on the hand when I tried to calm him down.

So it's not going all that well. I figure it will take a week or two before they reach acceptance. Saffy is accustomed to being with many other cats and having new cats introduced. Pippin and Opal have never been around other cats. They were separated from Saffy and the rest of the Horde when they were around 3 months old. This whole "new cat" business is entirely new to them. I think poor Saffy just wants to know where her non-hissing friends are.
Opal says, "Sister? I have no sister! I am unique! Get that imposter out of here!"

Pippin hides under the bed and has a hissy fit.

Sapphire would please like to know what the hell is going on.

Tues., 12 Feb. 2008
Oy, Saffy managed to lock herself inside Randy's office.

It's been a rough couple of days. And nights. The hissy fits and growling continued. It wasn't safe to leave the three of them unattended. At night, Saffy wants to be on the bed with us, but each time she jumps up, she gets hissed at. So she jumps off, then wanders around making plaintive unhappy noises and the cycle repeats. Consequently, Randy and I are only getting maybe two hours of sleep a night. Try to work a creative, mind-taxing job for 8 hours on no sleep.

When we go to work, we lock Saffy in Randy's office for safety's sake. We come home at noon, so she gets to come out for an hour. Tonight when we got home after work, I went to let Saffy out and the door was locked! I didn't even know these bedroom doors have locks. She must have been pawing at the handle and pushed in the little button that locks the door. Such talent. And of course, the hinges are on the inside of the door. Fortunately, Randy was able to remove the door handle from the outside and release the lock that way.

We are seeing small signs of detente. Pippin has tolerated having Saffy near him several times without hissing (though he does still hiss at other times). Randy actually saw Saffy rolling around on her back and reaching a paw out to Pippin as though doing her best to entice him.

Now we just have to stop Saffy from chasing Opal around and get Opal to stop hissing and growling. That's going to be the hard part.

That, and getting some sleep.

Wed., 13 Feb. 2008
Last night went a bit better. I think we got five hours of sleep instead of a mere two. Pippin is coming along. He only occasionally hisses now and then and is growing more tolerant of having Saffy somewhat near him. He's starting to return to his usual routines with us, such as getting on the sofa between us during dinner so we can both fawn over him.

Opal is having a very hard time. She's not giving in or making any attempt to get along. Saffy exacerbates it by chasing her. I sure hope this is going to change.

Sun., 17 Feb. 2008
We are progressing slowly, very slowly, but I guess there is at least some progress being made.

Pippin has achieved a detente with Saffy. He does his best to ignore her, basically.

Opal continues to hiss, act out, carry on and generally make this as difficult as she can. However, she now deigns to co-exist in the same room with Saffy and even occasionally occupy space not that far from Saffy without hissing. I had a good laugh today when Saffy chased Opal up the stairs. I yelled at Saffy to knock it off and she was on the way back down the stairs when Opal raced down the stairs after her and gave her a whack on the butt. Luckily, Saffy didn't respond to it and kept going. Opal laid down on the landing and savored her victory.

If we're careful about how we do it, we can get both Saffy and Opal to chase the red bugs around the living room. Opal isn't hiding upstairs all the time. We're getting all three cats on the bed at night...which is both good and bad. It's good if they can get along that well. But the bed isn't big enough for two people and three cats when one of the people is 6'3". Poor Randy ends up sleeping like a contortionist.

There's back and forth going on which might (crossing fingers) eventually turn into play. The two girls and especially Saffy have more energy than they know what to do with, so this would be a good thing. I've moved the extra food and water bowls to the single location in the kitchen and removed the extra catbox we'd set up for Saffy in Randy's office. All three of them have to use the extra-large catbox downstairs, forcing more co-existence on them.

We're concerned about Pippin's weight. He's gotten quite fat and developed a waddle. He's not very active, nor can he do a good job of grooming his hindquarters and back end. It's not fair to the girls, but we've decided we can no longer allow free feeding all day and night. From now on, we're going to put the bowls of food out during breakfast, at lunch and for a couple of hours at night. They'll have to learn that those are the feeding times. No grazing in between. We're also increased the ratio of the "light" cat food in the mix. Everybody's going on a diet.

Mon., 18 Feb. 2008
It looks as though Saffy and Opal inherited the same mousie-fetching genes. This morning, Randy found Opal's gray mousie lying on the floor by his side of the bed as usual. Then he found one of the shaggier purple mousies lying on the bed between us, right where Saffy has taken to sleeping. Plus she likes to play with the purple mousie where Opal favors the gray one.

Poor Tosca seems to miss Saffy. Tosca cries at the door a lot more than she used to. Kate, on the other hand, seems happy that she can monopolize my lap.

And now, for your amusement this piece from satiric site, The Onion: Kitchen-Floor Conflict Intensifies As Rival House Cats Claim Same Empty Bag

Sat., 23 Feb. 2008
There's been no particular change in the status quo. Pippin continues to tolerate Saffy pretty well. Opal continues to hiss and be a snot. The new feeding situation is working out fine. No one has been complaining or fussing about it. I think Pippin ate more out of habit than any real need.

Tosca is proving to be one tricky girl about spitting out her pills. I found a thyroid pill on the floor a couple of weeks ago, so I've been extra careful about trying to make sure she's swallowed the pill. And yet I found another one yesterday. She somehow managed to fake me out when I was sure she took it. I'm having to be even more careful about double checking that the pill has gone down.
Saffy & Pippin
Saffy and Pippin stake out the crows
that will come for the peanuts on this rainy day.
Saffy & Pippin
Pippin deigns to share the cat furniture with Saffy.

Wed., 27 Feb. 2008
I've been sick for days with a virus I picked up at a conference I attended last week. I only went back to work today. The cats kindly kept me company while I was in bed during the day. There hasn't been any obvious progress between Opal and Saffy...except that they get into a kind of romp that usually ends in a mild hiss or soft whack. And they will both lie on the same piece of cat furniture at the same time, at least briefly.

Saffy hasn't lived in a house situation before. There are all sorts of rules she has to learn. She was used to jumping onto any surface or shelf she wanted; now she is regularly shooed off kitchen counters. She's fascinated by running water, which is brand new to her. She's still learning that she cannot help herself to the human food at dinner. She's a good girl though. She's learning.

Fri., 29 Feb. 2008
Home sick from work today and Saffy has done her best to comfort me by bringing me all her toys. She brought me a mousie, Mr. Scraps and an elastic ribbon. Such a thoughtful girl.
Saffy & Opal
Saffy and Opal manage to co-exist on the cat furniture.

Sun., 9 March 2008
I'm slowly getting better, though I'm still coughing.

Things are slowly getting better in the house, too, as Opal and Saffy gradually work out an acceptance of one another. Opal isn't hissing any more, though she does take the occasional whack at Saffy. They will also romp around and take turns chasing one another, which never ends in fights, so that's a good thing. Opal has relaxed enough that she'll come out and chase the Red Bug around at night in spite of Saffy doing the same thing. They are so much alike in some ways and quite different in others. Saffy is showing the same tendency to burrow beneath covers and pillows, something she wasn't able to do when she was in my office.

Here's your moggy laugh for the day. Beware, you may get sucked into the YouTube black hole.

Thurs., 13 March 2008
We had an unusual moment tonight. Randy had both Opal and Saffy cuddled up on his lap after dinner. They co-existed peacefully that way for about ten minutes, then Saffy licked at one of Opal's hind feet and Opal got bent out of shape about it and that was the end of that. But it was quite sweet while it lasted.

Tosca's appetite has calmed down and I think she's put on some weight. In a couple of weeks or so it will be time retest her and see where we stand on her condition. She's having problems with a hairball that she's been trying to cough up for weeks. I've given her hairball food and Petromalt and nothing is helping.

Wed., 19 March 2008
It's harder to keep up the Moggyblog these days between the demands of full-time work and getting sick yet again. This time it's an ordinary head cold, but even that has knocked me off my productivity.

The Trio haven't worked out their differences quite yet. One second, Saffy will be licking Pippin's ears and the next they'll be taking whacks at one another; or Saffy and Opal will be playing side by side and suddenly end up with hisses and paw-boxing. I think Saffy misses her old friends who would cuddle with her and be affectionate.

Randy and I usually come home for lunch and we often find all three cats occupying the sofa, but Opal continues to do her burrowing routine and becomes a lump beneath the sofa cover. Of course, the sofa cover is supposed to keep the cats from getting too much hair on the sofa, but oh well.

Tosca and Kate are both doing well. Kate has a prodigious appetite and that does concern me a smidgen. Tosca continues trying to cough up the hairball without success. In about another couple of weeks it will be time to take her in to retest her thyroid levels and FIP titres. I'm debating whether I should wait that long or take her in sooner.

A friend at work sent me an article about a designer cat that sells for $22,000.00. Frankly, when I read something like that, I am completely disgusted. It makes me sick to think of all the good that my friend Lolette at Cause4Cats could do for hundreds of cats with that kind of money.

Thurs., 20 March 2008
Saffy is so sweet. When I woke up, I found Mr. Scraps on the bed between Randy and me.

When we come for lunch or at night, she is always right there at the door to greet us.

All together now...awwwwwwwww.

Tues., 25 March 2008
As I've mentioned before, we've become worried about Pippin's weight. Although we don't free feed any more, he manages to eat a lot in a short time. He's become so fat he can't groom himself properly, he won't play or engage in physical activity, and he wheezes. It was time for a trip to the vet.

And by Bast, he hates being put into a carrier. Hates it with a passion. I managed it, but he growled and hissed mightily. He was good with the vet, at least. Pippin has gone from about 18 lbs. last Oct. to nearly 20 lbs. The vet is concerned that he's so fat at such a young age (he'll be 3 next month). He's doing blood work and he's going to check for low thyroid, although he says low thyroid is so exceedinly rare, he's never actually encountered a cat with that problem.

Because I raised the wheezing and possible breathing issues, he suggested an x-ray. I left Pippin there for the morning and raced there to pick him up on my lunch break (Randy being at home feeling very sick). The vet called me after looking at the x-rays and he cracked me up. He said, "The x-rays show us two things. First, this is a big fat cat. Second, he has a huge stomach! He has a stomach the size of a Labrador Retriever! And it was full of food." LOL! This would explain the fat.

Pippin has always loved to eat. We named him Pippin (after the Hobbit) when he was an itty-kitty because he was adventurous and he loved to eat. At any rate, the vet didn't see any problems, other than the oversized stomach. We have to wait for the lab results, of course.

I suspect the thyroid will be normal and we will simply have to keep him on his current diet, plus try to find a way to keep his eating under control. Opal and Saffy are the ones who have it tough. They're wildly energetic and almost underweight, so it's hard on them to have diet food to eat and limited access to food.

Tomorrow morning it's Tosca's turn. I confess I'm worried about her. She continues with the unproductive hairball cough. It's very hard to get her to play and she used to be such a playful girl, not that long ago. I've made her happy the past couple of days by rearranging the cat furniture. There's barely room for it in this office, so it wasn't terribly accessible where I had it. I put it in a new place on the floor because she previously liked to lie in the bed on top. Instead, she's happy to use it as a way to get up onto my highest shelves. She settles onto a blanket I had originally put up there for Zebedee. I can tell that she enjoys being able to get up to a high spot again.

Wed., 26 March 2008
A real mixed bag of news. Tosca was a hit at the vet's because she's such a sweet girl. She's gained a pound over the last two months, which is good news because it means her thyroid condition is being controlled. After discussing her hairball cough, the vet recommended x-rays, so it was the same drill of leaving her there and picking her up on my lunch break. I missed talking to the vet later. He left a message saying the x-rays showed "some bronchial changes" but no tumors. I need to find out what he means by "bronchial changes". The tense moment will be tomorrow when we get her FIP test back.

There's an unsettling result from Pippin's blood test. His red blood cell count is high, as in above what is considered the top end of the normal range. It's much higher than when he had blood work done a few months ago. The vet showed me Pippin's x-rays. The high RBC made him go back and look at the x-rays again where he spotted a bulge on the right side of Pippin's heart. That's the side that pumps blood to oxygenate the body, so the high RBC could be explained by the system overcompensating for a heart that might not be working quite right. Which could also explain his disinterest in being active and his breathing problems. We have to wait a week until his radiologist can look at the x-rays to give a more definitive opinion, but the vet thinks we'll need to do ultrasound.

Needless to say, Randy and I are now worried that Pippin has some sort of congenital heart problem. After losing our beloved Unicom to congestive heart failure all of a sudden, this is fairly devastating to think about.

We're restricting Pippy's food even more (controlled amounts), as I think it's more important than ever to get his weight down.

Fri., 28 March 2008
Good news on Tosca! Her FIP reading was the same. I would have preferred to hear that it had gone down, but the fact that it hasn't gone up means that the vet doesn't think she has FIP. He said FIP would be progressive and the reading would have gone up. Now he thinks she has or had some kind of coronavirus, but not FIP. Plus she's otherwise healthy, except for the bronchial problem which he said is common in cats of her age.

Now we bite our fingernails until next Thurs. when the radiologist will evaluate Pippin's and Tosca's x-rays.

We're giving Pippin a measured amount of food to control how much he eats. So far, he has yet to eat the entire amount in a day. We have to feed them only when one of us is in the kitchen to supervise and make sure the right cat eats the right food. You know how cats are. "The food in that other cat's bowl MUST be better than what I have. I want that!"

Sun., 30 March 2008
I think Tosca is feeling better now that her thyroid meds have been cut in half and she's not being overdosed. She seems perkier. I was writing madly to meet a deadline and she decided that she must have attention, so she got in my face and asked for petting. I gave her some love and went back to work. She asked for more attention. I gave her some love and went back to work. This went on until she finallY got RIGHT IN MY FACE and yelled at the top of her lungs, "WAAAAUUUUWWW!" It was hard on the eardrums, not to mention being blasted by oceanfish cat food breath. Pewww.

So I picked her up and cuddled her in my lap, but she's not a lap cat. She tolerated that a short time before escaping. Then she perched on the other side and tried to meow in my face again. Instead she lost her footing, fell off the desk and took my keyboard with her. Sigh....cats. They're incorrigible.

Wed., 2 April 2008
Everyday when Randy and I come home for lunch, Saffy is right there at the door to greet us. Unlike her siblings, she's awake and full of energy in the middle of the day. I'm wondering when she'll pick up their lazy ways. Most of the time, Pippin is alseep on the bed and Opal is a lump under the bedcover. Occasionally, Pippin is asleep on the sofa and Opal is a lump burrowed under the sofa cover. I think we see the pattern here.

There are two times of the day when all three cats are eager to see us -- first thing in the morning after having no food all night, and when we come home in the evening because Pippin and Opal can't be bothered to wake up for a snack at noon.

Randy was cracking up this morning because Opal and Saffy were running down the stairs together ahead of him, but they had to keep taking whacks at one another on the way down. Run, whack, run, whack, run, whack.

Thur., 3 April 2008
Yes! Good news all around on the x-rays. The radiologist didn't see a problem with Pippin's heart. He saw a cat with too much fat around his heart. He did mention something about indications in the lungs of possible exposure to a lot of dust or a touch of asthma, but nothing significant. Those three years we lived in Frazier Park were hellish because of the excessive amount of dust that got onto and into everything.

That doesn't explain the high red blood cell count, of course. The vet I talked to today couldn't offer an explanation. He said there are some cats who simply have this condition and recommended having him retested in a few months. I think we'll do it a bit sooner than that, but for now we can continue working on getting his weight down.

The radiologist pronounced Tosca as looking good also. He looked specifically for changes connected to FIP and didn't see any. She does have bronchial and lung indications that go along with being an older cat and also possibly the high exposure to dust, but nothing serious here either.

Sun., 6 April 2008
I missed some unofficial cat birthdays. Their precise birthdate is unknown, but I use April 1st as the approx. birthday for Pippin, Opal, Sapphire and Jetta who are now three years old.

There's another significant cat birthday coming up in two weeks.

We were leaving large bags of cat food on the floor in the kitchen. The moggies never bothered them before, but with the new routine of no food all night, somebody ripped a hole in one of the bags. I'd say it was probably one of the tortie sisters. Part of my errands for today was going to Home Depot and buying a large Rubbermaid bin to store the bags. I feel sorry for the girls having to go without food because of their overweight brother, but they'll simply have to adjust to it.

Sat., 12 April 2008
Poor Pippin is having another bout of diarrhea, so we have him back on the Sensitive Stomach food alone. It looks like this will be a life-long problem for him.

The cats woke us up around 8 am wanting food. The days of sleeping in on the weekend are over. Glargh.

Mon., 7 April 2008
Home for lunch and decided to record the invasion of the sofa.
The Opal Lump.
"If you're going to bother me, I'm out of here."

Fri., 18 April 2008
I'm posting this slightly early, but what the heck. Happy Approximate Birthday to Katie-cat! The old girl is seventeen years along. She seems to be doing fairly well, though is skinnier than I would like. She eats heartily enough and manages to get onto my desk and into my lap without much trouble. She's a good girl.

Pippin isn't entirely over his intestinal bout. He's doing fine on his restricted diet, though. In fact, he rarely finishes the small allottment of food we give him, nor does he seem terribly bothered by getting less food. I suspect he must have been eating out of habit or boredom rather than being driven by hunger.

But oh my, Saffy sure is cranky from lack of food by the time morning rolls around.

Tues., 22 April 2008
We had a couple of bad days there when Pippin's butt was in bad, bad shape and he needed a lot of cleaning. Thngs have calmed down since then. But I think the reality of the diet has finally sunk in. He sits at the spot under the kitchen table where his bowl should be and waits and waits for his errant servants to respond. He looks forlorn. He utters pathetic meeps. We're rationing out the food so that he doesn't inhale it all at once. It's hard to withhold food when he looks at us expectantly, but that excess weight has to go, poor boy.

Sun., 27 April 2008
One of Opal's favorite tricks -- tipping over the laundry basket (with freshly washed clothes, of course).
Compare Pippin today with the much younger one (to right of screen).
mousie in water bowl
A scene of horror in the kitchen! A mousie drowned and a second innocent victim awaiting its fate! And this was after we had already removed yet another mousie from the water bowl and set it out to dry. One of our moggies is a complete lunatic. Well, more than one, I'm sure.

Thurs., 1 May 2008
I was standing in the kitchen when Saffy strolled in with a mousie in her mouth and very deliberately laid it in the water bowl. Being called "Wacky cat!" did not faze her.

She also found a new way to wake us up too early in the morning -- she threw up pieces of spider-plant next to the bedroom door.

Sun., 4 May 2008
Pippin was actually galloping around the house today. I can't remember the last time I've seen him be that active. The diet must be doing some good. Randy thinks the fact that Pippin is only getting the Sensitive Stomach food might be helping, too.

Tosca is also doing well on the lowered dose of thyroid meds. She's happy and sleek, still not as playful as she used to be, but every bit as talkative as ever.

Wed., 7 May 2008
Randy and I have been astonished at the rate the birds have been going through bird seed. He filled the feeder yesterday and it was completely empty this morning. There was, however, a huge amount of the seed spilled on the ground.

We soon discovered the true culprit. Perhaps it should have occurred to us sooner, but we hadn't seen him for a while. The squirrel that sometimes visits the yard came by today and carried off all the peanuts, except for a few that the bluejays got. I don't think the crows got any.

We realized the squirrel must be responsible for the disappearing bird seed and the mess on the ground...which he also came back to scavenge through. He's a fat, healthy little guy. LOL!

Obviously, we need a new place to hang the birdfeeder.

Saffy watched the squirrel intently, but didn't chatter the way she does with birds. Birds drive her insane. But Pippin was absolutely fixated on the squirrel. That was the most interesting thing he's seen in a long time. I'd say squirrel was definitely on his lunch menu (in his dreams).

Sun., 11 May 2008
One of the office cats has been throwing up and I finally caught Kate in the act. I've been worried about her condition lately, so I called the vet that's open on weekends and was able to get her in this morning. Full blood and urinalysis being done, but I have to wait until tomorrow for results, of course. Meanwhile, he's having me give her special super-bland canned food, which she polished off with great interest.

Pippin chased the Red Bug! He chased it all the way from the dining room to the living room. That is extraordinary behavior for him. He has always ingored the laser pointer. He continues to become more active, bit by bit. We're so happy to see it.

But now Opal is throwing up. No food, just liquid. We're keeping a close eye on her. never ends.

Mon., 12 May 2008
I forgot to mention that Kate was dehydrated and they gave her fluids. And yet when the vet called today, the news was entirely good. As far as these blood tests go, she is in very good shape except for some dilution of the urine, which is not unusual for a cat her age. There's no sign of infection.

But the vet pointed out that blood tests only give results for some of the internal organs, mainly the liver and kidneys. There's always the chance she has a stomach or intestinal problem, or could have cancer, or whatever. The suggestion is to wait a few weeks, then bring her in to be weighed again. If she continues to lose weight, the vet suggested x-rays and maybe ultrasound.

I caught her in the cat box twice tonight straining to take a crap and unable to produce anything. I was hoping to catch her because I've noticed not enough solids in the cat box lately for two cats. I wonder if she could be constipated? If so, I hope the new food does something for her.

Tues., 21 May 2008
Kate seems to be doing all right. She's been leaving hard little rocks in the catbox, but at least she's not blocked. Her appetite is certainly good.

Pippin is doing well on his diet. I wish the tortie girls would eat more, especially Opal who is feeling a smidgen underweight to me. Opal is fussy about when and where she'll eat and doesn't like to eat with Saffy too close to her.

Saffy was such a sweet girl. She brought us a pen in the kitchen. The pen was on the dining room table and she carried it all the way to us in the next room. LOL!

Sat., 24 May 2008
Saffy and Opal were chasing the Red Bug around last night, when Pippin came charging out of the darkness and chased the Red Bug all the way from the kitchen into the living room where he pounced and killed it. Go Pippin!

Of course, having been caught in the act of playing, Pippin then proceeded to treat the Red Bug with his usual disdain and utter disinterest. And then there's this....
"All your mousies are belong to us!"

Wed., 28 May 2008
We took an overnight trip over the Memorial Day weekend and we waited until the last minute to round up a petsitter. One referral led us to a young woman who had been a vet tech and was now the office manager of a vet clinic, so I was delighted to get her. It meant not having to worry about Tosca getting her pill.

The moggies were very happy to see us when we got home. There was no practical way to keep Pippin on his diet while we were gone, so I'm afraid he had a couple of days to pig out in our absence. He's such an excellent boy that he makes no fuss at all about being given a limited amount of food and has easily settled back into the routine.

He goes back to the vet next week to have his red blood cell count retested. I'll be interested in seeing whether we've managed to budge the weight down since his last visit.

Sat., 31 May 2008
Dear old Kate is spending a lot of time in my lap these days, though she has a tendency to get in and out of my lap frequently instead of settling in. She purrs much more than she did before. She eats a large amount of food, but is staying thin. I wish cats could tell us what's going on with them instead of having to drag the poor beasties to the vet.

Yet again, we found a mousie drowned in the water bowl. Randy squeezed out the water and left it on the kitchen windowsill to dry out. Later I went into the kitchen and saw the mousie lying on the edge of the counter. "That's an odd place for Randy to leave it," I thought. He came into the kitchen and wondered why I'd put the mousie there. LOL! We can guess who did it. Randy put it back on the windowsill. Next we found it in the sink. Randy put it back in the windowsill. The next morning, Randy found the usual offering of a mouse next to side of the bed and the mousie from the windowsill was lying next to my side of the bed.

You never know where a mousie will show up next.

Tues., 3 June 2008
Pippin hissed and was mightily displeased when I oozed him into the carrier this morning. Randy hefted the carrier and said, "He sure feels like a twenty pound cat." And much to our dismay, after being on a carefully restricted diet for over a month...Pippin has GAINED TWO POUNDS!!!!

Yes, he's gone from 19+ lbs. to 21 lbs. and a smidgen. The vet says he thinks it's genetic, the same way some humans have morbid obesity. Some cats simply get fat. Yikes!

So the Pipster is going on even more of a diet. He's going down from 1 cup a day to 2/3 cup a day until we can pick up some special diet food that the vet recommended.

We're also waiting to get the results of a new blood count tomorrow to see if his red blood cell count remains high. If so, that's another issue to deal with.

Thurs., 5 June 2008
No news. We've been playing phone tag with the vet for two days, so we still don't know the results of the blood test. In the past, I've found that vets will usually leave good news on an answering machine, but will wait to speak to me in person if it's not such good news. Consequently, I'm feeling anxious about hearing the results.

Poor Pippin is wondering what the deal is with the reduced food. He's such a good boy about it. He doesn't whine or beg or carry on, but if one of us heads to the kitchen he'll race in there. Or he'll sit at the place where his food bowl should be and turn those big green eyes on us, wondering when the food will magically appear. It's hard to say no. I remind myself that getting his weight down will improve his health, but I sure wish there was a way I could explain that to him.

Sat., 7 June 2008
The vet and I finally managed to connect yesterday afternoon. He said that Pippin's red blood cell count is the same; neither higher nor lower. He said if this was an old cat or if Pippin was losing weight, he might worry about blood marrow problems, but Pippin is young and gaining weight, so that seems unlikely. He talked about the "normal" range for these tests being a Bell Curve. The majority of cats will fall in the middle range of the curve, but there will always be some cats that fall at the extreme ends, and Pippin is probably one of them. He suggested we get it checked again in a year with an annual exam as long as Pippin is in good health.

Now we need to get some weight off the boy and I'll be happier. We'll stop by the vet clinic on Monday and pick up some special diet food for him.

Sun., 8 June 2008
Saffy had us in stitches this morning. She got in the bathtub and chased her tail. She'd whirl around, catch it, fall over fighting with her tail and generally acted in a supremely silly manner. She'd think she was three months old instead of three years old.

Tues., 10 June 2008
I bought a new kind of canned food for Kate and Tosca. It's organic food from Whole Foods with salmon in it. You usally can't go wrong with cats and salmon. Kate and Tosca hate it. They hate it like I've never seen them hate a food. Kate usually hoovers up anything I put in front of her, but neither one of them will touch this stuff. I had to throw away the rest of the can. Yeesh. I have two cans left and I'm taking them back to the store.

Tues., 17 June 2008
Not much news from the home front. Work eats up most of my time. Pippin is less than enthusiastic about the new dry food, though he seems to like the diet canned food. We mixed a small amount of his other dry food into the new stuff to get him past his initial reluctance.

Kate continues to eat large quantities of food while getting skinnier. I wish something would have shown up on her blood work that would have given a definite direction to help her. Given her age, there are a lot of possibilities for what could be happening. She's still throwing up occasionally. Other than that, she seems content and spends as much time as she can in my lap purring.

Thurs., 19 June 2008
Randy peered over his side of the bed this morning to find the following offerings: Opal had brought him the usual mousie; Saffy had brought him Mr. Scraps and the Brown Snake (a piece of elastic ribbon).

It's been hot, so we leave the sliding doors in the kitchen open at night to let in air through the screen. The cats have been absolutely glued to the screen door because we have rats in the back yard. Yes, you heard me right. Norway Rats. They love bird seed, so we've had to stop leaving out bird seed until we get a squirrel and rat-proof feeder. I could hear them gnawing away at seed. We spotlighted them with a flashlight and watched them scramble around the garden plants and scamper up and down the peach tree...where the feeder is hung.

It's tempting to let the cats out to try and catch them. We won't, of course. Frankly, I'm not sure they'd know what to do with them if they caught them.

Sun., 22 June 2008
Pippin: "I am not fat. I am...majestic."
Sapphire: "Initiating mind-control"
Opal in gym bag
Randy's gym bag sprouts an Opal tail.
Opal in gym bag
Opal: "I'm ready for the gym."
Saffy & Pippin
Saffy and Pippin watch birds. Not a great picture, but it clearly shows just how much bigger he is than his sister.

Tues., 24 June 2008
Opal has dveloped an obsession with my new walking shoes. When I get them out of the closet in the morning, she rolls around on them and sticks her head inside. This morning, she stuck her head inside a shoe and rolled around with the shoe on her head. Now that's silly.
Pippin practices his Buddha pose.

Sun, 29 June 2008
Another first! We saw Saffy grooming Opal. She was licking her around the head and ears. Better yet, Opal was letting her. They still have their little hissy-fits now and then, but this was a nice thing to see.

Later, Saffy helped us pay the bills.
Sapphire: "The paperwork is never done until it's thoroughly scattered."
Sapphire border=
"I'll deal with this one. No need to pay it when I can disembowel it."
Time for a lick break after all that exhausting filing.

Fri, 4 July 2008
Tosca and Kate paid a visit to the vet this week. I had Tosca in to recheck her thyroid level and her FIP titres. Tosca is fat, sassy and seems totally healthy and happy, but we needed to find the right dosage for the thyroid meds.

Kate got the full work-over and blood tests, including running all three virus tests. She has lost more weight and is barely over 7 lbs. She eats desperately and keeps getting thinner, which reminded me of what happened with Zebedee.

So imagine my befuddlement when the results came back the opposite of what I expected on both cats.

Kate's tests came back great. All virus tests were negative and everything else came back healthy and normal. The vet figures this could leave something the blood tests don't detect, such as a form of cancer...or maybe just old age. He wants me to bring her back in a few weeks to recheck her weight. At that time, we may do an x-ray to look for masses. But right now, her weight loss remains unexplained.

But Tosca...her thyroid levels remained in the basement and her titres have doubled. On the thyroid, he's surprised because her initial reading was super-high and we've already cut back the dosage. He's thinking that the initial reading may have been a fluke or some kind of error. We're stopping the thyroid meds for now, but he wants me to watch her carefully and bring her back in for a retest in a couple of weeks.

It's the titres that really have us baffled and worried. Her previous two tests had extremely high readings of 1 to 1600 (very bad news). Now it's 1 to 3200! And yet, she shows no overt symptoms. She actually gained a little weight from her last visit. The vet says it means that she's fighting a virus -- maybe FIP. She may be winning, she may be losing. We really don't know what to make of it at this point. There's not much I can do at this point except wait and see.

Tosca hasn't lost her Mad Skillz though. I came into my office this morning and found a dead baby rat on the floor. Yes, we have rats here, believe it or not. It makes me feel like I'm back in the mountains. I can't really see Kate being up to catching a baby rat, so I'm pretty sure I can thank Tosca. I'm surprised she didn't eat it, but at least she made sure it wouldn't have the run of my office.

Sun., 20 July 2008
Judging from Tosca's behavior, I'd say she's becoming hyperthyroid again. She'll need to be retested and I suspect put on a very low dose of the meds. The vet said she might be a cat who is extremely sensitive to thyroid meds.

A yellowjacket got into the living room via the fireplace. Being an inside cat and not knowing any better, Opal figured this was a great toy to play with and got stung on the pad of her paw before Randy managed to kill the wasp. Fortunately, she doesn't seem to be having much of a reaction to it. There's no swelling, she's not limping and everything looks fine on her foot.

I took a big chance and wrote a letter to my landlord asking permission to bring the rest of my cats up here and keep them in the garage/home office. Sadly, he said no. He's a nice man, but he wasn't comfortable with doing that. I'm deeply unhappy about the situation and really don't want to leave the cats down south for another year or more.

We're searching for a new place to rent, but I don't have much hope. People aren't as tolerant of multiple cats in the Bay area. It's not like living in some little mountain town. Rentals are at a premium around here with a huge demand, so landlords have no shortage of prospects. Why rent to someone with way too many cats when they can rent to a dozen other people? But we'll keep looking, unless some other solution presents itself.

Mon., 21 July 2008
Things that cats do to drive us crazy. You try and try to coax the cat into your lap while you're relaxing on the sofa watching tv. Cat ignores you until the program is over and you're one minute away from getting up. Then said cat leaps onto your lap, curls up in a contented ball and purrs at you. Naturally, you end up sitting on the sofa when you really need to get up and do other things because the cat is so very happy and so are you...except for needing to get up. Sigh....

Mon., 28 July 2008
Just got back from a four day trip to San Diego Comic Con. This morning, we found another dead baby rat...on the front porch. Now, none of my cats ever go outside, which means that some neighborhood cat must have gotten it and left it as a gift. I suspect the very pretty tortie that lives a few doors up the street and sometimes visits the yard, but why she decided to leave it for us is a mystery. LOL!

Sun., 3 Aug. 2008
Today was bath day for the house cats. They get a major rub-down with a wet sock today, then a touch-up on Wed. This is the only way Randy can survive having cats around him. But lately he's been having serious problems with allergic reactions to the cats. I've used a product for years called Nature's Miracle that would remove the allergen when the cat was rubbed down with it. Randy complained that the Nature's Miracle no longer seemed to be working.

When I went to the pet store to buy more, I mentioned this. The woman who was helping me told me that the partners in the company split up. One partner got the name and the other partner got the formula. The second partner has released the product under a new name, Petastic. This might explain why the old product no longer seemed to be working.

So I bought the Petastic and we've been trying it for several weeks. Randy continues to have problems. It looks like this alternate product isn't doing the trick either.

I guess we'll have to find something else and quickly. There's one called Allerpet that we can only get by ordering on-line. That's next for a try-out.

Pippin can get irritable during his rub-down, but today he was downright pissy about it. He even tried to bite me! That's not like him at all. Unfortunately, the bath must go on.

Sat., 9 Aug. 2008
As I mentioned before, it's pretty obvious that Tosca has become severely hyperthyroid again. She eats desperately, is losing weight, is way more active than usual and is atypically aggressive toward Kate. She visited the vet's on Thurs. for follow-up blood tests. I had both the thyroid and FIP titres redone.

When the vet called me on Fri., he confirmed my suspicions. Yes, the thyroid levels were through the roof again. I had a hunch that the FIP titres would be lower and I was right. They were back down to 1:1600, which is still horrendously bad but lower than the 1:3200 when she was on thyroid meds. He feels she's euthyroid, meaning that she's has a malfunctioning thyroid due to some other condition, and my best guess is the coronavirus, whatever it is. He wants her on the thyroid meds before she wastes away, but she may very well end up overcompensating again and end up with thyroid levels that are way too low. He said he'd rather have them too low than have them too high.

It's all quite strange and baffling (even somewhat to the vet), but the best I can do now is try to get the thryoid problem balanced and see what happens with the mystery virus. She could very well develop full-blown FIP, but for now she's sassy and happy and seems healthy enough.

Meanwhile, Saffy mortally wounded me. We were playing with Mr. Scraps, who is still her favorite toy in the universe, and I stuck my hand into the wrong place at the wrong time. Instant Sliced and Diced Finger! Yowtch!

Wed., 13 Aug. 2008
I made the mistake of leaving a nail file on my bathroom counter and little Ms. Klepto made off with it. Randy found Saffy with it under the bed. She loves to carry things off --strings, clips, pens, nail files....

Tues., 20 Aug. 2008
Randy had a serious allergic reaction to Saffy this morning. I gave her a thorough rub-down with Petastic on Sun., so the Petastic doesn't seem to be doing the job. In the meantime, the bottle of AllerPet arrived, so right after the allergy attack, I gave Saffy a rub-down with that. So far, so good. We'll see if it makes a difference.

Sun., 24 Aug. 2008
Randy and I were on the sofa watching TV when we noticed that Saffy and Opal were extremely intent on something at our feet. It was a baby snail. We have loads of snails in the yard, but how a tiny snail got into the house and all the way across the living room is a mystery. Quite a feat for a creature with no feet. We couldn't tell what the moggies had planned for it, so Randy effected a quick rescue and returned it to the yard.

Pippin got snotty about his AllerPet rubdown this morning. He growled and hissed, which is unlike him. This is the first full application of the AllerPet on everybody, so we'll see how Randy's allergies do this week. One thing I like about it already -- it doesn't have a scent.

Sun., 31 Aug. 2008
Kate is looking more and more thin and frail. She eats about a third a cat of cat food twice a day, but it's not putting any weight on her. Other than that, she seems happy enough. I need to find a sneaky way to clip her claws, though, because she keeps getting them caught in things and goes into a panic. I worry she'll hurt herself doing that. But she really doesn't like having her claws clipped!

I'm also waiting for Tosca to put on some weight now that she's on the thyroid meds again.

I wish I knew why the slugs like to crawl under my garage door and slime their way through my office. I keep having to pick the blasted things up. Fortunately, the cats don't show any interest in eating them. Bleh.

Thurs., 11 Sept. 2008
One of the last things we do before going to bed is to get out the laser pointer and let the cats chase the Red Bug. Usually Randy watches safely from the sidelines. Last night, he was lying on the floor trying to engage Pippin in play. Pippin was being his usual indolent self. Opal was racing around after the Red Bug when I made a poor choice of direction. The next thing I knew, Opal was doing a rocket-assisted launch off Randy's face. I think she didn't quite manage to make a jump all the way over him and bounced halfway there. It looked like she did everything she could in mid-leap to avoid it, but it was too late.

Randy was in a lot of pain, clutching his face and my biggest worry is that she'd gotten him in the eye. It was a near thing. He had a couple of punctures immediately below his eye and gouge on his nose that bled a lot. He thinks he might get a black eye out of it, given that he had 9 bls. of cat bounce in one spot. We got him patched up and he assured Opal that everything was okay. She looked rather worried.

So there's proof positive that playing with a laser pointer can be dangerous to your eyes...just not exactly in the way you expect.

Sun., 14 Sept. 2008
Randy did end up with some mild brusing on the bridge of his nose and a little bit around his eye. It's not too bad, though.

In order to track Pippin's weight on the diet, I finally bit the bullet and purchased a digital weight scale. I found out what brand my vet uses and ordered the same scale. In June, Pippin weighed in at the vet's office at 21 lbs. 10 oz. Three months later, using the same scale as the vet, he weighed in at....21 lbs. 10 oz. He hasn't lost a single ounce!!!

Randy tried to put a positive spin on it -- at least he hasn't gained weight. It looks like we may have to cut back on the amount of food slightly. Pippy is one hefty boy.

Pippin: Waiting for the camera to go away.
The Pippin Belly in all its glory.
Saffy: "I loves my mousie."
Saffy: But curiosity is stronger than mousie-love.
And now, for your amusement, cat vs printer.

Fri., 19 Sept. 2008
I've received deeply upsetting news from my friend at Cause4Cats. She had to give me the bad news that Simon has died of unknown causes, possibly liver failure. She helped me tremendously by taking in the cats I wasn't able to bring with me right away, though it has always been my plan to have the remaining cats with me again as soon as I could manage it. I feel utterly miserable and hold myself responsible for his loss.

She also had some surgery done to Tom's deformed paw that she hopes will help his situation. That was good of her.

If anyone would care to make a donation to Cause4Cats in memory of lovely Simon, it would be greatly appreciated.

approx 2005
to approx. 19 Sept. 2008

Sat., 20 Sept. 2008
I was looking forward to a nice, relaxing weekend, but I've decided instead to make the six-plus hour drive to Frazier Park to pick up Zoe and Jetta and bring them up here. It puts us at risk with the current rental situation, but I feel it's something I simply must do. Tom-tom is doing fine down there and he's still healing from surgery, so I'll let him remain. That's his home turf anyway and I think he'll be happy there. But my two other girls need to be with me.

Sun., 21 Sept. 2008
The drive was boring and uneventful. Tom had forgotten me, so I didn't get much of a chance to pet him, but his foot looks good. He's using it well and he seems content with his situation.

Zoe greeted me when I entered the cattery she was in, though I'm not sure that she remembered who I was after a year and two months of separation. She was easy to pick up and put into the carrier. She's underweight, almost gaunt, and I can only hope it's simply from not eating.

As I expected, Jetta wouldn't let me near her. Lolette and I had to tag team her, but managed to catch her after a few minutes.

Jetta had loud Complaints to make for the first hour of the drive, then settled into Random Variable Complaints for the rest of the trip. Zoe threw in a few comments here and there.

But once we got back to home and I let them out in the office, Jetta was the one who surprised me. Everything in here should awaken their memories -- the smell of the carpet, my desk, the shelving with the familiar cardboard boxes, the catboxes, etc. I think that's exactly what happened. In no time at all, Jetta was circling around me demanding love and attention, which I showered upon her. I would say that Jetta is a very happy girl.

Zoe is the being a trifle more reticent, but is mainly getting to know the place. I was glad to see that one of the first things she did was to eat a few bites of food.

They don't seem to remember Tosca and Kate very well, even though they've lived with them all their lives except for the past year, but I expect that to change. Right now, there's some Automatic Defensive Hissing going on. Nothing serious.

A little later, I put Jetta on my desk and she ran back and forth wanting more scritchies. Right now, Tosca, Jetta and Zoe are all perched on the desk. Or were, until they heard the neighbors in their garage right next door. It doesn't help that the neighbors keep their dog in the garage a lot and she barks when they're gone.

Everybody had canned food tonight, with plenty of enthusiasm from all quarters.

My big concern is to get them to the vet for a complete set of blood tests as soon as I can manage. They were in a cattery with any number of unknown cats and kittens, the same cattery where Simon died, and there's no telling what they could have been exposed to. Except for Zoe being underweight, they seem healthy enough.

Jetta's trying out for the role of Goth Princess. Her head is covered with cobwebs. Happy moggies. Happy human.

Mon., 22 Sept. 2008
There's one thing that Zoe hasn't forgotten -- the sound of a bag of treats. The instant she heard that crinkly plastic bag she was in my face demanding treats, and Jetta wasn't far behind. Tosca's nose is out of joint from having to share food and treats and space, but it's only the mildest of protest. I suspect it will soon pass.

My girls are so happy to be with me again. Zoe curled up in my lap a little while ago and Jetta's hanging out on the desk the way she used to. I've been brushing and brushing and brushing Zoe because she looked scruffy. The amount of fur I'm getting off her is astounding. It's as though she hasn't groomed herself in a year. It's not mats or anything like that, just tons of excess fur. It will take many brushing sessions to get her in order, I think.

Kate seems generally befuddled by the new situation, but she's still getting her lap time and I make sure the young girls don't bother her while she's eating the canned food.

I wasn't able to get a vet appointment until next Mon. At least that will give the girls time to settle in, eat a lot and rest up before being tested.

Wed., 1 Oct. 2008
I was gone this last weekend as the guest of honor at Jemcon in L.A. I got home Sun. night, then had to get up really early Mon. to take Zoe and Jetta to the vet for complete blood work-up and tests.

Everyone has settled in now. The micro-hissy-fits have faded away, though Zoe can be a snot now and then. They're both eating with tremendous appetite. I'm giving out canned food twice a day to fatten them up.

Jetta weighed in at a bit over 9 lbs., which is about right for her. She could use a little more wieght. But Zoe was only 7 lbs. and some and the vet agreed that she's way underweight. He wants to see her gain about 3 lbs. She also has a touch of gingevitis on her front teeth, which he said was unusual but nothing to worry about.

He called yesterday with the results and the news is good. Both girls had excellent, healthy results on their blood tests. Jetta tested negative on all the virus tests. Zoe tested negative on everything except the FIP titres, but the result was only 1:100, an extremely low number. The vet says that only indicates that she was exposed to FIP at some time. And of course, she was around Zebedee. The thing now is watch for her to gain weight over the next couple of months. If she gains weight, there should be nothing to worry about. The vet and I are hoping that being in a happy, secure situation will be all that she needs.

If she doesn't gain weight...then I get her FIP titres retested.

Meanwhile, they're both very happy kitties.

I had a good laugh this morning when I came out and found a mousie in the water bowl. Either Zoe learned to do that from Saffy way back when, or Jetta has inherited the food washing gene like her sisters!

Fri., 3 Oct. 2008
We had a scare with Pippin this evening. When we came home from work, Saffy and Opal greeted us as usual. Pippin often comes running down the stairs to greet us, but this time he didn't. Lately, he's been spending time under the bed, which is odd for him. Randy went upstairs to find him, then urgently called me.

Pippin was back in a small, secluded corner of Randy's office looking unhappy and there was a pile of turds not far away that could only have come from him. This is abnormal behavior. He has never failed to use the cat box and he doesn't go into this corner of the room.

Randy picked him up and brought him into our bedroom so we could check him out. Pippin didn't show any particular signs of distress and in a little while he followed us downstairs and ate normally. We had a long debate and ultimately decided against taking him to an emergency room because he seemed okay. We've suspected for a long time, though, that he may have some underlying neurological or other problem that occasionally causes him to have tremors or maybe even convulsions. On one occasion, we saw him pass out and fall over for a few seconds. This totally freaks him out. If something like that happened, it wouldn't be unusual to have an uncontrolled evacuation and then want to hide out.

We're taking him to the vet as soon as we can get him in. One of his quirks was a high red blood cell count that the vet could never explain, but now it's time to push harder into looking for anything that can explain this incident and maybe explain his weight problem, too.

Sun., 5 Oct. 2008

We figured out what happened with Pippin. The problem isn't with Pippy at all. The problem is with cute little skinny Zoe. The hellion side of Zoe has surfaced.

Starting apparently Friday afternoon before we got home, Zoe decided that she needs to kill Tosca. These are serious, nasty fights and poor Tosca has gone into hiding in the deepest hole she can find. I've had Stern Words with Zoe and have disciplined her, but it doesn't seem to be helping. The situation is unacceptable.

As for how that explains Pippin, neither Pippin nor Opal were raised around other cats. They grew up quietly and happily together. When they hear the screaming and screeching and death threats going on in my office, they freak out. They race upstairs and hide and don't want to come down. Also, their cat box is right next to the door to the garage. I can now understand why Pippin was cowering upstairs and why he was too scared to go down and use his catbox. By today, he's gotten used to it enough to be downstairs and eat, but Opal isn't adjusting as well. Saffy was raised around Zoe, Tosca and lots of other cats, so she doesn't react the same way to the sounds.

So far, I haven't seen actual damage on Tosca, but I was unable to coax her out of her hiding spot even for canned food. I put food next to her and she ate with me standing guard, but this can't go on. I have some kitty "valium" on hand and I've started very carefully giving a small dosage of that to Zoe to see if I can get her to calm down. It isn't having much effect yet.

I had another con guest appearance this weekend. On the way home, I stopped off at Petsmart and bought a large wire-frame dog cage, the same kind I used to have. I donated the previous one to Cause4Cats when I moved up here, thinking I wouldn't need it again. Tonight, Zoe sleeps in the cage so that Tosca can have some freedom. I have no idea what brought on this sudden psychotic behavior as everybody was getting along just fine for the first couple of weeks. I haven't seen any indication of Tosca being aggressive. Fortunately, Zoe isn't targeting Kate, but I have to break Zoe out of this aggressive cycle before it becomes too set, and before Tosca's health suffers as a result.

If I can't break of this behavior...I may have to find Zoe a new home. Not only would I hate that, but it would be highly problematic trying to adopt out a cat that is FIP positive.

Thurs., 9 Oct. 2008
Things have been quiet, no more fights. I've had Zoe on the anti-anxiety drug, plus she's spent the past few days resting in her cage when I'm not around to supervise. Today, I left her out while we were at work and there was no sign of trouble. Zoe has calmed down, but now I need to get Tosca to stop being reactively defensive. She's starting to calm down, too. With luck, I won't have to do this too much longer. Just to be safe, I consulted with the vet about the trank I'm giving Zoe and he was perfectly okay with it. It's a safe drug and I figured the dosage right. I'll wean her off it in another couple of days, I think, and see how that goes.

Sun., 12 Oct. 2008
Well, damn, I thought I was making progress, so I weaned Zoe off the trank and was leaving her out of the cage more, but today she went back to viciously attacking Tosca. So it's back on the trank and more "time out" in the cage until she gets the message.

It reminds me, to a lesser degree, of what I went through with Nefreet. She was a relatively normal little cat until I took her in to be fixed. Something went horribly wrong and she was left in a permanent pyschotic state. She would instantly attack any cat that tried to come near me. I despaired of doing anything to help her as months passed. I even considered the possibility of having her put to sleep. I perservered and though she was never normal again, with a lot of stern discipline we reached a level of stability.

With luck and determination, I hope for better results with Zoe.

And now for something completely different. I'm way behind on returning the generosity of two publishers who sent me review copies of their cat books. Today is catch-up day.

I'll start with the book I received first: Dewey, the Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter. I don't have much time to read these days, so I'm only partway through it, but I highly recommend the book. The writing is straightforward and down-to-earth, while evocative and engaging. It's the story of a tiny frozen orange tabby kitten shoved into a book slot at the libary one winter morning. He survived and had a happy life as the libary cat of Spencer, Iowa.

What I really like about the book is that it isn't just about the cat, which is heart-warming enough. It's also the life and times of a small midwestern town struggling to survive, and how something as small as a cat can change lives. I come from a midwestern town that has been in a long, slow decline, so the story of the town and the cat strikes a chord with me. Here's to Dewey and the ageless parade of wonderful cats who make our lives better.

Dewy the Library Cat
This link will take you to the book on

The second book is also delightful: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Loving Our Cats: Heartwarming and Humorous Stories about our Feline Family Members, compiled by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark. It's book of 101 very short true-life stories. They cover the gamut of emotions, as you might imagine, mostly on the upbeat and heartwarming side from the grazing I've done so far. What's nice is that the stories are little bite-sized chunks, so it's easy to pick it up when you only have a few minutes to read, or read it during a commute, etc.

Loving Our Cats
This link will take you to the book on

Fri., 17 Oct. 2008
Things haven't been going well, I'm afraid. Even on the trank, Zoe continues to be a problem. Worse yet, Jetta is taking cues from Zoe and is making aggressive moves toward Tosca as well. And tonight for the first time, Kate was growling and hissing and very upset with Zoe who must have been bothering her. Kate was doing fine until now.

Tomorrow we leave for a mini-vacation for several days. I've filled in the sitter on the situation. She'll have to continue giving Zoe the trank and put her in the cage overnight. Next week, if I can't see any signs of improvement at all, I may have to start looking for a new home for Zoe.

Sat., 25 Oct. 2008
We had a wonderful trip and the moggies were extremely happy to have us home again. The petsitter left Zoe inside her cage on the day we headed home because she suspected she'd been fighting with Tosca. Things seemed pretty quiet the past couple of days, so today I decided once again to try not giving Zoe her trank this morning.

Over the following couple of hours, Zoe got into a nasty confrontation with Kate and then a fight with Jetta. I thought Jetta was the one cat she wouldn't fight with! I gave her the trank and let her have a time-out in the cage until it could take effect, but this really isn't a good situation. The trank is having an unpleasant effect on her guts, too. It's time for another discussion with the vet.

Fri., 31 Oct. 2008
I had a long talk with the vet about Zoe's situation. I also talked to him about Saffy, but I'll save that for another day. The upshot of the consultation is that I haven't been dosing Zoe correctly, which is part of the problem, and he thinks I'll need to keep her on the Amitriptyline for many months. I was concerned about long-term effects, but he recommends this as the safest choice amongst the various types of kitty "prozac". So I've adjusted her dosage and am giving it to her twice a day.

So far, things are going extremely well. I no longer have to put Zoe in the cage at night and I think that one change alone has made her a much happier cat. Tosca seems to be relaxing. She's out and about more than she has been for the past couple of weeks. Now that I know I can keep Zoe on the prozac long-term, I feel hopeful. After a few months, I can think about trying to slowly wean her off it.

Good wishes for Samhain to one and all. Happy Celtic New Year!

Sat., 1 Nov. 2008
Hysterically funny cat video.

I need the laughs because things aren't going well with Zoe after all. Shortly after I made last night's entry, I went inside the house for the night and Zoe started a fight with Kate. I put Zoe in the cage for the night. That was hours after she'd gotten her trank, so it should have taken effect.

This morning after getting her trank, Zoe again went on the attack and backed Tosca into yet another deep, dark corner. I gave her a little bit more of the trank. I'll have to look into getting a fresh supply of the Amitriptyline because what I have is actually rather old and is about a year past the expiration date, so I suppose it may be losing its effectiveness as a drug.

I think I'm going to consult with a licensed cat behavior specialist. I recently came across one whose approach I like and given how little success I'm having, it might be worth the expenditure.

Mon., 3 Nov. 2008
When I came into my office this morning, I found something I never thought I'd find in this particular office -- a small dead lizard. Where I used to live, this would be no surprise. It's not that are no lizards in the Bay area, but how it got in here to fall prey to the moggies is a mystery.

Wed., 5 Nov. 2008
We weighed Pippin for the first time in two months. In Sept., he was 21 bls. 10 oz. Now he's at 21.3. He lost seven whole ounces!!! Sigh...I'm afraid getting him back down to a "svelte" 18 lbs. is going to be a tough haul.

Thurs., 6 Nov. 2008
I gave Zoe and Jetta each a new catnip mousie. Zoe used to love hers, but hasn't been all that interested in this one. Jetta is a catnip junkie and looooves her new mousie. The first thing she did was christen it with a dunking in the water bowl. A couple of times now, Jetta has jumped onto the desk carrying her mousie to get my praise and some petting, then trots off with it again. The next time I saw it, it was in her food bowl, perched on top of the dry food. She's such a funny girl.

Fri., 7 Nov. 2008
Tosca went to the vet yesterday for a follow-up visit on her blood work for thyroid levels and FIP titres. She sang an aria to me the entire way, she sang in the waiting room, she sang for the vet tech and she sang all the way home. There's a reason she's named after an opera.

The vet called today with the results and the results are excellent! Her thyroid is very nicely under control and her FIP titres are all the way down to 1:400, a fraction of what they were before. This was far better news than I was expecting. I'm hoping it means that she has some other weird, less harmful form of coronavirus and not FIP.

Things are also going much better with Zoe now that I've increased and stabilized her dosage of Amitriptyline. The vet has given me a new prescription to replace what I have, which is a year past its expiration date. I'll pick that up at the pharmacy this weekend. I'll start with a smaller dose of the new prescription and see how it goes from there. The past few days have been blissfully calm and Tosca is acting more like her old self instead of hiding out under my desk.

Mon., 11 Nov. 2008
I'm afraid I really must buy one or two of these because...well, because I must.
The Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure!

Wed., 12 Nov. 2008
We had another bizarre incident with Pippin this morning. I had gotten out of the shower and about ten minutes later, Randy came into the bathroom. "Somebody shit in the shower," he said. We stared with astonishment at the huge steaming pile that clearly could only have come from Pippin.

And after that, he refused to come downstairs to eat. That made two things that were a radical departure from his usual behavior. Randy finally had to carry him down. Pippin was extremely unhappy about that, but once he got downstairs and saw that everything was all right, he ate and behaved more normally.

We're assuming there must have been another screaming fight in the office that totally freaked him out. Randy and I somehow managed to miss hearing it, but we can't come up with another explanation.

Pippin spent the rest of the day upstairs, as he generally does, but tonight Randy had to carry him downstairs again. Pippin wouldn't come down on his own. Yet another reason why I have to get Zoe's problem under control.

Sun., 16 Nov. 2008
I'm continuing to have the occasional flare-up with Zoe. I end up having to search the office for stray crap because Tosca either craps where she is because she's in panic mode or is too scared to go to the cat box. Zoe chased her behind the washing machine, so now I have crap back there that I can't reach to clean up. Sigh....

In another attempt to calm the situation, I bought some ultra-expensive Feliway pheromone spray. I've sprayed that around the steps to the office because frequently these fights start when both Zoe and Tosca hear me on the other side of the door and are waiting for me to come out. I sprayed their cat beds and some places where Zoe and Jetta have been scratching. I hope it has some effect.

Mon., 17 Nov. 2008
I had to drag myself out of bed at 6 am, stumble down to my office and deal with a cat fight. Tosca crapped twice behind my desk, so I had to clean that up. Then while I was trying to coax Tosca out of hiding, Zoe jumped Kate. This is not good.

I had a talk with the vet and we're increasing the dose of Amitriptylene, but it's not like this is a long-term solution. I can't keep her on this stuff forever. As much as I adore Zoe, I fear a new home may be in order.

Tues., 18 Nov. 2008
On a lighter note: Cat Rides a Roomba.

That is the world's most mellow cat.

Thurs., 20 Nov. 2008
Arrrggghh...Tosca is relieving herself anywhere except the cat box. Today was classic. My stepdaughter, Karynne, is in the Bay area for a few days. She lives in Sydney, so it's a rare and wonderful treat to see her. I was able to bring her by the house briefly to say hello to the old cats that she knows, Tosca and Kate, and meet the young ones.

Tosca gave her an enthusiastic greeting, then in the next five minutes she went to the area between the front of my desk and the back wall where she took an enormous pee half on the rug and half on my old vacuum cleaner. After which, she strolled over and took a steaming dump almost at Karynne's feet. Karynne wasn't fazed in the least. She laughed it off. She has a temperamental Burmese at home and knows cats.

I, however, am tired of the constant clean-up. I've given up and put one of the catboxes in the back corner of my office until Tosca gets over this problem. If she doesn't use that, I'll be really annoyed.

Tues., 2 Dec. 2008
As usual, the moggies were happy to see me after being gone for over a week. Randy was here most of the time, but was gone for a couple of days, so they were doubly glad to have both of us back.

Unfortunately, I still had to rescue Tosca from Zoe once since getting back. And somebody has severe diarrhea. I've narrowed it down to Kate or Tosca. Jetta never seems to have health problems and Zoe has mild diarrhea, but not as bad as the other stuff I'm seeing. I suspect Kate because I caught her throwing up. I hope I can figure it out soon because it's a pretty nasty case of it. It could be severe stress, caused by the Zoe-vs-Tosca situation, or it could be a health issue, which is another reason I need to figure out who's doing what.

For some mysterious reason, Saffy started crying in the pre-dawn hours. She wandered the house making plaintive cries when she's usually asleep on the bed with us. She's been more needy than usual lately. We haven't been able to divine what she wants from us. She gets plenty of love, attention, food, etc. Perhaps our adoration hasn't been ardent enough.

Thurs., 4 Dec. 2008
To her deep unhapiness, Kate spent the night tucked away in the big wire dog crate that I set up originally for Zoe. I haven't been using the crate, but it remains in place and I decided to put Kate there overnight to further determine who has the severe diarrhea.

Not Kate. She left something solid in the box. By process of elmination (you should pardon the stinky pun), it's leaning towards Tosca as having the problem. I wish I could catch her in the act to be sure. I think putting her in the crate overnight would be entirely too stresful for her, though. If it's her, it could be the result of being stressed because of Zoe, in which case I don't know how much the vet could do about it.

Meanwhile, someone crapped under my desk again, even with a catbox only a few feet away. Sigh....

Sun., 7 Dec. 2008
Zoe is giving me fits with her cunning ability to absolutely convince me I've gotten a pill down her throat, only to find a pill lying on the carpet much later. She went after Jetta last night and I had to catch her to break it up. I wondered why that suddenly flared up, then I found the pill she'd spit out. I've given a lot of pills to a lot of cats over the years and they don't usually fool me. Zoe is a regular pill-spitting ninja.

Sun., 14 Dec. 2008
I never did find out who had the diarrhea and it seems to have cleared up on its own. It started during the week I was gone, so perhaps it was stress related. I continue to have occasional problems with Zoe, but at other times I'll even see Zoe and Tosca touch noses. As long as Zoe's on the trank, things seem to go all right. Zoe spends a lot of time in my lap when I'm at the computer. If it were up to her, I'd be her lap-bed for 12 hours a day, I think.

An interesting article on the evolutionary difference in how cats and dogs utilize energy while hunting. You may be surprised to read that cats aren't at all efficient in their use of energy.

Thanks to Alex Burr for showing me this one: a real-life cat burglar! This is what my tortie girls would probably do if I let them go outside! And Jetta, too, for that matter. Jetta is quite avid at playing fetch-the-mousie.

Mon., 15 Dec. 2008
Now Pippin is the one with a touch of diarrhea! Poor boy, we've had to clean his butt a couple of times today. He's too fat to clean himself!

Tues., 23 Dec. 2008
I've been worried about Kate lately as her appetite has decreased and her weight has dropped. She eats pretty well, but not nearly as much as she did before. The vet did a full senior panel on her and we're checking especially for kidney problems. I was right about the weight loss. She's dropped a pound since July and is only a little over 6 lbs. I've also been noticing a problem with her claws getting caught in carpet, but Kate refuses to let me clip her claws. I asked the vet to do that for me and they found that a couple of her claws had gotten long enough to curl around and grow into the pads of her feet! I feel horrible. What a terrible cat mother I am to let that happen. They gave me antibiotics because there's a little bit of infection (not enough to account for her weight loss) and I need to keep her feet clean. Poor old girl! She got into my lap a short time ago, so I've been forgiven.

Wow, the vet called me with the results already. Usually, it takes a day. There's a mix of good news-bad news. What's good is that her bloodwork and urinalysis were normal. In fact, he said it was remarkably good for a cat this old. The downside is that something else must be causing the appetite and weight loss. The most likely culprits are IBS or intestinal cancer. We're going to try her on a course of Prednizone, which would deal with an inflammation. Then it becomes a matter of wait-and-see.

Pippin may be the next one to the vet. His diarrhea has gotten worse and is pretty severe now, so if it doesn't clear up soon, in he goes. I weighed him yesterday and he's up to 22 pounds! Gahhh! He's on a diet and he still gained a whole pound! I see no choice except to cut back his portions a bit more.

Moggies 2: Christy 0 -- I tried moving the cat box away from my desk because I don't enjoy having the smell so close to me. I was hoping that the Zoe situation had calmed down enough for Tosca to use the box in the original location. First, I was awarded with a puddle of urine where the box had been. Today, I was greeting by a large, healthy steaming pile of doo next to my desk. Yes, I get the message. The catbox has been returned. Sigh....

Randy was woken this morning by Opal who brought a mousie to him in bed and insisted he wake up to thank her for it.

I dropped a piece of broccoli on the kitchen floor. Saffy found it and proudly carried it off as her new trophy. I found it again on the hearth of the fireplace. She didn't want to eat it, she just wanted to carry it around.

Thurs., 25 Dec. 2008
And now, the traditional "cute cats in xmas wrapping paper" photospread.
Opal (the only one I managed to get of her)
Saffy: "This angle makes me look fat!"

Sun., 28 Dec. 2008
For three blisfful days, Kate was taking her pills in her gooshy food. Then she noticed and she wasn't having anything more to do with spiked gooshy food. And let me tell you, she is not an easy cat to get a pill into, let alone three pills a day. I've found that the best tactic is to catch her unawares and give her the pill while she's surprised. If she gets so much as a nanosecond to realize what I'm up to, I have a tough time of it. It's made her ever so slightly wary of me, of course, but she's hanging out in my lap in spite of that.

Mon., 29 Dec. 2008
Kate had her last Clavamox tonight, thank Bast. Now I only have to give her one pill a day until she's done with the steroids. I've also been giving her acidophilis because the Clavamox is always so hard on her guts. It seems to have helped.

Proof #2313 that cats understand English when they want to: I was trying to clean the catbox next to my desk and Jetta was tromping around in it getting in my way. I quietly said, "You know, there's another catbox you could use." She immediately jumped out, went to the other box and did her business.