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

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cat line drawing
Mon., 9 January 2012
Zoe ended up getting an extra dose of trank tonight. Things have been so peaceful for so long, I was actually once again considering trying to wean her off it. Then she pulls this stunt. She attacked Jetta, chased her around the office and ran off with Jetta's fur still clinging to her mouth when I broke it up. Brat.

Five minutes later, all three of them were sitting around the water bowl together, though I could see that Zoe continued to plot trouble. I gave her a warning. Now, with the extra trank kicking in, she's curled up next to my keyboard give me her Big Innocent Eyes. I am not fooled.

Thurs., 19 January 2012
Poor Pippin is having problems. We've had incidents of bloody diarrhea, including a rather disgusting accident in the dining room. It's highly unusual for our cats not to use the box. We were fairly sure it was Pippin, given the condition of his rear end lately. Randy kept a close eye on him during the day until we confirmed it beyond doubt.

Randy took him to the vet this afternoon. The vet suspects colitis caused by some sort of food allergy, most likely to a meat protein. She wants us to gradually change him over to a different food, specifically some kind of unique protein like duck or venison. So I'll be out buying gourmet cat food for the boy this weekend. In the meantime, we've added pumpkin puree to his diet.

In related news, Tosca is now doing extremely well with pumpkin as a daily part of her meals. I'm lucky that she likes it so much.

Sun., 22 January 2012
Yesterday, I picked up cans of the duck and green peas canned food that the vet wants us to try Pippin on. We're supposed to introduce it in his special diet canned food gradually over a couple of weeks. The Pippymeister is doing well and feeling spunky, probably thanks to the antibiotics he's been getting. We had other good news as well. His blood work-up came back normal. Last time we took him to the vet it was for tremors and his blood work showed a couple of worrisome anomalies in enzymes that could mean heart or nerve tissue damage. So hearing that everything was normal is a great relief.

I also bought more the regular dry cat food that I had been feeding to the office cats in the past. For the last couple of weeks, I had switched to a light diet food. The girls have been voting with their stomachs: "What IS this crap? We're not eating this, except out of total desperation." The rest of the diet food is now mixed with a large bag of the regular food, so it should be tolerable.

Randy dropped a leaf of spinach on the floor. Saffy picked it up like a trophy, carried it off, then ate it. After that, she raced around like a lunatic. Randy figures it was the Popeye Effect. Spinach power!

Sun., 5 February 2012
Pippin was doing great after a course of antiboitics, and we've been gradually switching him to a new canned food. Prior to this, Randy would regularly give a small treat to Pippin, Saffy and Opal at lunch time -- bits of his roast turkey lunch meat, an organic brand. He'd stopped doing it for a while, then gave in and gave them their treats.

Poor Pippin developed immediate and severe diarrhea again. We went back to giving him pumpkin and it's gradually cleared up, but we had a couple of messy and unpleasant days looking after him. Now we know. Something in the lunch meat disagrees with him in a major way. No more of that treat.

Sun., 26 February 2012
I've come down with a cold and poor Zoe is lying next to my keyboard, wondering what on earth is going on as I blow my nose loudly every other minute.

A few nights ago, I heard one of the cats yowling while I was in the kitchen. But then Opal and Saffy raced into the kitchen and began looking through the blinds on the kitchen doors. I realized the yowling was from outside. I peeked out and saw an orange moggy on the back steps right outside the glass. He went slinking off before I could get a very good look. Randy said he ran across the street and disappeared into a neighbor's yard. Good, I hope he has a home. I don't want to cope with another stray after my recent heartbreaking experience.

Sat., 23 March 2012
Having a full-time job has its upsides, but one big downside is that I don't get to spend a lot of time with the moggies. While I was home sick, Zoe was in moggy heaven. I had to work from home, so she had four full days as a lap fungus.

My brother sent us a new laser-pointer. Our previous two pointers crapped out months ago. The switches seem to be the first thing to go. This one feels like it's better made. The cats have had a great time chasing the Red Bug again. To our surprise, even Pippin, who used to be utterly indifferent to the Red Bug, has had energetic moments chasing it around. In fact, as he's lost weight, he's slowly become more active. He's far from what I'd call an active cat in general, but way better than he was.
Saffy: "Yes, I am a squirrel-proof birdfeeder. Why do you ask?"

Opal's tail points true north.

Pippin practices being dapper.

Opal gets caught making a funny face.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012
I didn't comment on the four birthdays that I've arbitrarily assigned to April 1st. Pippin, Saffy, Opal and Jetta have turned seven years old. It's amazing to me that it's been that long and they're middle-aged cats. It was early May in 2005 when Randy and I trapped four wild, little kittens from under a decrepit mountain cabin. It's hard to say who was luckier -- us or the kittens.

Sunday, 8 April 2012
Those of you who have read the Tales of the Moggy Horde for a long, long time may remember Artemis, aka The Polydactly Princess, the Princess of Thumbs. I adopted Artemis and her brother, Blue, in 1995. Although they were sister and brother, they didn't get along and Blue gave Artemis a hard time.

Artemis was a lovely, affectionate girl who gained an unhealthy amount of weight. I had around 16 or so cats in the horde, so there was no practical way for me to limit her food. In 2004, my sister-in-law, Nina, adopted Artemis as an only cat. She was able to keep her on a diet and bring her weight down, plus Artemis no longer had to put up with Blue.

Nina gave Artemis a wonderful, loving home for eight years, but old age caught up to Artemis. She stopped eating, had trouble moving, and was in pain. Nina did the painful, but compassionate thing. Farewell, Artemis. You were a sweet moggy with awesome thumbs.
Artemis: spring 1995 - April 6, 2012

Thursday, 12 April 2012
We're having a rare California thunderstorm full of booms and thunders. The poor cats are not at all accustomed to thunder and are rather freaked out. The house cats are running upstairs to hide, then creeping back down later. The office cats are huddled close to me on the desk, except for Tosca. There isn't much that fazes Tosca anymore.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012
I decided it was time for Tosca to see the vet. She's developed an almost constant swallowing-gulping thing. I thought I might have to rename her Gollum. As it turned out, it was time for her annual check-up. She saw the vet last Friday who did a full blood panel. He thought I should go ahead and give her extra food, as she's lost weight. His first recommendation, until we got the results from the bloodwork, was to use a little syringe to squirt a bit of water down her throat after I give her her pills. He thought the pills could be causing some irritation.

The vet and I played phone tag until today. He said her results look good for an old girl like her. There's some indication that she's heading toward some kidney problems. Nothing serious yet, but we may be switching her to special food. She has a light touch of anemia, which could indicate internal bleeding, maybe related to esophogal or stomach issues that could tie into the gulping. And her thyroid was on the low end, but not enough to change her dosage while we deal with the other problem.

He wants me to try her on Pepcid or Prilosec for 2-3 weeks. I picked up some Pepcid on the way home tonight. He said either brand would work and the Prilosec was way more expensive. I'm giving her half a low-dosage pill per day, and then I need to let him know after a few weeks what the results are. If that doesn't seem to do anything, we move on to other treatments.

But overall, he didn't seem too worried, and Tosca's taking it all with her usual good-natured tolerance.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012
It's Happy Arbitrary Birthday to Zoe, who was born around this time seven years ago. Such a tiny thing she was, with elfin eyes and huge ears.

Unfortunately, one of the office girls has diarrhea. I don't think it's Tosca because she already gets pumpkin in her gushy food every night, but now I'm giving pumpkin to all three of them until it's resolved.

Meanwhile, I haven't seen a lot of change in Tosca yet from the new regime. The vet said to give it two to three weeks, so we'll see.

Wodensday, 2 May 2012
Tosca's been a sick girl. It turns out that she was the one with the diarrhea. Last night, I could barely get her to eat her soft food and she wouldn't budge at all for treats. She obviously didn't feel well.

Again this morning, she wouldn't touch soft food at all. She went straight to the box and did nasty stuff, then threw up a bit of foam. All she wanted to do was curl up in her bed and be left alone, which is the sign of a sick cat.

I had to get to work and spent all day worrying about her. I talked to the vet, who told me to stop giving her the Tapazole (the thyroid med) for now because it's hard on the stomach. He recommended feeding her baby food and rice, plus as much pumpkin as she will eat. There's a Whole Foods within walking distance of my office. I went there during my lunch break and picked up some jars of organic chicken and brown rice baby food.

To my relief, Tosca was up and about and looked much better this evening. As soon as I got home, I gave her a small amount of the baby food and pumpkin. She gobbled it down. Later, I gave her a lot more of it while I gave the regular soft food to Zoe and Jetta. Tosca did a good job of polishing that off as well. Fingers crossed, I think she's bounced back. Pretty resilient for a 17 year old cat.

Sunday, 17 June 2012
I'm indulging Zoe in one of her favorite things -- having her belly rubbed. She loves it more than any cat I've had over the years.

She was less happy to see me when we'd been gone on vacation for a week. After we got back, all the other moggies were happy to see us, but Zoe skulked off and hid and behaved as though she'd forgotten who I was...until I came out later with the gooshy food. Then suddenly, all was forgiven.

The other night, Pippin, Saffy and Opal were clustered around the front door, absolutely fascinated by something outside. Randy went to investigate and discovered that a visiting tomcat had, that very minute, sprayed the door. Maybe it's the orange tabby we've seen in the back yard a couple of times. Unacceptable, Mr. Tabby, unacceptable.

Opal did a Cute Thing. Her usual routine is to perform the Mousie Song at full yowl to let us know she's brought us the nightly mousie present. But during the night, she took my sleeveless tee from the laundry and dragged it over to cover up the mousie. Must hide the food!

Saffy has developed a limp that comes and goes. When she's been lying down a long time, she'll limp and then it'll go away. Or we think she might sometimes jump down from somewhere or do something that reinjures it. It seems to be her right front shoulder. I'm not sure there's much a vet could do anyway, but I'll have to haul her in if it doesn't clear up.

Tosca, meanwhile, had a day at the vet's. I dropped her off in the morning and picked her up in the early afternoon. We're still trying to get a handle on the cause behind her excessive gulping-swallowing. I gave her Pepcid for about three weeks and it didn't help. This time, the vet x-rayed her, then did a light anesthesia and scoped her throat as best he could. He said everything looked good. His current best guess is that the meds she's on (thyroid and steroid) are upsetting her stomach, causing some irritation in her esophagus. There's no sign of a tumor or mass, which is what I was worried about.

So now we're trying her on Pepto Bismol. I'm giving it to her with a syringe and she doesn't like it one bit. She spits it up and leaves pink foam everywhere, and let me tell you, that stuff stains the carpet. It's a good thing I have crappy old industrial carpet in my office, but after a couple of days I wised up and began giving it to her on the plastic floor mat instead. That's much easier to clean up.

Happily, in spite of the foaming and spitting, Tosca is eager to have her gooshy food immediately afterwards. I guess it can't be all that bad.

Sunday, 29 July 2012
Jetta must have had a minor altercation with one of her "sisters". She had a minor scrape over her right eye. Then she began to squint and get weepy with her left eye. I figured she may have gotten her eye scratched. I took her to the vet Friday and there's no scratch. It's a simple conjunctivitis.

What isn't so simple is getting the eye drops into her. She's telepathic as all hell and the minute I so much as even think about giving her the drops, she becomes impossibly elusive. And unfortunately, the way my office is set up makes it a perfect human-eluding labyrinth. Last night it was so bad I had to ask Randy to help me. We tag teamed her and finally caught her, but the next few days are going to be a challenge.

Meanwhile, Tosca is doing extremely well on the Pepto Bismol and is no longer plagued by the exessive swallowing/gulping problem.

Sunday, 5 Aug. 2012
I finished the seven day course of eye drops for Jetta. Thank Bast that's over. A couple of times I managed to catch her by myself, but the rest of the time Randy had to come and help me tag-team her. She's an elusive little beast.

I thought it would be days before she'd let me come near her again out of sheer suspicion, but she's been sitting here on the desk next me, letting me pet her up. I guess she understood when I told her we were all done with that.

Sunday, 26 Aug. 2012
Saffy's been to the vet to be checked out for a mysterious limp that comes and goes. We noticed it when we got back from our trip in late May. Every time we'd see her limp and decide it might be time to get her checked, the limp would clear up. Then it would come back. We thought perhaps she had hurt herself and then kept reinjuring it somehow.

But it never quite cleared up, so I finally took her in. The vet couldn't find indications of a fracture or bone problem. Her guess is arthritis. It seems odd to me that a seven year old cat would have arthritis, but the vet said it's possible. We did a full blood panel which came out excellent, so the next step is take her back for x-rays.

We hit a milestone with Pippin. I weighed him today and he came in at 17.15 lbs! We've finally broken the 18 lb. barrier. We'd like to get him down to about 16 lbs, which should be a good weight for him. He looks better and has gotten more active. All we have to do is watch him like a hawk. He tries to sneak over to his sisters' food every chance he gets, which isn't often because we don't free feed. But during the short time the bowls are on the floor, he'll grab any opportunity.

Monday, 1 Oct. 2012
Jetta went to the vet last week. She's licked every bit of fur off her stomach and has a naked, pink belly. She was a total nervous wreck about the whole thing, poor baby. The vet pointed out patches of dermatitis where she's licked off her fur, plus some red spots on her forehead around her ears.

There are no signs of fleas, and I haven't seen any indications of fleas in my office, so he figures it's an allergic reaction. I'm mystified at what might have caused an allergic reaction. She's been on the same dry and canned food for a long time, the same litter, etc. Nothing has changed that I can think of. She's had a steroid shot to clear up the current problem, while I try to figure out a possible cause.

We never did take Saffy in for x-rays because she decided to stop limping.

It was 15 years ago this month that I brought Tosca home to live with me. She was at least a year old then, so her minimum age has to be 16 and there's no telling how much older she could be. She's hanging in, but it's getting harder to get canned food into her. I'm using liberal amounts of baby food to make a thin mush and she does a better job of getting that down. But I think she's feeling her age, the dear old girl.

Sunday, 28 Oct. 2012
Jetta continues to pull her fur off her belly. I find tufts of fur lying around and her stomach remains as pink and naked as ever. I have no idea what she could be allergic to, but I've decided to start giving her a low dose of antihistamines. She's a nearly impossible cat to get a pill into because she has highly developed radar for my intentions. The minute I think about giving her a pill, she becomes elusive. I have to catch her off-guard, which isn't easy.

Zoe is my bulemic girl. She throws up nearly every day after eating the dry food I put out in the morning. And yet, she remains chunky. She's managing to keep enough food in her to stay hefty and seems perfectly healthy otherwise.

My big concern is Tosca. I'm having trouble getting her to eat her canned food and I'm not sure how much dry food she's actually eating. I've tried different types of high quality food. I stopped adding the pumpkin. I mix it with organic chicken and brown rice baby food, so it's a thin consistency. I keep trying different things, but she rarely finishes what I give her and she keeps getting thinner.

I've had her to the vet a couple of times, so I don't think there's much more to be gained there. Her bare minimum age is 16 and there's no telling how much older she could be than that. I suspect something else is going on that we haven't found, but it would be too stressful to do invasive tests.

I thought she might be having trouble eating because her nose is always congested. She would snort and snurfle while trying to eat. I consulted with the vet and started her on antihistamines. I keep forgetting how sensitive she is to drug dosages. Even the low dose knocked her out and I couldn't get her to eat at all for a couple of days. I had to quickly dial the dose way back. She seems to be doing well on it now. Her breathing sounds better and she actually used her voice a little bit. She was named Tosca because she was vocal and would sing and sing to people when she greeted them. She's had virtually no voice at all for the past couple of years, so I was happy to hear it. But I continue to grapple with getting her to eat.

Saturday, 10 Nov. 2012
1995-96? - 10 Nov. 2012
I had to make the Terrible Decision. In spite of my efforts, Tosca continued to deteriorate. I took her to the vet on Tuesday the 6th because I had so much trouble getting her to eat and she had gotten so thin. Her sides were sunken and I could feel every bone in her hindquarters.

They did a full blood work-up. There were indications of mild anemia, possibly from internal bleeding; high white blood cells, indication some kind of unknown infection; but to our surprise, her kidney functions looked good. The vet had initially suspected kidney failure, due to her age.

She had me increase the Prednisone (steroid), start her on Baytril (antibiotic) for the mystery infection, gave me special "critical care" canned food to try on her (mixed with baby food), an apetite stimulant pill, and had me stop the Pepto-Bismol. I didn't realize that it contains a trace of aspirin and might have been causing problems.

Tosca perked up for a couple of days, but I still had to go through the three stages of feeding. Stage 1 was putting the bowl down in front of her; she'd lick a little of it, then toddle off to her bed. Stage 2, I'd sit next to her as she settled in the catbed and insistently put the bowl under her nose; she'd usually eat more of it. Stage 3, I literally spoon-fed her; I'd put some food on the spoon and hold it under her nose until she ate it. This was barely enough food to keep her going, though, and even with the appetite stimulant, she didn't improve.

Last night, she ate a bowl of food via the three stages and even took a few of her treats, though she had trouble eating them.

This morning, I found globs of white foam all over the office and a stray turd. She kept throwing up the white foam and kept wandering around and squatting without being able to relieve herself. She refused food by any method. Stages one to three all failed. I went to Stage 4, a desperation measure. I watered down the food and fed it to her a bit at a time with a syringe. I got a fair bit into her, but a minute later she wandered off and threw it all up.

That's when I knew she'd hit a wall and there was nothing more I could do for her. It was a lovely, sunny day, so I took her into the back yard. She wandered a bit, but not as much as before because she was frailer and weaker. She came back to the catbed I'd brought out and laid in the sun for a while.

After I brought her back inside, I made one more attempt to feed her. I was hoping the fresh air and stimulation of being outside might have helped. She refused to have anything to do with the food. That's when I knew what I had to do.

I called the emergency clinic that was recommended by my vet and let them know why I was coming in. I had a long, long wait (over an hour) that I spent holding and caressing Tosca, and crying a lot, while she gifted me with her beautiful purr. The people there were kind and empathetic. Tosca went in my arms and it was a calm, peaceful death.

She was my beautiful, golden-eyed girl; a sweet, affectionate moggy. She loved people and, along with her presumed daughter Diva, would be the first at the door to greet anyone with a happy greeting and a song on her lips. She had a loud purr-machine that she turned on as soon as she was petted. I wish she could have been with me longer.

These are the final pictures I took of her.

Tuesday, 13 Nov. 2012
I miss Tosca and am still sad about losing her, but I have to be honest and admit to a sense of relief as well. The constant stress of nursing her with little hope of success was taking a toll on me.

Now that Tosca is gone, I'm weaning Zoe off the tranks. I can't take her off Amitriptylene all at once. It has to be a gradual process over a couple of weeks, but her dosage was minimal to begin with. I'm already seeing a change in her energy levels. She's zooming around the office doing laps this evening. My main concern is making sure that she doesn't transfer the aggression she had toward Tosca onto Jetta. Jetta and Zoe have been together every day of their lives, so I don't think I'll have a problem. Here's hoping I'm right.

Saturday, 18 Nov. 2012
So far, so good on weaning Zoe off the tranks. I'm continuing at half of what she was getting for another week or so. She's showing more energy and playfulness. More importantly, I'm not seeing her causing problems for Jetta. When I'm working at my desk, they hang out together: Jetta to my left and Zoe to my right. The only drawback so far is that Zoe is crying for attention much more than she did before. I'm hoping she'll adjust and get past that before it drives us crazy.

Saffy finds the smell of bleach intoxicating. I have a spray cleaner that has bleach in it and used it to clean part of the floor in the small guest bathroom where we have the catboxes. A little while later, I saw Saffy lying on the floor and rolling around in the cleaned area as though she was zonked on catnip.

Saturday, 18 Dec. 2012
Zoe is now officially weaned off the tranks without problems. I did catch her getting ready to give Jetta a hard time on one occasion, but I stopped it immediately and haven't seen it happen again. Jetta doesn't seem bothered. It's nice to see Zoe brighter and more playful.

Zoe does throw up a lot, though, so I've started giving her Petromalt on a regular basis. I accidentally bought the fish flavor tube and Zoe is dubious about it. I mixed it into her canned food and she refused to eat it. That's the first thing I've ever found that Ms. Hoover-face wouldn't eat. She even pulled a blanket off one of the cat beds and tried to cover the bowl with it. Yes, Zoe, I can take a hint.

Tuesday, 25 Dec. 2012
Cats and wrapping paper. Because that's what xmas is all about, right?

Forget buying cat toys. Nothing is more fun to the moggies than a balled up piece of tissue paper.
Opal lurking beneath the wrapping.

Opal tail!

Pippin: "You wrapped all this for us?"

Pippin: "Die, tiny ball of tissue paper, die!"

Pippin and Opal
Pippin and Opal debate ownership of the tissue ball.

Saffy tail!

Saffy unwrapped.

Opal contemplates the meaning of the day.

Opal: "This is my glamour shot. Mist up that lens!"

Wednesday, 26 Dec. 2012
Pippin is still playing with the tissue ball. You just never know what will grab a cat's fancy. Or not, as the case may be.

About five days ago, I bought Pippin a cat bed. He has a flat, oval fleece thing that he sleeps on next to Randy on Randy's computer desk. Many times Randy said he'd like to get Pippin a large cat bed with high foam sides because Pippin likes to lean up against firm objects when he inside his favorite cardboard box.

Last time I was at Petsmart, I came across exactly that kind of bed in a small dog size, meaning about right for Pippin. And it was on sale for twenty bucks, so I grabbed it.

When Randy tried to set Pippin into that cat bed, he reacted like it was a Death Trap. A Death! Trap! His feet would splay out and he leapt out the nanosecond he touched down as though it was electrified. After a couple of attempts like this, we gave up. We tried moving it around to wherever Pippin was hanging out, so he'd become accustomed to it. Opal and Saffy both gave it a try, but it's way too big for them.

I suggested putting one of Randy's old shirts over the bed as a cover. He had a shirt he'd given to the cats and they'd slept on it a lot, so it already had both his and their scents on it. That was a couple of days ago and Saffy was enjoying it a lot.

Finally today, Randy came to tell me that Pippin had gotten into the bed on his own and slept there most of the afternoon. Pips was in dapper mode with his front legs crossed and looked at us beaming down at him like he was wondering what the fuss was all about.

Cats, I swear.

Sunday, 30 Dec. 2012
Opal, Queen of the Bedpost.

Monday, 31 Dec. 2012
Tosca memento
The emergency clinic that euthanized Tosca sent me this sweet memento and a nice card. I hope it's her actual pawprint, and not some standard mold that they use.