Tales of the
How I learned
To Stop Worrying
And Love Bast
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Tuesday, 6 Jan. 2016
The most recent $500 vet bill was brought to us courtesy of Opal. Last Sunday, she woke us up around 5 am with what sounded like vicious hairball hacking, except that she couldn't get anything to come up, not even liquid. She began making deep gulping sounds and was wheezing badly through her nose. She was obviously in distress, wouldn't eat, didn't act like herself.
After a few hours with no improvement, we took her to the emergency clinic. They kept her part of the day, gave her fluids and various meds, took x-rays, etc. The x-rays showed that her stomach was hugely enlarged, mostly filled with gas. There was no clear-cut problem, so we brought her home to let the meds work.
She was seriously out of sorts that night. Mostly, she hid away and wanted nothing to do with us. By Mon., she started to bounce back and gradually acted more like her old self. She ate ravenously, something she's been doing a lot of lately. Given how thin she is, her constant hunger, and drinking a lot of water, I suspect she may also have a thyroid problem. Her thyroid levels were normal back in July, but the signs are there.
First, I need to have Saffy retested, which happens next week. I've been rubbing the thyroid meds into her ears twice a day. She thinks it's pretty weird, but she's not especially bothered by it.
Pippin continues to have his ups and downs. He'll do great for a week, then suddenly it's the old battle to get him to eat or we're cleaning diarrhea up. We have three unique protein foods to try on him. When Pippin gets tired of one type, Randy will put out three bowls and let Pippin decide which one he wants.
Zoe's getting chunky. I'll have to cut back on her food amounts soon. This morning, she tested the durability of my work laptop (I was working from home) by vomiting all over it. That was a lovely mess. Fortunately, the lid was down at the time, so she didn't get any on the keyboard.
Jetta's doing well, though I finally admitted defeat trying to comb out the growing mats in her hindquarters. I got out the scissors and snipped them off. Wrestling Jetta to enough of a standstill to do that safely is a feat in itself.
Friday, 15 Jan. 2016
Saffy had a brief visit to the vet on Tues. to have blood drawn to recheck her thyroid. Putting the thyroid cream in her ears has been nice and easy.
The vet called today to say that her levels are normal and her blood work looks good, which clears the way for getting her the radioactive iodine treatment. I went to radiocat.com to read up on it. And as it turns out, the authorized place to do it in northern California is the emergency clinic that we regularly use. I know it'll be expensive, but not as expensive as years of buying methimazole to give her.
Tuesday, 26 Jan. 2016
Today Saffy became a radioactive cat. I told Randy she'd better not get bitten by a spider and come back as Spider-Cat.
Last week, she had chest x-rays. Her blood work was current enough that we didn't need to have it done again. That's all in preparation for this treatment -- radioactive iodine therapy. They inject it into her neck like any other shot. The radioactive iodine has an eight-day half-life, very short, and it kills the benign tumors in the thyroid that cause a cat to be hyperthyroid.
I've heard of the treatment before, maybe as long as twenty years ago. Other vets suggested it when I had hyperthyroid cats. My current vet had it done on her own two cats and swears by it. It has a 98-99% effectiveness as a permanent cure. It's expensive, but in one year I would have spent the same amount on the thyroid medications with no cure at all.
She comes home on Friday. I feel so sorry for the poor little girl having to be in isolation for four days. I brought along a sacrificial shirt for her to sleep on, an old flannel shirt of Randy's that she sleeps on at the foot of our bed. Because of the treatment, they'll have to dispose of the shirt afterwards.
We have to follow strict precautions when she comes home, too. For the next couple of weeks, we can't have her on our laps or snuggled up next to us or sleeping on the bed. We'll have to wash our hands a lot and so on. We have to dispose of her urine and poop using flushable cat litter. I was amazed to be told that the state of California requires that. I wouldn't think they'd want radioactive by-products in the sewage system, but whatever. I was given the name of a couple of the flushable cat litters. I checked them out and they're a more expensive version of what I already use -- chicken feed. Made of wheat and other grains. So I'm sticking with the chicken feed.
We miss her around the house. She's a warm, talkative presence and it's too quiet without her.
Friday, 29 Jan. 2016
I picked up Saffy at 1:30 and she squeaked piteously at me on the way home. She was profoundly happy to be home again. She prowled around and attacked her scratching post vigorously. She sat in the kitchen and regaled us with lectures, the cat version of "WTF was THAT about?!" Unfortunately, we're supposed to keep a foot to three feet away from her, keep physical contact to a minimum, and wash our hands immediately after petting her. Poor Saffy is feeling insecure and looking for reassurance when we can barely get close to her safely.
In typical fashion, Opal and Pippin are having total hissy fits because of how Saffy smells. They're even hissing and taking swipes at one another when they're not harassing Saffy. I had a hell of a time giving Pippin his subcutanous fluids tonight because he was growling and hissing and being generally pissed off with the universe. But we persisted and got it done.
We've closed off the bedroom door, to keep Saffy from sleeping on the bed, as she often does in the evenings. That's off-limits for two weeks. We have her favorite cat bed set up in Randy's office, along with a cat box and water. While she was napping there this afternoon, Randy said she would wake up crying, like she's having nightmares about being locked up in a strange place.
She'll have to stay in his office overnight. We don't think she'll be happy about that and we're wondering how much sleep we'll get.
Monday, 1 Feb. 2016
We continue to have hissathons around here. Saffy must still smell strange to Pippin and Opal because they hiss after sniffing her. Pippin gets into trouble himself because his vision is so compromised that he bumps into the girls without meaning to and gets whacked in return.
The first night that Saffy had to sleep in Randy's office, she cried for about half an hour, then settled down and was okay the rest of the time. The next night, she didn't cry at all until she heard us getting up in the morning. Last night she was equally quiet. She's being such a good girl. However, she's developed a sneeze and slight congestion. We're working hard to avoid being sneezed on. Randy referred to her as our little radioactive sneeze sprayer.
Friday, 5 Feb. 2016
Pippin did something tonight that he hasn't done in year and years, since he was a kitten. Randy was getting him to play with his favorite ball in the living room, which is a rare enough thing. Then Pippin picked the ball up in his mouth, carried it upstairs to Randy's office, and played with it there. Randy said Pippin dropped it in Saffy's bed, carried it around some more, and batted it back when Randy rolled it to him. It makes us so happy to see Pippin feeling good enough to play like a young cat.
Tuesday, 9 Feb. 2016
12 days down, 3 days to go. Poor Saffy, it's so hard for her to see Opal on the sofa and in Randy's lap getting hugs when she can't be allowed there, too. She's being such a good girl about it. We make sure to give her love and bellyrubs, though it means having to wash our hands a lot.
Sunday, 14 Feb. 2016
Saffy's a much happier girl now that her isolation is over. She's back to getting lap time and sleeping on the bed. Randy's happier with the extra catbox out of his office. I'm happy to be able to pet her up as much as I want. Pippin was happy to nap in a patch of sunlight with Saffy this afternoon. The only one who's not happy is Opal, who continues to have little hissy fits even though she gets plenty of love and attention.
Saturday, 27 Feb. 2016
I had worried that Saffy's behavior might change after the thyroid treatment, but she seems exactly the same as ever. It didn't take long for us to return to a fairly consistent household routine.
The nightly routine goes something like this: Randy and I like to sit and read in the living room for a little while before going to bed. The cats are highly attuned to our patterns. Pippin began doing something new and interesting over the past couple of months. We keep a cat carrier in the living room with a cushy towel inside and the door propped open. That way it's simply an ordinary object rather than something to cause panic when it's brought out. That has worked well, to the point where the cats sometimes nap in it.
The new addition to the routine is that Pippin goes into the carrier, which we've dubbed The Teleporter, as we're getting ready to head upstairs to the bedroom. Randy carries up the carrier and Pippin thus finds himself "teleported" to the bedroom.
Opal races up the stairs ahead of us. Saffy tends to stay in her favorite cardboard box in the living room.
Saffy has a favorite mousie. It was once a sheepskin mousie until she pulled off every shred of wool covering and now it's a naked leather mousie. It lives upstairs in Randy's office. The upstairs landing overlooks the living room, so I tell Saffy "Here comes the mousie" and I toss it down to her. Then I carry her catbed from Randy's office, where she sleeps during the day, into the bedroom.
Pippin eventually comes out of the carrier to get on the bed where he sleeps at Randy's feet all night.
Saffy at some point finally decides to bring the mousie upstairs. Most times she sings us the Mousie Song as she comes up, so we know she's on the way. She brings it over to me at the bathroom sink. Randy and I give her lots of praise for being a good mouser.
With Saffy upstairs, Opal will fetch her own favorite mousie, which we call the Fat Mousie, and "ask" Randy to throw it for her. He tosses it into the living room and she races down like her butt is on fire. She loudly sings the Mousie Song and brings it back to Randy. This can be repeated three or four times. On occasion, if Randy isn't paying enough attention, Opal takes the mousie downstairs and sings until she gets his attention.
Finally, we're ready to get into bed. The mousies are collected and put into a large, shallow mousie bowl (with about a dozen other mousies in various states of disintegration) and the mousie bowl is put away in the walk-in closet. We discovered we needed to do that or Opal would pick a mousie out of the bowl in the wee hours of the morning and wake us up with the Mousie Song.
Opal settles into one of her various beds. She has one under the bed on top of a piece of old luggage. She has another one inside a plastic dome. And sometimes she sleeps on the bed next to Randy.
Once we turn out the light and settle in, Saffy jumps onto the bed and takes up her sleeping position at my feet. She stays there most of the night until she gets tired of me tossing and turning, then she goes to sleep in her catbed.
There's no specific routine for morning. If we try to sleep in, Pippin will tend to come up between us and lie there patiently, knowing that Randy will almost invariably sense him there, wake up and pet him. Though there was the one morning where I woke up to find I had a face full of Pippin hair because he'd come up higher than usual and curled up next to my face. That's about the only time I ever hear him purr and it's a such a quiet little purr, I can barely hear it at all, which makes it even more special.
Monday, 7 March 2016
No matter what I do, no matter what I feed her, Jetta continues to lick the fur off her belly. She also has licked a band around the base of her tail, so that it looks even more like a featherduster than it did before. Lately, she's licked it so badly that there's a bald spot on her tail, too. I sure wish I could find a solution to this problem.
Saturday, 12 March 2016
I took Saffy and Opal to the vet to have blood work done. As I expected, Opal is also hyperthyroid. We aren't going to do a second radioactive treatment so soon after being exposed to one, so Opal will be getting by on pills until enough time has passed that we feel safe getting her the treatment.
Somehow either the vet's office or the lab lost Saffy's blood sample, so I had to take her back on Thurs. I decided that we were overdue to check on Pippin's condition. He came along and had his blood and urine samples taken at the same time.
Saffy's thyroid results came back perfect. The treatment worked for her.
The vet missed me on Friday, but left me voice mail on Pippin's results. His kidney functions are holding steady, which must mean they're about the same as before. Not great, but not terrible. He continues to have a high red blood cell count, an oddity he's had even when he was very young. The worrisome thing is that she said his creatinine kinase is "profoundly elevated".
I did a quick bit of research and saw that it's not unusual to see elevated creatinine in cats with kidney failure, but it can also indicate a lot of other problems. It's frustrating having to wait through the weekend before I can talk to the vet on Mon. and find out what, if anything, can be done to help Pippin. Randy works hard to get as much food as he can into the boy. Pippin stays thin in spite of that. It's hard on the emotions to do everything you can for your fur-children, knowing that sometimes you can't win, no matter how hard you try.
Monday, 21 March 2016
Came down with Randy's cold. Day's activities include: violent sneezing, sucking on cough lozenges, blowing nose, trying to write with bad case of Mush Brain. Poor Zoe keeps getting in my lap for a cuddle, then bolts with terror when I have a sneeze attack.
Sunday, 27 March 2016
I spent a week rubbing the cream thyroid meds into Opal's ears, using up the one syringe I had left of it. When I used it on Saffy, before her thyroid treatment, she barely noticed. Opal, on the other hand, was weirded out by it. She went into Avoidance Mode where it becomes nearly impossible to get hold of her. I was glad when I ran out of it and switched to pills.
Mind you, I wasn't sure what to expect from having to give her pills twice a day. I figured it would be even worse. To my surprise, it's working great so far. I use the same process that I use to give Pippin his pills. First, they get a treat, then the pill (wrapped inside a Pill Pocket), then another treat. With Pippin, I have to pop the pill into his mouth, but he simply sits there and waits for his next treat. With Opal, she eats the pill-treat off the floor. I hope this lasts because if she wises up and starts refusing to eat them of her free will, it's going to suck.
In a previous post, I mistakenly said Pippin's creatinine was high. Creatinine is associated with kidney functions, but the reading I meant was an enzyme called creatine kinase. The high end of normal is 400 something. Pippin's reading is over 8,000. That's not a typo. There are many causes, but it's generally associated with muscle wasting.
Pippin's going in for a physical exam in a couple of days. The vet wants to do a hands-on check as she tries to figure out what's going on. She said these readings are highly unusual, even given his condition.
Randy continues his campaign to get Pippin to eat and try to get some weight back on him. Pippin decided he wasn't going to touch the rabbit-protein dry food, nor would he touch the only other dry food we can safely give him without causing his intestinal problems to flare up. Out of desperation, we tried him on Natural Balance grain-free salmon and pea. He's eating it and so far no diarrhea or related problems.
The nightly routine has changed from when I recently described it. The Teleporter has malfunctioned. Pippin still tends to go into the Teleporter/cat carrier when we get ready to go upstairs for the night, but Randy decided it was better not to carry him up. Opal runs upstairs with us, while Saffy tends to stay put in her cardboard box. With Opal upstairs, Pippin can safely use the cat box downstairs before he comes up to get on the bed. We suspect he wasn't using it sometimes because Opal would quietly harass him. His vision is so poor now that he often blunders into her and gets whacked before he realizes she's there, while Opal assumes it's deliberate.
Neither Opal nor Saffy have been as interested in bringing us the mousies from downstairs since they've had their hyperthyroidism controlled. I continue to toss a mousie down to Saffy, but most of the time Randy has to go down and fetch before we turn in.
Friday, 1 April 2016
Zoe had me worried last night. She wouldn't touch her gooshy food, her treats or any other food. She threw up clear foamy liquid all over the place. She went off and hid and didn't want any attention. This is the girl who is a total love-sponge.
I wondered whether it could be a bad hairball brewing and managed to get her to lick some Petromalt off my fingers.
I checked on her first thing this morning and she was back to her usual happy self. She'd eaten her dry food overnight and everything seemed back to normal, but she's been throwing up a lot lately. I made an appointment to take her in for a general exam and senior panel (blood tests) as a precaution. Unfortunately, the vet was booked up for two weeks, so I have to wait a while.
Tonight, Zoe ate her gooshy food with her usual enthusiasm...then ten minutes later threw it all up. Wish I knew what 's going on with her.
Friday, 1 April 2016
Happy Approximate Birthday to the mountain moggies. It was around this time 11 years ago that Jetta, Opal, Pippin, and Saffy were born to a feral mother high in the mountains beneath an old unused cabin. They've brought much joy to our lives.
Sunday, 10 April 2016
Holy crap, things suddenly got crazy around here. Where to start?
Opal's had her thyroid retested. She's doing great on the meds, thyroid is under control, and she's already gained weight. No problems with Opal.
Last Tues. night, April 5th, we were getting ready for bed and Pippin got into the carrier, as he often does at night, even though Randy is no longer carrying him upstairs in it. Randy put his hand inside to pet Pippin, which he did once, but on the second time something went bizarrely wrong in Pippin's brain and he bit Randy hard twice on the right hand. This is completely out of character for Pippin. We chalked it up to his illness, poor eyesight, and perhaps some mental confusion.
Randy cleaned it thoroughly, but by the next morning it was hurting a lot. He called me at work to say it had gotten serious. I immediately drove home and we went to the ER. They gave him IV antibiotics and pills to take home. It got worse and the infection spread in red streaks up his arm. We hurried back to ER where he was treated, then admitted to the hospital so they could pump him full of powerful antibiotics day and night. His hand was hugely swollen, bright red, and very painful.
He's slowly getting better, so I was able to pick him up yesterday and bring him home. First, they had to teach us how to use a special mini-pump and bags of mega-dose antibiotic at home. He has a catheter running into his left arm that stops just short of his heart, with ports attached. I have to set up the mini-pump and bag, clear the tubing, flush the ports with special syringes, attach a new bag of meds every 24 hours, and play nurse. The pump gives him timed, regulated doses. We may have to do this for two to three weeks. He has an infections specialist from Stanford attached to his case.
So lemme tell ya, cat bites are no joke.
As it happened, on Wednesday, as they prepped Randy for admittance to the hospital, I had to run home, grab Pippin, and take him to an appointment to get another ultrasound. We're still trying to figure out why his CK enzymes are sky-high. The tumor on his kidney has grown. It was fairly small the first time he had ultrasound, about a year ago. Now it's massive and had taken over 90% of the kidney. And for whatever reason, his other kidney isn't functioning well. It didn't give us a definitive answer to the CK problem, but we know his time is limited. They sent me home with some pain meds for him, a dozen or so doses in syringes. This seems to be helping. He's been eating well since I began giving it to him. He's down to 11.9 lbs., a shadow of what he was. It's not a solution, of course, and we're carefully evaluating his condition day by day. In view of the biting incident, we're both approaching Pippin with more caution, making sure he's aware of us and isn't startled. We can't afford another incident like that.
Saturday, 23 April 2016
Randy saw the infections specialist yesterday and got an all clear on the infection. The doctor removed the catheter and Randy is no longer connected to the portable IV pump. He's a happy, happy man.
We were having good luck getting Pippin to eat a salmon and pea dry food for a couple of weeks, but he's suddenly refusing to eat it and won't eat anything else we can give him. It's becoming a pattern. We have an appetite stimulant that we'll give him tomorrow to try and get him past this slump. He's so thin and frail compared to what he used to be, but he stills seem reasonably content with life.
Zoe and Saffy went to the vet on Thurs. Saffy had her three month thyroid check after the radioactive iodine treatment and everything is normal.
The vet thought Zoe looked good. She did a full blood panel and that's looking normal. No clue yet why Zoe is throwing up so often, though I did find a hairball plug in one of the recent batches of vomit. The vet mentioned a few crystals in her urine, but apparently not enough to be significant. Unfortunately, I missed her call, so I only have the info she left in voice mail.
Zoe's been overjoyed to have me home tending Randy for the past two weeks. I've been working from home, so Zoe has gotten major amounts of lap time. Like right now, fr'instance. But that comes to an end on Monday, alas, when I'm back to regular work days.
Jetta's tail looks like a feather duster. She keeps licking off the fur around the base of her tail, so it's small and narrow at the base and then suddenly fluffs back out like a plume. She's also been getting extra lap time while I've been working from home.
Friday, 20 April 2016
Ah, the joys of living with cats.
Last Monday, we woke up to a giant Pippin turd in the bedroom. Then when Randy went downstairs, he found yet another giant Pippin turd in the dining room, plus two piles of vomit.
We think the combination of meds he's on, including the new painkiller which is a narcotic, is causing him constipation. Randy did some research and found that adding a few drops of olive oil to Pippin's food is good for relieving that. Our guess is that it worked too well and Pippin was rather suddenly unblocked, as it were. He's been doing well since then, at least.
Tonight, I came into my office to find a power strip, two smaller desk speakers and a few other objects had been knocked off the back of my desk. Then I found lots of clear liquid vomit all over the front of my desk. I'm guessing it was Zoe and that she knocked those things over after throwing up and fleeing the desk the wrong way.
Zoe is no longer my Hoover cat. It used to be that I could put any food at all in front of her and she'd hoover it up. Not any more. She's become almost as fussy as the rest of the moggies.
When Jetta developed her kidney crystals, I had to start feeding her an insanely expensive dry food (Royal Canin SO) designed to dissolve the stones. It worked, and I began slowly mixing regular food with the SO, but Jetta only wants to eat the SO. She painstakingly picks out each piece of SO and leaves the other stuff behind. It eventually gets eaten, but I'm not sure who ends up eating it -- Jetta or Zoe.
Friday, 7 May 2016
May 1st was Zoe's approx. unofficial birthday. She's eleven, like the rest of the Moggy Horde. She's purring in my lap as I type this, going "murfff" when I move too much.
She continues to worry me by throwing up every day. Solid food, liquid food, it doesn't matter. Last night, she was perched on the corner of my desk and projected a wonderful spew of liquid vomit off the edge and across half the office floor. That was fun to clean up. Jetta grossed me out by coming over to a bit that landed on the desk corner and licking it up.
I'm baffled by what could be making her throw up so much when her blood work looked normal. I foresee more vet bills in the near future.
A few nights ago, I was cleaning up the back end of my office where it's bare concrete. I saw an odd little object that I couldn't identify, but wasn't about to pick up. I used a dustpan to get it off the floor and after a minute of careful peering I realized it was an unfortunate little lizard that had gotten inside and met its demise.
Sunday, 15 May 2016
Zoe's been getting olive oil in her gushy food (about 4 small drops) and a pepcid at night. It may be helping. I haven't had to clean up vomit in my office for three days.
Jetta's been off her food, though. There were a couple of days when she wouldn't touch dry or canned food. I managed to get some Petromalt into her and have added a few drops of olive oil to her gooshy food, too. She's perked up a bit in the past day, but she's still not eating normally and is hanging out in a quasi-hiding place in my shelves of boxes.
We've decided that Saffy's stomach is a Tardis. She eats and eats like a bottomless pit. Or she would, if we didn't control her food.
Saturday, 21 May 2016
I thought I was getting somewhere with Zoe, but tonight she's thrown up a couple of times. And a few days ago, she threw up on the Rubbermaid container that I use to protect my keyboard. One of several reasons I never leave my keyboard unprotected.
Jetta also continues to show little to no interest in her gooshy food all of sudden, and is picking at her dry food. She seems fine otherwise. I wish we (the vet and I) could find some simple straightforward answer to what's going on, but no such luck.
Sunday, 22 May 2016
Do you find yourself buying more claw-clippers because you can't find the ones you have? I know I have at least two of them around here, but was about to give up finding them and buy a new pair. I finally did locate one of them. I clipped Zoe's front claws last night. She's the most amenable to letting me do that. All the cats need to have their claws clipped, especially Pippin, who tends to get caught and potentially hurt himself in a panic to get free. Because I've yet to meet a cat who doesn't panic over a snagged claw.
I tried to do Pippin's front claws this morning. I managed to get two claws on each foot, but he was pretty damned hissy and unhappy with me. After what happened to Randy's hand, I'm paranoid about being bitten, so I'm approaching Pippin with caution. I don't think Opal, Saffy or Jetta will make it easy, either.
Monday, 23 May 2016
I thought I might get Jetta more interested in her gooshy food by adding a bit of salmon food to it, which I've been giving to Zoe.
Jetta ate only some of it, then spent the next ten minutes throwing up all over the place. This is where I make the Monty Python joke: it was the salmon mousse!
Was it the salmon? I have no idea, but I won't be giving her any more of it.
Saturday, 28 May 2016
Randy took an adorable photo of Opal sleeping in his office.
Saturday, 4 June 2016
Randy makes heroic efforts daily to get Pippin to eat and put some weight back on him. He mixes up fresh soft food four to five times a day and serves it warmed. Pippin usually polishes that off. But the boy has gotten finicky about his dry food, so Randy puts out what we now call the Pippin Buffet: three bowls with a different dry food in each one. There are only three that we know are safe for him: Science Diet Z/D, Natural Balance Salmon and Pea, and Royal Canin Special Protein (made from rabbit). Usually, Pippin will select at least one of them. Today he wouldn't touch any of them and only wanted the Duck & Pea food that Saffy and Opal are getting. We let Pippin have a bit of the duck food just to get him to eat, but now we wait and see whether his system can handle it.
In spite of all this, he weighs in at a mere 11 lbs., down about an ounce and a half from the last time we weighed him.
And yet...he remains a pretty happy boy. He'll sometimes play with his favorite jingly-ball. Randy saw him actually run up the stairs. Pippin can jump onto the bed by himself. His vision remains a problem for him, but as long as he has reasonable quality of life, we'll do what we can for him.
Saffy surpervises Pippin's water-drinking technique.
Pippin at 11 lbs.
Pippin enjoys a nice patch of sun.
After getting his pain med, Pippin gets pretty relaxed.
Tuesday, 14 June 2016
I never know what to expect out of Zoe or Jetta these days. Zoe's been off her food for a few days. Last night, Zoe wouldn't touch her gooshy food or take a single treat. She'd spit out the treat rather than take it, and she has always loved these treats. Whereas Jetta is sometimes indifferent about the treats, but was ravenous for them last night.
But tonight, Zoe inhaled her food with her normal gusto, back to normal. It's a mystery.
Friday, 1 July 2016
PIPPIN: April 2005 to 1 July 2016
We've lost our boy, our Pippy, the Pippymeister. The last few days, he had a sharp decline in his quality of life. The grimness of the past week is why I didn't post more news. He would barely eat. He didn't want to move and became wobbly in the hindquarters. He no longer cared about getting treats. He blindness may have become total and he often seemed confused. He kept losing weight. He stopped using the cat box and would relieve himself wherever he was, including peeing on the bed this morning. He'd have odd little attacks that may have been from pain, and then he'd want to hide.
It was time. We didn't want him to go on like that any longer. We took him to the emergency clinic where he had first been diagnosed with kidney failure and had him put to sleep.
We console ourselves that we gave him a good life, a far better life than he would have had as a mountain feral.
So many memories:
I peered into the tiny crawlspace beneath an old mountain cabin, saw his tiny face peer at me, and without a second thought, I snatched him out. He was barely bigger than my hand, a little ball of black fluff that hissed and scratched and fought. He was barely six weeks old.
Randy coaxed him out of a carrier and onto his chest to lick soft food off his fingers. Before long, Pippin was all over him, snuggling with him, or attacking the deadly hand "tarantula".
Pippy had huge paws and I predicted he'd grow into a large cat. The big feet and large appetite and adventurous spirit earned him the name Pippin.
He exceeded my prediction and grew into a 22 lb. cat. He was a loving boy who liked to sprawl on his back with his big belly in the air, setting the Belly Trap for anyone foolish enough to rub it.
Once grown, he didn't play much and wasn't a terribly active cat, though he enjoyed chasing jingly balls now and then. For a long time, our challenge was to cut back on his food and get him down to a more reasonable weight. For the past couple of years, the challenge reversed as we struggled to get weight back on him.
It's especially hard on Randy. Pippin was his constant companion. He'd lie in a cat bed next to Randy at the computer. When he wanted attention, all Pippin had to do was stretch out a paw and lay it gently on top of Randy's hand, knowing he'd get all the loving he wanted. Or sometimes it was about getting fed. But it was always about love. We gave him all we had to give and he gave the same in return.
Farewell, Pippin, May you romp forever in sunny fields of catnip, filled with slow mice and endless jingly balls and all the food you could ever want.
Thursday, 14 July 2016
We continue to deal with losing Pippin, even after two weeks. Something reminds us sharply of him and we're ambushed with little grief attacks.
But life goes on, so here's a couple of piccies of my office girls.
Jetta in all her scruffy, fluffy glory.
This carrier is one of Zoe's favorite retreats.
Unless I need to take her somewhere.
Sunday, 24 July 2016
Saffy was lying in a catbed in the late afternoon sun. The lighting was beautiful, so I took a series of pictures. Here are some of my favorites.
Sunday, 24 July 2016
Ah, lovely. There was a big, juicy hairball awaiting me as I came into my office. Jetta continues to lick her belly bare, so I can hardly be surprised at finding large hairballs.
There have been many food follies of late. Saffy has suddenly decided she won't touch any canned food we try to give her. We've tried duck, chicken, turkey, salmon. She ignores it all. Randy has finally given up on making the gooshy food for her. Next weekend, I'll get to Petsmart and see what alternatives I can pick up to try her on.
So while Opal eats her gooshy food, Saffy happily eats her dry food.
I had a few blissful months of Opal willingly taking her thyroid pill inside a Pill Pocket treat. The last few nights, she's let us know that she's wise to that trick. She is cunning as hell at spitting out the pill, even when it seems as though she couldn't possibly still have it in her mouth. I give her a hard treat, then the soft treat with the pill in it, then another hard treat. And she can still spit it out after eating the soft and hard treats both. What a talent. Sigh....
Meanwhile, I've been finding it impossible to keep Jetta from wanting to eat Zoe's dry food. Zoe gets a mix of two duck foods (a duck&pea and a duck&potato), at least until I use up of one them and reduce it to a single kind of duck food. Because of Jetta's kidney stone issues, I want her to keep eating some of the Royal Canin SO prescription food. I have a bunch of Science Diet Z/D dry food left over now that Pippin is gone. I mixed that in with the SO hoping Jetta would like it better. Nope, she hates it.
Plus there is standard Cat Logic that says that whatever is in the other cat's bowl has to be better.
So I gave up and mixed Zoe's food into Jetta's food and they're both getting the same thing for the time being. If they want to switch bowls, no problem.
Sunday, 7 Aug. 2016
Zoe gifted me with a truly epic monster hairball. A compact tube at least six inches long, magnificent in its awfulness. Perhaps I should have it bronzed.
Tuesday, 6 Sept. 2016
A few weeks ago, Opal finally decided she'd had enough of the soft, mooshy treats (the Pill Pockets) that I was using to give her the thyroid pills. It worked for a pretty long time, but the day came when she spit it out and gave me that Look that means "You've given me this disgusting treat with the bitter center for the last time."
I had to fall back on the old-fashioned method -- prying her mouth open and popping the pill down her throat. She reacts exactly the same way to being too forcibly held as Pippin did. When we first started giving fluids to Pippin, the more we restrained him, the more he fought us. We quickly learned that having him gently contained, but not at all restrained, worked far better.
So with Opal, I don't grab her by the scruff of the neck, and she's not that bad about letting me give her the pill. She practiced avoidance at first, of course, and still does, but she's slowly getting better about it. She doesn't come running to get her treats anymore, because I give the pill, then give the treats, but she doesn't run and hide either. Hopefully, we can afford to give her the radioactive iodine treatment that we did for Saffy and I won't have to give pills for the rest of her life.
Opal the Bed Lump
Opal the Bedpost Ornamment
Saturday, 17 Sept. 2016
Opal continues to do well taking her thyroid pill by hand. She's practicing slightly less avoidance as time goes on.
Saffy is still refusing to eat her gooshy food. One of the main reasons we wanted her to have canned food was to get Cosequin into her, which we mixed into the soft food. The Cosequin is to help with her joint stiffness.
I hit upon a solution that's working. We had Pill Pockets left over after we lost Pippin. I've been mushing half a capsule of Cosequin powder into half of one of those treats. They're so soft and malleable that they can absorb the powder. I squish a bit of the Pill Pocket around the usual hard treats and she eats them up. I do this twice a day so that she ends up with a full capsule a day.
Zoe has a cat-cold and has been sneezing all over me for a couple of days. Sneezing all over the monitor, all over the keyboard. It's lovely.
Jetta's having an especially bad bout of dandruff on her back. I've been using a special grooming tool to get the mats out, but the dandruff persists. Poor girl. Nothing I do helps her fur. It's always a mess. I have a good pet-grooming electric shaver and I'm seriously thinking about giving her a buzz cut.
Sunday, 18 Sept. 2016
Sunday is "bath" day for Saffy and Opal. It's the day I rub them down with Allerpet-C, an anti-allergen liquid. This is what makes it possible for Randy to be around them. I rub them down with the liquid and Randy combs them afterwards. It leaves their fur looking good, too.
I don't do Zoe and Jetta because Randy can't be in my office more than a few minutes anyway without allergy problems, but today I decided to give Jetta the rub down to see whether it would help with her skin and fur problem. I gave her more combing than I usually manage as well. Her fur does look slightly better, so I might keep doing it.
We pulled a batch of photos off Randy's phone, some going back to the end of last year. Enjoy.
Opal ready to go to the gym with Randy.
Opal waiting for Randy to finish packing her up.
Opal on alert.
Opal tucked into her office bed.
Pippin -- deeply missed.
Sunday, 2 Oct. 2016
We were gone for a five day trip. The cats were glad to have us back. We had a new catsitter who kept us happy by sending us texts with each visit and some photos as well. She wasn't quite as successful getting Opal's thyroid pills into her. She thought she did, but while giving Opal her pill last night, I found two of the thyroid pills on the carpet in the living room. Opal can be sneaky about spitting out pills. Opal's been demanding a lot of attention since we got back, too.
I took photos of how we were greeted as we unpacked.
Saffy: "You're not leaving again without me."
Opal: "Where have you BEEN?"
Zoe: "Why, yes, I did suck up without shame to the catsitter."
Jetta: "I'd say welcome back, but I'm busy licking my belly. Check with me later."
Friday 25 Nov. 2016
Opal sets the bed on fire.
Sunday 27 Nov. 2016
Jetta had her weekly "bath" with Allerpet, which she's been tolerating pretty well. I've been doing Zoe as well even though her fur is always in nice condition.
The Allerpet has improved Jetta's fur significantly, as I've noted before. Part of the trick is to comb the cats while they're still wet. Jetta understandably wants to avoid me after I've rubbed her down with a wet sock. She led me around in a large circuit of the office when I picked up the comb. I followed at a slow walk so that she wouldn't feel I was chasing her, and I crooned continuously to her in the same way I do when I'm combing her.
After three or four circuits of this, Jetta jumped onto my desk and waited for me. I crooned and combed and to my amazement, she let me comb her for as long as I wanted. She purred and gave me an elevator butt the whole time. I guess I'm doing something right!
I noticed a new thing today. When Jetta is wet, she smells like wet dog to me. I'm not sure why my brain wants to classify the smell as wet dog rather than wet cat, but it does.
Wednesday 30 Nov. 2016
Jetta and Opal had a visit to the vet yesterday. Yes, there was complaining on the way, an unhappy cat chorus.
Jetta's doing fine, but the prescription for her special foods ran out and the vet couldn't reissue them without seeing her. It's been a year and a half since her last examination, which surprised me. Where the hell does the time go?
She weighed in over 14 lbs, being a chunky girl, but that's down slightly from where she was previously. She still had a shape like a bowling ball, but she's been like that pretty much her entire adult life. She got a clean bill of health, had her toenails clipped, and I have new scrips to get the SO and Z/D foods.
We're doing a urinalysis on her to make sure we have the struvite crystals under control.
I hadn't planned on taking Opal in, but Randy has been concerned about how often Opal goes to the water bowl. Drinking more water than usual can signal kidney problems or diabetes, etc., so we wanted to get her checked out and the vet was able to get her in at the same time as Jetta.
Opal remains our smallest cat at a little over 9 lbs., a consistent weight for her. "Petite," the vet said. The vet thought she was in beautiful shape, especially her teeth. "Torties often have good teeth," she commented. We did a full blood panel, urinalysis, thyroid recheck, nails clipped, the works. Hopefully, we'll have the results in the next day or so.
When we got home, Opal went through her usual routine of hissing at Saffy for the next few hours. She'd forgiven me by dinnertime.
Thursday 1 Dec. 2016
I had meetings on and off all day, so I missed the call from the vet. She left a long voice mail message, though, with generally good news.
Jetta still has a few crystals in her urine. Nothing serious, but the vet wants me to give her more of the SO. I've been mixing it with other food. Tonight I'll give her straight SO and see how that goes.
Opal's blood work came out normal. No indications of any problems, no sign of diabetes. The vet is gone until next week, so I won't be able to ask questions until then.
Sunday 11 Dec. 2016
Saffy: "I'm in a box, under an umbrella. It doesn't get much better than this."
Thursday 15 Dec. 2016
Zoe likes to cover up more than her deposits in the catbox.
When she vomits, which is often, she'll do whatever she can to cover it. She'll pull a towel off a catbed if there's one nearby. Or she'll bring toys over and put it on top, even if it's only a string. The other night she knocked over one of my old boots that I keep in the office for cold weather and used that to hide her latest projectile offering.
She likes to do the same thing with her food bowl when she's done with her gooshy food. The problem is that there's nothing handy around to cover up the bowl, so she'll often scratch at the floor. Sometimes she'll go off and find a toy and use that. Here's how last night's effort came out.
Thursday 15 Dec. 2016
Either Zoe or Jetta decided the yellow toy needed a bath after its visit to the food bowl. This is what awaited me when I got home from work tonight. I'm guessing it was Jetta, as she's terribly fond of dunking toys in the water bowl.
Monday 19 Dec. 2016
A portrait of two cats. Saffy the Sentinel...
...and Opal the Lurker.
Sunday 25 Dec. 2016
The obligatory "cat in xmas paper" photo. At least one of these is required per holiday season. Peeking cat is Saffy.
Sunday 25 Dec. 2016
We had a turf war last night. More of a split-second spat, no damage done. It was about lap time. Randy's lap is prime real estate in high demand between Saffy and Opal. He has the perfect lap and they both love to spend time on it. He does his best to make sure that each one of them gets their lap time, but they get jealous about it.
It was at the end of dinner and Randy had been trying to get Opal to get onto his lap. She was sitting next to him on the sofa, pulling her princess routine, ignoring his invitation. Saffy, who was sitting at Randy's feet, said, "Okay, screw you, if you don't want the daddy lap, I do." She jumped up, but as she landed on Randy, Opal went ballistic, they spatted their way to the ground, and instantly broke up. Lap time was officially over.
I try to get them to sit on my lap, but I am mostly spurned. Once in a while, Saffy will deign to lie across my lap, but daddy's lap is the place to be. Probably because he's 6' 3" with long legs, so there's lots of room to sprawl. Whereas at 5' 4" and short-waisted, my lap isn't as accommodating. Though I have to say that when I'm in my office at the computer, Zoe is perfectly happy to be a lap fungus for hours on end. She's a good lap warmer, too.