Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ollie Ol..


Not sure how much I have to post right now, as I'm still quite raw on all of this.  But I keep telling myself it wasn't like he was going to outlive me anyway, this day had to come at some point.. but at 11 years of age, it is just way too early (ok so he's still 10, he'll be 11 in May)

Yes, his sarcoma is back.  Its actually growing back in two different spots.  His options are very limited.  I could go in and have it taken out again, but I'm sure he'd hate that option because he recovered so much worse the second time.  I could try chemo - but that only has a 25% chance of making a difference, and how much time would that difference be?  Could do radiation, but that is several hours away and would also involve another surgery to debulk the growth first.

As much as I hate to admit defeat to an illness, it looks like this is going to take him.  The vet said that as is, he probably has about a year before it becomes life ending.  But at this point he has actually put ON weight (and no the growth isn't that big) and he's playing with the younger kitties, and still being KING OF THE MANOR!! so I have to take my happiness in that and accept what comes.  Heck, knowing his determination, he might be around forever..

We have kittens!


I was in a rush this morning (Ollie had his vet appointment - and that is another post when I can do it with out being so emotional) and I went in to feed Lilly, and she was laying in her carrier growling, and hissed when I stepped forward.  I slowed right down and talked softly to her.  I was able to get up close and see a kitten tail, so I knew SOMETHING was going on.  I don't know if she was out of labor and was just being protective or if she was still in labor, but I didn't have time to figure it out.  I went out and came back about an hour or two later.


Nothing to see here, move along..
No really, nothing to see!!
Darn, something moved!!

Hey Look!! Kittens!!!
MY! kittens!!
She gave birth to two boys (the two tiger kittens, one with white boots) and one girl (the black one).  I felt around, and I THINK that is all that is in there, but then again, this is the cat I THOUGHT was in heat when she first showed up here a little over two weeks ago.. Kinda glad I didn't say anything to the shelter now  

She did a great job cleaning them up, they have good stubs where their cords attach.  They were dry and happy.  She however was covered with blood.  I did my best to try to wipe some of it away, but she was getting restless and wanted to get back to her kits, so I put her back (resulting in that last shot) She is definitely a good mom.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ollie


OK, what else can go wrong with this boy..

Let me start off by saying he's eating just fine, and still breaking up squabbles in the house that get out of control, and this morning I even saw him playing with a toy mouse...

but yesterday I felt his lump on his side, and it seems there is two of them now.  He also has something on his chin.  feels a bit like a ball bearing, but when I originally found it there was a scab like thing on the outside.  I tried to squeeze it to see if it was fluid or if puss my come out from where the scab was forming - and neither seemed to be the case.  Last night the scab seemed to come back - which to me feels a bit like this is a tiny little abscess for one reason or another.  This morning it was still there, but could be slightly different.  Not bigger, just a slightly different shape - but no scab.  So now I'm quite paranoid.  I call my vet and said I need to have a lump checked.  Well I don't know the woman who answered the phone.  Not sure if the answers I got would have been any different if my friend and former co-worker had.. but the first open appointment is from a week from now.  This isn't right.  I mean I'm all for having to wait for a routine appointment, but what if he was bleeding?  does he not schedule time for health issues that are concerning?   I mean I hope if he was bleeding I wouldn't have to wait till next week..

I love my vet very much, but if he is going to book himself solid, I'm not sure I can deal with that.

I put myself on their cancellation list, so hopefully when the people who know me see I'm sitting here waiting with a health issue, they can squeeze me in sometime.

(and yes, I'm ranting about my vet to try to avoid thinking what these lumps mean for him.  I don't think another surgery would be a good idea for him since he had such a hard time with the last one, and if this is a regrowth of the cancer then it is back much faster then the last time, and I'll be doing these on a monthly basis at this rate...)

Kitten watch - day 11 - what was that??


So I go in to feed Lilly.  She has taken to sleeping in her carrier, so I removed the door to make things easier.  She has a nice blanket in there and seems to like it just fine.  This morning when she came out her belly was still round, but I saw a little something dark, I got very excited.

Turns out she just bunched up the blanket, so I was seeing the bottom of the carrier.. but it looked a bit like a kitten tushie so there was much disappointment this morning.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kitten Watch Day 8!


This is why I hate taking pregnant cats.  I check on them several times a day, so it like 20+ disappointed anticipations in the past week. 

I also tend to take my frustrations out on them.  I call them selfish for not sharing their kittens sooner (which is silly because if she pops them out early they have no chance of survival) and I often take to calling them hussies for getting themselves in this "situation" in the first place.. :)  of course I'm saying all this in a sweet tone so they tend to think I'm praising them instead of insulting them.

I am starting to believe she is actually pregnant.  Her belly is protruding a bit further out on one side then the other, and when I rubbed it (even though she growled) I think I felt a head.  She is a growler which I'm not fond of, but I think that is just her way of expressing herself.  I am used to that now after having had a couple of moms act that way.  She growled at me when I put food down.. silly girl.

I just wish I could rub her belly.  Maybe next week when it's about ready to pop with kittens she'll be a little more open to it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gratuitous Fleurp Photos


Not the best photo of her, but it made me smile

and a couple more for good measure.. (I love the one of her snuggling)


A new cat tree


Yes, I spoil my kitties.  Hey, they bring me amusement, and honestly the laughter and amusement I got out of this $130 purchase was worth it.  I mean I could have gone out and had an expensive dinner, or provided fun and exercise for my cats who make me laugh and smile every day of the week.  No contest! 

So I was thinking I needed a new cat tree for a while, but wasn't sure what I really wanted.  Ok I knew I really wanted a cat tree that looked like a tree, but I can't afford one of those (ok so I can, I just don't want to) and when I saw this at PetSmart, I thought it would be good for the bedroom.  We put a rather large one in there recently, and the cats use it to get up on top of the bureau, a place I'd really rather they not go since I tend to store stuff up there I don't want them to play with by throwing it off the top (rolled coins, credit cards, etc)  Since this one isn't quite as square, I thought it might be good enough to keep them from jumping over to it.  The kittens still do it, but the older ones don't.

But it was a huge hit from the moment it came in the house..

Sadly the photo isn't ideal.  They threw my digital camera that I generally use off the counter and it no longer responds.  So now I'm using an old 3 MP camera.  I have my Kodak, but it takes lousy photos.  I need to invest in another, but I am fearful I'm going to end up with another lousy camera.  Kodak takes great photos of still life photos, but cats do not sit still!!

This tree is a little differently built then most of my others.  Generally they have perches a little lower down so that the cats have to jump, but not so hard that they have to fly three feet into the air.  Here some of the crew was a little reluctant to try it out.  Ollie has no problems getting up there, but some of the others started out on the chair that was near it.   Once they realized just how high it was, they have been just fine.  And as you can see, Twee LOVES it.

Introducing... Lilly


Getting a good photograph of her was not an easy task.  She is in your face rubbing all over everything at every second.  She would not walk away so you could see how short she is, nor would she hold back so I could get a good look at her face.

Unfortunately she did not have a good night last night.  When I went into the bathroom there was some vomit, and a LOT of small puddles of pudding diarrhea.  Guess a change in the food she's eating isn't agreeing with her (hopefully and it isn't something else) I expect in time it will settle in her and the diarrhea will lesson.  Although that can't help but make me wonder what she was eating, since she pretty much ignores the bowl of dry food.  Granted Special Kitty isn't the most ideal food out there, but it is well tolerated in general and is helpful getting kitties the high protein / low plant material they need.  I can only assume she was living off the land and had been eating birds and rodents..

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eight is enough?


or is it too many??!!

I will admit I feel horrible when ever I see a gathering of my kitties and I can't figure out who is missing.  I have to count them to make sure they aren't all there, and then go through them chronologically to see who is missing.  Yesterday I was visiting Boots, and came out to go upstairs, and seven of the eight cats were downstairs outside of the door waiting for us.  I counted, and then started from the top.. Ollie, yup.  Jack, yup Muffin, yup.  Ok, so Skippy is here, and Kit, and Fleurp, and there is Twee.. so who is missing..

Had to stop and go through them again from the top down not stopping before I realized it was Eli. I felt like such a bad kitty mom for missing him twice.

He didn't care though, he had the whole bed to himself..

Possible new kittens


so I might, or might not, have kittens..

As I said, the shelter called, and I went in.  They had a very young (all too young) mother cat with three three week old kittens.  She was beautiful, a snow shoe, and her kittens were adorable, but I can't handle three week old kittens at this point since I don't have my kitten room free and need to use my back bathroom until the first.  I figured by the time I had the kitten room free (because Boots' mom will have returned) they will be tearing up my house and escaping the bathroom before I can get a finger in the door to stop them, so I took the pregnant mom.

I met her on Wednesday, misunderstanding the email that said to come on Thursday.  She seemed to be in labor because she was making all the right sounds and licking her vulva.  but come the morning she still had no kittens, and the shelter staff had originally thought it was going to be a couple of weeks before she gave birth.

So Thursday I brought her home, singing the whole way.  Not complaining, just meowing to let me know she was there.  I set  her up in the bathroom and she chirped for me almost non stop.  She rubbed up against EVERYTHING, rubbing her neck on the ground and throwing her tushie in the air.  She did the back end prance when I rubbed the base of her tail, and growled when I tried to touch her stomach.. so basically she was acting like she was in heat.

Oh great I thought, just what I need, a cat in heat who is NOT pregnant.. Hussy...  and I went to bed - avoiding all eight cats at the doorway when I left the bathroom.

So I go in Friday morning, and find her sitting in the window sill.  Now this is a bathroom, and the sill is far up off the ground.  I wouldn't imagine that a pregnant cat would WANT to sit in such a precarious place, let alone could physically handle the shift in her weight well enough to get up there.. but she did.  (or is she not pregnant???) Friday afternoon I went to spend a little time with her.  She is quite sociable, and loves to be patted, but please don't touch her belly (what pregnant cat doesn't like to have her belly massaged??!?!) however I did end up getting a feel.  It very much feels like she is NOT pregnant, because I do not feel a single kitten, no head, no feet, and no movement.  HOWEVER, it does feel a bit like her milk has come in.

Since I know full well I can be wrong, I've decided to give her a week or so (or two) and see if she pops out any kittens before I start asking for an xray to prove there are things in there that are destined to come out and not just a nice full belly.

I've named her Lilly.  I have yet to take  photos, but I will soon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Crew - Skippy


Ahhh.. Skippy.  The lover, the wrestler, the kitty the household needed with out even knowing it.

Skippy was another one of those "OMG I need to rescue that kitten!!" shelter moments.  He was sitting in a cage all by himself (yes apparently I am a sucker for those) and I needed to get him out.  Two other kittens had recently come in, and it was recommended that I take all three instead of just Skippy alone (single kittens tend to be badly mannered kittens so I agreed with the recommendation).  Turns out that wasn't going to happen, because the pair of kittens were so infested with ringworm that it was beyond heartbreaking.  Now I'm all for rescuing the underdog, but I am not about to risk infecting myself and my entire household with ringworm - because yes, it is that contagious.  The shelter did not want to risk spreading it anywhere, and there was also the compromise they were facing from being so infested, so sadly they were euthanized.  Now came the question of what to do with all of the other cats stored in the same room as they were - since ringworm is that contagious.  I was asked if I wanted to back out of fostering Skippy.  I asked what would happen to him, and she said reluctantly that she'd "try" to find him another foster home... which often means he's low on luck.  Considering what he had faced so far, I was not willing to let him roll the dice.

See Skippy was found in someone's yard mostly dead.  Starved and low on reserves, he came to the shelter as a cruelty case.  While the got him back on his feet, he ended up with a urinary infection.  I just could not let him face another day alone wondering "what happened" so I brought him home.  I put him in my shower stall, and kept the door shut as a precaution - one more layer between him and my cats.  I used a lab coat, and washed my hands faithfully after each visit.  Skippy either knew what he had been given, or just had the right kind of personality, because all he wanted to do was cuddle.  Now normally when I get a young kitten who only wants to cuddle I get very scared.  Kittens should want to play and rough house and cause mischief, and if they aren't then that is a sign that something is wrong and vet intervention is right around the corner.  But he would climb out of the bathtub into my arms and snuggle with me for 10-15 minutes and then want to play.  He was perfectly fine playing in the tub too - which helped a lot.  When two weeks pasted and he didn't break out with ringworm, I assumed the worst was over, and worked on introducing him to the other fosters I had at the time.

Well that so did not work out.  They were smaller then he was, by a long shot, and he wasn't so much interested in playing with them as getting in their way.  So the shelter suggested another only kitten, and I took her home and tried to introduce them.  She was smaller then Skippy, and Skippy very much wanted to play with her.  All indicators were positive when the two were separated - he made the right play motions, was happy and interactive as was she - but the second we put them together he treated her as if she was prey.  He hunted her, chased her relentlessly, and it was not a good situation.  I felt horrible returning her to the shelter, but a cat smaller then he was was not going to work.

Skippy was almost of size when I took him home, and he was previously shaved from his trip to the vet for his UTI, ,so I assumed he was neutered.  When he was finished with his antibiotics and spent some more time to make sure he was healthy, he ended up going back to the shelter to be adopted.  He was almost adopted by one family (that wasn't the right fit according to the staff, but they didn't really have reason to say no) but they realized he wasn't neutered so they kiboshed the adoption, and sent him out to be altered.  He went back up for adoption.  I generally want to be there for adoptions, but he went up on a Friday morning.  I ran over after work, and met the people who chose him just prior to them signing the paper work.  I tried to explain his needs and his quirks, but they had fallen in love with him, and I'm sure I could have said he'd try to kill you in your sleep and they wouldn't have cared.

Well a short time later Skippy was back at the shelter.  He had come down with a respiratory infection that was bordering on pneumonia (if not outright pneumonia since he really didn't have any symptoms in his head/nose but severe congestion).  I got a call asking if I wanted to treat him - my answer is "duh!", and Skip came home again.  He took the first round of antibiotics and it did nothing.  We did a second course with stronger stuff, and he cleared up.  He was fine for a few days, and then he broke with it again.  This time we did a much longer course, and I watched him for a week after his final dose, and he seemed fine, so back to the shelter he went.

Well by now I was a gonner.  I loved this little boy so much.  He was such a lover, and a goofball and a sweet little thing with a huge prey drive.  I visited him daily, waiting for him to find a new home.  I talked to a few people telling them of his unique start in life and his quirks, and apparently I talked them right out of adopting him. (really, that was NOT my intention, honestly!!) After two weeks my heart couldn't take it any more and when the adoption coordinator jokingly asked if I was going to take him home I said yes, and she didn't wait to see if I was serious, she wrote up the paperwork and gave him to me.

Skippy never really did get over his bout of pneumonia, and every week or two would break with some odd congestion and even a weepy eye from time to time (not inf lammed or oozing, just a few extra tears)  I ended up talking to my own vet about it, and he suggested a different antibiotic all together the next time this happened, and if it didn't clear up then maybe he was just going to have a compromised immune system and it would be something we would have to live with.  I lived in fear of his next outbreak, but when it came I gave him the round of antibiotics and it worked.  He hasn't had another!!  *yea!*

Skippy fit a hole in the household I didn't even know we had.  He and Fleurp wrestle constantly.  I find him chasing Fleurp or Eli or some other cat through out the house quite frequently.  He also loves to hang out with the rabbit, although he is spending less and less time doing that.  He still feels the need to snuggle quite regularly, but he is reluctant to muscle his way through the other cats to get to one of us to do so.  I find I get to snuggle with him when I use the toilet (TMI?  sorry) he jumps right up on my lap and starts to purr and leans into me. Not the most comfortable place to snuggle a kitty, but if this is what he needs, I will let him.  We are very fortunate that he does not suffer from Only Kitten Syndrome, and is very well mannered.  He had learned the household hierarchy and has found his place.  I just need to be extra careful to make sure he's getting the attention he deserves.  I have the feeling he thinks he doesn't deserve "mom and dad" time, and I so need to cure him of that, because he is an incredible kitty..

Skippy taught me a valuable lesson though.  I am now no longer allowed to foster only kittens.  Much as I am not allowed to have a chocolate chip cookie, because it will lead to my eating more then one cookie, only foster kittens have a tendency to stay.. and darn it, eight cats is enough!!

(which is probably a good thing because I just got another email from the shelter asking me to foster!)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Crew - Fleurp


Oh my sweet, mischievous, adorable, loving, round little Fleurp.. what to say about her?

Almost seems wrong writing a profile for a kitty still so young in life, but alas, I shall give it a go.  It isn't like she hasn't had an eventful life up to this point.

Fleurp came to me at a point in life when I was DONE adopting kittens.  I had been fostering for several years, had a few crises, and a few heart breaks, and the house was full of cats.  I was also full up at the time of our meeting, having a set of fosters AND a diabetic foster.  I had no right telling the shelter I wanted her, but I had stopped in to get some supplies and saw her sitting meatloafed in the cage and I just KNEW.  KNEW I had to have her and take care of her.  She had just come in, and hadn't been tested or even looked over, but I didn't care, I would give them the time they needed to take care of that and would come get her later (fortunately my boss is very laid back so she didn't mind a second trip out of the office in one day - especially when there is a kitty to be rescued)

I got the call, and drove back up to the shelter to get her.  I know the exact spot where her name came to me, and I hadn't even spent any time with her at all.  I usually have the worst time coming up with names, throwing a few around until something sticks, but this one stuck to her before I even held her. 

I brought her home and set her up in my shower.  Fortunately we have two shower stalls in the house - one for me and one for my husband, and he didn't mind sharing while Fleurp mended.  See she came to us with the most horrific looking eye I had seen in a long time.  We thought she had URI, which often has an affect on the eyes of kittens, but after time and with some healing, I now believe she was bitten.  She had a little scab on her nose (the fur never did grow back) and another under her chin.  Considering her 'in your face' personality, I am not surprised that she might have walked up to the wrong soul and almost lost her eye for it.  Fortunately it did heal, and she was able to keep her eyeball, but unfortunately it is severely scared, and she has some severe depth perception issues going on because of it.  We've tried several rounds of steroidal drops for her with little effect (other then ticking her off because she's got better things to do then get pinned down and get drops that sting shoved in her eye)

Once the risk of URI was determined to be minimal, I let her out of the shower stall and let her run around the bathroom.  This was a bit of a mistake, because no door could hold her.  When I went in to feed her she would escape.  The first time she did it, all of my cats were in the hall way watching me to see what I was going to do.  She bolted from the bathroom, ran the gauntlet of the cats in the hall and made it out to the great room before anyone even realized what was going on.  I laughed so hard at her determination and her lack of fear of my cats, that she got to explore the kitchen for quite some time before I had the ability to go and catch her.  (then just for the fun of it I did it again and took a video of it this time)

She knew her mind from day one.  There was never any hesitation in her, she took life full steam.  Other then the bad eye, and the subsequent scaring, she's been very healthy.  She is also very round.   She looks very much like she has eaten a watermelon.  Now that she's getting older, her mane is coming in - and quite spectacularly as well.

Fleurp has never been one to shy away from mischief or trouble.  If there is something she wants, she goes and gets it - it doesn't matter if it is in a place that had been deemed forbidden, nor does it matter if someone is right there telling her "NO!" as she climbs up into places she shouldn't be. She loves to wrestle, and can often be found trying to start something with one of the cats.  She is beyond happy that we have decided to add one more to the household - because you can often find her and Skippy wrestling or running through the house.  Kit is too much of a "lady" to wrestle, and Twee.. well no one really wants to play with Twee.  Not sure if it is because she doesn't play right or she keeps changing the rules and leaving.

Fleurp is also the master of the "I am just too cute for you to yell at me" look.  It has saved her many a time.

She's also fond of hanging out with me.  She likes to come down to the basement when I work out and sit near by and take a nap.  The last time I stayed home from work sick she didn't leave my side all day, giving me little licks on my ankles when I would venture out of bed for something to drink.

I have often said, and I believe fully, that Fleurp is pure joy wrapped up in kitten form.  While surpassing my kitty limit was not something I under took lightly, I have not regretted it for a moment.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Jack - a thought


so Jack wants to spray.  Having tested his urine, it isn't because he is uncomfortable, so why?  Is it stress? is it learned from when he was uncomfortable? what?

I talked to my husband and asked him if he had ever seen Jack do what I refer to as the "Pee Pee Dance".. when he quivers his tail and steps with his back feet - the dance of the cat about to spray.  He never has.

So I watched Jack.  Tried to see when he might be doing such things.  He does them when i am in the bathroom... either in the front bathroom (the one they get fed in and has the laundry in it) when I'm using the toilet or in the master bedroom when I'm getting ready in the morning.

I observed his behavior prior to doing the PPD, and he was trying to get my attention.  I observed his behavior being interrupted from the PPD... and he was trying to suck up to me even more.

I can only assume that he is doing it to impress me for some reason.  I am going to have to be more aware of what he is doing when he's around, and praise the living daylights out of him when he is wanting my attention so he doesn't feel the need to try to impress me.

Just hope it doesn't go to his head..

The Crew - Kit


Kit came to us via a fostered set of kittens.  She came along in a set of kittens that belonged to two mothers I brought home to foster in May of 07.  The two mothers were I believe mother and daughter, as one seemed to know exactly what to do, and what was going to happen, the other seemed very much new to all of this.  Could they have been two random cats that were in the same house, I guess.  But they looked a lot a like.

Each cat gave birth to four kittens.  Despite wanting to keep them apart to keep the kittens straight, the mothers were having nothing to do with my foolish ideas, and ended up mixing kittens randomly.  Finally I gave up all together.  Because one set was a bit older, it was easy enough to tell for a while, but in the end I realized it didn't really matter.

She started life with the name Tilly.  I suppose that name would still very much work for her, but I have a tendency to want to rename kittens when they are adopted, as if to say "yes, you are going to stay here!".  It was hard coming up with a name for her, and while we were doing it, we had to refer to her as "the kitten" because if we called her "the baby" Twee would become visibly upset.  In the end we called her Kit N. Kaboodle.  Yes, silly, but Kit works for her.

Kit and one of her sisters were very slow to put on weight.  Having 10 cats in the kitten room is a bit much, and dealing with loosing Em, my subconscious was trying to adopt all of them, so I tried to sneak them through and have then neutered when the rest of the litter made weight.  I know they can neuter as early as two pounds, but the shelter wants to wait until 2.5, so when they weighed her, they said NO WAY!! :) Her sister was just barely there, and they offered to have me keep both of them to put more weight on them, but I was so ready to empty out the kitten room and clean it up, so I said no, and took Kit back.  She had already started to work her magic on my husband, and I knew he wouldn't mind one little bit watching her while she gained weight.

Well Kit knew a good thing when she saw it, and proceeded to wrap my husband around her little paw.  She looked at him with the most adoring eyes, and batted her eyelashes at him.  At every chance she jumped up on him and laid down on him very politely with out the stomping and getting into your face that is pretty norm with the other cats of the household.  My husband is a push over, and Kit knew it.  And by the time she hit weight he was hers.  Once again a cat being added to the household was not my fault!!

It took her until November to put on weight and be spayed.  Even afterward she was a very petite eater, and continued to be a very small girl. She put up with my clothes on cats phase very nicely and would often allow me to pose her in outfits and take photos.  She still does when I get it in me to be silly.  Even now almost three years later she is very laid back and very petite.  She weighs about five pounds.

And she still loves my husband beyond reason.  If I were a less secure woman, I might actually be jealous... :)  She unabashedly throws herself at him.  Makes eyes at him, and stares up adoringly at him at every chance. She is constantly by his side or sitting in his lap.  If he has to go away for work, she spends quite a bit of time looking for him come bed time, then sits around moping.

Kit very much falls in the "his" cat camp. We have always had "his" and "her" cats.  Muffin is very much mine as is Jack.  Kit and Twee are "his" cats. Eli?  well Eli is his own cat.  He will use us when we are convenient to rub his belly or scratch his head, but he takes no loyalties.  Ollie is the diplomat, but I think he fancies himself as Daddy's boy.  Fleurp and Skippy are still trying to figure this out.  I think Fleurp has picked me, but she prefers it when he pats her, and Skippy is still unsure of his place in the house, so he has yet to declare.

As for health issues, Kit has been very lucky.  She had a very healthy kittenhood, and so far has not had any issues.  Might it be that once she was adopted she went right on raw food?  I can't say.  I'd like to think it is.

With Kit, I said the house was closed to adoptions..

ha ha ha

Friday, March 12, 2010

animal communicator part two


Ok, you are going to start thinking I'm the crazy cat lady here - and maybe I am - and maybe I'm ok with that - but still.  You are going to like this one.

The other day we went to Target and bought a remote controlled mouse for the crew.  We've tried battery powered toys before and they always look at us like we are crazy.  They know their natural prey isn't supposed to make noise (according to some it is supposed to lay in a basket in the corner of the room and smell like cat nip, but that's a different post)  

Well this toy was a hit.  Unfortunately the toy broke pretty quickly.  The front wheel fell off it's axis, and as a result it doesn't move very well. The crew doesn't seem to mind because they like the fur it is covered in, and it moved once, so it must still be a toy.

After they gave up and went for their dinner, I picked it up and put it on the counter (which they aren't supposed to go on, but they do) and went down stairs to exercise.  While I was exercising I heard a few suspicious bumps and a clang, that sounded very much like mouse making it's way (with a great deal of help) off the island across the floor, and dropping through the railing and down the stairs.  I didn't stop exercising figuring I'd nab it on the way up.  Well when I was done there was nothing on the stairs. I glanced around the room and didn't see it, so I gave up and went upstairs.  Later that night I had some of the cats in the room and I told DH what happened, and threw a comment out to the crew that if they could return the mouse that would be very helpful.

Well the next morning it still didn't show up.  So before they ate breakfast I very pointedly told them that I would like the mouse returned.  I pictured the mouse being in the kitchen, and asked them to help me out.

Wouldn't you know it, when I came home from work.. the mouse was in the kitchen, pretty much where I was standing when I made the declaration.  Just sitting there like it had run around exploring the house and returned on it's own.

Go ahead.  Tell me I'm crazy..

:)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Crew - Tweedle


Tweedle, oh the stories to tell..

Tweedle came to me as a foster kitten who was still nursing with her siblings on mom.  There was nothing special about her at that time, and she seemed quite normal.  As things progressed though, things changed.

First there was her inability to learn how to eat.  Nursing she got, but the fact that food could come outside of her mom was completely alien to her.  Her siblings all started eating solid food on schedule, but she would sit and complain that there was no food.  I would offer her tidbits in her mouth, and she LOVED the food that appeared in her mouth, but could not make the connection that the food pile on the floor that I just took a bit from was the same as the bit that ended up in her mouth.  After a week her mom was weaning the kits, and she was getting less and less and I was starting to get concerned.  Usually the bit in the mouth works for kittens who don't understand food, but if it doesn't then the next step is to put some food on their nose.  She just looked at me quite pathetically.  When that doesn't work I tend to very gently push their noses into the food.  She struggled against that, totally not understanding that I was working in her best interest.  After a piece of food finally worked it's way into her mouth against her will she FINALLY figured it out.  Unfortunately she thought she had to eat with her head buried into the food up to her eyeballs and that is how she proceeded to eat for the next month or so.

Tweedle also had a little deformity as a kitten.  Her chest wasn't formed as her siblings were.  It wasn't glaringly wrong, just enough for me to bring her into the vet, and for the vet to be concerned enough to take an x-ray.  Twee was always an incredibly sweet kitten, very loving and wanting of attention.  But she has one thing she will not put up with, and that is being laid on her back.  I don't know if it is because of this deformity or what, but she hates it.  During the vet visit she needed to be prone on her back to get the xray of her chest.  She fought tooth and nail, and the techs were quite surprised at how determined she was.  They finally got it and it was decided that while she was different, she was in no danger from it and was given a clean bill of health.

My husband had fallen in love with Twee by this time.  Her incredibly sweet nature and her desire to be snuggled when ever we would visit simply won him over.  He too had noticed her deformity, and we had decided that if it was going to be a problem that we would take that on and adopt her.  When she came back with a clean bill of health, he was noticeably disappointed.  Not that she was healthy, but that she would be moving on.  Well.. as you can tell by this post, that was not meant to be.

When she and her siblings made weight and went to be neutered, she had a severe reaction to the anesthesia. Her lungs filled with fluid almost immediately and her heart stopped.  They were able to revive her, but they were not able to spay her at that time.  We ended up bringing her home to recover while her siblings went back to the shelter for adoption.  She stayed for several weeks while her lungs recovered, and then she went back to be spayed.  This time they took precautions and used a safer anesthesia, but it too had a horrible effect on her.  Once again her heart stopped.  The doctor raced through the spay, and got her through it, but her chart showed severe warnings that sedation would be beyond risky for her.

So now we had a medical reason to keep her.  But still I tried to find her a home.  The shelter had an event at a hotel, and I brought her down on a leash and harness to talk about fostering and possibly find her a home.  There were several people who thought she was adorable and were interested, but did not take the next step to actually adopt her.  The next step for me was to bring her to the shelter and leave her there with the written warning about sedating her.  That really bothered me because I know a lot of people fall in love and don't pay much attention to the restrictions the pet may have.  I did not want to risk her being adopted by someone who would have her declawed - which I am sure would have killed her. Or someone who would let her outside where she could be injured and have to be sedated to repair something - or even not take care of her teeth so she would need to have a tooth extracted.  These images floated around in my head as I drove home from the event.  When I got home my husband excitedly exclaimed "Tweedle is home!!" and I asked if she was, and he admitted he very much wanted to keep her.  I told him to go down to the shelter and adopt her then, and he did.  Tweedle was ours.

Tweedle is so named because of her .... well how do I put this kindly.. her intelligence deficiency.  There were many other names bandied around for her that were on the mean side when a co-worker suggested Tweedle Dum.  I jumped on Tweedle Dee, and Twee she became. Now don't get me wrong, there is NOTHING wrong with her, she's just a little slow and definitely a little special.  She did not hit all of the normal learning milestones that kittens hit anywhere near when she should have.  She would often get very lost in the house and scream for us to help her find us.  New things just confuse her, and offering her treats will often get you a blank stare.  She has her security blanket of a toy (her current one is wrapped around her) which she can often be found carrying around the house.  Previous to this she had a feather garland that was meant to go on a Christmas tree.  She loved that thing so much that after a while she started to eat it.  But not as you would expect, she would begin at one end and eat several feet of it before it would be forced back up.  I tried tying the ends together, but she found a way to undo them.  It was as hard on me as it was on her to finally decide it wasn't safe for her any more and I had to throw it away.  Before that it was shoe laces and strings that facinated her.  I had to be so careful - but no matter how hard I tried she would find something to play with.  Shoelaces were chewed off at the shoe, fringe on the carpet was all chewed off before I even realized it was interesting to her.  Even one of my favorite bras was not immune.  No matter how many times we thought we had gotten up everything she could chew on she would find something new of interest that we hadn't even considered.  We are beyond lucky that none of that was damaging to her as eating string can easily lead to an obstruction, and it probably would have been the end of her because putting her under for surgery is so risky.

Even as she became more comfortable in the house, she still sat outside of the "kitten room" and wanted to be let back in.  "I'm the Baby!" became what we associated with her desires.   It is why the next new addition to our house ended up with the name Kit, because we had to call her the kitten because if we called her the baby Twee became visibly upset and confused.  I once had a reading with an animal communicator, and not having told her anything about Twee except that she was 2 years old and a black and white short haired kitty, the communicator came up with that she had the mind of a six month old.  That rings very true.  I lovingly call her my little down syndrome kitty.  Only because of what I know of down syndrome people is they are so happy, and so joyful and loving while not being fully blessed in the IQ department. (man that probably sounds horrible, and I do not mean it to be.  To me it is an easy description of her personality, which is a very positive thing in my book)

Twee was very bonded to Em as she grew up.  She would often lay next to her and let Em do what Em did best - lick her.  I was very fearful what would happen with Twee when Em died.  But she did seem to take it ok.  I am not sure if it is because Em spent so many months not doing well, or if because she was euthanized at the house and some how Twee got that.  She was at a loss as to what to do with herself, because she used to be with Em, but over time she started to figure out that she could hang out with the other kitties.  They were not overly amused.  Twee particularly likes Muffin, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't depending on Muff's mood.  Twee does NOT understand why sometimes it is ok and sometimes it is not.  She also doesn't understand why Muff runs off and then hisses quite violently at her when she runs after her.  I feel so bad, and try explaining to her over and over.  I even went so far as to ask the other kitties to be nice to Twee, but she just wants to be with Muff.  *shrug*

Health wise, we have been lucky.  There was an abscess on her neck when she was a young adult, but a round of antibiotics took care of that.  I brush her teeth when I can remember and fortunately they are doing very well.  At the moment she is losing very tiny patches of fur on the top her head.  A little bald spot about the size of a pencil eraser pop up, then disappear.  She's never had more then one at a time.  There aren't lesions so I can't fathom what is going on.

Twee's biggest quirk is her need to YELL at us. I think she just doesn't grasp the concept of how loud she is talking.  Kind of like Loud Howard from Dilbert.  She likes to crawl into bed with us and look us straight in the eye and scream.

In July of this year, 2010, she will be six years old, but she still looks and acts like a one year old

darn


I just caught Jack in the bath tub again looking like he was going to spray.

Is this medical?  I hope not, because if he is having problems on this food (not that many carbs in it) then I'm boned.

So that leaves behavioral.  Is it something he's learned that he should do because it helped him when he was sick or is it because he's stressed?  Marking territory doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense because it is in the farthest corner of the house, away from all of the places they lay and the places they eat, and he doesn't hang out there, so it isn't like he's carving out a little corner for himself.. I mean it isn't like he's a fan of a bath tub..

*sigh*

So I opened up a can of Jack Mackerel (yes, I know.. but I couldn't resist giving Jack Jack) and gave him the liquid in the can and gave the fish to the rest of the crew.  I have to tell you I almost hurled at the scent of canned mackerel.  heck I'm having issues just typing about it. I can't believe people enjoy eating that.. *shudder*   (of course that is pretty much the way my husband feels about tofu)

I was going to give him urinary food, as I still have some, but then I didn't think I'd get a good sample to see if he's having issues.  of course there is the thought that fish food can cause urinary issues, so if his urine isn't too alkaline, it might be by the time he goes pee. 

I'm hoping it is a learned behavior that he doesn't realize he's doing.  I'm hoping a few good well placed "bad Jack's" will cure him of this.  But I'm not opposed to bringing him in to the vet for a check up if he continues..

*crosses fingers for no pink litter when I get home*

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This is starting to get a little freaky


I am posting The Crew's posts at work (yes, I know, but I'm bored) and when I got home yesterday after posting Eli's he was ALL OVER ME.  First Ollie becomes more affectionate after I post he doesn't really want much affection, and Eli's complete change of routine and being all affectionate (and very squeaky - he had so much to say)

I'm almost afraid to keep posting these :) 

Ok not really.

My intention is to work through my current crew, then go back and do posts for Kodi, Em and Tig (the first cat I owned after I moved out)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Crew - Eli


Eli.. now Eli's story is quite long.  He started out life as "Melvin" which was my father in law's name.  It seemed to fit his quirky personality.  He wasn't a stand out kitten, just your standard average every day kitten.  I know that sounds horrible to say, but after fostering hundreds of kittens, the start to blend especially since personalities aren't formed when they are so young.  They all tend to do the same things, get into the same kinds of trouble, etc.

What was different about Eli was his health.  He was the sickest little kitten I ever had that lived. For weeks he suffered from one URI after another, and I had to constantly pick the snot off his nose to help keep it clear or clean the gunk that came from his eyes.  While he liked getting loved on, he was not a fan of being medicated or picked at.  Over time the fear of being picked at outweighed the reward of being patted, and he started running from me if I went towards him.

Eli had a very bad spell over Thanksgiving weekend 2002 while I was still fostering him.  We had family at the house, and even though he was isolated in the basement, the stress still got to him and we found him very sick.  I brought him to the vet the next day and he ended up spending the rest of the holiday weekend getting fluids and medication to reduce his fever.  He came home and recovered slowly, but one of his tear ducts became scared and blocked.  This causes the tears to spill onto his face instead of recycling back into his system.

When we decided to adopt we decided to keep Eli because of his blocked tear duct and his fearful nature.  I wasn't sure it was going to be fair to new owners to pass on a kitty that needed hands on care that was fearful of hands.  I tried so very hard to break him of the fear, but offering treats and going towards him with out intent of doing anything to him, but he didn't care he just ran.  It got to the point that he ran when we walked into a room.

All of this stress caused him another round of URI, and as a result his other tear duct blocked.  Now as you can imagine this was the last thing he needed.  He spent the first years of his life with his face and ears covered with black debris which is what happens to cat tears when they dry.  Why the ear canal was so covered, I am not 100% sure of the mechanics, but I do know they are all connected.  It would become so crusted that I was fearful that it would block it up completely and do damage so I felt the need to clean them often.  Which of course just added to his fear.


So not being able to spend a lot of time one on one with him, it took forever to find a name for him.  Melvin was a little awkward for several reasons, and just isn't that good of a name for a cat. (well to me anyway - my apologies to any Melvin cats out there)  one day I was driving down the road and saw El's Clam Shack, and for some reason my mind read it as Eli, and a light bulb moment occurred.

I ended up working for a vet, and as a result I was able to get Eli in for surgery to try to unblock his tear ducts.  Unfortunately the scaring was too extensive, and they were unable to help him out.  The clinic had several vets, including a holistic vet who suggested that maybe laser light therapy would help him out.  Once a week for several months I rounded him up and brought him in with me for her to work on.  We saw a dramatic improvement.  His ears were no longer caking with excessove debris, and while his face still had problems, it took longer and longer before it got to the point where I felt the need to step in.  Unfortunately though Eli's need to not be caught and worked on was stressing him out, and catching him became more and more of a chore.  When the improvement started to taper off, I decided to stop bringing him in.  It was suggested I could work on him at home but he would not sit still for me for even a moment and I was fearful of that light so near his eyes.  Over time his eyes started showing more spillage, but by that point Eli had started to understand me a little.  I suggested to him several times before cleaning his face that if he got another cat to clean his face for him I wouldn't need to.  Well finally he caught on to what I was saying, and now all I need to do is tell him to clean his face, and by the next day most of the black gunk is gone (you can see just one speck on his face in the above photo - which is incredible.  Generally it is all down the side of his nose)

At one point I got so sad that Eli didn't have a relationship with us, that I started looking into more alternative therapies for him.  I ended up using Feliway, but that really didn't help.  He wasn't fearful in his environment, but with us.  I got a bottle of Rescue Remedy and started dosing him with that.  I put a few drops in his food and slowly over time he was able to over come that initial fear reaction that caused him to run.  I knew that a few months after we stopped medicating him he had no idea why he was running but it was left over that when he saw us coming at him that he needed to run.  The first time I was able to walk through a room he was in and he didn't run (although he did watch me carefully) I almost threw a party.  We broke that instinctual reaction, and it was just going to take time for him to work through the rest of it.  One thing that helped was Eli's LOVE of static.  He is the only cat I've ever known that WANTS to be patted in the winter time.  The more static you can generate the better.  For a couple of years we had a winter only kitty because once we couldn't generate static for him any more he didn't have much use for us.  But in the past year or so he has started to realize that the people are good for more then generating static, and now he comes up and throws himself down near us and asks (ask? yea, demand is a better word) that we pat his belly.  Just the other week he actually climbed up on my lap for some attention - ok so it was just two paws on my leg, but to me it was huge.

One set back in his journey to be a comfortable in the home was a pretty bad bout with urinary crystals.  He ended up blocking.  At that time I had Em who was diabetic and not eating the dry food we were feeding very well so she was being fed a low carb canned food upstairs while the rest of the crew ate Felidae downstairs.    When Eli blocked we ended up feeding him upstairs in a different room the "prescription" food the vet recommended.  I did more reading on crystals, and found out that he would probably do just fine on a canned diet like that Em was getting.  The reduced plant matter would keep the urine from being so alkaline which is when crystals can form.  So Em and Eli ate upstairs while everyone else ate downstairs.  Then Jack blocked and had to be on an even stronger form of "prescription" food because his crystals were excessive.  So Em ate in one room, Jack and Eli ate somewhere else, and the rest of them ate downstairs.  It was downright silly trying to heard the cats to the right areas of the house.  This is when I did even more reading on feline nutrition and came to the conclusion that even the carb content of regular canned food was too much for Jack, and that if I put him on a raw diet he should do ok.  And that a raw diet would be ideal for Em who was dealing with diabetes and extra carbs have been shown to increase the blood sugar levels of diabetics.  And for the kicker that a raw diet was actually ideal for just about every cat.  So I started making my own cat food.  It was not fun, and I HATE raw meat, but it is doable.   With the addition of more cats to the household, grinding up meat for more then six cats got to be overwhelming so we are buying premade raw food for cats, but I wish I had the stomach to continue to make it for them.  That way I could control how much plant matter ended up in their diets.

Eli has many quirks, one of which is that he does not meow.  For a long time I didn't think he could, but he proved me wrong during one trip to the vets where he let out a magnificent caterwaul  Eli squeaks.  Lets out little squeaking noises that aren't quite bird chips but are close.  What's more adorable is he will squeak at you if you call him by his nickname of "Squeaky"..  

Eli is also very much into catnip.  Some cats are sensitive to it, some not, but Eli loves it.

He is slowly becoming our cat as opposed to a cat in the house.  It has been a very long process, but we don't mind one bit.  Sometimes I have to wonder if he wouldn't have done better in another household because it would have been a break from us and a change in general that might have helped him overcome his fear of humans (humans or was it just me, and then my husband because after I stopped being able to catch him on my own I would send him after Eli)   I guess I will never know, but I can only hope I made the right decision.

The Crew - Muffin


I am not sure why it has always been Muffin before Eli as they came from the same litter of kittens, but it always has.  Maybe because her personality is stronger, maybe it is because she is larger then he is, or maybe because he was such a fearful kitten that she was there and he wasn't.  Not sure, and I suppose it doesn't matter.

Muffin was one very precocious kitten.  She was always right in the thick of things and making a nuisance of herself.  While that is pretty typical of a kitten, with Muff it was to the extreme end of things.  She was also one incredibly beautiful kitten, and she knew it.  When she got into trouble, she would just strike the beautiful pose as if to say "How could you be mad when I'm this adorable??"  This knack for mischief and her coloring (basically a white cat with a gray hood and cape) led to the nickname of a sheep in wolf's clothing.  Her crazy antics led to her full name of "Banana Nut Muffin" which I hope is self explanatory.

Muffin has also been incredibly healthy.  When all of her siblings suffered pretty badly with URI, she had one short spell with an inflamed eye.  It got pretty bad, but the medicine the shelter gave me cleared it up very well.  I can't say for absolute certainty, but I think those meds ended up changing her eye color to the very unique pale color she has now as I was giving them to her while her eyes were changing from the kitten blue they are born with to what ever color they were supposed to be.  Maybe they were supposed to be that color, I'll never know and I don't rightly care.  She is also my biggest cat at 15lbs.  Some of it is excess, but not much. She does love her food, and very much wants to eat what ever we are eating.  I have seen her eat some incredibly weird things (her favorite food for a while was pop tarts) but usually after she begged for so long to get a bite that she gobbled up what ever I offered with out really figuring out what it was that I gave her.

Muff is the first female cat I have owned.  I have always heard the stereotypes of cats, who is more affectionate (males), who is more standoffish (females), etc and I guess Muff never heard of those, because she has always been a snuggler.  Mostly with me, but if I am not around she will snuggle herself into a draped blanket, a basket, a box, heck for a while there she would snuggle herself into my pajama bottoms when I would use the toilet (TMI?  sorry)  She is at home sitting on my chest giving me what I like to affectionately call "purr therapy"  it usually is accompanied by "massage therapy on the most painful places possible"  She likes to kneed and will work on one spot (a neck, the inside of my arm) until I can no longer stand it and move her.  She's also got an incredible knack of knowing when my bladder is full and exactly how to step on me to hit it.  But while most of this is really annoying, the love and devotion she shows while doing it is very endearing.  Sometimes she knows she is bothering me and will let me move her into a better position for me - and she is the only cat that allows me to do that.  When I move the others they usually get annoyed and leave.  She likes to reach out and gently pat my face with her paw.  Her place in the bed is on top of me - which used to be Em's spot.  One down side to her personality is she is not a kitty's kitty.  When Em passed, Tweedle tried to bond with Muff, and often is found trying to snuggle up to her, which Muff wants nothing to do with.  I am trying to teach Tweedle what Muffin means when she hisses and that it is not "lets play"  But she is accepting of all of the other cats as long as they let her be, and get out of her way when she has decided that it is Mom Time.

I tend to want to hug my cats and hold them close.  For the most part they would prefer I not love them quite so physically but from a distance.  Muff doesn't mind one little bit, and puts up with my need to rub my nose in her neck.  Which is probably why she's become my favorite kitty.. not that I could ever choose *I watch animal cop shows where people have to pick one or two pets and thoughts of that happening to me move me to panic*

She is the princess of the house.  Wanting all the glory and beauty (she gets jealous when she thinks there is a more beautiful cat in the house) and none of the responsibility of keeping the other cats in line.  As long as she has their respect, she's happy.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pet Food


http://leda.law.harvard.edu/leda/data/784/Patrick06.html

Now this is a very interesting article about pet food done by a Harvard student in 2006 labeled "Deconstructing the Regulatory Fa├žade: Why Confused Consumers Feed their Pets Ring Dings and Krispy Kremes"

Bet you never considered the food you were feeding could be equated to Ring Dings did ya?  (well unless you've actually been reading this blog and read up on pet food in the past)

See, it isn't just me who thinks dry food = cookies :)

oh yea, and in case you want more references...

http://www.catinfo.org
http://www.feline-nutrition.org
http://www.felineoutreach.org/Education.html
http://maxshouse.com/feline_nutrition.htm
http://www.felinenutrition.net/
http://rawfedkitty.org/

The Crew History - FIP


This is not an easy post to write, but I needed to get out the experience I had with FIP in order to be referenced during Muffin's and Eli's upcoming posts.

In the fall of 2002 I brought home a set of orphaned kittens.  There were six of them and they were a LOT of work.  This being my first fall using the downstairs room to foster, I didn't realize how cold it would get down there.  Not ideal for young orphaned kittens who have a hard time regulating their own body temperature.

At the time I had a mother kitty with four kittens.  I didn't know this at the time, but not all of the kittens were hers originally.  I still don't know who was an add on and who she gave birth to.  Not that it matters.  I talked to the shelter about the orphans, and they suggested that I take my mother cat and see if she would nurse the orphans - since her four kittens were eating on their own and were doing just fine.

Well she did take to them ok, but it didn't seem very fair to leave her with out contact with her own kittens.  It was still very cold in the basement, and I figured if they thought it was ok to put the mother with the kittens, why wouldn't it be ok to put the kittens with the mother instead, so I combined the two groups into the warmer of the two rooms.

Orphaned kittens can not be tested for Felv/FIV until they are six weeks of age.  It apparently wasn't even considered that this could be a problem, but sadly it was.  The orphan's story is quite heartbreaking on it's own but that is the past.  They taught me a lot of respect for fostering, and being aware of what COULD happen. If nothing else, their short lives were for something.  The shelter's policy on kittens is to euthanize if they are found to be felv or fiv positive.  I understand a lot of people find that offensive, but I have to respect the shelter for realizing their limits and accepting their financial resources should be limited.  Yes, they could have kept these kittens for another few weeks and tested again, but then those funds could go into an animal that absolutely can be saved, and not drained in the risk of maybe they would fight off the infection.  I don't like it, in fact I hate it.  But I hate the fact that any animal needs to be put down before it's time, and better it be for an incurable illness then a fixable injury

***just an aside.  Felv/FIV should not be a death sentence for a loved pet.  A lot of cats can live long healthy happy lives infected with these horrible diseases.  Both work on the immune system, so cats who are infected need to be cared for a little more cautiously, but it does not mean they are going to immediately die.  Kittens brought into a shelter with Felv or FIV could be raised and very well could be neutered/vaccinated and not have health issues, but it is a risk that the disease could cause problems, and frankly it is VERY hard to find people to adopt these types of cats.  Why would they take a chance on a cat with a known health issue, when right next door is a kitty who is healthy and just as cute?  It sucks, but it is life in a shelter system.

So now we have a known exposure to Felv for the four kittens and the mom who remained.  I was asked to keep them for six weeks and have them tested again.  What a hardship on me, because the longer you have a kitten, the more your heart attaches to them.  But I was already head over heels for one of them, and didn't mind having him around.  The whole family was constantly battling URIs, and except for a really bad case over Thanksgiving, they did seem to abate while waiting out the incubation period.

Six weeks later, we had them tested.  Unbeknownst to me, the shelter only tested the mother and one of the kittens.  I do not know who, but it really doesn't matter.  The test came back negative, and I was never so thrilled to hear of a failed test :)   Took me quite a few minutes before I could wrap my brain around negative being good.    I brought them all home with me, and we had decisions to make.  The litter of kittens had two boys and two girls.  Both of the girls were totally full of it - personality up the wazoo.  One of these "Muffin" was also quite photogenic.  She loved being photographed, and being in the middle of things all the time.  The boys were "Eli" and "Kodi".  Kodi was a beautiful cat, and both my husband and I wanted to keep him very much.  We felt we were at our limit of cats with three, and I tried to convince my husband that we didn't want to keep him with "Well if we keep Kodi, we have to keep Muffin and Eli too!" (The other girl kitten "Izzy" just did not bond with us at all, and I am sure she has found her perfect place in life just as she was meant to)   Some how he agreed and we went from a three cat household to a six cat household.  It was crazy and insane, but some how it worked.

Unfortunately Kodi never did get over his URI.  He battled congestion continually.  I finally brought him to my own vet (outside of the shelter system) who recommended a less aggressive course of treatment for it.  URI in owned cats is generally viral, so most medications you can give won't really help.  It is mostly supportive care and making sure they can eat that is critical.  I place absolutely no blame on my former vets for what happened next, because I doubt that even taking an aggressive stance with the URI would have changed anything.

Kodi got worse, and my vet couldn't see him for a couple of days, so I decided to bring him to the vet that saw him previously.  They gave him a much more aggressive treatment for his URI, but it didn't make much of a difference.  On a follow up exam, it was determined he had a fever.  URI and fever generally don't go together, so we started looking for different reasons for it.  Well in the end they settled on FIP.  I almost fell down - having just read about FIP the week before.

FIP is a mutation of a very common virus that generally is found in cats.  In fact pretty much every shelter cat has been exposed to it, and except for maybe a few private catteries who aggressively eliminate it, well lets just say it is very common.  The mutation is not.  They still don't know why the virus mutates.  While their understanding of FIP has come a long way (when I first started reading about it on the web, most of the information was from the 80s and 90s. and that it was that it was highly contagious) there still is much that is unknown - and pretty much unknowable at this point.  There is no test for FIP.  Previously they tested for the coronavirus - which is the virus that mutates - and which is the tests that were run on my cats.  I did not know, and the extremely high titers that came back scared the living daylights out of me.  It was recommended we test again in six weeks, and several of the cats tested even higher.  I was told by the vet attending my case that this means the cats are shedding the virus and this was bad news.  She could not tell me much more then that.  She also went behind my back and told the shelter I should no longer foster kittens because it was dangerous for them.  She not once told me she felt this way - which I found to be a huge betrayal (especially since I was now working for the veterinary clinic she was working at)

Well I never stopped reading about FIP and over time I realized how wrong this vet was.  FIP is a diagnosis of last resort since there is no test.  There are two forms.  Wet FIP which fills the cat up with fluid is pretty obvious but still is not conclusive to be FIP.  Dry FIP is much more elusive, because other then general malaise and a fever, there is no definitive clues that says "YES! this is FIP"   I can't strongly recommend highly enough (enough adjectives there?) that anyone facing an FIP diagnosis get their kitty to a new vet for a second if not third opinion.  Since you are reading this on the web, I also recommend you find an FIP active online community forum who can help you look for other conditions that have been previously diagnosed as FIP that hopefully your cat has instead of FIP and can be treated.  (yahoo groups has several at the time I'm creating this post, but I'm sure there will always be others)

But unfortunately what she was not wrong about was that he had FIP.  Poor Kodi had a tragically short life.  While I did not end up doing a necropsy to be absolutely certain he had FIP, he ended up bleeding into his eyes, and had several other classic FIP issues.  Could it have been something else? I guess.  And I so wish I had thought to bring him to a different vet back after I first got the diagnosis for him.  Probably wouldn't have changed anything, since I was ignorant of what FIP was, and I was unable to get my hands on any of the new information until quite a long time after Kodi passed.

My whole point with this blog is to share information.  This is what I faced, and this is what I chose to do and faced with this again, the changes I would make.   I don't always succeed in not being obnoxious about things (declawing, food, free roaming outdoor kitties) but it is never my intention to make anyone feel they were wrong about decisions they have already made.  What is done is done, and all you can do is make decisions from the point you are and go on.  If you had a kitty die of FIP, I am very sorry.  My heart breaks for you because I have been there and done that.  If you are here because you just got the FIP diagnosis, please learn from my ignorance, and get a second or third or fourth opinion for your kitty.  Google the living daylights out of FIP, and learn all you can about all the new research, and all of the different illnesses that can mimic FIP for a doctor who is not quite as up to date on things.

The more out of touch your vet is, the faster they are going to come up with an FIP diagnosis.

Ollie


Now this is interesting.  Right after I did his little diddy on this blog, stating that he doesn't seem to really want a whole heck of a lot of attention, he has done little else but demand that I pat him.  Nudging his nose into warm bits as I am laying in bed.  Chirping grumpily at me if I don't adorn his head with my hand, and just generally being a nusance (but in a good way)

Ok seriously, what is going on with my cats?  are they reading this blog??

This morning was really cute.  I didn't much want to get up, and Eli wanted belly rubs (Eli ... now this is a whole different post) Ollie wanted to be patted, and Jack was snuggled up to me.  Just me and the boys.. (Skippy still being just a kitten)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Crew - Jack


 
Jack is my first foster failure.  I started fostering in 2002, and he was in the third litter I had.  He came with three other kittens, and shortly afterwords one of them became very ill and needed to be put to sleep.  It was the first loss I had fostering, and it hurt.  I spent a lot of time with that group of kittens as a result.
Jack was a pretty unremarkable kitten. He came with the name Houdini, which fit him nicely because he was quite a little escape artist, but it wasn't an easy name to call a cat.  Jack has the ability to look like several different animals depending on his mood, and we picked Jack because he looked a bit like a jackal one day. He was a little fluffier then most short haired kittens, but wasn't quite long haired.  He was also quite gangly, and he almost seemed to be put together from several different kittens.  But he needed me.  He used to nurse on my ear and snuggle up tight.  I wasn't overly amused at the actual being nursed on, but his need out won my discomfort.  When the time came for the litter to go back and be put up for adoption I cried.  I had sworn to my husband when I started fostering that I wouldn't keep any of them (ha ha ha) but he was so special and unique, and I loved him for him - certainly not for his looks!!  I finally could not deal with it, and ran down to the shelter and scooped him up.

I was unemployed at the time, so I took Jack with me everywhere.  I fit him with a harness and leash, and we went to get ice cream, to visit friends and family, and many trips to the pet store - simply because I knew he would be welcomed there.  He basked in the attention and loved going out.  He would run to the door when ever someone would start getting ready to go out.  After a few months I found a job and he had to stay home.  He lost his love of going out, but he has not yet lost his love of being the center of attention.  When ever we have company he has to be right there.

He grew into his gangly looks.  He's now a very long sleek boy with medium length blue hair. He does have quite a bit of a belly hang though which waddles when he walks fast or runs, but it does not detract from his beauty.  He has a gorgeous mane as well which has a small white dot in the middle of it which developed after he became an adult.  Unfortunately he does NOT photograph well at all.  I think it is because you can't see him in three dimension and that is a pure shame.

Jack has had several medical issues, including a lump removed from his back when he was young.  He wasn't even a year old, and the vet was concerned that it might be a VAS because of it's location (near the scruff where the shelter vaccinates) but we were very fortunate it was a just a cyst. A couple of years ago he developed another cyst on his back leg, but we've chosen to ignore it until he needs to be sedated for something else. We also had the great FIP situation over the holidays of 2002.  As a result of some bad advice and true lack of knowledge I went through several months with a huge black cloud over our heads (but more of that with Muffin and Eli's profile) and in the end it turned out that Jack tested positive for FeLV.  I had him tested eight weeks later and he was still positive.  I started giving him Vitamin C, and when I had him tested a year later he came up negative.  I should probably have him tested again just to be sure, but I haven't.  THEN Jack started having urinary problems.  Eli had already gone through them, so I knew what I was looking at, but I still didn't get to him in time.  He blocked.  After going through the surgery and several round of "prescription" foods, he blocked again.  At this time I was facing problems with Em and her diabetes, so I was open to learning anything that would help, and I learned that diet is incredibly important in maintaining the right PH balance in a cat, and that the "premium" dry food he had been on was keeping him so dehydrated that the crystals were able to form a blockage.  I started making my own raw food, and while he ate it he didn't have any more problems.  Well making cat food for six cats was a stretch, but when the household got larger, I started buying it.  When we started buying Oma's Pride, it caused problems.  I didn't really notice until Jack got into quite a bit of dry one day and then ended up peeing in the bathtub.  I tried to work with the issues Oma's caused, but when just about all of the cats became ill on their food and they simply did not care, I then went to Bravo Raw.  Jack's issues pretty much cleared up, including his cruddy ears.  The only other issue with Jack so far is that he actually sprayed.  We had a foster cat who was not leaving, and this upset Jack.  I had seen him making spraying movements before, but he had never sprayed.  Fortunately he did it right in front of me, so I was able to make arrangements to get the foster re-situated, and I was able to work with Jack to ease his fears that other cats might be joining the household.  According to Jack, eight is enough!!!  A few medical things that are on the side of good, Jack has great teeth.  Even at 8 years (OMG he's eight??!?!) of age his teeth are still sparkling white.  He also had a strong heart murmur as a kit and young adult, but that closed up and is no longer around.

Jack is EXTREMELY food motivated.  He has never wanted for anything in his life, but you would have thought he spent many a moon starved and alone.  I jokingly call him and Muffin my garbage disposal and my dishwasher.  He also has this incredibly high pitched meow when he wants you to give him something... very much like nails on a chalk board. I don't doubt for a second if I could work with him alone, I could easily train him to do tricks.  He loves food and loves praise, but it is very hard with other cats distracting both of us.

He is also the Beta to Ollie's Alpha.  Ollie often feels the need to put Jack in his place, which is kind of interesting to watch because I do not see Jack competing for Ollie's status but my affection - which for the most part Ollie doesn't want.

Jack has outgrown his *need* for me, and stopped nursing on me a little after six months.  For the next six months he would nuzzle my ear, and give it a little lick from time to time, just to make sure he still could.  For the most part now that he is a "big boy" he acts very independent, but at night he is still curled up by my right side.  He loves it when I rub his chest and chin because he gets to sit up all regal like and accept praise.  My husband is able to give him full contact rub downs which include messing his fur all up so he looks like just came in from a hurricane.  Why it is OK for him to do that and not me I have no idea.  His fur is very fine, almost like a rabbit, and I think as a result of that Frontline does not work on him.  Fortunately Advantage does.

I love Jack very much.  I often whisper in his ear that he is my favorite.  I don't quite know about that anymore, but he is definitely the kitty of my soul.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Crew - Ollie


I thought it would be nice if I did posts for the kitties.  I did pages for them years ago, but they are kind of out of date, so....

Ollie:

 
 Ollie came to us as the product of a mating between his mother and his brother.  My husband's coworker thought they had "Maine Coons" and were breeding them.  This was when I was very new in the world of cats, and I believed what I was told.  They were apparently unaware of certain biological facts, and one of Ollie's Mom's previous litters hung around a little too long and became sexually mature.  As a result, Ollie and his litter mates.  Since they couldn't sell this litter, they offered one to DH.  He, always wanting a "coon" said yes.  He was born around mother's day 1999.  I agreed to a new kitten on the condition that we could return him if Emerald had problems with him.  Em had been an only kitty for a while, and because of her reaction to neighborhood kitties, I was certain it was never going to work out.
But Em had lived with rabbits and rodents, and learned to leave anything in a cage alone.  So we adapted the rabbit cage we had to house a kitten.  We gave him bedding, litter and food and gave him some snuggles before safely ensconcing him in the cage.  Em lumbered in, took one look at the little cat thing in the cage thing and let out a very threatening hiss.  She was confused, because she knew it was a cat, but it was in a cage.  We simply told her no, and when she stopped hissing, we praised her for not hissing.  She walked closer, hissed some more, but got another "NO" and then more praise for ignoring the cage - which is how we taught her to leave rodents alone.  After a couple more dirty looks she left the room.  Over the course of the day, we praised her for ignoring the kitten, and she continued to ignore him.  We thought it might be safe to bring him out.  Well she started hissing again, but a stern NO let her know that we were expecting her to accept this new thing.  Ollie tried his best to win her over, which of course was all the wrong things for him to be doing, including jumping on her back and trying to wrestle with her.  We returned him to the cage, and praised her, and the next time he came out, he stayed out for good.
He is quite unique in his coloring.   You can't see it in this photo, but he has a little milk dribble from his mouth to the bib on his chest.  And if that weren't endearing enough, he's always got one white whisker on the top of his head.  Sometimes it is on the left, sometimes on the right. but only ever one.  As you may have been able to tell due to the quotes around Maine Coon, that Ol is not a coon. He is simply a "regular old long haired cat".  But he is his own uncle :)
Ollie was a happy little kitten.  He was so happy to interact with anyone who visited and played happily with us or Em or himself.  We had him neutered after puberty which was the accepted practice at the vet we were using.  But with puberty came his attitude adjustment.  Not to say every cat who goes through puberty is going to end up like Ollie, but this is his story.  He went from a happy child to a grumpy teen.  His play was no longer happy go lucky, but intense and when things didn't go his way he would grumble and sulk.  He never comes out to visit company, and for years no one knew we had a second cat.
But we loved his quirks, and he quickly gained the nick name "Mr. Grumpy Pants"  He hated being groomed, and would often swear like a sailor when I would try to remove the mats from his mane (he only ever matted under his ears)   One time after a particularly trying grooming session, he was beyond inconsolable.   I tried to calm him, but the second he got a chance, he lashed out.  It was the worst experience of both of our lives.  He was able to hit me square on the face, one paw on each of my cheeks.  Fortunately he had just had his claws clipped, but even still I had four red tracks on each side of my face.  That has been the only time I have ever lost my cool with a cat, and I hate to admit I hit him.  I was able to get a hold of him (and myself) and i locked him in the bathroom while my pulse returned to normal.   I was unsure of what to do.  I wanted him to learn that this was not an appropriate way to get what he wanted, but I wasn't sure how to convey that.  I came up with a very unique solution which actually worked.  I dug out the rabbit cage again, and put it in the middle of the kitchen.  He had all he needed, food, litter etc, but he was isolated from us and the other cats.  Cats HATE being ignored, and will modify their behavior to not let it happen again.  He stayed in there for one day, and the change in him was very noticeable.  After that he came to me and acknowledged that I was alpha, and he never again lashed out at me.  However I do need to be very careful that there are no other kitties between me and his escape when I groom him. 
When Em was alive, she was the Alpha cat by default.  But she was much like the Queen of England, a figurehead only.  When she passed, Ollie laid down the gauntlet and proclaimed he was head kitty.  He occasionally bats other cats on the head just for being too near him and not deferring to him.  He eats alone on the plate first, and he sleeps where he wants.  Oddly he likes to sleep between my hubby and myself up by the pillows but not on them.
He has had a few medical problems over the years.  Once when we were about to go on one of the rare vacations we take, he became severely constipated.  He was vomiting all over the place, and needed to be treated by the vet.  Fortunately he recovered in time, and I had a pet sitter I very much trusted.  I also have had to have two growths removed from the same place near his back left leg.  I did not have them biopsied, but I am pretty sure he had Vaccine Associated Sarcoma (aka VAS) due to the location and the regrowth almost one year to the date of the initial removal.

Ollie came to me when I was new to cat care.  He was the third cat I have owned, and I was still unaware that not everything preached as gospel in cat care was true.  It didn't even occur to me to consider differently.  He ate mostly dry food with some canned.  Not being one of my foster kittens, he ate pretty much the same thing most of his life, so he does have a little bit of a problem when trying new foods.  Fortunately since I have learned of the GI upset cats can face when eating the same foods over and over, I have been able to vary his diet so the impact of food changes are lessened.
now that he's older, I lovingly call him my grumpy old man.  He spends his days on top of the fridge watching the other kitties or in the sunroom basking.  I hope he's around for years to come, but I am very carefully watching his side for a possible regrowth of the tumor we've removed.  I hope I never have to decide to have that removed again, because both surgeries were hard on him, but the second was much more so then the first.  He was very slow to recover, and very PISSED OFF that he couldn't continue on with his life as he wanted.  He is not one for change, and I fear that he is one of those cats that are going to be better off facing death on his own terms instead of allowing me to fight tooth and nail for him.  But I will let that decision be his when the time has come - which hopefully will not be for another 10 years :)
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