Thursday, January 31, 2013

Interview with a Fosterer - The Critter Room

Today's interview comes from John, of  The Critter Room.  I first became aware of The Critter Room though his totally awesome web cam.  With nearly 18,000 facebook fans and 24,000 followers to his Livestream webcam, you know he's doing something amazingly adorable!  I want to thank John for taking the time to participate!  (and I admire and am amazed at the fact you kept your word on not adopting!!)

Introduce yourself and where do you hail from?
My name is John and you could say I'm from the Army. Grew up an Army Brat and then joined the Air Force. When asked, I say that I hail from the Pacific Northwest mainly because it's where I've lived the most (4x) and the longest (currently 12 years).
What rescue group, shelter or sanctuary do you foster for?
I foster for Purrfect Pals, a no-kill cat only sanctuary north of Seattle, WA.
What kinds of animals do you normally foster?
I foster only cats and kittens.  
How did your adventure being a fosterer begin?
An old friend of mine's cat had kittens and since she lived in an apartment with a pet limitation, she asked me if I could foster them for her. I agreed. That got fostering in my blood and I never could shake it. Five years later in 2008, I contacted Purrfect Pals.
How do you keep yourself from becoming too attached to the fosters you help?
There's no way you don't get attached. They always manage to worm their way into your heart and even more so for the ones that were especially sick. I made a promise to myself never to adopt a foster and 35 litters later, I've kept that word - though it wasn't easy to do so more than once.
What is most frustrating for you as a foster?
When they're sick. You want them to get better but sometimes that's just not in the cards.
What is most rewarding?
Getting updates on cats & kittens I've fostered. It's a special treat to see them grown up.
Do you have pets of your own? How do they respond to the foster animals?
I do have cats of my own - and they pretty much ignore the door. Sometimes there will be a paw that slides under the door and that tends to lead to either a hiss & a swat (from either side) or a game of whack-a-paw.

What advice can you give to someone who might be wanting to become a foster?
Fostering isn't easy. It's hard to give them back to the shelter to be adopted. If you have pets of your own, I'd highly recommend dedicating a room just to the fosters. As newborn kittens aren't born litterbox trained, a room without a carpet is best but you can use scrap carpet, rugs, or floor tiles to protect the carpet. Wal-Mart also sells really cheap towels which are good for protecting the floor and helping to litter train. Buy their entire stock.
When you are not saving animals what do you like to do? Inside, I'm a big computer geek - I like building, fixing, and upgrading PC's. Then there's playing games on the PC or PS3/XBox, reading books (fantasy/sci-fi), and writing computer programs.
Outside, I like going for walks on sunny days, photography, sight-seeing, and riding my 2009 Harley-Davidson XL1200C Sportster

And now the questions from Inside the Actors Studio:
 What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on? PC mods, new discoveries about outer space (I can get lost for hours on Wikipedia on gravity & black holes)
What turns you off?
What sound or noise do you love? A cat's chirp/murr. Hearing the sound of a train horn off in the distance can instantly relax me, reminds me of when I stayed at my Grandparents house as a kid.
What sound or noise do you hate? Cat fights!
What is your favorite curse word? 
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I haven't really thought about it, I've been at my dream job my entire adult life - programming computers. I like being presented with a problem and figuring out a solution and that's exactly what programming is like.
What profession would you not like to do?
Just about anything on Dirty Jobs. :)
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Greetings! There's x,xxx former fosters waiting to see you.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Fab Four are NOT photogenic

Actually, I can't really say that.  When I can get them in front of a lens and not kissing the lens, they do take rather nice photos.  Unfortunately getting them that far away from me has been near impossible.  These kittens are not mere lap cats, they are chest kitties and shoulder kitties.. pretty much they want their heads with in smooching distance of your lips when ever possible.

It is cute, but it can be a little overwhelming.  I went down to the kitten room this weekend to spend some time with them.  I was not feeling well and thought I'd take a little nap.. yeah, that wasn't a good idea.  The four of them piled up as close to my mouth as they could.  Even Shortcake was sitting on my shoulder... (they are rubbing off on her which is nice) well only problem was a good part of the time they were blocking what little airway I actually had available to me.. I could only think of "Death by Purr"..   Both Anubis and Victor are smooch-addicted.  They both reach up and pat my face and present their heads for kisses.. Victor  has much better manners about the whole thing.  If you aren't kissing Anubis to her liking she'll nibble you.  At least we are down to nibble and not out and out biting.  Owen is the third most interested in getting smooched, then Clyve, who is often found off playing with Shortcake.  

Shortcake has voluntarily climbed up on my lap and now lets me pat her.    I really preferred to call her Lani, but she was looking to get into mischief and I called out to her and she responded to Shortcake, so Shortcake it is.. 

Clyve - being "naughty".
He got up on top of the cage all on his own and was sitting in the carrier because he could.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Great Escape and the Wicked Witch

Since the kittens are eating raw to help them fatten up, I have to bring it downstairs to them from the kitchen. Last night I went down to the kitten room with the plate of raw food and a stack of clean dishes - since I am still trying to get them to eat canned.  The kittens tend to sit on the edge of the futon waiting for me to open the door, but I have been able to get in with out too much of an issue - until last night.

This time all of them decided they were making a break for it, and kitten after kitten issued as if someone had given a "CHARGE" command.  I tried shutting the door only to catch a kitten in the midsection (I was hoping he would back up so I didn't shut it with any strength, just enough to hold him there) I put the dishes down - afraid to leave the raw food unattended for fear it would attract a member of The Crew.  I leaned down and grabbed the kitten stuck in the door and attempted to get him back in the room but by doing so several others saw their chance to escape.  Frustrated and missing the requisite 4 hands to do this job properly, I ended up gently tossing kittens and being completely overwhelmed (think "the running of the brides") till I was able to shut the door.

I turned around to find Owen half way across the room all proud of his accomplishment.  I looked around and didn't see anyone else.  I scooped up Owen and offered him a tour of the house that he fought so hard to see.

Since I had called to my husband for help (and he couldn't help as he was in the middle of cooking on the stove top) I took Owen upstairs to tell him that I thought I had it under control  (who knows, maybe another kitten had found a hiding spot??)   Owen was so fascinated and happy and proud.  He looked around totally enjoying his sight seeing - that is until I got near my husband who was stir-frying.  Owen took one look at the stove and heard one sizzle and he completely freaks out.

I tried to calm him down, but he was trying so hard to get away from the situation that it was getting a little dangerous.  I was probably five to ten feet away from the stove, so I wasn't afraid of him getting into anything harmful, but scrambling and falling out of my arms and then running into a member of the crew.. (well OK dangerous is probably too strong of a word to use).  So I backed slowly away, turned away, all the while talking softly to him, telling him the stove was of no danger to him, but how I could understand how he might be frightened with all this talk of me trying to fatten him up and them bringing him to a stove...  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oh Basket, My Basket

Oh perfect Basket, how do I love the, let me count the ways..

I can sit in you, I look good in you

I can play with my toys in you..

You are so defensible..  I shall protect you from intruders and  I shall love you forever..

We don't even want your silly basket, we have this uber cool box!!
 ~Victor & Owen

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


This is the "addition" to the Fab Four.  She is not used to siblings, nor people.  She doesn't really hate either, but she totally doesn't know what to do with either.  Last night I got her to purr while I was patting her, but while purring she was still slinking away from my hand and moving away.  It was so bizarre  it was totally a "I want to get away" gesture while purring for the first time.  She often has a very sweet smell to her.  One time she smelled a bit like gum drops, another a bit like chocolate... which is a little disconcerting   A sweet smell coming off a cat often means there is a medical problem, but she is healthy and robust, eating well, doing well outside of an occasional sneeze.  I'm thinking about calling her Shortcake (after the Strawberry Shortcake toys of the 80s that smelled sweet) or Lani.. (pronounced la - nye)   She's just so unsure of things, she hasn't accepted a name yet.

This is the only longer haired kitty of the group.  He is also very robust, very healthy all be it pretty darn thin. It is harder to tell on him because he has fluffy to hide behind, but you get your hands on him and you realize there is little more to him than fluff and bones.   He was the first to engage Shortcake in anything more than a hiss contest.  I've decided to call him Clive.  (Clyve?)

Another boy.. this one is short haired.  I started off calling him Vlad, and it worked very well with him for a while, but then for some reason I started calling him Victor.  He seems to be more of a goof than the name Vlad would suggest, so I am 99% sure he is going to be Victor.  He is everywhere, very playful, very friendly, feels the need for lots of kisses and pats, but he has no problem going off on his own - or with his siblings - to play.

This little boy was Elvis for a while.  Then he was Lyle. Neither name stuck.  I ended up calling him Owen, and that one I like and he seems to like too.  I'm sure you are probably thinking I mean to refer to Clive Owen, but I so don't.. I am thinking Owen from the TV show "Torchwood".
Owen was one of two of the fab four who was failing to thrive when he came to the house.  He spent a lot of time "meatloafing" and just sitting on a lap or with another kitten.  I was so fearful that I took his temperature (normal if not a smidge low) and when the shelter opened up the next day I took him and his sister (upcoming) in to have their stool tested and to get some fluids. They gained back the weight that was lost, then lost some of that gain.  They are just hovering around the weight that they were when they showed up.  After a few days you'd think they would be more.. but nope. He is doing better clinically though.  He is a bit more outgoing, not always curled up in a ball, a little more engaging and more interacting.  Finding a food they will all consistently eat is not easy, and I've pretty much given up. They all like raw, and for now they will get raw, because frankly they are all just way too thin.  Owen isn't even fluff and bones because he has no fluff being short haired.  His fur is also quite wire-y.  Be glad that even his short coat covers his true condition, because there isn't an ounce of fat on this kitten.. anywhere. His tail is like a rod of pencil asparagus.. his ribs and hipbones are easily felt.. it is just so sad.

Last, but by no means least, is the girl of the Fab Four.  My husband named her when she was curled up on his lap one day causing a severe case of kitten paralysis.  Meet Anubis.  She should be called Velcro  or "no no, stop biting my nose", but if I picked the later than she would get really confused when I called her "no no stop biting my ear!"  After just a few short days she is doing better at the biting thing, but she does get over excited and can't help herself from time to time.  It really is sweet.  And when I mean she should be called Velcro  I do mean she should be called "the kitty who needs to be on a human at all times"  Just about all the pictures I have of her are on me. When I put her down to try to take a picture, she simply gets up and walks back over to me, so all shots are out of focus. This one above is when I finally got her off my lap long enough to get on the floor to take some pictures of the other kittens and she climbed on my back, then moved up to my shoulder and just sat there and purred waiting for me to turn my head so she could head butt me and we could touch noses.  She has a quota of a 1000 kisses per day, and is not afraid to run out.  She also loves to paw gently at my face as if patting me.  She is the kind of sweet you all too easily can get addicted to knowing full well that she is probably not going to be good for you.  I mean it is all well and good for an hour at a time, but could you imagine this all day long... (actually I don't have to, as I'm currently typing this up with Muffin on my lap because she also needs to be attached to me for a good portion of her day)  She is also completely lacking in fat.  Her little bones stick out pretty much everywhere.  She dropped in weight about an ounce, gained half, lost it, gained an ounce, and lost a half.

Lest you think I'm exaggerating on the there is no fat on them at all..
I can't tell you how badly I want to feed them completely inappropriate things that will put weight on them.. but I know it is better to do it slowly and healthily.. One day at a time.. (OK, fine, one meal at a time.. )

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Giveaway time!!

Oh this is a good one too!!
Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know I like to go to the Yarmouth Clam Festival each year.  This past year I bought a beautiful calendar from a local artist.  I have bought several of her packs of cards in the past, and when I saw the cat calendar I couldn't resist.

Well I brought it home and put it aside for the first of the year.  When I finally put it up I realized there were a couple of typos and thought I would write to Elizabeth Halsey via her website to let her know.  I totally value and respect good customer service and have stopped doing business with several companies with whom I have had similar interactions with before because often the response is "yeah, so what?"  But Elizabeth replied very kindly and offered me a new calendar with out the typos.

As I tend to write all over my calendars I was OK with the version I had, but because she did offer to make it right I thought I would ask her if she would like to send me something as a give-away.  A small promotion of her products as my small way of thanking her for caring. And she agreed!  She sent me a 10 pack of assorted cat cards.  You can see the designs here which include Catnip (above) Cattail, Pussy Willow, Knitting, Fishbowl, Birdhouse, Pansie, Yarn, Snowflake and Cupcake

I do hope you check out her website.  She does so much more than cats.  Sewing, music, barn animals, teachers, and an amazing pink breast cancer ribbon to a butterfly..

Her product line varies from calendars to note cards to sticky notes, napkins, magnets and even gift enclosures.

I am accepting entries for a week until 1/29/13.  Due to shipping costs, this is going to be a US only giveaway - sorry about that.  I am more than happy to accept outside the US entries if you want them shipped to someone with in the US.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 21, 2013

cautiously optimistic

Both kittens that went to the shelter for weight loss are back up half an ounce.  I think I've gotten four names down, we'll see if they stick before I introduce them - well that and come up with a fifth name..

Kitten update and "I'm a winner"

So the five of them are so active and LOUD.. you would be shocked to realize we have a serious issue going on.  Two of the fab four started to lose weight.  The girl and the white faced boy were down almost an ounce in a day.  They also produce stool so odorous that it could probably be used to strip paint off walls.  

I was concerned enough to take a temperature and fortunately there wasn't a fever, if anything it was a little low.  I tried force feeding them baby food.  Their brothers loved it, these two however were very much not interested.
Girl is screaming at you to do...
and do it NOW.. 
They are talkers, that is for certain.  You walk in they yell at you, you pick them up they yell at you, you feed them, they yell at you, you pat them they yell at you.  They tell you they are going to the litter box in a VERY LOUD VOICE.. (get the picture)   The four of them are very very people orientated and can almost always be found in a lap the minute one produces itself.
Little Miss Independant
Little Miss Independent is perfectly content to be on her own.  She's fine not getting patted, not being held, in fact she is perfectly happy having the fab four there because it means less attention on her.  Every time I pick her up and give her attention she looks totally freaked out and gives me airplane ears..   I'm hoping she gives up on that quickly.

Anyway, I took those two into the shelter with a stool sample.  Nothing was detected, so I was sent home with instructions to deworm again on the off chance they were so infested the first dose didn't take care of it all, and we gave them both some fluids.  When they got home they had a few bites of food, which was wonderfully encouraging, but not nearly enough to sustain.  Kittens have that horrible window where they should nurse AND eat, because neither one alone gives them enough calories to sustain them, and when you throw in just one other little thing, it can so easily tip the scales in the wrong direction.

I also got a package this weekend.  Cats & Co had a surprise giveaway, meaning they offered up "something" for us to win, with out telling us what it was.  It was so fun to win and wait to find out what it was.. well here it is..
The catnip is very strong, and smells great!   I was also excited to see the straw thing (at the bottom - it is purple) because Love-and-Hisses recently talked about what fun they were and I wanted to get some to try because every time I go down to the kitten room with a drink with a straw I end up losing the straw to the kittens :)   So far these kittens are more interested in ping pong balls, but I'm sure it will be chewed to pieces before summer.
This was hiding in the pict above.
I have yet to figure out where I'm going to put it, but I do love it.

Would you stop blogging and give me a lap already lady!!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

2013 season starts off with a purr..

I got an email on Thursday from the shelter asking if I was lonely.  I could only laugh.

They transported some animals up from Georgia and a few of the kittens were underweight.  I was told there were four, but when I got to the shelter on Friday they had added a fifth.  Three little black and white boys and their sister, and the little solid black female has to be an add on.  She is so not happy with the rambunctious attitude of the other four, and growls at them if they get too close investigating her.  Nor would she join in the massively obnoxious purring kitten pile they made when I sat down after setting them up.

The four are wicked friendly, wanting desperately to nurse on me.. and not in a good way.  They start by biting me, which is kind of cute, but it HURTS.  The girl will not, can not, seem to take no for an answer, and even blowing directly in her nose will not deter her from biting me.

I want to lick and bite YOU
I've only got a couple of good individual photos that came out with out being all blurry.   They were too excited to be cuddled, but hopefully soon there will be some real stunners..

Friday, January 18, 2013

Flashback Friday

For Rene: Skippy videos circa 2009/July

And thank you for the idea of the flashback.. ;)

Going through old videos I'm shocked at how bad that old floor looked.  even 'clean' it was an absolute mess, so looking at it now when it was less than clean.. well lets just say I'm a little embarrassed at some of the videos I posted.. Not because it was horrific, but because it LOOKS horrific.. (these ones aren't even that bad)

I so can't wait for my husband to build me new hardware for the kitten room.  I'd like to redo the box around the litter box area aka the litter box box.  We first built that probably 15 years ago.. We have some pretty interesting ideas how to make it a bit more people friendly.  Leaning over the side to scoop isn't the most 'ergonomically correct" thing we could do.  I would also like to redo the window boxes.  They were great in theory, but in practice they just weren't as storage friendly as you might think, nor were they good for sitting on.    Part of me would like to get rid of them all together, but then what to do with the floor under them as they went in when all there was in that room was the cement floor.  I don't really want to redo the entire floor  *shrug*  Maybe we'll pull them out and just go from there.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Skippy Says

Man the momma is completely out of ideas.. no kittens, no post ideas..

did she forget just how darn cute *I* am?? I'll have to sneeze all over her and remind her..

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Blog the Change

Blog the Change 
I've been seeing Blog the Change posts around for the past few years and I kept meaning to participate, but it always seems to slip my mind when I'm behind my computer in a mental and physical place I can blog.

Currently I'm in a mental one, but not in a physical one (shhh, yes I am at work, and yes, I should be working, but I so did not want to miss this yet again)

There are so many changes I would love to see made, but most of them are in the faerie godmother stage.. you know, you need to have a magic wand to fix.

But one thing I wish to convey to people is that you do not have to make great big sweeping changes to make a difference.  Every day small acts add up.

Nothing sums this up more spectacularly than a quote I heard on the day of William and Catherine's spectacular royal wedding.  One of the news casters said the full cost of the royal wedding, then said "that works out to about one Pound per person" (the Pound being the currency of the United Kingdom).  One tiny little "Pound".. about a $1.50 US.

If they could do that, imagine what a dollar could do for the homeless animals.

So many of us would like to make giant sweeping grand donations to the shelters (or any of our favorite causes) but we can not afford to.  I know it seems like if you can't do big, there really is no point in doing it.  But it really is the small things done over and over by people who care that make a really big difference.

The change you throw in a collection bin adds up.  The towels you were going to throw away will give comfort and warmth   The extra yarn you had from a project can make a small bed to go in a carrier when a pet is adopted.  A bunch of lettuce will feed many bunnies and small animals. There are things you can donate and if your shelter is so inclined there are things you can craft to donate.  The shelter I foster for has several very crafty women, they make cat beds for sale, jewelry with cats and dogs on it, and most recently some beautiful hand made cards.  You have a new outlet for your craft, and they have a new source of revenue.  See if they have a program for kids, many have birthday parties for your child at the shelter or school break 'camps' where kids get to 'help' the animals while on vacation.

Heck, ten minutes you spend going into a shelter or stopping by an adoption cage in a satellite facility to help socialize a pet will make the pet more adoptable. (yes, I am advocating going in and petting cats or walking dogs as a way to help)  Heck, I've seen people show interest in an animal and it generates more interest, and eventually the right person in the right circumstance sees it and becomes interested.

Share the word of the wonderful pets up for adoption at shelters.

Support your local open admission (aka "kill") shelter.  With out help they are going to continue to be a place where pets go to die, not where they are rescued from.

Give up the fantasy of what you wish you could do and just start by doing something.

A good day..

Well despite the fact that yesterday was Monday and my husband was out of town, and I had a killer headache for most of the day, I have to say that yesterday was all in all a good day.

It started out with Jack snuggling with me, licking my nose, wanting to be close to me.  He was avoiding being on the bed while he was having his medical issues, so to have him  up there when I woke up was really nice.

Then the shelter called to let me know I could bring the kittens in to be neutered.  I was so pleasantly shocked that they did.  Not only because there was space for them, but that the message got through the chain of staff and someone followed through.  Part of me was kinda hoping the phone call wouldn't happen and they would still be here, but they do need to go back so off they went.

During the day I made adoption cards for them, so after work I ran to the shelter to drop those off, and my boys did very well and looked very good.  Hawkeye and I cuddled, Trapper ran free and said hello to another kitty in a different cage.  Radar was just looking for mischief.  Talking to the staff it turns out Radar already has a home.  One of the staff members has a brother who saw him before I got him and wanted him.

so good for him.  This just means Hawkeye and Trapper needs a new home.  Together would be awesome, but if not that's OK too.

I stopped off at the grocery store on the way home.  I found large cans of pumpkin on sale for half price.  So I got a bakers dozen.  There were a few more left, but I just couldn't face carrying them to the car then into the house. (big headache.. remember)

I got home and had two packages waiting for me.  The first from a friend of mine..

How cute is this??  It is one of those mini books that are the size of a coaster.  I can't wait to read it once my head stops hurting..

and I also got a very large package sent priority mail from Purina.  I couldn't stop giggling because I knew exactly what it was.. the tote I won at the end of last year..

 it is nice and roomy, and I can imagine it will be awesome for all kinds of things.  CatLadyLand is one of those blogs I adore, and I love that I can tote around her logo.. cause Cats Are Funny.. (Of course this spurs me to want to make my own logo.. I just need to find someone willing to do it for little to no money.. )

I'm looking forward to bringing it to BlogPaws..

Monday, January 14, 2013


Getting a good shot of the black spot in Trapper's eye wasn't easy.  It doesn't help that his eye was still inflamed when I tried..

The MASH trio are of size now and are doing well.  Their eyes still produce a bit of goop and they still sneeze occasionally, but they have been doing this for a week.  They aren't so bad they need meds, heck they are so active that you barely notice unless you are looking for it.  They so totally thing they are the Flying Wallendas, throwing themselves off of anything and everything and flying through the air and making graceful landings.  Their new owners are so going to need to know about their pension for doing this..

That and they so need a few extra baskets..

There is a good chance they are going back today depending on what the shelter adopted out this weekend..   (more adoptions means less change because kittens are neutered before going up for adoption and adults are after if they need it.  the more that are scheduled to go home means more in line at the clinic)

Sunday, January 13, 2013


What's this?
I like it.. it smells fun, it is fun, it is mine
Whatcha doin?
Back off, 
this is so mine.. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jack.. the vet visit..

So, I have to admit, I was a complete and utter chicken and broke down and brought Jack to the vet.  I'm not sorry I did (although I am a little aghast by the bill) even though I'm exactly where I was before I went but at least now I have someone else - a professional -  telling me the same thing. Dealing with crystals is not something to be taken lightly..

So as a recap, Jack has had two serious bouts with urinary crystals.  The first as in 05 when he was three.  He blocked and needed emergency intervention. He had a bladder the size of a baseball! I brought him home with a tube in his urethra so he didn't have to spend the night at the e-clinic.  They let me because I worked at a vet clinic at the time, and I assured them I knew what I was doing (although looking back I'm still a little surprised they did it).  he blocked again a few days (weeks?) later.  this was shortly after Eli had been peeing blood and had been diagnosed with urinary crystals too.. and Em was diabetic.

My cats were getting a "premium" brand of dry food, and I was shocked we were having these issues.. oh how ignorant I was as to what causes these issues.  (a good part of the reason I share these things on my blog is to help get the word out.  I want to join the growing choir of voices singing the praises of species appropriate foods for an obligate carnivore and the wonders it can do)

Anyway.. I started reading what other people with cats with urinary crystals were doing and the majority of them at places I visited said that simply switching them to canned food and getting rid of dry would keep the problem from re-occurring.  Working at the vet I got 'prescription' food at cost, but reading over the bags and cans it kept saying for occasional use only - which always bugged me.  These cats were on this for the rest of their life, why did it say for occasional use??

Then there was the question of multiple cat households.  Most of the people buying the food gave it to every cat in the house.  This didn't seem right.  There was also the issue that a lot of cats on this food quickly became overweight.

I read and read and read.. I put Jack and Eli on an over the counter urinary canned cat food.  Eli did fine, Jack blocked (the second time)  I kept reading.

This is when I learned.. that while they do not know what causes some cats to get urinary crystals  they do know how to prevent it from becoming a problem.  You basically need to do two things, keep the urine slightly acidic - in the 6.0-6.5 range (neutral is 7.0) and keep them well hydrated.  As I posted yesterday: There are other schools of thought that you need to keep ash low or potassium low or magnesium low or calcium low - or all of the above - but to me that just seems to open the door up for nutritional deficiencies   I feed my cats what they were designed to eat - raw meat and as little plant based ingredients as possible.  This has kept Jack crystal free for quite some time.

You can keep a cat's urine naturally acidic by feeding it a mostly animal based diet.  The fewer plant based ingredients the better. Which is one reason why I chose to feed my cats exclusively a raw diet (except for treats.. and when we run out of raw, I feed a canned food with as few plant based ingredients as I can find) Except Jack - my chow hound, my dishwasher, my garbage disposal, my incredibly food motivated boy - has other ideas. He has chewed through more bags of treats, bags of dry food I bring home for foster kittens (I am now extra careful not to leave them in the house, they stay in my car until I am ready to head down to the kitten room) and a bag of Swheat Scoop which is wheat based and several bag of Worlds Best Cat litter which is corn based. I do my best to limit treats. Plants work against the cat in that they make the urine alkaline. When the urine is alkaline the crystals either form easier or aren't broken down by the acid so they accumulate more easily. Dry food has far too many plants in it - it has to in order to form kibble shapes. They get around this problem by adding acidifying agents such as the low cost dl-methionine (if you have a bag of kibble, go look, chances are that is in there)

Anyway, back in 08, he got into a bag of something, and then I was overly generous with the treats, and he ended up peeing in the bath tub. I was not as well versed in treatment options as I am now, so off to the vet we went. One thing I did know that he, like a lot of cats with crystal problems, generally doesn't have a bacterial infection to go along with it. When the vet gave me an antibiotic (clavamox) along with the recommendation of 'prescription' foods, I asked if she saw an infection. She admitted she didn't, but then told me that the clavamox would help acidify the urine. I have not been able to confirm that anywhere, and I believe she simply made it up on the spot for some unknown reason... probably to justify having dispensed it to me. There are better, cheaper, and less dangerous ways to acidify the urine.. (the over use of antibiotics is just as dangerous for pets as it is for people)

More reading, more learning,and more websites including ones for alternative /  holistic care and I came to a set of protocols I was comfortable using when he gave me the signal he was uncomfortable (which will happen when he breaks into a bag of something, or I get heavy handed with treat time - it is just so hard not to, the cats love it so!) for four+ years I have been able to keep a handle on this. Actually I haven't really had to do anything other than watch his diet for the past two or three years.

It happened so very fast.  Usually I don't notice that he is having an issue and it is the pee in the tub that tips me off, so I imagine this hit him very fast.  I started supplementing him, and making sure he had plenty of tempting acidifying foods that had extra water in them.  I was a little afraid I was behind the eight ball and that I was foolish for trying to take care of this myself, but after a night he seemed to be doing better.   I backed off the supplements afraid of over acidifying him and causing more problems and unfortunately he started leaking urine.  back to the dose I originally settled on, but things seemed to be progressing faster than I could take care of it.  The irritation of the crystals caused my boy to start peeing blood.  I can only imagine the pain he must be in.

Being that it is the weekend, I thought it would be negligent to not get to the vet.  I know full well that a blocked cat can die very quickly.  So I made a call and got squeezed in.  There was an xray taken, and the urine was looked at (although there was so many red blood cells it was hard to get a good look) fluids were given and pain medication was given (and dispensed in case he needs it over the weekend)  I am very happy with this vet in that they didn't lie to me, didn't push anything (script food was offered but he didn't push when I declined it) I was a little less than thrilled on a few accounts, but I know I'm horribly picky and I'll probably never have a vet that I 100% agree with and I can accept that and not nit pick here.

When Jack got back in his carrier he let his bladder go again (I can only imagine how painful it is to 'hold it') and his urine is so red it looked like cherry kool-aid.  I am very fortunate that my boy has enough dignity to keep himself to easily cleaned surfaces now that he is dripping urine.  Even still to spend some time away from him (he is isolated in one room to keep cleaning to a minimum) coming upon that is really heart breaking.  There are drops everywhere, and frankly it looks like a bit of a massacre happened.. 

Sadly I can not prove it was the Catswell treats I gave him that caused this.  I have been going over the past week trying to think if he got into anything else, think if I might have given too many treats.. come up with ANY other reason why this would have happened now.. and there isn't anything else.  We did have a couple of visitors, a couple more than is standard but Jack loves people (more people to tell him how HANDSOME!! he is)   I supposed that I could give them again after Jack gets better, but there is no way on earth I'm risking that.

I am specifically not mentioning what I use to help Jack simply because I do not want anyone to follow my lead with out doing their own reading and research and understand exactly what issues can arise if you are not careful because I am not a veterinarian nor do I play one on the Internet.  I am very happy to get into an email conversation (or facebook) if you want to learn more about what I use and why.

Friday, January 11, 2013

With thoughts of Jack and the Crystals

So I have been obsessing over what on earth could have caused Jack's problems.. Then I saw this..
No, I haven't been giving Jack dog treats, but I did get a couple of bags of Catswell treats.. the salmon and the chicken, and he got a few of each over the weekend..

It still doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense, as I didn't give out that many and he didn't eat all that I gave out (but a lot, a good portion of The Crew was totally not interested in them) I got them for free from PetSmart (they had a FB promo) and while I wasn't overly thrilled with the ingredients, I figured as treats what harm could they do..

I'm not saying this was the cause.. but it is seriously making me think - and I doubt I'll be giving any more of them to my kitties.. I don't want to risk it.  Now the question is do I bring them back to the store??

the products in question are being recalled because of the quality of the meat involved.  it comes from China where they use antibiotics and other ingredients that make the chicken unacceptable to be sold to the humans of the US.  Petfoods have no such restrictions.  I can not imagine the quality of the chicken caused Jack to develop urinary crystals, but I can not imagine anything else he ate did either.  I haven't pinned anything on this, it is just the one thing that has changed in my house in the past two weeks, but I will keep thinking about it.. 

Guess who.. (and guess what!)

These are NOT bunny buts..
They are Jack feet.
You knew that... right?

We have actually been dealing with some pretty serious issues with Jack the past couple of days.  The other night I got home from work and while I was having the "How was your day" discussion with my husband, I turned and saw Jack watching "Mirror Jack" and looking pretty uncomfortable.  He could have just paused halfway through a sit (hey, it happens!) so I kept watching him, and even my husband noticed that he looked uncomfortable.

I went to check him out and his stomach was very taught and he actually shivered while I felt him over.

Since Jack has had several bouts of urinary crystals, my mind immediately flew there.  I offered treats and he ate.  I isolated him and gave him dinner and he ate that too, but he was still very uncomfortable and restless, and he started doing the "pee pee" dance - that stance cats take when they are about to spray.  Yup.. my boy had crystals again.

Crystals are very serious.  They can easily bind together and block a cat which is deadly. No one knows why some cats get them over others, but they do know how to prevent them once a cat shows they are prone to them. You need to keep their urine acidic (6.0 - 6.5 on the PH scale) and you need to keep them well hydrated to flush them out regularly so they don't bind up if they form.  There are other schools of thought that you need to keep ash low or potassium low or magnesium low or calcium low - or all of the above - but to me that just seems to open the door up for nutritional deficiencies   I feed my cats what they were designed to eat - raw meat and as little plant based ingredients as possible.  This has kept Jack crystal free for quite some time.

The last time he got them was because he broke into a bag of food I brought home for the foster kittens. Another time it was a bag of wheat based litter he chewed through and ate.  This time I have no idea what brought it on this time.  I also find it very peculiar that I didn't get the warning signs before it got that far.  Usually he pees in a tub and I know to be very careful with what he eats for the next couple of days to keep things "flowing" if you will.  I'm quite concerned with this.. but I have no answers so I have none to give.

But this time he was uncomfortable, and miserable, and I immediately started him on the few supplements that I know will help him.  This is the first time I have had to deal with this after making the decision that this was something I could deal with without a vet.

Now be aware that I take this VERY seriously.  I know how to palpate his abdomen and feel for a full bladder. I could not feel Jack's so I knew he was not blocked.  He was eating, he was not lethargic, if he was "blocked" it was very recent and at this point did not pose a danger - the danger being an overly full bladder backing up and causing problems with the kidneys and even rupturing..   I would NOT let that happen, and would bring in a vet if necessary..

While I knew he was treatable at this point, it didn't stop me from being panicked.  I checked in with him every few minutes - and I swear I heard him tell me to stop hovering.  With an acidifying amino acid on board, and a few other things to help calm his bladder, and his being locked in the bedroom with me so I could be right there if something else happened.. we called it a night.

Um, momma... you are forgetting to let us in!!

In the morning he was better but yet things were worse.  There were a few small bits of urine in the litter box, a positive sign... he was hungry.. a positive sign.. and when I paid attention to him he danced around and leaked urine on the floor.  which is good - but oh so much worse to me..  ah well.. "better out than in" as the saying goes..

Another round of supplements, and a trek home at lunch time found Jack looking seriously bothered.  The poor boy had puddles all over the room.. and his rear end quite wet and smelled of urine.  I cleaned him up the best I could, and I would have just said the heck with it and run him to a vet if we didn't have a clump in the litter box that was 50% larger than what had been in there that morning. (and a quick check told me his bladder wasn't full - so there was no blockage)

Come dinner time he was dry and cleaner than he had been when I had left at lunch.  there were no more puddles around the room, and there was several clumps in the litter box! :) He was also far more comfortable in his own skin and far less guarded when I touched his middle.

I do not, nor would I ever,  advocate people abstain from their vets when their cats look uncomfortable or have urinary issues.  I do believe in empowerment though. There are things you can take care of yourself.. As you learn and grow in alternative healing, at some point you have to take that leap of faith that you know what you are doing and just do it... but always with the cautious mind that if things get out of hand faster than you can 'fix' them that you will need to get to a professional.  It is also why I am not mentioning the supplements I have been using here.  I'm more than willing to share with anyone who asks, but I wouldn't want someone to stumble upon this post thinking they could just give them with out knowing a lot more about them.

At this point I say we are "out of the woods" but they are just right over there.  I need to keep a close eye on him and watch his diet carefully.

and clean the room..
Urine under black light
Same photo just with a little more light so you can see where it is..
that is the baseboard near where he did the "pee pee dance" several times 

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