Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Monday, October 15, 2018

You would think with nine kittens I would be busier..

Seriously, fostering with mother cats is pretty freakin boring. Fostering a mother cat who wants nothing to do with me is even more boring.

Darcy is still quite nervous when I am around. I watch her on the web cam and she is a happy and attentive mother. When I show up to watch her in person she shrinks into a little ball and I can pretty much hear her chant "go away, go away, go away"

She doesn't mind if I reach in and scratch her chin and behind her ears, and she will eventually relax enough to purr but I know she doesn't trust me. Hopefully soon.

Onyx is doing well. I found a little acne on her chin yesterday. Hopefully, that will clear right up since I'm not using any plastic bowls. She refuses to eat any wet food, which is breaking my heart, but hey, you pick your battles.. as long as she is eating and the kittens are growing that is what matters.

I've got a couple of weeks of boring.. and then chaos.. I fostered two mother cats each with four kittens in a room smaller than this, so I know what is coming... that is if we end up introducing them. I'm not a fan of mixing litters, because you never know what is lurking below the surface. Not all diseases can be tested for, not all show themselves after two weeks - but sometimes those risks are worth it for the benefits. I think having Darcy watch Onyx love on me and not worry will help her calm a bit and I'm hoping that having Onyx watch Darcy eat wet food will get her to try it. *shrug* we'll see. They could end up hating each other and it is a mute point, but we will cross that bridge in a few weeks when we come to it. Right now each is happy to hang out in their nest and nurse.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

And now there are nine

My new momma cat delivered four healthy happy kittens. Three boys and a girl.

We have one white with black. One tuxie, one solid black, and one that is black with a white bib.

She gave birth in the little white cube that I bought a few years ago just for this purpose. It is a box for recycling but it is the perfect size and I like the lip in the front because it ensures that kittens that cling on will get knocked off when she goes to eat.

Both mothers are still spotting, but that isn't unusual at this point. The babies are all growing and doing well. At this point, they are pretty boring.. feed mom, scoop boxes, clean up the mess.. in a couple of weeks though, we are totally going to have mayhem.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Meet the "ish" - the black fuzzy watermelon with racing stripes aka my new foster kitty

Yesterday I cruelly left you with this image.. Many of you were wondering if Michaela was back. Sorry to get your hopes up, this is not Michaela..

As you can see, this little lady is heavy with kittens

She came with the name Onyx but I am totally going to pick something out. I'm leaning towards Marcy at the moment, but I'm totally not set on it. Currently - as you might have heard in the video - I am calling her Waddles.  "Waddles" is super affectionate like Michaela. She does not like to sit still and have her photo taken that is for certain. She LOVES belly rubs and you can feel how engorged her mammary glands are so she feels a bit like a fuzzy watermelon with two large "racing stripe" bands running down her belly. I think she has more milk than Michaela did. I did get to feel the kittens moving in her belly which is always cool.


So why two? I have a strong desire to help right now, mostly to take myself out of my own mind where I just sit and lament that Jack is no longer with me. Darcy is coming around but she is still quite fearful and doesn't really want me involved.. there is no real helping involved with putting down food and water and scooping a box, so when NHKittens was looking for a foster home for this kitty because the people who were going to foster backed out, I offered my kitten room.

See, Darcy needs a smaller space to feel comfortable. This left the rest of the kitten room empty and it was just so sad. Darcy is currently in a cage in the bathroom. I felt the need to put her food and water in the cage so she wouldn't have to stress about leaving her kittens alone too long.

I am still working with her and each day we have more and more progress. Last night I even got her to purr! I was able to massage her belly a little which she liked.

I have been a little concerned because she hasn't been using the litter box consistently so I forced interaction to hold the kittens and to pick her up and make sure she didn't have a fever and that her abdomen wasn't having any problems. I even checked her gums to make sure she wasn't pale and everything checked out in my cursory totally untrained exam. She has quite a bit of flea dirt on her but I assumed that was left over from her previous situation.

I picked the babies up to examine them. They still feel heavy for their size, but I'm still less than impressed with their progress. I need to get a scale in that room so I can be a bit more precise in the assessment. I generally don't weigh kittens because I can usually easily feel them gaining weight from day to day, but I will if I'm in a situation like this. Anyway, as I was looking over the kittens I noticed three fleas running across the belly. So yes, this would explain the lackluster growth I've been noticing. So I treated Darcy again and took care of the kittens and *fingers crossed* in a day or two hopefully things will get back to the schedule of gains that I'm used to.

Right now and for two weeks they will be separated. From there we will see how it goes. Chances are they are going to want to just nurse their kittens for the first three to four weeks. If nothing happens and they are still with me, and they seem to be okay with meeting we might mix the litters and see what happens. I'm not a huge fan of this because you can never know what could come of it as not all disease shows up in two to three weeks. I know a lot of people who do it all the time and chances are that it will be fine, but there is a risk. But we'll see. Maybe someone will want to foster kittens and they'll take one of mine to 'spread the wealth"

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

And then there were four.. ish..

Darcy gave birth sometime Monday night. I found her and her babies in the corner where she had been hiding herself.  Okay, that isn't strictly true.I saw her run into the corner and then I heard the tell tale mews of newborn kittens.

The room was a bit of a mess. She had urinated on the sink and there was wetness on the ledge by the window as well. There was litter everywhere. I was getting a little perturbed with her when I heard the mews.  I stood there contemplating what to do and I decided to set her up in the cage.  I got some blankets and a sheet and something to secure the cage door open so she didn't need to have food and litter in there with her. I also set up the webcam so I could watch her.

When I had gotten the room together I had to figure out how to move her without stressing her too hard and I figured the best way was quick and dirty. I removed the baby gate that was her protection and she tensed up quite a bit.  I reached in and took out the kittens. The first two I pulled out had the placenta attached, the third had it removed.  I put the kittens in a box I had prepared for them and stood up and got a pair of scissors to cut the cords.

I then reached in and grabbed Darcy as best I could and pulled her out of the mess she had made and placed her at the entrance of the cage and guided her in. The towel I had put down in her in that corner was soaked and there was a lot of blood. There were two remaining kittens left and it was painfully clear that neither one of them were viable.

I took a quick photo, peeked under the tails to see what was going on and found we had two boys and a girl, and gave each one to Darcy. She was happy to have them.

I left food and water for her and went to work and turned on the webcam to watch them. She settled in very quickly and started nursing them right away. She relaxed pretty quickly and seemed happy with her new accommodations.

I have gone down several times to get her used to the routine of my coming to visit. I walk on the stairs loudly. I announce my presence when I get close to the bathroom and then knock on the door. I can watch her on the webcam and see how she reacts to this. In the beginning, she would sit up and meatloaf leaving the kittens to mew and try to get back to the milkbar. After a few visits she remains in the nursing position and seems much more relaxed.  Sometimes when I visit I peek in and scratch her chin and her ears, sometimes I just sit there and talk to her and tell her what beautiful babies she made.

Last night I laid down next to the cage and reached in and took each baby out to examine. They aren't quite as heavy as Michaela's kittens were at this stage but Michaela totally overbaked her kittens so I know that is not a fair judgement. They are bigger than they were when I moved them into the cage, so I believe things are going well.  After I examined the kittens I scratched Darcy's ears and ran my hand down her back and over her sides, trying to get her used to me and also to try to assess that there were no issues. She didn't feel overly warm, she didn't have any tender spots or weird lumps from what I could tell.. although she did start purring.. so, you know.. I won 😸

Although it might have had something to do with the ish part of the post title.. Because I went and did a thing.. but, more on that tomorrow..

Monday, October 8, 2018

Meet Darcy - my new foster kitty

So, on Caturday I put on pants

I was offered a pregnant kitty for Thursday but at the time I knew I had to take Jack to the vet and I wanted time to be with him and make sure he was okay.. Since that didn't go as planned, nothing else did either.. really, why on earth do I ever make plans??

Anyway.. Darcy arrived on Saturday and is about two and a half years old and is a surrender from a hoarding situation out of state. She is petrified.

Fortunately, it manifests in an "I am not here, you can't see me, go away" response and not an "I will kill you if you come near me" response.  I have been able to reach in and scratch behind her ears, but I haven't really wanted to push it. I offered both canned and wet food close to her carrier and left to see what would happen.

I could tell this room was overwhelming her so I went back down a few hours later and moved her into the bathroom because that seemed to be her preferred place to hang out. This would give her a smaller area to get used to, to get her scent all over, to realize the world is not out to get her.

This definitely seemed easier on her..

She is now walking around instead of skulking around belly to the ground. She is jumping up into the window and watching the leaves fall.. maybe even deer if they've come around. She ate the first day okay, but not so much yesterday. Might she be ready to give birth? *shrug* who knows.

So, while she is more comfortable, I, however, am still quite suspect..

I am doing my best to be as non-threatening as possible, telling her she is safe and then I loom over her, block her exit and reach in with my big grabby hands and touch her.

Yesterday we made a little progress. I announced my arrival before opening the bathroom door, opened the door but realized I forgot food, so I shut the door and went to get food.  When I came back I realized she had been in the window and caught her jumping down and she plastered herself in the litter box. I left again so she could hide in the carrier.

See, her head is up, her ears are up, and while she is not by any means relaxed, she is far more relaxed than she is in the previous photo. So, I sat there and talked to her, I reached in and scratched her ears, and tried to be as unthreatening as possible. I decided to try to meditate (not an easy thing to do when you are grieving) and this happened.

See, her legs are stretched out.. She relaxed a bit more. It was so nice to see. It went away when I got up to leave, but it is a start.

We have a ways to go. I hope it goes quickly, I would really love to give a good pregnancy massage.

Friday, October 5, 2018

The obnoxiously short goodbye - Freakinly Awesome Jack 2002-2018

I want to start off this post by being horribly callous and possibly even mean by saying none of you could possibly understand how shattered Jack's loss has left me. I know many of you have had beloved pets and were shattered by their loss, and I can't know how, but I only know how I feel. I do not want to diminish your grief in the least. So please take this as my brain being addled by grief..

I have loved this cat more than I can possibly express, more than any other. He wormed his way into my heart the second I met him and he stayed there, curled up in a ball purring contentedly, ever since - and for always. I always dreaded this day. I knew it was going to come one day, but I was hoping, stupidly, that it was a decade away.

I will never do him justice trying to explain him. Despite what the vet said upon his initial exam, he was an incredibly remarkable cat (the vet said "he is unremarkable - meaning that there was nothing to remark on during the exam nothing wrong to keep an eye on).  He had demands, requests, and he constantly asked us questions in his whiny howl of a meow that I would give anything to hear again.

Jack had an uncanny ability to be where I needed him to be, and not necessarily where I wanted him to be. I was unemployed when I fostered him so I used to travel with him quite a bit. We took him out for ice cream, I took him to visit the Catman at work. This made him an incredibly outgoing and friendly cat that believed that everyone loved him.. and they did.

I fear that his last few weeks were 'less than' because I was emotionally distracted by the death of Graham. I did my best to care for him. I knew something wasn't right with him because he had been licking litter and peeing outside the box. When we did a senior panel we found he had an infection and was a bit anemic. I was given antibiotics for the infection but nothing came of the anemia. It wasn't dramatically worrying so I thought I would bring it up on the follow up for his UTI and we could address his symptoms and issues then. There had been some confusion about his final wellness exam as I had asked for an exam for blood work and the front desk scheduled me for blood work only so I was a little rattled and didn't ask all of my questions - again, I thought they could wait.

Then Graham happened.

I was trying to tell if he was feeling okay, trying to observe his attitudes and his demeanor. He stumbled once while walking on the bed which freaked me out but he didn't actually fall and righted himself and continued on like nothing happened. I could tell something was off. I thought it might be his urinary issue. I thought it might be kidney issues since things were headed south in that department. I thought it might be his arthritis that prevented him from "leaving work" and coming to bed when we went to bed at night (he always made his way up eventually and we snuggled almost up to the last) I had no indication that things were going to go south so quickly.

I took this photo on Tuesday maybe an hour or two before things went down hill. We sat here at "work" and I was working on my personal computer. I was kissing his head frequently. I was thinking that the upcoming Friday I would take both of these kitties in: Jack for a follow up and Muffin for a senior exam. He was laying there with me. He stood up and shook his head every so slightly and sniffled and my world shattered.  There were blood spatters on my computer and my hand.

I have had two other cats develop nose bleeds. Em developed nasal cancer. Kit who developed throat cancer. I knew our time was coming to an end. I was hoping I'd have a year like I had with Em. I emailed the vet and asked for the first available.

Jack was freaked by my reaction so he wandered off. I wanted to see if he was willing to eat. Jack was never one to turn down a meal. We offered him some canned food up in my husband's office and he ate some of it but not all. He parked himself there and did not leave.

It hurt that he didn't want to hang out with me, but considering my panicked state of mind I wasn't surprised. He was still bleeding a little.. just a few drops an hour it appeared.. and we found blood droplets in the water bowl and where he was sitting.

I tried calming down and hanging out with him but I failed miserably. He kept walking away from me. Wanting him to rest and hopefully recover, I went to bed. I found he had vomited up the food he had just eaten. I didn't see any blood in the vomit so we cleaned it up and went to sleep.

I woke up with Jack in the bed, licking my nose, purring, happy.. I had hope.

I took him to the vet, we did an exam, we found a mass that could not be explained. I took him home on supportive care hoping that he would be okay. He was not. I came home and offered him food, he wasn't interested. I ran to the kitten room to give him some dry food - his beloved dry food - and I got him to eat a few bites.

I wanted to give time for things to work. He started hanging out in my husband's bathroom. I tried to give him things to be comfortable. It broke me that he didn't want to be with me. Muffin and Fleurp spent some time with him.

He was not eating, he was not drinking that I knew. I was worried. I researched and reached for straws. Dr. Lisa was incredibly kind listening to all of my questions and possible suggestions of what might help him. Realizing that surgery on a mass in his abdomen was not going to have a great prognosis, I wanted to find something outside of that which would give us some time.

I started prenisolone and hoped.

He did not visit me Thursday morning; my heart broke. I got the kitten webcam so I could watch him and realized pretty quickly that it was time. He was not sleeping, he was moving every ten or twenty minutes to try to get more comfortable. Several times I heard him actually groan.

Every time I would go and visit him to give him meds, or fluids, or force feed some baby food into him, or just love on him he would basically try to get away from me. He didn't want any more. He didn't want me to fight for him. I made the appointment.

Could we have gotten him through this if I had given the pred more time to work or got more food into him? Maybe, but at some point and some point pretty soon he would end up exactly as he was and I could not face the idea of doing this to him again. To try would be the most selfish thing I could think of - and yes I seriously considered it anyway.. I have always been a firm believer in a week too early than a minute too late. It was my second to last gift to give him. My grief is my last.

I had my husband spend time with him because he wanted nothing to do with me. My husband hated that I say it that way, but it is true. My energy was on a level Jack could not handle.

This has broken me. I had no time to get used to it, to be okay with it enough to be there for him. This is why I get seriously pissy when people try to guilt others into "being there for the pet" at the end.. there are times it is the absolute wrong decision.

I was very fortunate that the vet does final house calls and was available that night. I can not express how fortunate and thankful I was.

Jack's final photo
The vet found him in the bathroom. She gave him sedative to make him sleep. She asked us to tell her about him which I can't explain to you how much that helped. To hear my husband tell stories of his youth.. to remember him being healthy and happy..

He had gotten up and came closer to me while we were doing that as the sedative took effect. When he was out, we took him to a more convenient location and I got to hold him and kiss his head and drench his ears with my tears. When the vet left, I sobbed. I pulled it together and we went to bed and watched a movie. As is routine, I like to do a head count before bed, I always look for kitties in order.. Jack, Muffin, Eli, Twee, Kit, Fleurp, Skippy.  Before when Em and Ollie were still around it was Em, Ollie, JackMuffinEli.. kinda like LMNOP when you are saying the alphabet.  It is almost two years since Kit's passing and I still have a hard time skipping her in the routine.. but last night I could not start with Muffin.. I kept trying and trying, but it was always Jack.. I saw Muffin and Eli so I just kept going but I kept throwing Kit's name in the mix and then from then on I simply could not get the names right or in order..

And then there were five..
Maybe one day I'll gather up the strength to get through a Jack retrospective of just how freakin awesome he was.. because he was freakin awesome. but since I still haven't done one for Kit, I can't imagine it will be any time soon. Even now I am typing through the tears.

None of the kitties wanted to sit with me during the movie.. My energy was still so wrong.  My heart actually hurt, not in the emotional broken heart sort of way, but in a I strained a muscle sort of way.. When I finally drifted off to sleep Muffin came around for some snuggles. She woke me up and I tried to snuggle with her. She always enjoys snuggling with me but my energy was still "wrong" and she didn't want to be with me. She sat on her hammock and whined a bit and then settled down.

I'm grieving. I cry. I wail... I am eating copious amounts of yummy food and I am doing obnoxious things to my kitties like grabbing them and covering them with kisses - which only Jack ever appreciated. I am watching the Doctor Donna..

I will get through this, but I am basically in shock. I will eventually be fine, but right now I can't people. I am sorry I have been absent from social media and I've been staying away from email. If you want to reach me, leave a message, I'll respond when I'm ready.. Maybe Monday, possibly before.

If you want to make a donation in honor of Jack, NHKittens.com would be an awesome place. As Jack was a foster (my first fail) it seems only fitting. If you would like to send me a card (I have been asked for it) my address is PO Box 554 Grantham NH 03753. If you met Jack and want to share a story about him that you remember, I would love it. If you want to share your favorite Jack story that I've shared with you, I would love that too.

There is a kitty waiting for me, she is pregnant, and I have left word I am ready. The distraction will do me good. Being needed will do me good. Time will do me good.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

My beloved Jack is not doing well

This was one post I was dreading writing.

Jack has been exhibiting micro signs that he wasn't feeling well. I had the feeling he has been uncomfortable for a while but they were nothing I could put my finger on. Each time I saw them I would "check in" with him and he responded exactly as he always has.. bright-eyed, willing to eat, attention seeking, even playing on his on occasionally.

I noticed the other day he deliberately walked into the litter box and licked the litter. I know this to be a sign of anemia and planned to take him to the vet if he did it again. We waited and nothing.  Then one day he walked in with litter on his nose. Did he eat that? or did he just get too close sniffing? I wasn't sure. I knew an exam would be several hundred dollars and until the other house sells (which the closing is next week) money was very tight. I was totally willing to spend it if I had something specific as a symptom..

Then he developed a UTI a little over a week ago. This was something.  He was due to have his thyroid rechecked as well, so I scheduled an appointment. Between the time of the schedule and the appointment, he vomited up a lot of water, some litter and little pieces of a plastic bag that was being used as a trash liner.

Well, he was already going in, and he was still eating, so I just made note of it and meant to tell it to the vet.. yes, I forgot.

They did a senior panel on him and found the UTI. They put him on antibiotics. I received a copy of the blood work and saw he was anemic and I emailed and asked about it, but it was the exact same time as Graham, so my question wasn't responded to. Since he was improved on the antibiotic and seemed to be doing better - again, in a non-specific way - I figured I'd talk about it on his follow up appointment.

Now, also during this time, he has been spending more and more time in my "office" hanging out with his head on my laptop. I thought it might be the heat, so I moved the heated bed to where he liked to lay and turned it on, but he refused to lay on it. Since we are still pretty new to this house, and the bedroom is upstairs from my office and the kitchen, I thought he just was reluctant to walk upstairs to come to bed. I was going to talk to the vet about possible pain meds in case it was arthritis.

I'm serious.. there was nothing one could hang a hat on to say he was not doing well, but there were a bunch of micro symptoms that could easily be chalked up to old age. He has thyroid issues, he has kidney issues.  He has been shivering more but not a lot and the first time I ran him to the vet for that she chalked it up to his being old.

And then there was a stumble.

When his antibiotics were almost over he was walking in the bed and stumbled. We have a ton of blankets and a thick mattress pad so I wondered if he just stepped weird. He continued to walk across the bed and no other stumble.  Then the day after, there was another, smaller one.

Is stumbling on an uneven surface an issue? I have no idea. We were due for a followup. I wanted him to be off antibiotics for a few days to make sure we had taken care of the issue. I was planning a follow up with him and an exam for Muffin and thinking that Friday might be a good day to do that.

And then there was the blood.

It was nine pm and he was sitting next to me at work. I was cleaning up my email and watching tv. He stood up and stretched a little and then sniffled and shook his head. Totally normal stuff, right? well, the three droplets of blood that landed on my computer and the one on my hand said differently.

I immediately had a breakdown. A huge ugly cry that made my husband extremely nervous.

You see, the two other nosebleeds in my cats were the precursors to finding cancer and their deaths. Emmy due to nasal cancer months later and Kit with a tumor on her throat that advanced in weeks.

I got an appointment for the next morning (yesterday) and got an exam. They were extremely kind to me. They let me in on an emergency appointment and I was there for over an hour.  During the initial exam, he seemed okay. There was no deformity on his face that would lead to nosebleeds. We talked about what it could be. His kidneys were starting to show signs of his age and his dealing with thyroid issues, but they never threw up warning flags; now with the anemia, it might be a sign of progression and that could be the cause of the nosebleeds due to low platelets. She asked about vomiting and I mentioned that someone had vomited up their breakfast but I didn't know who and Jack clearly vomited last night after the nosebleed but we didn't see it. He only bled a few drops at a time, but it lasted for several hours. He left several drops of blood around the water bowl and several drops of b

She did a full body exam and Jack reacted when she palpated his kidneys by biting me - well his warning bite of wrapping his teeth around my finger. She believed she felt a mass in his stomach so we took some x-rays.  Unfortunately, they weren't as clear as she would have liked. there is something there.. Her next step would be an ultrasound.

So, we talked about all of the possibilities. She said it could be nothing. It could be anemia from the kidneys and with supportive care, he could recover. She said it could be a mass. If it is a mass even in the best case she doesn't see a great prognosis in these cases. He is sixteen and a half.. He is anemic. He has thyroid issues, his heart murmur is back probably from the anemia. We talked about pred, we talked about different options. We did a CBC to see where his anemia was - if it was stable, progressing, or getting better (not likely as she noticed he was pale) and I took him home to give him fluids, an anti-nausea medication, and wait for the results.

Interestingly, the results came in just as I typed results.. his anemia has progressed.

Jack wouldn't eat after the exam. He went and isolated himself in my husband's office all night. I was expecting him to visit me last night and he didn't.

He got fluids last night. He will get some this morning. I am going to start steroids in hopes of shrinking the tumor and to spur him to eat. If not, we are probably going to look at end of life this weekend..

*big fat sobbing ugly cry*

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Do not grieve me, I am still here - a poem

I was laying in bed a while back and I was thinking about how old my kitties are. I was snuggling Muffin and I was grieving losing her, which I know is pointless but I couldn't help it.. when I heard very clearly "But I am still here". This came out of that moment.

Oh, darling, I have such fear,
You are old and you are feeble...

But momma, I am still here.

I worry that one day you will be gone,
You have kidney issues and joint issues...

But momma, I am still here.

Your time is not promised, the end will one day come,
It will hurt and my heart will break..

But momma, I am still here

Monday, October 1, 2018

Final Monday morning check in

Georgie, Marshmallow, S'more, and Doughboy

The quarantine over what happened with Graham is over and the kittens have just left the building to go to their next stage of life. Unfortunately, the families that had already signed up to adopt them backed out. There is still a waiting list so they will not be waiting for homes for long.

I thought I would try to take "glamour shots" of the kittens this weekend. I still haven't gotten my "photo studio" down to the kitten room - we might try to make that happen this before new kittens arrive but I'm not sure if that is going to happen or not. I have several plans but I'm still unpacking and etc..

So I tried them on top of the storage chest and boom, instant kitten studio..




Marshmallow and Doughboy



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