Perry wanted to send a message today.
Thinking of reading this book as the title attracts me. What do you think?
This is a weird post to write after I’ve been telling you about the pets that have been part of my life.
By the way, I’m going to interrupt myself. In my twenties and into my thirties, we had two dogs. The first one my mother-in-law found downtown Kalamazoo. That first night, the pup had to sleep in her car in the garage because of the old dog my in-laws owned. It was early December, but my MIL made the car quite comfortable and warm enough for the pup out there. By day two, my MIL had given her to us. The gardener named her Muffin. Actually that was sort of a compromise. He wanted to name her Muffy or Scruffy or something undistinguished like that. I wanted a more complex and respectable name, but had to settle on the over-used name Muffin.
A couple of years later, I was waiting on a customer in our luggage store downtown when I saw another scruffy mutt run down the sidewalk. I grabbed a dog biscuit that I happened to keep in the drawer under the cash register and followed the dog down the street. When he hid under a car in a parking lot, I had to crawl under there in my newish khaki skirt (grrrr). I pulled him out and took him back to the store. The rest is history. I named him Oliver because he gulped down the only thing we had in the fridge, which I think was milk (not good for a dog’s tummy, I know). “Please, sir, I want some MORE!” (Oliver Twist from the musical Oliver)
These dogs were groomed together, so they began to look a little bit alike. They were both very well-loved. I found over 25 stray dogs over that period of my life, but located other homes for the rest of them.
When our kids were babies, these dogs were the most efficient vacuum cleaners, especially under the high chair and the kitchen table.
OK, I’m going back to what I wanted to tell you to begin with. I quit my volunteer job at the animal shelter! I’ve been there five or six years and love what I do there. There was a political situation, and I left to show solidarity with the most amazing HUMAN HERO FOR CATS. So that is that. It’s too Covidy out and about for me now, so I will have to wait to find a new shelter. That doesn’t mean I can’t help out as I see little ways to do so. It’s pretty devastating for me personally, but even more so for the cats at the shelter. I worry about them although they will certainly be better off than on the street or in abusive situations. I’m sad.
Tiger Queenie Princess Mimi Josefina has not been herself lately. For the last year and a half she has become pickier and pickier about her food. But it has gotten so bad in the last few weeks that for the most part all she will eat is a tiny bit of shredded chicken, a tiny bit of fried ground beef, and/or Temptations treats in seafood or tuna flavor. When she’s had enough appetite stimulant and this Pepto-Bismol type stuff for cats to coat her tummy, she might eat the tiniest amount of Friskies chicken or Weruva Lamb Burgini.
So I brought her to the doctor last week who took her from me at curbside (tears shed from both Tiger and me!) and did blood and pee tests, as well as a physical exam. When the lab results came back, the vet recommended an abdominal ultrasound. I said yes. Tiger is sixteen, but then she is only sixteen. Her sister Pear is twenty, and Tiger seems so healthy in general. The vet even said she appears healthy. Except for her mild to moderate kidney disease.
Next stop was the specialist to do the ultrasound. While I waited in my car (more tears shed at letting Tiger go through it all alone), the specialist called me and said nothing showed up on the ultrasound. She explained her theories and suggested a chest xray and a biopsy of her intestines (going through her esophagus). I approved the chest xray, but not the biopsy.
Tiger is my smallest cat, and coupled with her age, I don’t want them doing something so invasive. And to what end? To find out she has lymphoma? Then what?
The chest xray turned up nothing, so it’s possible that she either has some irritable bowel something or other going on or has lymphoma. That’s when I got the purple medicine that is like Pepto-Bismol–it coats the stomach. We also got Cerenia for nausea. The thought is that Tiger must have a tummy ache that makes her not want to eat.
The only other treatment we can try is steroids, which I am reluctant to do because of her kidney disease. I will see if we need to do that. I am focused on trying to get food in her every day.
Tiger on the warm laundry in the basket
In the evening, I lie on the couch with a book or my Kindle, and Pear Blossom is at my side and Tiger lies just below her, also at my side. Pear is twenty, so she’s Tiger’s big sister. Sometimes Perry lies on the back of the couch because he’s a jealous boy and wants to be on the couch with Mama, too. But he’s starting to realize he needs to not annoy the two old ladies.
My boy Fefe has been sick for days. I am taking him to the vet this morning for the diagnosis.
This was Felix a day before he got sick.
By the next day he was sneezing. You see, Perry had sneezed for a full week before that, but he wasn’t really sick, and his sneeze had already disappeared.
So when Felix began sneezing I wasn’t too worried. I went away on Friday for most of the day, and by the time I got home late afternoon, he was holding his mouth open and looking very odd.
My vet, who is a wonderful person who does a lot of work for the shelter animals, said to bring him right over. Although they were fully booked, the vet examined him in back. At that time he wasn’t sure if he was dealing with an infection of the mouth and/or an upper respiratory infection–and the treatments are different. So they gave me an appointment for Monday morning, hoping the symptoms would shake out by then.
They shook out late that night when I became convinced Felix had a pretty bad URI.
I isolated Felix because I am terrified of Pear (who is now 20) getting sick. The gardener set up a humidifier for him because Google says a humidifier helps cats with URIs. I also have had to hand feed him food–and not his hated prescription urinary diet, but Weruva salmon (nice and stinky), Temptations treats, and Inaba Churu scallop-flavored creamy treats.
Please send prayers, hugs, vibes, and virtual pets to my dear boy! (Yes, he’s the one that had the urinary blockage last August!)
On a writing note: I have been revising as I can this week. It’s been hard to fit in in, so I try to grab at least 30 minutes to revise. Better than nothing.
Hope we all have a healthy, peaceful week!
This is Dexter, but it is just one of many names he has been called. He lived his life on the streets of Phoenix for many years. He evaded every trap that kind people set for him—and who knows how many that bad people set. He was covered with scars and his ears were all screwed up, but he was still gorgeous when you looked into his soulful eyes. When he knew the end was near he sought out my friend who had given him food and soft words, asking to end his days with her. She gave him a home for the past couple of weeks while he peacefully faded away in a quiet place. She was with him, petting and consoling him, when he passed away on Saturday. Dexter was a strong cat, a brave cat. He lived life on his own terms and died that same way. RIP to a cat I will never forget.
Dexter was very sick in these photos. I couldn’t let him pass away without sharing his story because courage isn’t an attribute special to humans (when you can find it) or to dogs. Cats and other animals also can be very brave and strong, facing up to the unfairnesses thrown at them in life. I wanted us to appreciate the strength this boy had to live his life the way he lived it. And the courage he found not just to battle for that life every day on the streets, but the courage to come to my friend when he finally felt he needed her. Bless her for noticing that he needed help beyond the usual.
Dexter lived in my friend’s neighborhood and was at least 12 years old, possibly as old as 15. He was a stray, not truly feral (I’ve written before that a lot of cats are classified as feral who truly are strays–and Dexter would have been seen as feral by some, but he really was not). He trusted my friend and some others enough to get close so they could feed him and even pet him. He lived in an area where coyotes hunt cats. My friend says he “owned” her neighborhood and now he is buried there.
Dexter is not confined to the cage you see. The door was open so he could move into the room. In case you wonder, my friend is very experienced and knows quite a lot about medical and behavioral issues with cats. She decided that he would be completely freaked out by euthanasia by a vet, although she held it in her mind as an option if he didn’t pass peacefully.
So please grieve for Dexter, but also celebrate his bravery and his strength and when you have a chance to help someone, please take the opportunity. If you don’t know about the good work of Alley Cat Allies please check them out.
I can’t leave you without showing you some happy cat rescues that I have recorded with my new iPhone.
Kana, my Home Fur Good rescue princess, is in the stage light mono portrait mode.
Felix is, um, I can’t remember which portrait mode. Felix was rescued from the streets.
Perry is in stage light portrait mode. As you know, he was also rescued from the streets a la our backyard.
MAKE YOUR WEEK COUNT!!!!
After that exhausting (or exciting, as Kate put it) end to the year, I got sick and have been sick for a week now. So I am posting a couple of cute pix to make your day. I know just looking at them makes me feel better.
This is my grandcat Isabella Rose, or Izzie, I have been babysitting for a week. My daughter’s photo is in the background. She cuddles her first kitty, Macavity. He was our first family cat, one she BEGGED for :). He passed away in 2015. Longtime readers might remember when he was sick and passed away a month after my father died.
I am not watching the new puppy, Riley. The care of a puppy on top of seven cats (mine plus Izzie) would be too much for me, so she is with a pet sitter who is studying to be a dog trainer. Maybe she’ll be potty trained when my daughter and her fiance get home!
Just to prove that I actually brought my pillows to the couch and tried to rest, I am posting a photo of Perry comforting me. Every time I coughed he got a little rattled. If you look carefully just beyond me you can see Pear Blossom curled up next to me. See her whiskers?
Why, yes, she is my new granddogter!!! This one belongs to daughter and her boyfriend. That makes six furry grandchildren (and no furless ones). Three dogs and three cats. This one is a little too young for me to watch. She cries all night long, and I am bloody exhausted. (I admit to coopting swear words from another culture–what of it?!) Mom has gone home (we did have fun), but it’s such a busy time of the year and work just goes on and on ET CETERA.
You can tell how tired I am from the upper case.
This sweetie’s name is Riley, named after Lincoln Riley, the amazing and young (born in ’83) Oklahoma head football coach. BOOMER SOONER.
Hope you have a good week. Mine is going to be very jam-packed. I hope yours is just the right amount of excitement and activity.
All week I have been dealing with Felix’s illness. He seems to have feline interstitial cystitis which is very similar to the interstitial cystitis my daughter was unfortunately diagnosed with last year. She is having difficulty getting hers under control. It has greatly affected her life.
Now that I am taking charge of Felix’s health, I am getting an idea of what my daughter is going through!
Two biggest changes that need to be made for IC: stress reduction and diet change.
I have accomplished the food change (to Hill’s CD stress chicken and veggie canned and Hill’s CD ocean fish canned), although I am having to give him fish half the time, which I don’t like to feed as it isn’t healthy for cats. I will work on this issue.
Stress is more difficult in a six cat household. Perry has had to sleep by himself in the guestroom because he’s the worst offender. Poor Perry can’t understand why he hasn’t been getting all the attention lately.
Then Felix needs subq fluids for now, given in shots under the skin. And syringes of water because he won’t drink any water at all.
Bladder meds. Pain meds. Anti-nausea meds.
We took Felix to the ER twice since his hospitalization because the IC causes him so much distress that he acts as if he is blocked even when he isn’t. And the reality is he could block again, especially so close to the original blockage.
I am exhausted because this summer has been exhausting anyway.
Yesterday we spent all afternoon installing a potty cam (pet monitor) over the main litterboxes (we have 2 in the laundry room) so that I can watch for signs of Felix being agitated and running to the litterbox repeatedly when we are not home. Now I get notified when the cats walk into the boxes!
In this photo you can see that the pain meds allow him comfort.
Following a writing prompt requiring the poet to pull words from a published book, I ended up with this poem. I wish I could remember which prompt I used–and how much I varied or not from it, but it was a couple of months ago. And these months have been full of work stress, so my memory looks moth-eaten.
The book I used was Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, a popular “writing text.” The subtitle is “Some Instructions on Writing and Life,” and I would say that the instructions are more on point for life–and maybe that’s why it is so popular!
WHAT TO NAME A CAT
(in the voice of Anne Lamott)
One Door Shut
Way to the Truth
Each one of these names resonates for me with what cats mean to me. Gosh, that sounds like an essay assignment for fifth grade. A fun assignment!
Maybe you can find a name for your next cat from my list haha.
UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: I am adding this to what follows and in doing so I am putting the end at the beginning. The latest word is that Perry’s lab reports were normal, so it’s extremely unlikely that he has cardiac disease. He will get a chest xray to rule out anything obvious in his lungs that would account for fast breathing. If that is normal, we will just have to watch him. He doesn’t act sick, by the way. So in a couple of weeks he will get an xray, but I think it seems that he must be OK. My sweet sweet boy. WHEW!
Good news!!! I think.
The gardener and my friend who is another
crazy cat lady cat mom went to the vet with Perry and me. She is studying to be a vet tech, and I wanted her opinion of the visit.
Perry did not have an echocardiogram because the cardiologist said he doesn’t think his fast breathing is cardiac-related. He did bloodwork instead, including a test that he hopes will rule out cardiac disease. A few days for that to come back.
If he has no heart disease, we still don’t know what causes his rapid breathing, but at least he won’t have a serious heart diagnosis hanging over his head.
I took a video a couple of weeks ago to show his “resting” breathing rate. In 31 seconds his rate was 47!!! That is very high. So why? He was just chilling at home at the time.
Our boy was such a sweetheart. He was very docile and easygoing for the vet and for the tech.
We are calling this a possible victory at this point. When the lab results come back negative/normal, then we can have our victory dance!
Thanks for your prayers, vibes, and virtual hugs and pets for this sweet boy.