On Tuesday, June 28, 2022, Tiger Queenie Princess Mimi Josefina Castle tiptoed across the rainbow bridge while her Mommy and Daddy cried and her doctor gave Mommy a big hug. She met her feline sister and brothers Pear Blossom, Macavity, and Felix, her canine brother Sandy, and her feline niece Isabella Rose at the rainbow bridge. Tiger Queenie had the biggest catitude in the littlest body. Her beautiful tabico coat inspired one of her names, Josefina, as it was the coat of many colors. We loved her so much.
The day before she had to be put down for a probable brain tumor (her deterioriation by the day was marked), I learned that our dear Kana is in renal insufficiency and needs testing. Last July was Izzie, August was Felix, and September was Pear Blossom. This past year needs a re-do. Suffice it to say for now that Tiger Queen Princess Mimi Josefina was a very special kitty. She was the gardener’s favorite cat of all. And we both loved her universes-full.
People who know Maine Coon cats often think Perry is part Maine Coon. It’s his face shape, the tiny tufts on the tips of his ears, his long fluffy tail, and his affectionate, intelligent, and very chatty personality. So when I was feeling really bad about losing Pear, Felix, and Izzie, I bought a DNA test for Perry as a present for myself.
DNA tests for dogs always made more sense to me than ones for cats. There is such a wide variety of dog breeds, and it can help to know what the needs are, depending on what combination of breeds make up your mutt. DNA tests for people make a lot of sense for me because I love family history and genealogy, plus I’m such a Nancy Drew that I like investigating things. The gardener calls me “Sherlock.” That is in addition to all the other nicknames.
So maybe it’s that curious streak thoroughfare that runs through me that made me want to see the results for Perry.
Soon after the kit arrived, I gathered Perry’s spit, packaged it up, and sent it off. This is the activation notice I got on the website for Wisdom Panel, the company I used.
I was prepared to wait for a month or two because that’s how long it took for human and dog DNA I’ve sent in. But I got the results in just a couple of weeks.
This is a Maine coon cat, by the way, so you can see what they look like.
You could have knocked me over with a cat sneeze when I took a look at Perry’s breed mixture.
81% American Domestic cat. That’s not surprising. But wait. The next breed listed is NOT Maine Coon. He’s 11% Sphynx cat!!!!!!! 11% means that one of his great-grandparents was a Sphynx.
Sphynx cats are bald!!! They are extremely intelligent and are also one of the most dog-like cats in personality. So now we know where Perry gets his neediness :).
More information from Perry’s DNA suggests that he is white and one other color, has a long tail, and is long-haired. The best part of the test is that he tested negative for the 49 health issues that Wisdom Panel tests for. He happens to be blood type A like his human mama and papa.
Now he can relax! Perry says HAPPY HANUKKAH on this first day of Hanukkah!
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.
I had a little upswing there with the poem publications, but I am not the most prolific poet and then there are the rejections that do stack up, too, so I am one publication short of my 2019 goal. Yes, there are still 2.5 months left, but because there is usually a bit of time between acceptance and publication, it is getting squeakingly close. How will I treat myself if I don’t make my goal? Gently, but firmly. I will wonder what I could have done differently. Write more poems? Write more better poems? Read that as “better poems,” not “more better” hahaha. Do I need to use a better system for send outs? Do I need to send out more? Do I need to target different publications? Lower my standards for publications? Count each poem and essay separately instead of the number of publications? (That would be cheating!) This is called WRITER INSECURITY. No matter what, a writer doubts herself and questions herself over and over. At least I think most writers do.
What would happen if I just let my cat Tiger write a poem? She likes to walk back and forth on my keyboard. In fact, she frequently intrudes on my emails to reader jeannieunbottled and types her own little secret messages.
Tiger just saw “herself” typing away above and got very very interested!
What if I submitted a poem written by Tiger? What would happen?
Tiger, by the way, continues to get sub q fluids administered a couple of times a week. It seems to make her feel better, and she doesn’t get upset about it. She seems to realize that it’s for her health.
My Pear, who is 19.5 years old, lies comfortably on the couch all day every day. She seems content so that makes me happy.
And frees me up to worry about the others! OK, I am purposely in denial about my dear Pear.
Friday we traded out the summer flowers with new winter flowers. I’m not impressed with the quality of flowers from the local nursery, but too late to complain as they are all planted now. For the front flower bed, we decided on a simpler color scheme this winter: red geraniums and white snapdragons. Usually we go with 5-6 colors for a more dramatic effect, but we were too lazy this year.
Make it a fabulous week!
Even if I am sitting next to Pear or Tiger or another cat, Perry plops on top of me and wiggles around until I am holding him in my arm.
My name is Kana, which derives from the name Nakana, but is not short for Nakana. I am Kana, jungle panther, black velvet empress of the realm.
Being the boss is the most important job in the world because without a boss the underlings are without direction. Being the boss is unrewarding and difficult, but it is my purpose in life.
How would Mom handle these kids without me to help? The night I first met Mom and Dad (4 1/2 years ago) I could tell they were a little clueless and needed some help around Casa Castle. I was unappreciated at the shelter at that time because the roaming room was ruled by a monstrous male cat called Henry. Because I was the obvious choice for boss, Henry thought I was his enemy. I would have been content to rule jointly, but he told me that a female wasn’t going to be a boss when he was around. Henry attacked me, so the shelter put me in prison for my protection. I was in my cell when I spotted Mom. She glanced over at me, and I stood up on my back legs and drilled her with my piercing hypnotic stare. She was a goner after that.
But Mom and Dad didn’t take me home. I knew I had smittenized her, but they left me there. Week after week, they visited us for their janitorial and librarian duties, but they left without me. I got ringworm and had to go to the hospital room which might as well be an asylum straight out of Dickens. When that finally cleared up, they shipped me over to Petsmart, which is frequented by the lowest types. They obviously do not realize the talents of an 8-year-old big black female cat as they oohed over the silly kittens and prissy cats. I sat there under glass as if I were a pheasant waiting to be served. They brought me back to the shelter as if I were a loser.
For the first time in my life, I became clinically depressed. What is a boss without peons to boss around? My life was over. Or so I thought.
One day, months after first meeting Mom and Dad, Mom came into the roaming room with a kennel. I was nearly suicidal by that point and ignored her. When she picked me up, I snapped at her. But she held on and pressed me into the kennel and snapped it shut. She brought me home.
But I wasn’t going to make it easy for anybody who made me wait like that. No matter that she had been waiting for her old cat to die before she could get me. That she had been telling everyone about me and how she wanted me to come live with her. Hmmph!
To show Mom–and Dad too–who is boss I started a campaign to run their stupid runty calico Tiger out of town. I had her quivering and shaking and running and crying. But my mother is as stubborn as I am. She came up with all kinds of tricks to protect Tiger. She never gave up on me either.
So I stopped bothering Tiger because it wasn’t getting me anywhere. And besides by then Mom and Dad knew I was boss. Mom loves and respects me so much. Dad respected me from the beginning, especially my teeth, but it took him longer to love me. He started looking out for my best interests and became my buddy.
Life was the best at that point. I was boss of the casa. Mom figured out I have IBD and gives me the right food so my stomach doesn’t hurt.
Then Perry arrived. [Kana visibly shudders.]
Perry is a handsome young male cat. He is good-natured, but unfortunately he also wants to be boss. Everyday we have to have little tiffs to see who gets to be in charge. The truth is, since he’s a nice boy and just learning I often let him think he’s in charge. But we know that I am the real boss just letting him have his baby way.
I am now 12 years old. Pear is the oldest at 19, but she is independent and doesn’t want the responsibility of management. Then Tiger is 15. She’s grown a lot since I’ve gotten here. I take credit for her transformation. Felix is 13. He’s a sweet boy who gives me no trouble. Then me. There are two younger than me: Sloopy Anne and Perry. These five are my minions. My underlings. My “kids.” I AM BOSS.
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.
Luanne: Felix, please tell your story to my friends. They have heard from Pear Blossom and Tiger and Sloopy Anne and Perry. But you and Kana have not yet told your stories. I need to coach Kana a bit on how to tell a public story, but you should be fine. Just tell it how you remember it. How you know it.
Felix: Mom! Stop! You tell it. I can’t.
Luanne: Sure you can, Fefe.
Felix: Aw shucks.
Luanne: You’re so big and strong. Why are you afraid to talk about yourself?
Felix: It’s embarrassing. People might look at me.
Luanne: OK, you tell me the story. I’ll write it down and then I’ll share it that way. Nobody will ever see you. We’ll negotiate photos later on.
Felix: Um, ok.
From Luanne: What follows is the story that Felix told me about his life. This story was being planned when Felix suddenly became ill last Wednesday. I was out of town for work in California, and when the pet sitter was watching him (thank goodness this happened when she was at the house). After he ate dinner, he threw up ten times, began panting, and made frantic runs to the litter box. She mistakenly thought he was constipated. I have made this mistake myself in the past when Pear started having UTIs. Rather than wait until my daughter could take Felix to the vet, I had the pet sitter drop him off at the vet as she left my house. It was a good thing that I didn’t decide to wait, thinking it was only constipation.
And a good thing that my vet decided to examine him before my daughter could get there. His bladder was the size of a grapefruit. He had a urinary blockage, which is a common emergency in (particularly) male cats, and fatal if not treated in time. It ended up that my daughter took him from the vet to the hospital because after they catheterize him he would need 24 hour care. He was in the hospital for three days. Now he is home, and I am watching him round the clock because there is a high possibility that he could re-obstruct within two weeks after the initial blockage. Felix is never any trouble except when he’s sick. In the past, it’s been parasite issues that stemmed from his life on the streets. This was the biggest emergency I’ve had with my cats, except for Mac’s end of life issues. And I wasn’t even home with Felix. The nurse who checked him out said that he was “famous” at the hospital for being sweet and soooo affectionate.
People think I’m scared, but I just don’t like confrontation. When I lived out there, you know, I tried to stay away from cats and other animals that wanted to fight me. I’m a lover, not a fighter. Remember when I ate in your front yard every day, Mom? You knew I didn’t have a home and you and Dad were giving me food so I didn’t starve! Then I started hanging around with your dog Sandy in the backyard because he was a lover, not a fighter, too. He told me all the stories about his good life in your house. So I began to stick close to your yard, hoping you’d bring me inside, but not wanting to make a mistake in case Sandy was wrong. What if you didn’t like cats?
Then I saw Mac in the window. I knew you liked cats, but would Mac like me?
I let you trap me in your garage using that silly “pull the string and the kennel door will shut” so-called trick. It never fooled me, but so be it.
You brought me to your friend, the emergency vet. That’s when we lived in California. Remember, Mom? She told her staff to be careful when they opened my kennel because I might be feral and mean. When she put her hand in my kennel herself (she doesn’t take her own advice), I rubbed against her hand. I’m a sucker for pets and rubs and scratches.
What? Oh, you want to know what my life was life before I came to live with you? It was kind of hard, especially when it was over 100 degrees in the summer. I got dumped by the people who fed my cat mother. There were too many of us, they said.
When you brought me into the house you let me live in the bedroom upstairs with the TV for two months. I didn’t meet my human sister for a couple of months because she had just started college and you and dad were what you called empty nesters. So you two watched TV with me every night while I was in that room. We had fun, and I didn’t have to meet Mac or Pear.
After I met them and moved into the rest of the house, Mac was kind of mean. Sometimes it irritated my good nature, and we would have tussles, even pull out each other’s fur. Pear was fine. She just ignored me. But a few weeks later, we all moved to Arizona. I was so scared. I wouldn’t eat for three days, and you had to give me special medicine because. Remember, Mom? Huh? Remember? But after that, Mac and I were friends. Mac, Pear, and I were all close from that time on. We slept on 3 beds on the kitchen counter like three little kittens. The ones who lost their mittens. But we hadn’t lost anything. We had found each other. Mac was my hero.
That was the start of my kitchen life. Once I moved into this kitchen with the long counter I never wanted to go anywhere else. The only times I’ve moved into the closet upstairs is when your dad would visit. Remember Mom? He had such a loud voice? I couldn’t listen, so I lived on the shelf in the closet while he was here. He never comes any more, but when Grandma comes now by herself I stay in the kitchen and she calls me “Mr. Big Eyes.”
You and Dad and my human siblings call me Fefe. And, Mom, you call me Feeferelli and Mr. Scoobydooby Man. You call me The Kitchen Cat. You call me Feef a lot. I love to crawl into your lap when you’re at your laptop at the kitchen desk.
But I don’t watch TV with you and Dad and the other cats. I like my basket in the kitchen. I have a window to the beautiful yard Dad created, and a nice cool sink to lie in for a change. I’m also very close to the food. When the other cats are done eating their breakfasts and dinners, I like to finish up their food. I eat a lot, but I really am a big boy with lots of muscles. And lots of love. I’m not shy. I just don’t like confrontation. I’m a lover, not a fighter.
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.
If you are like me, you well know that feeling of not having “anything” in the house to eat. Well, the truth is there are always some old cans in the cupboard. And usually some eggs and herbs and an onion or two.
The other day I found myself in this situation and couldn’t get to the grocery store. So I took out my last can of salmon and an antique can of crabmeat. Seriously, the expiration date was sometime last year. They were both small cans, so I toyed with the idea of making a tiny recipe of salmon patties and a tiny recipe of crabcakes, but that sounded like more work than I had time for.
I figured what the heck and created my own recipe. I can follow recipes pretty well, although I do tinker with measurements under the guidance of the glass of wine I keep close to my hand and lips ;). Nevertheless, I am not a creative cook who concocts new recipes from scratch. Until now. Maybe I should start a blog called THE BACK OF THE CUPBOARD COOK because these lil suckers were yummy.
Here is the recipe:
SALMON CRAB CAKES
1 6oz can salmon
1 6oz can crabmeat
¼ cup chopped onion
½ cup panko (gluten free is what I used)
1 t. herbes de Provence
big dollop mayo
(can use touch of sriracha, but I did not want the heat)
olive oil to fry in
Mix together everything except the oil. Let set in fridge for ½ hour (or less or more) because of the panko.
Form balls in your hand and then flatten into the hot olive oil in a skillet or frying pan and cook until browned on both sides.
Eat with whatever else you can scrounge up, even if it’s an old frozen side dish. (OK, that’s what we did).
The advantage to these cakes is that they are much tastier and less “fishy” than regular salmon patties. They are also easier and quicker to make than good crab cakes. The two seafoods actually complement each other very well, and the texture was lovely.
And because I was sneaking little pieces from the pan, I forgot to take a pic! I shared my recipe with my kids afterward, and my son who likes to cook said you could use a flavored mayo, too. If you do, change out your herbs if they don’t match the new flavor.
Now, don’t trust me on these salmon crab cakes. I know. After all that, she says, “Don’t trust me.” But I wasn’t using measuring cups and whatnot. I was just throwing things in. I’m only sharing because these combinations of flavors and textures worked.
A very cool thing happened on the way to not writing lately. My poem “Tuesday Afternoon at Magpie’s Grill” has been nominated for Best of the Net 2019 by Nine Muses Poetry with five other poems. A big thank you to editor Annest Gwilym! You might have read the poem before. Some of you wrote lovely comments, too :). If not and you want to check out these six nominations, the links are available here: Best of the Net 2019 Nominations from Nine Muses Poetry.
Perry is getting his echocardiogram today, so good thoughts, vibes, and if you don’t mind, prayers for my boy, please.