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Bartonella. Bitch!

The Bartonella saga continues. First, I discovered that Bob had Heamo-Bartonella. Not a big surprise since he lived most of his life outdoors. Once Bob's treatment was completed, I noticed a great improvement in his appearance and vigor. For a senior, he's doing very well.

Spencer, was diagnosed with Bartonella 6 months ago. Since he's only lived indoors while he's lived with me, it means he contracted it more than five years ago! Spencer had his 3-week course of antibiotics and I'm glad to say that his Bartonella Titer showed he has successfully kicked the infection. I'm also glad to add that his complete blood work was PERFECT, not a little off here or there, but PERFECT. This adds to my conviction, that removing grain from my cat's diet was the way to go.

Enter Gracie. Another cat who's lived with me for five years. Her health has been fine. She's never been sickly. As part of the process of testing ALL my cats for Bartonella, when Gracie was due for some pre-dental cleaning blood work, I asked my Vet to test her for Bartonella, as well. I was shocked to find out that Gracie was a plus 4 for Bartonella. This means she, too, will need to be on a 3-week course of meds.

Overall my cats don't fight. They certainly don't fight enough to draw blood. Their outdoor life is restricted to sitting on my deck, which is about twenty feet off the ground—and even with that, they only go out of doors once in awhile.

Gracie, most likely, had Bartonella when she came to my house. She didn't pass it to her offspring, because I have her five year old daughter, Petunia, here too.

The Girls
Gracie (front) with her daughter, Petunia (rear)

This is most curious to me. All my other cats are Bartonella negative. Considering the potential future effects of a long-term infection, such as Bartonella, I would strongly suggest ALL of you get out there are start testing your cats for Bartonella—especially if your cat is a bit on the fractious side.

Read my article HERE to see a complete list of health problems Bartonella can cause—and don't forget about "Cat Scratch Fever!" Humans can get Bartonella, too.

So get out there and protect your cats and your family!

The Meanest Person in the World

Being a foster mom has its' rewards, but there's also a price to pay. This is the time I hate. Time to pay up. The past eight weeks have been spent watching my two wards grow and thrive—the first purr, the first taste of (grain free!) cat food, the first time they climbed up on the bed, the first nap-collapsed in my lap, the first tiny cry.

Their success is my joy. Knowing they're safe from the cold, cruel world, lifts my heart. Seeing them bat their mom on the nose as they dance across the room after a small toy mouse gives me fits of giggles. It's precious—each and every moment.

But time nags at me. I know. I know! Here it is, time to move on. Time to pack up the kittens into a cat carrier. Time to convince "mama" it's time to go with them, in her own carrier. They're confused. They don't know why they can't be together or what is happening to them. They're placed face to face in the back seat of my car. I drape a blanket over the carriers both to keep them warm and knowing the dark will soothe them some.

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For the most part, there is silence during the 16 mile drive. Every so often I hear mama cry out softly. All she wants is to be free to care for her offspring and to comfort them as they huddle fearfully together. I always wish I could tell them what's going to happen, but with such bad news, would they really want to know?

Yes, my dears, I'm taking you to a Vet. He's going to stick a needle in your leg and make you go to sleep. When you wake up you'll feel cold, groggy and sore. Your belly will be shaved and will probably ache. You'll be alone and confused. You'll spend the night in a cage and alone in the darkness. The next day someone will come for you, yet another stranger. You'll be taken for a ride in the car, then you'll be given back to the lady who has been caring for you for two months. You'll get to see your sister and your Mother in your old room, but your joy will be short-lived.

Two days after you're reunited, you'll be separated. Not only will you never see your Mother again, but you'll never see your sister again or the nice lady who has been your friend for such a long time.

You'll be living in a new place that doesn't have other cats to make friends with or even a scary dog who'll chase you. Everything will seem overwhelming and terrifying to you. Eventually, you'll seek solace with the human who adopts you, all the while, wondering where your own family went. If you only had, at least, your sister with you, your world wouldn't feel like it came to an end.

If You Want to be a Model Arch Your Back Like This!

You'll resign yourself to this new life and find your happiness as you can. With any luck, you'll be treated with love and compassion for the rest of your life. If you misbehave or rip up the rug you may be hit or you may be banished to a single room. You may even be dumped outdoors, with no skills to survive. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to find someone to help you find a new home, a safe way station? Maybe you won't be so lucky. Maybe this is all for nothing—all this work and care, feeling like the meanest person in the world.

Why I Have a Back Ache

Queen Sized Bed, King Sized Cats

It doesn't matter that I have SEVEN cat beds in my bedroom. The cats want to sleep with ME ME ME. I am the cat bed!

Of course, I won't kick them off the bed, so I can get comfortable. No. I won't do that. My back aching every morning is my own fault.

Anyone else have this problem?

OH MY GOD!

HOT OFF THE PRESS!

Our darling Spencer could not contain himself when I told him he was chosen to be one of the stars of the soon-to-be-available book: I Can Has Cheezburger!

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His star power was so great, you'll find his photo on page 2! Talk about EXCITING! We're all a-tingle! Yay! Yay! Yay!

Thank you to Patrick, from Gotham Books, for including our boy in this adventure. Be sure to pick up your copy, available here, among other places, in early October.

Spencer's not sure he'll be available for autographs since he's busy napping right now.

Cute Break

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Daisy (left) and Poppy (right). Seven weeks old today!

The 2008 Cat Barf Blow-lympics

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Welcome fellow sports enthusiasts and cat lovers (not LOVERS) to the 2008 Cat Barf Blow-lympics! This year, the Blow-lympics (e.g. BL) is being hosted by none other than, our own Covered in Cat Hair, Queen of Black Stretchy Pants! After years of competing against those wily ferals in New York City, the contest has relocated (err...been moved under duress) to the woods of Connecticut and our modest Queen's modest home.

And of course, this year the coveted locale provides awesome sponsorship opportunities in a wide range of horizontal surfaces…dull hard wood floors, precious family heirloom rugs and yet we forget, the expansive, dirty and somewhat fractured white tile flooring! Imagine "Your Name Here" with placement within viewing range of the latest cat created spew. Not only that, but there will be hundreds of Press from around the globe, ready to capture the big moment, all while YOUR Brand is being featured prominently!

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We expectorate this year to have an even bigger audience than ever before—predicted to reach at least 15 to 20 people, some of whom will actually watch and/or clean up and/or have a sympathy wretch after each event.

Act NOW so you won't miss out on any of the events! Imagine the spectacle of seeing:

— Name that post-spewed object. Ew. Is it...oh no..it's not!!!

— Beat the World Record: Re-eating Dry Food Barfs in under10 seconds

— Longest hairball

— Heaviest hairball

— The sublime elegance of freestyle barfing

— Hairball Luge

— Co-ed Team barfing

— The barfcathalon. The non-stop barf-fest. Who will survive? Who will get dehydrated and need IV fluids? Who will CLEAN THIS MESS UP?

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Of course, it wouldn't be a Blow-lympics without a mascot, so this year, our mascot, named by day care children in South Platte, North Dakota, is called: Hugh (pronounced: huuuuuuuuuuuuueeeeew!!!!). To order, your very own Hugh doll, mug, hat, t-shirt, rain gear, thermal mug, sticker, barfy wipes, or barf bag, just send us a roll of paper towels and some bleach wipes and we'll trade you. Kids just LOVE Hugh!

It wouldn't BE a Blow-lympics without the talented and selfless athletes who've spent years carelessly blowing chunks wherever they see fit, regardless of the time of day, and certainly without any regard to who might accidentally step in it barefoot this morning just after they woke up.

These sleek felines train by eating any plant with some sort of frond, any bug, gnat, moth, mouse, flying squirrel, snake, bird or electrical cord, then blowing it back out as soon as possible, and hopefully with some decorative semi-digested food bits in it just to add some sparkle! They also practice speed-gulping dry food, to give them a powerful, rejective purge from their shocked and super-sated system. Their motto: "It should look as good going in as it does coming out"

So act now! Buy your tickets today and you'll have a front row seat to witness the rapture of each rupture, smell the aroma of freshly "minted" mounds, play leap-barf as you try to outstep your opponent and not get a shoe-full of cack! Great for the whole family!


Note: The 2008 Cat Barf Blow-lympics is not responsible for lost or ruined articles or anything else, for that matter.

109 Pounds of Cat Food in the Hall

I'm glad I can't do math because I would run screaming in circles, pull out my long, luxurious locks, add callouses to my calloused feet; if I knew how much money I spend on cat food each month.

I know that for $268.00 (which included shipping and some discounts), I now have enough cat food to feed the little blankety-blanks for about two days. Okay, maybe three days. Okay, I'm exaggerating.

A little.

109 Pounds of Cat Food

That's $2.46 a pound. What else could I get for $2.46/lb? Not shoes, that's for sure. How about steak? No. That's about $12/lb. Hmmm...

I just Googled $2.46/lb and I see I could have bought scrap ammunition brass, 4 cartons of USS flat washers, organic garbanzo beans or 6 1/2 pounds of Kosher Peanut Butter Chips for the same per pound price. Now I feel cheated. I like peanut butter chips as much as the next person, but although garbanzo beans is fun to say, they're not so much fun to eat.

Not sure what I'd do with scrap ammunition brass, but it sounds exotic. Maybe I should just order some to see what it's like? Is it scrap ammunition brass from BEFORE or AFTER the ammunition is fired? That could be even MORE exciting! What if there's someone that goes around crime scenes and picks up the bits of leftover brass for recycling? Now that's a job I'd apply for right away!

So I'm broke. So what? I'm always broke. My only remaining hope is that one day I'll have enough empty cardboard cat food boxes to build myself a lovely home...because I certainly won't be able to pay my mortgage much longer at $2.46/lb for friggen cat food!

Suicidal Sweetness

When I was a little girl, I always felt an underlying sense of sadness. I had anxiety problems, labeled "nervous stomach" and could rarely go for a long drive in the car without becoming sick. Maybe it was the one pound bag of M&M's that my parents gave to us when we started a road trip? Was it the sugar that made me so ill? Perhaps something else was going on, too?

By the time I was in my early teens, my Mother had labeled me "crabby" and "a bitch." I was asked over and over; "Why can't you be cheerful, like your brother? Nothing will ever make you happy! You're sullen, that's what you are."

Deep down, I felt no one knew me—who I really am. I didn't feel crabby, but I did feel sad. I often imagined running away, but we lived well out into the suburbs, where would I run without a car? I couldn't even drive. I didn't have any money. I felt trapped.

I was lucky enough to live near a wooded area. I could spend hours alone, walking along the dirt paths, examining plants and flowers, listening to the birds sing. I often brought my sketch pad to a secret place I found. There were four or five large boulders surrounding an old tree. I could easily climb the rocks or the tree and just be away from the world—the world that labeled me freak, fat, crabby, weird, nasty, bossy.

As I grew older, the sadness deepened and the tension I felt in my home grew worse. My Mother and I battled. My Father came after me with a shotgun when I got fed up and spoke my mind. I cried a lot. I wanted to die. I felt so alone and helpless.

I would try to cut my wrists, but I was too cowardly. I never made more than a light scratch on myself, but the seed of self-hatred grew inside me. The only thing that saved me was feeling connected to my cats. They loved me and didn't judge, but they also needed me to care for them and look out for them. It gave me a purpose and a reason to take another breath, wake up another morning.

Eventually, I went away to college and thought I broke free of those labels, but the sadness was there and growing worse. The complications of having relationships with boys my age, drove me into yet more suicidal rages. The stresses of taking a full course load, working part time, and being very involved in school events was driving me over the edge. I did not know how to work with my own mind, my own feelings.

As an adult, I began to understand it was not that I was just sad, but that I did suffer from depression. It was only really starting to come out that depression had serious effects that are lifelong and debilitating. I saw the same thing in my Father's eyes. The anger, pushing us all away, the inability to have fun without feeling guilty, the self-hate—my poor Father.

I was lucky that I went into therapy for awhile. I was lucky, too, that I met a man who helped me learn to work with my mind. I became a Buddhist. I found support systems in my close friends. After many years of not having cats, I began doing animal rescue. It opened a door for me. One where I could just stop thinking about myself and think about these poor creatures who so desperately needed a safe place to land until they were adopted. It became a refuge for me.

Sadly, my Father didn't have the same opportunities or understanding I did. Though I tried to help him, the day came when his own demons reared up, one last time, and the temptation to silence them was too great. That hideous voice that whispers; "I hate myself. I hate my life. I don't deserve to live." The one that can't remember he had a family who loved him and would be devastated by his actions. That he had friends who considered him a warm and caring person. That he loved his children more than anything. That voice is so loud, it drowns out even a grain of joy.

I have a legacy now, from my Father. Will it be passed down to me? It is my lifelong fear and my lifelong challenge. I'll die some day, but will I die at my own hand or nature's? What keeps me here weighs a pound. To many people, it's completely insignificant and not worthy of any effort, yet...

...when I'm at my lowest point, I may have to force myself to open the door. The door to the foster room, where tiny hearts beat and little paws investigate everything they touch. With wide awestruck eyes, they look up at me. If I've done a good job, they'll race over to me for some cuddling or play. Lifting one up, I feel her squirming, then settle. She'll peer over my arm and revel in the view from being at such a great height. She's scared, but she knows she's safe with me.

Sleeping on my shoulder

If I'm really lucky I'll hear my favorite sound; purring. The bubbly, curious rumble that comes from such a tiny chest. The little sound that saves my life for one more day. The tiny face that looks up at me with a silly smile. The world is a happy, exciting, wondrous place. Through her eyes I am reminded, this is the world I want to live in. This is the world I hope to find myself in one day, too. Perhaps they show me how to live, more than I show them?

For now, I'm simply grateful.

Poppy's Poop

Kittens and kids. They grow up so fast, don't they? Here we were just two weeks ago and Poppy was too small to even crawl around, let alone do big, grown up kitty things like use the litter pan!

With the kittens at 3 1/2 weeks old, I thought I'd better make up a tiny litter pan, so Mama wouldn't have to keep, ewww, licking them clean. I used the cardboard tray from a case of cat food because it has low sides and is small. I covered the bottom of the tray with aluminum foil to keep the moisture from softening the cardboard and made sure it was taped down to prevent the kittens from chewing on it. After that, I sprinkled some clay (You know never to use clumping litter around kittens, right? You KNOW they eat it and get can blocked up from it, right???!) litter inside the pan and voila, a fancy kitten-sized litter pan is born.

Poppy was squirming around last night and I found her IN the pooper scooper. The smell must have stimulated her because she looked like she might need to go to the bathroom. I rushed over, grabbed her and placed her into the litter pan. Within a flash, she was dropping a looping poop! Yes, I took a photo of her pooping because it was her first time and I am proud of her! Also, it seems to be the only proof that she used the pan because in another flash, her Mother nudged her out of the way and ATE the poop right up!

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What the...???!!! No, I'm not upset because Mama was snacking between meals!

In my scant few years fostering kittens I have never known of this happening! I've heard of dogs using litter pans as appetizer trays, but not this! Of course I immediately flashed back into my half-assed memory to see if I could find one that included Mama-cat licking me! You know, those cute little licks we occasionally get from our dear cats?

Nope. No licking. Good. This is good. I still think I'm going to throw up. Of course, even though I'd just fed Mama, I got up and opened up another can of food for her. I figured if she ate shit and she can't run out and brush her teeth, maybe she'd want more nasty smelling canned food to cover the taste of turd?

Go figure. Cats ARE weird.

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