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One I Hold in High Regard

Giving Thanks

A life spent with as many cats as I have, is not always easy. Often it's disappointing or irritating. There's one thing after another that needs to be cleaned or fed, fights broken up, nerves soothed. The fine red lines that run across my body, are a written history from years of being foolishly close to razor sharp claws.

But then there are those moments, those perfect jewels of bliss. Watching a chubby kitten sleeping contentedly with a full belly and no fearful dreams to disturb his slumber, makes up for the scars.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The DOOD.

The difficulty of the day is lost in soft fur and soothing purrs; in being covered by cats. Their ease is mine. We rest as one. Tomorrow will come along and push me around, but that's okay. I have this moment, this fine moment.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Nicky...what will we find out about you next week? Do you really have lymphoma? Please do not let it be so.

After a stifling loss a few months ago, my heart is still quite heavy. I'm thankful to the ones still with me for reminding me that I must continue to love, for their sake, if not my own. Perhaps they're teaching me not to close down, not to give up. I'll try to listen as best I can.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen, my little “foster fail.”

I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I don't know how much longer I'll have a roof over my head. I'm grateful for what I've had for so many years. I'm greedy, though. I want it to keep going on as it has, my little house, full of purring cats.

I'm thankful for my friends, even the kinds that don't purr; the ones who I can talk to, spend time with, whose presence comforts me simply by knowing they're out there.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Gracie.

I'm thankful to Sam for not giving up, for putting up with someone who is probably semi-feral, at best, who wasn't taught about love or given much of it, but who tries in her way to make up for her failings.

I'm grateful I'm not alone; that my words are read and that sometimes they help make someone else's life better. It means so much to me to know I make a difference, maybe one that is not measured in history books, but in my own heart. I know I've done some good to make up for some of the bad; and I hope the former will outweigh the latter in time.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer, now 10 years old. My boy.

My wish to all of you is that you take a moment to really look around at your family, at your life. Drop all the little worries you might have about the turkey being overcooked or that you forgot to buy cranberry sauce. Look into the eyes of those you love and savor that moment. You have a precious life and you are loved. Today is about appreciating what we have-try not to be in such a hurry. I don't want you to miss the good stuff that's right in front of you.

 

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

2013 UPDATE: Nicky did not end up having lymphoma, but he does have a mass in his spleen (not cancerous) and he has renal disease, so that means his kidneys are failing. His dad, Sam, has been giving Nicky fluids every other day since this post was written. Nicky gained a little bit of weight and has been doing fairly well-another reason for us to be thankful on this special day.

Dexter's Dark Passenger

Note from Robin: CREEPY PHOTO BELOW, BUT NOTHING GORY! You have been warned.

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Terri Royal has a big heart. She loves cats and has been particularly touched by the plight of feral cats in her community of northeastern Georgia. Terri's not one to look the other way when a cat needs help. She and her husband, Warren, always seem to have a foster cat in their home, in addition to their five cats, all of whom were rescues.

Terri is the caretaker for a number of feral cat colonies. She makes sure they get fed and that they're all spayed or neutered. Once in awhile a friendly stray comes along and she helps that cat find a good home, too

A few weeks ago, Terri spotted a tiny kitten when she was putting food out for the feral colony. From her husband, Warren's email to me, he described the situation:

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©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. Dexter, so sick, but what is wrong with you little guy?

He lived in the bushes behind Target and today when she went to feed them, he walked out and was very lethargic- horrible respiratory infection, dripping from nose, mouth, and eyes. He was blowing bubbles from his nose, and sneezing terribly.

He was too weak to eat, or to struggle, so Terri just picked him up and put him in a small box. He's very young- 6-8 weeks, and starving. We think he has 2 more siblings in similar condition.

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©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. Just after surgery.

She [Terri] took him to the emergency vet, who gave him fluids, vitamins, combo test, and antibiotic shot, and some milk replacement. I had to leave to catch a flight (on it now) but he's in great hands with Terri. She took him home, set him up in a bedroom upstairs, with water, a little warm bed, and plenty of food and the milk. (she just told me he LOVES it!). He is resting very comfortably and is purring when she pets him- he seems to love affection.

Terri named the kitten, Dexter. He weighed only 1 lb, 4 oz.

Dexter wasn't doing so well. Although he loved affection and wanted to eat, he had constant, severe breathing problems. He had great difficulty eating. It would take him 30 minutes to eat a small amount of food. Terri gave him milk replacement, which he could eat more comfortably, but the poor little tabby was very ill.

Warren writes: And he would start sneezing - I mean REALLY sneezing - sometimes 20 times in a row, violently. We would find blood spots afterwards. The vets thought that his nose was just really irritated from all the sneezing, maybe a tiny vessel rupture, and that was causing the bleeding. But also he could barely breathe - he was always breathing very loudly, and sometimes mouth-breathing.

The Vet said to let Dexter rest. Give it time. Thank goodness Terri and Warren didn't heed the advice. They'd seen cats with upper respiratory before. After another day passed, they were sure something else going on, so they took Dexter back to the Vet.

One of Dexter's nostrils was bigger than the other. Nothing remarkable about that, but it was odd. What happened next was horrifying. When the Vet looked into Dexter's nose, SOMETHING LOOKED BACK...and was MOVING INSIDE DEXTER'S SINUS!

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©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. THE WOLF WORM.

Warren wrote:

This little kitten had a 1-inch+ WOLF WORM living in his nose.

It was so big that the hardened vet techs cried when they saw it and what this poor kitten had endured.

They could not believe that something SO BIG had been in this poor kitten's nose. They saved it for me in formaldehyde so I can see it when I get home - but they're saying it's like the size of a large garden grub-worm, they have never seen anything like it. He must have filled up his sinus or partially gone down his throat, his nose was so tiny -

No one expected that Dexter would have to have surgery, especially to remove a Wolf Worm!. Simply tugging it out was NOT an option. Wolf Worms are Bot Fly larvae. Removing just a piece of them results in a horrific anaphylactic (allergic) reaction and terrible infection which could easily go to Dexter's brain.

But would Dexter survive the surgery?

Warren writes: But since we didn't know this, Terri had fed him that morning, before the vet visit. And when they figured out what it was, they had to anesthetize him, which was very risky because he had eaten. (We have lost other ferals during routine spay/neuters under similar circumstances and had been heartbroken). But we felt that it was an emergency, and we had to go ahead and cross our fingers and hope for the best. They waited a few hours to make it a little safer - and while he was down, we went ahead and neutered him.

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©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. Getting some rest.

The Vet carefully removed the Wolf Worm. It was no longer Dexter's Dark Passenger. Now it was safely preserved in a jar while Dexter began the long road to recovery.

Warren writes: He is much better now, his breathing is completely clear - but there may be some residual damage. They say he may always have issues with sneezing, and his nose may be permanently enlarged. But we just don’t know. He is very happy, and playing, and eating like a HORSE.

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©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. Squirrel!

Since he has been with us, even with the worm, he has gone from 1 lb 4 oz to 2 lb 4 oz , mostly on the milk replacement. But I think now the will really start to thrive...

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©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. Making friends with Abby

Dexter will be ready to find a forever home in a few weeks. Though they struggle with the idea of keeping Dex, Terri and Warren know they can't help more cats in need if they have too many cats of their own. It's not an easy decision to make, but with Dexter's loving personality and winning ways, we feel sure his family will find him soon.

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©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. .

If you're interested in learning more about Dexter or want to adopt him, please contact me directly at info(@)coveredincathair.com and I'll put you in touch with Dexter's family. Transportation can be arranged. Dexter is located in Northeastern Georgia.

The Wolf Worm is not available for adoption.

No Kitty Left Behind-A Thanksgiving Miracle

In this morning's email was a familiar plea for help from Henry County Care & Control: “Please save even just one.” I knew we were full up, responsible for almost 20 cats, with me being the sole foster home. My heart ached as it always does, looking at the photos of each cat who is desperate to be rescued. I looked at the photos and saw that each of the cats in need were easily adoptable. I tried to think of what I could do to help. I could get the word out and beg for some rescue groups to step up, but it may only help one or two cats when it's all said and done. I'm so frustrated. I hate feeling like there's nothing I can do to help.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. Just one of the kitties who needs to be rescued!

I wish they could all get rescued.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, perhaps it's reasonable to wish for a miracle, then not be surprised when one happens. It's a time to reach out to others with open arms, not looking for anything in return. A simple act of generosity, can go a long way to heal hearts and give hope for better days to come.

What I didn't expect was that a miracle would happen today and the size and scope of the miracle, knocked me off my feet.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. ALL THESE KITTIES ARE SAFE!

Samantha “Sam” Shelton opened her arms and the doors to FurKids, Georgia's Largest No-Kill, Cage Free Shelter, in welcome to ALL OF THE CATS FROM HENRY COUNTY. NOT ONE CAT WILL BE LEFT BEHIND. She is, let me say this again, (other than two or so cats that were rescued by another group) CLEANING HENRY COUNTY OUT OF ALL OF THEIR CATS!

THANK YOU, SAM!!!!!!!!

What Sam was able to do is a DREAM of mine. One day I hope I can do the same thing-clean out a shelter and rest for a moment, knowing so many lives don't have to come to a premature and cruel end. I think about Betsy Merchant and Gerri Yoder, and the rest of the staff at HCC&C who work so tirelessly to help save the lives of cats and dogs. They must be jumping for joy right now!

Not only did Sam SAVE the lives of these cats, but she just gave the ones yet to arrive, more time to find a home. If the shelter isn't packed full of cats, then there's hope more will find homes, too. I know that as soon as these cats leave, more will take their places. It's a never ending cycle, but at least, for these cats Thanksgiving came a few days early, but really, just in time.

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If you'd like to tell FurKids “THANK YOU” for what they just did, or get to know more about their programs, “LIKE” them on FaceBook. What would be even BETTER—ADOPT A CAT or DOG from them! You can see a listing of their available cats and dogs HERE.

Oh and please tell them that Robin from Covered in Cat Hair sent you!

My First Neuter & My Last Bowl of Clam Chowder.

Have you ever seen something, then couldn't erase the image from your mind? This often happens during a tragic, high-stress event, like seeing your dad naked (by accident, of course!) or when you see a woman on the subway wearing stretchy leggings. She has a REALLY BIG BUTT. She's tired, standing in the subway car, so she leans her back against a metal support pole. Her huge buttcheeks part slightly, as she presses against the pole, which forces the metal support into her butt-crack! (This is why I avoid touching ANYTHING on the subway). I'm sure some scientist could describe why our memories lock down certain events, but all I can say is I just witnessed a kitten being neutered and now I can't unsee what I saw!

The event keeps looping over and over in my head. After all the cats I've had neutered over the years, I finally got to see it done. After the shock of watching it wore off a bit, I realized, WHY DO VETS CHARGE SO MUCH FOR THIS? It took all of a MINUTE to do the surgery! SHAME ON VETS FOR CHARGING MORE THAN $50.00 for this procedure!

Connie and I arrived at the Vet's office nice and early. She brought all five kittens, even though only the three boys were going to be neutered. Neither of us were positive we HAD three boys so better to bring them oll, just in case-plus they all needed a booster FVRCP shot, so now was a good time.

It was really lovely to see the kittens again. It'd been only a few days since they went to Aunt Connie's but I was missing them. They all sat serenely in their cat carrier, wondering what was going on, no doubt. I blurted out; “You're gettin' your balls cut off soon!” and the Vet tech scolded me for letting the “cat out of the bag.” She hissed; “Don't say that out loud! You'll upset them!” The kittens gave me a dirty look. I just shrugged and tried to look innocent.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The gang just before surgery time.

Dr. M came out and said hello. Connie and I looked at each other. I knew what she was thinking. She didn't want to go in the back room. Neither did I. My heart started to race and my hands got cold. This wouldn't be so bad. We didn't have to watch. We just had to help a bit, then wait for the Vet to do his part, then we would help the kittens as they woke up.

We were taken into a long room that was a combination of shelved storage-a stockpile of drugs, syringes and other things. I mostly kept my head down, afraid to look around. The room was worn, the building was fairly old and this back room needed an update. There was a small, elevated table with a towel over it at the end of the room, parallel to the shelves. The Vet indicated that we could put the cat carrier on the table. I thought this was the prep area and that we'd be going into a surgical suite with a stainless steel operating table with bottles of magic knockout gas nearby.

Dr. M took one of the kittens out of the carrier-Ruby, the boy cat with the girl name. The Dr. weighed him, then made some notes. He opened a safe and took out a small vial. He drew some of the contents into the syringe. Then he told Connie to hold Ruby down tightly and to “karate chop” the cat's back leg to keep it down and force the vein to appear. Then we both realized he was going to do the neutering RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE ON THE TABLE. Did he wash his hands first? I had just put hand sanitizer on my hands, but what the heck? Connie looked like she was going to panic and I didn't blame her a bit. We both thought we didn't HAVE TO SEE the surgery and here we were about to SEE THE SURGERY! We couldn't RUN AWAY! This was the agreement. We help the Vet, he gives us a big disount.

Connie turned away. Dr. M injected the fluid into Ruby's vein. The kitten quickly went limp, his tongue hung out of his mouth. I petted him and said it was going to be OK. Then before I could turn away, Dr. M made a tiny incision across Ruby's scrotum, then pulled the fur down, exposing his tiny little testicles. At first I was amazed at seeing them, but then, he grabbed one of them and gave it a TUG. It stretched out on a flesh colored tether about FOUR INCHES LONG! He twisted it around. Did he put a knot in it? I felt woozy. Then, just as quickly, he took an object out of a sealed package and sliced the tether at its' base. WOAH! One nut down, one to go.

I held my hand up to help cover Connie's eyes. I didn't realize I was talking until Connie told me later, but apparently I was saying; “WOW! Look at that! Oh my GOD! Connie, it's not that bad, but WOAH! WOW! I will NEVER EAT CLAM CHOWDER AGAIN!”

Dr. M quickly repeated the procedure on the other testicle. In a few seconds he was done. Connie let go of Ruby and I picked him up. I began to gently rock him and pet him. In a few moments he began to wake up. His tongue hung out of his mouth and Connie said he drooled. He felt so limp in my arms. It reminded me of the day Bob died. I didn't want to cry. I just focused on Ruby. He was ok, but WOW...I did not think I could help do this two more times!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Ruby, who may be renamed Inky.

It turns out we didn't have to watch two more times because we have THREE GIRLS and TWO BOYS! The girls got their booster shot and Spot was the only other male. Sadly, Spot was very difficult to knock out. Dr. M had to try a few things-finally we had to bring him into the surgical suite and I had to hold a tiny gas mask over Spot's face until his body went limp in my hands. It was very unnerving. Dr. M. went to work quickly and in a few moments Spot was done, too. I was told it would take a lot longer for him to wake up, so I just held him so he could breathe easily and tried not to freak out over him being so very limp in my arms.

Ruby was still weak, but awake. Then Dr. M said he was interested in ADOPTING a kitten! He had two cats and one died a few months ago. He had plans to adopt another cat, but it didn't work out. He was looking for another black and white cat! BINGO! We had THREE! He asked which one was the most outgoing? Friendly? Sweet? They all were great, but he focused on Ruby, though it was tough to know how friendly he was based on him being wobbly and out-of-it. Then I showed him photos from my blog post about the Flying Zombie Kittens. He LOVED the photos and when he realized Spot was jumping more often than the others, his attention turned to him.

In the end he decided to let both kittens recover in his office, then he'd take them both home and see how they did with his two kids and his other cat! We said we would take back the one he didn't want, then he said he'd probably end up with both since each kid would probably want their own cat.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Spot before his surgery.

We didn't ask him to fill out any application. We didn't do a home visit. We didn't even ask how old his kids were! We just numbly nodded our heads, yes. We were both in a trance. I kept seeing tiny testicles getting chopped off and Connie was focusing on remaining cool even though I found out later that blood freaks her out! I was a bit jealous that my guys didn't get adopted, but I was really GLAD these two had a good chance. My goodness-a VET for an adopter? Does it get any better?

As we walked out of the office, Dr. M. said thanks for helping him neuter HIS cats! Geez, maybe he could have decided to adopt them BEFORE we had to see him do the surgery? Now my brain hurts and I'm really glad Sam didn't see that surgery! He better keep in mind that now I know HOW to do a neuter so he better shape up.

As for Connie, she never wants to do this again! I can't say I blame her one bit, but I know I'll be back. The price is too good and Dr. M is two hours closer than the low cost S/N clinic. I hope I don't have to see him do a spay surgery, but I have this feeling it will be the next thing I see that will be featured in my “greatest hits of stuff that freaks me out that I've seen and can't unsee.”

Stand By Your Man.

When what ails your cat isn't clearly defined, it's easy to lean on your Vet and assume they know all the answers. They can decide what should be done next-that's their job, right? What I'd like to suggest is you don't let them call the shots-ever-without being your cat's biggest advocate. You know your cat better than anyone else how your cat behaves-how well they eat-if they are using the litter pan and their output is normal or not. Your Vet has MANY other patients to deal with, a life to live, other distractions. It doesn't mean they don't know what they're doing, but it does mean that they don't have the time to spend endless hours on your cat's case, alone. When it comes to your cat's health care, you must be prepared to push back, ask questions and offer reminders and suggestions to your Vet to help him/her solve the case.

The longer I do cat rescue and experience health issues with fosters as well as my own cats, the more I realize that it helps my Vet if I understand the pieces to my cat's health “puzzle” as much as I can. Overlook something and that might be the one thing that ties everything together. I may not understand cat's physiology the way my Vet does, but I can provide anecdotal information and I can be the one to remember my cat's health history when my Vet might miss something while reviewing my cat's file.

Before we visited Dr Weisman this morning, I made a list of every question I had, plus I thought about Nicky's past health issues. Dr. Weisman didn't have a complete picture of Nicky's life and it was up to us to provide that to her because whatever is ailing Nicky is not blatantly obvious.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Waiting for Dr. Weisman to arrive.

It made me think of a few suggestions to share about going to the Vet. Maybe some of them will help you when you have to bring your cat to the Vet.

1. Keep a folder of your cat's health records. Sounds obvious, but if you have to look something up, it's there. If you want to compare blood work from one year to the next or can't remember if your cat was ever tested for Bartonella it's there. Yes, you can call your Vet and they should know, but what if your Vet is closed and you need to go to the Emergency Vet?

2. Do your best to understand and be able to recall every treatment and condition your cat has ever had. If you have to make a cheat sheet of notes, do that. I seem to have a good memory for what each cat has been through, so I just sit quietly and think about it and jot down questions for my Vet based on the cat's past history and include the details of his or her past I think are important to underscore.

3. Don't let your Vet tell you what to do without clearly understanding the pros and cons of what is being done. It's nice when they offer to give your cat a shot of Convenia so you don't have to give it pills, but is Convenia the RIGHT antibiotic for your cat? Should your cat even GET an antibiotic? What about other medications other treatments? Understanding is so important. In the heat of the moment, some times you don't have the luxury of looking up what side effects or dangers are in a certain medication, but if you do have time, then LOOK IT UP. Be smart. Ask a lot of questions. Make sure your Vet remembers those details about your cat that he or she may have missed.

4. Take time to think about what is best. IF YOU CAN. There are many situations where time is a luxury you do not have. There are other situations where if you take a day or week to repeat a test or see how the cat does, it's perfectly acceptable. Sometimes rushing into a treatment or surgery makes it worse or makes the case more complex. Try not to do too much at once or you won't be able to understand what changes were the ones that made the difference.

What happened with Nicky today is a very good illustration of the points, above. Sam and I were expecting that Nicky would be having exploratory surgery today. He has too many test results that show some sort of problem-and we needed to know what was going on.

We had our list and because we had spent time thinking about it, we were able to give Dr. Weisman more information about Nicky that ended up being crucial to his care, today.

Nicky has a growth on his spleen-it is likely it is benign. Older cats can get these growths, but the ultrasound Vet didn't describe the growth well enough so we know if it is a tumor. Cats don't need their spleen as they get older so if it had to be removed, Nicky would be fine.

Although Nicky's blood work does show early signs of renal disease, what Dr. W didn't know was that Nicky is in DIRE need of a DENTAL!!! Some how that information was not passed on from our Vet to Dr. Weisman. Nicky has a cervical line lesion on at least one tooth and some mild tartar that needs to be cleaned. That, alone, could be the cause for Nicky's kidney issues and that his mesenteric lymph nodes are swollen, but that wasn't the possible smoking gun.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. I DO NOT CARE TO BE IN THE CAR! WAHHHHH!

Before we knew any better and Nicky was being fed GRAIN (in his dry and canned food), Nicky's urethra would get blocked up. Eventually we spent many thousands of dollars having surgery done on Nicky to remove his penis (which can be referred to as a PU surgery) so he'd have a bigger opening to urinate through and not block up any more. Right after that we learned about diet and got him off grain. The surgery was done years ago, but once we mentioned it to Dr. W. she perked up. That one thing could be what is causing some of Nicky's symptoms and that his immune system is constantly being taxed from having that larger opening.

She also felt that possibly Nicky was having a reaction to being fed a raw diet. Sam and I aren't sold on that, but we're open to the idea that if Nicky's immune system is weaker from his bad teeth and the PU surgery, that perhaps the mild bacteria he might encounter on his food just adds to his problems.

We also showed Dr. W. Nora's blood work. She's Nicky's sister and she has no kidney issues whatsoever. Of course this is not comparing the same cats, exactly, but between Nora and Gracie's recent blood work there are no signs the diet is hurting them-rather helping if anything.

It became clear that doing anything other than a dental on Nicky wasn't necessary today. Nicky doesn't show enough clinical signs to tell us he's in crisis. None of his tests are so bad that we MUST do surgery NOW. We decided that after the dental and dose of antibiotics and some time to recover from both, that we'd re-do the ultrasound and see if anything has improved. It's possible many of these issues will lessen in severity OR get WORSE. If so, we move forward with surgery.

We're giving it a month. Right after Thanksgiving we'll re-test and see how he's doing. If he starts to show clinical signs before then, he has the surgery done sooner. It's really not a case of not going it at all, it's a case of when it's done. Sooner or later we will be facing this procedure, but today is not that day.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. My boys last night.

Nicky is on an IV for the next few hours to protect his kidneys before surgery, then they do the dental..and they remove and biopsy a growth I found on his leg while we were IN THE CAR, on the way to the VET! After that, Nicky goes back on the IV and tomorrow morning, with any luck, we'll bring him home.

I can't say we lucked out, but I think I can say we feel better about this choice. Nicky may still have cancer or renal disease or both or hyperthyroid or IBD...we just don't know yet. Maybe we caught it VERY EARLY or maybe not. We'll find out in time.

And all this happened because we saw Nicky peeing on the floor in the kitchen...

Movie Monday Staring Bob's Pumpkin Patch

As some of you may have heard, Sam and I found out our boy, Nicky is possibly in the early stages of renal failure. As we process the news and look into further tests and ways we can help him, I thought today's post should be easy on the eyes and something to get the week off to a good start.

Presenting Movie Monday!


©2011 Maria S. Hello cutie!

Bob's Pumpkin Patch kittens are five weeks old! The boys, Jake, Mike and Teddy are doing very well. They're all growing and enjoying play time. Okay, so they have a way to go to figure out what the litter pan is for...oops! At least they're eating well. Teddy is the “wild child” and loves to race around so much that foster mama, Maria has a tough time getting a photo of him.

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©2011 Maria S. Mikey (right) and Teddy (left) who is sitting still long enough for a quick photo.

Bobette's coming out of her shell. The confinement at the shelter and the stress of not eating for 4 days while there is long passed. She's eating well and playing with the kittens. Bobette's just a kitten herself at only 10 months old. She's more like a big sister than a Mama.

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©2011 Maria S. Jakey and Mama-Bobette. It doesn't get any sweeter than this!

At 5 weeks, the kittens are making their milestones of eating more food and depending less on mama. Their weights are good and their muscles are getting stronger. There's less wobble to their walk with more refined movements.

It's been a very sad road, losing three of their littermates right after we rescued them. I look at how well the boys are doing and wish their siblings were with them, too. What they would look like now...how they would be playing and having fun right along with their brothers. I'm grateful some of the kittens survived, but I suppose I'll always feel a haunted by the ones who didn't.


©2011 Maria S. Looks like mama wants to play, too!

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©2011 Maria S. Mikey and Jakey

I love to look at their faces! I wish I could be with them now. I have to wait for them to get bigger before they can come up here. It's great that ever since Maria got a new cellphone, she's been able to capture photos and videos with ease. I can tell from the many emails she sent that she spent a good part of her weekend hanging out with the kittens taking photos and shooting video-and who wouldn't?


©2011 Maria S. Boys just wanna have fun!

Too bad Maria can't get maternity leave from work so she could stay home with the kittens! Try to explain that one to your boss!

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©2011 Maria S. Passed out cold after playtime overload.

I hope you all have a great week. Back to doing research about cat's kidney function for me...oh, and I have 7 more kittens for you to meet starting tomorrow!

Makin' Furry Friends Friday

My friend, Katherine has a big heart when it comes to animals. She's a diehard volunteer for my “sister” group, Animals in Distress. She has lots of cats. What I have here pales in comparison, but even with all she's taken on, each cat gets one on one care and lots of love.

It was no different when she rescued a tiny calico kitten. I don't know what field, backyard, attic or urban street she found it on, but she had to rescue her from what would certainly have been an early death.

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©2011 Katherine Reid. Timber & a 4 week old calico kitten.

In addition to cats, Katherine has my dream dog-aBernese Mountain Dog. If I could have a dog, that's what I'd have, but Sam is allergic and we have more than enough on our plate with cats that would likely not take well to a newcomer.

The dog is named, Timber and he's still a baby. Apparently he thinks he's a tiny puppy, too. I guess he hasn't looked in a mirror lately. Timber loves kitties and this little calico was no exception.

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©2011 Katherine Reid. How do you do?

I wonder what the kitten thought, when she looked into those big brown eyes of that VERY BIG DOG? Timber knew to be gentle with her so she wasn't scared. Perhaps Timber's instincts kicked in-not to harm the little kitten, but to protect her?

We can only guess what was going on in their minds. All I can say is I think this little kitten just made a new friend who'll help her feel less alone in the world and I wish them both well.

I just want to know that if Katherine yells at her dog, do people in the room, duck?

Timber!

Chaos-Central or Is My Cat Sick?

I can't believe it's been over a month since Bob passed away. It was a tough time-between losing him, then losing three neonatal kittens who were rescued in honor of Bob-it just felt like too much. I got a very bad chest cold and have been sick for four weeks. It's finally passing, but something else is going on in my home that's added to the feeling of chaos.

The heirarchy between the cats has shifted. Clearly there are power struggles going on. Cats who have regularly been a "problem" are fighting with newcomers. The result are urine puddles and poop piles that aren't in the litter pan.

I get it. I really do. Not only is Bob gone, but we're test driving Doodlebug to see if he can live harmoniously with the other cats. Mazie, who I rescued just about a YEAR ago, STILL LIVES HERE. She's become more bold and brazen. She's staking out some territory, too.

It's easy to shake a finger and tell me to not have the cats, but I see Mazie as transient and overall she's a very good cat. The problems I see are with Blitzen, Nicky and Petunia. The others manage okay and they don't spray or mark the house.

The biggest culprit is Nicky. He will literally pee on the floor right in front of me. When this 19+ pound cat lets go, a lake forms below him. He also poops by the doorways, usually one of the first things I see in the morning.

In sorting out what to do, I have to remember that Nicky could be sick. Nicky could be upset that Petunia is asserting herself more than ever now that Bob, her arch enemy is gone. To rule out illness, Nicky went to visit Dr. Larry today.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky, “Mr. Lovey-Dovey” at the Vet with Sam giving him a belly rub.

Nicky has lost over a pound in the past year, which is good, unless it's a trend downward from illness. He has one tooth that might be painful so he'll need a dental. Dr Larry did some blood work and a urinalysis-the results come in tomorrow. We discussed Nicky's water intake, which has noticeably increased over the past few months. This could mean diabetes (which I doubt since I did tested him a few weeks ago and he was normal), hyperthyroid (common in older cats and Nicky is 11) or renal failure (which we hope that's not what it is). ANY of these things, including his painful tooth, could be causing him to eliminate outside the box.

Then Dr. Larry asked me how many litter pans we had. I answered that we have three that are enormous. He seemed surprised, then said that we need a lot more. I questioned him about it because with the cats on a raw diet they don't fill up the pans and we keep scooping them at least once if not more times a day. He told me about a client who has TWO cats. She has one of those perfectly clean homes. She worked long hours and came home and found pee all over the place. To solve the problem, she ended up buying a kiddie pool (!!!), then placing SIX cat litter pans INSIDE the pool with fresh litter.

The inappropriate peeing stopped.

Each of the litter pans was used over the course of the day. There might be something to this after all. Our problem is that our house is a contemporary and all the rooms are open to each other. We don't have a lot of room for litter pans, but we will MAKE SOME ROOM, that's for sure. Tonight we're going out to buy some new pans. We'll see if that makes a dent in it.

The peeing problem is quite bad. It seems every day I find another place they were peeing on. We're trying all sorts of tricks and behavior modification and we've seen a reduction to not happening at all for the pooping, but the peeing..ugh...what IS IT WITH CATS? I am honestly trying to understand what they need and to give each one love and attention. I'm failing. I have to fix this.

Then there's Gracie.

Gracie is a sweet cat. She hardly has a mean bone in her body. Gracie was one of my first foster cats about 8 years ago. She was an "unwed" Mother to three kittens. Gracie's had Miliary Dermatitis for three years. I've done every test, treatment, seen every specialist I can and so far all I know is she seems sensitive to fish and homeopathy helped her stop being so painfully shy. I also think this may be the path to helping Gracie's skin now that we have her in a more calm frame of mind. You can read more about Gracie by doing a search on GRACIE in the sidebar. A few posts about her are HERE and HERE.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracie hiding under the towel. Maybe Dr. Larry won't see her?

A few nights ago I was petting Gracie. She's so jumpy I don't often get to pet more than her head, but this time she let me pet her belly. Right away my fingers detected something not right-a mass on her abdomen. It felt like an M&M.

Sam and I took her into the bathroom and tried to clip the fur away from her belly but we couldn't see much. This morning Dr. Larry got out the clippers and shaved her belly.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The cyst is the blue thing. The scabs are scabs from her dermatitis (looks worse than it really is).

Before he shaved Gracie he felt the cyst. He had a grave look on his face that told me everything. I started to think..."Oh no..not cancer again..we just went through this with Bob...I have no resources if she's that sick." Dr. Larry explained why it didn't feel like just a simple cyst; that he couldn't get under it and the texture didn't feel right.

After he shaved Gracie he didn't look so grim. What appeared to me like a freakish blueberry, Dr. Larry thought might be, I will paraphrase, a pore, perhaps there's ingrown fur in the growth and basically it's like a big zit? I'm to put warm compresses on the thing for the next few days and see if I can encourage it to drain (pop). Weee! Fun! Almost as good as when Dr. Larry offered to let me express Bob's anal glands.

It could still be cancer. We're not out of the woods. If I can't get it to drain, then he will excise it. Gracie needs a dental, too, so he'll do both. We discussed that 3 years ago when she had her last dental, that she got this rash afterwards. He's going to sedate her differently so perhaps she will be less stressed. I know he'll go as easy on her as possible. It just seems as though her skin breaks out when she is highly stressed. I should have named her, Nervous Nelly.

As we struggle to cope with missing Bob and struggle to sort out what's going on with the remaining cats, I know that in time we'll have some answers. I just hope I'm okay with what I find out.

Snowshoe Sisters-Giving Thanks

Sally and Clare were barely busted out of Henry County and spayed, before Sally's sutures started to rupture and she got a hernia. Foster mom, Bobbie, got her to the Vet right away. He said it had to be fixed and was one of the worst hernias he'd seen. We didn't hesitate in saying, YES, to going forward with the surgery. Bobbie left Sally's sister, Clare with Sally at the Vet so the two would not be alone, even for a day.

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©2011 Bobbie Coker of Cats-Goats-Quotes. Sally's herniated belly boo-boo!

By the next afternoon, the girls were home. Sally was recovering slowly and had to wear the “cone of shame” for about a day so she wouldn't tug her sutures out. She did well and got back on her paws quickly.

In the meantime, I asked for some help. The girls didn't have any toys and were clearly itching to play. Miss Memory and Miss Emily jumped at the chance to help and sent a VERY NICE selection of toys. The girls LOVED THEM!

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©2011 Bobbie Coker of Cats-Goats-Quotes. Nom nom nom nom nom

The only problem was that Sally is not very good at sharing. She'd grab up the toys and guard over them, growling at her sister if she came near. Sally also eats FAST and jumps into Clare's dish if Bobbie isn't watching them during meal time. Okay, so maybe Sally is a bit of a brat OR she just never had toys before and good food, so maybe this is just a passing phase?

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©2011 Bobbie Coker of Cats-Goats-Quotes.Are you gonna eat that?

Bobbie reported that the girls are very friendly. Sally more outgoing, Clare more reserved. They're both full of energy and want to play, over sitting in Bobbie's lap, but they do like their head skritches and pets.

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©2011 Bobbie Coker of Cats-Goats-Quotes. Clare with her toys-until Sally steals them away!

A few days ago, the girls started to have very stinky poo and were having lots of accidents all over the carpeting! Bobbie took a stool sample to the vet and sure enough it was positive for Coccidia. This is why when you foster like Bobbie does, you MUST keep the foster cats separate from your own cats. Coccidia is very contagious and is spread through the litter pan so good thing Bobbie didn't let her cats share the girl's pan!

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©2011 Bobbie Coker of Cats-Goats-Quotes Don't even think about taking Sally's favorite toy!

It was touch and go for a few days. The girls were having lots of accidents and Bobbie was being very gracious about having to clean it up. I shipped her some things to help with neutralizing the odors and helping clean up. I sent her some Cat Attract cat litter to see if the girls would stop having accidents if that was added to the litter. I told Bobbie it might be that the girls just didn't feel well and that hopefully they would stop going outside the litter pan as soon as they felt better.

Two days later...the girls stopped their inappropriate behavior as their stool began to firm back up and clearly they were feeling better. This is yet another example of why it's so important to get your cat to the vet when it inappropriately eliminates!

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©2011 Bobbie Coker of Cats-Goats-Quotes. The snowshoe sistahs!

The girls are doing well and having loads of fun with all their toys. Thank you very much to Memory & Emily for their generosity and kindness. Bobbie and I appreciate your help and I know the girls are passing the days until they come to Connecticut with joy in their hearts with all those good toys to play with and a belly full of nom-noms.

ME-OW!

Surprising Update on Basil & Nigel

Two months ago, I rescued Basil & Nigel from certain death. Either way you looked at it, these cats were going to die. If it wasn't due to them being on death row at the shelter, it was going to be from being so grossly overweight. We had to do something FAST to save these big boys.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. Two months ago, Nigel, left with brother Basil, right, sat in a cage at Henry Co., waiting for a miracle.

We began giving them good food, but in carefully controlled portions. Both cats struggled with being very shy. They didn't even want to eat much, at first, but with carful coaxing, they began to come out of their shells. We don't know what their past was like, but it's very possible they were in a confined space and were probably left with a huge bowl of dry food nearby. All they could do is eat. Nigel had sores on his belly from laying in his own urine-a sure sign he may have spent a long period of time with little to no room to move around before he was dumped at the shelter.

Basil & Nigel were transported to the Humane Society of Forsyth County because I had no room to take them to my home in Connecticut. I've worked with Jennifer H. who is in charge of shelter intake. She loved the big boys and offered them space at the shelter. You can read more about their story HERE and HERE

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©2011 Jennifer. H. Basil, slimming down to 20 pounds (with more yet to lose) and lookin' fine!

Basil and Nigel didn't do well at the shelter. Clearly, they were terrified. Jennifer took them to her home, where they still have a tough time overcoming their shyness. They've been though a lot and lived in many places over the past few months. No wonder they're struggling.

The good news is that they're both slimming down! I can't believe Basil, pictured above and below, was the once a meatloaf-sized cat!

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©2011 Jennifer. H. Basil, still shy, though.

These boys still need a forever home. Their Petfinder Ads are HERE and HERE Please let your siamese-loving friends know about this special duo. There's some hope that a very wonderful family may adopt them both, but right now they still need to slim down and gain some confidence. They're in really good hands and Jennifer H. loves them dearly. She's been very compassionate regarding their care-especially getting them out of the shelter when she saw they were regressing. Way to go, Jennifer. Thank you so much for doing right by these boys!

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