It's been a long week of Vet trips. I think Cara's getting used to being in the car, as long as I don't go faster than 70 mph. The faster I drive, the more distressed she gets, so I try to go easy, though if any of you have driven I-95 through southern Fairfield County you'll know the motto is: “I survived 95.”
I find that the longer I have cats and the more often I go to the Vet, I find myself questioning their choices and pushing back on the test or medications they prescribe. I know these cats medical history better than the Vet. They have many other patients to tend to. I can't expect them to remember everything. I find, too, that it's a good idea to make the most informed decision you can. Sure, I'm not perfect, but I can tell you if I had gone along with some recommendations to feed Cara dry food, that she'd be dead by now or at least in very serious shape.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara, chillin.'
I found myself doing that, again, regarding giving Cara antibiotics even though I knew she had an infection of some sort. I wanted more answers before giving her ANYTHING. Two Vets said, Convenia. Well, I've heard too many bad things about it and even if all if it was false, the fact that it's injectable and lasts for two weeks, means you can't STOP giving it if she has a bad reaction to it. Also, she's been on almost EVERY antibiotic there IS and I do NOT want to give her more unless her life is at stake.
So I compromised. Two days in a row of a single shot that lasted one day. It may have been enough to get Cara over the edge. We repeated her blood work and the white blood cell count was back to normal, but her Eosinophils were quite high-indicating either infection or allergic reaction to something.
Again, you must remember that blood work is a snapshot, not the full picture. Often times you have to repeat blood work to make certain there's a problem. I know we'll have to repeat Cara's again at some point.
Cara vomited a few more times. Once at the Vet (good timing so they could witness what was going on) and once a day after that for two more days. I knew Cara was facing something major-another endoscopy or exploratory surgery. Surely this darn cat was going to bankrupt all of us!
I was slated to meet Dr. K in Norwalk, abut an hour drive from here, Friday morning. I knew I was going to have a rough time with the drive because I HAD to get up at 4AM to watch The Royal Wedding. I'm not a nut about weddings, per se, but I did it because it's part of history and I like to be part of things, even if I'm in my PJ's eating scones and watching it on TV. I also did it because my Mother and I watched Charles and Diana get married and it was a nice memory to have, now that my Mother has long since passed away.
I saw the monumental “Kiss,” then ran out the door before the shocking second kiss occurred. No sooner than I got in the car, I realized I was really tired. The last thing you want to do is drive I-95 when you're sleepy, but that's what I did. I decided I'd take it slow, just stay in the right lane-be mellow.
Once I got on the highway, it was clear, you can't be on 95 and be mellow. That doesn't work. You're either stuck behind a diesel belching dump truck doing 45 mph or you get tailgated going 80 mph. Even the middle lane was full of nutty drivers, so I sucked it up and got in the left lane. Better to get it over with.
At one point I decided I HAD to wake up so I slapped myself! HARD! I've never done that before and I must say it did help my face sting. but I felt like I was going to shut my eyes and go to sleep, anyway. I opened the window and let the fresh air slap me, but Cara didn't like the extra noise, so I shut the window.
I got to VCA VREC right on time-alive, so that was good. I didn't have to wait long for the appointment. Out came Dr. K. She's awesome, but very speedy. She just cuts to the chase and goes over what she feels needs to be done, talking 100 words a second. Fortunately, I was able to keep up with her or in my sleepy-mind I fooled myself into believing that was the case. She decided she wanted to take a quick look at Cara using their ultrasound machine-even though we just had it done by another Vet at a different hospital. Before I could start my mental adding machine, she said she was just going to take a peek-don't worry about any charge.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara was VERY popular with the ladies at the front desk.
This is when I was sure I was sleeping, because I must have been dreaming. Dr. K whisked Cara away and I went back to the waiting room and got a “free” cup of tea, hoping it would revive me. Everyone in the waiting room had a dog-purebred. I was definitely in the wrong place. I ended up impressing a woman by identifying her dog—a schipperke. The lady next to her challenged me to guess her dog's breed. Without missing a beat, I said; Clumber Spaniel. She was surprised I knew it and said most people got it wrong. I told her I watch Westminster Kennel Club dog show every year, which I do, but I didn't tell her I knew it was a Clumber because I really don't like that breed at all.
Another lady brought in a Scottie. He was carried in the door, wrapped in a towel. They rushed the dog into the back where the Vets do their secret things. The woman had been crying. The other dog owners were telling her they knew what she was going through and they were so sorry. I didn't want to know what was going on. I'd rushed my own cat, Stanley, there many years ago and he came home with me, in a cardboard box. It was too late for them to help him, too.
Dr. K came out of the exam room and motioned for me to join her. She said that (BIG SIGH HERE), there was no need to do endoscopy on Cara, nor did she feel there was a need to do exploratory surgery-just yet. She repeated the x-rays we just did two days ago and DID see evidence of a small amount of corn-based cat litter in her intestines. She didn't see anything else that was alarming, but did feel Cara could still have some sort of parasitic infection or allergic reaction to her food.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. They let her answer the phones, but she wasn't good about writing down messages.
Oh no...her food. Here we go again. She better not tell me to feed Cara dry food. Thankfully, she only asked me to feed a unique protein in a canned food and she had to write a prescription for me to get IVD Duck & Peas formula. I asked if it had grain. She assured me it did not. I grumbled about the food, but told her I would get some. She told me to de-worm Cara for three more days using Panacur and she also gave Cara an emedic to keep her from vomiting for a day or so. Other than that, we'd just wait and see.
Of course, if Cara DOES continue to vomit, we're looking at endoscopy AND possibly surgery. I wasn't going to start worrying about that. I wanted to focus on getting Cara better.
It's been two days since we saw Dr. K and Cara has been keeping her food down. Last night her energy level was jaw-dropping. She could almost fly on her own she can jump so high. This morning there was a mishap, a step back. I discovered one of the cats had broken the light bulb in the lamp in their room. Broken bits of glass were all over the floor. The cats were right in the area with the broken glass. I acted quickly to get them out of the room, but the next thing I envisioned was yet another trip to the Vet. What fun would it be...four cats with glass in their paws?
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara doesn't like “Love Triangle,” but I can't help watching it.
That Vet bill is not math I care to do. The cats seem fine, but Cara got so badly frightened by the vacuum cleaner, even though it was quite far away from her and she couldn't even see it. She started to viciously hiss at me, then ran and hid. She's never ever been even the slightest bit nasty with me or her siblings. She's doing better now, but I think we all need a nice quiet evening with NO MORE VET TRIPS and perhaps a restful nap.
Yes, a nap. I could go for that, just not a dirt-nap.
This morning I brought Cara in to see Dr. Larry. Thankfully, they were able to fit her into the schedule for today without an appointment, but it meant I had to leave her there and they'd do x-rays and an exam at some point during the day. I got home and sat in the foster room with Mazie, Chester and Polly. They've been in that room for FOUR MONTHS. Only Mazie can be adopted and no one has been interested in her. Polly STILL has a URI and Chester is dealing with that spot of ringworm on his head. I know that being in a small room, even if it does have one huge window that overlooks the yard and another smaller window that gives them a view of the sky and tree tops, is not enough. Since they can't really catch anything from my cats and vice versa, I let them out into my bedroom once in awhile. There's more room to run around, but they really need a huge space to stretch their legs. I suppose if being bored or not having a lot of space was their biggest problem, I'd be lucky.
Dr Larry called me early this afternoon. Cara's x-rays did not show any obvious foreign object, but he wanted to do a blood panel to make sure she didn't also have an infection. I wanted to push back and say, no, not to spend the money since Cara seems fine, but I agreed. He told me to meet him at 4pm and by then he'd have the results and I could take Cara home.
Things were busy at Maple Ridge today, so I grabbed a People magazine and looked at it while I waited for Dr. Larry in exam room number 2. I noticed photos of celebrities in their bathing suit, walking on the beach at some exclusive resort. I didn't even know who half the people were. Then, it dawned on me. Why does it matter that I need to see these photos at all? If there were photos of my neighbors walking on the beach, I would be just as uninterested. They're on vacation? So what! What are they doing that's unusual, interesting, important? Maybe People should be renamed; “Photos of people on the beach with really nice bodies, wearing huge sunglasses, but otherwise not really doing anything.” I swear they use the same photo each week, they just photoshop the latest celebrity A-lister face over the body they used the week before.
I was just about to read about why Catherine Zeta-Jones is disclosing she has Bipolar Disorder II and why there is a “II” and what that means? Is it a sequel to Bipolar Disorder I? Maybe it's fancy movie star version of Bipolar disorder? Dr. Larry entered the exam room before I could sort it all out. He sighed. Then he said something about me having too much on my plate. I had a feeling he was about to add more to it and I was right.
Cara's blood work showed her White Blood Cell Count was VERY HIGH. High-normal is about 20,000. Cara's is 35,000. She's got a raging infection. Her stomach is swollen full of gas. Her intestines are full of stool-almost packed solid. I looked at the x-rays and asked about something I saw in her stomach-some small particulate. Dr. Larry waved it off saying it was the cat food I feed...you know the RAW food with the BONES in it. I balked. Cara does not get raw. She gets canned. So of course it has to be the canned food. It's CANNED FOOD! There aren't BONES in it. Then it hit me. It was the cat litter. It confirmed what I had been suspicious of all along—that Cara has been eating the corn based cat litter. Perhaps the high WBC count is due to her eating out of the litter pan?
It's tough to say what's going on exactly. Dr Larry wanted to have an ultrasound done. The Vet who performs them had a cancellation. It's for tomorrow at 8:30AM. Larry felt we might be able to see if there's still a piece of yarn toy acting as a filter between her stomach and her intestines or if there's any damage to her stomach from eating the toy or ingesting the litter. It would give us some info, but potentially not enough.
Cara may need exploratory surgery or another endoscopy. Dr. Kittral, who's been performing all Cara's endoscopies needs to be included in our decisions. Sadly, she doesn't start her work week until TOMORROW. Dr. Larry wanted to put Cara on antibiotics, which, of course, raised a huge alarm bell in me. We can't give her oral meds or we risk causing her strictures to return. We compromised and Larry gave her an injection that will only last until tomorrow. By then, hopefully we will have more answers and be able to figure out a game plan for Cara.
I tried to be brave, but I felt a bit weak in the knees. Cara could be in a very dangerous situation. With her esophagus compromised already and her stomach lining possibly being damaged, we can't try to clear the stool out of her without risking her rupturing somewhere. Anything invasive that needs to be done, has to be carefully considered. Any medications given must be carefully scrutinized. She's been on too many antibiotics. She's been through so much already. I just don't know how we're going to get her over this next hurdle.
This Vet bill, even with a discount, is going to be bad. It could be the beginning of VERY BAD, I don't know how bad just yet. I'm going to open up yet another fundraiser for Cara. Her last two Vet bills came to $1500.00 and with the loan I got, we were able to pay everything off in full, but now we're back to loose change in our pockets to pay for the next Vet bills. I'm guessing that between today and tomorrow it will be $600.00 and counting. I can't give up on Cara even if the timing is the worst, ever. I thought we were over the hump, but now we've been pushed back down the hill like a feline version of Sisyphus.
I also have a lot of guilt about this situation. The past two weeks I just haven't been home much with frequent trips to NYC to care for Sam's mother. I couldn't feed the cats as regularly as usual and I fear that Cara resorted to eating the litter out of desperation and perhaps now has developed a taste for it. I really LIKE the litter and the other cats are fine with it, but I have to stop using it around Cara.
As for Cara; we've just GOT to get her well; for once and for all.
I realize we've had to ask for help more often than I ever imagined to get Cara well. I'm blessed with having devoted and compassionate friends of this Blog. My hope is that not one person has to donate more than $5. If we can all ChipIn, we'll hit our goal in a heartbeat. If you can share this request with your friends, I would appreciate it very much. Your donation IS tax deductible, as the funds go to a Kitten Associates, Inc. foster kitten (Cara).
I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. I just saw Cara PROJECTILE vomit. I've never seen so much fluid come out of such a small animal, so quickly, in my LIFE. The vomit was mostly water. She'd eaten a good 5 hours before she vomited, so this indicates she was able to digest her food, but why so much water? Clearly something was wrong with her when I sat down to have some play time with the foster kitties around midnight.
Cara licked her mouth—a lot. This is a strong indicator of nausea. I knew she hadn't eaten recently, so I couldn't figure out what was going on. I got her a bowl of fresh water, not really knowing what else to do. I have had some fears she's been eating her corn based cat litter and perhaps that was the culprit? I spread some chunky Yesterday's News over the corn litter to put a “protective coating” over the corn until I could change out the entire pan.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Cara. She's been through so much already.
Meanwhile, Cara was troubled and uncomfortable. I lifted her up to listen to her belly. Was it rumbling? Was her breathing ok? Her heart was racing. I put her down, then moved her inside her cat carrier because if she was going to get sick, she could do it there instead of on the bed (which is why I've had to do a lot of laundry lately.). The past two weeks I've been finding these enormous watery vomits in the foster room. Due to the volume of fluid, I thought it was Mazie or possibly Polly or Chester. They're still twice Cara's size. Certainly it was not her.
Between everything else going on in my life, I just wasn't able to give Cara the close attention I normally can provide. I've had to spend much less time with the fosters.
The biggest reason it's been difficult to be more attentive to the foster cats is Sam's mother. She's having surgery today. I was told to stay home and keep things going here. It's partially due to the reality of having relationship problems with Sam, and possibly moreso that the folks at the hospital don't even know what time or what HOSPITAL she's having the surgery done. After being in the Psych Ward for TWO WEEKS, with little information provided, we only know she's had her meds adjusted for the pain in her hip and now her Orthopedist says, at 82, she's still a good candidate for a hip replacement. So...after her attempting to take her life over the pain she was in and the fear of having to have surgery to repair her hip, now she is fine with the notion of having her hip replaced, which I believe is far simpler and less painful than the corrective surgery she had five years ago. It's rather ironic she's at this place after where she started off, but she's alive and hopefully her surgery will go well and she'll be on to a new, happier chapter of her senior years.
I'm writing this at 12:30 AM, so as soon as Dr Larry's office opens at 8 AM, I'm going to call to see if they can fit Cara in for an x-ray and an exam. Last week in one of the vomits, I found a length of a knitted curlycue cat toy that was attached to a plastic wand. I caught Polly gnawing on it and figured she had also been the culprit who threw up a piece of it. I made it tough for the cats to get at the toy. I was stupid. I should have thrown it out. I saw Polly chew it again a few days later, so that's when I finally did throw it away.
The problem is-it may not have been Polly eating the toy. In Cara's vomit, there was a 2 INCH long piece of that darn toy! Cara HAD eaten it. Was there MORE in her stomach? If I had saved the remaining cat toy, I would have been able to make a guesstimate, but with that gone, my only choice is to get her x-rayed to see if there's more inside her.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. 2 inches long. I measured it!
Cara's energy has been off and on, but mostly normal. She eats well. Her eyes are bright, yet...after days of wondering who was vomiting, I had to do something to figure out which cat was sick. I crated Cara for two days until she vomited in her crate, proving to me it was her all along. I made an appointment for her to see Dr. Kittral, her Internist, right away. The soonest we can get in is on Wednesday. I know I can't wait that long, so we'll start with x-rays in a few more hours and I've left a message for Dr K for when she starts her week on Tuesday, so she knows what's going on.
I'm terribly worried that after ALL the effort, the two endoscopies, the medications every 6 hours...has it all been UNDONE because Cara ate a cat toy? Are we back to square one? I'm terrified of what this is going to cost, but I'm going to take it one day at a time. We'll do the x-ray and hope for the best. Maybe Cara just popped out the only foreign object inside her? Maybe pigs will fly out of my butt, too?
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Polly (left), Cara (center) and Mama-Mazie (right) settle down on the electric blanket for a nap.
I have to admit, this cat is driving me nuts. She's so sweet and so dear, but I just can't keep up with all her problems! I keep thinking we're over the hump and she's on the road to being 100% healthy, but she just isn't getting there any time soon! Maybe her Internist will adopt her and make my life a lot easier and her's a lot better? Yeah, right...like that's gonna happen.
I'll update this post as soon as I can get Cara to Dr. Larry...
I've rarely been so excited to write about a new product. It's so top secret, I'I had to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. I've been lucky, heck, honored to be the ONLY BLOGGER TO BE GIVEN BEHIND THE SCENES ACCESS TO THE MOST DAZZLING NEW PET PRODUCT TO COME TO MARKET SINCE CAT LITTER!
I can't even believe I'm going to write this...inappropriate cat urination problems have been SOLVED with the modification of a simple device that's been around since the 1930's.
I give you, Flunette™
Let’s start with the obvious question: What is this thing? Flunette is a silicone container, a reusable device that collects the urine of female cats rather than allowing it to be released, then collected (by you) as clumped waste in litter pans. The container can be worn continuously for up to 12 hours, including overnight, before it must be emptied. This just means a quick rinse off with their Feelin' Good Feline Wash Liquid and you're ready to go.
The Flunette is based on menstrual cups, which were first used in the 1930's. It was a reusable alternative to tampons and pads that collects the menstrual flow rather than absorbs it. With a slight modification and adjustment downwards to a small size, the Flunette was born.
There’s a learning curve, for sure. But there’s also a payoff. Flunette is comfortable, well at least that's the theory. Your cat can do everything she normally does – take a nap, eat, play with a mousey toy – but no matter how mad or territorial she may get, the last thing she can do is empty her bladder onto your favorite chair, the wall in your bedroom or even on your kitchen counter! All her urine is safely contained inside the Flunette until YOU empty it.
Made of silicone, the Flunette (above) is flexible enough to ensure comfortable insertion. Note: I wear kevlar gloves when I insert the device into my cats. I find it's safer for us both if I take that simple precaution.
Insertion is a snap. Just press the sides together to collapse the container area then insert open end first. The tapered tip should face OUT. It's the handle you'll tug on later to remove the Flunette from your cat.
For those of us who suffer, as I do, with cats peeing all over their homes. The Flunette is a lifesaver. Sure, it was difficult to insert the device into my cat's urethra, but I found that if I gave her a bag of treats, she was so busy gobbling them up, she didn't notice what was going on in her back end. Yes, I did get clawed and bitten the first few times, but never so badly I had to be hospitalized and like anything else, persistence pays off.
I can't believe how clean and fresh smelling my home is now that I have Flunettes in all my female cats! Now that they stopped spraying, the males stopped, too and they didn't even need to wear the cup!
In the big picture, using a urination barrier device is better for the environment since it reduces the need for cat litter! Now Fluffy will only need the litter pan for moving her bowels, though don't tell, but there is a rumor that Flunette will soon have a companion product; Turdtainer.
Think of the money you'll save on cat litter, since a Flunette device can last for several years with proper care. Your back will thank you, too. No more lugging heavy bags of cat waste to the trash!
Made of 100% medical grade silicone
Hypoallergenic and latex-free
Rinse carefully with soap and water (or Feelin' Good Feline Wash)
As with all of my Product reviews, know I did not receive any payment for my review, only a sample of the product and the wash. My results are simply that, mine! Your results may vary. Also, make sure you have health insurance before you purchase this product.
Ordering information for Flunette is HERE. The Flunette is $12.95 for one and $16.95 for two. The Feelin' Good Feline Wash is $6.95. Both products will be available April 31, 2011 for one day only, so ACT FAST! Please share this post with ALL your fed up, peed upon friends! You'll be glad you did.
Cara had her first endoscopy performed twelve days ago. She was weak, frail and exhausted on that drive home after the procedure. The next day I began giving her medications at least every six hours. It's a complicated combination of medications that have to be given on time. Although I'm turning into a zombie from lack of sleep, Cara's been turning the corner!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara nibbles on her arm. Good eats!
Each day I brought Cara her food. Watered down baby food plus A/D (which I do not want to feed her!). It's a thin porridge-like consistency. I trained Cara to eat inside a cat carrier. This way her siblings or mother can't bother her (much) as she's eating and I can monitor how much she eats. It also keeps HER from getting into the canned food her family gets. I have to make sure Cara's esophagus has time to heal. Should she eat thick canned food, it might open up a sore or cause a stricture to reform.
I have to be scrupulous about not letting her have a nibble of anything, because she knows to explore the area where her family is fed, after I take up their plates and wipe down the rubber placemat. Cara frantically sniffs and licks at the tiniest morsel. At least her drive to eat is strong, but it could get her into trouble.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara and Polly watch President Obama's speech after the earthquake. The kittens and I are very sad.
Then, I'll wait. I'll sit with the cats and watch Cara. She had some grumbling tummy, some burps, but nothing too bad. I looked for signs of vomit around the room and found none. I decided after more than a week, to give Cara different canned food, baby food and water. She ate it but it was a bit thick and I thought she might vomit. The next morning I found a HUGE vomit all over the bed, with lots of water in it, too. I couldn't believe that tiny Cara had that much food in her AND she would have done it many hours after eating. I hoped that maybe her mama, Mazie had done it, not her.
Since I was worried that it WAS the food, I went back to the old standby.
After the first week, I spoke with Dr. K and she said to stay the course. Now we're at almost the end of week two and it's time to update Dr. K again to see what should be done next. Cara is growing rapidly and gaining weight. She's running around the room like a maniac, chasing after Polly and Chester. If she can keep down thicker food, then she may be out of the woods and will not need another balloon dilation. It's too early to say, but right now, she's looking great!
And since it's been almost two weeks, I think I can safely (I hope) say that I'm very glad we did NOT place a feeding tube into Cara. Cara seems very comfortable now, so perhaps we're one step closer to Cara being ready to be adopted? It's truly amazing to see her progress.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Who feels better? ME!
Go little sweetie, go!
I feel hungover from interrupted sleep, and little of it. I can't imagine how Cara feels in comparison. From the look of her, I'd say she feels a lot worse than I do. The last 24 hours have been difficult.
Yesterday we started fundraising for Cara's Vet Care so we could get funds for her to have an Endoscopy. It's a much needed diagnostic test that we hoped would lead us closer to finding out what's wrong with Cara.
We were very lucky that a compassionate, anonymous person (really a Guardian Angel) came forward and offered to LOAN us enough money to get the test done. It WOULDN'T solve our fundraising problem because we have to pay it back, but at least we could move fast and get the test done. I was able to book her an appointment within an hour of getting help from Cara's Guardian Angel.
It was a good thing we didn't wait another SECOND longer. We have answers. No more tests needed. It's not good news.
Cara's esophagus is in TERRIBLE shape. It's filled with bloody ulcers. The lining of the esophagus is thickened from being so irritated.
Cara has TWO strictures-which is a closing of the esophagus due to, in Cara's case, either a genetic component or the fact that she had Doxycycline at such an early age (which I didn't know was something that can cause a problem and I need to look into this further). One of the strictures was SO SMALL they could not get the scope into her stomach-how was she getting any food at all?
Cara must be in HORRIFIC PAIN. Think of the worst sore throat you ever had, times 10. Every time you eat it hurts. No wonder Cara was vomiting! The food could barely pass into her stomach, yet she was losing vital nutrients and was SO VERY HUNGRY at the same time!
Balloon dilation. Just what it sounds like. Under anesthesia, they insert a small balloon into the esophagus and inflate it very carefully. It forces the esophagus open. Then they inject a small amount of steroid into the thickened tissue to get the swelling down.
If they do this, the esophagus can tear, the chest fills with air and you have a VERY SERIOUS LIFE THREATENING situation on your hands, but you HAVE to do something because soon, Cara will not be able to pass ANY FOOD into her stomach.
If the dilation works, then they would want to insert a feeding tube into Cara. It would bypass her esophagus and go right into her stomach. I've heard about feeding tubes and how they can cause more problems than they solve. They can become infected, come out-which results in emergency gastric surgery. Considering Cara's in a room with her family and is a playful kitten, I couldn't imagine doing this to her. I also didn't feel I had the “chops” to provide that level of care without making a deadly mistake. I wanted to talk to Dr. Larry and find out if he could board Cara and provide her care for the two weeks we'd need if we put her on a feeding tube. I needed more time to think, but didn't have the luxury of having any.
I tried to stay calm while the Internist, Dr. K. gave me the news, but inside my heart was breaking. Would Cara ever have a normal life? Would she ever have a home of her own?
The Vet told me that Cara could have a good future, but that there was also a very good chance that the strictures would recur-soon. That the procedure would probably need to be re-done up to 3 times, before the stricture would stop closing up. Cara would have to be on a high calorie, liquid diet during this time.
Cara could also end up having to be on a liquid diet for the rest of her life and face having a stricture issue recur even if we fix her up now. That yes, it will cost money to provide the care, but no where NEAR the cost of the surgery to fix a PRAA, which would have been at least another $5000.00 on top of the money we needed for the balloon dilation, so that was good.
The Vet wanted to know if as a rescue group, if she should proceed with the treatment. She'd do the best she could for us regarding costs, but I could read between the lines of what she was really asking.
My reply was simple: We do NOT EUTHANIZE ANIMALS BECAUSE OF MONEY. She sounded relieved. I gave her the okay to do the dilation, but to hold off on the feeding tube. My hope is to see how we do for a few days. IF we can get Cara comfortable and eating well, she may heal on her own if she survives the dilation.
There are so many IFs. It's very tough to know what's best, but I knew that I'd be risking all sorts of extra trouble inserting a feeding tube. One step at a time...
The Vet called me a short while later. The dilation went VERY well. In fact she said that it just “popped” open and did so well enough that they could re-insert the scope and see into Cara's stomach. She said; “it looked beautiful.” That was a BIG RELIEF.
They kept Cara for about five hours after the procedure. Sam and I picked her up late last night, along with a huge BAG of medications and a two page list of directions for her care.
Sam drove and I ended up holding Cara, swathed in a big towel. She stretched out her front legs across my shoulder and put her head down and closed her eyes. Her front legs were both shaved in a band around half way up her leg. It made her paws look like she was wearing white mittens. Cara felt like a dead weight, which was very unnerving. She just laid on me, barely moving, the entire drive home. This wasn't the bouncy full-of-life kitten I'd seen just a few hours earlier. I felt panicked about my ability to provide the right care for this little sweetheart and her ability to survive the treatment.
We finally have answers to what's been ailing Cara. It's not a PRAA-Persistent Right Aortic Arch. We don't have to travel out-of-state to find a surgeon to save her life. We can do everything we need to do right here, but the problem is-will Cara respond well to treatment or have a life filled with suffering?
We still need to continue to raise funds for Cara's care. Yesterday's procedure came in under the estimate, but Cara will likely need a few more balloon dilations. We're going to cross our fingers and leave our goal as is, for now. In a week if Cara is doing well, we'll lower the goal. We never want to ask for more than we need. Every dollar is sacred.
Thank you to the MANY people who responded right away to help Cara. It makes all the difference to be able to provide care for this much-deserving little darling. If you can't donate any funds, PLEASE DO CONSIDER SHARING THIS POST WTIH YOUR FRIENDS!
If Cara could talk, I bet she'd say; “Thank you for thinking my life is precious and worth fighting for.”
I couldn't agree more.
In a statement dated February 28, 2011, Tim Callahan, the CEO of WellPet, makers of Wellness cat food (which I have heartily recommended to many people over the years) has announced a VOLUNTARY RECALL of certain lots of Wellness Canned Cat food and certain lots of the Chicken & Herring flavor.
The cause of the recall is inadequate Thiamine in their product, which can cause, a reversible deficiency that can be treated if caught promptly.
I just called Dr. Larry. He told me that I'd have had to feed this food to my cats for 6 months or so for there to be a problem. The problem is that CARA and her FAMILY have been getting this food for MONTHS-since they were old enough to be weaned! None of them are showing signs of Thiamine Deficiency, but at such a young age, could this have effected them more acutely?
I am very concerned about their health and with them being chronically sick for months...is this something that added to their problems? Is thiamine the only deficiency or is this the tip of the iceberg?
I certainly hope that the good folks at Wellness are being honest. They're recalling ALL their canned food with the certain “best by date,” instead of trying to figure out which flavors of which best by dates are effected.
The lots involved in this voluntary recall are:
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The dreaded cans that are part of the recall.
I found that I had a few cans that were effected by the recall. I decided to go back through my bags of recycling and check those cans. The further back I went, the MORE cans I found that were part of the recall. I can only imagine how many, in reality, I fed. I've been buying Wellness by the CASE-and most of those cans are long gone. In the end, I found 18, 12 oz. cans.
I called WellPet at 1-877-227-9587 to arrange for return of the product and reimbursement. They answer the phone right away and are very accommodating. Gee, are we surprised? Okay, I'm being mean. They were very nice and will take care of this right away.
That said. I'm sitting here with a big stomach ache, wondering if these kittens have been compromised in some way and no coupon or refund is going to fix that.
I just got back from the Vet. Five days ago Cara weighed 2.lbs 14 oz.-down from 3.00 pounds the week before.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara (with Polly behind her) and I try to juggle getting a photo with snuggling.
THIS IS A LOT OF WEIGHT TO GAIN IN SUCH A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME, but Cara was operating on a big deficit. As you recall, her sister is almost five pounds, so Cara has a lot of catching up to do.
Super-Deb was “speechless” when she saw the weight gain as Cara sat quietly on the baby scale. None of us can put a finger on what was the cause of her being able to keep food down.
We're left with one or a combination of different reasons why Cara is keeping her food down: 1. She was de-wormed with MANY different de-wormers. The last two were Panacur and Albon. Maybe one of them did the trick? 2. She was given 13 days of a 2 week regime of hardcore antibiotics, but the day we stopped, she started to eat again. Either she was sickened by the drugs or the drugs helped. That said, she has been vomiting for much longer than 2 weeks and she's been on different antibiotics for the better part of the last two months. 3. Putting her on a simple diet of chicken baby food, slightly watered down to start, then slowly adding a simple grain-free canned to her food. The ratio of baby food to canned is changing until she is on 100% canned food. So far, so good. 4. She's been given some pro-biotics but not enough to make me think that had a lot to do with this weight gain. 5. She was separated from her family so she would not have to compete for food. This allowed her to eat at her own pace, though, initially she still gobbled her food as fast as she could. 6. No one knows this, but I gave Cara one treatment of a homeopathic remedy the day she stopped vomiting. I think it did something amazing for Cara.
We're left with one or a combination of different reasons why Cara is keeping her food down:
1. She was de-wormed with MANY different de-wormers. The last two were Panacur and Albon. Maybe one of them did the trick?
2. She was given 13 days of a 2 week regime of hardcore antibiotics, but the day we stopped, she started to eat again. Either she was sickened by the drugs or the drugs helped. That said, she has been vomiting for much longer than 2 weeks and she's been on different antibiotics for the better part of the last two months.
3. Putting her on a simple diet of chicken baby food, slightly watered down to start, then slowly adding a simple grain-free canned to her food. The ratio of baby food to canned is changing until she is on 100% canned food. So far, so good.
4. She's been given some pro-biotics but not enough to make me think that had a lot to do with this weight gain.
5. She was separated from her family so she would not have to compete for food. This allowed her to eat at her own pace, though, initially she still gobbled her food as fast as she could.
6. No one knows this, but I gave Cara one treatment of a homeopathic remedy the day she stopped vomiting. I think it did something amazing for Cara.
So we will never really know for sure, why Cara was so sick, for so long. She is still NOT OUT OF THE WOODS. If she can't keep 100% solid food down, then we have to look into getting an endoscopy and we have to go back to our fears that Cara DOES have PRAA.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Polly and Chester don't care what Cara weighs as long as they get some good food, too.
Right now I'm simply going to just smile and take comfort in Cara's remarkable improvement and hope the trend continues.
So I didn't buy into (much) of the commercialism of Valentine's Day. I got Sam three cards that were silly. One was “from” the cats. He got me three cards, too, and that was it.
I saw something on the local news the week before about a place in Massachusetts where you could enjoy a nice day trip. I checked the map. It was only a two hour drive. Not bad.
They had a special dinner there over this past weekend, but Cara was sick so we had to miss it. I thought if we went on the actual day, Monday, we'd be around fewer people and have a quieter day. I didn't tell Sam about my plans. Oh God, it was another surprise! Haven't I learned from the past? Where is that Time Machine where the me of the future could have stopped the me of the present?! I figured it wasn't a big deal to take PART of a day off, then race back home in time to feed the cats.
To fully appreciate how desperate we are to get away from home. Last year, Sam and I went on ONE (business) trip to Ohio. We drove. It was 10+hours EACH way. If you subtracted the driving time and the business time, we had a vacation of about 12 hours.
The only other time either of us went anywhere was my trip for 36 hrs to visit my friends in PA and attend the Renaissance Festival.
THAT WAS IT. I did NOT go on a VACATION. I have not gone on a vacation for at least three years and even then it was a botched trip to the west, which ended in me spending $3,000.00 to get my car fixed and being broken down in Des Moines, IA for a week. Before that my last real vacation was...I can't remember. Probably a weekend away to Maine or Rhode Island.
Since finances are “that bad,” an overnight trip is not possible-also because of all the cats. We just can't go away.
I told Sam I had a plan for a partial day off. He liked the idea even if he didn't know where we were going. What trust! After I almost killed him so many years ago, he trusted me to plan something nice to do.
The problem was getting OUT of the house.
We were running late. I wanted to be on the road by 9am and it was already 10am. I wasn't angry. I decided to be mellow and just enjoy whatever happened. We put on our winter coats and hats. We loaded up our maps, a camera, Sam's beloved COFFEE. I was a few steps ahead of Sam, my hand about to touch the doorknob, which was connected to the front door, which was connected to FREEDOM, when I heard “OUCH!!!!!! SONOFABITCH!!!”
I dropped everything, turned around and saw Sam holding his foot. He had stepped on something and it had impaled him. He was not happy, to say the least, as he hopped on one foot over to the stairs to sit down. He was yelling about how whatever it was, went through TWO pairs of socks (I don't have the heat on very high, so Sam always bundles up).
I figured it was a tiny splinter, not a big deal. Sam took off one sock, then the other. I could see something in his foot. He tried to pick it out and cried in pain. I offered to get a tweezers and he nodded yes. I lumbered up the stairs around him, still wearing my winter coat, which made getting around very awkward.
I brought him the tweezers and also ended up kicking him in the back, since I was on the stair above him and to get around and down to hand him the tweezers, my foot hit his shoulder. He ignored the kick, took the tweezers and gave a pull. He cried out again and yelled at me to get the hemostat. The tweezers weren't strong enough!
Firstly, I know those are my best tweezers and they can pluck a rouge chin hair in style. Second, what is a hemostat? So I asked. Sam tersely replied; “you know, a “roach clip!”
I realized what he was talking about, as I ran back up the stairs. He had quite a few of those things in the bathroom. Then, as if i had woken a sleeping bear from hibernation, it dawned on me. After living together for so many years, how did I NOT realize what this was? Then I started to worry! Is my boyfriend a Pothead?
So I lumbered back down stairs and kicked Sam, again, in the back. (it was an accident, I swear!!).
I looked over his shoulder. He had a good grip on the splinter. I asked him if he wanted me to pull it out for him and he said, no. He took a deep breath and dramatically pulled hard. I thought he was overdoing it. Then I saw what came out of his foot. My stomach lurched and I nearly fainted!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The Splinter.
It was a HUGE sliver of wood. Later, Sam was able to determine that it was a piece of the oak FLOOR. Somehow his sock caught the piece, lifted it straight up, then when he put his foot down, WHAM!, right into his foot it went.
I made another trip up and down the stairs to get peroxide and some gauze and yes, another back kick! It was where he was sitting on the steps! Ugh.
I asked him if he could just come upstairs and sit on the bed and I'd bandage him up.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Sam holding the “hemostat”...ha ha ha...I mean splinter.
I am my Mother's daughter. After I got the bandage on, I had to take a photo. That piece of wood was enormous and it went well into Sam. Once the worst was over, I said to him; “Hey, we almost made it out the door. Do you want to just go to the movies today?”
He said he wanted to go on the trip. Even though he didn't know where we were going. I told him I was glad it happened to him because I would have been in a really bad mood and ruined the day if it happened to me. Sam had to agree, being a victim to my stormy mood swings. We both laughed and I told him we'd take it easy and could turn back early if needed.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. I have a new buddy on my sleeve.
We went to the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory. Which appeared to be an old Nursery that must have been converted into a place where butterflies fly around and creep you out because they fly in your face and there are signs everywhere saying not to touch them. Does that include not swatting them if they come after you?
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. A butterfly, right?
It was about 100 degrees in the place, too. Finally, Sam was warm. I knew he would enjoy thawing out, the poor guy. The place is small and not very fancy, but with so many butterflies, you really don't pay attention to that. There were a handful of people walking around, all with a camera in hand and not enough kids to ruin the mood by screaming or otherwise being kidlike.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh look! Another one!
As we walked the grounds, careful not to squash anything, we enjoyed the dazzling colors of the butterflies. A few landed on us from time to time. The misery of the earlier part of the day wore away. We finally had some peace. No cats. No worries. No splinters. It was really quite pleasant.
Sam needed to rest his foot, so he sat on a bench while I took a few photos now that my camera had stopped fogging up from them temperature change. I noticed a butterfly on the floor, near Sam's bench. It was very still. Upon closer inspection, I noticed it's wings were tattered. Then, I realized it was dead. I really didn't want to see a dead butterfly, but I know they don't live that long. I wished the butterfly well and said “rest in peace” to it. Being mindful that we're not supposed to touch the butterflies, I left it where it lay.
A moment later I was standing near a flowery shrub, about to take a photo. A large blue butterfly, seemed to drop into the bush right in front of me. I could swear I heard a thud. I took a photo of it, but as I put my camera down, I realized what I had just witnessed. This butterfly, too, had just died.
This is when I knew it was TIME TO GO. ENOUGH FUN FOR ONE DAY. I was sweaty and my stomach was grumbling. I knew I was going to swat at a butterfly if one more buzzed too close to my face. Sam's foot hurt.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Somehow there is just ONE butterfly in this panoramic photo, but there were clouds of them flying around in other areas.
We left without further incident, other than me catching a couple with a new baby start to have a fight over the husband not listening to the wife about how to use the camera (yes, the Valetine's Day glow was everywhere). We found a cute mom & pop place to have lunch. It was nothing fancy, but the food was very good. We were the only ones dining, so it was like our own private dining room. The sun was out and the temps went over 50°F for the first time in many weeks.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Another lovely butterfly.
Sadly, as soon as we got there, it seemed it was time to head back. We'd only really had a few hours away from home. With the traffic waiting for us, we needed to get going.
It wasn't a romantic day, but aside from the blood spilled and the dead butterflies, I guess it was a nice day. It gave us a tiny glimmer of life outside our little home, but made us long for more, a longer trip, a longer break. Something that does not include pain, misery or death!
When one of my friends heard about what happened, she asked me; “Can't you guys ever catch a break?”
The answer is simple: NO!
I don't know if the cats realize that Bob is sick with lymphoma. Nor do I know if Bob has become more needy towards us and some of the other cats because he's not feeling well.
Last night Bob climbed into a cat bed next to Nora. She turned on her side and casually rested her back leg over Bob's belly. They napped together for awhile, but every time I get up, Bob follows me to see if he can get another snack (the answer is usually, yes).
But something unusual happened next. Bob went back to the cat bed, which was now empty. A few moments later, Blitzen climbed into the cat bed next to him. Blitzen has NEVER done this before with ANY of the cats.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob and Blitzen share a snuggle.
Blitzen began to groom Bob's back. Bob settled down, not protesting a bit. I thought about Blitzen getting ringworm, but it's too late to worry about that. Blitzen seemed to want to comfort Bob. He snuggled in close, eventually “spooning” with old Bob. As I watched them cuddle, everything suddenly felt right with the world. Bob didn't have cancer any more and I finally had cats that liked each other enough to sleep cuddled together. Even though the moment didn't last for hours, that it happened at all and I got to see it...well, that's enough for me.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The old man and the new kid in town.
It was also the first time I've seen Bob really close his eyes and sleep in months.
Sweet dreams, boys. Sweet dreams.