I keep hoping we're getting to the point where all the foster cats are well enough to be adopted. A few weeks ago, Polly FINALLY got spayed. She made it through the surgery and recovery well, but she's still got a lingering issues with recurring upper respiratory tract infections. She gets sick for a few days, then is miraculously over it. Sadly, her left eye, which has been a problem for her since she first became ill when she was three weeks old, has never resolved its cloudy appearance. I fear Polly has lost some vision in that eye.
The only way to resolve this for her is to get her to a specialist. Perhaps there's something we haven't done that could help her? Her brother, Chester is doing great, for the most part, but he has a chronic runny eye. He should see the specialist, as well. These kittens have cost a fortune to care for. I'm very grateful they are so very sweet natured and loving. It makes seem even more worthwhile to make sure they get whatever they need.
Polly has been spending more and more of each day with my own cats. She gets along GREAT with them and I'm constantly hearing her making trilling sounds as she races through the house-most often with MacGruber on her tail. She's come a VERY long way from the kitten I thought we were going to lose late last year. You can see a before and after photo of her HERE.
Then there's Cara. Cara! What am I going to do with you, girl? Cara has been doing okay-ish, not great. She gained just five ounces over the past month. To me, that is not enough. She's still under five pounds while her siblings are easily over six pounds, each! Cara has episodes of vomiting every two weeks or so. The volume of what she outputs is frightening. It seems as though it must have come out of a much larger animal, there's so much fluid.
I've been in regular contact with Cara's Internist, Dr. K. and her assistant, Laura. I was hoping that we could get Cara spayed and while the spay was being done, Dr. K. was going to look at Cara's esophagus. Cara's been scoped twice now for strictures in her esophagus. If you're not familiar with her story, you can read more HERE and HERE (or use “Cara” in the Search field on the top, left of this page to read all the stories about Cara and her family)
Cara's been struggling for a very long time. I thought it was a good idea for her to go to a new foster home so she could have “alone time” and a chance to flower without her big brother and sister there to push her out of the food bowl or away from the toys. Cara has been in another home for about two weeks and was doing fairly well. Then, the vomiting started again and Cara became withdrawn.
Yesterday I brought Cara to Dr. Larry for blood work. We discussed seeing her shake her head and lick her mouth. She is nauseous, clearly. She's quiet. Not a bouncy, crazy kitten. She's alert. She eats well, but...something is wrong. I brought her home with me so I can keep an eye on her.
Last night I got the results of the blood work. Cara has a SCREAMING high white blood count-AGAIN. It's 28,000, when a high normal is about 19,000. Dr. Larry is worried Cara has aspirated some of her vomit into her lungs and that is the reason for the high count. Cara's in trouble and needs to go back to the Specialist, Dr. K., as soon as we can work it out. I put Cara on clavamox last night, to start knocking out the infection, but Cara is going to need another endoscopy, no doubt.
This morning, Cara was bright and ate well for me. When I look in her eyes, I see a frail little kitty. She's far too thin and struggling to be well. I'm glad she's a fighter, but she can't fix what is wrong and neither can I—not without some help.
Our resources are depleted and we need to do yet another fundraiser for Cara, Polly and Chester. I don't know exactly how much we'll need for Cara, but I do know some of the cost. I'm going to estimate what we need, then adjust it up or down as soon as I have more information. Anything we don't use will go into the General Fund of my Non-Profit Rescue: Kitten Associates, Inc., to provide food and basic Vet care for any of the cats in our Program.
If you have the resources to help out, we are deeply appreciative. Your donation IS Tax Deductible, which is always a good thing!
If you can't help with a donation, if you would kindly help us spread the word, that would be terrific. We need to get the donations put together BEFORE we can go to the Vet, so we gotta make this happen fast if we can.
Thank you to the many folks who have jumped in to help Cara along this difficult journey. I hope you can help again, for Cara and her family.
It's the cusp of June and five months have passed since Bob was diagnosed with small t-cell mesenteric lymphoma. To say I'm surprised he's still with us is an understatement. I'm stunned, a bit in awe...and delighted!
His difficult journey began right before Christmas last year when Bob had 1/2 of his liver removed. It was another form of cancer that's considered gone since the tissue was removed. He recovered from that and we recovered from having to crate him (we built him a pen to go with his crate-see HERE) and fuss over him while he regained his strength and interest in eating.
Of course, being FIV+, Bob picked up the damn ringworm fungus that we know is in the house. Our feline dermatologist told me I'd have to wait until ALL the cats DIE, repot or get rid of ALL the plants, throw out anything the cats touched or disinfect it, get the ductwork sanitized, change the filter on the furnace, scrub down every item and ever surface in the house, wash every drape, wipe down the blinds, then WAIT TWO YEARS...then it will be gone. Uh-huh.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. In March, on a cold morning, Bob on his electric blanket. Me, with a heavy heart, as I take the photo. Bob looks terrible.
With Bob's health issues, I could not give him an anti-fungal. It would wreak havoc on what's left of his liver. I didn't want to do too many topicals for fear of him ingesting it. So, in April we started bathing him a few times a week and that helps keep him comfortable and less itchy. After looking at a photo of him from March, I can see he IS getting better and his fur is starting to come back. It's been such a slow change, I could barely tell that he's improved. Now that I see the photos I realize he's looking all right for a sick ol' man.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. An early bath featuring a very scared Bob.
The baths are down to a science. To keep Bob from slipping, I put a bath mat on the inside of the tub. It prevents him from hurting his hind legs even if it DOES give him traction should he want to get OUT. He's not that strong any more, but also, I think he's found a way to sit through it. We quickly wet him down, only getting him wet, then shutting the water off. I don't want the sound of the running water to frighten him. Sam and I furiously lather him up. Then..the hard part. We have to let it SIT for 10 LONG MINUTES. Then we can rinse him off, then he gets towel dried, rubbed down with a second lotion, then, to keep him from grooming himself while the lotion dries, we give him some food and we gently brush him.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. We get the hang of it. Now baths take 15 minutes, tops.
Until recently we kept him in our bedroom with a space heater and wrapped him in an electric blanket. He would shiver since much of his coat is gone. Thankfully, with the warmer days, he's more comfortable and we don't have to worry that he will catch a cold on top of everything else.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob seems to like his bath, okay, like maybe not “like” per se.
Bob made it as far as I had hoped. I just wanted him to be able to go outside on our deck, which is 16.6 feet off the ground. I know this measurement because I scared Bob once and he FELL off the deck. It was a terrible day. (Read about it HERE), but since then he doesn't walk on the railing any more. He just loves to sleep on his fluffy bed and soak up the sun.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it myself. Bob on May 29, 2011.
I know, too, that this will help KILL the ringworm, so the more he wants to get outside, the better. I also feed Bob on the deck, a few extra meals. Bob has to eat every few hours. The cancer absorbs a lot of the nutrition he gets. It's a constant battle to keep loading Bob up with food without the other cats pushing him out of the way to get at it. I find myself having to guard Bob while he eats. I really want to get back to work, but I know if I move, Bob won't get a full belly. Feeding him a few meals outside worked great, until the other day when I heard a huge crow cawing. I looked outside and saw him in a tree, near the deck, eyeing Bob's leftovers. Then my stomach did a flip and I got Bob to come back inside. The last thing I need is for the crow to confuse Bob with a meal!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob is a back seat driver, but Sam is being cool about it.
Bob's still getting Chemo. We had to opt to do it once every FOUR weeks because we just can't cover the $600 payment every three weeks. I'm not even sure how we will keep this going, but we have to find a way. The oncologist said he was looking for problems with Bob, but couldn't find any. Even though Bob lost a few ounces, he wasn't particularly distressed about it. He felt that Bob was responding well to chemo and that all things considered, Bob was doing great.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob, down to 12 pounds, 11 oz. from 16 over a year ago.
Bob is an amazing creature. He has beat SO MANY ODDS-it blows my mind. He's overcome being homeless, having diabetes, losing many of his teeth due to a very poor diet, treated for Bartonella, had pancreatitis, upper respiratory infections, then everything else with FIV+ and losing part of his liver and now, cancer and yet, he is right here, purring away, eating well. I even saw him play a little bit. Does this mean Bob is invincible? NO. It does not. It does mean that Bob...well all I can do is shrug my shoulders. I have no answers for how he's still with us, I'm just REALLY GLAD he's made it this far (:::knock wood:::). I know it things can change for the worse in a moment.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Chillaxin' in his favorite place. Outside on the deck on a fluffy bed.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Watching the world go by at 65 mph.
It's pretty obvious that Bob is my co-pilot. I would be lost without him.
I spoke to Vet. Mazie's temp was 103.7°F, now 102.2°F. Her heart rate was off the chart-due to stress? Liver and Kidney function is NORMAL. She is on IV antibiotics-getting Baytril. They do not think it's FIP but that is not completely off the table. Snap test: NEGATIVE! (for FIV+ and Feline Leukemia)
I can leave her at the Clinic overnight or pick her up. I'm going to bring her home since they don't have staff at night. She has to go back in the morning..and we have to take Bob to New York for his chemotherapy by 10am, so busy-busy. They want her back for another day of IV antibiotics even if she is feeling better/eating. Suggested repeating CBC and I could not argue that point. We do need to see white blood cell count going down. Urinalysis is due in tomorrow.
Cause or culprit? At this point...we just don't know. I can say that due to serious concern of Mazie (and Cara) getting sick from aflatoxins, I have pulled the corn-based cat litter out of the room and done a scrub down of everything I can get my hands on. I am NOT saying the cat litter had anything to do with the cats getting massive infections, but I don't want to risk being wrong. I can do a test with another litter to see if anything dramatic changes over time.
Poor Mazie. She's definitely had a lousy day. I'll keep close watch on her tonight and with any luck she'll feel well enough to start eating again.
I'd also like to take a moment to wish my friend Jennifer J. a big hug and lots of love. She got sad news about her cat, Gett and this is just a few months after losing her beloved cat, Tucker and Mr. Darcy, too. I think there should be a rule that you can't lose more than one cat in any five year period..or ten...yes...ten...that would be better.
WARNING: GRAPHIC PICTURES OF CAT VOMIT IN THIS POST. YECCH!
Mama-Mazie, our foster cat, is a sweet girl. Just barely older than her own kittens, Chester, Cara and Polly, she's been waiting for her forever family to find her for months. No one has asked after her. No one wants to adopt her. I couldn't understand why because she's a VERY sweet cat and loves to “talk” to me. Her eyes are sparkling green and full of life-that is until yesterday afternoon.
I'm still struggling with constant headaches after a car accident I was in last year. Yesterday I had to have Trigger Point Injections followed by Physical Therapy. Basically TPI means, stick LOTS of needles into your muscle to “tenderize” the meat (muscle). It's not so bad until they find a knot in the muscle. That feels like a hornet sting. The Doctor did A shots into my upper back and into my NECK. Unhappy camper, was I.
I raced home to attend an online web presentation about Public Relations for shelters. I sat down for about 5 minutes, then realized I needed to feed the foster cats. I got their food ready and ran upstairs. The second I walked in the door something was wrong. Mazie was resting on top of a pillow. She looked uncomfortable. I went over to her and petted her. Tried to lift her down to the floor to see if she could walk. She CRIED when I touched her.
The kittens were clamoring to be fed, so I got them fed, but Mazie didn't want to eat. Bad sign. She is ALWAYS ready to eat. She was also unusually quiet. It's not the end of the world if a cat misses a meal. I ran down stairs to take part in the presentation. Meanwhile I started to fret about Mazie...I had a flashback that she had very loose stool on Sunday. Was she brewing a virus?
I couldn't concentrate on the talk so I ran back upstairs. That's when I saw it.
The wall, the bed, the cat tree, the floor was covered in vomit. It looked like a crime scene. My first fear was that it was CARA, but I had no way to know who did it. Mazie had moved to the floor and was laying on a cat bed, looking miserable. She started to lick her mouth, got up and went to a corner of the room and vomited. It wasn't much. Looked like the stomach contents after everything else had already come out.
I started to get really upset. I called Connie. Thankfully, she was on her way home from work and said she could stop by. I went back to Mazie. I petted her again, this time trying to feel for injury, but she didn't want to be touched. She hissed and cried. She was in a lot of pain.
I thought about the morning. Mazie and the gang were playing in my bedroom. She did see Nora and hissed at her, but that wouldn't make her get so sick. She ran around the room chasing the laser pointer light. Maybe she twisted a leg, pulled a muscle? No...she could walk, but it was very slowly. She kept trying to get away from me, searching the room for a place to hide.
I called the Vet. They were about to close. Now I faced taking Mazie to the ER Vet when we just don't have the funds to cover that sort of visit. Connie got to my house in record time. I was so glad to see her. We spoke about whether or not to take her to the ER. We knew they would charge a lot more for the same tests that Dr Larry would run, but if Mazie could get through the night it would be better on all of us.
I really felt like I was getting kicked when I'm down. I've always found a way to come up with whatever I need for the cats, but now I found myself just shaking my head. I had to chose to keep Mazie home. We'd have to make it to the morning. Maybe she'd even feel better by then?
I checked on Mazie every hour until midnight. She refused to eat or drink. She did pee and poop (though that was not completely normal). She did not seem to be in pain in the litter pan, so that was good. So what WAS wrong with her?
I tried to leave Mazie alone other than the quick check on her. I put my pajamas on and hoped I wouldn't have to do a middle-of-the-night drive to the ER. I couldn't clean up the linens from her vomit without moving her off the bed. It was only on the end of the bed, so I carefully set a place for myself to half lay down next to Mazie and not be in puke. Was that fun? No.
With my bad neck and back it was not good. Polly came over and laid on my shoulder, then moved to next to my face. She purred and looked at me, seemingly delighted that I finally was going to sleep with them one night. Mazie was still. Her breathing was shallow, but not too rapid. She was not open mouth breathing. Just laying there.
At 2 AM Mazie used the pan again. After that I was so tired, I dragged myself to bed. Set the alarm for 7am and fell into a nightmareish sleep.
This morning Mazie refused to eat. She was no better and no worse. I packed her up and took her to the Vet. She cried at the Vet's office. I told her it would be ok and that I would be back for her. They're going to give her fluids and do some bloodwork, probably a few x-rays, too. Hopefully I'll have some idea of what happened, fairly soon.
Mazie was so bright and sunny barely 24 hours ago. Now the light has gone out of her eyes and she's in terrible pain.
If you'd like to help Mazie get the Vet Care she needs, please use the ChipIn widget below. Your donation IS tax deductible. Thank you for helping her. I am going to set the goal total high enough to cover a day at the ER Vet if it comes to that. I'll lower it if she stablizes later today. Remember, every dollar helps!!
Please be okay, Mazie. We're rooting for you.
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...
It's been a very long road for Polly and her family. They've been here for three and a half months-the longest I've ever had fosters. They should have found their permanent homes a long time ago, but chronic upper respiratory for some or life and death strictures for another, made it impossible to put them up for adoption. The exception is Chester and his mama, Mazie.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mr. Handsome! (Chester Cheesetoes)
Chester never got as sick as Polly and didn't have two strictures that Cara is recovering from. He's just a big, love-bug whose already had lots of interest from potential adopters. I've held off moving him because he has a slightly runny eye. I think that a visit to the kitty eye doctor for both him and Polly are going to be needed. I won't adopt out a sick cat unless that cat is deemed “special needs.” I worry that once adopted, the cats might not get the care they'll require-the extra observation and attention to make sure they don't break with the URI again. I have to be very careful about screening adopters. In fact, I had one application come in and in doing the background check I discovered they had not one cat, as listed on their form, but over 18 animals, ranging from ferrets to dogs and a few cats! The Vet they listed said they had not SEEN any of these animals for TEN YEARS!
©2010 Maria S. Polly a few days after being rescued, before she got sick.
For the most part, Polly and Chester are in good shape. Polly is FINALLY getting spayed TODAY. I hope she'll do all right. She's a tiny bit sniffly, but I really can't wait any longer. She's about to go into heat, if she hasn't done so already. I can't believe how big she is. I'm facing the very real problem of not being able to find her a home she's getting so large. I worry about Cara and especially Mazie, who no one has had an interest in adopting. I had planned for her to go to my friends at Animals in Distress where she'd be seen every week at their open house. It would mean separating her from her babies and putting her in a room with many other cats. She broke with a tiny DOT of ringworm so I held her back for four extra weeks, but that is long gone now. I just couldn't bring myself to let her go. I'm hanging onto the hope that she can be adopted with one of her babies. It's a long shot, but I want to try...yet...now her babies are not babies.
Who will want these cats when “kitten season” is here?
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Polly before heading off to be spayed.
AND I still have Noelle, remember her? The kitty caught in the car engine? She's in Georgia with another Henry Co. cat we rescued last year. We need to get them up here and adopted quick! They're just waiting around. I had to put off moving them because I have no space for her. Plus, I can't help any more cats. I HATE not being able to rescue! It really bothers me a lot. In fact I feel a lot of shame about it. I really do. Without foster families, my hands are tied. I can't bring any cats into my house. I'm full up. We need some local folks to help out and join our forces so we can start rescuing all those spring babies that are starting to be born!
©2010 Maria S. Noelle after the surgery to dock her tail.
Then there's MacGruber. Yeah, he's STILL here, too! I had to hold him back because the little bugger had a TINY dot of ringworm on his foot. Ugh. He's loving his life. He and Blitzen are constantly together, either playing or getting into trouble. They chase after Petunia and that's caused a lot of problems. Can you spell, inappropriate urination?
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. MacGruber has made himself at home it seems.
We wish Mac could stay with us. He really feels like a part of the family. He's got a huge personality, that's for sure, but we also know he'll get ten times more attention-which he deserves, if he had a family to call his own.
That ALL that any of these kitties dream of...a good home...and SOON!
It's been three weeks since Cara had her first endoscopy. She endured a very difficult recovery, while I tried to survive the every-6-hours-for-two-weeks medication schedule. She fussed and squirmed with every syringe filled with Carafate (aptly named, I think), which is used to treat peptic ulcers; said to bind to the ulcer site and coat it. This would help Cara's badly damaged esophagus to heal if I could get the meds into her.
Cara began to eat more comfortably and gained weight. She also began to grow-FINALLY and her odd looking coat began to fill in. Her chocolate brown fur was due to malnutrition. I was sure of this as I saw it change into a darker, more rich, almost black. She looks like a white mitted “classic” tabby, just like her brother, Chester, only he's orange.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara at the Vet.
Yesterday I took Cara back to be re-evaluated by Dr. K. The Vet hospital was very busy. I met a woman in the waiting room whose cat had stopped eating for two days, was lethargic and vomiting. I asked her what she was feeding her cat. The answer-really cheap dry kibble. I just about fell over. I tried to figure out a way to talk to her about it but when I broached the subject, she cut me off saying; “that's what she's been eating her whole life.” So I guess it makes it good? I wasn't up for another battle. I felt badly for the cat. When I left later that morning, she hadn't found out why her cat was so sick. More tests to be done.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Toe flavored toes. Yum!
As for Cara, well she's just a ray of sunshine. She purred and climbed on me while we were in the waiting room. She washed her paws and looked around. We waited for a good 30 minutes before Dr. K. came to see us, but I just enjoyed the one-on-one time.
I wish you could have seen what happened next. Dr. K burst into the room. She didn't say hello to me, but walked right over to Cara asking; “How is our girl today?” With that, she scooped Cara up in her arms and DID NOT LET HER GO the entire time we talked. She didn't examine her. She just held her tight and petted her and petted her. Clearly, Dr. K has a crush on our little foster feline.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara warming up those big green eyes to use on Dr. K.
We spoke about next steps. She said we didn't have to do the endoscopy, but it would be good to have the information. I reminded her that unless she was going to adopt Cara, that I needed to know if Cara was going to be a special needs adoption and that we really needed to get to the bottom of this. She agreed. Before I could even wave goodbye to Cara, I was sent on my way, wondering if this sweet woman was going to let me take Cara home or if she was going to stick her in her pocket?
A few hours later, Dr. K. called. Cara's distal stricture (say that five times, fast) was still a bit red but about 70-80% healed. The proximal stricture looked very good and well healed, but there was difficulty passing the scope through the area so she decided (on her own and with out getting permission to spend our money!) to do another balloon dilation. Before I could say a word she said she didn't charge us for it!!! It only took a second of her time and it was just a quick tweak of that area. She administered the steroid shots in to the stricture to keep it from reforming. She did all this “because of all the good work we do.”
I'm pretty sure she doesn't know much about my rescue group, Kitten Associates, but I have a good idea that she DOES have a liking for little Cara. Way to go, Cara! You put those big green eyes to work!
Dr. K feels that Cara should recover from this health crisis and not be a special needs adoption As she grows, she should do just fine. I need to give Cara two more weeks of medications-thank goodness it's only once every 12 hours this time. After the two weeks has passed, I call Dr. K to update her and hopefully Cara can be spayed and will be ready to be adopted!
Only time, good food and more yucky medications will get Cara ready for what awaits her-a home with a really great family...Or is it possible that Cara may already be spoken for?
Tomorrow Bob has his 8th chemotherapy treatment and I'm scared. I'm scared to find out what Dr. I. has to say about Bob's current condition. I'm scared we may be running out of options, too, depending on what he says.
Bob looks like Hell. He has about 1/2 of his fur left. Every day a lot more falls away. I feel alarmed when I see how much more fur he's lost from day to doy. I've complained about it to both Vets and taken him to see Dr. Larry. No one can really say if this is ringworm gone wild or if the new chemo is causing it. At first we thought it was only ringwrom, but not it just doesn't look like it. I need someone to take a stand, not push it off onto another Vet and deal with this. I don't see lesions on Bob. I don't see the crusty look of ringworm. I just see smooth skin.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob and Gracie share a place in the sun.
We've given Bob two baths with Malaseb, but it hasn't retarded the fur loss. I've given him conofite lotion, but that doesn't do anything, either. I really think, rare or not, this IS a reaction to the chemo and the oncologist needs to stop stepping back from it and either adjust the chemo or change it.
I know what you might be thinking. So what? Bog has no fur, but he's ALIVE. Yes, that's a great point, but WHY is the fur falling out? It's NOT SUPPOSED TO. Bob is COLD. He spends his day and night on our bed. We have a space heater and an electric blanket on 24/7 to keep him warm. He never used to even go upstairs, but he makes the journey in slow old-man steps. Somehow he can still jump on the bed. I want Bob to have his dignity. I want Bob to be warm! He was so beautiful. It kills me to see him like this.
Bob's appetite was poor last week. I gave him an appetite stimulant just for one day. A week later, Bob is still eating well. I feed him often, about 4-5 times a day. The lymphoma makes it tough to absorb nutrition, so I'm hoping Bob has not lost more weight. He hovers around 13 pounds, but he looks thinner to me. I'm scared to find out he's lost a lot of weight since he had chemo 3 weeks ago. It would be a sign that the chemo isn't working.
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. The Orange Cat Club has it's daily meeting with Blitzen (front right) and Bob (left of Blitz), MacGruber (far left) and Nora (far right)
I'm trying to convince myself that if you ignored the fur loss and just looked at how Bob is living his life, you'd say he was doing all right, not great, but okay. Every time we go for the chemo, they ask us to rate Bob's health on a scale from 1-10. Usually we rate him around 8-9, but I asked Sam last night and he feels it's down to a 7, maybe 7.5. It's so tough to not judge Bob on how he looks when determining a rating.
Bob eats, he washes his face, he purrs, he goes to the litter pan by himself, he drinks water. He comes downstairs to eat breakfast and dinner, but he moves slowly. He seems to be more tired, but many of the cats spend the day in bed with him, so really maybe he's not doing that badly?
With all the challenges facing Bob, there is one positive change I've noticed. Blitzen has started to groom Bob's head from time to time. He will also sit near Bob, a bit protectively, perhaps. MacGruber, who was very bratty with Bob, has now backed off. Generally speaking, I think the cats are aware of Bob's illness and are giving him both space and respect and companionship. Bob didn't used to hang out with the others. Very often he kept to himself or napped with Nora. There's been a lot of chaos and fighting between the cats over the past few months, but it's quieted down. Maybe they've decided to get along for now? For Bob.