Last night foster mama-Maria, called me, worried about Jackson Galaxy, the cat we rescued last week who was named after the uber-cat-listener-of the same name. We'd already discussed that Jackson has been aggressive, biting Maria's hands and clawing her legs. Because he was just neutered a week ago, we thought we'd give it time and Maria was going to adjust how she approached him. Jackson had almost 2 years of being an intact male and probably had plenty of hormones still working through his body. We needed to give him time to adjust and get rid of all that testosterone.
Because Jackson's in a small bathroom I also asked Maria to be observant about where she is in relationship to the cat. Did he feel cornered? Was he attacking out of fear?
Very slowly Maria saw some improvements. Jackson could be petted and he did purr, but last night something was not right with Jackson-not right at all. Jackson was lying in the bathtub, pale smears of pink-BLOOD-were on the porcelain. Jackson was licking at his scrotum and when she looked at it, it was red, slightly inflamed and she saw some blood. She called “Doc” Thomas, who runs the Spay/Neuter clinic at Noah's Ark and asked her what to do. Doc said to bring him in in the morning.
©2012 Maria. S. Jackson, last night.
Jackson wouldn't eat. Maria had to force feed him after trying many different tempting options. I asked if she could take his temp, but she said he didn't feel hot. She tested his blood sugar and it was normal. I thought he was getting an infection or brewing the dread shelter-virus, but his eyes were not watery, only his coat looked unkempt.
Maria took the day off so she could rush Jackson to Noah's Ark, where Jackson was neutered. Jackson's temp. had risen to 104.4°F-high normal is 101°F. Jackson's scrotum was enlarged-an obvious infection was brewing. In four years of doing neuters, Doc had only seen this happen ONE other time.
©2012 Maria. S. Jackson getting prepped for surgery.
Jackson was sedated and Doc opened up his scrotum. She said it was good to see blood, that it meant the tissue was not dead. She could drain it, then give him a course of strong antibiotics and he should recover. I asked Maria if he'd have to wear “the cone of shame” (an Elizabethan collar), but she said no.
©2012 Maria. S. It's tough to look at, but now his painful, swollen scrotum will be healing up and feeling better very soon..
Jackson's waking up from the procedure as I write this. He's already gotten antibiotics. Hopefully this was just a bump in the road and from here out he'll not only be feeling better, but perhaps acting more calm with Maria, too. It's possible he's been in pain, first from the surgery and then from the infection—and what guy wouldn't lash out if his scrotum hurt?!
Another reminder to all of us that if your cat's behavior changes you should get him or her to the Vet, first. You never know what may be going on and it's important to rule out illness when you discover a behavioral problem.
As for Jackson, I see a lot of treats in his future!
Tomorrow is Bobette's orthopedic surgery. I'm thinking the theme for this weeks' blog may be "graphic photo warning-week." I hope it will also be, “cats who were feeling lousy but are on the road to recovery week”, too.
I've been getting to know Bobette since she and her boys arrived last month. Right off the bat, I noticed Bobette angrily going after her kittens and I asked my Vet about it. He suggested it was due to her being spayed and the boys being big enough to leave and that in the wild, they would have been cast off to prevent them from in-breeding with the colony. It made sense, but it troubled me to see her doing that. The boys were not being injured, just scared off.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette getting some love from her boys.
But what I've come to understand is that Bobette is in pain and I believe that's what makes her lash out. She can be a warm and affectionate Mother. Her boys often come over to her and rub up against her, but if they try to play or get too close to her leg, she growls and swats at them.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette often sits with her leg stretched out. I hate seeing her like this and can't wait for her to get better!
Bobette's limp, which used to be almost unnoticeable, is now pronounced. She wants to chase after toys, along with her boys and some times she does, but her back legs go out on her and then her limp gets even worse. She doesn't jump much these days and she sits awkwardly on the bed. At times she extends her leg, stretching it out, trying to pop her sublimated kneecap back into position, but it won't go.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This is Bobette standing, not walking.
Her injury is rated a 4 out of 4-the worst it can be. Although the Vets in Georgia told us she didn't need surgery, our Vet, Dr. J. Chris Mixon, feels she would do very well and have a much more comfortable life with it. I asked if her kneecap would pop back out and he said no and that he often does this surgery on much smaller patients and those stay in place (those little pocket-pal dogs), so this should go fairly well.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Mikey waiting for his forever home.
After surgery Bobette will have to have THREE WEEKS of cage rest and THREE WEEKS of mild exercise. I will HATE crating her, but I know it's nothing compared to a lifetime of being able to run and jump like a normal cat. Bobette was either struck by a car or hurt by a human. However she got this way, I'm determined to help her be whole again.
The cost to repair Bobette's leg is not going to be $100.00 as I first reported. I don't know if I misunderstood or the other factors, like a pre-op blood test, weren't taken into account. Dr. Mixon, is still giving us a tremendous and very generous discount. Instead of paying $2500.00, he's only asking for $500.00. One of our friends already donated $100.00 to her surgery so we only need to raise a little bit more.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Mikey (right) and Mom (left)-hard to tell them apart and Mikey is about half Bobette's age.
If you can help, your donation is Tax Deductible as the funds go to my 501(c)3 Non-Profit Corporation, Kitten Associates. To donate, use the ChipIn widget, above or you can mail a check made out to "Kitten Associates" and mail it to:
P.O. Box 354
Newtown, CT 06470-0354
Every dollar counts and if you can't donate, then if you can share this info on FB or Twitter that would be just great! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR HELP!
©2011 Maria S. Bobette and family etting ready to leave for Connecticut.
I can't believe it's been over a week since the Pumpkin Patch family arrived from Maria's home in Georgia. This time of year, it's always more hectic and I had much to do before this family arrived. Even after picking the family up off the transport, the boys only had an hour break before I packed them up and brought them to my rescue group's Home for the Holidays Adoption Event! (I left mama, Bobette home to rest. She was very cranky with the boys and I thought some alone time would do her good).
©2011 Maria S. The transport awaits.
The planning and setup for Adoption Events always leaves me knackered. Someday I hope to have volunteers able to help me get these things done. My car isn't very big, but it seems as though there's an endless supply of “stuff” that has to be crammed into it. Things need to be packed, washed, organized, then I have to figure out how many cats there are plus how many crates needed, plus where is this all going to go and how is it going to get to Choice Pet Supply where the event is being held?
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Would you adopt me?
Irene is my right hand woman. She shows up. She helps. She fills up her car with whatever I ask. She jumps in and chats people up and tries to get us a few sales or donations. Sam will load up his car, too and help us get the tough things set up, then he scampers off to work on his own projects. I end up having to design flyers, send out notices to the newspapers-the online ones, the printed ones. Then the flyers have to be hung up around town, if I can get away long enough to do that. There's just an amazing amount of work to be done. Meanwhile, there are cats to care for and all their paperwork to fill out, what vaccination they need, getting them to the vet, vetting potential adopters. No wonder I always seem to be stressed out and feeling like I don't have enough time in the day.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cutie!
We got some applications and I met with folks who had emailed me about stopping by to visit the kittens. It was all going well when all of a sudden, I heard one of the Angel Babies furiously meowing and scratching at the plastic tray bottom of their crate. As I lifted the cover off the back of their cage, my nostrils were violated by a powerfully nauseating smell. Then, I saw it-diarrhea! Ugh.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bananas are good fun.
Irene and I quickly started to clean up the mess. Thankfully the poop wasn't on the bedding in the cage so the cleaning wasn't difficult. The smell, however, was not going away. I had a small litter pan ready to go. It was too soon into the event to offer it to the kittens, or so I thought. If one of the kittens had the runs, I figured I'd better give them the litter pan. Seconds after I placed the pan in the cage, two of the kittens started digging around in the litter. At first I thought they were just bored and playing with it, but after a few minutes it was clear that another kitten had to let it rip-and so he did.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Jakey the sneak-attack biter!
I truly believe that the U.S. Government should use mooshie cat poop smell as chemical warfare. There is no way troops wouldn't be quickly offended by the stank and run for the hills! Did we manage to clear the store? YES! It was great at keeping the crowds down. Just what we needed.
The orange boys did fine. They were bouncing around, having fun. They laid on each other and the three of them started grooming each other. It was so cute that it made everyone forget the lingering stench, as they crowded around the cage, “ooo-ing and ahh-ing.”
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Hello! This is Teddy or Mikey. I think it's Teddy.
People would ask me questions about the boys, but like the white kitties, I couldn't tell the orange kitties apart (I am starting to a week later, though).
Meanwhile, poor Mazie sat forlornly in her cage. She growled a bit so we covered her up. I bravely stuck my hand into her cage and she started to purr. She forgave me from locking her in a cage by giving me her belly to rub. I felt very guilty about having her at the event, but she's GOT to find a forever home! She's been with us for a YEAR already and she's such an awesome cat!
I was grateful when 4pm came so we could pack up and get home. I wanted to lay down and go to sleep right then and there, but I knew that once we got back I'd have to feed the foster cats, make sure they were all right, then unload the cars and put things away.
I got the cats fed, but after that my body complained to the point where I just had to sit down for awhile. Unloading the cars could wait.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette a few moments after arriving.
I also wanted to spend some time with Bobette and the boys. I didn't have a chance to get to know them that morning, so now was the time.
I let the boys out of their carrier and Bobette looked at them and hissed. She's barely bigger than they are and at certain times I can't tell which one is the kitten and which is the mother. A few of kittens foolishly went over to their mom and she attacked them. I don't think she had her claws out, but the sound she made was one of pure rage. I made sure the boys were fine. They were scared, but ok. I got them all fed. I kept Bobette away from the kittens. I worried that she might attack me, as well, but she seemed relaxed around me or was it because I was feeding her?
What happened on the transport? Bobette was fine with the boys when she left Georgia, but now she was clearly not interested in having them near her at all.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette (far right) screams at her boys to get away.
The boys picked at their food, so did Bobette. They'd been eating dry food, softened with water, and I knew I'd have to break them of the habit; better now than never.
After they ate, the boys ran around. I called Bobette over to me. I was sitting on the bed. She came over and let me pet her. She climbed into my lap and got comfortable. I cautiously petted her. She relaxed until a kitten would come near her. As that happened, she'd alert, then growl. She'd lash out if the kitten dared to ignore her warning. I didn't want to lay there with an angry cat in my lap, but she went right back to relaxing and enjoyed my company. She even rolled over with her belly up in the air. I took a long look at her. She's very much got an Oriental Shorthair body with a classic orange tabby coat. She's long and lean with a wedge shaped head, dainty long legs and a long, delicate tail. I didn't see her limping, that would come later. Right now she was content-if I could just keep the boys away from her.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Weeeee!
I'd seen this behavior before, but never so severe. I wondered if I should crate Bobette, but with her painful leg issue, I realized that maybe it was her pain that was making her lash out? I asked Dr. Mixon, one of our Vets, about this and he said it might be typical behavior of the mother pushing the males out of the colony to keep the colony from having inbreeding issues or...well he wasn't sure. Even after almost a week, she's still aggressive towards them.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Da boyz.
The boys are doing well according to Dr. M. Mikey has a broken tail tip. We don't know when or how it happened, but it's already healed. Teddy was all right and Jakey was a nightmare getting his vaccines; what a screamer!
Bobette is another story. I see her jumping with some difficulty. She wants to play, but the boys get in her way and she gets angry. Some times she'll run around the room, clearly having fun, but after a few moments, she starts to limp very badly. Her drive to do more is hampered by what happened to her leg. She was in an accident of some kind and it's badly dislocated her kneecap. Dr. M rated it a 4 out of 4; 4 being the most severe. He feels he can correct the problem with surgery and that the patella (kneecap) shouldn't pop back out. I remembered when we first rescued Bobette that the folks at Henry County said they couldn't get her to eat for four days. Perhaps she'd just been hit by a car? Perhaps that had something to do with her inability to provide for her six kittens? I can't seem to let go that we lost three babies. I want to know why they died so we can prevent that from happening again. I know I'll never know why they're gone, but maybe the trauma their Mother suffered had something to do with it?
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Lanky, lean and lovely-Bobette.
The surgery would cost $2500.00. I'm NOT going to ask for donations. What I really need is FOOD, LITTER and some NEW TOYS for this family and for the Angel Babies. I'll be setting up a ChipIn to ask for donations for our Food & Fun Fund soon. I have to wrap my head around what Dr Mixon told me the rescue price would be for the surgery, first.
Anyone want to guess?
He's going to charge us $100.00. That's not a typo. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS! When he first told me, I thought I was going to cry. I knew we have no where NEAR $2500.00 in our bank account and I was guessing he'd charge us around $1500.00. When he said, $100.00 I asked him to make sure that's what he wanted and he said to just put the word out about his Practice and help folks get to know him. After the surgery is done early next year, I'll be writing more about Dr. Mixon and his practice. For now, I'm very grateful we have his services to depend on and that when we do have money, it will last us much longer. Dr. Mixon also doesn't charge us an exam fee for rescue cats as long as we don't take advantage of his time. We just keep it to a few hours a month. So far, it's worked great.
Without the burden of a huge Vet bill, I can focus on helping Bobette recover. She'll have to have three weeks of cage rest and three weeks of low activity. Instead of going to AID, which was the original plan, Bobette will have to stay here for awhile, until she's better.
This poor girl; she's barely a year old and what hell she's been through in such a short time. You know me, I'll do whatever I can to help her go from “Meh to MEOW!”
In the meantime, I have about 12 other kitties I need to find forever homes for!
Note from Robin: CREEPY PHOTO BELOW, BUT NOTHING GORY! You have been warned.
Terri Royal has a big heart. She loves cats and has been particularly touched by the plight of feral cats in her community of northeastern Georgia. Terri's not one to look the other way when a cat needs help. She and her husband, Warren, always seem to have a foster cat in their home, in addition to their five cats, all of whom were rescues.
Terri is the caretaker for a number of feral cat colonies. She makes sure they get fed and that they're all spayed or neutered. Once in awhile a friendly stray comes along and she helps that cat find a good home, too
A few weeks ago, Terri spotted a tiny kitten when she was putting food out for the feral colony. From her husband, Warren's email to me, he described the situation:
©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. Dexter, so sick, but what is wrong with you little guy?
He lived in the bushes behind Target and today when she went to feed them, he walked out and was very lethargic- horrible respiratory infection, dripping from nose, mouth, and eyes. He was blowing bubbles from his nose, and sneezing terribly.
He was too weak to eat, or to struggle, so Terri just picked him up and put him in a small box. He's very young- 6-8 weeks, and starving. We think he has 2 more siblings in similar condition.
©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. Just after surgery.
She [Terri] took him to the emergency vet, who gave him fluids, vitamins, combo test, and antibiotic shot, and some milk replacement. I had to leave to catch a flight (on it now) but he's in great hands with Terri. She took him home, set him up in a bedroom upstairs, with water, a little warm bed, and plenty of food and the milk. (she just told me he LOVES it!). He is resting very comfortably and is purring when she pets him- he seems to love affection.
Dexter wasn't doing so well. Although he loved affection and wanted to eat, he had constant, severe breathing problems. He had great difficulty eating. It would take him 30 minutes to eat a small amount of food. Terri gave him milk replacement, which he could eat more comfortably, but the poor little tabby was very ill.
Warren writes: And he would start sneezing - I mean REALLY sneezing - sometimes 20 times in a row, violently. We would find blood spots afterwards. The vets thought that his nose was just really irritated from all the sneezing, maybe a tiny vessel rupture, and that was causing the bleeding. But also he could barely breathe - he was always breathing very loudly, and sometimes mouth-breathing.
The Vet said to let Dexter rest. Give it time. Thank goodness Terri and Warren didn't heed the advice. They'd seen cats with upper respiratory before. After another day passed, they were sure something else going on, so they took Dexter back to the Vet.
©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. THE WOLF WORM.
Warren wrote: It was so big that the hardened vet techs cried when they saw it and what this poor kitten had endured.
This little kitten had a 1-inch+ WOLF WORM living in his nose.
It was so big that the hardened vet techs cried when they saw it and what this poor kitten had endured.They could not believe that something SO BIG had been in this poor kitten's nose. They saved it for me in formaldehyde so I can see it when I get home - but they're saying it's like the size of a large garden grub-worm, they have never seen anything like it. He must have filled up his sinus or partially gone down his throat, his nose was so tiny -
No one expected that Dexter would have to have surgery, especially to remove a Wolf Worm!. Simply tugging it out was NOT an option. Wolf Worms are Bot Fly larvae. Removing just a piece of them results in a horrific anaphylactic (allergic) reaction and terrible infection which could easily go to Dexter's brain.
Warren writes: But since we didn't know this, Terri had fed him that morning, before the vet visit. And when they figured out what it was, they had to anesthetize him, which was very risky because he had eaten. (We have lost other ferals during routine spay/neuters under similar circumstances and had been heartbroken). But we felt that it was an emergency, and we had to go ahead and cross our fingers and hope for the best. They waited a few hours to make it a little safer - and while he was down, we went ahead and neutered him.
©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. Getting some rest.
The Vet carefully removed the Wolf Worm. It was no longer Dexter's Dark Passenger. Now it was safely preserved in a jar while Dexter began the long road to recovery.
Warren writes: He is much better now, his breathing is completely clear - but there may be some residual damage. They say he may always have issues with sneezing, and his nose may be permanently enlarged. But we just don’t know. He is very happy, and playing, and eating like a HORSE.
©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. Squirrel!
Since he has been with us, even with the worm, he has gone from 1 lb 4 oz to 2 lb 4 oz , mostly on the milk replacement. But I think now the will really start to thrive...
©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. Making friends with Abby
Dexter will be ready to find a forever home in a few weeks. Though they struggle with the idea of keeping Dex, Terri and Warren know they can't help more cats in need if they have too many cats of their own. It's not an easy decision to make, but with Dexter's loving personality and winning ways, we feel sure his family will find him soon.
©2011 Warren Royal. Used with Permission. .
The Wolf Worm is not available for adoption.
Have you ever seen something, then couldn't erase the image from your mind? This often happens during a tragic, high-stress event, like seeing your dad naked (by accident, of course!) or when you see a woman on the subway wearing stretchy leggings. She has a REALLY BIG BUTT. She's tired, standing in the subway car, so she leans her back against a metal support pole. Her huge buttcheeks part slightly, as she presses against the pole, which forces the metal support into her butt-crack! (This is why I avoid touching ANYTHING on the subway). I'm sure some scientist could describe why our memories lock down certain events, but all I can say is I just witnessed a kitten being neutered and now I can't unsee what I saw!
The event keeps looping over and over in my head. After all the cats I've had neutered over the years, I finally got to see it done. After the shock of watching it wore off a bit, I realized, WHY DO VETS CHARGE SO MUCH FOR THIS? It took all of a MINUTE to do the surgery! SHAME ON VETS FOR CHARGING MORE THAN $50.00 for this procedure!
Connie and I arrived at the Vet's office nice and early. She brought all five kittens, even though only the three boys were going to be neutered. Neither of us were positive we HAD three boys so better to bring them oll, just in case-plus they all needed a booster FVRCP shot, so now was a good time.
It was really lovely to see the kittens again. It'd been only a few days since they went to Aunt Connie's but I was missing them. They all sat serenely in their cat carrier, wondering what was going on, no doubt. I blurted out; “You're gettin' your balls cut off soon!” and the Vet tech scolded me for letting the “cat out of the bag.” She hissed; “Don't say that out loud! You'll upset them!” The kittens gave me a dirty look. I just shrugged and tried to look innocent.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The gang just before surgery time.
Dr. M came out and said hello. Connie and I looked at each other. I knew what she was thinking. She didn't want to go in the back room. Neither did I. My heart started to race and my hands got cold. This wouldn't be so bad. We didn't have to watch. We just had to help a bit, then wait for the Vet to do his part, then we would help the kittens as they woke up.
We were taken into a long room that was a combination of shelved storage-a stockpile of drugs, syringes and other things. I mostly kept my head down, afraid to look around. The room was worn, the building was fairly old and this back room needed an update. There was a small, elevated table with a towel over it at the end of the room, parallel to the shelves. The Vet indicated that we could put the cat carrier on the table. I thought this was the prep area and that we'd be going into a surgical suite with a stainless steel operating table with bottles of magic knockout gas nearby.
Dr. M took one of the kittens out of the carrier-Ruby, the boy cat with the girl name. The Dr. weighed him, then made some notes. He opened a safe and took out a small vial. He drew some of the contents into the syringe. Then he told Connie to hold Ruby down tightly and to “karate chop” the cat's back leg to keep it down and force the vein to appear. Then we both realized he was going to do the neutering RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE ON THE TABLE. Did he wash his hands first? I had just put hand sanitizer on my hands, but what the heck? Connie looked like she was going to panic and I didn't blame her a bit. We both thought we didn't HAVE TO SEE the surgery and here we were about to SEE THE SURGERY! We couldn't RUN AWAY! This was the agreement. We help the Vet, he gives us a big disount.
Connie turned away. Dr. M injected the fluid into Ruby's vein. The kitten quickly went limp, his tongue hung out of his mouth. I petted him and said it was going to be OK. Then before I could turn away, Dr. M made a tiny incision across Ruby's scrotum, then pulled the fur down, exposing his tiny little testicles. At first I was amazed at seeing them, but then, he grabbed one of them and gave it a TUG. It stretched out on a flesh colored tether about FOUR INCHES LONG! He twisted it around. Did he put a knot in it? I felt woozy. Then, just as quickly, he took an object out of a sealed package and sliced the tether at its' base. WOAH! One nut down, one to go.
I held my hand up to help cover Connie's eyes. I didn't realize I was talking until Connie told me later, but apparently I was saying; “WOW! Look at that! Oh my GOD! Connie, it's not that bad, but WOAH! WOW! I will NEVER EAT CLAM CHOWDER AGAIN!”
Dr. M quickly repeated the procedure on the other testicle. In a few seconds he was done. Connie let go of Ruby and I picked him up. I began to gently rock him and pet him. In a few moments he began to wake up. His tongue hung out of his mouth and Connie said he drooled. He felt so limp in my arms. It reminded me of the day Bob died. I didn't want to cry. I just focused on Ruby. He was ok, but WOW...I did not think I could help do this two more times!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Ruby, who may be renamed Inky.
It turns out we didn't have to watch two more times because we have THREE GIRLS and TWO BOYS! The girls got their booster shot and Spot was the only other male. Sadly, Spot was very difficult to knock out. Dr. M had to try a few things-finally we had to bring him into the surgical suite and I had to hold a tiny gas mask over Spot's face until his body went limp in my hands. It was very unnerving. Dr. M. went to work quickly and in a few moments Spot was done, too. I was told it would take a lot longer for him to wake up, so I just held him so he could breathe easily and tried not to freak out over him being so very limp in my arms.
Ruby was still weak, but awake. Then Dr. M said he was interested in ADOPTING a kitten! He had two cats and one died a few months ago. He had plans to adopt another cat, but it didn't work out. He was looking for another black and white cat! BINGO! We had THREE! He asked which one was the most outgoing? Friendly? Sweet? They all were great, but he focused on Ruby, though it was tough to know how friendly he was based on him being wobbly and out-of-it. Then I showed him photos from my blog post about the Flying Zombie Kittens. He LOVED the photos and when he realized Spot was jumping more often than the others, his attention turned to him.
In the end he decided to let both kittens recover in his office, then he'd take them both home and see how they did with his two kids and his other cat! We said we would take back the one he didn't want, then he said he'd probably end up with both since each kid would probably want their own cat.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Spot before his surgery.
We didn't ask him to fill out any application. We didn't do a home visit. We didn't even ask how old his kids were! We just numbly nodded our heads, yes. We were both in a trance. I kept seeing tiny testicles getting chopped off and Connie was focusing on remaining cool even though I found out later that blood freaks her out! I was a bit jealous that my guys didn't get adopted, but I was really GLAD these two had a good chance. My goodness-a VET for an adopter? Does it get any better?
As we walked out of the office, Dr. M. said thanks for helping him neuter HIS cats! Geez, maybe he could have decided to adopt them BEFORE we had to see him do the surgery? Now my brain hurts and I'm really glad Sam didn't see that surgery! He better keep in mind that now I know HOW to do a neuter so he better shape up.
As for Connie, she never wants to do this again! I can't say I blame her one bit, but I know I'll be back. The price is too good and Dr. M is two hours closer than the low cost S/N clinic. I hope I don't have to see him do a spay surgery, but I have this feeling it will be the next thing I see that will be featured in my “greatest hits of stuff that freaks me out that I've seen and can't unsee.”
Bridgeport, Connecticut has lots of rough and tumble neighborhoods. No one knows how many free roaming cats live there, but there's a never-ending supply of them in the local pound, their numbers reflect just the tip of the iceberg compared to the ones trying to live on the streets.
One of my friends, who owns a few rental properties in the area, is constantly trapping, vetting and trying to save as many cats as she can. It's a very hard life for cats in this part of the state. It's very urban, there's plenty of crime and not enough welcome places for a cat to find a break. There are some kind souls who feed the cats what they can or cal for help when they find a litter of kittens under a rusted out car.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Hanna, left and Macy, right
Two little kittens, barely two weeks old, perhaps not even related, were found by my friend. She knew they needed care right away, but didn't have a foster home for them. She called someone she knew who might be able to help-who had lots of experience caring for neonatal and very young kittens. The friend said yes, but on one condition, that a rescue group take ownership of the kittens, provide future vetting and eventually be responsible for getting them forever homes.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.
That's when my phone rang. As long as the woman could provide a foster home, I'd do the rest. The littlest of the two kittens, a tiny dilute calico named, Hanna, was in bad shape. Both kittens were so flea-ravaged that we weren't sure they'd make it through the night. Macy, the larger of the two kittens, was weak, but due to her size, it was hoped she'd be able to pull through.
©2011 Jessica Roque. Please doggie, do not FART!
The foster mom and her daughter cared for the kittens. Hanna survived the night and both kittens showed signs of improving. A few weeks later, I brought the girls to the Vet. It was my first time seeing them. They were huddled together, their eyes a bit runny. No one even knew if the cats were related due to their difference in weight-it was so different that it was thought that either Hanna was a runt or they were not blood sisters. Regardless of their parentage, they are very bonded. They've been through a lot. The upper respiratory they're flirting with could kill little Hanna. For now, they're basically all right. They need better nutrition-which I already took care of, and they need time to rest, recover and get back on their paws.
Along the way, they made a new friend-a huge dog who is part of the foster family's home. The kittens don't know the difference between a dog and a cat. They just know it's a safe place to sleep. The dog just had surgery, so maybe they can all recover together?
In time, the girls will be big enough to be adopted. At least they have a new friends to watch over them until they're ready to move on with the next chapter of their lives.
When what ails your cat isn't clearly defined, it's easy to lean on your Vet and assume they know all the answers. They can decide what should be done next-that's their job, right? What I'd like to suggest is you don't let them call the shots-ever-without being your cat's biggest advocate. You know your cat better than anyone else how your cat behaves-how well they eat-if they are using the litter pan and their output is normal or not. Your Vet has MANY other patients to deal with, a life to live, other distractions. It doesn't mean they don't know what they're doing, but it does mean that they don't have the time to spend endless hours on your cat's case, alone. When it comes to your cat's health care, you must be prepared to push back, ask questions and offer reminders and suggestions to your Vet to help him/her solve the case.
The longer I do cat rescue and experience health issues with fosters as well as my own cats, the more I realize that it helps my Vet if I understand the pieces to my cat's health “puzzle” as much as I can. Overlook something and that might be the one thing that ties everything together. I may not understand cat's physiology the way my Vet does, but I can provide anecdotal information and I can be the one to remember my cat's health history when my Vet might miss something while reviewing my cat's file.
Before we visited Dr Weisman this morning, I made a list of every question I had, plus I thought about Nicky's past health issues. Dr. Weisman didn't have a complete picture of Nicky's life and it was up to us to provide that to her because whatever is ailing Nicky is not blatantly obvious.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Waiting for Dr. Weisman to arrive.
It made me think of a few suggestions to share about going to the Vet. Maybe some of them will help you when you have to bring your cat to the Vet.
1. Keep a folder of your cat's health records. Sounds obvious, but if you have to look something up, it's there. If you want to compare blood work from one year to the next or can't remember if your cat was ever tested for Bartonella it's there. Yes, you can call your Vet and they should know, but what if your Vet is closed and you need to go to the Emergency Vet?
2. Do your best to understand and be able to recall every treatment and condition your cat has ever had. If you have to make a cheat sheet of notes, do that. I seem to have a good memory for what each cat has been through, so I just sit quietly and think about it and jot down questions for my Vet based on the cat's past history and include the details of his or her past I think are important to underscore.
3. Don't let your Vet tell you what to do without clearly understanding the pros and cons of what is being done. It's nice when they offer to give your cat a shot of Convenia so you don't have to give it pills, but is Convenia the RIGHT antibiotic for your cat? Should your cat even GET an antibiotic? What about other medications other treatments? Understanding is so important. In the heat of the moment, some times you don't have the luxury of looking up what side effects or dangers are in a certain medication, but if you do have time, then LOOK IT UP. Be smart. Ask a lot of questions. Make sure your Vet remembers those details about your cat that he or she may have missed.
4. Take time to think about what is best. IF YOU CAN. There are many situations where time is a luxury you do not have. There are other situations where if you take a day or week to repeat a test or see how the cat does, it's perfectly acceptable. Sometimes rushing into a treatment or surgery makes it worse or makes the case more complex. Try not to do too much at once or you won't be able to understand what changes were the ones that made the difference.
What happened with Nicky today is a very good illustration of the points, above. Sam and I were expecting that Nicky would be having exploratory surgery today. He has too many test results that show some sort of problem-and we needed to know what was going on.
We had our list and because we had spent time thinking about it, we were able to give Dr. Weisman more information about Nicky that ended up being crucial to his care, today.
Nicky has a growth on his spleen-it is likely it is benign. Older cats can get these growths, but the ultrasound Vet didn't describe the growth well enough so we know if it is a tumor. Cats don't need their spleen as they get older so if it had to be removed, Nicky would be fine.
Although Nicky's blood work does show early signs of renal disease, what Dr. W didn't know was that Nicky is in DIRE need of a DENTAL!!! Some how that information was not passed on from our Vet to Dr. Weisman. Nicky has a cervical line lesion on at least one tooth and some mild tartar that needs to be cleaned. That, alone, could be the cause for Nicky's kidney issues and that his mesenteric lymph nodes are swollen, but that wasn't the possible smoking gun.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. I DO NOT CARE TO BE IN THE CAR! WAHHHHH!
Before we knew any better and Nicky was being fed GRAIN (in his dry and canned food), Nicky's urethra would get blocked up. Eventually we spent many thousands of dollars having surgery done on Nicky to remove his penis (which can be referred to as a PU surgery) so he'd have a bigger opening to urinate through and not block up any more. Right after that we learned about diet and got him off grain. The surgery was done years ago, but once we mentioned it to Dr. W. she perked up. That one thing could be what is causing some of Nicky's symptoms and that his immune system is constantly being taxed from having that larger opening.
She also felt that possibly Nicky was having a reaction to being fed a raw diet. Sam and I aren't sold on that, but we're open to the idea that if Nicky's immune system is weaker from his bad teeth and the PU surgery, that perhaps the mild bacteria he might encounter on his food just adds to his problems.
We also showed Dr. W. Nora's blood work. She's Nicky's sister and she has no kidney issues whatsoever. Of course this is not comparing the same cats, exactly, but between Nora and Gracie's recent blood work there are no signs the diet is hurting them-rather helping if anything.
It became clear that doing anything other than a dental on Nicky wasn't necessary today. Nicky doesn't show enough clinical signs to tell us he's in crisis. None of his tests are so bad that we MUST do surgery NOW. We decided that after the dental and dose of antibiotics and some time to recover from both, that we'd re-do the ultrasound and see if anything has improved. It's possible many of these issues will lessen in severity OR get WORSE. If so, we move forward with surgery.
We're giving it a month. Right after Thanksgiving we'll re-test and see how he's doing. If he starts to show clinical signs before then, he has the surgery done sooner. It's really not a case of not going it at all, it's a case of when it's done. Sooner or later we will be facing this procedure, but today is not that day.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. My boys last night.
Nicky is on an IV for the next few hours to protect his kidneys before surgery, then they do the dental..and they remove and biopsy a growth I found on his leg while we were IN THE CAR, on the way to the VET! After that, Nicky goes back on the IV and tomorrow morning, with any luck, we'll bring him home.
I can't say we lucked out, but I think I can say we feel better about this choice. Nicky may still have cancer or renal disease or both or hyperthyroid or IBD...we just don't know yet. Maybe we caught it VERY EARLY or maybe not. We'll find out in time.
And all this happened because we saw Nicky peeing on the floor in the kitchen...
It's getting late. I should get to bed. In less than 12 hours, we'll be seeing Dr. Weisman, Nicky's surgeon. I feel the same anxiety I felt before we went to see her with Bob. Bob's case was, at first, more clear cut. He HAD to have part of his liver removed or he'd die fairly soon. With Nicky, we don't even know for certain that we SHOULD open him up at all, but I still fear the same miserable results...the Vet saying; “I'm sorry, but...”
Over the weekend, one of my readers reached out to me. She worked for a great Vet in the Northeast for many years, who, according to her, was a fantastic diagnostician. She spoke to him about Nicky's case and right away he said NOT to do ANYTHING other than repeat Nicky's urinalysis in a few months. That what was the benefit of opening him up? I felt confused. I was so ready to move forward and now this...he asked us, through our CiCH friend, that we call him on Tuesday afternoon, when he had normal business hours, so we could talk to him.
Now what? Here we have Dr. Larry and Dr. Deb saying we need to open Nicky up. We have a long track record and trust both Vets, but this other Vet did bring up a good point-if it IS cancer and we cut into it, we can make it a lot worse.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. If you rub Nicky's head, you get full belly access!
I hate feeling conflicted about what to do. Nicky is Sam's cat. Ultimately Sam has to decide, but I'm definitely going to need to hear from Dr. Deb exactly why we need to do this now, instead of give Nicky more time and re-run all the tests again later.
Something else came up, too. Nicky may NEVER have been “snap tested” for FIV+ and Feline Leukemia! Back when Nicky was adopted he came to Sam unvetted. Sam took him to the vet and had him neutered. Did they test him then? It was 10 years ago? I wouldn't have known to test Nicky when he, Nora and Sam came to live at my house! Now I have a terrible fear of what if's going through my head...Meanwhile Nicky seems a bit down, a bit thinner, not eating quite as well as he has in the past. Is he feeling worse? We KNOW he has a bad TOOTH on top of his other issues so maybe that's what's causing his eating problems?
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Meet my belleh.
At this point it's so hard to know. I've been down this road before and it sucks. Is this our last night with Nicky as a reasonably healthy cat? Are we losing him and this is the start of that journey?
Sam has been very stoic about how he feels about Nicky. Even though the two of them are always together and I know Sam loves Nicky, dearly, Sam isn't one to wear his emotions on his sleeve. This afternoon Sam looked glum. I asked him what was wrong. He came over to me and put his arms around me and sort of sank against me. All he could manage to say was; “Don't let them take my cat from me.”
My poor Sam. My poor Nicky. I have a hard time imagining one without the other. I hope I don't have to do that any time soon. My poor boys. We'll get through this together-just like we always do. I just hope that maybe this time we luck out-whatever lucking out means. Nicky and Sam need many more years together. We just can't lose another cat. Not right now. Not so soon.
We trudge down this all too familiar path with weary legs. It started with something that was a little bit off with Nicky's behavior, then a blood test, then, ultrasound. Next step takes us to having exploratory surgery done on Nicky on Monday, at which time they'll do biopsies. We'll get some answers and have more questions. Based on finally reading the ultrasound report, it looks grim, but it could be worse. I fear Dr. Weisman finding a labyrinth of tumors inside Nicky's belly-that same belly we've rubbed and kissed, now full of growths that could take us from him far sooner than we could have ever anticipated.
If you looked at Nicky, you'd see a big lug of a cat with a sweeter than sugar personality and a high LOUD cry (only when he has to be in the car or is looking for his sister, Nora). Nicky doesn't look sick. He eats well, gets around the house without problems, his eyes are bright, his coat is good. He doesn't vomit or have the runs.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky chillaxin' yesterday.
I look at him and think I may see him waste away-just like I did with Bob. I don't know if I could bear to see that again. Bob was an old kitty. Technically, I suppose Nicky is, too, but 11 doesn't seem that old. Sam and I both thought that we had at least 15 to 20 years with our cats, especially now that they've all been on a much improved diet for many years. This just seems so out-of-the-blue. We're both shocked and I don't think the reality of it has completely hit me.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky, with sister, Nora, crammed into a cat bed even though there are two of them and the one next to them is empty.
Nicky could be weeks away from dying or not. I sure HOPE NOT!!! Some of you have been sharing stories with me about your cats who passed from lymphoma: one was only 5 years old...another a few years older than that. Some found out just before their cat had to be put down or died on their own. No, we don't have a confirmed diagnosis, but let's look at Nicky's ultrasound report. It's like reading another language. I have to wonder why they don't use simple words! I had to look up just about every word on the report. My comments are in italics.
“There is no evident peritoneal effusion. (no fluid-this is good).”
“There is an apparent solitary, solid nodule of undetermined nature which measures approx 1.5 cm x 2 cm. The parenchyma appears hyperechogenic (I think this means the functioning part of the spleen- allows increased sound waves to penetrate it. What does this mean? I have no idea and I can't find into online, but I DO KNOW WHAT A NODULE IS-TUMOR?) centrally in the nodule and the remaining parenchyma of the spleen appears unremarkable.”
[paraphrasing here]: The liver appears unremarkable..lacks lesions...gall bladder OK
“There are multiple (4 to 5) hypoechogenic to mixed echogenic nodules in the mesentery. The largest is 1.5cm in size. The others are about 0.5-0.8 cm. The nodules closest to the root of the mesentary are likely the mesenteric lymph nodes (this is not good). The others may be the same but seem less likely to be so. The character of these is unknown but would include reactive noes or neoplasia. The iliac lymph nodes are not visibly enlarged (this is good).”
“Both kidneys have increased medullary echogenicity and consequent reduced corticomedullary contrast or distinction that would be consistent with mild inflammation or degeneration. There is no significant mineralization apparent. There is no visible renal pelvic dilation to support pyelonephritis (how about just say, NO INFLAMMATION in the kidneys, but I think the opacity of them varies in not a proper way! ENGLISH PLEASE!) at this time. The overall size of the kidneys are withing normal limits. Neither uretar appears dilated.”
[paraphrasing here]: Bladder is OK.
“There is diffusely prominent and mildly thickened small intestine...There is no visible focal lesions and this thickening appears to be in normal mucosal to muscularis proportions which would be more suggestive on non-neoplastic inflammation (I think this means the inflammation is not an inflammation due to swelling of a tumor). There have been reports by oncologists of low grade lymphoma that mimics this same appearance (this could be very bad news).”
[paraphrasing here]: Stomach and pancreas are OK.
Sonographic Diagnoses (the bottom line):
Splenopathy-solitary nodule of undetermined nature. (growth on Nicky's Spleen).
Renal Disease: Increased medullary echogenicity consistent with Interstitial nephritis-nonspecific inflammation or diffuse neoplasia such as mast cell disease or lymphoma (Inflammation of the kidneys...not good)
Mesenteric nodules of undetermined nature (this could be mesenteric lymphoma).
Mesenteric lymphadenopathy (Mesenteric lymphadenitis is an inflammation of the lymph nodes on the wall of the mesentery-the covering of the intestines).
Small Intestine: moderate, diffuse thickening more consistant with IBD than diffuse lymphoma (but...lymphoma and IBD go "hand in hand" so we're not off the hook).
We've stopped in our journey to take a rest. This weekend will be “All About Nicky.” We cancelled our plans to have an outing on Saturday. Instead, we'll stay home and focus on Nicky-as we have been for the past few days. We'll also have to ramp up our care for Gracie. She still has a growth on her belly that may also be cancer. Right now we're to put warm compresses on it to see if we can get it to drain. It got smaller a few days ago, so I'm hoping this will be a non-issue...please...please!
I realize that if we're facing the last days with Nicky that no amount of attention this weekend will ever leave us feeling like we had enough time with him. After this weekend has passed, Nicky's life will be much more difficult, at least at the onset of the week. When the surgery is over, hopefully he'll recover and be like his old self again, but these few days may be the last we'll ever see of our ol' boy, as he once was.
No matter what path his life takes, we will always love Nicky.
A few folks have contacted me, asking me to post a ChipIn to provide donations towards Nicky's surgery on Monday. If you'd like to help him, the ChipIn is on the right sidebar. To those of you who have already been so very kind to donate, Sam and I appreciate the help so very much---more than simple words can say. Thank you.
After my father killed himself in 1999 I figured nothing bad would happen for awhile, as if I deserved a “pass” from any more pain. Of course I was wrong. I got divorced four months later and lost my biggest client.
I realize that most things that happen during my life are not about me. My father took his own life. I didn't cause that to happen, but certainly it effected me deeply, and still does. The thing is I can't help but feel a bit, well pissed when one thing after another seems to go down the drain. I asked Sam if we were being foolish to think that things were going to get better “some day.” Maybe we should just realize that life pretty much sucks, is difficult, frustrating, heartbreaking and has moments, just moments of good stuff to keep us from offing ourselves, too.
Last month after Bob died, I thought that maybe we were done with long trips to Vet Oncologists, done with digging the deep financial hole to provide Bob with the care he needed, done with heartbreak over our cats. Bob was an old cat with FIV+, two kinds of cancer and half a liver. Our next youngest cat is eleven, so certainly they would be fine for many years to come. I really wanted to take a deep breath and relax, focus on the working out some behavioral issues with the cats and get the foster cats adopted.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky, this morning, getting ready to roll over and show me his belly.
I nagged at Sam to take Nicky to the Vet. I was fed up watching the cat urinate on the floor, right in front of his litter pan, often not caring if we were watching him do it. We knew it might be due to the stress in the house and the cats jockeying for position in the cat hierarchy with Bob being gone, but due diligence dictated that Nicky should be seen by Dr. Larry.
I honestly thought Nicky had a urinary tract infection or might be in the early stages of hypothyroid because he drank a lot of water (and I knew his blood sugar was normal so it wasn't diabetes).
The blood work came back and it indicated that Nicky might be in early stages of renal (kidney) failure. The next morning, Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat just posted an article by Dr. Darren Hawks about Kidney Failure that helped me understand what was possibly going on. It was devastating news, but since we caught it early, Nicky had a chance to live many more good years. Maybe it wasn't so bad after all?
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. He always gives us "lovey-dovey" looks.
But Dr. Larry wanted to do a sonogram to look at Nicky's kidneys. Sam agreed and the procedure was done yesterday afternoon. I wasn't worried. I thought we had that pass to not get bad news-Nicky is just eleven, right? He gets a raw diet and fresh spring water not our yucky well water. Sure he had some kidney issue, but maybe he just needed some antibiotics?
I was sitting at my computer, working on a project. I'd had a lousy day. An acquaintance of mine died. He was only 52 years old. He had a massive stroke last week and died on Monday morning. I had some very interesting times with him and I liked him even though he seemed to bring out the worst in my childhood friend, MaryEllen, who was dating him in those days. Now she's planning his funeral. I couldn't help but feel the weight of the ticking clock of my own life. How much time did I have left? I'm only two years younger than he was and a lot of people don't even get to be my age. I can't take it for granted I have tomorrow. It gave me pause.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Rub Mah Belleh.
Sam stood in the doorway to my office. He didn't look so good, but we've both been in fairly bad moods for lots of reasons lately. He started to talk about Nicky. He must have just gotten off the phone with Dr. Larry. They found a growth on one of Nicky's kidneys-which were both showing signs of degeneration. They found lymph nodes that were enlarged, but it wasn't renal disease, it might be CANCER.
When I heard “lymphoma” my head buzzed and my stomach flipped. I felt like I couldn't breathe for a second. No. No. NOT NICKY. NO!
They can't be certain until they do EXPLORATORY SURGERY. Maybe it's something else? Maybe it's some sort of reaction to something else? I don't know what else it COULD BE other than some sort of cancer!!!
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky's view of the world is often upside down.
For the handful of you who've met Nicky, you know he's our BIG 20 pound boy who would rather lay in your arms, belly up, like a baby or get tummy rubs than do just about anything else at all. Nicky is a big sweetheart who LOVES everyone. He and his sister...and then I thought about Nora...are inseparable. She wouldn't survive without her big brother. Oh my GOD..what is happening to my cats?! We found this out just because Nicky was drinking too much water and peeing outside the litter pan. That was all we had for symptoms.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Skritches from mama.
I really thought we had more time. Now we have to scrounge for money. Nicky must have the surgery, but we are tapped out. We gave all that we had, and more, for Bob, thinking we could recover in time for the next cat health issue, but we were wrong.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. We love you, Nicky!
Later that night, after we picked up Nicky from the Vet and brought him home, I half jokingly said to Sam that I was feeling suicidal and asked him if he was, too, and he said, yes. Then he said, gesturing to the cats, but they would suffer if we died and I answered simply, we'll just take them with us when we go.
I guess we didn't get that pass we were hoping for. We'll do our best for Nicky. I don't know what that means. It's one step at a time. We need to confirm that it's lymphoma. We need to sort out what Nicky's options are and how we can provide for him. These are dark days indeed and this is just the beginning of a very sad journey for one of our beloved cats.