Who Approved That?

Foster Cat Journal: A Farewell to Phil

I rescued Phil from Henry County in early June when it didn't work out that he could live there as a shelter cat. [his rescue story is here] He didn't like the dogs, so he had to go. Over the past few months, Phil's been enjoying life with Bobbie, his foster mama and cat-blogger of Cats-Goats-Quotes.

While Phil was in foster care, I got lots of updates. Every one said what a sweet, pretty cat he was. He was laid back and got on with Bobbie and her other cats. He didn't make a fuss, wouldn't jump on furniture, but would rather just sleep inside his cat carrier.

She noticed scars on his nose and started to wonder if Phil had been abused and maybe shoved off the furniture, never being allowed the sense of comfort most cats enjoy.

Bobbie graciously held Phil longer than I expected because Cara, Polly, Mac and Mazie were still here. After Cara went to another foster home and Mac and Polly were about to be adopted, I let Bobbie know it was time to say her farewell to Phil and to get him on the next PETS transport north. I have never felt worse about asking to take a foster cat from someone, but it was time.

Of course Bobbie was completely gracious about letting go, but I know how much it hurts. Bobbie wrote a lovely post entitled: “Friday without Phillip” about how much she loves Phil and misses him, but she made sure he got onto the transport headed for Connecticut.

100_0354.jpg
©2011 Bobby Stanford.

What made matters worse was the heat. It was far too hot in the suburbs of Atlanta in late July. The inside of the transport was too hot. Phil, and his traveling companions, Muddles & Cuddles, who were going to my partner-shelter, Animals in Distress, were not too happy. In fact they were panting. They were supposed to be in a part of the trailer that was away from the dogs-they were not. I got frantic calls from Maria, then I called PETS, but could not get through to anyone. Maria wished she had kept the cats off the truck. Bobby, who had delivered Phil to the transport looked at Phil. He had the saddest look on his face. Bobby said it was as if he was saying “what did I do for you to do this to me?”

On the transport.jpg
©2011 Bobby Stanford.

This was Thursday afternoon. The transport would not arrive until Saturday morning. How were these cats going to survive?

I made calls and sent e-mails. I paced. I fretted. I know Kyle Peterson who owns PETS transport. He's a good guy. He runs a good service. I've never had a problem but I've never done a run in such blazing hot weather.

Friday morning I got an email, assuring me everything was all right and asking me to call them on their private number. When I called, I was told that Phil and the other kitties had overnighted in the office at PETS which had A/C and was away from the dogs. They ate well and were relaxed. I was assured that the A/C on the truck worked and that they were doing everything they could to monitor the transport, the animals and their well being. That they even had a cat lover on the truck to keep extra attention on our three cats-the only cats on the truck (as usual).

The next day passed uncomfortably. I kept envisioning Phil dying or being so messed up from the trip that I could never adopt him out. At 6:30AM PETS called and said the truck was running late, a first. That they would be in about 90 minutes late. 90 more minutes to fret.

It was going to be 90°F in Connecticut the day the transport arrived. All I could think of was to get Phil, get him into the car with the A/C blasting and get him home! I ended up following the trailer into the parking lot! What timing! I didn't have to wait long to get Phil off the truck. When they brought him to me, he started to cry-a big loud siamese-ish ME-OW! I knew what he meant. GET HIM OUT OF HERE!

Connie came to get Muddles & Cuddles. I saw them for about 10 seconds, but made my excuses to get going. As soon as we were in the car, Phil settled down. It was so quiet, I think he finally felt like he could relax. By the time we were home, he was asleep.

resting.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Phil. He was completely wiped out after the trip.

I got him into his room. He meowed loudly to be fed. I felt bad taking him off what he was used to and starting him on grain free canned. Better get it over with! I gave him a can of food. He ate the whole 5 ounces. He had a good drink of water. He laid down on the wood floor. I encouraged him to climb on the bed, but he seemed reluctant, so I put him on the bed. I petted him a bit and looked at his blue eyes. I didn't want to do much to him right then and there. He needed rest. I left him on the bed and he passed out cold.

Phil So Soft.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. After sleeping for the better part of a day, Phil starts to perk up.

Phil slept a lot over the first two days. I just kept him fed and spent those days sitting near him on the bed. We, okay I, watched dumb movies on TV. I petted him and talked to him. He was not overly friendly, but not mean. He was just tired. Poor guy.

I'd been getting applications on Phil from before he arrived, so after just three days of being with me, I went on a home inspection of a couple that lives in the neighboring town. Their home was spotless. They're retired and very active. They have no kids, but love cats and all animals. Their home overlooks a waterfall and the woods. There are windows everywhere you look. They are really nice people and they have one kitty named Tiger who misses his friend, Cisco, who passed away just about the same day I rescued Phil from the shelter.

A Very Handsome Phil.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Finally sitting up and looking well rested at last!

Two days later, they came to meet Phil. They talked about possibly re-naming him, Big Poppy after one of the players on the Red Sox. They liked how big he was, but didn't think he was “that” big! Are you kiding me? He IS a big guy! They were a bit nervous about how Tiger would react to Phil. At least I knew Phil loved other cats, but if Tiger doesn't like him, then Phil has to come back to my house.

Sweet Philly.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

They wanted to give it a try and they filled out the Adoption Contract and I helped them pack up Phil, along with his favorite toy balls, his catnip banana and some feather toys. I gave them some food, too and they gave me their promise that they'd do their best for Phil.

Chomp.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Phil with the infamous Catnip Banana!

Phil leaving was like ripping off a bandage. He wasn't here long enough for me to fall head over heels. He was here long enough for me to see what a special guy he is and how lovely he is. He really perked up and got playful before he left. He would “lumber” instead of run. It was really cute. His legs go for miles. I think he can't get out of his own way some times.

Homeward Bound.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. One last road trip to make it home.

The next part of Phil's story is up to fate and the faith of his new family. Will Phil end up coming back? Maybe. I can't say for sure. I know that he did well after his first day and that his new dad, Joe, enjoys sitting on the bed, with Phil curled up next to him. Joe reads a book and pets Phil. They were buddies after a few hours.

Ol BLue Eyes.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Farewell, Phil! I hope you have the most wonderful rest-of-your-life, ever!

This feels good and right, but time will tell. For now, Phil is safe and in a loving home. With all my heart, I hope that this is “the one” for this gentle giant and if not, I've always got his back.

I got Adopted 2011 R.Olson.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The words every rescuer hopes to hear!

Making Sense of the Senseless

I think it's almost a given, that when something bad happens, we try to make sense of it. Give it a reason for being, so we can learn to accept it. Then there are times when it's just so bad, there is no sense to be made.

Yesterday afternoon, I called my Vet to see if Doodlebug was ready to be picked up. I had dropped him off that morning and he just needed some tests, a shot and a wellness exam. If you're going to do cat rescue, you must NEVER bring a cat into your home without it going to the Vet, FIRST. Considering all the creeping crud out there, you can't be too careful.

What the heck.jpg
©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. What did you find out about me?

Doodle looked great, perky, nice weight. I didn't worry that anything was wrong with him, but when it took 6 minutes of being on hold to just find out a pickup time, I knew something was up. Instead of one of the Vet techs picking up the phone, it was Dr. Larry. His voice had a serious tone. Normally we would joke around, but not this time.

He didn't mince words.

Doodlebug tested POSITIVE for Feline Leukemia.

WHAT??!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!

I felt lightheaded, like I was going to faint. I tried to muster up the courage to ask him what this means. When I was a kid, two of our family's cats died from it. Dr. Larry said what I had heard from other folks who do rescue, that although it is a “strong positive,” that there is a CHANCE that in time, Doodle's immune system may kick in and he will re-test, negative. This result means he was EXPOSED to the virus, not necessarily that he HAS it. It's called, Primary Viremia. You can read more about it on Cornell's excellent resource guide for Feline Leukemia If so, there are no more concerns for this cat's future. If he re-tests positive, you have to wait and re-test again. All in all, I may have to wait for up to SIX MONTHS to really be sure one way or the other.

Over the Tub.jpg
©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Doodle REALLY loves to PLAY!

But Feline Leukemia is very contagious and fatal and I have an FIV+ cat with cancer and eight other cats in my house. What am I supposed to do now?

Do I have to EUTHANIZE Doodlebug? I could barely ask the question. I had to sit down. My legs went wobbly. I was in shock. I didn't want to know the answer.

I can barely even type that word: euthanize. The thought of me KILLING a KITTEN, when my life is devoted to SAVING their lives,? It's absurd! I would NEVER do that! How could I do such a thing? But what about my own cats? Does bringing Doodle into my home, mean a DEATH SENTENCE FOR MY OWN CATS?

Belly.jpg
©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Doodle has a black band around his belly. Ooo. I want to smoosh-face into it!

We talked about isolation. Re-testing. Doodle does NOT have to be euthanized today, but it may have to happen at some point. IF he was at a shelter, guess what, he would be dead. I get it. This is not something you want around a lot of other cats.

But I was VERY WORRIED about bringing him into my home. I wished I had a separate building to bring my fosters now, more than ever, but I was stuck. At least I HAD a room to put him in that was isolated from the rest of the house.

Stuck on You.jpg
©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Stuck on You.

I had figured Doodle would be in the blue bathroom (as we call it), for a few weeks, then I'd let him meet my cats and he could run around and have a good time until he got adopted. Now I may have lost that space for fosters until 2012!

I could make SURE Doodle was locked up, change clothes after I handle him and wash my hands well after each visit, too. If I could keep my own cats away, the Feline Leukemia virus does not live for more than a few hours in the environment, so as long as there are no shared dishes, litterpans or contact, it increases the odds my cats will be all right.

Grab It.jpg
©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Invisible cat ladder.

But what about this little 4 month old kitten?

He will be ALONE in that bathroom for a very long time.

I hung up the phone and called out to Sam. I told him the news and I could see his shoulders slump as he processed the information. He had a crush on this little kitten, too. I could see it broke his heart. We spoke about our options, about what this might mean for our own cats and for Doodlebug. I started to cry, but I was late for a meeting and I had to figure out how to not be sad, be businesslike and deal with this later. I asked Sam what we should do. We had few options. Sam said; "We don't give up on him. That's what we do. I will go get him and bring him home.”

What the.jpg
©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. ?

So now what I thought was going to be an easy rescue, has become much more complex. What I thought I could afford has become a challenge. The bathroom where Doodle will live is small and has a small window. I would like to buy Doodle a cat tree so he can sit up high and look out the window, as well as have a place to climb and a way to de-stress because it will have nice, tall sisal legs to scratch.

Doodle will also need more tests, a second, and possibly third ELISA (snap-test/ enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) and first and possibly second IFA (indirect immunofluorescent antibody assay). I'm going to start fundraiser for him for his medical needs and to purchase a small cat tree.

Fly High.jpg
©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Yes, I have a zero-gravity bathroom.

I contacted Doodle's former owner and told him he must contact the person he got the kitten from and let them know the news and to get that cat tested for Feline Leukemia. I also told him that if he had Doodle around other cats, that those cats needed to be tested, too. I would have LIKED to tell him that I also would have appreciated it if he warned me that Doodle was trained to use a human's hand as a TOY and that he will haul off and bite and grab your arm or leg-a behavior I will be working to correct.

I didn't hear back from him. I'm not surprised. Doodle was on the road to becoming a very unpleasant cat to live with. You wouldn't be able to pet him without him getting excited and biting. When he weighs four pounds, it's one thing, but when he grows up, it won't be a lot of fun to have him around. I would bet money that this was the real reason they got rid of him-not that their kid was allergic, but that the kitten was growing too aggressive from how they mis-handled him.

Nyah.jpg
©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. Doodle let's us all know not to take anything too seriously.

All in all, I'd have to say that my first CT cat rescue under the Kitten Associates moniker was about as bad as it could be. I have to think that in trying to make sense of this, I had to save Doodle, so I can help him be a good kitty-citizen, learn to be gentle and give him all the tools to have every chance at being healthy and living a good life.

For the record, if there is one someone's keeping out there, I will never put Doodle down.

If he IS Feline Leukemia positive, then I will search the Earth until I find someone who will adopt him.

Please help us purchase a cat tree for Doodle and be able to continue to re-test him for Feline Leukemia for the next few months! You can use the ChipIn widget below or you can also mail a check to: Kitten Associates, Inc., P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354. Put “Doodle” on the check so we know where the funds should be spent. Your donation IS tax deductible. Thank you!

DoodleBug.jpg
©2011 Robin A. F. Olson. DoodleBug: Thief of Hearts.

The Angel Babies

I know a lot of people who rescue cats and they often say to me that they think they're cat magnets because cats who need help, always seem to find them. My friend, Izzy, is one such person and recently she had to take quick action to save the lives of helpless neonatal kittens.

Izzy and her husband, Mark were helping bring in hay at the boarding farm where they keep their horses. While they were there she found out something that was was both heartbreaking and a true emergency.

At the boarding farm there was a tractor shed on the property. The owner found 5 newborn kittens without their mother. The owner figured the mama would come back, so she didn't worry about it. She checked on the kittens the next day, but no mama. For two days the kittens were left alone, not fed or kept warm. At less then a week old, without urgent care these kittens would perish.

bag babies-sm.jpg
©2011 Isilwath. Izzy smartly used an insulated thermal bag to help keep the kittens warm. One of the MOST important things you need to provide to very young kittens is warmth.

She mentioned her find to her next door neighbor who said he'd shot and killed a white cat in his yard, worried she'd kill his ducklings. Without pity or concern, he ended her life, not realizing he may have also just ended the lives of five little kittens, as well.

The owner moved the kittens to her stable, hoping another feral mama would find them and care for the three boys and two little girls, but no help arrived...until Izzy got there.

bed babies-sm.jpg
©2011 Isilwath. Some of the Angel Babies.

Now Izzy has a few, ah cats, dogs, horses...well more than you can count on your fingers and maybe toes, so Izzy knows how to care for animals, but she's got her hands full already. She didn't bat an eye, or try to get out of helping these babies. One look at them and she was smitten. Each delicate creature was snow white, but by some comedic genetic twist, all but one has at least one black dot on their head. It's as if a cosmic force anointed them, marking them as ones to be saved. Izzy knew she had to move quickly, so she took the kittens and got them home where she began the difficult task of trying to warm them up get them FED. Time was of the essence!

Jazz-sm.jpg
©2011 Isilwath. Jazz.

Izzy and her husband, Mark, also a dedicated animal rescuer, helped tend to the kittens. The phone rang. It was the owner of the farm. They found a sixth kitten. He, too, looked like the others, but was strangely about a week older. He was alone and crying. Mark drove back to get him. They weren't going to turn their backs on kittens in such dire circumstances. The kitten was sick and probably starved. They put him in with the others, hoping for the best.

vash1-sm.jpg
©2011 Isilwath. Vash.

It was touch and go for a few long days. Izzy and Mark took turns feeding and helping the kittens void their bladder and bowels. At that age, the kittens can't even do that without help. It's a very difficult thing to do TIMES SIX. Every few hours the kittens were fed, cleaned, loved. Now was the time to pray and hope that they weren't too late, at least for some of them.

princess-sm.jpg
©2011 Isilwath. Princess.

It's been two weeks and the kittens have survived so far. Each day they live is a big success for Izzy and Mark. They decided it was ok to go ahead and name the kittens.

Their names are:

Justin - older kitten - two gray spots on his head
Shiro - all white female
Princess - white female with two very small gray spots on her head
Screamer - little male with a black spot on his head
Jazz - little male with a large gray spot on his head
Vash - little male with three gray spots on his head screamer-sm-a.jpg
©2011 Isilwath. Screamer.


©2011 Isilwath. Watch Izzy manage feeding six HUNGRY kittens!

They're squirming and crying and eating and doing all the things little kittens should do. Two of Izzy & Mark's own cats, have become surrogate mothers to the little ones, offering their own warmth and companionship, (though since they're spayed-no milk) that the kittens so desperately need. It's as if they knew, too, that these little angels needed them.

cee cee babies.jpg
©2011 Isilwath. Cee Cee with her foster babies.

But what happens next? Izzy and Mark don't live in a big metropolitan area full of potential adoptesr and don't have resources to home so many kittens. Well, that's where I stepped in. I told Izzy I had her back. I didn't want her to fear having six extra cats. Even though I'll have Amberly and her five kittens by then, I'll find a room for these angel babies. I'm just part of the team that's going to get them to their forever homes. We're trying to right a heartbreaking wrong and perhaps in getting these kittens strong and adopted into great homes, we're honoring the spirit of their Mother, who truly is an angel now.


©2011 Isilwath. Sophie, one of Izzy & Mark's cats, helps with motherly duties when it comes to giving Justin a bath.

---------------------------

Can you help provide a small donation so we can pay for the Angel babies vet care? Your donation is Tax Deductible as the money goes to my 501(c)3 Non-Profit cat rescue, Kitten Associates, Inc.

You can use the ChipIn widget, above or mail a check to:

Kitten Associates, Inc., P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470. (make check out to: Kitten Associates and note "Angel Babies" on your check)

The kittens will need shots, to be spayed or neutered and microchipped. It's about $85/cat to do it here in CT, so we're just asking for the basics. If you can help, great! If not, you can help by sharing this with your friends. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Cara's Journey: In Sickness & In Health

It's been a VERY LONG JOURNEY for Cara Melle-one I wonder will ever come to a happy conclusion. Cara's been sick for SEVEN MONTHS. When we cure one issue, another problem pops up. We've squeezed everyone's pockets to shake loose every last penny. This little kitten has cost my rescue group thousands of dollars in Vet care. This is not about the money, but it is an illustration of how far we've travelled to find a way to get Cara HEALTHY.

In Cat Carrier at Vet copy.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara knows she's at the Vet. Been there, done that, one too many times now.

There've been a few times when we thought we had Cara's problems licked. At first, it was a terrible URI that permanently effected her brother and sister. They both have scar tissue in their tear ducts which slows draining of their tears and causes them to have one or both eyes weep. They won't suffer much as a result of this, but it's a reminder to us of what they went through, too.

Before Third Endoscopy.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Those big eyes just cut right through my heart.

Cara, however, was hit the hardest. She had two esophageal strictures from being burned by Doxycycline when she was just a little kitten. It was avoidable had we known the antibiotic was so acidic. It could have been caused by her genetics, too. We'll never really know for sure. Either way, it caused her tremendous suffering, for a very long time. Her growth was stunted and she remains underweight.

We treated her strictures twice and medicated her every six hours for weeks. We gave her “novel protein” diet to make sure she didn't also have a food allergy (turns out she did not). We gave her the best food, the most love and tender care, but it was not enough.

Lovely Mazie.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara's resemblance to her mother, Mazie is very clear. Mazie still waits for her forever home, but was very glad to see Cara again.

Cara continued to vomit-PROJECTILE vomit. If you've never seen that before, imagine a hose being turned on inside little Cara. The spigot flies open and a torrent of fluid comes out. It's shocking. Disturbing. Horrifying. It leaves Cara limp. She rarely ever plays. She sits hunched over, uncomfortable, licking at her mouth, her tummy grumbling.

On Friday Cara returned to see Dr. K. Our last three weeks of feeding her a special diet showed us she had no food allergies, but she was still vomiting. A repeat of her blood work revealed her White Blood Count was still shockingly high at 29,500. Dr. K needed to do a third endoscopy to find out what was going on. The results surprised all of us.

While Cara's strictures were healed, her stomach lining, which was once fine and normal, was now “grossly” full of Helicobacter. To understand how common this is, here's a portion of an article by Bob Sherding in 2001

“Various surveys have found a high prevalence of Helicobacter approaching 100% in most shelter and colony cats and 30 to 100% in pet cats. The spiral organisms identified most often in these surveys are the large Helicobacter-like organisms, e.g., H. felis and H. heilmannii. Because of the high prevalence of infection in animals without clinical signs, the clinical significance of gastric Helicobacter-like organisms (GHLO) in cats is uncertain. Helicobacter organisms may be an incidental finding in clinically normal animals, but when they are associated with clinical signs (chronic intermittent vomiting) and gastric mucosal inflammation (lymphocytic gastritis), it is possible that they should be considered potential pathogens and treated.”

The treatment remains the same-even today: Amoxicillin and Biaxin™

But that's not all Cara is dealing with. She also has Leukocytosis-which is a high White Blood Cell Count. Because her Neutrophils are also high, it means she probably has a nasty bacterial infection. Last month, Cara had a high Eosinophil count, which could have meant she was having an allergic reaction to her food or medication. That indicator is back to normal, so it leads us to believe that Cara has a “Mother” of an infection.

Problem List copy.jpg

What causes this? Another mystery. Helicobacter is common. It making us or our cats sick, is not so common. What caused Cara to have such an overwhelming infection leaves us all scratching our heads. All we can do is treat her and hope it resolves. She may get better or she may get this on and off for years to come.

The saddest thing to consider is that this infection can be a precursor to Adenocarcinoma or Lymphoma. Adenocarcinoma is always malignant. My cat, Bob, has lymphoma. It can be treated, but there is no cure. To think that Cara, at such a fragile age, could face this one day is unbelievable and completely cruel. I hope it is not so. Today it's too soon to tell.

Endoscopy 1.jpg
Cara's endoscopy. Tough to see here, but her stomach lining is a mess.

And then there was Cara's pancreas to consider. Either it was inflamed and getting worse, or it had been and was resolving. They ran a PLI test to determine how badly her pancreas has been effected. This is in a EIGHT month old KITTEN. To have such problems is disturbing, gut-wrenching and heartbreaking.

Unhappy Pancreas copy.jpg
Cara's pancreas shows white highlights. This means it's inflamed and irritated. Is it getting worse or is it getting better?

Who will adopt a kitten with such health history? Who would I even TRUST to give this kitten a home? We have a long way to go before we can even worry about that. Right now there's much to be done, but the fear sits in the back of my head. I don't know that Cara will ever be on Petfinder looking for a forever home.

Sam was able to drive with me down to Norwalk to pick Cara up after her procedure so I could hold her on my lap the entire drive home. She was very weak and withdrawn. Although she had a nice reunion with her Mother, Mazie and sister, Polly, Cara wanted to be alone, to rest. She ate well for me the first night, then the next day, back at her foster home with Aunt Connie, she stopped eating. Her coat was rough. Her left eye was now weeping from the URI. She hid under the sofa where no one could get at her.

Sick Cara.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. After endoscopy, Cara is wiped out and sick with a URI.

We had to give her antibiotics, so after some coaching, were able to get her to come out so we could treat her. It took two long days, but Cara started to turn the corner just a bit. She began to eat some food and came out from under the sofa. Her eye stopped running, but she was still very worn out.

Looking Out copy.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara looks out the window into the darkness. She didn't want to visit with us. She just wanted to be alone to rest and try to recover from the procedure.

This morning Cara projectile vomited again, so I called Dr. K. to let her know. She said the infection was so bad that she wasn't surprised there was more vomiting. She said to stay the course, keep giving her the meds and give it a week. By Saturday, maybe she'll show signs of feeling better. We can only hope.

I have no idea what is to become of Cara. Once her meds are done in two weeks, we'll re-evaluate the situation. If Cara is responding well, then what? I don't know. Will Cara get something else? We she relapse? Will she even live to be an adult?

Cara looks right into my soul with those big owly eyes. She's so much like her Mother that way. I only wish she was just as healthy and ready to be adopted. For now, all we can do is keep our commitment to her, in sickness and in health, for better or worse.

--------------------------------------------

If you'd like to read more about Helicobacter, how common it is, how it may be transmitted and its' effect on humans, you can read this article on DVM360, as well as on Wikipedia

Bad News: Endoscopy Number Three Tomorrow

Cara on the Bed.jpg

What a nightmare. I had Cara's blood work repeated on Tuesday after three weeks of diet change and a short course of antibiotics. I'd hoped to see her White Blood Count come down to normal levels. It was not. It was 29,500-high normal is 19,000. Cara also showed elevated Nuetrophils (26,500 and high normal is 12,500) and 295 bands (300 is high normal). From the Cat Spay of Sante Fe this article describes in better detail what these values mean: “Band neutrophils are the youngest form of the neutrophil, and indicate that the bone marrow is trying to produce and release cells as quickly as possible. A few bands can be present in a normal patient, but an overload of bands always means that there is an active infection. ” This all adds up to something is wrong and Cara has a festering, lingering, S.O.B. infection of some sort.

Dr Larry and Dr Diane (Cara's Specialist) agreed that this is indicative of an abscess-probably in her esophagus. The only way to be certain is to look. The only way to look is to knock Cara out and use a scope on her. The cost is going to kick us in the shins, but I'm not going to do another fundrasier. I've already bugged you guys too many times and many of you have helped out. Cara doesn't look sick or pitiful, but she's harboring quite a serious problem. She gained 8 ounces over the past month, which is remarkable, but puts her at 2-3 pounds under what she should weigh for her age. She's grown a bit, but I have to wonder how she will be stunted from months of being debilitated. She continues to projectile vomit once a week. I may have to make a deal with the devil to get her the treatment she needs, but I'm not complaining.

We need ANSERS and we need them NOW and we need to “FIX” this girl for once and for all! Cara needs a warm and loving home, not to have to spend her life being run back and forth to Vets.

P.S. and will someone please tell me why cats always have to have expensive Vet care done on Holiday weekends?

Tags Click a link below to find more articles on that topic.

A Day with Little Cara

After a long chat with Cara's Internist, instead of going straight to a third endoscopy, we're giving Cara yet another round of Clavamox to treat her high White Blood Cell Count for about 10 days. Cara's also on a special diet, which I pushed back on, (you know how fussy I am about diet)! But after looking at the ingredients and realizing it was only for three weeks, I decided it was all right. Well, feeding her the special diet was ok. That it cost $52 for one case, well, I was not too happy with that!

Caras Tunnel Adventure copy.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Little cutie in the tunnel.

Cara's been back home with me and her Mama, Mazie and siblings Polly and Chester after staying with her foster mom for two weeks. Everyone got along well. Mazie licked Cara's face as a way to welcome her back. Cara is still half the size of her family, but I can see that Cara has grown some, too.

Cara Looking Up with Mama.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara with Mama-Mazie.

Cara still has that big, sad-eyed look and she still shakes her head and licks at her mouth. After being here for a day or so, she vomited again and was a bit lethargic. The next day she was brighter and ate well. She's still not vibrant, in the way her siblings are, but she's starting to explore more of her surroundings now that she can leave her foster room and meet my cats.

Cara Portrait_sm.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. What a face!

Cara doesn't go too far. She'll stay upstairs and nap or sniff around my bedroom. I think the stairs are tough for her because she's still so small. She can't race down the steps the way Polly is accustomed to doing and I think seeing my HUGE cats makes her a bit shy.

Tunnel Tabby copy.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

I've noticed she's starting to purr more frequently. I think the clavamox might be helping her. In some respects, she is stable, but she is clearly still struggling with something. The constant head shaking and mouth licking must mean she's feeling queasy or her tummy is acting up.

Cara and Mazie Playing copy.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

When it's all said and done, I know in two more weeks, when Cara has completed eating the special diet, we'll have to re-visit getting her spayed and doing endoscopy and biopsy at the same time OR they may say we can't spay her for the time being and just focus on doing further examinations of her digestive tract.

Cara and Mazie.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara and Mama.

In a few days it will mark SIX MONTHS since this family first arrived. Six months and they are ALL still here. I try not to beat myself up about how many cats I could have helped if I could have gotten this family out of her faster. I'm devoted to the cats that are in my care. They are all getting to a point where they can be adopted. It would be great to see them get out of here. The price I've had to pay is that my own cats are angry and frustrated having newcomers running around and every day we find a new, horrifying place where one of them has decided to pee.

Cara on the Bed.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

We may have more SSSCATS than anyone else in the world. There are Feliway diffusers everywhere. Some of my cats are making friends with the fosters, but even those cats we've caught marking. I know the best solution is to get the fosters OUT and give my own cats a break-especially with Bob having cancer. I think more quiet time would be good for him, too.

Cara in the Tunnel.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

While I wonder when we'll finally get Cara's health issues sorted out and find her a home, something lovely happened. One of the fosters MAY be getting adopted in a few days. I don't want to jinx it, but it's looking very good. I wish I had more adopters like this family. If they go through with the adoption, I'll let you know just how wonderful they are in more detail.

For now, I'll just enjoy the company of the fosters and their crazy antics with a roll of paper towels and odor neutralizer in hand.

We're still trying to raise enough funds to cover Cara's endoscopy in a few weeks. She looks bright and well, but she, like most cats, is very good at masking illness. She weighs just over 4 1/2 pounds. The normal weight for a cat her age is 6 to 8 pounds.

We'll Never Really Know for Sure-Part One

As I drove to the Vet to pick up some ungodly expensive cat food for Cara, all of a sudden, I got this really bad “feeling.” It was a dark sense of dread, like I knew something very bad was going to happen. I tried to focus on the feeling. Would it further guide me? I felt like I needed to drive home on the backroads instead of taking the highway. I felt like it was a very big, but I didn't get a sense of exactly what it was.

Am I flakey? I don't think so. Sometimes I just get a gut feeling about something and I try to just go with it. Usually it does make sense some time later, OR I find a way to make it make sense. I get that, but I believe there's more going on in our minds, that we have more capability than scientists can prove with a test or wires tapped to someone's head.

Haven't you ever just got a feeling about someone or something that turned out to be correct?

I got home safely. Driving the backroad reminded me that a new Ice Cream shop, called Ice Cream Heaven, just opened. That certainly wasn't bad news!

At 1pm, we packed Bob into his carrier to take him for his 11th (!) chemotherapy treatment. The drive to Wappingers Falls, NY takes about an hour. It was bloody awful hot and humid. I was determined to sit in the back seat and keep Bob company, but it was very uncomfortable in the car. I reflected on that sense of dread I had, but I was too hot to think deeply.

Sam was driving. He kept spacing out. I had to remind him not to exit, then later, TO exit the highway. He was hot and tired and had driven one too many trips to New York City to see his Mother the past eight weeks since her suicide attempt and his “auto-pilot” kept making him want to head south, instead of west.

bilde.jpg
©2011 Guy Peifer, For the Poughkeepsie Journal

As we were finally getting off the highway, I noticed a helicopter flying very low. No sooner than we got off the ramp, I saw the road was blocked in both directions. The helicopter was a rescue chopper that was heading to the scene of a very serious car crash. There were all sorts of emergency vehicles blocking the road. Maybe that was what gave me the sense of doom I had earlier?

We were late getting Bob to his chemo. All I could think about was the poor people whose lives were changed forever.

As always, we have to wait about two hours for Bob to get his chemo so we left for our favorite hangout, Panera Bread, to get some lunch. I knew that the weather was going to pick up due to the incredible heat wave we were suffering under. I looked at the weather radar and sure enough there was a line of very strong storms headed towards us and one small rogue cell about to dump some rain.

HAIL.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson

It poured. You could barely see it rained so hard. It was time to go get Bob. We debated going outside, but we figured it would let up soon. Two seconds after we got into the car, it started to hail, hard. Sam's car was getting pelted. It was so hot outside the hail melted quickly. I did my part and used my brand new NOAA Official Weather Spotter card to call the National Weather Service to report the hail. A very nice lady told me to call back if the hail was larger than a pea. As she said that, we saw hail that was about quarter sized hit the ground. As I told her it was getting larger, she laughed and agreed with me, saying she could hear it hitting the car. I ran out and got a quick photo, which left me drenched, but my heart was pounding with excitement.

The Vet called. The storm took out some of their equipment and they were re-booting the systems. They needed us to kill another hour. We decided to play tornado chaser. The sky looked very foreboding. The weather radar showed a distinct hook in the shape of the storm.

photo-11.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson

Was THIS my bad feeling coming to life?

We drove around watching the sky churn. I noticed that the radar indicated the storm was moving to Connecticut and was going to hit our house square on. I wanted to get Bob and go home. I was really feeling anxious and rightly so. A funnel cloud was spotted very close to where we were driving and my nephew, Ryan called me to say that the power just went out and the weather picked up. Ryan lives 2 miles from my house. I suddenly wished he had a key so he could go check on the cats.

6.9.11_looking out.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Some times Bob looks out the car window and HISSES at the traffic going past!

We weren't able to pick up Bob until nearly 6pm. The GOOD NEWS was that he had GAINED 5 ounces in four weeks. On a person, that would have been about a 5 POUND weight gain. This was the first weight Bob's gained since he was diagnosed with small t-cell lymphoma in January! We were delighted.

The storm passed as we left New York and headed home. I still felt that sense of dread. We couldn't get home fast enough, but traffic was slow. Why they call it “Rush Hour” is beyond me. No one ever rushes anywhere. It should be called “Slow, Frustrating & Annoying HOURS.”

back seat driver 6.9.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob—back seat driving yet again.

As we got into town, every so often I'd see a big tree limb snapped off, lying in someone's yard. There was a lot of debris on the road, but nothing too serious. I looked at the homes in our neighborhood. Their lights were on, so that was a good sign. As we pulled into the driveway, we quickly realized a big tree had fallen, just missing the house. If Sam had left his car outside the garage, which is does most days, it would have been smashed. My side of the garage was blocked so I could not get my car out.

Tree Down Fun.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Missed us by “this” much!

We got Bob inside and started to check around the house. I went out on the deck and surveyed the property. No more fallen trees, but the flowers in my planters were stomped on. We focused on getting the cats fed, then we had to see what we could do about the tree.

Tree Down 2.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson

I began chopping off as many branches as I could, but we don't have a working chain saw. I guess buying one 20 years ago and having it still be in the box, never used, is not going to help us. I chopped and Sam cleared. It rained on us, but I hoped we wouldn't get hit by lightning. I just wanted to get done. It was almost 9pm. We were both soaked, sweaty and wiped out.

Tree Chopped.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Freshly denuded tree. Now if we could just cut those long branches down.

The temperature had dropped over twenty degrees, but even in the 70's it was still too humid. We dragged ourselves inside to shower and take a break. I sent out emails to friends who had working chainsaws, to see if anyone could help. By then I was ready to fall over.

We have a joke about many TV shows that are documentary-ish in nature. Often, at the end of the show, the narrator says; "We'll never really know for sure...” regarding how the story ends.

And I say, we'll never really know for sure if I had ESP yesterday or if what happened was just coincidence. All I do know is we found something out about Bob last night, in addition to the happy news he gained weight, there was something more troubling on the horizon. The results of his blood test were very sobering, indeed.

I think I'm getting that bad feeling again and I know, for sure, how this is going to end.

Tags Click a link below to find more articles on that topic.

Today's Cat Behavior Quiz: What Would You Do?

Every day I see MANY pleas concerning cats and dogs in need of rescue. Like most folks who do this, I have to draw the line at where I can be of help. I may not have a shelter or huge home foster network, but I jump at the chance to help with cat behavior problems. Helping others, helps me learn more and knowing that cats can keep their homes, if I gave them the correct advice, is thrilling and deeply rewarding.

Over the past two weeks, I've been in touch with a local rescuer regarding this situation:

If anyone has had this experience, any input in correcting it would be v appreciated.

A friend of a friend has 2 cats. 2 males, neutered, littermates, had since kittenhood, 4 years old now, utd, indoor only, no declaw., etc. They have always been fine with each other - no behavioral problems and now, out of no where, they are hissing and spitting at each other relentlessly.

I asked all the usual ?'s - illness, any family new members, any change in household, change in litter box habits, any cats outside hanging around, etc., and all the answers were no.

I told my friend to get them to a vet and she felt the woman would, but she the owner was looking for a resolution that would not require lots of money or time on her part and seemed very impatient and mentioned that she would not tolerate this and would consider euth. Aren't people just wonderful !!!

Any ideas .... pls send them my way.

How would YOU answer this question? Tomorrow I'll post my suggestions, along with an update on what happened. Did the cats get euthanized? Did my suggestions work? Did the cats need to be put on medications?

I want you to hone your understanding of cat behavior. Please let me know what you'd do by leaving a comment, below. If you're not already signed up to be a Member of CiCH, then know I have to approve your post before it goes live. It may take a few hours before I see it, but don't let that stop you from writing up what you'd do. If you're right, you get bragging rights and the knowledge that you have the chops to help other cats! If I'm really impressed, I may dig out something I have laying around to send you as a prize, but in truth, the prize is knowing you can help others.

Tags Click a link below to find more articles on that topic.

Foster Cat Journal: The Never Ending Battle

Mazie went from having a strangely, rather shockingly elevated white blood count (53,000-when high normal is 19,000) and a high fever (105+°F) last week, to a NASTY upper respiratory infection. Her WBC went down to almost normal after hospitalizing her and giving her IV antibiotics. Her temperature went back down as of a few days ago, but she came home with the sniffle and each day Mazie seems more seriously afflicted.

Sneezy Mazie.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mazie, mid-sneeze.

Mazie IS eating, though much quieter than usual. She's found a place on the corner of the bed where the angle of the wall creates a comfy, almost hiding place. I put some towels and a pillow there for her. She's been taking it easy for a day.

Sick Mazie.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Runny eyes and a spot of ringworm that's healing. Sweet...NOT!

I called the Vet and was given a message to get the kittens OUT of the room. That incubation is 7-10 days and that they should be in another room for that period of time. The problem is: I HAVE NO ROOM to put them into and we still don't have any foster homes.

Mazie Big Lick_med.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mazie has to constantly lick her face because her nose runs.

I begged a favor from a good friend. She's going to take Cara and Chester and maybe Polly, tonight. I hate to separate the cats, but it must be done. I think Polly could stay behind because she sneezes all the time and has watery eyes, but is really not in bad shape at all. I wonder if what Mazie has is something else, entirely and if so, then Polly should go, too. Mazie will have a quiet week, but I'll make sure to spend time with her. My biggest fear is transmitting what Mazie has to my other cats, especially BOB DOLE.

Bob could die from a cold. I've been furiously washing hands, not touching Mazie, changing clothes. I don't know if it will be enough. I just heard Nora, one of our other cats, sneezing. I am very worried.

Cara in the window.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. My how Cara has grown, yet she is still tiny compared to her siblings.

Little Miss Cara is STILL tiny. One of the cats vomited, but I don't know if it was her. Having her live away for a week will help me find out if she's still getting sick. I see her do her "I feel queasy" mouthing where she licks at her mouth and twists her head a bit. Her appetite is good and she's bright and fairly playful. I think she's very close to being considered ready to be adopted-after she gets spayed, of course.

Polly.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Polly. Our little girl has grown up.

Polly needs to see the Eye Specialist. I'll have to do a fundraiser for that. Her left eye is still cloudy. She may have some blindness from being sick, so young. She's grown into a beautiful young lady. Even with all that she's suffered, she's very sweet and LOVES to escape from the foster room, run down the stairs with her tail held high and visit the other cats. If she wasn't rapid-fire sneezing so often, I wouldn't mind her being out, but she can't go near my cats until she is all better-IF she ever gets better!

Handsome Man.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. That's “Mr. Handsom” to you!

Then there's the most Handsome Young Cat in the world-Chester Cheesetoes. He still has a runny eye, but it's very subtle. All the cats are getting a big dose of Lysine to help boost their immune system. Other than his eye, Chester is awesome. He loves to get onto a high perch and watch things going on, below OR run after the laser pointer like a crazy-cat. He is so soft and sweet and stunning. He's grown into a very big boy.

Get Off The Table.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Polly and Chester boldy go where I don't like them to go!

The cats have been here too long. Kitten Season is in full swing and I haven't saved one Mama or kitten. It's driving me crazy. I must get these cats well and adopted. I'm also so attached to each one of them, that it will be very hard to say goodbye-much harder than usual. The only comfort I can take in all of this is to remind myself that I've felt this way before and over time the pain softens. Over more time, I get to a place where I need a minute to remember their name. That's when I know it's okay to let them go. I have to make room for more. So many need help. Whether or not I cry about the ones I have makes no difference. I need to do this. I need to rescue more cats.

Cara Proud.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Who loves Cara? Who doesn't?

But more than anything else...I NEED THESE CATS TO GET BETTER!

The Vet bill for Mazie came in a just over $700.00. It's a heartbreaking amount of money for us to come up with and thankfully, many of you have used our ChipIn to help out. We still need about $200.00 to get to our total, so if you can offer a dollar or two, we appreciate it VERY much! Thank you for helping Mazie!

(You can use the ChipIn for Maze on the right sidebar if you wish to donate. Your donation IS tax deductible.)

The Sort of Sweetest Slumber

I got your back copy.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob Dole (left) and NICKY (right) “share” the electric blanket.

Bob is hanging in there. After four months of chemo, somehow he's still with us. Each day with him is a blessing, even if I only seem to interact with him when it's time for a snack or a pill. He sleeps a lot, so I try not to bother him too much. I know he's resting and comfortable. I check on him all the time. He still purrs and whines, depending on his mood and appetite.

I set up an electric blanket over an old chair, which became a big hit with the cats. I'm not sure if Nicky, our huge 24 lb cat, is willing to share or just puts up with Bob if he wants to warm himself on the blanket, too. Looking at this photo, you'd think Bob was very tiny. He's average size. Nicky, however, is enormous-freakishly so. More to snuggle with-that's for sure. In a way, it's like he's looking out for Bob and helping him feel better.

Nice Nicky.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. NICKY planning his next move.

I'll leave out the part of the story where I tell you that Nicky ran over my FACE this morning; his own brand of shocking wakeup call. I don't want to ruin your opinion of him as being a NICE cat, looking out for Bob, instead of being a pain in the rear end, thoughtlessly crushing Sam's man bits before he makes a beeline for my head.

It's okay. We can pretend Nicky's a good boy for awhile longer, but tonight I'm wearing a football helmet to bed and I heard a rumor that Sam's going to wear a cup.

Tags Click a link below to find more articles on that topic.
Syndicate content