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New computer is in da house. There was no excitement in its' arrival.
Why? Because Apple fu@ked things up, but good. And here I was getting all excited from "new computer smell!" It didn't last.

So you spend $5600. on a new computer and Apple will migrate all the data from the old computer to the new one! Whoopie! Great! Not only that, but instead of taking two days for this task, they do it in ONE! Super-whoopie! Not only that but they don't do the migration properly and they FORGOT to "migrate" over 20 GIGABYTES of data, including ALL my FONTS, family photos and all my stock photos and clip art illustrations! Yeah, I called them and yelled and they said to bring back both computers. Each one weighs about 50 POUNDS. NO. I don't think so-PLUS I already went to the MALL on almost the last SUNDAY before Christmas.

Can you say; "NO PARKING?"

"Insane crowds?"

So Sam and I hooked up the old computer to the new one and I was able to pull all the missing data off of it and onto the new machine. Then I found out my fonts were messed up and all the serial numbers had to be re-entered for my software. Yeah...I cried! Sue me.

It's 9pm. I'm wiped out. I didn't get half the things done I wanted to this weekend, but at least my computer works well enough for now. Seems I lost one of my BLOG entries and ALL MY EMAIL IS HOSED-ALL 3 GIGABYTES of it. If you email me and I don't write back, don't take it personally. I'm workin' on it!

Oh yeah, the cats.

Gracie is running around the house, enjoying her freedom from being locked up in the guest room for over a month. Tonight I'm going to release Tunie and Nora after they get the last of their meds. It will mean a peeing festival, most likely, all over the house. So be it. I can always lock them up again and forget about them. Oops. I didn't say that.

Nicky, Cricket and Spencer are doing well.

Bob has a bad runny nose and is still coughing, though not as bad. I'm keeping a close eye on him. He has the most fragile health of all the cats. I hope he'll be better soon.

I'm getting better at pilling the cats. I will write something up about my technique-I like to call it; "Jam and Cram." I still have both my hands and all my fingers. Pretty good, considering I will have shoved about 100 pills down the cat's yaps in the past 10 days.

Lastly, I bought curtains. They were to cover up a large cut-out in the bedroom that's in the wall behind our bed. It's VERY drafty so I figured a good curtain would keep the room warmer. Sure. Then I bought the wrong color and they look like shit. I hate them. It made me cry. What the heck is going on? I can't even pick out a color? Now I have to go BACK TO THE MALL and exchange them. Ha ha ha! Shoot me now.

I've been to the Mall four times in less than a week. This is not good.

I'm done with my random thoughts. Now I'm gonna drag my weary self to pill the cats before I can take a hot shower that may or may not help loosen the stress-induced knots in my back, then I'll drag my flabby bee-hind to bed. Good night and I hope you're all doing better than I am.

Law of the Three C's

Back at the Vet

Back at the Vet again today, we discovered that Gracie has new areas of dermatitis cropping up. Since we've ruled out Ringworm, FIV, and Bartonella (she DID have a positive test result, but the treatment is now over for that), the next step was to take 4 skin biopsies. This way we may find out it's a bacterial or fungal infection. It will rule out cancer (I hope). At least we may have a cause, but at this point we're all scratching our heads (though,thankfully, Gracie is not!) as to what is causing Gracie to have such a sudden and severe rash.

Spencer and Bob continue to struggle with their Upper Respiratory problems, though they are both showing signs of improvement. At least Spencer is up and about now and has begun purring. He and Bob actually showed up for breakfast this morning, instead of hiding under the bed or inside the Drs.Foster & Smith shipping box they are so fond of.

I've gotten Spencer trained to hang out in the bathroom for a few minutes, a few times a day, while I run the shower at full blast-hot. The steam helps him breathe. Today Dr. Larry told me to "thump" him on the chest to help loosen up the mucus, but I'm guessing after one thump, he'll bite me, good.

Bob's deep, barking cough isn't as deep and doesn't come as often. His nose is running and he's sneezing now, too. I really want to take him to the Vet, but I have to keep him here. They can't do anything for him unless he gets worse. The constant feeling of being on high alert is tough, but I need to be better at this. As I've written in previous posts, I hate to see my cats suffer and I want them to be safe and healthy, but I want what's best for THEM, not what makes me feel the best. My goal is to learn to relax more when the cats are sick-just take it in stride and deal with it, instead of go nuts.

That said, in addition to having to pill 5 cats and worry about their well being, two days ago, my computer died. It's my work machine, so without it I'm dead in the water. We thought it was drive failure, but turns out it was the processor AND the motherboard and this was the SECOND time it happened. Last time it cost over $1200.00 to get it fixed.

This computer has never worked quite right and it was best to retire it and move on. I hated having to drop such a huge amount of money, but I gotta keep working. Apple migrated my data over to the new machine and it's ready to go. I'll get it in the morning and get back to posting daily.

And never ask: "What's next?" What the shit hits the fan.

Really. Don't do it.

After we loaded my broken computer into the car, Sam turned the key in the ignition. The car was dead. AAA had to tow it to the shop. It was then, I saw realized it was the Law of Threes in action. It was the letter: C.

Cats. Computer. Car.

I just hope our troubles stay at three. I fear the "C" calamity could include Christmas!


$400.00 in prescriptions and Vet visits

$99.00 on a new humidifier

$18.00 on crappy cat food

Hearing your sick cat purr for the first time in days...priceless.

Another day draws to a close. I still have seven cats. This is a good thing.

Another long day away from home. As I sat at work, looking at the photos on my desk of all the cats, my heart sank. I could not bear to look at them. Most of cats are posed with their belly facing the sky, looking relaxed and happy. Gracie is being spooned by her daughter, Petunia. They are both blue-grey with sparkling eyes. Gracie's fur looks exotic and plush-ahh...if they could see her today, with shaved clumps for a coat and a depressed look in those once brilliant green eyes.

It tears me apart to see how miserable they are. Every struggle I can feel. Every cough or sneeze makes me stiffen with anxiety.

Last night was too short. I slept little on an empty stomach. I was too wiped out to bother eating and since I had Spencer and Bob on my side of the bed, I figured I'd try to sleep without moving them because I wanted them to stay in the bed with me all night. Bob stayed. Spencer moved to sleeping/hiding under the bed. Normally, he'd lay right under my outstretched left arm and purr loudly. It was an effort for him to breathe at all. His mouth would drop open to allow him to catch a breath. Instead of wheezing, as he usually does, he was quiet, because his sinuses must be loaded with mucus.

This morning I decided to go to work a bit late and I ended up talking to Debbie about what to do..bring Bob and Spencer in to the Vet? I really wanted to take them, but I realized, too, that Spencer would stress out A LOT and his breathing would be much worse. Same could be said for Bob, so I decided to keep them home, go to work and hope to God I wasn't making a BIG mistake.

There is a time for me to simply witness their suffering, be compassionate and loving, treat their illness as best I can, but do no more. A trip to the Vet could do worse to them, than help them, then fall into a vicious cycle of over treatments or shuttling them back and forth for more visits that would keep them from getting the rest they need to heal.

Sure, I know they're not human, but I still think it's true that if they feel like shit, then they should rest, be comfy, have those fluids available and get to eat junk food-which, I'm reluctant to say, they're getting. At least they continue to eat, so I just gotta suck it up, keep a watchful eye on them and hope I'm making good choices.

Time will tell.

It Only Gets Worse

I was on pins and needles all day at work. I didn't want to be there, moreso than usual. Over the course of the night, both Spencer and Bob got hit hard with Upper Respiratory Infection. Bob's lungs sound horrible and Spencer's sinuses are plugged up.

First thing in the morning, I called my Vet. I talked with Deb, his primo Tech and tried not to be hysterical. She promised a call from Dr. M soon.

Well, I talked with the Dr. and we discussed the game plan. First, get Baytril, in PILL form, into Bob, Spencer and Nicky (even though his symptoms are very mild), as well as continue on with Nora and Petunia.

Gracie is over being sick and is doing fine, but the dermatitis is not healing on her shoulders and head, so more meds are needed.

The Dr. suggested a humidifier and antibiotic eye drops for Spencer and Bob. We also decided to have some sort of high calorie gel on board, to help ensure that both cats were getting some nutrition, should they stop eating (which has already started to happen).

I took a break from work and ran to the store to buy a humidifier. Sure it said it was anti-microbial and used UV light to keep the water in the tank clean, but when I read the directions later, it said the tanks can get dirty and they have to be cleaned WEEKLY. What a waste of money.

I also didn't get much done at work. I could not stand being there. I kept envisioning dead cats when I got home. I finally was able to leave at 5pm to race to the Vet to get all the meds they put aside for me...another $100. out the window. And..they didn't get me everything I needed. I should have checked the bag. It only had pills in it. Now I have to go back again.

I got home around 6pm and when I opened the door, the house was SILENT. No cat greeted me at the door, anxious to be fed. The only sound was the whirring of the furnace blower. My stomach did a flip. Had my worst fear come true?

I looked around the house. I found Cricket lounging on a chair. He looked up at me and chirped. But where was Spencer? Where was Bob? They always meet me at the door!

I finally found Bob inside a cardboard box. He was sitting quietly, with his head hanging down. I called to him and he looked up, but he didn't purr, as he normally would and he didn't get up. Then he coughed and I could hear he was not doing well.

After calling for a few minutes, Spencer finally appeared from the basement and he sounded WORSE. Every step he took, up the stairs was agony for him. He was gasping for air. I didn't wait long before I gave him his first day of antibiotics. Hopefully it will help cut back how bad this is going to be for him. It may do nothing, but I have to try.

I got scratched up good, but I didn't care. I pilled Bob, too, then gave them both not-so-good-for-them dry food, as a treat for letting me pill them and to see if they would eat-they both did, thankfully.

I sat down and made a chart to help guide me as to what each cat needs. It's going to be very awful. Most of the cats are going to struggle. Things are already bad here and now they will get worse. I'll do what it takes to get these guys feeling better, but I'm not looking forward to this journey.

Cat Meds.jpg

I set up the humidifier and put out a heated cat bed in the bedroom, hoping that between the cat bed, the extra cat beds, the space heater and the humidifier, the cats will stay in the room to recover. I can't lock them in there, but I can make it as tempting as I can. Spencer is hiding under the bed and Bob has gone back to his box. The next few days are going to be critical and I'm trying to find a way to stay home and work or just pretend I got the Plague and lose out on my client relationship. Either way, I'm going to continue to be stressed and upset and now Sam and I are not getting along on top of all of this.

I need to finish medicating all the cats. Better get to it.

I Wish it Was Just a Bad Dream

It's 2:30 am. I've hardly slept. Bob and Spencer are both sick now.

Spencer, who purrs almost 24/7, stopped purring. He also stopped grooming himself and has begun to sneeze loudly. Spencer's scarred sinus tissue, from an illness when he was a kitten, causes him to wheeze. Normally, he manages just fine, but now the URI is making it harder for him to breathe. I'm freaking out.

Bob with FIV+ has been, at first, looking as though he has a hairball and has been having LOUD, BARKING coughing fits. I gave him Petromalt twice today, but it doesn't help. I think Bob's getting stuffed up and the post nasal drip is making him cough.

Bob, too, has all but stopped purring. And he, too, purrs loudly ALL the time.

What the FUCK am I going to do? I just tried to give Bob a does of Baytril. That stuff is terrible. It's a thick, creamy liquid. WHY give it to a cat that's stuffed up? It only makes them have a harder time breathing and both Bob and Nora (who is still VERY sick) react to the med by oozing thick, ropey, strands of mucus! This is NOT helpful to their well being. WHY Dr. M. suggested this shit is beyond my understanding.

Tomorrow I'm going to beg to get someone over here with enough Baytril, in PILL form, to treat everyone. What else can I do? All but two cats are sick. This is a nightmare I want to wake up from!!!!! Sadly, it's 2:49 AM and I'm awake and I doubt I'll get back to sleep any time soon.

Meanwhile, Sam is asleep. How can he sleep through all these cats coughing and sneezing so loud?

Please Forgive Me.

As some of you may know, for the better part of the last year, every Wednesday I drove a few miles to one of the local diners. Behind the diner, in a back corner of the parking lot, where a thick grove of trees and a few boulders stood, hid a feral cat feeding station.

Our uber-trapper, cat rescuer, Ms. K., set up the feeding station, along wtih an insulated feral cat house. Ms. K. had been feeding and trapping and Vetting all the cats that found their way to our little place. Over the years she rescued and helped many many cats and had a small network of volunteer "feeders" who would take turns to visit the feeding station every day, rain or shine, to make sure if there was a feral cat around, they would be fed.

Just last month, I took in a 6 month old kitten, named Smokey, who had been found abandoned with her pregnant Mother.

It was surprising to many of us that there were any cats still coming to find a meal, since it was more than six months of trips that I had seen any sign of a cat. Ms. K. was even sure there was no chance of any more cats and since someone had abandoned friendly cats at our feeding station, we knew we had to close it down for fear of it becoming a dumping ground for more cats.

I thought it was a good idea, too, and asked to be relieved of my weekly duties, only making myself available to feed, as needed, our one "for sure" feral kitty, Baby, who lives near a small cinderblock office building in town.

Things seemed fine with the arrangement until today.

Today I got an email from Ms. K. saying she had been back to formally close down the feeding station and to remove the feral cat house for good. Upon opening the top of the house, she was greatly saddened and shocked to find the body of a dead cat, most likely who had starved to death and found her last moments of life, hidden away in a small shelter trying to fend off the frigid temperatures.

Ms. K has seen more than her share of dead cats, but it effected her deeply. I wasn't with her at the time and it hit me hard, too. I let this cat down. I gave up, only thinking about how it could be difficult to fit a run to the diner into my day. This poor creature may have been a sibling to the very same dear kitten I had fostered so recently. She may have searched for her Mother and sister and, unable to fend for herself, slowly weakened until she perished.

I was at work when I got the email and I admit to having to struggle to hide my tears. The cat was black and a female. I had lost a feral cat months ago and I wondered if it was her or if she met the same fate, too. It's been since March since I last saw my little feral girl and it all just felt like too much.

Ms. K. says to focus on the successes and to put the losses away. We failed this cat and she suffered terribly because of it. She is only one of MILLIONS who die every year and with the economy doing so badly, I fear those numbers will grow.

This also was a message to me, a reminder. I've been grappling with a house full of sick cats. They may have gotten sick from the Fostering I've done. I was thinking I needed to stop for good, to protect my cats from further harm, but then I think about this one, small cat who never got to know life in a warm room, with good food to eat and a compassionate human companion to look out for her well being.

All she got to know was the cold, dark night. An empty belly. Fear and despair.

For that, I must continue on. I must not give up or give in. I must keep helping more cats beat the odds.

Welcome to Shitsville

It was so quiet here yesterday. The "boys," all four of them, were hanging out in the living room, while the three girls were in the quarantine room. No one was fighting or getting under foot. I could even walk from my office to the kitchen without tripping over a cat. In a way, it was nice, but kinda creepy, too.

Last night none of the cats came upstairs to sleep with us. I called out to Spencer, since he usually sleeps with me. If I call, he'll run like the dickens up two flights of stairs and bounce into bed with me. Not last night. He didn't bother to come up until almost dawn.

While I had the luxury of not falling asleep in a pretzel shape and waking up with a backache, I also felt very alone. I can't say I liked the feeling much.

I thought about life six years ago. I only had two cats and one foster cat (Spencer). My furnishings hadn't been destroyed by cat urine and I had money in the bank because my pet food bill was less than my grocery bill. I didn't realize it at the time, but the house really felt way too big. A few cats can't hog a bed or drive me insane when they're hungry. They're so easy to feed and have play time with when you have less than four. I must have had a lot more free time, too. Where did it all go?

Now I'm trying to get Christmas related tasks done so I can go back to work tomorrow and not be angry that I don't have any free time to get more Christmas related tasks (e.g., shopping) done. But, everything feels like wading through knee-deep shit. I'm so scared Bob is getting sick. Nicky sneezes and I wonder if he's next. Nora is so sick, I worry she will never recover. She's a nightmare to medicate and coughs and violently heaves, long stringy mucusy snots once I get the Baytril into her.

Petunia freaks out, too. She only gets 1.4cc of antibiotics. It would take a second to give it to her, but she has to be wrapped like a mummy in a towel and won't hold still while I give her the meds. Once she gets them she runs off upset. It upsets me, too. I don't want to distress her, but I've gotta do this. I'm tired and frustrated. Sam is tired and frustrated. We are both pissed at each other and this situation.

We don't know if we should start Bob on meds. If he's sick now, which I think he is, he may be fine in a few more days with no meds. He may be brewing a bacterial something and if we medicated him now, it would kick it in the ass. If we give him meds he doesn't need, the antibiotics would open him up to other things the antibiotic doesn't treat and he could get sick with something worse.

Oh yeah, and this is Day TWO of meds.

Eight more days to go.

Merry #@!!&$#@ Christmas.

...Oh yeah...and we have a mouse running around our living room and our only mousers are in quarantine. I fear the news is going to get out and more mice are going to come in.

When the House is Half Empty...or Half Full

It was one thing to have Gracie become so ill, with so many ailments: Bartonella, Miliary Dermatitis and an Upper Respiratory Infection. I don't know how or what caused her illnesses, but it was right after her getting a dental procedure that her skin got inflamed and her nose stuffed up. It may have been a coincidence or Gracie had stress and got a rash and cold from it. Who knows?

Over the past 4 weeks of her confinement, she's improved greatly, though she looks worse for wear. Her once beautiful charcoal gray plush coat is tattered by large shaved zones (to promote her skin healing and to allow me access to apply twice daily medication to those bad patches). Her ears still have bald spots, but her sneezing is gone and she has gained back some of the weight she lost. Sadly, she still has to be confined. I thought it would only be a few more days, but as of yesterday, it will be another 10 days before I can free her from the quarantine room.

File under: "Learn from Your Mistakes"

Last Saturday we took Gracie in for a re-check. Since our cat, Nora needed her semi-regular "butt shave," I thought it would be a GREAT idea to bring her with us and have the Vet get her rear end trimmed since she can't clean "back there." Nora weighs over 22 lbs and I can't handle her in the carrier myself. Since Sam was available to help, this would be a good thing, right?


While we were in the car, Gracie sneezed a few times. That was all it took. By the next day, shaved butt and all, Nora began sneezing, too.

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a Nervous Nelly about my cat's well being. I take them to the Vet as soon as they even look at me funny. This said, I've been trying NOT to run them to the Vet for every little thing. I've been learning to wait it out a bit and see if I can deal with it myself. With Bob it has worked well and with a case of Upper Respiratory going around the house, I figured Nora would be fine in a few days. I know that if it's viral, there's nothing we can do. I sat tight and waited...meanwhile Nora started to sneeze more violently and I started to worry that not only would she get sicker, but the remaining five cats would be sick soon, too.

Sure enough, in a few days, Petunia began to sneeze. Nora was looking worse, but no discharge, so no Vet. Friday night I picked Gracie up from her weekly antifungal bath and told super-Debbie, the Vet Tech, that I was worried but not going to bring Nora to the Vet. Of course, later that night I changed my mind when I saw Nora's nose running and Petunia, normally a vibrant cat, was limp on her cat bed with her eyes looking puffy.

The next morning we go to the Vet. Nora and Petunia cried and whined the entire 15 minute drive there. Nora sneezed up a storm. I had them both in separate carriers, covered, promising myself I would make sure they stayed covered as to keep them from spreading things at the Vet's office.

Once there Nora behaved like a champ. She was running a fever and her head was stuffed up. Her lungs were in good shape.

Next on the exam table was Petunia. Petunia overreacts to everything, so they covered her to keep her quiet.

2008-12-07 14:19:01 -0500

Needless to say, the rectal exam was not her favorite part of her visit, but even worse, to her, was the insult of having her claws trimmed. She SCREAMED BLOODY MURDER. You would think she was having her legs amputated without sedation.

2008-12-07 14:19:53 -0500

At the end of the exam, we decided to put Nora and Petunia on Baytril and also watch Bob for any signs of disease. If Bob got sick, it might kill him. Being FIV+, Bob cannot be near sick cats. We decided to quarantine Nora and Petunia in the same room with Gracie. It's all we have, other than a bathroom, that can be shut away from the rest of the house. Nora and Petunia hate each other's guts, so I knew this would be extra shitty for all concerned.

The Baytril set us back $150!!!!!!!!!...between injections and the gallon sized bottle. They have to be on meds for 10 days. This means all three cats in one small room and all the others are wondering where the heck they went. The change in the house is dramatic. We are all cranky and sad and it's strangely quiet.

I'm going to wish that for Christmas I have a house full of healthy cats, once again. I thought I was doing right by not rushing Nora to the Vet when she first started sneezing. After all, Gracie was fine in a few days, but she was also on zithromax for Bartonella, so she would fare better, right?

I keep thinking I know so much about cat wellness and behavior, but I keep being reminded I have so much more to learn.

What IS Feline Miliary Dermatitis?

It's a fancy way of saying; "I have no idea. It's some sort of rash, caused by bacteria, a fungus, an allergy to SOMETHING or something else I forgot to list."

Yeah, very helpful.

More on Miliary Dermatitis


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