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Puke, Vomit, Spew

The Squee Diaries. Chapter 6. Happy Family No More

I feel like I really understand the phrase, “wrung out,” as I sit here, trying to write about what happened today. My body aches, my head buzzes from an overload of caffeine. I ate stupid junk just to keep myself fueled up with something since I didn't have time to eat until 3pm. I'm not whining, I'm just very very tired.

This morning got off to a terrible start. I walked down stairs, half asleep, I've been staying up far too late then getting up too early. I got to the bottom of the stairs and found a pile of poop. Of course. It was from Nicky. He's been doing this every day for a long while. He drops his "surprise" off in different places, most often the entryway to my office. It's not a big deal, just an irritation, but once I took a few more steps into the kitchen, my heart sank. The cats had urinated into a cardboard cat food tray that was on the floor. It was covered in plastic but the urine seeped under it and RUINED the wooden floor-turning it black. I lifted the try in disgust. As I tipped it onto the garbage can the urine splashed onto my pajamas. When will I learn? The cats like to sit on the tray in this spot, then others pee on it. Then I get mad and clean it up. Stupid me.

I thought that Sam and I had made great strides in working with the cats so they didn't pee all over the house. Yet the tray was nothing compared to the scene around the island in the center of the kitchen. There were puddles of urine all around the base. I've never seen it so bad. I was furious. Great way to start the day.

©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Sorry for the yucky photo..just multiply this by was all over.

Sam and I cleaned up, but I was in a race to get to Minnie's room so she could get fed. I don't like to let her or the kittens go too long without some food so they're always my first concern. I got their food ready and opened the door to the blue bathroom. What I saw didn't click at first, but when the images slowly made sense, I recoiled in horror.

Everywhere I looked there was vomit. Vomit on the side of the tub, in the tub, near the tub, on the floor, on the bedding, on the cat tree, under the cat tree. It looked like a bomb went off. Some of it was clear or pale colored, some was reddish-food colored. The kittens seemed active and normal, but Minnie was by herself looking a bit forlorn. The day before she'd been a bit quiet, but now she seemed even worse. If she had been the only one vomiting, clearly she was very sick. Much of the vomit was in small puddles. The kittens certainly could have done it but they seemed just fine.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson

It took about 45 minutes to get the room cleaned up. I took Minnie's temp and it was 101.4°F, not a fever but what was making her vomit? I replayed some of the DVR footage from Squee-TV and at 4am I saw her vomiting violently four times. I called Dr Larry's office and made an appointment. They could see us in an hour. I was to bring the kittens, too.

I wasn't certain, but I thought I heard Minnie growling at the kittens. She wouldn't go near them and didn't seem to care about them, either. I showered quickly and got the kittens packed up into a carrier and put Minnie into her own, worried she would be harmed by the kittens. I had pressed on her mammary glands and they felt subtle and warm, not hot and hard. I'm paranoid about her getting mastitis and have been trying to get the kittens weaned fast to prevent Minnie from getting an infection from their claws or teeth. I tried to sort out what it could be, but I had no idea.

©2013 Robin A.F. Olson

Dr. Larry examined Minnie. It was clear from his expression that something was wrong. When he said as much I wasn't surprised, but what he said next made me sick to my stomach. He felt that her intestines felt gassy and mushy, as if inflamed. He rattled off a number of tests he wanted to do: X-rays, CBC, repeat her snap test. Minnie's gums were dry and tacky, a sign of dehydration. He wanted to put her on an IV right away so I nodded, hoping we'd be able to raise money for her care. I knew it was going to be expensive, even with our discount.

Then Dr. Larry said it could be FIP. I tried to be strong. I didn't cry, but inside my head I imagined pulling my hair out and screaming, followed by sobbing and curling up in a ball on the floor. I challenged him about it, but he said it's one thing it could be and that it was good that the kittens were 5 1/2 weeks old since they didn't need her any more. I took offense and he quickly offered that he meant that she could be away from them and stay on an IV for the day. “Okay..sure”…that's all I could say back.

Super Deb took Minnie away. I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye. Dr. Larry looked at the kittens and was quick to say how adorable they were and that whatever was troubling Minnie, was unlikely harming or effecting the kittens. Then he wanted me to take a photo of him with the kittens so he could send it to his daughter. He scooped up 4 of the kittens and smiled as I took the photos. At least, for now, they were safe. I just had to pray they'd start eating for me soon. Mel hasn't eaten cat food yet and the others don't eat much of it.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson

I didn't have to wait long before I got news-Minnie has a raging White Blood Count. She's at 60,000. High normal is about 5,000. SHe had two other indicators of inflammation/infection that were showing us she has a wicked bacterial infection of "unknown origin." Thankfully, her organ function tests were normal so her liver and kidneys were still working. Dr. Larry wanted to do more tests, but he was very worried. He said Minnie is basically septic right now so we have to hit this hard. He gave her an injection of Baytril, a broad spectrum antibiotic. She'd need a lot more medication and we'd have to discuss whether it was safe for her to ever feed her kittens again at another time.

For now it was sit and wait and hope that Minnie would begin to respond to treatment.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson

Later in the day, I got another call. Dr. Larry was worried that Minnie has pancreatitis which is very tough to diagnose. I asked about Minnie's uterus-was it infected? Not even KNOWING about Pyometra! He said, yes, it could be that, too. He didn't bring up FIP and I didn't ask. I asked about doing an emergency spay surgery on her, but he felt she was too sick to risk it.

He asked to run more tests on her urine and a FPL Idexx Test on her pancreas so I said yes, while my mental adding machine went haywire adding more and more figures to the mix. Those tests would take a day to get back, but in the meantime he wanted Minnie to come home (since they don't have overnight hours) with her catheter in place. She would come back in the morning for another day on an IV while we waited on test results.

I just want to save Minnie's life and I feel sure that we need to spay her-which would also allow us to do an exploration of her abdomen and see what the infection is from. It's a careful balance of doing it too soon and not doing it soon enough. We don't want to make the infection worse, but we need to get that uterus out if it's indeed the culprit.

I asked if Minnie could still nurse the kittens after her spay and was surprised to learn that she could. I couldn't imagine her doing that after having her belly laid open, but I'd leave it up to her to choose to do that or not. I loved watching Minnie care for her kittens. She was so loving and watchful and it's heartbreaking to think those days are over so soon.

I brought Minnie home, hoping for a happy reunion, but what I saw next broke my heart. I saw Minnie lash out at little Mel, trying to kill him. (I didn't know this was going to happen as I shot a video of what I thought would be the happy reunion. It's too upsetting to watch) He was shocked and upset. The other kittens took off and hid, cowering from their once loving mother. Minnie growled and hissed at them, then at me, too. I tried to imagine how much pain she's in and I told myself that she just needed time to heal and feel like herself-maybe even better than that and it would be okay.

For now Minnie is alone in the last tiny space I have in the house. The kittens are crammed into one cat bed comforting each other. They won't eat so I will syringe feed them tonight. We had 5 weeks of bliss, Minnie, the kittens and I, and it's tough to see that vanish overnight. I can only hope it won't always be this way.

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As for our fundraiser, THANK YOU to everyone who raced to offer us donations. We made our goal and then some in LESS THAN 12 HOURS. Yes, we may STILL need more, but I'm holding off on asking until I have more information. For now, I need to brace myself for what waits for me in the foster room. Will Minnie attack me when I try to medicate her? Will she be stable tonight? Will the kittens start eating? Have they been traumatized after all the weeks of my being so careful with them? I can't say..I just have to hang on and hope for the best.

Thank you for being there with me through this difficult day. I couldn't do this on my own.

The Silver Lining and the Black Clouds part three

Everything that wasn't related to caring for cats, cleaning up after the cats, or trying to figure out what was wrong with the cats, was put on hold over the weekend. Plans were cancelled. I made notes about who was eating, what they ate, if they vomited. I did research and spoke to my friends who were as confused as I was as to what was going on. We tossed around some ideas: Feline panleukopenia/Distemper, Parasites, a virus, food bourne illness. Nothing really added up. Four of the nine cats weren't eating. One cat was vomiting. Two cats had diarrhea (that I knew of). Four cats were “limp.”

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Mr. Unhappy at the Vet. Thankfully Spencer's blood work was normal, good even, for an 11 year old cat.

I was in a trance of despair. I couldn't do much other than worry. My temper was on a hair trigger. As I laid in bed Saturday night, hoping that by Sunday things would get better, I realized I was alone. There were no other cats on the bed. Spencer, who has a little routine with me most nights, was nowhere to be seen. My heart sank as I realized how much he meant to me. My inner voice chided me with a quote from an unknown author; “You never know what you've got until it's gone.”

Usually after I get into bed, I turn over onto my right side. Spencer will walk from the foot of the bed up towards my head. I have my right hand under my pillow. He'll lay across my arm and place his front paws onto my pillow, pining me in place. He's so fluffy that his fur covers my face. His purr is so loud I have no hope of sleeping. It sounds terrible, but I like it. I like the closeness-that he wants to send me off to dreamland even if it means he's smothering me (in a nice way, I'm sure).

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer giving me a nasty look because I interrupted him when he was getting ready to spoon with me.

Other nights he'll wait until I turn onto my left side. He'll make the same initial approach, but this time he'll turn his back to me and snuggle under my arm, effectively spooning with me. He never stays more than 15 minutes or so, but it's his way of saying good night. As I pet him, I relax and can fall asleep knowing all is well with my little cat-world.

Yet there was no good night that night or the next. I woke each morning in a panic, wondering where Spencer was. He was hiding between two storage containers under the bed or he found he way back into the basement to hide so well it took another hour to find him. I couldn't bear it.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. At least the DOOD was spared from getting sick-so far-knock wood.

Worrying about Spencer was bad enough, but it's curious how something completely banal, like feeding your cat, becomes the most precious moment of the day when your cats are sick. I so desperately wanted my cats to eat, but even the ones I didn't believe were sick barely touched their food.

By Sunday, with tempers flaring between the human residents, I left the house. It wasn't to escape, even if in my heart I wished I could just keep driving. It was simply to buy cat food. My goal was to purchase a wide variety of food, from expensive delicacies to what I would consider total junk. We were on day three. The cats HAD to eat.

Everyone who works at the store where I buy my cat food knows me-no surprise. As I walked into the store, Lindsey came over to say hello. She took one look at my expression and asked me what was wrong. I told her about the cats being sick and she walked me over to the cat food aisle to help me make some choices.

Most of you know I'm very picky about what my cats eat. They NEVER get dry food, but this time I had to make an exception. I figure if I eat cookies (more often than I care to admit-like right now while I'm writing this), they can have kibble this ONE time IF they'd eat it. I'd get something high quality, with only one grain. I'd also by lower quality canned food and some very nice “on your birthday” type of expensive canned food. At that point it didn't matter-as long as they ate.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Lindsey, you slay me!

Linsey excused herself, then returned a few moments later. She asked me what I thought. I looked up and in her hands was a huge sex toy. My eyes almost popped out of my head! Before I could say a word she said; “No…it's a DOG toy…for DOGS.”

For a moment, all the tension in my body slipped away as if a trap door opened up under it and it rushed into a puddle at my feet. I took a photo and smiled, appreciating the fleeting moment of happiness. Just as quickly, my shoulders slumped and I sighed as I turned to select a few more cans of food. Back to it. I had to get home soon.

Petunia and Gracie weren't eating. After trying many options, I finally cajoled 'Tunie into eating a small amount of dry food, but the second the other cats heard the sound of it hit the dish they ALL wanted some. Since Petunia is skittish, trying to feed her without the other cats interfering was nearly impossible. I had to toss them pieces of kibble so they'd run off to grab them as Petunia took wary mouthfuls, ready to dash off if I moved too fast.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I blocked some of this out. You get the point without having to see the goo in all it's “gory.”

Nicky remained the most sick of all the cats.We caught him moving his bowels on the floor, then caught him peeing on the floor. Either he was too sick or in too much pain to make it to the pan. All we could do was clean it up and move on.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracie getting 150mL of fluids.

I decided we needed to give the sick cats subQ fluids. I'd completely forgotten how beneficial it might be, especially if they had diarrhea they'd suffer fluid loss. We had a phone consult with a homeopathic Vet in Florida (thanks to Jen for hooking us up at the last minute!) who agreed that fluids would be great. We were to also try some remedies that I had on hand and we had to get some Bentonite Clay to help cure the liquid stools without having to use harsh pharmaceuticals.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer got 80 mL because he was too cranky to get more.

Sam and I were barely speaking to each other at that point, but we worked together to get the cats their fluids. I also took the temperature of some of the cats (I want to keep all my fingers so I couldn't temp all of them) and gave them their remedy and the Bentonite Clay. I felt that in doing something like this it was at least buying us time. Maybe it would help, who knew? None of the cats I tested had a fever. That was good news. We could hold off on going back to the Vet for awhile longer.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Petunia only got 100 mL of fluids, but I felt lucky to get that much into her.

I felt a glimmer of pride that we got the job done. I was rewarded a few hours later when Spencer came over to me and “told me” he was hungry. He didn't eat much, but he did eat.

No other cats seemed to be getting sick, but that could change in a heartbeat if this was something that the cats could reinfect each other with. So far the kittens in the foster room were eating well and behaving normally. At least they were all right (so far, knock wood!).

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Both feeling sick and tired, Spencer and I have a nap.

Any satisfaction I had was short lived. I got sick, too. Was this a coincidence or was this yet another clue? I felt awful and though I wasn't vomiting I did have other similar symptoms to what the cats were experiencing. What the HELL was going on?

Stay tuned for part four, the PCR test of POOP that may tell us what happened, the triumphs and the surprise…yes there's more to this story…the silver lining is coming soon, I hope.

The Silver Lining and the Black Clouds part two

German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said; “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”After enduring the past four days I would add; “That which does not kill us, makes us eat a bag of Lays Wavy Potato Chips and a container of French Onion dip—and feel no guilt in doing so.”

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. You can tell from Nicky's posture that he doesn't feel well.

Nicky was the camel and white colored canary in the coal mine. It started on Friday. Nicky wasn't “right.” He wouldn't eat and he vomited. As I was about to brush my teeth, I heard the sound of water running. I turned to see Nicky urinating on the floor a few feet away from me. A few hours later, he walked over to the base of a cat tree and began to urinate on it-not even stopping as I started to scream, unable to reach him through the jungle of furniture blocking my way. I was jumping up and down like a two year old having a tantrum. I had no effect on his eliminating. He just kept peeing. There was no way to get to him from where I was standing so all I could was watch him ruin something else.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. With Dr. C and Super-Deb.

Nicky has Chronic Renal Failure and has been known to get urinary tract infections (as I wrote about HERE). Clearly something was WRONG. Dr. Larry was out of town until Monday so I made an appointment to bring him in then. I HATE it when Dr. Larry goes away because we often seem to have an emergency when he's not available. As the day wore on, Nicky grew weaker. I took his temperature. It was 103.2°F. He had a fever. We couldn't wait until Monday.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Fun at the Emergency Vet…and this was the cost to basically have them hook up the IV to Nicky's catheter (which was in place already) and giving him a place to lay in over night.

Dr. C examined Nicky and took his temperature again. It was over 104°F. They took some blood and did an in-house test. The good news was that basically the values did not indicate something terrible was going on-like kidney failure or high white blood count, which would show he had an infection. The bad news was that we didn't know what was going on but with a fever on the rise we agreed he should be on an IV. The Vet closed in two hours so they could get him started, but we'd have to move him to the Emergency Vet to continue treatment overnight.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Portait of a sick kitty.

Sam and I cringed. Hearing “Emergency Vet” means huge expense. How were we going to pay for all of this? How could we not? We HAD to find a way. Both of us were panicking. We had to wait and see how Nicky would respond to treatment first before we'd even know if he needed to be moved.

Nicky's temperature when to 105.1°F. After two hours it went down to about 103°F so there was a chance a few more hours of treatment would benefit him.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Another Vet, another examination with Sam reaching out to comfort his cat.

It would have been somehow manageable if we only had to help Nicky, but after getting him settled at the Emergency Vet and putting another charge on my AmEx, we discovered he wasn't the only cat who was not feeling well.

With all the commotion going on with Nicky, I didn't get to pay as much attention to the others cats as I would have liked. Even with that, I did notice something out of the ordinary. When we got home around 7pm, I realized I hadn't seen Spencer ALL DAY. I knew he hadn't eaten his breakfast. He's not always a fan of turkey, but this cat always shows up for a meal.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky with Sam.

Sam and I tore through the house, calling out to Spencer. The longer it took, the more I started to panic. Had he gotten outside? Was he stuck in a closet? Spencer has no real meow, so he couldn't cry to us for help. Where the heck was he? Why wasn't he showing up for dinner? Now that I thought about it, where were the rest of the cats? None of them were hungry and waiting by their food dishes. Something was wrong. Something bad.

Sam found Spencer in the basement, which is very tough area for the cats to get into. For Spencer to not be near me or near any of us was a bad sign. Spencer wouldn't eat his dinner. In fact most of the cats were off their food. I told myself there was no need to panic. No one would die without eating for a day.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky at the Emergency Vet hooked up to his Heska VetIV 2.2

The next morning we got the news that Nicky's fever broke and he'd eaten a small amount of food. He was ready to come home. The news should have been cause for celebration, but Spencer had vanished again and I knew he had to go to the Vet, too. It wasn't a big, obvious sign of sickness but it's so out of the ordinary I had to make sure he wasn't sick, too.

Again I started to panic. We'd just spent so much money on Nicky, would anything be left for Spencer? I was angry and resentful, all stemming from the fear that I wouldn't be able to do for Spencer what we just did for Nicky. If Spencer was ailing, I HAD to do something for him, but my own Vet refused to just give me antibiotics without seeing the cat firstI realized they were right, but I was truly hurting. There's dust in my bank account. I thought about home remedies and trying to avoid a Vet visit, but Spencer was due for blood work and a checkup anyway. If I could avoid hospitalizing him, I'd be able to have the exam and tests for done, but I couldn't do much more.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Saying good night to Nicky.

I took Spencer's temperature. It was 102.3°F which put him in the range to be percolating a fever. I was really missing Dr. Larry and wishing I didn't have to see Dr. C, but he'd seen Nicky so he could compare the cat's symptoms.

The exam went fairly well. The Vet retained use of his fingers. Spencer's not the easiest cat to mess with and he gets crabby if he's at the Vet. I warned the staff and fussed over Dr. C, worried he'd get bitten. Spencer was pretty good-for Spencer. They managed to get some blood and sent it out for testing. Since we didn't know what was going on the Vet suggested putting him on antibiotics “just in case,” but I won't do that without having a darn good reason. It could make whatever is going on even worse. I'd do the best I could for Spencer until we had the test results.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky being a good boy, as usual.

I started making charts and lists of each cat-if they ate, if so, what they ate. I was looking for a pattern. I began to have suspicions that Gracie, Petunia and Jackson were also getting sick based on my notes about them not eating and their behavior. I knew I'd just had Boogie in the house. He was separated from my cats and I washed my hands and showered after I was with him, even though I didn't touch the kitten until the last day he was here. Boogie was VERY sick, but he had an upper respiratory infection, not something potentially gastrointestinal. What was going on?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hiding under the bed between two storage containers-not a good sign.

Feeding time was bizarre, maybe one or two cats showed up for their food. The others weren't even in the vicinity. I'm so accustomed to the energy of feeding time, the cats circling, meowing, the sound of them lapping at their food. It was too quiet. My babies weren't eating. My fear factor increased tenfold.

Did I bring something into the house to sicken them? How was I going to be able to provide more and more Vet care for ALL my cats at the SAME TIME? How was I going to keep each one alive? Some of them are very tough to handle. How could I help them survive whatever was going on?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My poor, sweet baby, Spencer-the mascot of Covered in Cat Hair.

Saturday night the mood in the house was downright miserable. Nicky stopped eating again. of course, the benefits of the IV wore off. Whatever he had, whatever Spencer and the others may have was not going to just go away. We had to buckle down and figure something out. The clock was ticking. The spector of Hepatic Lipidosis was hanging over our heads. If the cats didn't start eating soon, they could all sicken and die. This is why you can't put a cat on a diet. This is why if you don't get some food into the cat after four days, your cat could enter a whole new world of pain.

We were approaching day three. Time was running out and we had more questions than we had answers….

Stay tuned for part three next..and YES, there IS a silver lining coming…

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The Silver Lining and the Black Clouds part one

I'm not even certain where to start all this…the past week has been a nightmare and there are no signs of it being over any time soon. Even with all the doom and gloom there were a few bright spots; maybe just enough to keep me from jumping off a cliff.




My Vet took on three, eight-week old kittens who were found by a friend. They were all sick with an upper respiratory infection and needed a lot of care. Two of the kittens were basically friendly, but one was not. Clearly this kitten had no socialization and was in dire need of one on one time to turn him around. I was asked to take all the kittens, but I could not at the time so my Vet provided care for them.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Milo.

During that time the two kittens got better and more friendly. They may be getting adopted together soon, but sadly, the lone gray kitten was still fractious and faced the sad reality of being released outdoors once he was vetted and healthy.

I just couldn't let that happen. After King was adopted I picked up the cat who my friend, Jill named Boogie. I liked the name because the kitten wanted to "boogie" away from me (and he had “eye boogies”).

The goal was to get him socialized and ready for adoption. I'd done it before with much older cats. I could do it again.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Otis.

What was different this time was that I made many mistakes and Boogie had to pay the price.

One of the Vet Techs was able to handle Boogie, but he was very fearful. With that in mind, I chose to allow him to have free reign over the small bathroom that would be his home. This is a mistake. I should have crated him so I could control the space and his interaction with me.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Boogie, not loving being handled by his friend, Kristen.

Boogie was clearly SICK, not just a runny eye. He cried and he cried, missing his brothers and being scared in the new space; his meow was clearly rough. He was hoarse, sneezing, shooting goo out of his nose. He obviously was not going to be able to smell any food I offered him. It would make it impossible for me to get him socialized if I couldn't get him to connect me with something good (food).

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Boogie, terrified, in the cat tree in the foster room.

For a few days I struggled with him and made some progress, but after about four days he got worse and more skittish. He also stopped eating more than a bite of food. The kitten only weighed a few pounds. Not eating is potentially fatal. As I grew more stressed out about him not eating, I'm sure it didn't help him want to eat. I even gave up and offered him some dry food. He ate a few bites, but not enough.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Boogie arrives and sings a song of sadness.

By the fifth day I decided he needed to be crated and I'd just work on getting him well, then worry about socializing later. The problem was that I couldn't medicate him. First, I had to get him in the crate if I had any hope of doing anything with him.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. A moment of calm. I wish I could have cleaned the crust off his eyes, but he was too fractious for me to try.

I set up the crate. There wasn't much space around it. I got a broom and figured I would gently sweep him into the crate. It didn't work. He flipped out. I had to move everything out of the room other than the crate. He hid behind the toilet, crying. I kept trying to get him to move. He wouldn't. I started to get mad and frustrated. He flipped out more, then jumped into the sink, accidentally turning the faucet onto himself! He sat there crying, looking at me terrified with the water drizzling over his fur.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Crying. Missing his brothers, but “tough love”-separating Boogie from other kittens was the only way to get him socialized.


I used the broom handle to shut off the water. I couldn't risk being bitten. I don't have health insurance. I just wanted to pick him up and hold him, soothe his fears, but all I was doing was scaring him into a frenzy. I wanted to die. I felt so bad. I hated myself for scaring him. He looked so small and pitiful. Scaring him went against EVERYTHING I believe in, sacrifice for, strive for. I'm here to HELP cats, not ever cause them grief! How could I do this?!


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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Baby steps with baby food and canned grain free food.

I finally got Boogie into the crate after about 30 painful minutes. He sat on his pink bed and cried. I had to leave the room and cry. I didn't go back for a day because I felt so guilty. I asked Sam to try to get him to eat off a spoon taped to a long stick. Boogie ate only a tiny amount of food.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The first day or two went all right.

The next day I tried again, very calmly to get him to eat. I know all the tricks and I tried most of them. He just wouldn't eat, but I did happen to catch him near the front of the crate. I reached out to pet him. I needed to feel his body to asses how thin he had become. As I touched him he turned, violently hissing at me, but he didn't bite me. I tried not to be scared, tried to soothe. I stroked him again and felt a skeleton under my fingers. Boogie was in critical condition. He had to go back to the Vet—NOW.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. It was clear that Boogie was in no hurry to make friends, but at least he wouldn't hide.

He had to go back and get fed and get WELL. I would work with him all over again once I knew for creation his URI was resolved. I couldn't take him to the Vet. Sam had to do it, so I asked him to underscore that I wanted Boogie back as soon as he was well. I couldn't let him go back outside and live the life of a feral cat. I got him to play, jump over my leg, eat just inches away from my hands. I could turn him around, but first he had to be well enough to smell his food and get some weight back on his frail frame.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Afraid of me taking his photo…

The Vet was supposed to contact me with an update, but I haven't heard a word in 48 hours. I fear the worse for Boogie. The Vet is closed tomorrow. I'll have to wait until Monday to find out what became of him. I pray I was not too late and that they could help him.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Boogie felt safe in the tub and would even play with a Cat Dancer until he started to feel worse and refused to play.

I will have nightmares for a long time about him crying in the sink with that pleading look in his eyes, the water running over him while he was too scared to move.


But I have more things on my mind and a real life nightmare come to life. Within 24 hours of Boogie leaving, our cat Nicky fell ill with a raging high fever, vomiting and lethargy. A few hours later, Spencer followed with more of the same…as I write this I'm facing the very real possibility that two more cats have fallen ill and perhaps ALL the nine cats who live here (my 8 and our foster, Jackson) are going to get sick—how seriously and for how long remains to be seen.


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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky on one of his two trips to the Vet.

The clouds continues to darken and the pressure of trying to cure what ails my cats is crippling. More on that in part two, along with the silver lining no one could have seen coming.


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A Tough Day for Nicky

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The intention of this post is to help educate, not sensationalize an event that was personally very disturbing to me. I've given it a lot of thought and I feel it could help others if I share what happened yesterday to our cat, Nicky. The video, below, shows puddles of urine that are very bloody. In fact, it looks more like puddles of blood. If this is disturbing to you, PLEASE do not watch the video. There is also a single photo of a second area of urine, below, as well.


It's been very challenging to take care of Nicky since we found out he has renal disease, a mass on his spleen (not cancer), and possibly, lymphoma. Nicky gets sub q (under the skin) fluids every other day. We monitor that he's eating well, but he's losing weight. He frequently urinates a great deal of urine, outside the litter pan. We've studied his habits, made certain the pans were spotlessly clean and had to stand “guard” next to him while he urinates in case he feels stressed. We've worked on keeping the stress down. It wasn't possible with kittens running around, but now that Jakey and Teddy are adopted, things are fairly quiet.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky a few months ago.

Thursday the 12th Nicky peed on one of the rugs. I caught him doing it. As usual, there was a huge puddle to clean up. There was nothing unusual about it. I battle with myself not to get angry, to just clean it up and move on. It's very difficult to watch my belongings and my home get ruined, but I know I'm not alone and that so many other people have far worse situations.

Friday the 13th, I was doing my usual routine of sitting with April and the kittens, getting mama fed, cleaning up the litter pan in her room and so on. Everyone was doing fine. Sam had to step out to run an errand. I said goodbye to him through the closed door of the foster room.

A few minutes later, I heard Bobette get into it with another cat. I've been allowing her the option to come out of her room, hoping she would get acclimated to my cats so I could use her room to foster more kittens. So far the experiment isn't going very well and she screeches at the other cats, then chase them away. So far she is not physical with them. The altercations last a second, tops. I finished up with April and got out of the room to see what had happened.

I went to Bobette's room. She was sitting on the bed. She looked fine. I walked down the hallway into my bedroom. I didn't see any cats. I thought I should take a shower and get ready for the day. I walked to the doorway of the bathroom and something caught my eye. There was a puddle of what I thought was blood on the floor.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The first sign of trouble.

I looked at it closely, then cleaned it up. It didn't smell like urine, but I know Petunia will some times mark near that spot.I thought it was her since she's had crystals in her urine in the past, but how was I going to figure out which of eight cats was doing this? I scanned the floor near the first spot and I saw small drops of bloody urine. There's only one cat who would drop urine and that was Nicky. Nicky had “PU” surgery years ago to remove his penis because he was getting blocked up so often. I didn't know about the importance of removing grain from a cat's diet at the time and if I did, we could have cured him without spending $8,000.00 to have surgery done. After the surgery we were told that Nicky may have some incontinence issues. I've never seen much from him, but seeing these drops made me realize it had to be him.

For some reason, I looked on the bed. We have a PawsOff® cover on it, but it wasn't covering next to my pillow, which was exactly where I found a small puddle of bloody urine. HE PEED ON THE BED!!!!!!

I ripped the sheets off the bed and put them into the laundry, then continued my search for both Nicky and for more puddles.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Warning: more blood, also, you can hear me crying so please be advised.

There were two bloody puddles on the landing between the first and second floors. There were droplets on the floor headed towards the bathroom. There was a puddle next to the dishwasher. I saw Nicky, he was straining on the carpet. I grabbed him and tossed him into the litter pan, blocking his escape. I was freaked out. I was angry. I knew I shouldn't be either, but I couldn't help it. Nicky ran out of the litter pan and started straining again. I grabbed him and tossed him into the downstairs bathroom and shut the door. At least if he peed on the floor it was tile and I could clean it up. I needed a few minutes to calm down and get things clean.

Then I realized my phone must have rung during all the commotion. There was a voicemail. It was Sam. He got a speeding ticket on the way to the Apple Store where he was going to try to get his dead PowerBook sent out for service! Great! I called him back, but only got his voicemail. I told him what was going on with Nicky. I called the Vet and told them I was pretty sure it was Nicky and they gave me an appointment for 12:30pm

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky and Sam waiting for Dr. Larry.

Sam called back and told me Nicky had been vomiting earlier that morning. This not good. Clearly something is terribly wrong. Nicky was furiously scratching at the door to be let out. I opened the door.

What I saw took my breath away. The bathroom looked like a scene out of a horror movie. There were puddles of bloody urine scattered all over the room, on the counter, and the floor.

Nicky ran out of the room and vanished. I made myself shoot some video of it because I wanted Dr Larry to see it later, but I was so upset I could barely get any footage. I was certain that this was a sign that Nicky was going to die and soon. I thought that perhaps something had ruptured inside him or that had had a mass in his bladder on top of everything else.


I called Dr. Larry's office and Super-Deb answered the phone. Deb is my comfort, my friend. She always has a way to help me calm down and take a breath, but Super-Deb just lost her most dear cat in the world, Pete Puma, to lymphoma. Pete was a big orange Maine Coon. He lived through so many challenges it was amazing he lived into his teens. Here was Debbie, being her usual calm self and I am bawling my head off. I told her I had an emergency and that we couldn't wait until 12:30 to come it and that I was bringing Nicky in NOW. Deb was great and said to come in and they would fit us in. I reached Sam and told him what was going on. He would meet me at the Vet. I just had to FIND Nicky, pack him up and go…oh and put some clothes on! I was still in my jammies.

Nicky was hiding in the closet. Not a good sign. I managed to pack him up and get us in the car fairly quickly, but once I got on the road, it was another nightmare. I didn't get more than 200 yards out of my driveway when I got stuck behind a driver going 30 mph in a 40 mph zone. I waited for the passing zone to come up and I shot past him, cursing the whole way. I didn't get very far because the traffic came to a dead stop. It was 10:30am! What was going on? A semi-truck got STUCK making a turn onto the state road, so the traffic was limping along. It was really only moving because the cars ahead of me were turning around and going the other direction.

I got onto a back road, then got stuck, again behind a driver crawling at abnormally low speed. If they were doing the speed limit I would have just followed along, but I couldn't tolerate these slow drivers. Nicky was crying. I smelled urine. I thought he could be dying. I passed a few cars and just did what I needed to do. I finally got to the Vet. They told us to wait a few minutes. Sam was there already. We both looked pale and miserable. I started to cry again, the sound of it mingled with Nicky's own cries.

©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This is what a cat in pain looks like. If Nicky was hunched over with his front paws tucked under him it would be called “meatloafing” which is another sign a cat's in pain.

Dr. Larry was in the middle of a difficult case regarding a dog. He had his partner take over so he could see Nicky, who he calls; “my boy.” Dr. Larry loves Nicky and would do anything for us. We're very lucky to have such a caring Vet.

Nicky's back end was bloody. They checked to make sure Bobette hadn't bitten him in the butt-which we were all hoping was the case. He had no visible injury so they took him in the back and did blood work and x-rays. We were sent home to wait.

Around 3pm we got the call to come get Nicky. X-rays did not show any mass. The ultrasound guy-Dr Kearns, was not available to come in, but from looking at Nicky's blood work it was clear something was going on. His white blood count was very high. His kidney function, as expected was not great, but not terrible. Nicky has lost over a pound in a month. With only those few things to go on and that Dr. Larry felt nothing on the physical exam, they decided to get Nick on antibiotics. They also gave him Reglan to keep him from vomiting and Buprenex(now that I look up a link for this medication, I see it should not be given to cats with kidney disease!!!!) to make him more comfortable.

We were to wait and see how he does over the next few days.

It's Saturday the 14th. Nicky didn't eat well and paced a bit. As soon as my head hit the pillow last night, he started to cry. I called to him and he came up to bed and was fairly quiet. This morning I haven't found any urine puddles, but I'm not sure Nicky has peed. He did vomit and he may be having problems with the antibiotics or the buprenex or both. Was this a simple urinary tract infection or is something else going on?


Looking back on it, I believe the urinating out of the box may have been a brewing infection. We were so locked onto the fact that his kidneys are losing function that we assumed that was the case. Perhaps we had two issues going on that needed to be handled differently?


At this point only time will tell if we're treating Nicky appropriately. We'll keep things quiet and hope Nicky improves or we may find out we missed something (again). For now, Nicky's home and that's what counts.

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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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©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.

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©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

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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.

©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!

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©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.

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©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.

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©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.)

Urgent: Mazie is Very Sick


Mama-Mazie, our foster cat, is a sweet girl. Just barely older than her own kittens, Chester, Cara and Polly, she's been waiting for her forever family to find her for months. No one has asked after her. No one wants to adopt her. I couldn't understand why because she's a VERY sweet cat and loves to “talk” to me. Her eyes are sparkling green and full of life-that is until yesterday afternoon.

I'm still struggling with constant headaches after a car accident I was in last year. Yesterday I had to have Trigger Point Injections followed by Physical Therapy. Basically TPI means, stick LOTS of needles into your muscle to “tenderize” the meat (muscle). It's not so bad until they find a knot in the muscle. That feels like a hornet sting. The Doctor did A shots into my upper back and into my NECK. Unhappy camper, was I.

I raced home to attend an online web presentation about Public Relations for shelters. I sat down for about 5 minutes, then realized I needed to feed the foster cats. I got their food ready and ran upstairs. The second I walked in the door something was wrong. Mazie was resting on top of a pillow. She looked uncomfortable. I went over to her and petted her. Tried to lift her down to the floor to see if she could walk. She CRIED when I touched her.

The kittens were clamoring to be fed, so I got them fed, but Mazie didn't want to eat. Bad sign. She is ALWAYS ready to eat. She was also unusually quiet. It's not the end of the world if a cat misses a meal. I ran down stairs to take part in the presentation. Meanwhile I started to fret about Mazie...I had a flashback that she had very loose stool on Sunday. Was she brewing a virus?

I couldn't concentrate on the talk so I ran back upstairs. That's when I saw it.

The wall, the bed, the cat tree, the floor was covered in vomit. It looked like a crime scene. My first fear was that it was CARA, but I had no way to know who did it. Mazie had moved to the floor and was laying on a cat bed, looking miserable. She started to lick her mouth, got up and went to a corner of the room and vomited. It wasn't much. Looked like the stomach contents after everything else had already come out.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Looks like a crime scene!

I started to get really upset. I called Connie. Thankfully, she was on her way home from work and said she could stop by. I went back to Mazie. I petted her again, this time trying to feel for injury, but she didn't want to be touched. She hissed and cried. She was in a lot of pain.

©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Vomit, everywhere.

I thought about the morning. Mazie and the gang were playing in my bedroom. She did see Nora and hissed at her, but that wouldn't make her get so sick. She ran around the room chasing the laser pointer light. Maybe she twisted a leg, pulled a muscle? No...she could walk, but it was very slowly. She kept trying to get away from me, searching the room for a place to hide.

©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. What is making you so sick, Mazie?

I called the Vet. They were about to close. Now I faced taking Mazie to the ER Vet when we just don't have the funds to cover that sort of visit. Connie got to my house in record time. I was so glad to see her. We spoke about whether or not to take her to the ER. We knew they would charge a lot more for the same tests that Dr Larry would run, but if Mazie could get through the night it would be better on all of us.

I really felt like I was getting kicked when I'm down. I've always found a way to come up with whatever I need for the cats, but now I found myself just shaking my head. I had to chose to keep Mazie home. We'd have to make it to the morning. Maybe she'd even feel better by then?

I checked on Mazie every hour until midnight. She refused to eat or drink. She did pee and poop (though that was not completely normal). She did not seem to be in pain in the litter pan, so that was good. So what WAS wrong with her?

©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. My poor, sweet girl.

I tried to leave Mazie alone other than the quick check on her. I put my pajamas on and hoped I wouldn't have to do a middle-of-the-night drive to the ER. I couldn't clean up the linens from her vomit without moving her off the bed. It was only on the end of the bed, so I carefully set a place for myself to half lay down next to Mazie and not be in puke. Was that fun? No.

With my bad neck and back it was not good. Polly came over and laid on my shoulder, then moved to next to my face. She purred and looked at me, seemingly delighted that I finally was going to sleep with them one night. Mazie was still. Her breathing was shallow, but not too rapid. She was not open mouth breathing. Just laying there.

At 2 AM Mazie used the pan again. After that I was so tired, I dragged myself to bed. Set the alarm for 7am and fell into a nightmareish sleep.

This morning Mazie refused to eat. She was no better and no worse. I packed her up and took her to the Vet. She cried at the Vet's office. I told her it would be ok and that I would be back for her. They're going to give her fluids and do some bloodwork, probably a few x-rays, too. Hopefully I'll have some idea of what happened, fairly soon.

UPDATE: As I was writing this, Dr Larry called me. Mazie's white blood count is 53,000! High normal is 19,000. Her x-rays were clear. They can't get a cath into her-she is in too much pain and is resisting. They gave her sub-q fluids and injectable antibiotics. If she doesn't perk up, she will have to be transferred to an ER Hospital. They are repeating her FIV/FELV test-just in case. We do not know the cause for Mazie's infection.

Mazie was so bright and sunny barely 24 hours ago. Now the light has gone out of her eyes and she's in terrible pain.

If you'd like to help Mazie get the Vet Care she needs, please use the ChipIn widget below. Your donation IS tax deductible. Thank you for helping her. I am going to set the goal total high enough to cover a day at the ER Vet if it comes to that. I'll lower it if she stablizes later today. Remember, every dollar helps!!

Please be okay, Mazie. We're rooting for you.

FCJ: Full Speed Ahead

Cara had her first endoscopy performed twelve days ago. She was weak, frail and exhausted on that drive home after the procedure. The next day I began giving her medications at least every six hours. It's a complicated combination of medications that have to be given on time. Although I'm turning into a zombie from lack of sleep, Cara's been turning the corner!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara nibbles on her arm. Good eats!

Each day I brought Cara her food. Watered down baby food plus A/D (which I do not want to feed her!). It's a thin porridge-like consistency. I trained Cara to eat inside a cat carrier. This way her siblings or mother can't bother her (much) as she's eating and I can monitor how much she eats. It also keeps HER from getting into the canned food her family gets. I have to make sure Cara's esophagus has time to heal. Should she eat thick canned food, it might open up a sore or cause a stricture to reform.

I have to be scrupulous about not letting her have a nibble of anything, because she knows to explore the area where her family is fed, after I take up their plates and wipe down the rubber placemat. Cara frantically sniffs and licks at the tiniest morsel. At least her drive to eat is strong, but it could get her into trouble.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara and Polly watch President Obama's speech after the earthquake. The kittens and I are very sad.

Then, I'll wait. I'll sit with the cats and watch Cara. She had some grumbling tummy, some burps, but nothing too bad. I looked for signs of vomit around the room and found none. I decided after more than a week, to give Cara different canned food, baby food and water. She ate it but it was a bit thick and I thought she might vomit. The next morning I found a HUGE vomit all over the bed, with lots of water in it, too. I couldn't believe that tiny Cara had that much food in her AND she would have done it many hours after eating. I hoped that maybe her mama, Mazie had done it, not her.

Since I was worried that it WAS the food, I went back to the old standby.

After the first week, I spoke with Dr. K and she said to stay the course. Now we're at almost the end of week two and it's time to update Dr. K again to see what should be done next. Cara is growing rapidly and gaining weight. She's running around the room like a maniac, chasing after Polly and Chester. If she can keep down thicker food, then she may be out of the woods and will not need another balloon dilation. It's too early to say, but right now, she's looking great!

And since it's been almost two weeks, I think I can safely (I hope) say that I'm very glad we did NOT place a feeding tube into Cara. Cara seems very comfortable now, so perhaps we're one step closer to Cara being ready to be adopted? It's truly amazing to see her progress.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Who feels better? ME!

Go little sweetie, go!

FCJ: The News We've Been Waiting for About CARA

I feel hungover from interrupted sleep, and little of it. I can't imagine how Cara feels in comparison. From the look of her, I'd say she feels a lot worse than I do. The last 24 hours have been difficult.

Yesterday we started fundraising for Cara's Vet Care so we could get funds for her to have an Endoscopy. It's a much needed diagnostic test that we hoped would lead us closer to finding out what's wrong with Cara.

We were very lucky that a compassionate, anonymous person (really a Guardian Angel) came forward and offered to LOAN us enough money to get the test done. It WOULDN'T solve our fundraising problem because we have to pay it back, but at least we could move fast and get the test done. I was able to book her an appointment within an hour of getting help from Cara's Guardian Angel.

©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara, ready to just play and love life just hours before her procedure.

It was a good thing we didn't wait another SECOND longer. We have answers. No more tests needed. It's not good news.

Cara's esophagus is in TERRIBLE shape. It's filled with bloody ulcers. The lining of the esophagus is thickened from being so irritated.

Cara has TWO strictures-which is a closing of the esophagus due to, in Cara's case, either a genetic component or the fact that she had Doxycycline at such an early age (which I didn't know was something that can cause a problem and I need to look into this further). One of the strictures was SO SMALL they could not get the scope into her stomach-how was she getting any food at all?

Cara must be in HORRIFIC PAIN. Think of the worst sore throat you ever had, times 10. Every time you eat it hurts. No wonder Cara was vomiting! The food could barely pass into her stomach, yet she was losing vital nutrients and was SO VERY HUNGRY at the same time!

The options:

Balloon dilation. Just what it sounds like. Under anesthesia, they insert a small balloon into the esophagus and inflate it very carefully. It forces the esophagus open. Then they inject a small amount of steroid into the thickened tissue to get the swelling down.

If they do this, the esophagus can tear, the chest fills with air and you have a VERY SERIOUS LIFE THREATENING situation on your hands, but you HAVE to do something because soon, Cara will not be able to pass ANY FOOD into her stomach.

If the dilation works, then they would want to insert a feeding tube into Cara. It would bypass her esophagus and go right into her stomach. I've heard about feeding tubes and how they can cause more problems than they solve. They can become infected, come out-which results in emergency gastric surgery. Considering Cara's in a room with her family and is a playful kitten, I couldn't imagine doing this to her. I also didn't feel I had the “chops” to provide that level of care without making a deadly mistake. I wanted to talk to Dr. Larry and find out if he could board Cara and provide her care for the two weeks we'd need if we put her on a feeding tube. I needed more time to think, but didn't have the luxury of having any.

I tried to stay calm while the Internist, Dr. K. gave me the news, but inside my heart was breaking. Would Cara ever have a normal life? Would she ever have a home of her own?

The Vet told me that Cara could have a good future, but that there was also a very good chance that the strictures would recur-soon. That the procedure would probably need to be re-done up to 3 times, before the stricture would stop closing up. Cara would have to be on a high calorie, liquid diet during this time.

Cara could also end up having to be on a liquid diet for the rest of her life and face having a stricture issue recur even if we fix her up now. That yes, it will cost money to provide the care, but no where NEAR the cost of the surgery to fix a PRAA, which would have been at least another $5000.00 on top of the money we needed for the balloon dilation, so that was good.

The Vet wanted to know if as a rescue group, if she should proceed with the treatment. She'd do the best she could for us regarding costs, but I could read between the lines of what she was really asking.

My reply was simple: We do NOT EUTHANIZE ANIMALS BECAUSE OF MONEY. She sounded relieved. I gave her the okay to do the dilation, but to hold off on the feeding tube. My hope is to see how we do for a few days. IF we can get Cara comfortable and eating well, she may heal on her own if she survives the dilation.

There are so many IFs. It's very tough to know what's best, but I knew that I'd be risking all sorts of extra trouble inserting a feeding tube. One step at a time...

The Vet called me a short while later. The dilation went VERY well. In fact she said that it just “popped” open and did so well enough that they could re-insert the scope and see into Cara's stomach. She said; “it looked beautiful.” That was a BIG RELIEF.

They kept Cara for about five hours after the procedure. Sam and I picked her up late last night, along with a huge BAG of medications and a two page list of directions for her care.

Sam drove and I ended up holding Cara, swathed in a big towel. She stretched out her front legs across my shoulder and put her head down and closed her eyes. Her front legs were both shaved in a band around half way up her leg. It made her paws look like she was wearing white mittens. Cara felt like a dead weight, which was very unnerving. She just laid on me, barely moving, the entire drive home. This wasn't the bouncy full-of-life kitten I'd seen just a few hours earlier. I felt panicked about my ability to provide the right care for this little sweetheart and her ability to survive the treatment.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara, this morning, after endoscopy. Not eating much and obviously feeling dreadful.

We finally have answers to what's been ailing Cara. It's not a PRAA-Persistent Right Aortic Arch. We don't have to travel out-of-state to find a surgeon to save her life. We can do everything we need to do right here, but the problem is-will Cara respond well to treatment or have a life filled with suffering?

We still need to continue to raise funds for Cara's care. Yesterday's procedure came in under the estimate, but Cara will likely need a few more balloon dilations. We're going to cross our fingers and leave our goal as is, for now. In a week if Cara is doing well, we'll lower the goal. We never want to ask for more than we need. Every dollar is sacred.

Thank you to the MANY people who responded right away to help Cara. It makes all the difference to be able to provide care for this much-deserving little darling. If you can't donate any funds, PLEASE DO CONSIDER SHARING THIS POST WTIH YOUR FRIENDS!

If Cara could talk, I bet she'd say; “Thank you for thinking my life is precious and worth fighting for.”

I couldn't agree more.


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