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Puke, Vomit, Spew

Foster Cat Journal: It's Time for a Miracle

Tug of War.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mazie (left) and Cara (right) enjoy a game of tug of war.

If you spent any time with Cara, you'd think she was just an average 5 month old kitten. She loves to play with her sister, Polly and brother, Chester and her mama, Mazie. Sure, they had a rough go, sick for MONTHS starting just days after the little ones were born. They had a URI that just wouldn't go away. They were loaded up with antibiotics and expensive antivirals. Nothing made them better and KEPT them better. I started to believe they would be here, forever and be sick for the rest of their lives.

Cara Chomp. R.Olson.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. You can see how small Cara is by comparing her to the yarn ball( which is as big as a golf ball).

Fortunately, Chester is just about all better and Cara has no sign of the URI. Polly lags behind, but we will get her well! Sadly, having a Upper Respiratory Infection was the least of my concerns. As many of you know, Cara, has been vomiting at least once, almost every day for a few MONTHS. Her growth has been stunted and her weight is one half of her siblings. Even with that stress on her tiny body, she still has a great will to survive.

Cara Full Side View.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara's tabby pattern is really evolving nicely.

We've done many tests that got us no answers. I had a fight with my Vet about what to feed her. I won out and tried baby food with water. It worked, but it wasn't enough nutrition in the long run, so I added grain-free canned food and some water. Some times it worked, some times the same food made her start to lick her mouth furiously. Then I'd hear this awful gurgling sound as she'd violently twist and turn her head, as if she was trying to shake out whatever was causing her distress.

Then she'd start to buck backwards, her stomach would contract. I'd grab the paper plate she'd just eaten off of and put it in front of her. I'd catch the vomit on the plate-sounds funny, I know, but I HAD to get it AWAY from her or she'd hastily try to EAT whatever came out of her. Clearly she was HUNGRY. So VERY HUNGRY, but unable to keep her food down, she just looked at me so very desperately with those huge green eyes. Some times she'd start to gurgle again and vomit a second time, this time not much food, but a lot of foam. What could I do for her?

Cara with the yarn ball.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

This has been an ongoing issue-MONEY. Cara MUST have endoscopy done. We've got to have an Internist sedate Cara, then take a TINY camera and insert it into her mouth, go down her throat, into her belly. Hopefully she will see SOMETHING that will tell us WHY Cara can't keep her food down. They'll take biospies of some of the tissue to see if they can learn anything from that.

The problem is-WHERE does this money come from? I'd happily pay the money and then some, but I've got nothing left. Between Cara's vet care and my own cat, Bob, who has cancer, I have maxed out my resources. I need a miracle. I need an uber sugar-mama or papa who believes that every life is sacred and who is financially able to make a difference for Cara, where I have failed her.

I've had quite a few of you write to me and offer me help with where we should have this procedure done and what clinic might give us a good discount. I'm not going to ask for help without trying to find any way we can to get the cost DOWN. Sadly, there are no coupons for endosocopy that I know of!

We called this brand new facility in Stamford, CT. On their website and in their fancy, die-cut, printed folder, it says they are not out to make a profit, but to provide the best care. They would NOT give us an estimate and would only give a 5%, yes FIVE PERCENT discount on their already sky high fees (they gave us their exam fee which was $25 more than everywhere else).

We haven't given up. We've called, begged favors and have done what we can. We tried locally and out of state. We finally found someone we feel is top notch who can do the procedure and give us 20% off. That means we need to raise at LEAST $1200.00 to $1600.00-and YES, that is the DISCOUNTED PRICE. We pay through-the-roof prices on the East Coast. We even considered traveling far out of state, but if you add the travel costs to the discount, it's not worth the effort.

Then there's the next hurdle.

What if they don't find anything?

What if they DO find something?

owl eyed cara.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara looks just fine, but inside her, something is terribly wrong.

Either way, we need to raise enough funds to pay for more tests and/or surgery-all for one, charming, adorable, sweet natured, kitten who is struggling and fighting to live a decent, normal life.

I know if we do nothing, Cara will not make it. Although she gained 9 ounces from last Tuesday to Saturday, from Saturday to today, her weight is unchanged. She vomited many times this past week. This is a bad sign.

Cara can limp onward, eating thin gruel, but the longer it takes us to cure her, the more potential we have for losing her.

If you can help Cara, just click on the “ChipIn!” button on the ChipIn widget, below. Give whatever you can COMFORTABLY give and if you've been so kind as to help us in the past, then don't feel you have to again.

All I ask, is that you SHARE this post with your cat-loving friends. We've come together and made miracles happen before. Hopefully we can do it again.

We set the ChipIn widget goal HIGH because it's very likely that Cara will need surgery or more tests and we only want to do ONE more fundraiser for her. If we find out we don't need more tests or surgery, we'll drop the goal down ASAP! Should we have any money leftover, it will go to another Kitten Associates foster cat who needs medical care. Your donation is tax deductible.

Thank you again for your love and support and for sharing Cara's story with your friends.

If you'd prefer to mail a check, please make the check out to “Robin Olson” and use the following address:

Kitten Associates, Inc
P.O. Box 354
Newtown, CT 06470-0354
Please note on check: FOR CARA

Foster Cat Journal: Baby Food & Baby Steps

It's been two full days since Cara last got sick. She's eating chicken baby food, drinking water, using her litter pan perfectly. I give her probitics in case her tummy needs to recover from the antibiotic load she's been given. I gave her some Nutri-Cal®, but after I read the label, I'm not so keen on giving her any more.

Nutty Cara.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara enjoying play time after keeping her breakfast down!

As I continue to monitor Cara's food intake, I read more about PRAA. One of our CiCH friends was kind enough to share some information with me about another kitten, named Sassy, with PRAA who was with a rescue group in Wisconsin. I asked to speak with the kitten's foster Mom. This afternoon we had a chat. Linda, Sassy's “Mom” told me that Sassy was her first foster kitten! It's one thing to take on a foster kitten with a URI or who just needs TLC, but Linda really had to work hard to keep Sassy alive.

©2011 Two Left Paws. Sassy.

Sassy was very lucky. In addition to her foster mom, Sassy also had the support of Two Left Paws, the group who rescued her. They were determined to find out what was wrong with this sickly kitten who clearly could not keep anything but liquidy food down.

Two Left Paws had to make the same decision for Sassy that I will have to make for Cara. Do they spend $2500-3000 for ONE rescued kitten or do they put that money towards 50 other rescues? At what point does saving one life, possibly cause other cats to perish? Or is this just a ridiculous line of thinking?

I suppose that question might also include-is the cat going to have a great quality of life? Is the cat friendly? Would you do the same surgery for a feral you'd offer to a friendly cat? I can't say I have an answer. One of my ferals was suddenly lame. Though it took two weeks to trap him, I got him to the Vet and he got the care he needed. But if it's a matter of stretching an already tight budget, would I still provide the care for the cat or save it for a friendly, adoptable one?

It's worth discussing, but you all know me. I'll probably go down in the record books as the worst rescue in the world, but if a cat needs something, I'll find a way to get it done. That's it. I help as many as I can. It's not perfect, but if I choose to take on the responsibility of providing care for an animal, by God I'm going to see it through. Also, what if I didn't rescue ANY cats? Then my money would go to buying something dumb, like a vacation and even more cats would die.

If Cara or any other cat had a poor prognosis or poor quality of life, that would certainly require a great deal of careful consideration. Other than that, we gotta get these cats well!

Sassy's PRAA included Megaesophagus. Feeding became a carefully controlled event. Lot of small meals, with high quality food, pureed in a blender to make it smooth enough to pass through Sassy's throat. It took trial and error, but Linda found a way to get Sassy to gain weight and grow big enough for the surgery. In the meantime, Two Left Paws went to work looking for donations to help Sassy. With a generous donation from Sargento, along with other donations, they put the funds together and on Feb. 4th, Sassy had her surgery!

©2011 Two Left Paws. Sassy after surgery.

Sassy's doing very well. She's only vomited a few times since her surgery and the surgeon said that due to Linda's care, Sassy's esophagus didn't become overly enlarged. They hope that, in time, she will grow out of this problem and be able to eat a normal diet.

Sassy is stable enough to be adopted, though she's considered special needs. Linda knows it will be tough to say goodbye to Sassy, when the day comes, but I hope she knows that because of her dedication and care, this kitten has a great future ahead of her. If you're interested in adopting Sassy, you can see her Petfinder page HERE If you'd like to find out what Two Left Paws is up to or thank them for helping Sassy, you can visit them on Facebook.


I just got off the phone with Dr. Weisman, who did Bob's liver surgery. I love Dr. Weisman. She's just awesome and a very talented surgeon. We spoke about Cara and she let me know how serious a PRAA surgery is and that it's VERY hard on a small kitten and that some times they don't survive. She reminded me; “this is heart surgery, after all.” Dr. W. doesn't mince words and is a straight shooter. She suggested that the next steps would be to have a scope (little camera) put down Cara's esophagus to take a look at what's going on. It's smart to do this, than go straight to PRAA surgery since we don't know if Cara even needs it.

Scoping will cost around $1500.00. It may cost less if they only look down her throat and not do a full endoscopy, but they won't know until they take a look.

Cara Polly Mazie.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mama-Mazie, next to dear, Cara. Polly is in the background. She's getting so big!

I'm not going to ask to do a fundraiser today. I want to see how things go with Cara, first. Sure, if we raise the money now, we will have it when we need it, but if we don't end up needing it-yes we will bank it for the next special needs case, but I would rather wait to ask until I have more information. What I, in my deluded mind hope, is that Cara just needs some time to get some calories on board and she will be able to eat solid food one day. Maybe all her problems are from taking long term antibiotics? Ha ha ha..yeah, right.

That said...Cara just ate some baby food with canned food mixed in with it. I added a bit of water, just two teaspoons worth and made a puree. Cara loved it and kept it down, then ate more and kept that down, too. It's as if she were never sick to begin with. Is this the answer? No, it's way too soon for that. Cara's hanging in there. Baby steps.

Foster Cat Journal: Update, Headache & Gratitude

Thank you to SO MANY of you who took the time to e-mail, post comments here or on our CiCH FB page about what to do to help Cara get better.

In a way, I wish I didn't have such smart folks reading my Blog. A few of you wrote to me about PRAA and asked me if Cara might have that? PRAA is Persistent Right Aortic Arch. Yes, it's as bad as it sounds.

This is a description of PRAA from Bob Sherding of the Veterinary Information Network. You can read the entire article HERE.

“Vascular ring anomalies are congenital malformations of the great vessels and their branches that entrap the intrathoracic esophagus and cause clinical signs of esophageal obstruction. Persistent right aortic arch (PRAA) accounts for 95% of vascular ring malformations and occurs when the embryonic right rather than the left fourth aortic arch becomes the functional adult aorta. The ligamentum arteriosum continues to develop from the left side, thus forming a band that crosses over the esophagus to connect the main pulmonary artery and the anomalous aorta. Esophageal compression occurs by the aorta on the right, the ligamentum dorsolaterally on the left, the pulmonary trunk on the left, and the base of the heart ventrally.

Affected cats are usually presented as kittens for regurgitation of solid food that began at the time of weaning. Most cats are presented before six months of age. Regurgitation of undigested food usually occurs immediately after eating but is sometimes delayed as ingesta is retained in a large esophageal pouch that develops cranial to the obstruction. Liquids and semisolid food are preferentially retained. On physical examination, most cats are underweight.

The dilated esophagus appears as a food or fluid-filled density cranial to the base of the heart. On the ventrodorsal view, the normal bulge of the aortic arch to the left is absent. A barium esophagram can confirm the location of esophageal obstruction and the severity of secondary esophageal distention. Endoscopy shows extraluminal compression by the ligamentum.

Definitive therapy for PRAA is surgical ligation and transection of the ligamentum arteriosum. Clinical improvement is usually noted after surgery; however, mild esophageal distention may persist, especially if a large pouch was present prior to surgery. Recovery of normal esophageal function is best when the surgery is performed at an early age.”

Cara Scared.jpg ©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara. What is wrong with you little one?

This sounds a lot like what Cara is experiencing. I'm going to give Dr. Larry a call to make sure he's ruled this out as a possible cause of Cara's inability to keep food down. We're also getting Cara's blood test results back today. Might show us something.

Speaking of Cara, she has NOT vomited since the dry food debacle yesterday afternoon now that I"m feeding her ONLY chicken baby food. She seems perky and lively and HUNGRY. I'm monitoring her calorie intake to make sure she gets enough to eat. In a few days I'll begin to mix in a better balanced grain-free canned food into the baby food to see if she can manage it. If she can't keep it down, I'm going to be doubly suspicious that she has PRAA.

And, of course, Polly is sneezing again-rapid fire. I really hoped this new round of meds would get her better, but it seems to have failed. Chester is doing well, but has a runny eye. He's a very big boy! I really need to get him ready to be adopted!

Me, I've just got a headache.

Foster Cat Journal: Down, Then Out.

Cara's spirit is as big as the world. Her green eyes glint with mischief. As I hold her, a deep purr kicks in, celebrating the simple joy of being alive. Her chest rises, quickly falls, then rises again. When her breath leaves her, I can see her ribs. When I pet her back, I can feel her spine. She is so small and underweight, yet her drive to live is so strong, so vital, how can we lose her?

If we can't find the answer to WHY Cara is not able to keep her food down, we WILL lose our little girl.

Stretched out Sleeping.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

Cara's ultrasound didn't give us anything to go on. Not a clue. Things seem to be normal. It's not perfect science. It can't detect everything, but so far x-rays and the ultrasound tell us nothing.

After a week at the Vet, I brought Cara home. That night she started to vomit. I tried to be extra careful, only giving her a small amount of food. Some times it would stay down, many times, not. I didn't know if it was because I was giving her too many tiny meals or the wrong food, or I was waiting too long between meals. I just couldn't figure it out.

What did seem to be clear, was that continuing to give her antibiotics was NOT a good idea. She's on a very heavy dose of them to stave off this damn URI she's had since she was barely a few weeks old. She seems clear of the URI and yesterday I stopped giving her some of her meds. With one antibiotic left, even that made her vomit after I gave it to her.

I called East Lake, one of the Vet's I work with in Georgia. They told me that in her records they noted that Cara was having difficulty eating and that they thought she had something STUCK IN HER THROAT! What?!!! And they didn't do more to find out what was going on? At the time, Cara was being syringe fed because she wouldn't eat on her own. Polly and Chester would not eat on their own, either. They were having a tough time being weaned. Maybe that was it? Or maybe not.

Peeking from the cat carrier.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

I took Cara back to see Dr. Larry this afternoon. The one thing we haven't done is run a blood profile on Cara to see if there's anything going on there. Even if it shows nothing alarming, any future Vet care is probably going to need recent blood work as a prerequisite to treating her.

I told Dr. Larry about what I'd found out in Georiga. He called his partner, Dr. Andrew, to come into the exam room to talk about Cara since Dr. Andrew is also on her case. What I didn't expect was what came next.

On the chair.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

They wanted to talk about what to feed Cara and what else might work for her, since what I've been giving her has made her vomit sometimes. They BOTH said to feed her DRY FOOD! Here it comes, the big talk I've been trying to avoid. Feeding cats a raw diet or even just grain-free canned is like being part of a religion whose followers are persecuted for their beliefs. I felt my blood pressure tick upwards.

ON the exam table R.Olson.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

I'm not the sort of person who does well with conflict. I never know the perfect thing to say to make my case. I tried to be respectful, but here they are, telling me they see cats do great on dry food and here I am, knowing from their OWN LIPS they do NOT get more than a few hours (brought to you buy big industrial pet food manufacturers) nutritional training in Vet school. So who are they to tell me to feed crap to my sick kitten?

They said that cats used to be obligate carnivores, but not so much now. That's bull-hit. They wouldn't even accept that feeding grain, an irritant that cats cannot digest, would be bad for a cat with stomach problems.

Then they said that why don't I just try it. Spend $5 on some dry food instead of spending $1000.00 to have Cara 'scoped.

Back at the Vet.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

Really? Really? Do they think I'm as close minded as they are to feeding a wholesome diet to cats? I was so offended, I almost walked out. I would feed Cara spaghetti and meatballs if it would help her.

I kept going back to the fact that Cara's been on 8? 9? antibiotics over her 17 weeks of life. She needs to be on NOTHING other than a bland diet. I said to them, would you eat a bowl of cereal after you had a stomach ache or eat something bland? They went back to the dry food debate.

Cara had her blood drawn. I asked them to tell me how much food she needs to eat so I know what the target is. Cara has lost 2 ounces. This is really scary. She now weighs 2.14. Her sister is TWICE her size and Chester is pushing 5 pounds. I just wanted to get OUT of there. Just give me the info-let me leave.

Both Vets tried to be respectful and kind, but they also kept reminding me that they had many years of being in Vet practice-which again, great for diagnosing ailments, not so great at understanding feline nutrition! It left me feeling like I'm just a person who “takes great care of their cats and is the best and they love me and I'm great, BUT...they have all these years on me.” (hey, don't placate me, ok?!). How many years have I been studying and learning about feeding grain-free? FIVE?!! I know that counts for nothing even though I've cured a diabetic, fixed life-long breathing problems, unblocked a blocked up cat, reduced obesity in an overweight cat, greatly improved blood test results in just my cats-not to mention the other cats I've helped with IBD and other chronic conditions. They don't see that. I'm just a lay person on a rant.

I think I need to start looking for a new Vet. Even writing this makes me feel sick. It's akin to me breaking up with Sam after almost two decades of life together. I don't take this feeling lightly, at all, but I can't go somewhere where we part company so seriously. Proper nutrition is the basis for good, lifelong health. Why Vets don't start from this basic point when they do an exam is beyond my comprehension. "What are you feeding your cat?" should be one of the FIRST questions a Vet asks about their patients-not something that's not even considered.

Then, the final straw. Super-Deb, who I trust as if she were my own beloved sister, told me to feed Cara the dry food. Just do it. For her (Super-Deb not Cara). See how it goes.

I left the Vet feeling like I was going to scream and burst into tears (which I did after I left). I drove over to the pet food store and bought Cara some more grain-free canned food and I bought a tiny bag of premium dry cat food. I felt like a Judas.

Dry food.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

When we got home, I gave Cara the dry food. She seemed interested in it, but really only picked at it and left half of the tiny portion on her plate. I don't think she understood it was food. After a few minutes, I let her out of the cat carrier (I lock her in it when she eats so the others don't bother her). She seemed fine. I started to fear she was going to do great on dry food and maybe I was wrong, but I just couldn't face it.

A moment later, Cara jumped off the bed and found a plate that had, literally, a pea-sized, if even that big, bit of raw food on it. A meager leftover part of a full dish that I had just given to her sister. She licked it up. Seemed fine. Then..all of a sudden...the straining, neck twisting and stretching started. The horrible gurgling sound..the vomit. All the dry food, the tiny dot of raw amid mucus and foam came out.

©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

Was it the dry food that made her sick or the bit of raw? I offered more dry food to her, but she wouldn't eat it. That's my girl. Chester was playing with it. New toy, not nutrition!

Cutie in the sun.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

An hour later I gave Cara chicken baby food. She ate it up, purred and laid in the sunshine. No vomiting. I have to trust my gut and my experience. I'm going to give Cara time. I'm not going to do anything else to her for the rest of the week, other than give her baby food, then after a few days, some canned grain-free mixed in and a bit of pro biotic to help her flora balanced...see if she keeps it down.

In the sun.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

For Cara, I will slay dragons, but right now I need a moment for myself. The hours and hours of watching her, cleaning up her vomit, measuring food, worrying, have taken a toll. I thought I was to a place where I could handle these ups and downs, but I think it's cumulative. Between my own cat battling cancer, the sickly kittens and Cara's tender tummy, I hit a wall. I'll get us through this somehow, but I'm not sure what scars will be left behind as a painful souvenir of these difficult days.

Foster Cat Journal: The Curious Case of Cara Melle

Cara sits in a cage at Dr. Larry's clinic. She's been there most of the week. She hates being confined and alone. She stands on her hind legs and desperately reaches between the metal bars at the Vet Techs that pass by. From time to time, they take her out of the cage and give her some attention, some loving, some time to de-stress, but most of the day she is curled up on her cat bed, waiting.

cara by aunt debbie.jpg
©2011 Debbie Bachman.

Cara hasn't gone a day without vomiting up her food, at least once or twice. What's causing her to vomit, we still don't know. Dr. Larry performed the Barium Study, where they get Cara to eat some barium mixed into her cat food. As she swallows, they set a timer and begin taking x-rays of her, every so often. The timer shows up on the x-ray so they can follow the progression of food as it passes into her stomach, then into her intestines.

xray copy.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The xray shows something is a bit off in Cara's stomach.

They look for abnormalities. At “Hour 2,” they saw something, but it wasn't very revealing. In Cara's stomach, there's a slight, rounded area. It can be seen on an xray prior to the study being done. During the study, you can see Cara's intestines, lit up, bright white, but near the red arrow is the pouch with some barium, that eventually passes, but has been held up in the digestion process for a short period of time.

Sitting on Robins Chest.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara loves to snuggle under my chin.

When I visit Cara, each afternoon, Dr. Larry or his associate, Dr. Andrew, talk to me about what they think is wrong. Cara is TINY for her 16 weeks of age. They are describing her as “Failing to Thrive.” This can be a death knell for cats. I know when I hear this, it scares me to no end, but if you spend time with Cara, watch her play, be interested in the world around her, see her pretty green eyes sparkle, surely this is not a cat who's about to die?

Close up on the chair.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Only 3 pounds, Cara is now 2 pounds lighter than her brother.

Then Dr. Larry tells me Cara's intestines feel a bit soft, not quite right. In xray, they see her liver. It's at an odd angle-not quite right. We've discussed parasites and she's been dewormed a few times with a few different protocols, yet there is one we haven't done, so we'll run some Albon through her just so we can take parasites off the list of what could be wrong.

Krinkle ball and cara.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Feeling blue, Cara simply sniffs at her toys.

I ask weird, stupid questions...desparate to think of something that was overlooked. Is one of her organs failing? Does she have hyperthyroid? What makes a cat vomit, but not vomit EVERY time she eats?

We looked at environmental factors. Her siblings crowd the food bowls and she has to fight her way in to eat. I made sure she was eating out of her own bowl, away from the other cats. She jumped off the bed and ran to her sister and started to eagerly grab at food. Of course that would have to make her vomit-eating so fast.

By the window copy.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Sitting in the window at Dr. Larry's office. I'm thinking I paid for that windowsill, heck, probably the room.

But she's alone. No competition for food. Now I'm not even allowed to visit any more because me leaving stresses her out, too. When I was at the Clinic last night, I could hear her crying. It broke my heart not to be able to go to her.

Covered up on robin at vet.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara was shaking the first day I saw her. She was so cold and scared, but she did come around after awhile.

We spoke of next steps. Endoscopy, would require sedation, which is always something you want to avoid, especially with a young animal. It would possibly give us a view of her stomach that might answer some question. The other choice is an ultrasound, which might show thickening of the intestines or lining of the stomach. No sedation required, but it's expensive.

Toy Attack.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. I actually got Cara to play. A good sign!

Then Dr. Larry said my least favorite thing; “You're already spending a small fortune on the barium study. Look at all these xrays.” There must have been 10 or 12 in the manilla envelope. I started doing calculations and guessed that even with my discount it will be about $750.00. I was too scared to ask. The ultrasound will be a few hundred more.

I have to find some balance, but we're not getting any answers. Probably because of the fear of the Vet bill, did I think again and say to Dr. Larry...what about ALL the antibiotics this cat has been on for MOST of her life. I bet that could be making her sick. Maybe she just needs time to recover and not be messed with any more?

In cage.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara just wants to get well so she can go home.

Dr. Larry thought I made a valid point-but this is during the time when Cara is still on a heavy dose of antibiotics to slay the darn URI she has had for months. The URI is resolving, but what were the lasting effects of ALL these meds?

Dr. Larry just called. He feels we would find out helpful information if we go ahead and do the ultrasound. It would either tell us clearly that Cara, internally, is fine or that we have a problem. We've been trying to find out why she vomits for over a month and I had to decide if I could find the funds to pay another few hundred dollars for the bill. I asked for a rescue discount. Hopefully the Vet who does the ultrasound will be kind enough to do that for us. Even if he doesn't, I have to push, yet again for funding for Cara.

I really hate to ask for help, but Cara needs it now, more than ever. If you can help, your donation will go straight to our Boo-Boo and Sniffles Fund, which will pay Cara's vet bill.

I can't say, “no” to doing this test, so the ultrasound will be done in an hour. I can't just watch Cara continue to be sick and hope she grows out of it. She hasn't so far and if she continues down this road...well...she may have a very short road ahead of her.

Foster Cat Journal: Sweethearts

Last night we got Bob home from his #6 chemo treatment. We barely got in the door, when I saw it was already 7pm and time for the foster kittens to get their meds.

I have to get a photo of this for you...each cat has a paper plate with their name written on it so I can keep track of which cat is getting the meds. Then I take some yummy raw food and mix the Panacur into it. Each kitten has a different dose. Then I take some play dough like cat treat stuff and cover up their tiny Baytril, then hide that into the small mound of food. Last night everyone got a B12 shot, so I have the syringes on each plate. That was only SOME of what they got.

I put mama-Mazie into a cat carrier, then gave the plates to Chester and Polly. Sam watched them to make sure they ate it all. I took Cara into the bathroom so I could feed her separately. I gave her a tiny and I mean, TINY dot of food. She was clearly starving and attacked the spoon, gobbling the tiny morsal. Then I turned on my stopwatch app on my iPhone, watching a minute pass while Cara frantically ran around the room, looking for more food. I gave her another nibble.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara, hoping for another bite of food.

It took about 6 minutes to go through 1/2 of the food, which was only about 1 teaspoon, total. I made sure she ate her baytril first. I waited, she started the familiar gurgling sound in her belly. Then she licked at her mouth, clearly she was going to regurgitate this food. She started to back herself up. Within a few moments, out came the food, along with a lot of mucus. Only because Cara MUST get these meds in her, did I use a paper towel to tease out the mucus and let her eat the remains back up. She must have been starving. She licked her lips, gurgled, but managed to keep the food down.

I waited a few more minutes and gave her a tiny bit of food. I thought she was going to lose it again, but she didn't. She sounded terrible, though. After about 10 more minutes I let her finish up and she was all right.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara & Chester this morning.

This morning, I got up late, so I blame myself, but Cara just coldn't keep her food down. I think I let her go too long between eating and she builds up so much mucus that it prevents her from getting her food into her stomach. Even with very watered down food, she pushed it back up. Over the course of an hour, she spewed six times, each one with mucus, then more and more foam. She must be so hungry. It just kills me to see this. It completely makes sense as to why she is just barely 3 pounds and her brother, Chester is 4 pounds 10 ounces.

I put in a call to Dr Larry. Am waiting to hear back from him. I wish there was some way to get the mucus out of this poor kitten. She has such a sweet face and acts like a baby squirrel. If you sit still, out of the blue, she'll suddenly jump onto your shoulder. I don't know how she manages that distance. It's not from the floor, but from your lap..come to think of it, I was sitting on the edge of the tub and she got to my shoulder last night!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Little Sweetie.

I just hate seeing her like this. I hate seeing all of them so sick. Chester snorts like a pig and Polly sounds like a duck with a cold. Her eyes are watery and she fusses like crazy every time I try to give her meds. Sam got a huge scratch on his hand from Chester, just last night. If they only knew we were trying to help them.

Speaking of help...

Thank you very much to all the kind people who jumped in to donate towards the kittens ever growing Vet bill! You're all sweethearts! We got a donation from someone in Norway and someone in the UK! It's an amazing feeling to know that so many of you cared enough to share what you could to help get these babies back to health.

If you didn't get a chance to donate to their fund, I'll re-run the ChipIn widget here. If you already donated, then I Thank You and the kittens thank you, too!

I really hope I have good news about these babies, soon!

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Foster Cat Journal: Snots R Us

It seems as though Polly has been sick for most of her short life. At about 13 weeks of age, she's been sick for a good 10 weeks. Her sister, Cara Melle and brother, Chester Cheesetoes have also been sickly, too. Their Mama, Mazie, has been mostly spared, but being an adult, her immune system is strong and fully developed. Her job is to hang out and keep the babies company, until I get her adopted. My job is to learn to ride the waves of fear and anxiety, wondering if these little guys are going to succumb to their illness or overcome it.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Mazie (is not mad!), Polly and Cara (Center).

It seemed as though homeopathy was going to make the big difference in getting the cats better, but in the blink of an eye-about 48 hours, really, Polly took a serious turn for the worse. I got her to Dr. larry and he did a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia and put her on antibiotics-again, will it really help? This is VIRAL! I had to go with it. It was the Holidays so I couldn't reach Dr. Hermans to ask what other things I could do for her from a homeopathic standpoint.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. A few days ago, Cara was doing fairly well.

Polly's left eye sealed shut AGAIN. That eye has been a problem for her since the beginning. I took her into the bathroom and ran the shower. She was VERY snotty and was very tired. In a day or so she perked back up, so I didn't have to do another Vet run.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Polly. Snotty and feeling like crud. Getting a steamy shower treatment in the bathroom.

None of the kittens were resolving their URI. I took them to Dr. Hermans and we discussed treatments for them. She reminding me that their case is a complex one and that I couldn't have come up with a treatment for them on my own just yet. She made some suggestions and a plan for me while the kittens ran around her office, exploring every nook and cranny. She felt they were NOT in bad shape at all and that in time we should be able to get them to recover.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Chester is doing well and SO CUTE!

A few days later, I took Polly and her siblings to see Dr. Larry for a re-check. He thought they were doing OK, but clearly now Cara was doing worse! She was cold and her eyelids were swollen. Dr. Larry put them on stronger antibiotics and asked me to come back again in another 10 days.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara was so cold she didn't mind being bundled up at the Vet.

The next night Polly took another turn for the worse. This time it REALLY scared me. She was open-mouth breathing, with her left eye sealed shut and her head was VERY SNOTTY. I had just taken her to the Vet the day before and that was 3 vet trips in 3 days. I was wiped out and did NOT want another Vet bill on my hands! I got Polly back into the bathroom for a steam treatment. I ended up having to force feed her to make sure she wouldn't crash over the night. I got up at 4Am to check on her and her eyes were not sealed shut and she seemed comfortable. The space heater was running full blast and so was the humidifier.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Instead of sitting ON the space heater, I found Cara in front of it, so I put a little cat bed out for her.

The next morning I expected to have to take her to the Vet, but my fear was that taking her to the Vet-being exposed to the winter cold and a car ride, pushed her over the edge in the first place. There was a big snow storm coming, too and I had to decide if I was going to run her to the Vet or not. She was eating a little so I decided to wait.

Cara was so chilled that she kept sitting ON the space heater (since she couldn't sit on the cable box any more after she puked on it and shorted it out!). I realized I needed to get her warm, fast. I drove to Target just as the snow started to fall, to get an electric blanket for her and I got some more stinky cat food at the local pet shop. I made it back home just before it was too late to drive much longer. Instead of getting three to five inches of snow, we got thirteen! I-84 was just about shut down and I heard reports of it taking people FIVE HOURS to get home, instead of minutes...

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara loves the heated blanket, but she's still not feeling well.

I couldn't get home fast enough, both to avoid the weather and to get Cara and the others warming up. It took about five minutes for the kitties to realize the blanket was warm and later that afternoon, I found them all stretched out sleeping.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Polly returns to kicking butt, even though she's still snotty.

Polly seemed to be doing better. The high calorie food perked her up. Her sinuses were draining. I was watching the humidifier more carefully and I think it made a difference that it was always full of water.

Then it was Cara's turn to get really sick-again!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh dear! Back to the Vet, or keep her warm and stress-free? What's best?

Cara is a tiny little thing. She's over a pound lighter than her brother, Chester and she's about the size of a six week old kitten. Her paws are no thicker than my pinky. Last night her eyes were sealed closed. She wasn't as snotty as Polly had been and even being blind, she found her food and ate quite a good bit of it. Her belly is really BIG and I just de-wormed the cats two days before. I do not want to say things like FIP, so for now I won't. Cara has been vomiting, still, very small amounts and only every few days. Since the de-worming she hasn't vomited, but that could change.

I believe some of their illness had something to do with being de-wormed. That killing the parasites opened them up to being a bit more sick or perhaps it made them have a mucus build up reaction? I don't know if there is ANY correlation, but maybe some of you guys know about one?

So last night was spent in the bathroom, yet again. I took Cara and Polly (to keep her sister company). I washed Cara's face and got her eyes to open. She was very quiet, but gave me a little purr, then waddled around the bathroom after her sister, Polly. Polly was like a new kitten-running all over the bathroom, bouncing up and down, attacking Cara and having a great time-even though she's still fairly snotty, herself. I was texting Jennifer and Polly got too curious about the bathtub. As I put my iPhone down, I heard a splash! Polly fell into the tub! Fortunately she was only up to her belly in water. She didn't seem to mind at all! I got her dried off, but she went right back, almost falling into the tub a second time. Yes, time to DRAIN the water out of the tub, good idea.

©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Even though she's sick, Cara still played with her sister. A good sign.

It's been a few very late nights and very early mornings. With kittens, I can't be too careful. I monitor them like a hawk and when I see they're not doing well, I try not to freak out. I'm finding that I can be more gentle and relaxed now that I've been through this quite a few times. I don't know everything there is to know about kitten care, but I know that if I'm calmer, they can be calmer, too. No stress is very important for them and I've got to get them over this hump of getting better, then getting worse. I'm learning what may be setting them off and giving them every chance I can have what they need to get strong. Between a good diet, a warm, humid room and lots of lysine (and meds!) and love, it should do the trick.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. At least some of the cats are doing all right! Mazie is a handful. She's like a giant kitten, she's so playful and Chester is turning into a big love-bug.

Fortunately, Chester, though sick, too, is not in as bad shape as his far...though from what I've seen it can change at any moment, so I'm not taking anything for granted!

Misc. Updates That I just Can't Seem to Get Around To...

Malibu, Nova and Felixia are back at ANC HQ waiting to find their forever homes. Fe is doing much better now that she's had a good course of antibiotics and is beginning to put on some weight. Nova, we hope, will be adopted soon. Malibu has continued to come out of his shell and is a very loving kitty. He's getting rather big and we're a bit worried we won't find him a home soon. Seems the younger kittens go first. Isn't that often the case?

As for my own cats, poor Gracie STILL battles miliary dermatitis. Her flare ups are still bad, still constant. She's still getting bi monthly shots and occasional baths (but I should give her more). It's been almost a year since this started and I have little hope we will ever find a cure for her. It's very sad. I fear my last options are either to put her on steroids, which I've avoided at all cost, or try to re-home her, which would make me feel like a failure. She may be unhappy with all the other cats here, but she was fine for years, then suddenly broke out. My thought is that it can't be the other cats bothering her, then...but...then what is causing her allergic reactions?

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Bob has been doing fairly well, though I'm starting to worry about him He's not eating as well as he it his sense of smell starting to go? He's vomited a small amount of water the past two mornings. I fear pancreatitis flare ups with him!

Nicky still has problems being constipated and he seems a bit down. We've been giving him stool softeners, but not enough. Gotta ramp up on that. I think this cat has a funny metabolism. First he would get urinary blockages up from his food and that meant lots of ER trips. He's not blocked any more, but now his colon is getting packed up. I can't figure out what is the culprit. The other cats don't suffer with this problem-even Nicky's own sister.

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All the other buggers are doing fine. Some times I forget they're all getting older. How is it that Nick and Nora are 9 now? Spencer is about 7 and no one knows how old Bob is, but it's easily over 10. Where did the time go?

The foster kittens and Cali, the mama are doing better this morning. Everyone ate their breakfast and started to play right away. No litter pan accidents, thank goodness and their overall condition seems much improved.

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No names picked out for the kittens yet. Will work on that today. Thanks for all the suggestions!

File Under: Should Have Stayed in Bed

5AM, once again, almost as though a vengeful alarm clock went off, I wake up, hearing one of the blasted cats puking. I dragged myself downstairs to discover Cricket leaving a trail of puke from the kitchen to the basement stairs. Nice.

Before I can even reach the paper towel dispenser, I smell something awful. I look, and, of course, I find Nicky (most likely) dropped a few "friends off" on the bathroom floor.

I'm so tired and so tired of these 5AM puke up calls. I reach down to clean up another mess and all of a sudden I get horrible pains in my abdomen, then my chest. I slowly stand and shuffle over to the sofa and just sit down. I'm so woozy from the lousy sleep, it's really effecting me.

After I finish cleaning everything up, I slowly drag back to bed. My legs are heavy. It's too hot in the house. Ugh.

I finally get to sleep after an hour and I drop off deeply for awhile. Then, guess what? Yep. Bob pukes. 9am. He is hungry. I should have been up by now to feed him. I think he pukes when he's super empty because all he vomited was some water. I get the cats fed and figure I'm up for the day.

I get the food ready for the kittens and make my way back upstairs to feed them. I open the door to "The Ladies Room" (which is my guest room where Gabby and her 3 girls are) to find little Pixie laying on the floor, looking rather odd. Something is wrong, but I go about getting them fed. I see her on the bed, where I feed the kittens. She's not bearing weight on her front left leg. She looks like she's shaking. Oh no.

I feel her leg. It feels normal, though what do I know from normal? It doesn't feel massively broken. She doesn't want to eat much, if anything. I call our Director. I'm frantic, but it's because I'm not used to this stuff yet. She assures me she will get me a Vet app't and to not worry. Maybe the kitten is sick or she has had a bad reaction to the FCRVP shot she got a few days ago.

Longer story, shorter-I end up taking Pixie and her sisters to visit Super Deb and Dr. Larry. It just worked out better for all and I was glad to have them see the kittens.

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Super Deb gives Twinkles and Sprinkles a nail trim. Ooo la la!

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Everyone got checked out and they were all looking well. Pixie tolerated a lot of touching, flexing, testing of her limb, but it made sense to run an x-ray just to be sure it wasn't more than a soft tissue injury.

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Turns out Pixie broke part of her pinky toe! Not a bad break, but it was determined she'd need cage rest for the next 2 to 3 weeks. This will probably mean she won't be going to her new family in a week or so. Pixie's back home resting in a big dog crate with Sprinkles to keep her company.

What's their crazy feral Mom, Gabby, think of all this? When asked for comment, she simply hissed.

It's just after 3pm EST. Half the day is gone. I need to reset myself. I organized an Adoption Day for TOMORROW and I have to focus on making sure that's all set. I also need to hang out with Tweetie. Poor guy is lonely but doing well. I'll catch you all up on his progress later today.

Right now my bed is calling me. I hear it puking so I better get going! Ha!


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