Monday, April 13, 2009

Grace is Doing Well Now

I think she's out of the woods, at least for now. We have found a solution that works. A year ago when Grace had her physical, they found that she had a thyroid condition. They gave us a prescription of pills and as you know, it is no picnic giving a cat a pill. I tried putting it in cheese balls etc., but it was always iffy. In fact, she would take in the pill, then spit it out later. So smart!

Then, she started vomiting all the time. Several times a day she would vomit. Not good when she was already underweight. I called the vet and they said to stop the pills. Trusting the doctors, I figured that she didn't really need the pills, but they had just given it a try. You know, they do the same with people. It's like they really don't know the answer - so they say, "well, let's try this."

A year goes by and Grace is getting thinner and thinner. She's 13 years old so I just figured this was a normal part of aging. Then a couple of months ago, things shifted. She got really fussy with food (more than usual) and she seemed to lose her sense of smell (which can be a sign of kidney failure). I really started watching her closely. She stopped grooming, her breath got foul and I was really nervous. I have been through the kidney failure thing with other cats and it is really hard.

Also, my finances are strained and I was avoiding the vet (just as I have stopped going to the doctor myself). I also feared what the vet would say. I know, this is terrible to admit, but it's like - if you don't go to the vet, you don't know the truth - that your baby girl, your precious kitty, is dying and there's nothing you can do. So I avoided the vet.

Finally, one day, she was really in distress. Breathing heavily - her whole body heaving because her heart was beating so hard. I called the vet and a friend to go with me - to drive and for moral support.

The doctor did not seem very concerned and said she was having a 'thyroid storm'. Again the prescription of meds. I said last time all she did was vomit, so they lowered the dosage. I asked if there was another way to deliver the medication and she said she could put it into a beef-flavored syrup which also contained vitamins. Grace would also need baby aspirin twice a week, which they also made into a liquid.

In 24 hours, there was already a change. Now, a month later, my beautiful, happy, and active cat is back! She loves the meds and licks it off her paws if any spills. Her heart is calm, her breathing normal and she is putting weight on. She grooms. She eats normally, including dry food. She sleeps normally rather than being hyper-vigilant.

It's like Grace has gotten years younger. She looks good and she is so happy. She does need meds twice a day every day for the rest of her life.

How is it that our pets have taken on the illnesses of humans? Or is it that they always had them, but just went off to die without human 'parent's watching their every move and rushing them off to the doctor?

I think the animals are being affected by the processed foods too. When Grace was really sick, the only thing she would eat was raw chicken liver. The doctor said it was good for her because it was all meat, not filled up with grains like cat food. Cats are meat-eaters by nature, not vegetarians. We have forced that on them.

Next time you get a prescription of pills for your cat, ask the vet if they will liquify them. It really helps. If they won't you can do it yourself. Grind in a mortar, add broth or water. Keep in the refrigerator.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ooooo Yucky

Grace has taken to sleeping in a box on the porch. Day and night. Despite the fact that it has been going down to zero around here this winter. Then the other day, she changed boxes. Just would not go into her regular box. So.... I looked inside and... ooooo yucky! The torso, back legs and tail of a RAT! This thing was huge! The tail was 6 inches long and big around as a pencil. She had eaten his head off and his arms. Now tell me that this poor three-legged cat is old or rickety. Here I have been so worried about her. Staying outside, not eating much, getting thin. Huh, she still has enough get-up-and-go to catch and kill a rat that big.

Now some of you are probably totally grossed out at this point, but I have to say that I live in the woods and there are loads of critters here. It has nothing to do with cleanliness or hygiene. You can't escape it. The only thing that might make a difference would be if I had dogs. Cats can't keep things away, but they can kill them. Even dogs can't keep everything away.

I don't worry about my cats getting hurt by a raccoon or sprayed by a skunk - even though they are here too. Because the animals seem to naturally respect each other. Keep out of each other's way. The mice and the rats are somehow dumb. They don't realize they can be killed easily by cats. Easily? Well... cats do love tossing them around a bit before they dispatch them. "Kill the mousies, eat they little heads." And cats know that eating the spleen is poisonous, so they leave it alone.

Now has all that made your day?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Cat Tea on the Menu for this Week

Went to see Matthew Wood at Rosemary's Garden in Sebastopol Friday night and he recommended Melissa, also known as lemon balm, for thyroid issues in cats. Not tincture, since cats won't take anything with alcohol (they are smarter than their humans). Make a strong tea then "get them to drink it." I usually do this with a plastic eye dropper in the side of the mouth towards the back. I have never found a better way that works to get cats to take liquid medicines. If you know of one, let me know.

Since Grace has thyroid problems, I plan to try it this week. She was on medication, but it made her vomit constantly and since she is so thin already, I want her to keep whatever food she has eaten. I have found that one of her favorite things is raw chicken liver. It is a little more expensive than cat food, but I don't have to keep throwing it out.

You know I keep telling both Grace and Melody (two formerly feral cats) that they eat better than most people in the world, but they still turn their noses up at most cat food. Very challenging sometimes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Mommy!

Mommy's first blog, Wise Women of the West, is having its first birthday today AND won a prize from Entre Card. WOW!! We don't really like cake. I would prefer a chicken leg (Grace) and I would prefer .....hmmm, some salmon (Melody).

We would never do this... Shame, shame, bad cat.

But we are more excited that Daddy is coming home for a visit. Daddy lives on a boat in Mexico now and we told Mommy we won't going there. No way! She can go for visits, but that's it. We are land-lubbers. Gotta have trees to climb and mousies to chase. Of course, Daddy said there are mousies on the boat. But...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

They Love Those Mousies

The Kitty Girls have been so busy catching mousies. Melody gets the ones inside and Grace gets the ones outside. We live in the woods in what was once a summer cabin that was converted to a 'year round' house. But if you don't like critters, it's no place for you. We have regular encounters with raccoons, opossums, skunks and deer as well as the usual spiders and mice. The girls know to stay away from all those other critters, especially the ones with teeth and stinkies.

There is no way to make the house critter-proof, really, not in this environment. I'd have to rebuild the entire house and that is not feasible. Fortunately the Girls are good mousers. They hunt even though they are well-fed. It's a natural instinct. When they catch something, they try to bring it to mommy to eat. Ugh! I know they do it because they love me and want to return the favor of feeding me like I feed them. I love that special sound they make when they are calling me.

Many years ago I had a cat named Amy who snuck out and got pregnant before I could get her spayed. She had 4 lovely kittens which I kept because I felt so guilty about her having babies in the first place. Anyway, when Amy was training them, she used to get her cat food out of the dish and bring it in the living room. She'd put it on the floor and start making that calling sound to round up her babies. Then she would start playing with her food, throwing it up in the air and pouncing on it. They would watch and do the same. This was how she trained them to hunt even though they lived indoors. I had never seen a cat do that before and it was very interesting to watch.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Melody's Story

You can't see me because I'm hiding behind the grass.

Several years ago, my friend's daughter (T) worked at a veterinary office. She used to catch feral cats, bring them into the office, have them neutered, then either find homes for them, or release them.

I went to visit my friend, and her daughter said "maybe Hamida would like one of the kittens." Having no intention of getting another cat, but wanting to encourage her humanitarian (felinitarian?) work, I went in to the bathroom where the kittens were being kept. My first impression - oh, no,ugly kittens. You know, some kittens are just not as cute as others. Two of them were white and spotted (my least favorite color), skinny (having just been captured) and WILD! In fact, one actually started flying around the room, hissing and scratching. TOTALLY WILD!!! Uh, I don't think so. But I stayed and spoke calmly to them and finally they settled down. Finally the most wild of all, settled down with her siblings, but was still quite nervous. I continued to speak calmly to them and all of a sudden, the wild one sort of looked at me, tilted her head slightly, and I heard the name Melody.

I said, "Is that your name, Melody?" She sort of grinned the way cats do and started purring! Oh, Melody.

I told my friend what had happened and she said I had a way with cats, because I have Virgo rising. Did I want Melody? I said I would have to ask Grace if she wanted a baby sister. After all. She had lost all her older sisters and was all alone now, which suited her just fine.

I kept talking to her about getting a "baby" to play with and after a few days, she started running around the house looking for her "baby sister."

I went to visit the kittens again and the suggested I take the male who was not as wild. I said "No, I want this one." I picked up Melody and walked into the kitchen with her and they could not believe their eyes. The wildest one was in my arms, happy as a clam. But I still had not committed to taking her.

My friend said that since I had named her and picked her up, she was much happier and calm. No longer flying into a tizzy every time someone came in. I said OK, I'll take her, but can't come for a couple of days.

Then I got the call. Melody had gotten out of the bathroom and had run away. They were so sorry, but they could not catch her.

Oh well, that's the way it goes. No problem. But by now, Grace was excited about getting a baby and was nagging me about it. I told her Melody had run away and that was that.

Three days later, they had the back door open when suddenly Melody ran back in! And back to the bathroom!

We arranged for T to bring her to my house in a couple of days. When Melody arrived, she ran straight for the bathroom. She went under the claw-footed tub and there she stayed. Okay, fine, good place to stay until you feel comfortable. I put the food and water under the tub and she stayed right there.

About a week later, I found her on my bed, great, making progress. No. She peed on my bed, hit the roof, came down and bit me. Not good. I was getting frustrated.

She ran back under the tub. I couldn't reach her. I could only barely touch an inch of fur. So.... I petted her aura. Yes, you heard me. I just stroked the area near her without touching her and she purred. We did this routine every day. After two weeks, I said that this was okay, but not really acceptable and if things did not improve, I was going to catch her and take her back to T's.

She got it and started coming into the kitchen to eat. Slowly, slowly, she became accustomed to me and trusted me. She came and went and became one of the family.

Now, she is one of the sweetest, most affectionate cats I've ever had. She loves to get up on my shoulder and rub her head along my neck. She sleeps with me most of the time. She is quiet, clean, cooperative. She either eats what's there or not, but does not complain or beg. She is a good mouser (important in the country). She loves being warm and loves to sit in the sun. But, I know white cats are at risk for skin cancer, so I limit her time sunbathing. She adores running up into the trees and will often go from tree to tree like a trapeze artist, while I am working out in the garden. She has perches in certain trees, where she goes to observe the world below. She is a darling and I love her so much.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

This is Grace

This is Grace that I wrote about last time. The one who came into my life at the end of a noose.

She is one lucky cat.

She used to love to stay out all night and 'cat around'. One night I heard her arguing with one of her boyfriends - she'd been spayed, but they still came around. Late that night, she meowed to come in. She ran into the bedroom and jumped on the bed as usual. I noticed a glob of something on her hip, but otherwise she was acting normally. About an hour or so later, she jumped down and wanted to eat. I noticed her back leg was at a 90 degree angle to normal and knew this was not right. Yet, she did not act any different than before. I called a mobile vet, because it was late and I didn't think anyone was open. I thought maybe her leg was dislocated. The vet assured me that it was serious and I'd better get her into an emergency cat hospital. I was pretty upset by then, but she was calm as a cucumber.
A friend came to help me and when we got her in it turned out she had been hit by a car and "only had a broken leg". But, since it was broken at the joint, the leg would have to come off. I freaked. The doctor said to go home and think about it. Grace was sedated and would sleep the night comfortably there.

It so happens that another friend called later that morning - I was up all night fretting - and told me a story of how she had taken her dog to a vet and saw a two-legged cat - no back legs or tail, that lived at the vet's office. She said she didn't even notice, except that the cat sort of scooted along and of course, could not jump up. When you picked her up, she was all smiles and purrs. Just like a normal happy cat! That did it.

I decided to get the surgery. The doctor said he was glad, because he would have done it anyway and just kept her. He said everyone that worked there had a 3-legged dog or cat that their owners had abandoned. He even had a 2-legged cat himself. One front and one back. He said animals scarcely notice a 'disability'. They don't need therapy or support groups. They carry on as if nothing has happened.

And that has certainly been true. She doesn't jump on the roof like she used to and doesn't go out of the yard anymore. But, she is still a great mouser and unfortunately, kills birds with ease. One night she was sitting on my lap. Something flitted by so fast I couldn't see what it was. She reached up and grabbed it, stuffing it into her mouth in an instant. When I looked, it was a bat!

She has trouble scratching the one side of her head because of the back leg which is missing, but she has trained me to do it instead.

Most people don't even notice she is a tri-pawed. It took one of the kennel workers awhile before she even noticed. She just thought "Gee, that cat has an interesting gait", not realizing she was missing a leg.

She has taught me so much about the uselessness of self-pity. She knows so much about how to manipulate me. She knows I feel sorry for her and she uses it to get anything she wants. There are days when she has two choices of wet food, dry food, milk, eggs, water all before her and she is still asking for food. She has her special cat treats I get at Trader Joe's and she knows how to ask for them.

She is my big baby girl.