Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Return to the Cold War Era

Cammie has recovered from her illness, which had her throwing up and not eating, and from her recent bout of allergic reactions, and also from her cold. Unfortunately, she gave the last disease to Tucker.

The roly poly one started suffering a couple of days ago. He is much more audible in his condition than Cammie, who sniffed a little and sneezed a little more. Tucker, as befits his size compared to the princess’s, announces his illness all over the apartment. He snuffles and gurgles and breathes like he is chipping wood with a dull axe. His sneezing sometimes comes in fits of a dozen.

For all that, his appetite is still good, though not what it normally is. I am glad that he is eating, though, not only for the health of it, but because I need to give him his insulin injection with food. But even at his worst moments - and, truth be told, having a cold does not constitute one - he likes being cheerful, and can still muster a purr with a good chin-rub.

I did have to re-schedule Tucker’s dental surgery. The appointment was for next Tuesday but I have moved it back a week, on account of his cold. The veterinarian is pleased with his diabetes ‘numbers’ as shown in the latest curves, and he will have his outstanding oral problems dealt with soon.

In the meantime, I think Renn is the only feline resident of the apartment who hasn’t been on the sick list lately…

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Ministry of Silly Cats

There are certain bodily positions that animals cannot physically endure, due to their bone and muscle structure. Before I had a cat, I was certain that one of them was what I like to call Tucker’s ‘bathing beauty pose’. I imagine him lying on a beach somewhere, on a towel, catching the warmth of a summer sun.

He periodically adopts a slight variation of this, with the rear legs farther apart. Perhaps the sand on the beach is becoming a little too warm…

Then there is the half-and-half, which makes Tucker appear as though he is ready to get up. Don’t let him fool you, however. He is as likely simply to roll over as stand. Sometimes, he remains like this for ten minutes or so, like a sprinter who’s forgotten about the race and is admiring the view from the starting-blocks.

But at last he will curl up and be the roly poly again. As we all know, cats can sleep in any situation, but I like this one. He’s probably worn out from all that posing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Aspects and Prospects

When I first moved into the new apartment, I was worried that its view would be limited, especially when compared to that of the house. The house’s aspects were both east and west, and, since there were many, large windows, a cat could almost see north and south, as well. There were birds, leaves, cars, people and the occasional intruder-cat to watch.

The apartment is smaller and the prospects, I thought, were more limited. But are they? I have been watching the cats watch. Much of the time, they just lie placidly about on cat-trees, observing the world.

But the new residence does have its advantages. We have quite a few birds visiting the grounds just outside the windows. Magpies thrive here, which is, perhaps, unfortunate, as they are rather a bully of a bird and drive away others. But there are also crows, starlings, I think, and the ubiquitous sparrows. Many of them land directly in front of the cats while the latter are watching. The magpies strut about with impunity, probably knowing that they are safe from the fearsome predators behind the glass of the windows.

Present in the neighbourhood as well are several outside cats. There are five of whom I know, and they are all looked after by neighbours. They are fed and given shelter when it is cold outside. Most are black and white, though an orange one has come by.

A couple are friendly animals, and the others become so upon acquaintance but are otherwise timid. They seem to have no compunction about wandering right up to the windows of the apartment and greeting my beasts. Perhaps they, like the magpies, know that they are secure from any physical encounters with my cats. The latter have a number of responses, and I haven’t yet discovered if these responses are determined by which intruder cat presents itself, or by merely my animals’ mood at the time. (I don’t suppose it is fair to call the outside cats ‘intruders’, as they were in the neighbourhood first. Mine are the actual intruders.)

There are even humans to watch, neighbours across the narrow alley, and people who use it as a route from one street to another. The alley itself is L-shaped and, considering its brevity and angle, is travelled by a surprising number of automobiles. These do not bother me and they, as well as pedestrians in the little lane, provide some diversion for the cats.

So the new abode is not so limited in opportunities for viewing the wider world as it may have first seemed. It’s fun to watch the cats hasten from the sitting room to the library to the bedroom and perhaps back again, following a passing feline or trying to get a better look at a bird. My roommates have adjusted very well to the apartment, finding their snug snoozing spots and their vantage points. It demonstrates that the cleverest see advantages no matter where they are.

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Regal Mystery

Cammie’s cold is now gone, she has ceased vomiting, and her appetite is good once more. But she is suffering a third problem, though I don’t think this one is as bothersome to her as the previous two she has had recently.

Now and then, the princess has inflammation appear on the sides of her head. This swelling begins pink and sometimes can grow quite large, though it is usually the size of a marble. The swellings eventually break open and discharge clear puss. They are, I believe, the result of the body fighting an allergic reaction.

To the best of my knowledge, I have narrowed the causes to certain tinned foods. Cammie used to vary her consumption of Fancy Feast ocean whitefish with the same brand’s cod/shrimp/sole flavour. This seemed to cause the outbreak. Fish in general doesn’t bother her, but I think the shrimp in this case does. When she went off her usual tastes, I fed her some Blue Healthy Gourmet tinned food. This started her eating again, for which I was grateful, but she suffered another, similar reaction, which I believe was caused by the food. The flavour I had given her was salmon, and it did not contain shrimp. She has eaten Fancy Feast salmon without a problem arising from it. Perhaps the latter salmon isn’t as ‘salmony’ as the Blue.

Now, she has returned to enjoying her ocean whitefish, and she is eating hard-food again, so I am relieved not to have to experiment with varieties to keep her fed. The reaction, in the form of inflammation, is rather severe this time, but has passed its peak.

When these first started, a long time ago, I asked the veterinarian what may be causing them and the answer was the generic ‘allergic reaction’. I didn’t need a doctor to tell me that. So I thought I would ask fellow cat-owners if they know of something similar.

The inflammation is always on the sides of her head - never anywhere else - usually in the balding patch behind and above the eyes. It is often pink in hue. What is important to note is that Cammie never seems to be bothered by them. She does not scratch them. They are not itchy. They break open eventually of their own accord and sometimes when she scratches in the area; again, they are not itchy and she scratches there no more frequently than would an unafflicted cat. Touching them leaves her untroubled. Her health is not otherwise affected. She will eat well while the inflammation is present. She is not lethargic, is interested in what is going on, can run and climb with her usual vigour.

The last characteristic is that I first noticed something strange in that area immediately after Cammie had had a brief set-to with Josie, years ago. What resulted looked like scratches. Perhaps the original inflammation came from that incident. Perhaps cysts developed. But they come and go; are filled, not with the usual cyst matter, but with puss, and they are caused, or perhaps only triggered, by certain food. It may be that the fight with Josie was only coincidental to the first appearance. After all, I’ve not heard of a cat scratching another simultaneously on both sides of the head.

In any case, now that the princess’s diet is returning to normal, I don’t foresee another outbreak soon. This condition does, however, remain puzzling to me. I don’t believe it is dangerous, but I wouldn’t mind its origins explained.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

An Easter Remembrance

On Saturday, it will be a year since Tungsten died. I think of my orange friend all the time. I recently went through a collection of photographs I took some years ago, and found a number of Tungsten which I don’t believe I have published before. I’ll share them now in view of this melancholy anniversary, a fitting remembrance at Easter, its commemoration of death, and celebration of life.

She liked the armchair, did my Tungsten, especially before I purchased the small cat-beds. She could often be found rolled up in a corner of its cushion. But in this instance, she seemed rather alert and ready for whatever I wanted to do.

There were times when she was just too much at ease to be amused by my attempts to involve her in anything. Sometimes, humans can be more of a bother than a help, I’m sure cats think.

She spent a year and a half as my only cat. Looking back, I think she was content with that, and after the advent of the other beasts, she likely recalled her solitary state as my sole pet with fondness. Her initial relations with Josie were tumultuous, though they grew more placid. And once Renn learned his place, he and the tiny terror became friends, sort of.

Tungsten wasn’t one for playing, really, but she did have her bursts of fun. Of this toy she appeared rather possessive, at least at the time the picture was taken…

But more than playing, she liked simply lying on my lap. She has been my only real lap-cat. Though the others will spend time there, it is an intermittent thing with them. The orange one was very often there, and would curl herself around my hand; the feel of it on her tummy gave her comfort, I think.

A very light eater, she was undemanding when it came to her food-bowls. Her drinking was the opposite. She would lap water from cups but preferred a dripping tap, for which she would usually call. Below, you will note the filled cup to the right, an early attempt to combine her desire for water at the bathroom basin with my desire not to have to get up every time she was thirsty.

But Tungsten was very little trouble, and the dividends of what effort she demanded were great. She was a wonderful companion and good friend, a worthy advertisement for her species. I was told that orange females are a rarity. If so, it was truly fitting that Tungsten was orange. She was a rarity indeed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Long Weekend Approaches

This week so far has been one of worry and watching, as was the preceding weekend. But things are improving. Cammie is still feeling the effects of her cold but is eating - she consumed some hard-food last night and I couldn’t find evidence that it came back up - and her visits to the litter box are regular and uneventful.

And on the latter topic, Tucker seems to be depositing tidier items in the litter. When he comes out of the storeroom where the boxes are kept, he glances furtively around: I have been lifting him up and turning him over like a pancake to check his rear end. If it is dirty, I wash it. He dislikes that, so hopes to avoid my examinatory gaze. So far his nether regions are meeting with my approval.

Josie, meanwhile, continues to have a good appetite and enjoys her newly confirmed health. She is also finding delight in the fact that the sun is moving more and more to shine into the apartment. I watch she doesn’t stay too long in its rays; being a white cat, she is susceptible to cancer from such a source. But she is not a fanatic about sunlight, just an admirer.

And Renn continues to be the unremarkable member of the household, at least in terms of health. He eats little, considering his size, yet always has strength to jump into his favourite cat-tree. He has little enthusiasm for food, and plays sporadically, but loves a chest-rub and is the first to come to bed with me at night. He prefers the uneventful days.

And after the last week or so, we all hope there is nothing of excitement to describe over the coming long weekend. Just a few days of quiet relaxation. Right, Renn?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Inching Forward

There is good news and there is bad news but, fortunately, the former outweighs the latter. The good news is that Cammie ate on her own yesterday.

I came home from work and found that someone had regurgitated hard-food in two spots. I suspected it was Cammie. She has been trying to eat hard-food but has been unable to keep it down. Even though that suggests she has been hungry, she has not wanted any soft-food. On my way home, I purchased several tins of food of varieties that we have not yet tried in our household. I opened two at dinner-time and served them, in turn, to the princess.

She ate the portion of Blue Healthy Gourmet flaked salmon entrée. This surprised and delighted me. I wanted to give her more but decided to wait. She had eaten soft-food recently and simply brought it up again subsequently. But this time, after a couple of hours, she had not thrown up. So she received another small portion.

This was the pattern for the evening. At snack-time, about eight-thirty, Cammie was hungry enough for a third portion, though she did not finish all of it, as she had the first two. But I provided a last dish of food before bed-time and that she ate hungrily.

This is, as you may imagine, a great relief to me. I suspect that Cammie was relieved that she was not force-fed last night. Why did she choose to eat this variety and not her usual favourite (of which I had recently purchased one hundred and thirty-two tins)? Perhaps she associates that with vomiting. Perhaps the smell of the new is more enticing. Perhaps it’s just new. I am not naive enough to believe that she will continue to eat Blue Healthy Gourmet just because she ate it one day. Cammie is, after all, a cat. But with sick animals, my attitude is 'one day at a time'.

Now, the bad news is that the princess is suffering from - a cold! She must have developed it yesterday. She is sneezing and sniffling and looks, well, like someone who has a cold. Since her smell is affected, her taste - and therefore her eating - is also affected. I noted that this morning, when she declined another portion of the Blue Healthy Gourmet. I do have another flavour of it ready but I thought that a snotty nose might smell something a bit more pungent, so I garnished her breakfast with some Almo chicken, the taste of which I know she favours. This helped, and she ate all in her dish. She did not want more, but she tucked away as much as she usually does at one meal when healthy.

I will watch her progress over the next few days, of course, as her cold could develop into something worse. A friend told me that Cammie’s earlier symptoms sounded similar to what goes through her cat population periodically, though her beasts usually have respiratory problems with it. Well, now Cammie is suffering that, too.

But she ate on her own. Why she cannot stomach hard-food, I don’t know. If a basic problem is an upset stomach, the hard-food may simply be more difficult for the belly to handle. But even individual kernels are regurgitated. I may try different hard-food in her case. In the meantime, I will offer her more soft-food than she would normally receive.

So, with Josie untroubled by her health and Cammie inching her way forward, I am cautiously pleased. I want to thank all those who have given sympathy and advice. Please know that none of it is wasted, even if I don’t use the suggestions given. All the information is stored and, in the past, I have referred to help received through the Blogosphere in overcoming troubling situations. Like food and medicine, the more information one has, the more one is prepared for adversity.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Josie's Sigh of Relief

I have learned the results of Josie’s tests, conducted on Friday. Her T4 ‘numbers’ are good, and she does not have hyperthyroidism.

Her weight loss is not as drastic as I first feared, and that is my fault. The scale I used to weigh her at home is accurate, but clearly I misread the figures when I placed Josie upon the scale. Though I know it displayed ‘4.89’, my Chubs perhaps did not have all her legs in the right places, or she was stepping off at the time. Something caused an error in the reading, though I am very careful to keep the cat in question still for a second or two.

At the hospital on Friday, however, Josie weighed 6.08 kilograms. Puzzled by the great difference between that and what I thought her weight now was, I used the PAW Society’s scales again upon our return home, and they registered her poundage as 6.07 kilograms. While there was relief that Josie was not vanishing before my eyes, and that the scales the rescue-group uses for all its cats was, indeed, accurate, there is mystery over that initial reading.

However, all’s well that ends well, as The Bard concluded, and the Great White has neither a weight-problem nor thyroid troubles. The hospital has records for Josie going back to 2009, and at one point she weighed less than six kilograms. She gained weight and topped 7.5 eventually. The doctor describes six kilograms as a good size for my Chubs. And, to be honest, if that cat did lose a little weight, it would not be a bad thing.

I believe that the better food she is eating is having its effect. The apartment is not as constrictive to the beasts as I first imagined (nor is the view as limited, for that matter), and if I think about it, Josie uses more rooms now than she did in the house. Perhaps a little exercise is being felt, as well.

Regardless, I intend to keep a weather eye on all aspects of Josie’s health: her eating, her drinking, her litter-box visits and, of course, her weight, which I will supervise for the next few weeks and then at least once a month. Josie is now my senior cat, in more ways than one, the matriarch of the household and, though she will turn thirteen in a few months, I want her to be my senior for a long time to come.

Princess on a Trampoline

This weekend saw Cammie going up and down, back and forth, in regard to her health. Friday night/Saturday morning, she recovered enough of her appetite to try eating on her own. I thought she was on her way up. The food she ate, however, did not stay down. She threw it up very soon afterward. I later had to force-feed her with a syringe, just to get some nutrition into her. I preceded this with a dose of slippery elm. She hated the procedure, of course, but it put some food in her stomach and it didn’t come back up. She behaved normally thereafter.

Later, however, the princess grew morose and didn’t venture far from the top of the tall cat-tree in the sitting room. I was encouraged by her attempts to eat hard-food, but disappointed that this did not stay in her tummy. She perked up somewhat by the day’s end.

Sunday, she expressed a wish for food, but would not eat any of the varieties I offered her. I resorted to the syringe again and, though this was strongly resented, it did seem to give her energy. She felt better. This was assisted by the fact that Sunday was a fine day, 19° Celsius (66.2° Fahrenheit) and sunny. The windows in the new apartment were open and the cats enjoyed the fresh air and scents. Cammie was at the forefront of that enjoyment.

She was rather listless later in the day, but did not, I think, feel as bad as on the previous day. Even so, she didn’t eat. Her symptoms are strange. I believe she has an appetite; she has come out to see what is offered at meal-times; she eats hard-food. However, she has no interest in any soft-food, and the hard-food doesn’t stay down. She drinks plenty of water (though not a worrying amount), and enjoyed some tuna-water, so she can consume nutrition. The food I put into her by syringe stays down.

But I have been preceding the syringe-delivered food with slippery elm, to calm her stomach. Is that what is keeping her from throwing up this food, and would she do so if the elm were not given first? Is the hard-food too harsh for her stomach at this time, and is that why it is regurgitated? I think she doesn’t want any soft-food because she is associating it with vomiting - and would she throw up if she ate some without slippery elm first?

I have given Cammie hairball remedy, and the vomiting that initially alerted me to something wrong with her constitution has stopped. Yet her belly continues to toss back the food it receives. Everything seems to come down to something amiss with her stomach. I will continue to force-feed her as long as necessary, of course, but it must be a temporary measure, until she regains her ability to digest food. I may try some syringe-fed food tonight without the appetizer of slippery elm, and see if she keeps it in.

If this goes on into the middle of the week, she will go to the hospital.

My admiration for this long-suffering cat has grown as a result of her ordeal. She takes her medicine with great reluctance, telling me in no uncertain terms what she thinks of the whole business, and of me, for putting her through it. As she is forced to swallow the horrible substances I give her, trying to spit them out at the same time, she makes sounds like a grumpy old man in an animated film without dialogue. I can’t help laughing at that. Yet, a few minutes later, she will be purring on my chest.

And one advantage has resulted from this egregious situation, and that is that I can now cut Cammie’s claws with very little trouble. I clipped all those on the paw I could never get to previously. And then, for good measure, I cut those on the paw I did get to previously (it had been such a long time since then, they had grown back). I give her medicine/food/noxious fluids by holding her front paws, to keep them from knocking the syringe away. Cammie grumbles but doesn’t fight, so the paws are right there, in my hand. I extrude the claws and - clip clip clip - the task is done.

Now if feeding her would be so easy.

Friday, March 18, 2016

And Then There's Tucker . . .

Josie goes for her doctor’s appointment at 4.30 today. I hope to have an answer to her weight-loss soon after, and I hope the answer is one that is beneficial to her.

Cammie, meanwhile, continues to feel poorly and is not eating. She did consume some treats, so I know she can physically eat. Unfortunately, she can’t live on treats, and has no stomach for anything else. I have given her slippery elm to calm that tummy but, though it may indeed have done that, she still does not have an appetite. This morning, I dosed her with hairball remedy, as I think that may be the problem. The princess hated that more than the elm, and afterward it looked like someone had attacked my bathroom with a brush full of brown tree-sap. My bathroom floor is also brown. Sigh. Cammie too had sticky goop all over her, though she was more amenable to a subsequent cleaning than to the medicine that necessitated it.

And on the topic of cleaning…

Tucker is experiencing runny poop. He is otherwise fine, and I suspect it is merely a passing problem (literally). Until it goes, however, cleaning his bum may be an on-going chore. When he is messy, he is messier than Josie, and when he needs cleaning, he is less co-operative than my Chubs. He makes pathetic squeaking sounds and looks at me with those big imploring eyes. But he smells better afterward…

I had actually intended to write something a bit more positive this morning regarding the beasts, considering their current troubles, so I will add this about my roly poly sausage. His back end, weakened due to his diabetes, is now back to regular strength. He still uses the steps to get on to the bed, but that is more for convenience than need: he has recently jumped up on to the bed without hesitation. He has even leaped from the cat-tree near the window on to the bed. So we are doing well in keeping the diabetes controlled.

Even so, I could have done without this morning’s extra half-hour of cleaning and force-feeding. Now, there is just one cat in the household without health troubles. And I think he he is keeping a wary eye open…

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Meanwhile, Back at the Palace . . .

Cammie is sick. She has had this condition before, throwing up and not eating. Previously, I gave her some slippery elm. I did that last evening, but she still didn’t eat and, in fact, vomited again during the night, while I was asleep. This morning, I didn’t realise initially that she had brought up again, so, thinking she may be ready for some food, I gave her her favourite soft-food. The princess seemed to want something to eat and indeed consumed a small but significant amount of food. I then discovered that she had earlier thrown up.

I decided not to give her any more slippery elm, as that is supposed to be applied before food and, in any case, I figured that if she wanted to eat, it was a positive sign, and I shouldn’t tamper with it. However, if I find upon coming home this afternoon that she has vomited again, she will get another dose of the elm.

Cammie is a strange animal, to paraphrase Gowan. The princess tried to knock my hand away as I was forcing the elm into her mouth, and I wasn’t getting enough into her. So I decided simply to hold her front legs in one hand, supporting her at the same time. She didn’t even flex her paws to free herself. I was able to get the full contents of the syringe into her. She really is a great deal of bluster. I’ve no doubt that her tolerance has its breaking point, but with all that I’ve had to do to her, we haven’t reached it yet.

After having had an alien substance forced into her, Cammie hid under the bed. But I lie on top of it and patted my chest. The princess came out lie on me, purring, for half an hour. She’s a very forgiving creature.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Off to Hospital Once More

I’ve decided to take Josie to the hospital for some tests. She has an appointment for late Friday afternoon. The likeliest problem, I think, is that she has developed hyperthyroidism. Judging by Tungsten’s battle with that condition, I would have believed that Josie’s appetite had to be more voracious than it is. Each case of hyperthyroidism may vary somewhat, of course, and, as Flynn’s mum has commented, her Devon cat was active, his coat looked healthy and he seemed to be eating well. Yet he too has the condition. So Josie will be checked for that, and for anything else the doctor may think possible.

The Great White has been doing very well lately, otherwise, and a loss of weight would not be regretted, if it were to occur under less startling circumstances. Once this new problem is countered, she may be set fair for a long and cheerful life, perhaps as my Not-Quite-So-Chubs.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A New Worry

Even cat can be a source of worry. Having several can cause one’s worrying to be constant. This time, it is Josie’s turn. The trouble is that my Chubs is not my chubs anymore.

Josie has lost rather a great deal of weight in a short time. Previous to this weekend, the Great White was weighed at the veterinary hospital, when taken there for her dental surgery; this was on January 19th. Her weight was 6.41 kilograms, which was down from many months previously when I had registered her poundage at seven kilograms. This weekend, however, I borrowed the PAW Society scales and, when I placed Josie upon them, was told that she weighed 4.89 kilograms. The scale had been calibrated to that at the veterinary clinic the Society habitually uses, so is probably accurate.

I had noted that my Chubs had been losing her principal characteristic, and becoming lighter to pick up. Prior to that, I had observed that I needed to clean her bum fewer and fewer times, which suggested that she has been able to do it herself. This was something she was incapable of performing previously, due to her wideness. I did not, however, expect to see that she had lost so much of herself.

Needless to say, I am rather concerned over this sudden decrease in gravitational pull. The cause may be one of many, or a combination thereof, not all of them bad. The move to the apartment may be psychologically beneficial for Josie. She is certainly eating better than she has in the past, as I am providing her with more flavours of Merrick brand cat-food that she likes. She may just be taking in less food due to her age, which will be thirteen years in June. There are also a number of sinister possibilities.

Josefina has not given me any other reason to worry about her health (the lately removed cyst on her jaw excepted), which is why the new total for her weight startled me. She moves about in the apartment more, so it seems to me, than she did in the house. She is often climbing vertically without much effort. She and Tucker play ‘chase’ now and then. And if her idea of playing with a string-toy is to lie in one spot and grapple with it as it swings by her, then at least she is almost always eager to play. Her mood is usually good and she purrs easily. If asked to render a verdict on her health, I would have judged it to be better than it had been in a long time.

However, the weight-loss is not to be taken lightly (pun perhaps intended). What I will do is to weigh my Chubs weekly for the next month or so, and for a further period, if necessary. I want to monitor any more loss, if it occurs, and, if it does, to arrange for a doctor to see her.

For now, the Great White and I wait. I will lay my plans and be ready, and hope that all my preparations prove unnecessary.