Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Peachy, Post-surgery

I would like to thank everyone who expressed their concern and best wishes for Raleigh. It is good to know that his struggle for a good life holds a special place in others’ thoughts.

Peachy’s surgery went well. It was done as swiftly as possible to minimise his time under anaesthetic, and he came home after I finished work. He hid immediately.

The doctor’s instructions stated that it was good for him to eat, if he could keep it down. Raleigh was hungry, not having consumed anything for twenty hours. I prepared some Weruva fish soft-food for him, and he clearly wished to eat it, but had trouble with the texture, and it was obvious that he was suffering pain chewing. Re-thinking the menu, I substituted Merrick paté for the fish. The latter, though the little patient likes it, is made of lengths and chunks of fish in a smooth jelly. The paté was more solid without being difficult to chew. I broke it up into small portions, and he ate it more easily than the first dish. It still hurt him. I will feed him a greater quantity this evening. I disliked giving him too much, as I feared it would conflict with the anaesthetic and other drugs he had been given.

I have to put into him three kinds of medicine, for inflammation, pain and infection. All are oral; two are by syringe, the third by small tablet. I dreaded having to give these to him, but he took them like a mancat. I have administered two of the pills and, so far as I know, they have been swallowed without difficulty.

Raleigh was still hiding when I left for work this morning, wedging himself between two bookcases in the library. That’s all right. He is suffering discomfort right now, but the fact that he wants to eat and comes out to the bowl I place for him are good indications. I placed him on my lap last night, and he stayed and purred for about twenty minutes.

It will be a rough road to recovery, and I will have to be on guard for any relapses, or lack of healing. I will watch his reactions to chewing. But Raleigh will do well. He is young and, though stricken with FIV, strong. His lungs and heart are healthy. He is not going anywhere, and has all the time he needs. All signs are positive.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Raleigh at the Hospital, Again

Raleigh goes for his dental surgery this morning. (Please excuse the terrible photographs. I have a new telephone and the images it creates are far inferior to my old telephone’s.)

So far, I don’t think the Peachy boy has had a happy time in my care. He has been put into a new environment that he doesn’t know, with strange cats who dislike him; he has been subjected to ear-drops, eye-drops and cleanings that are a discomfort to him. He has had one surgery already and has been to the doctor a second time for an intrusive examination. Now, he will suffer pain with the removal of all his teeth. He must long for the less certain but freer days of the feral colony.

However, I hope that things will improve for him hereafter. With his teeth gone, I am optimistic that he will, eventually, feel better. Perhaps he will become less frightened of his new world and spend less time hiding.

Whatever the case, he will receive good food and decent medical care, and he will have cosy spots in which to sleep, if he so chooses. He will also have a lap to lie on, which he seems to enjoy. Wish Raleigh luck, if you will, that all goes well today. His life needs to become better from now on.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

How Cats Count

Despite his personal difficulties (ie. FIV, stomatitis, traumatically altered environment), Raleigh’s arrival in the cosy apartment has created much less of a stir than I thought it would. It may possibly have to do with my – so far – successful experiment to release all the beasts, and not confine any of them to any one room. The less restrictive setting seems to have benefitted everyone.

However, I have another theory for the – so far – peaceful transition to a six-cat household. It is inspired by one of my two favourite fiction books, Watership Down. The rabbits in this novel can count but just up to four. After that, the only number they know is represented by their word ‘hrair’ – ‘many’ or, more poetically, ‘thousand’. When Parker came to live with us, he was the fifth. The feline population here had reached ‘many’. Now, Raleigh has come and, since the number is, so far as the cats are concerned, the same as it was, regardless of the addition of a completely different animal, there is no friction, no trouble.

My thanks go to the late Richard Adams for his explanation of lapine arithmetic. Hopefully, it will maintain the peace in my increasingly crowded ‘warren’.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Raleigh's New World

Raleigh is learning about his new home. He is adjusting to its sights and sounds, smells and routines. He has not been consistent in his actions and reactions. One day, he comes out to await his dinner with the others, and precedes me with his rusty-hinge squeaks and creaks, while I bring his food-bowl to where he eats. The next, he has to be coaxed out, slowly, from behind the couch in the library. One day, he hides, from morning until evening, and then through the night; the next, he is almost out-going.

He also is tremendously startled by ordinary things I may do, even those that have not troubled him previously. I try not to move abruptly near him, and give him warning when I am about to touch him.

Raleigh lived roughly in the outside world, on the edge of a feral colony, trying to survive. That is not a situation a cat easily leaves behind. He has fewer problems with the other beasts than he has with me, but that makes sense, considering his recent past.

His FIV may also have a role in this. That terrible condition is like an open door that lets in any draught of cold air, any dust and dirt, any stranger. Perhaps this peachy-hued fellow will feel good one day and not the next, with no external evidence. I must take this into account in all I do with Raleigh.

His mouth, with its stomatitis, is also a problem, and may, right now, loom larger than his FIV. I know his mouth hurts him in certain situations. He grooms himself, but not very effectively. Fortunately, he loves his soft-food, so eating gives him no trouble, so far as I can determine. He even crunches on some hard-food now and then. He goes to the hospital for his dental surgery next Tuesday. I will watch him when he comes home, and give him the time and space to recover. It is well that the others don’t much concern themselves with him, and will likewise leave him be.

Raleigh can lead a normal life; just today, I saw, for the first time, my new boy playing by himself. He was attacking a fuzzy mouse that was behind a bookcase. It did not last long, but it was a start. My goal is to make the cosy apartment a welcoming place for him, so that he will prefer it to the dubious freedom of the outside. I know he enjoys the kindnesses of an affectionate human; he may not want them all the time, but I believe he appreciates their availability, and probably missed them deeply while living outside. I will try to make sure he doesn’t lack for them again – except when he wants to.

Monday, October 22, 2018

My Fighter Escort

I have heard many tales of cats who dog their owners’ footsteps, get in the way, trip them up, won’t let them pass. In my case, that would be Josie.

Partially, this comes from Josie’s delight in eating Z/D, the special digestive food I feed to Cammie. I started giving it to Josie, as well, as she was losing weight, slowly, and I thought she was not eating enough. Well, she certainly likes the Z/D. All the cats do, which suggests to me that it can’t be healthy, as cats dislike healthy food; at least mine do.

Anyway, when I am bringing my Chubs her food, or something else she wants, she needs not just to follow me, but to escort me. She will trot beside me, accelerate when I do, decelerate when I do, and, if I try to slip around her, she will cut me off by keeping the inside track: what military tacticians call ‘refusing the flank’. She reminds me of the jets sent up to accompany suspicious aircraft out of one’s territory; I feel if I deviate from my course, Josie will fire missiles at me.

My only means of eluding her, really, is to halt suddenly and slip behind her. But she’s swift in her responses, and that doesn’t always fool her. Instead, she too may stop abruptly, which merely causes me to stumble over her.

And then, sometimes, I try to avoid her completely; the Great White also must eat Orijen, as it is better for her. She should receive the Z/D more as an addition. So I try to dish out what she wants - but doesn’t always receive - quietly, perhaps to give Cammie her dinner. But Josie knows the sound of the kernels, the sight of the cloth on which I place it so that it is more easily eaten. This results in the siren going off; the pilot scrambles; the interceptor is launched.

It’s time for me to get out of her air-space.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Raleigh at the Hospital

Raleigh made another journey to a veterinary hospital yesterday, this time for a more detailed examination. The news is not good, but neither is it too bad (ie. irreparable).

Peachy does not have ear-mites (anymore?) but does have an ear infection. For this, anti-biotic drops were prescribed. He also has an eye infection, for which different drops will be given. The doctor thought he may have a congenital deformity in the tear duct that keeps his eye from draining properly. I recalled then that when I had been applying earlier drops (which were weaker than those now prescribed), I noticed that while the drop was ‘absorbed’ in his right eye (that is, it remained in the folds and crevices of the lids), it flowed more freely out of the left. In any case, the infection is being treated.

Raleigh’s biggest problem is that he has stomatitis. The doctor said that it could be treated with steroids but that might not end it, and may, since my newest cat is FIV-positive, cause more problems than it treats. She recommended that Raleigh have his teeth removed. Most of them, if not all, will have to come out.

As the majority of you reading this probably know, cats usually do well without many or any teeth. My foster-cat, Parker, had most of his removed (not due to stomatitis, but simply due to bad teeth; he didn’t floss, I think) and was the better for it. He clearly felt less pain, was more active and used his mouth more while playing. He is a happy fellow. Raleigh is already a big fan of soft-food, so feeding him if he has no teeth will not be a problem, and he has tested hard-food, too. He likes it but hasn’t eaten much, possibly because it is painful to chew it, or keep in his mouth.

In a couple of weeks, then, this poor fellow will be heading back to the hospital for a longer appointment.

Good news, however, includes the doctor’s opinion of Peachy’s heart and lungs, which sound good. He has gained a little weight since his neutering (I was concerned that I was not feeding him enough). Also, when he came home, he did not have the frightened reaction I had thought he might. He had been spending much of his time hiding behind the couch in the library; in the past few days, this behaviour has changed and he has ventured out much more. I thought the doctor’s visit would set him back, but it does not appear to have been the case.

I try to spend time with Raleigh every evening. I put him on my lap and stroke his sides and under his chin. When it was time to get up last night, I set him aside and before I could stand, he had crawled back onto my lap. But the end of lap-time wasn’t so bad, as it meant the bed-time snack was about to be served.

Bit by bit, physically and emotionally, Raleigh is improving. If there is the right home for him out there, we will find it for him. Until then, he will stay with me, and re-learn the ways of the inside-cat. That includes, unfortunately, at least one more journey to the hospital.

Monday, October 15, 2018

All-weather Parker

There isn’t much that prevents Parker from enjoying his walks outside. During the summer, all was well, but when autumn came, and the leaves fell, he was puzzled. He didn’t mind the leaves, but he couldn’t find the grass. I saw him pawing at nature’s new carpeting. The sturdy-boy eventually found the grass underneath, and that seemed to satisfy him.

Then came some snow. We didn’t get much, but it changed the setting somewhat. Parker was bemused by this change, too, but not for long. He did a lot of sniffing, smelling the small patches of snow. He may have seen such precipitation before, but only from within a house. I don’t think he was impressed with what little aroma it had.

Parker is pretty much an all-weather harness-cat. Wind, he finds, brings him all kinds of scents. On windy days, we stand more than walk. As someone remarked, why should he go anywhere when the smells come to him?

He doesn’t care for rain. A few drops won’t deter him but a constant fall is not to his liking. He tried it once, and decided to go back inside very quickly. It’s a rare instance when he is eager to abandon the great outdoors.

But he has yet to encounter deep snow, or slush that is spattered across sidewalks and lawns. And he hasn’t had to brave very cold temperatures. When these days come, I will let him decide what he thinks of them. This winter, my all-weather Parker may prefer to view all the weather - from inside.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Roly Poly Rolling On

The roly poly entered a new phase of his continuing war against diabetes yesterday. Tucker’s recent curve was so good that his doctor has reduced his insulin dosage from one unit in the morning and two in the evening to one unit daily, to be administered in the mornings but only if his blood-glucose number is fifteen or greater.

While this is undoubtedly a step forward, it is in the way of an experiment. The doctor says that Tucker may be going into remission, but cautions that there are other possibilities that may arise. My sausage of a cat may need to stay on insulin. If he does, however, it will likely be of an amount less than he has been receiving, perhaps only one unit a day, or one unit twice daily. I will need to test his blood each morning for a while, to see what his numbers are. If he doesn’t receive insulin for a few days, he may require it thereafter. This is the test: can his body cope without insulin at this point? If not, how much can it fight the diabetes on its own, and how much insulin will it need as an ally?

While his condition may be in flux at the moment, it is clear that Tucker’s current dose of one-and-two is too much. He simply doesn’t require those amounts. That in itself is a victory.

Clinically, he is well. His behaviour remains the same. He is drinking a modicum less water. He is still himself, cheerful, playful and, when he sees Raleigh, annoyed. The roly poly one rolls on.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Parker Learns His ABCs

Parker is learning his alphabet. Let me demonstrate his version of it.

A. Hey, you’re not supposed to be up on the kitchen counter.

B. And if you were allowed to be on the kitchen counter, you wouldn’t be allowed on a dish-cloth.

C. You’re not getting down, are you?

The lesson continues…

Monday, October 8, 2018

In Gratitude

It is Thanksgiving Day today and, while I try to be thankful every day, such a holiday helps to focus gratitude.

Firstly, I should mention the weather. Saturday and Sunday were, here at any rate, two perfect autumn days. The temperature was actually warm – in that autumnal way in which a certain temperature feels different than the same temperature in summer or spring – with a strong sun in a blue sky. It was a delightful day for walks or performing outdoor chores, both of which I did. Today, however, is cold and grey, with a mist you can feel against your face as you walk. Both types of day are autumn days. I was grateful for the two beautiful days before the one best spent indoors.

I am grateful that I am still employed and able to pay for the cosy apartment. That apartment has, as you may know, become cosier of late with the addition of a new inmate. I have six cats living with me now.

Raleigh continues to combine an enjoyment of physical affection with a human with sheer terror at any proximity to a person. He spends most of his days in hiding, but comes out for the litter-boxes and for meals. He also will inexplicably decide he is not afraid of me or the other cats and emerge to lie in a heated bed or on a chair. I am grateful that he is slowly making progress. I hope.

Cammie is doing well. Every day and, especially, every night, I listen for signs of digestive distress; when I come home from being out, and when I wake, I look for piles of vomitous debris. Every time I feed her, I watch her reaction, and wait to hear her crunch her food, and see how much she consumes. I observe her behaviour and note any differences. But so far, so good. She continues to come to bed now and then and lie on my neck. This keeps me awake, but she purrs heavily while she does it, so I can spare the time. I am grateful that my princess is recovered, and grateful for each day she remains so.

The other beasts are well, too. I performed a curve on Tucker yesterday, and it appears to me the best yet. I will discuss the results with his doctor. Parker is fit and active; during our walks, he likes to throw himself at trees and climb six or seven feet up. He was angry yesterday when I helped him down from one. Today he is a little miffed at not going out for a walk. Today, we stay in.

Renn’s health is unremarkable, which makes him remarkable among my cats, though Josie is doing just fine, too. They are my normal ones; long may they maintain that quality.

And finally, a word about my recent house-guest. Beulah was at last delivered to her new foster-home on Saturday. I admit to some anxiety over the move. Certainly, she could not stay in the cage she inhabited in my apartment, but she was going to a home with several more cats than I have. When I brought her there, though, my mind was relieved. The cats there are all old, FIV positive, or otherwise have unusual needs. They are all easy-going. One giant orange and white beast ambled over to sniff Beulah, who gave a mild hiss (I don’t think she is capable of any other kind), and the behemoth shuffled away again. No other cat bothered the newcomer. She will have safety and warmth inside, but freshness and exercise in a catio, as well. Beulah was, of course, unnerved by the change, and hid. I took a photograph of her. That’s her, second from the rear. She is clearly not the only shy feline there. I am confident she will make friends or, if she prefers, be free to be alone.

Another Thanksgiving is here, and it brings a multitude of reasons to be grateful. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.