Friday, November 30, 2018

How Do You Spell Relief?

Do you remember the old Rolaids television commercial? Well, this morning, I spell ‘relief’ T-U-C-K-E-R, the same way I spell ‘worry’.

Wednesday night I checked Tucker’s mouth, to see if how it looked during its healing process. What I observed was this.

I thought the tiny white object was a fragment of tooth. It was not fixed in place; it moved but seemed attached to a bit of dark grey matter. I was afraid that the surgery had not been complete and that a bit of tooth had been left behind. I sent the photograph above to Tucker’s doctor, and Thursday morning made an appointment at the veterinary hospital. I was able to bring the roly poly to his doctor late that afternoon.

The examination relieved my concerns. The little white object was gone; there were other bits of light grey, which were food. The sutures that sewed up Tucker’s gums are extant and of course are catching tiny morsels. Some of these were cleaned out during the visit. An inspection of the mouth revealed no remaining portions of teeth.

(As an aside, the doctor who performed the surgery was not Tucker’s regular doctor, whom I would have preferred for obvious reasons. But I thought it better to have the operation completed as soon as possible - in light of Tucker’s diminishing eating capability - rather than waiting several more days for an available time with the usual veterinary. The doctor who examined Tucker yesterday was his regular.)

Though nothing alarming was found, it was good that my sausage-cat had a check-up following the operation. His mouth is healing, but not quickly. There is infection, for which more anti-biotic was prescribed. His heart and temperature are healthy. My principal worry is, of course, his greatly decreased consumption of food, but only time will remedy that.

Last night, Tucker wanted to eat from the regular hard-food bowl. He waited while Renn had a turn, and then Raleigh. My roly poly sniffed at it, but couldn’t bring himself to have any kernels. The memory of them hurting his mouth is too recent. But he did eat some diabetic hard-food I provided him. He is receiving nutrition and, though not enough to keep him from losing weight, it will sustain him until his life regains its equilibrium.

For now, I will simply be glad of my spelling lesson, and hope that Tucker’s r-e-l-i-e-f soon becomes h-a-p-p-i-n-e-s-s.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Weight on my Mind

At last, I was able to weigh all the beasts. It’s been too long since I’ve last done so, and the differences in the two instances are plain.

15th July, 2018
Josie: 5.72 kg (12.61 lb)
Renn: 7.32 kg (16.14 lb)
Tucker: 7.27 kg (16 lb)
Cammie: 4.60 kg (10.14 lb)
Parker: 7.63 kg (16.82 lb)

28th November, 2018
Josie: 5.46 kg (12 lb)
Renn: 6.86 kg (15.12 lb)
Tucker: 6.39 kg (14 lb)
Cammie: 4.38 kg (9.66 lb)
Parker: 7.44 kg (16.4 lb)
Raleigh: 5.40 kg (11.9 lb)

Everyone has lost weight except Raleigh (more about him in a minute). I think the diminution is due to the fact that I cannot leave the hard-food bowl out now; every cat is free to roam all day and night, so to maintain Parker's good blood-sugar readings, and to keep Cammie from eating anything that might cause her an allergic reaction, the hard-food cannot be free to all comers. This cuts down on how much the cats have been eating.

Josie keeps diminishing, which I don’t like. Her weight is not bad for her size, but the fact that she continues to lose poundage causes me concern. She was healthy the last time she was examined, but she is fourteen now, and I should perhaps have her given a thorough check-up.

Tucker’s weight change is due to his mouth troubles, which may not be over. He still refuses almost all hard-food, and he won’t gain weight consuming the small amount of soft-food that he does.

Renn’s loss is due, I am sure, to the aforementioned reduction of opportunity at the hard-food, though whenever he asks for it when I am present, I provide it for him. But he has always been a small-eater.

Parker has grown fussier about his menu, and no longer sucks up everything set before him. He is also wanting his bed-time snack less often. A check-up for the sturdy-boy may not be amiss.

I don’t know why Cammie has lost weight. The princess has her special Z/D nutrition given whenever she asks for it, and it is not calculated to slim a cat’s figure.

It may simply be age that is determining my beasts’ reductions. Josie is the oldest, but Tucker and Cammie are both thirteen years old, and Renn is eleven. Parker is about twelve and a half. Pounds are lost and appetites lessen as the seasons roll by.

As for my newest, and youngest, feline roommate, Raleigh, he has gained weight. He registered at 4.7 kilograms (10.36 pounds) when he was last at the veterinary hospital. He has put on almost three quarters of a kilogram (one and a half pounds). Though he does eat hard-food, the majority of his diet is soft-food, so it is good to know that he is gaining weight on such a menu. I like to think that having a meal at certain times of the day not only makes him healthier but gives him peace of mind, which he may not have had for a while. A full tummy and a warm bed are important ingredients in the recipe for peace of mind.

But in regard to the others, I will continue to monitor their weights and attitudes toward food. Tucker is especially worrying, as you may imagine, and I will be talking to his doctor about him.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Tucker's Continuing Journey

Tucker is struggling in his recovery from dental surgery. In particular, he has yet to find his new diet. Because he tried to eat his regular hard-food too soon, it hurt him, and he is shy of trying it again. He won’t touch the Orijen. Nor will he eat the Z/D that he formerly liked. (I am not too put out because of the latter; it is not the best food, nutritionally, and I serve it in the cosy apartment only because Cammie’s body seems to tolerate nothing else.) However, Tucker will eat the special diabetic food that previously only Parker consumed; I was surprised at this but am encouraging it. If Tucker is eating hard-food, I would prefer he choose Orijen; but he won’t, and he doesn’t eat enough soft-food. So a full belly of the adequate nutrition beats a nearly empty belly of  the superior.

He is finished taking his medicine. His blood-glucose numbers are high enough for insulin one day, and just too low the next. There will be an adjustment period for his diabetes treatment, I am sure. His body has received a shock, from which it is just now healing. The pain and, probably, toxins, from the bad teeth undoubtedly caused problems, affecting the diabetes. Then, there is his so far erratic menu. For the time being, his medical programme will necessarily be ad hoc.

But Tucker is slowly regaining his spirit. This may be seen in his boisterousness when I return each day from work. He is active and cheerful. He is not playing much, but he and I are getting back into our games. Last night he grabbed my fingers while I was attempting to crush his head with my hand. Normally, he then pretends to bite me; this time, he put my fingers to his mouth and gave them a gentle gumming.

I have no doubt I will see my roly poly fully rejuvenated, but it is a fretful path to that destination. I worry about the discomfort and discouragement he will encounter on the journey, but will support him every step of the way.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Open for the Season

I am attempting once again this winter to provide a warm refuge for a homeless cat or two. No, I don’t mean my apartment. Six is plenty. (I know I said that, with a variation in the number, at four, and five… Don’t interrupt. I’m trying to explain something.)

So I have brought out the tube-house, cleaned it up and provided it with actual straw. The straw, supplied by a generous friend, is what is needed to keep a cat warm and dry on a cold day, or night. So far, however, I have had no guests in Hotel Cosy. Of course, it is early days yet, and we have not been afflicted with terribly low temperatures. But I wanted to open the hotel up for guests to check out, before they check in.

One of the problems is that there may not be any outsider-cat with no shelter of some sort already established. Sable and Sablette, who still come to feed at my place, must have a home of sorts elsewhere; the times between their visits is too lengthy for them not to. There are three other new cats who have visited; I have given them names: Oberon, a big black, long-haired fellow with a green collar; Galleon, a smaller tuxedo, also with a collar, and Nimbus, a majestic long-haired grey boy. But all three may have homes, though they don’t mind the extra bite to eat while stopping at CafĂ© Cosy.

However, the hotel is open for business, if there is any business to be had. The restaurant is well-stocked, and the service is friendly. Patrons will just have to ignore the gawkers from inside the neighbouring apartment.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Parker Goes to School

Tucker’s surgery was the big news of last week; the loss of all his teeth, and the discomfort the roly poly is suffering continues to be of significance in the cosy apartment. But the day after Tucker’s ordeal, Parker had a unique experience of his own.

Some weeks ago, an after-school programme in our town called the rescue-group of which I am a member, and inquired if we would like to send a representative to give a talk to children about cats. It would be a marvellous opportunity to tell them about the care of cats, their health and needs. I volunteered to be the one to give the presentation, and thought it might be good to bring along a visual aid: Parker.

I chose Parker because he is a confident, out-going fellow, impressive to look at, and big. He is also accustomed to being on a leash and harness, which he would need to be under the conditions envisioned. All was arranged, and, Friday afternoon, Parker and I headed to a local school to give a talk.

Things did not go quite as planned. Parker was rather more nervous than I had expected, and was a bit growly. Though he is used to meeting people - indeed, he likes to receive attention whether from friends or strangers - I think the nine children assembled to meet him were a bit too much for him. Their ages ranged from six to eleven; they were not noisy or impolite. They were interested in the talk and in Parker. But children probably are perceived differently by a cat than are adults. Children’s energy levels, even when they are quiet, are greater, and so a cat likely picks up on tension waiting to be released.

Still, I had a good interaction with the children, was asked many questions, which I was able to answer, thank goodness, and the boys and girls did get to pet Parker, who was calmer by then. He was, however, ready to go home, and had spent some of the period in his carrier, waiting for me to take him away. While the episode was a bit disappointing, it was not unsuccessful.

If I were to be asked to give such a talk again, I might try bringing Renn or Josie, especially the latter. While these two are not used to being on a leash, they are both very friendly, but without Parker’s temperament, which can show annoyance more readily than either of his foster-siblings. (The orange boy’s reactions at the school were similar to what they are when I end a walk too soon for his liking.)

We’ll put this one down as a ‘learning experience’, which is another way of saying ‘mistake’. But no harm was done, the children had a decent time; they learned a little, as did I, and Parker was not too miffed after he returned home. You know what they tell you in show business: never work with children or animals, especially orange cats.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Onward and Upward

Tucker’s improvement after his traumatic dental surgery continues. He is eating a great deal more soft-food than previously, but of course is consuming no hard-food right now. He keeps trying; I was instructed not to allow him to eat hard-food for five to seven days after the operation, but I am loathe to discourage him. On the other hand, I don’t want him to discourage himself. He finds the kernels painful in his mouth, of course, and, if he wants to eat them, will have to learn to swallow without crunching. I don’t know if he can, but Raleigh has learned.

Raleigh is the real subject of this entry, more encouraging news of progress. I love watching this peachy-cat’s confidence build. He spends more and more time out of the library, preferring to curl up on the hammock between two tall bookcases in the sitting room. I suspect that he feels a little hidden and out of the way there. But he has several times come up on to my lap when I sit on the couch a few feet away. Sometimes, I have invited him; more than once, he has invited himself.

Other signs of Raleigh’s growing courage is how he reacts to sudden movements. Early on, if I was reading with him on my lap, he might suddenly notice a book in my hand and leap away, retreating behind furniture. Yesterday, he was startled by a turning page and jumped off my lap – only to return twenty seconds later. He no longer hurries away every time I approach him, and I see him strolling out of the library to visit the sitting room twice or thrice a day.

Raleigh, like my wonderfully long foster-cat Bear-Bear, who died in 2014, is an ugly brute. There’s no sense in denying it. His eye runs with a thick goop now and then, and though I clean it, it stains the fur. His drooling is much reduced since his dental surgery, but food still clings to the fur about his mouth, and he sometimes leaves his spittle on his enormous feet when he snoozes. But, also like the BB, Raleigh is a determined and affectionate fellow; his spatula-paws flex with happiness when he is brushed or petted, and he squeaks his delight when a dish of food heads his way. Perhaps some day, he will be the cherished member of a loving family. Until then, I will watch him grow, onward and upward.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Best Part

Friday wasn’t a good day for Tucker. It was just after his dental surgery; he was in great discomfort, and it was of course affecting his ability or, rather, desire to eat. He ate but in very small quantities. I was quite worried about him.

Fortunately, today saw an improvement in the roly poly’s condition. Part of it was, I think, due to the pain-killers and other medicines. But the healing process was progressing naturally, and I could see it at work in a number of ways.

I woke in the morning to find Tucker on the bed with Renn and Josie. The last few nights, he had lie elsewhere, not sleeping much. The fact that he had joined us was a good sign. He drooled less, and there was not the amount of pink in his saliva that there had been. He ate much more than the day previous, and his behaviour is now closer to the way it should be.

Perhaps more than anything, his attention to his hygiene is encouraging. When I initially took him to the doctor because of his mouth, the doctor pointed out that his fur was not being groomed well. Saturday, Tucker cleaned all the pink stains from his hair; indeed, he spent twenty minutes straight, seeing to his appearance. This showed not only an interest in his well-being, but less pain in using his mouth.

Of course, he has some way to go. But when a pet has had such a traumatic event as the removal of all his teeth, his human looks for the clues that demonstrate that he is on the rebound, that his body and spirit are heading upward again. I am prepared for a dip when his medication is finished; he will have to carry his fight alone thereafter, and might suffer a slight relapse. Nevertheless, I am heartened.

Tucker even played a little. We have a game, he and I: when he is sitting at the dining table, I will stride toward him, my hands out-stretched as if I am about to seize him; he will give a little scream as I grab his head. He played along, but I felt so sorry for the little guy: all I could see in his mouth were gums.

Those gums will repair themselves, however. Tucker is already adapting to his new condition, and the teeth, all bad or on their way there, will be forgotten. He is a veteran of surgeries that remove bits and pieces of him. This was a tough one but, as before, the best part of him remains.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

All and Nothing

Tucker had his dental surgery today. It will be his last. All of his remaining teeth were removed, leaving none.

When I was told of the results, I was surprised that so many had been taken out. But I had instructed the doctors to remove any teeth that looked bad, or threatened to become so in the future. While Tucker can live and thrive without teeth, operations that require anaesthetic become increasingly dangerous as a cat grows older. Even at thirteen years, the roly poly one is no longer at the optimum age for such a procedure. So, like cutting back brush and under-growth in a wood to prevent the possibility of future fires, I wanted any potential dental problems solved while the circumstances allowed.

My boy is back home. He was very hungry, of course, and, since it had already been five hours since he had come out of the surgical theatre, it was safe to give him small portions of food. He has eaten what I consider a satisfactory amount for the time being. Indeed, he seems finished with eating for the evening, though I will offer more later. I think the pain-killers he had been given at the hospital are wearing off. He will receive more tomorrow morning, and, though I will feed him then, I will be back at lunch-time to offer more food; he will by then again be feeling the effects of anaesthetic.

Tucker is trying to figure out what to do with his tongue. It is no longer restrained by his teeth and keeps coming out. He will grow accustomed to the new situation, and come to an agreement with his tongue, but in the meantime, he must be wondering where his teeth went, and why.

I feel bad for him. His white paws are pink, stained with diluted blood. He is in pain and will suffer discomfort for some time. I know it is for the best, in the long run, though the realisation does not make his confusion easier to watch. But the healing has already started, and will soon be complete. Battered and bruised, Tucker has given all and been left with nothing. But sometimes, that’s a good thing.