Friday, September 30, 2022

Some Peace of Mind

Horace had recovered fully from his upset by the time I returned home from work yesterday. He ate his usual amount of food for dinner, complained at me while I ate mine because he wanted to sit on my lap and, after he had accomplished that mission, had an active play-session. His problem may have been a hairball, or a stomach-bug. Hopefully that otherwise healthy young fellow won’t be troubled by another.

I was able to buy a bottle of Cerenia yesterday. I am quite pleased about this. It was expensive, but I hesitated only a short time before purchasing it. I consider the advantages to having it far outweigh the cost. Firstly, it is cheaper ‘in bulk’: the amount each dose would cost, given the number available in the bottle, is about a third of what individual injections would cost at the veterinary hospital. Beyond that, there is the savings on the vet visit (depending on circumstances, anywhere from $50 to $100 just to see a doctor or veterinary technician) and the cost of a taxi there and back ($30 one-way).

But there is something much more important than the monetary savings that I’ve gained. I’ve acquired a little more peace of mind. Historically, my cats have become sick on weekends. This was troublesome enough when their veterinary hospital had an emergency service. It no longer offers that, which means that if one of the beasts becomes ill after hours, the options are to wait until the next working day, or to take him to the 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic to which I was forced to resort with Minuet. I will avoid that place in the future at almost any cost.

It’s true that Cerenia won’t solve all problems, but the most common ailment that strikes my household is when Renn has one of his off-days. They have been alleviated in the past with Cerenia. So if my oldest cat suffers his most prevalent complaint, I won’t have to watch him suffer for hours, then hope that the hospital can fit him in between others’ appointments, before taking time off from work to ride an expensive taxi for an expensive veterinary visit. And of course most importantly, Renn won’t feel the stress of another trip to the doctor.

This theorises an ideal situation. The Cerenia may not work, after all. But it’s the best solution to a possible problem, and it’s in my power to give it now. That gives me peace of mind. And, perhaps, if my big boy knew the situation, it would bring him some peace of mind, too.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Today's Health Report

Horace is feeling under the weather today. He threw up several times during the night; this morning, I found small amounts of a hairball, so that may be what is causing his distress. He didn’t want anything to eat for breakfast; even placing a dish with a small portion of food before him elicited a pathetic whimper, as if the sight and smell of it was too nauseating for him. I don’t think it is a serious ailment, though he is probably feeling enough discomfort to disagree. I will try some hairball remedy on him this evening, if he has not recovered.

In better news, I am in the process of buying a bottle of Cerenia for Renn. My big boy, as readers may know, is prone to vomiting, his stomach becoming upset and causing him to refuse to eat. He consumes a small amount of food as it is - he always has - so not eating, and bringing up what he already has eaten, is a problem for a cat who is always losing weight, albeit gradually.

I have tried to use Cerenia in pill form, but the mild absurdity of giving medicine orally for something that makes a cat puke is patent. Injecting the drug has usually calmed Renn’s stomach and, even if it doesn’t immediately restore his will to eat, has made him feel better. No one at the animal hospital knew how to charge for the bottle, as it is always paid only by individual injections. Giving a whole bottle to a client is something new to them. Renn’s doctor knows that I have had practice in giving injections, and saw no problem with the provision.

The cost is great, but will give me enough Cerenia for thirty doses. Of course, I don’t foresee Renn needing that many in the relatively short time he has remaining with me. Even so, it is a bargain per injection, especially when a single visit to the veterinary hospital, for any reason, will sometimes cost as much as a hundred dollars. As well, the Cerenia, if kept chilled, will last a couple of years, even after the seal is broken.

I was reminded that Renn’s chronic vomiting is likely caused not by irritable bowel syndrome, but by his failing kidneys. The former cause was one that was discussed, but ultimately rejected. My big boy’s kidneys are dying, and, considering the continued weight loss and periodic unsteadiness he experiences, their failure has probably progressed to stage three or even four. I see no advantage in taking him in to be examined in that regard. All that can be done for his condition is treatment for the symptoms, which is being done.

But with Cerenia, I will hopefully be able to prolong Renn’s comfort, if not his life, and that is not at all a bad item on his health report today.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Favoured Times in a Favoured Season

I enjoy the autumn. Winter with its untrodden blankets of snow and the warmth of one’s home, out of the cold, is a treasure. I like spring, as well, when the temperatures are pleasant and the greenery is bright and fresh. And summer, with its moonlit, balmy nights and sunrises of clear weather, is something to look forward to. Each season has its place in my affections.

Autumn, though, especially the first half of it, has something a little more than the others. There is a softness to nature at this time, perhaps a weariness, something that strikes a chord with me more and more as I age. The trees and the grass are ready to sleep; the sky’s blue looks rather thinner, and the sun sets earlier, urging people indoors to their homes.

The last weeks of September and the weeks of October are a favoured season, when even heat, as we are experiencing now, doesn’t bring the sultriness of July and August, but rather a softness, like floating in water of one’s own body’s temperature.

In the Cosy Apartment, the sun’s light is less dense, less yellow, and slips into the rooms at an angle, as if trying to give the residents the benefits of its last appearances this far north. The beasts this weekend took advantage of the late afternoon; they had eaten, their tummies were full, and they rested. All was quite; the windows were open to the pleasant degrees the thermometers were giving us; noises from outside, automobile traffic and children playing, were muted. The cats were content and still.

These restful moments are a favoured time, when feline quarrels are forgotten, anxiety over whether a food-bowl would arrived is dismissed, and only the comfort of home is known.

Favoured times in a favoured season don’t come every day, and when they do, we greet them as friends we appreciate. We are grateful to them.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Active / Inactive

Renn continues to recover from his latest off-day. Thank you to all those who wished him well.

Meanwhile, Horace grows more accustomed to life in the Cosy Apartment. He and Hector, I regret to write, will probably never be friends. There is just something missing. The way cats react to each other is inexplicable. But they are emotional creatures and, like that other emotional creature – mankind – they choose their friends – and enemies – often on irrational bases. Auric became a real chum to Hec, even though the Golden Boy was the epitome of annoying to the Little Turk at first. Horace has never been more than curious with Hector. Maybe there is something in that contrast.

But Ivory is showing that he is an excellent companion for people and, in his benign association with other felines, he would make a fine addition to a multi-cat household. He alternates quite nicely between action and inaction.

He sleeps on the bed most nights, though he just as frequently spends the dark hours on a cat-bed by a window, just in case something happens outside. This morning, I found him and Hector inches apart on the bed, both snoozing, at about three o’clock. That’s no indication of their conscious relationship, however, as a friend of mine once remarked that a human bed is usually a feline neutral zone.

But Horace has the makings of a great pal for another cat, and a life-long companion for a person.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Not Today

Renn is recovering from his latest off-day. As readers may recall, it began Wednesday night; it continued until Friday. When I came home yesterday, I saw that my big boy had thrown up some coloured fluid. He had also nibbled a little hard-food – which had not come up – and wet in the litter-box, so he had acquired some extraneous water at some time.

What was encouraging was that he ate some soft-food for dinner. It was a very small amount, not enough to keep a mouse’s tummy from growling, but the point was that Renn ate and, moreover, wanted to eat. But it was certainly not enough, so I force-fed a single syringe-worth of Recovery-and-water into him. Then I waited to see if it would stay down.

Later, Renn expressed a wish for some hard-food, of which he ate a small portion. This was repeated through the evening, punctuated by drinks of water. Before bedtime, I risked another syringe of Recovery; it might have triggered more vomiting – the amounts he was eating voluntarily were probably what his stomach was telling him he could stand – but force-feeding not only puts needed nutrition into a cat, but often impels them to eat of their own volition.

There were no unpleasant sounds or sights in the night, and this morning, Renn ate his usual hard-food breakfast, served while I clean litter-boxes and refresh water-bowls. Then, surprisingly, he ate what was for him a good portion of soft-food. He has shown no sign of intending to return it to me.

This episode was a bad one. I called the veterinary hospital yesterday afternoon, but they had no openings until the first week of September; my town is now feeling the press of business in this regard that everywhere else seems to be experiencing. The best I could arrange was a ‘drop-off’ on Wednesday: an animal is delivered to the hospital first thing in the morning and a doctor sees to him in a spare moment during the day. The disadvantages of that arrangement need not be elaborated.

I will, however, take the advice of several readers and talk to my doctor about acquiring some B12 or Cerenia, possibly both, for injection at home. The latter drug would be kept for emergencies, while the former vitamin could be a regular dose. I have no idea if they will provide these under those conditions, how long Cerenia or B12 will stay effective in a syringe, or whether a visit to the hospital is necessary. These are things to discuss with the veterinary. My benefit is that I am well-known to a couple of the doctors and they know my experience with cats.

For now, however, I am relieved. I thought that Renn’s big moment might have arrived. I expect it to come in such a guise: a similar episode from which there is no return. But I think I can now safely write that whenever that moment arrives, it will not be today.


Friday, September 23, 2022

Renn's Latest Off-day

Renn had a bad day yesterday. It began with him throwing up a hairball in the wee hours, and continued with him puking several times through the day while I was at work. I think he also felt poorly enough to miss the litter-box when he tried to wet. The best that could be said about the day is that he didn’t seem to bring up any food, so what he ate Wednesday did him good. But he threw up any water that he drank, at least until last night.

I thought Renn was feeling better very late last night, but this morning, he was lethargic and uninterested in food or water. He did not upchuck last night, which is an improvement. When I went to work, I left him locked in the bedroom with his two preferred kinds of hard-food, plenty of water and a litter-box. This way, I will know if he eats anything - I think even on good days, he waits for me to return from work and set out his bowls for him (otherwise his fellow beasts will empty them); I don’t think he eats any of the other food generally available during the day. I will also know if it is he who diminishes the water in the bowls - if it is diminished - and if and how much he throws up.

If he doesn’t eat by tonight, I will have to force-feed him by syringe. I am less concerned that such an activity keeps him fed than that it keeps his organs working to fight fatty liver disease. This too will be a challenge since, as may be imagined, trying to put food into someone who tosses back up whatever goes down is a difficult proposition. That’s why oral Cerenia, slippery elm and other medicines rarely help him in such instances.

As I wrote about my big boy exactly a week ago, he has his good days and his off-days. Usually the latter last only for that day, and he recovers decently thereafter. Sometimes, the bad periods endure for a couple of days. Eventually, I know, there will not be a recovery. I am hoping that that day has not yet arrived.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

My Good Fortune

It was chilly and rainy last weekend. It was a taste of the autumn to come and, though early next week the temperature is predicted to rise to 28° C (82.4° F), under a sunny sky, there are more cold days ahead over the next few months than warm.

But the Cosy Apartment’s newest guest, Horace, was purring on my lap as he looked out at the weather. It was just a few days ago that he was out there, and would now have had to find shelter against the blustery and wet discomfort. He is still being harassed by Hector periodically - though it seems not to other him much - and I don’t feed him enough soft-food for his liking, but little Ivory is doing very well, and hasn’t shown much interest in going outside again, though he likes to watch it from inside.

This is why I like fostering. There are many, many, many cats who will never know the warmth and security of a home. But there are some who do, and it has been my good fortune to help in that regard. I consider it my good fortune because it gives me purpose, and when Horace lies purring on my lap, I know that I am in rescue as much for myself as for these cats. There aren’t many activities in which everyone involved benefits, but rescuing animals is one.

(Now, as an aside, I would like to ask of one of my readers, Roberta, with what medicine she treats her Joey’s eyes, if any. Horace’s eyes are improving with his drops, but they may never be entirely free of what appears to be a mild infection. Also, Kea’s Derry is having eye problems. I would be grateful for any details you could give us.)

(UPDATE: not for the first time, I deleted someone's comment instead of publishing it. The commands for these actions are next each other in the moderation panel. There is no offer to re-consider deletion. Roberta was kind enough to respond to my question about her Joey. I responded by deleting her answer. However, it remains in my moderation panel and I am including it here because she took the time and effort to respond, and because it may prove valuable to more than a few people whose cats' eyes are afflicted:

“Thank you for your question, John. Over the years, Joey has been on many different eye drops for his herpesvirus eye issues: Neomycin, Terramycin and most recently Ofloxacin to name a few. Unfortunately, these are antibiotics which really are not that effective against viral infections. There aren't a whole lot of antiviral eye medications. It's like having a cold - you just have to let it run its course. But it is important to know that cortisone should not be used for a viral infection - it will make the infection worse. But that said, it is good that you're having Horace's eyes checked by a vet. You certainly want to avoid complications like a corneal ulcer. Some of your readers recommended l-lysine. Some vets feel it boosts the immune system while other vets feel it does not. It certainly couldn't hurt to give it to Horace. However, please check with your vet before giving Horace any medication or supplement.”)

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Hairless Cat and the Cooler Nights

The nights are now quite cool here, sometimes even chilly, despite autumn being now a day away. I have noticed Neville - temporarily, my Russian hairless - not only curling up in the cat-beds more often, but avoiding the rooms with the widely opened windows. Without his heavy coat, he is feeling the lower temperatures more than the other beasts.

So I am keeping the library window closed at night, and have brought out the heating pad. It is actually a wide strip, and I put it under a heavy towel. Neville seemed to like it last night, and this morning, while the day was still dark, I caught him making use of the warmth.

As the old saying goes, ‘when the hairless cats start using the electric heating pads, winter can’t be far away’. (That’s not really a very old saying…)

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The Pumpkin Patch

Though not about my cats, this article is about cats - of course. Autumn is almost upon us, and it’s appropriate that readers spend some time in the pumpkin patch. Welcome to the Lethbridge PAW Society’s pumpkin patch…

These handsome, and unconscious, mancats are Tyson (upper right), Sora (bottom) and Cashew (the little one). They share a foster-home and, as you can see, are great friends. That’s not surprising. Tyson - ‘Uncle’ Tyson, as he is known in the rescue group - is almost three. Friendly from the outset, he was likely abandoned by his people. He was found with a bad wound on his leg, which healed nicely long ago. His peculiar quality is his love for kittens. If we have orphaned kittens in the rescue-group, Tyson is sure to take care of them, grooming them, playing with them, comforting them when they cry for their lost parents. He teaches youngsters how to be cats. He’s helped raise four sets of kittens.

Sora, not quite a year and a half, is a beneficiary of Tyson’s wisdom and affection. He and his siblings were born in the wild and eventually trapped with their mother. All the kittens were easily socialised but Sora became a good chum of Tyson; his apprentice, in a way, for he too has helped in raising kittens.

Little Cashew, five months old, has two uncles looking out for him - and for his brother and sister, Brazil and Hazel. Their other brother, Peanut, was inadvertently separated from his family when the mother-cat moved them. He was too rescued and is already adopted. Cashew and his siblings are learning feline ways from Tyson, Sora and the others in their foster-home.

All three of these orange boys are available for adoption and, as you can see, get along very well with other cats. Tyson and Sora would make excellent godfathers to youngsters currently without mentors, and Cashew, Brazil and Hazel would make fine family members, together or separately. If you live in Lethbridge, Alberta, go online at to learn more about them.

After all, with the coming of autumn, the early darkness at eventide, and the chilly air, wouldn’t it be wonderful to come home to your own pumpkin patch?