Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The Watcher

I was putting towels away in a cupboard, and apparently my activities were of some interest to a cat who had been reclining on some boxes in the hall…

Monday, November 28, 2022

It's a Matter of Taste

We had a short but sharp snowstorm yesterday in my part of the country. It didn’t last long, but the drop in temperatures that accompanied it has remained. The beasts in the Cosy Apartment settled in to their choice of warm, snug spots and slept the day away.

Renn usually prefers the saddle-topped cat-tree, above the hot-water pipes…

Neville may now be found on the carpeted top level of the taller sitting room cat-tree…

Hector likes the bed, up against the pillow…

As does Zofia…

And then there’s this guy. Horace selected the unpadded box-lid on the floor. Well, he does have the integrated padding for both warmth and cushioning, but still…

Thursday, November 24, 2022

On Min's Cat-tree

Minuet didn’t have the chance to use her cat-tree as much as I had hoped she would. She did climb it and lie on its platforms; I recall with pleasure seeing her snooze on its highest level. But illness and death overtook her before she could enjoy it more fully.

The cats who remain do like Min’s cat-tree, however. This is the case particularly with the younger beasts. They seem to favour the top-most platform, probably for its lofty sensation of security and, of course, superiority.

Madame would probably not have minded her roommates using her tree. She had grown quite tolerant of the others toward the end of her stay in the Cosy Apartment. Unless a cat were coming directly toward her, she didn’t mind reasonable proximity. I am glad that has granted tacit permission for her fellow felines to enjoy her cat-tree.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Their Doctor's Visit

Hector and Zofia went to the doctor yesterday. There was nothing that we thought wrong with them, but the rescue-group needed to have Hector’s booster-shot given and Zofia’s first vaccination.

It was not a happy journey. Hector, who can be quite brave when picking on Horace, yowled in his carrier the whole journey. He eventually was reduced to a strange honking sound, like a goose. I thought the poor fellow would hyperventilate. Little Miss Zed was quiet, but afraid.

The examinations that accompanied the injections went well. Hec has some tartar that will have to be addressed, but not right away. As someone remarked, it seems that every stray we rescue has dental issues. Otherwise, the little Turk is doing well. He is at an excellent weight, though keeping this gourmand at it will not be easy.

It was revealed that Zofia has a kind of floating patella in each of her rear legs. This bone is behind the knee. When the kitten stands suddenly, she sometimes must wait for the bone to slip back into place; I have seen her arch her back and hop a bit when rising from a still position, but thought it was just a sign of her stretching, or accommodating stiffness. This condition is not common but not entirely rare, either; it causes no pain at the moment, but her weight, too, will be a concern. Too many pounds will aggravate the condition in years to come, and could lead to arthritis.

However, Zofia is doing well. She and her big brother took their injections without flinching and, though Hector repeated his raucous crying on the way home, their evening was uneventful, and they have apparently suffered no ill effects from the shots. They played, ate and snoozed, the rest of their day no worse for their doctor’s visit.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Movies to Look Up To

It’s always interesting to see how the beasts react to the movies I watch on Saturday night. Zofia is by far the most interested in the films – or, rather, most interested in the moving pictures. When I first wrote about little Miss Zed (was it only five weeks ago that she came to the Cosy Apartment?), Lynn, of Precious’s blog, wondered if Zofia would watch a movie with me that night. The only girlcat in residence doesn’t always stay to view the latest selection on offer, but she does make an appearance to see if the evening’s genre appeals to her. Last night it did.

There was rather more action in the movie than usual, and Zofia was captivated by the helicopter flying through a scene. She may have thought it a giant bird. Whatever she imagined, her attention was glued to the screen for as long as the aircraft was present. Maybe aerial adventure is her preferred subject. The Dawn Patrol, perhaps?

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Ironic Vindication

Neville is much improved. I gave him his injection of Cerenia Thursday afternoon, and he hasn’t thrown up since. He is eating and acting normally, though he now spends a great deal of his time at the top of the taller cat-tree in the sitting room, rather than in the bedroom on the bed. That’s fine with me – cats often change their habits after a trauma (and having all his teeth removed, followed by a bad illness, counts, I think) – though if he is ever sick up there, the mess will be impressive.

I was worried that the Cerenia wouldn’t work on Nev, as he has never had it before. That shouldn’t be a cause of ineffectiveness; nonetheless, I bought it specifically for Renn, and it seemed proporietorially his. I never thought I would use it first (or ever) on the Nevsky.

But I am relieved that it worked. I feel vindicated in buying it, though I wish I had never had to use it. Even so, I am confident in giving it now, since the manner in which it was delivered was obviously correct, and confident in this particularly vial’s worth. Neville’s doctor is the rescue-group’s regular veterinary, and not those at the hospital whose head office changed their policies, though if he had gone to the hospital for Cerenia, a technician would have been sufficient to inject it. But Thursday’s dose here at home saved the cost of a veterinary visit, and the time required for it. Most importantly, it saved Neville the stress of going.

Now, he can devote the weekend to important work, much of which looks like this… 

Friday, November 18, 2022

A Long Week for Neville

Pre-dating the fuss about my veterinary hospital’s new policy, as detailed in yesterday’s blog entries, is the trouble with Neville. It started on the weekend. The poor fellow had to deal with the loss of his teeth though surgery, which was bad enough. He was not allowed to eat hard-food for a week thereafter, which undoubtedly annoyed and puzzled him. Then he became sick. He threw up continually, and was unable to keep anything down. As well, his poop was liquid.

I am unsure what caused the illness. It may have been a reaction to the antibiotics and pain-killers he was prescribed after the surgery. They can upset the body’s workings, especially the digestion. If the medicine Nev was taking instigated the ailment, then it was a delayed reaction. On the other hand, it may have been due to a kind of stomach ‘flu. It was identical to what Renn has suffered in the past - the constant vomiting, the inability to keep food in the stomach, and the runny stools. Then again, it may have been something introduced by the newcomer, Zofia. I believe that Horace had previously brought a bug into the apartment when he first arrived; it too seemed to delay its manifestation until after Ivory was settled.

Whatever the cause, the situation was serious. Neville wanted to eat but could not retain any food. Drastic action was needed. I resorted to the Cerenia I had bought for Renn.

It is ironic that I had purchased this precious supply of Cerenia for my big boy but the first cat who ends up needing it is Neville, who has never suffered from such a requirement before. Nonetheless, this is the situation, if not the cat, for what I purchased the drug. I researched the amount to be given (one millilitre per 10 kilograms of body-weight) and injected Neville yesterday afternoon. I was told that the reaction is often one of sharp but short pain, as the Cerenia stings going in. I keep it refrigerated, both to make it last longer and because the sting of injection is thus lessened. Nev didn’t flinch. A friend suggested that the usual reaction may be for cats not accustomed to receiving injections.

Then came the waiting. The drug is supposed to take effect an hour after injection. To be safe, I held off on food for twice that amount of time. When I gave Nev his late dinner, he ate well. It stayed down and at ten o’clock, I gave him a bed-time snack.

I didn’t get much sleep last night. Every sound woke me and made me wonder if it was a cat throwing up. The worst was when I heard the characteristic hollow, heaving sound - but realised it was Horace thumping his way up the staircase next the bed. I woke about three-thirty, as that has been the most common hour for Nev to puke during the night. By the time I had to get up, I had heard no evil sounds, and found no evidence of retrograde digestion. I think we had made it through the night.

Neville’s appetite wasn’t strong at breakfast-time, though he ate some. Today, he may yet throw up, though I’ve only rarely had to give Cerenia more than once, and that, I believe, was during one of Cammie’s particularly bad episodes. I will see what Neville produces, if anything, when I come home.

Reading about Cerenia has increased my confidence in the drug. I thought that it had something to do with calming the stomach, rather like a complicated form of antacid. I wondered how, then, a subcutaneous injection could do such a thing. This led me to read about it. It really has little to do with the stomach.

There is something in the body called Substance P (which told me that science has officially run out of names, like car manufacturers). This is a neurotransmitter crucial to vomiting. (How anyone discovered that is a mystery to me.) It binds to neurokinin-1 receptors, triggering the urge to vomit. Cerenia is built very similarly to Substance P, so it clings to neurokinin-1 in P’s place, but, unlike P, is harmless; once Cerenia is in place, Substance P can’t work its nefarious ways on neurokinin-1. This is why it’s better than something that works on the stomach, since it prevents the urge to vomit, regardless of what the stomach wants to do. In short, Cerenia convinces the brain not to puke, rather than the stomach, and if the brain thinks it needn’t, it’s not going to listen to the stomach’s arguments.

One injection may not be enough for the Nevsky; I will see what I find when I return home. And the Cerenia shouldn’t, logically, cure what is causing the physical upset in the first place, yet it usually does. When Cammie ate food to which she was allergic (which was everything but Z/D), only Cerenia would calm her reaction, and when it wore off, the reaction to the wrong food was also gone. I hope for the same process in Neville’s case.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Less Disturbing News

There is an update to my blog-entry of earlier in the morning, and it is more optimistic than the previous.

I called my veterinary hospital to complain about the fact that veterinary technicians would be taking the place of the veterinarians in many of the procedures conducted at the hospital. I had a list of reasons why this new policy was horrendous and I was not going to be reticent.

However, I was informed by the receptionist - who, to judge by her tone, had already had an earful or two from clients this morning - that the new policy is optional, and in any case applies only to certain activities. I pointed out that this was not what the email I had received yesterday described; she agreed that it was ‘not very clear’. I further stated that the announcement had been quite definite about the new policy. The receptionist was equally definite about it being optional. I asked if a second email would be sent out by the hospital to correct misconceptions born of the first, and was informed that the first email had originated at corporate headquarters.

I suspect that the new policy’s popularity at the company’s headquarters is not shared by the staff at some hospitals, mine being one. There is no way to correct the impressions of the email, as that would entail contradicting headquarters, and even sending out another message, declaring the optional character of the new policy as practised here, is not practicable. To be honest, I gathered that largely disregarding headquarters’s new directives might have to be done quietly, without drawing attention from the bosses.

The receptionist sounded embarrassed by the matter, and was at pains to assure me that if I wanted to see a veterinarian when I brought my cat in that would be arranged, as it always has been. Nonetheless, I am wary, which is probably the response the staff of the hospital is receiving from more than one client. Even with the - possibly informal - amendments of which I was assured, the hospital may experience the effects of the first email for some time.

Disturbing News

I received a rather alarming email yesterday from my regular veterinary hospital. Under the guise of ‘exciting news’, it described how the hospital’s veterinary technicians will now be performing many of the tasks which were formerly performed by veterinarians.

When one takes a pet to the hospital now, he will be seen by a vet tech. This will be for any procedure, complaint or concern. He will examined by a vet tech, instead of a veterinarian, and the vet tech will then determine if there is a medical issue and prescribe treatment, including medicine. The care of one’s pet, including those in critical conditions, in life and death situations, will now be in the hands of people who are not trained to give it.

The email stated that the vet techs will have received five days of ‘intensive’ training for this new role. This will, in the minds of those who conceived this new policy, be sufficient to equal the four years of schooling (and subsequent experience) that a veterinarian is given. Personally, I don’t think that any amount of time at night-school or any number of videos watched on YouTube is going to qualify a vet tech to do what a veterinarian must.

Furthermore, to see a real veterinarian will require a ‘follow-up’ visit, with its additional cost. In other words, to have one’s pet viewed by someone with actual training in veterinary medicine will now cost double what it did, not including the time required in waiting for a second appointment, if indeed one can get a second appointment within any reasonable period.

It may be guessed that I am displeased with this regression in animal health care. A vet tech is qualified for many things, but not for being a veterinarian. The hospital in question was not so long ago bought by a big American corporation; to me, this is the corporation’s way of saying that my pet’s life isn’t important, my money is. I have been taking my cats to this hospital for fifteen years. Tungsten went there. My foster-cats go to a different hospital, since their health-care is under the rescue-group to which I belong. Only Renn remains a patient of the subject hospital, but I doubt that I will be taking him there again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

School Every Day

One of the reasons why rescue groups advise people to adopt kittens in pairs is so that they can learn from each other. I saw this when I fostered the Felons. Oleo and Bisto learned about different aspects of life at different speeds, and one would pick up knowledge from the other. Having an older cat to instruct a kitten is a similarly good idea, especially if the elder is still young enough to be a playmate.

Zofia is learning from her two ‘brothers’, Hector and Horace. I watched this happen last night. One of Horace’s favourite spots is a cushioned chair at the dining table. Little Miss Zed has started jumping up to lie next to him. But yesterday, she learned something new.

I observed Zofia looking at Ivory, snoozing on his chair. Then, she looked at another cushioned chair. She looked at Horace; she looked at the chair. At last, she hopped up onto the vacant chair and settled down on its cushion. She may have thought that it was similar to Horace’s chair, but it was all her own. And she had mastered it after watching her foster-brother enjoy the comforts of his chair.

Even if Zofia is adopted alone, she will have absorbed valuable lessons from Hec and Ivory; how to play, how to behave, how to enjoy comfort. Even if, someday, her teachers fade from her memory, their tuition will remain, shaping her little life.