Monday, November 27, 2006

Tommy and Cissy

I hit the ground running after I got off work this afternoon...

I had a two-thirty appointment for Tommy with the vet, so raced home, grabbed him and headed back into town. The vet is confident in the diagnosis of insulin shock as the cause of Tommy's seizures. I guess now I know what insulin shock looks like. She still feels he needs 2 units a day but drew blood for a glucose profile to see how he has been doing. He also has a mild bladder infection so he's on antibiotics for ten days.

You would think he would be hard to pill. He locks his strong jaws together but once you pry them open far enough to pop a pill in his mouth, he automatically swallows. Much nicer than dealing with Frieda, who is so resistant to anyone putting anything in her mouth (reminiscent of another red cat I know...) that I would much rather give her injections than oral meds...

Once I got Tommy back home, I decided to muck out the cat run and replace the straw with fresh hay before it got dark. The remnants of the last bale I bought have been taking up space in one of the storage sheds since summer. The hard ground and the light snow cover made it possible to haul the used straw out with the wheelbarrow. Once I got started, it only took about half-an-hour and I was finished by five. Snickers was out playing in the deep hay when I went inside.

I'm worried about Cissy, though. She was out in the cat run when I went to clean it, huddled up in the straw and looking miserable, with running nosy and gummy mouth. She is dirty from sleeping on the floor at the front of the shop. She has been quiet and reclusive the last few days--signs that I would have paid closer attention to if I hadn't been caught up with Tommy's problems.

I took her inside, washed her face, gave her one of Frieda's vitamin B-12 shots and started her on some amoxicillin. I hope that sets her to rights.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

20 degrees,
Breezy and overcast
Three inches of snow on the ground

I didn't have to look very far for Tommy when I got home last night--he was sitting on the floor in front of the door in what we call the "gear-up" position (upright with paws tucked under the body), looking much like himself. The food dish I had left up on the toolboxes was overturned, so I suspect that he fell rather than climbed down from there. At any rate, I won't put him up there again. When he is able to negotiate the cat tree, he will be able to go up there on his own.

For now, he seems happy with the two beds I have made for him on the floor. He was up and eating when I checked this morning, and purred when I rubbed his face and chin. He is almost his old self again, but I need to know what's going on with him to send him so close to death and back again. I'll try to get him in to see the vet tomorrow. I suspect an infection of some sort but have such a variety of antibiotics on hand that I want to know which specific one to use.

The skies threaten snow, which is okay with me. The six inches we had three weeks ago has turned into a shallow covering with dry grasses sticking through. Fresh snow would make it more Christmas-y. It sure feels a lot warmer outside--downright pleasant.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Power Outage

15 degrees

Have you ever noticed that when the power goes out, you are hurled right back into the nineteenth century?

I was just about to start the morning medications when the power went out. As usual, for no good reason--calm winds, no snow falling, just a calm, clear Saturday so what the hey, let's kill the lights...

Homer Electric Association is so lame...

So, unwilling to try to give Frieda her B-12 shot by flashlight, I tried to think of something else to do with the time before I had to go to work. Vacuum? Nope, need power. Laundry? Ditto. I *could* clean cat boxes by the light of a headlamp but why do it if it's not necessary? I mean, maybe if the lights were out for a day or so, I would get down to it, but not after just an hour...

Or I could take Tommy to the vet (see below.)

But when I called the clinic, they had no power either, so that option was no good. I set about using my unexpectedly free time to hang little flashlights in the back rooms and the shop and house so that if the power hadn't returned by dusk, the cats would still be able to see well enough to navigate the jumps and cat trees. Just as I was finishing that chore--the power came back on.

At least it came back up before I had to leave for work, so I didn't have that worry.

Our old Tom cat had a better day today. I suspected he might be improving when I went out in the shop at four am to check on him. He had moved from the nest box I made him and was lying curled beside it, in the perpetual left turn he keeps wanting to make. The bedding in the box was damp--from the location, it appeared as if some of the sub-Q fluids I had given him had leaked out. Can't blame him for wanting to lie someplace drier but the concrete slab looked so hard, I brought out an old sheet and covered it with a towel for him to lie on.

He kept trying to get up and walk--so I helped him over to the litte box and stood him there for a couple minutes. No, that wasn't what he wanted. I steadied him as he got out and walked a few feet to the water dish. After he had drank a bit, I carried him back to his bed and brought him a small dish of his own for water. Then, I figured while I was at it--I opened a can of cat food for him. He was definitely interested in that. He hadn't really eaten since Thursday morning. We gave him honey and Nutri-Cal Thursday afternoon and again yesterday but I'm sure it didn't make his tummy feel full.

I sat with him for about ten minutes while he ate and drank, then put him back to bed before retiring again myself. I figured he had either decided to live or this was the last hurrah before his final crash. What was significant was that he was moving off the steady state he had held for the last thirty-six hours, and that meant something was changing.

By the time I got up this morning, he was looking better and even trying to move around the shop a bit--unsteady but looking stronger

Friday, November 24, 2006

8 degrees

I am more accustomed to the idea of losing Tommy today. I just wish there was a way to know if he was comfortable.

He didn’t seem to be in distress when I got home last night. Rather he was in a semi-conscious state—his eyes half-open, his breathing deep and slow, and generally unresponsive, though he swallowed a few dropper-fulls of water. He looked a lot like a dying cat. I reassured Denny that in such a stupor like that, he wasn't suffering, just drifting in a semi-coma state. I moved him to some bedding in a quiet corner and covered him loosely with an old shirt to keep him warm. Though on the heated slab, we needn't fear drafts.

I was genuinely surprised that he didn’t die during the night.

By early this morning, when Denny looked in on him before leaving, he lifted his head.

I checked on his every twenty minutes or so this morning. By mid-morning, he was acting much as he did yesterday: turning his head to the left and with slight tremors in his legs. I gave him a tiny bit more Valium, which quieted the seizure-type activity, and some sub-Q fluids to keep him hydrated. It finally occured to me that giving sub-Q fluids would be smarter than trying to feed him water by the dropper-full. He took a little Nutri-Cal mixed with honey and the juice from a can of Friskies but didn't really seem hungry.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Day

5 degrees
Clear skies

It stated out as a pretty nice day. Denny and I had pumpkin pie with our morning coffee, then split up to do chores: he had some tires to change on the cars and I had the ever-present cat boxes to clean. He teased me about unloading the dishwasher, so I did that, loaded it up and cleaned the sink as well.

The folks at the Animal Shelter were having a big feast for the staff, volunteers, family, friends and any one else who needed a place to be on the holiday, so Denny was planning to eat dinner there then bring me a plate at work. He has to get up in the small hours tomorrow morning to drive to Anchorage for his flight out to Bethel, so he won't be making a late night of it.

At noon, the televised coverage of the AKC Philadelphia Dog Show began. I always enjoy watching the various breeds of dogs, so I settled in to watch as much as I could before I had to leave for work, doing my primping and packing during the commercials. It was while I was passing through the shop to get some sodas that I noticed that Tommy was lying on the floor next to a litterbox. Since the slab in the shop is heated, there's a lot of lying on the floor that goes on, but he was acting a bit odd, turning his head to the left like he kept hearing something in that direction. When I examined him closer, I saw his paws were twitching--he was having a seizure.

Well, long story condensed somewhat--on top of his FIV and early-stage renal failure, he has mild diabetes and the vet suggested about a month ago that we try him on 3 units of insulin twice daily. I hadn't been too commited to doing that with all the other medications I have been doing the last few weeks. But I finally started getting him his shots on a regular basis about five days ago and he had been fine with it until now. But insulin-shock was the first suspect.

I called the vet emergency number and talked to Dots, who suggested the usual treatment for insulin-shock and offered to meet us at the clinic. We gave him some honey and Nutri-Cal and the twitching stopped. I called her back and told her he had stopped seizing and was resting. She said to continue feeding small amounts of the honey mixture every 45 minutes or so for three hours and to call her if we needed to.

Denny said he would stay home and minister to Tommy. If he is going to die, whether Denny is there or not won't make much difference but I appreciate his concern and commitment. When I left to go to work, Tommy was in a stupor but he was swallowing on his own, so we can at least get sugar and water into him.

As I write this, I have no idea whether Tommy is going to live or die. He lies helpless and vulnerable in the open palm of life tonight. The sunset is beautiful—vivid reds in a liquid blue sky-- and I can’t help but think that it is a glorious evening to die. I know Tommy has had two good years. I don’t know if they were enough to make up for the years of hunger and fear and cold he endured before we made him a member of our family. I do know that for those years, he has been warm and well-fed and known love and companionship. He has remembered how to purr.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Remembrances of things past…

have been having a lot of dreams this fall that take me way back in time, involving people I haven't seen in decades. I was busy in a dream this morning, doing some heavy house-cleaning in preparation for a dinner party, when I was distracted by a cat's meow that was coming from outside of the house. I realized (in my dream) that I hadn't feed the "outside" cats the previous evening and that Johnny was complaining. I knew that he and the other cats would be alright because there was dry cat food out where they were, but I also knew that Johnny wanted to remind me to feed him.

I knew it was Johnny because I recognized his voice.

Only after I woke up did it occur to me that Johnny died two years ago today.

I sure loved that stripey boy.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Br-r-r-r-r
I think our thermometer is stuck on six above zero. That is what it reads every clear, cold morning.

Don't get me wrong--I much prefer this weather to rain and slush. It can actually be comfortable in the midafternoon when it warms up into the teens. If the wind isn't blowing. If the wind is blowing, outdoor activities quickly become No Fun At All. I coined the phrase "FTS (as in "F* This Shit") Cold" this week to describe the effect of a twenty-knot breeze on outside chores when the temperatures are in the single digits.

I especially pity the outdoor creatures. The chickadees and nuthatches have been enjoying the ham fat we hung outside for them and I keep the seed feeders stocked. Yesterday morning, there was a pheasant on our deck, eating sounflower seeds that were scattered on the snow. I made sure to put more out for him.

I haven't seen any tracks from the black-and-white stray since just after the snow fell. The wind has hardened a crust on the snow, so unless I were to look closely, I might not see his tracks if he is still coming by for food and water. I hope he has hunkered down somewhere warm.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Evening

Looks like they got even more snow down in town. At least the airport staff is referring to it as "ten inches of loose snow" in the unplowed areas.

I got almost all the Halloween stuff put away (except the outside lights and the pumpkin wreath) and brought a box of decorations downstairs to start working on but I ended up spending a great deal of time just medicating the cats. The workload should get lighter in a few days--Frieda and Tiny fall back to a maintenance dose on their prednisone after tomorrow and BeBe and Punkin are only on the Clavamox for two weeks--or until it runs out. I actually got Punkin's morning dose down her with a minimum of fighting by just walking up to her while she was sleeping and tipping her mouth open. It was inside before she could bring her claws up. Yes--it's terribly rude to do it that way but she fights tooth and nail--literally--and she needs to learn that taking the occasional medication isn't the end of the world.

I did praise her lavishly for being such a good kitty.

I gave Dinky a good quantity of fluids today because I missed yesterday and then I brought in and warmed up the bag I keep in the shop and gave Tiny some. (I want to keep one bag dedicated to Dinky upstairs.) She is feeling better from her meds and enjoyed sitting on my lap while I let the fluids run into her. It makes the effort worthwhile when you can see an improvement. Then, since the fluid was warmed, I went out in the shop and gave some to Demi and Frieda. Demi sat so patiently that I got carried away (200-250 ml) a bit but a good flush will help with her impaired kidney function and she only gets them once or twice a week.

My little checklist is filled up today so I printed up some new forms for the rest of this month and into December. Then, since I had the printer turned on, I made up some labels of the boxes of Halloween stuff and some new photo address labels. Except I didn't do a good job of proof-reading the first batch, so I got the ZIP code wrong. I can use the excuse that the lighting out there is really poor. Anyway, I'll make a pen-and-ink correction and use them for paying bills.

Then I hooked up the DSL modem right before I had to leave to go to work. It seems to be working okay. Denny didn't get to it before he had to leave and it's a shame to be paying for the service and not using it. If he needs to reconfigure things when he gets home, it shouldn't be a problem.

Then I went out and brushed snow off of the Suburban. I decided to drive the it today because I don't know if we are going to get more snow this evening and I want to take things slow with the "winter" Crown Victoria. Although I wished I had driven it when I nearly slid into a minivan at the store. I forgot that the Suburban doesn't have good studs... So I have to ask myself on days like this--do I need studded tires or four-wheel-drive?

Overcast, snowing
18 degrees
6 inches of snow--5 inches new

The new snow is putting me in a Yule spirit. I have been slowly putting the Halloween decorations away--just may add an impetus for me. Also--again--it is time to check out and repair the lights on the trees in the backyard--that task I always vow I am going to get done before freeze-up.

Oh well...maybe next year.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

10 degrees
1 inch snow on ground

Watching the dust settled after Election Day, I wasn't surprised by the outcome, and was generally pleased. The candidate we supported for governor only got 10% of the vote but he was running as an independent and we didn't really expect him to win. (We just couldn't bring ourseles to vote for the major party candidates. We do enjoy being contrary...)

The best news of the day, of course, was that Donald Rumsfeld will be replaced as Secretary of Defense. It's ironic that had the President made the announcement before the election, he may have stemmed some of the negativity against his party, but it's obvious that the only reason the change is being made because of the outcome of the election. His inflexibility, his inabilty to admit making mistakes is one thing that continues to cripple this president. Pig-headedness shouldn't be confused with resolve.

But the American people have had their say. We shall see how much changes.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day

15 degrees
Partly cloudy

Up earlier than I wanted because BeBe and Punkin had dental appointments at the vet clinic this morning. Oh joy--how I love getting up early on my day off...

Also, since those two had to fast after midnight, I picked up all the food in the house and the natives were getting a bit restless by seven this morning. So I got up, made some coffee, got dressed and put BeBe and Punkin the their carriers and then put the food back down--to the delight of Slippers et al.

Denny was going to go in with me and vote but his stomach was bugging him so he stayed home. At least Punkin and Beebs aren't the most vocal of our cats, so the drive down to town wasn't filled with nerve-wracking complaints from the back seat. It is hard to concentrate on driving when you are trying to comfort a distressed cat. Punkin has been on the trip often enough that she doesn't seem too stressed out by it. She almost seems to enjoy the change of scenery and having all those people make a fuss over her. Bebe gets out so rarely that he wasn't sure exactly what was happening. (That's our big snowball of a cat in the icon...)

The new vet, Dr. Craig, was meeting Punkin and Bebe for the first time, so we spent a little extra time going over my concerns with Punkin's wheezing and limping. Bebe, although he hasn't been to see the vet in seveal years, is basically a healthy young cat.

It was breezy and warmer this morning so I wasn't surprised to see a wall of clouds coming up Cook Inlet toward us. I was surprised when it had covered the far side of the bay by the time I was heading back home. In fact, before I got to the top of Baycrest Hill, a fine dry snow was falling.

Since the ground was dry and cold, the snow stuck and slowly accumulated during the day. We went back into town about three for a vet appointment for Tiny and Frieda and to pick up the dental patients, so we took the Suburban to hold all the cat carriers.

I wasn't too optimistic about Frieda. She has been losing weight and having trouble keeping her food down and for some reason--probably because her family has a history of tumor growing--I was sure she had cancer. But when I described her symptoms and Dots examined her, she seems to think Frieda may be suffering from irritable bowel symdrome. I felt glad about the diagnosis, though, because that is more treatable than cancer. Tiny has--as I suspected--a bad mouth infection but her pain-management seems to be holding well. So we came out of the vet's office with four cats and courses of medications for all of them. Punk and Beebs will just be on post-dental antibiotics but Frieda and Tiny are starting prednesone and antibiotics, plus an nati-nausea drug and Vitamin B-12 for Frieda.