0

Sweet Antidote to What Ails You

Tired of xenophobia and batshit crazy proposals from a Republican candidate who shrugs off comparisons with Der Fuehrer as mere compliments?  Here’s a post from The Daily Kos by Bill in Maine that should lift your spirits:

CHEERS to our little bundle of furry joy.  More proof of how tempus fugits no matter how hard we fire our retro-fugit boosters: C&J’s lab-mix rescue woozle Haley is three years old today.  We’re not sure what she’s mixed with, exactly, but we are sure of one thing: she had a rough start in life, beginning with the parvovirus that she fought off, the stressful journey from Macon, Georgia to Maine, a sinus infection that relentlessly clogged her nostrils, and some other disease that I’ve forgotten the name of but she beat that, too. Here she is (the white one getting squished at lower right) after the “Fab 14” was dropped off at the shelter in January, 2013:

Cage full of puppies, including Haley (back row, white), dog of Common Sense Mainer and Bill in Portland Maine.  Early 2013

Her troubles didn’t end there, though.  A year ago the vet diagnosed Haley with a seriously- damaged ligament, requiring surgery that literally sawed through her lower leg bone and re-jiggered it at a slightly-different angle to compensate (a Tibial Plateau-Leveling Osteotomy, or TPLO, is what they call it).  I don’t know who’s happier about her full recovery—her or us.  But she’s back to being obsessed with tennis balls, running like a racehorse, swimming, jumping, and mostly able to avoid getting whapped by the cat.  Our one concern: she’s a Donald Trump supporter…

Haley, dog belonging to Bill in Portland Maine and Common Sense Mainer, as Donald Trump.             “Build the wall and keep the pooties out. They’re nothing but trouble.”

We hope it’s just a phase.  Happy birthday, Haley, and many blessings on your squeaky camel toys.”

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5

Dogs Have Masters, Cats Have Staff

From the “Things We’ve Always Known But Refused To Believe” files:

Excerpt from New York Magazine:

“A new study from the University of Tokyo found that when researchers played voice recordings of a cat’s name being called by its owner, the feline subject displayed recognition, i.e., reacting to the familiar voice by “moving their heads and ears to locate the sound,” but then remained totally unresponsive — they didn’t meow or move toward the voice or anything. They just sat there, withholding love.

The study, published in the journal of Animal Cognition, reasons that cats haven’t been domesticated to respond to human command. But we know the heartbreaking truth: Love your cat, love it well, but never expect it to really care about you unless you put it on one of those weird harness leashes and force it to be more like a dog.”

meh_cat

 

 

21

Things That Go Bump…

Halloween is fast approaching, and even though it can’t begin to compare with the sheer bowel-wrenching scariness of the current government shutdown/debt ceiling debacle we have Ted Cruz to thank for, I thought I’d give it a nod with a ghost story from my past.

About seventeen years ago we moved into an old house in Texas which was built in the late 1800s.  It was constructed partly of limestone blocks that had been hand-quarried and featured an upstairs room running the length of the house.  This had served as a sort of dormitory for the boys in the family.  The house is quite small, but it held two families of ten kids each over the years.  When we moved in, it was just the two of us and we marveled how those early folks had managed to thrive in such small quarters.  By the time we bought the place, all the modern conveniences were there, but outside there was a remnant of an old outhouse.

A reminder that we had it pretty good, so no complaining allowed.

Eight months prior to our move to Texas from California, we had to have our 16-year-old long-haired Chihuahua, Lolita, put to sleep.  We had one other Chihuahua, Pepe, and a mini-Dachshund, Rudy, who made the trip with us, along with four big Collie-mix dogs.  All six of them and the two of us traveled together in our Econoline van.  When we stopped at rest stops it was like the clown car at the circus.  We opened the back doors and the dogs just kept on a’coming.

About a month after moving into our new (old) house, we’d turned in for the night in the bedroom downstairs.  Not long after turning out the light, we heard the sound of a little dog running across the wood floor.  It came from the adjoining dining room and ran toward the door to the porch, which was at the foot of the bed.  It stopped there, scratched the door two or three times, and then ran back across the room.  This happened several times over the course of the next hour.

Pepe and Rudy were soundly asleep under the covers.  It wasn’t them running through the room.  The big dogs were outside.  The hair on the back of my neck stood on end.  What the…?

Just about every night thereafter the same routine occurred.  Sometimes it started right after lights out, and sometimes it wasn’t until one in the morning.  A couple of times, soon after turning out the light, I would hear the “ghost dog” (as we’d started to call it) get up from the sofa near the bed, shake its ears enough so I could hear them flap and then jump down to the floor.

We had become friends with one of the “kids,” now in his late 70s, who’d grown up in the house and we nonchalantly inquired if the family had a little dog at any time in the past.  He said no, they hadn’t.

Then it dawned on us that when we moved we’d brought along Lolita’s old dog bed.  Why, I can’t say.  And then we realized that we’d stuck it in the dining room which was serving as a catch-all until we could get everything sorted out after the move.  That’s where the activity seemed to be emanating from.

So we took the dog bed and put it upstairs in the dormitory room.  It wasn’t long before we would hear ghost dog come clicking down the stairs on her nightly run.  She also was heard rustling in the wastebasket next to the desk upstairs while my husband was working there.

I took to sleeping with a little flashlight I called my “ghost buster.”  Whenever the activity started, I would take the flashlight from the table next to the bed and scan the room on the off chance I’d finally see something.  All it did was stop the activity—for a bit.  Some nights I would hear her drop what sounded like one of our other dogs’ Nylabone chew toys on the hardwood floor.  When I lit up the room, there was nothing there.

Other nights, Lolita (by this time we figured it had to be her) would bonk around under the bed like she used to do when she slept in her dog bed under our bed back in California.  We would even hear her tripping over the extension cord on the floor.  Sometimes Rudy and Pepe would look up after hearing her, but they never growled or seemed disturbed by any of it.

This went on for almost a year until the terrible day that Pepe was bitten by a rattlesnake and died hours later on my bed.  We were grief stricken.

Maybe a week or so later, we heard two little dogs running around upstairs, like they were chasing each other.  There was more rustling in the trash and just double the activity in general.

Then, the noises gradually subsided and finally stopped altogether.

I’d had a dream (or visitation?) from Pepe the morning after he died.  He used to wake me up by standing on my chest and licking my face.  That’s what I awoke to—or dreamt I was waking to.  He was backlit by white light and I was crying, I was so happy to see him.

Then he faded away and I realized I was awake and he was gone.

But maybe he wasn’t.  Maybe he hung around with Lolita for a while before they both went off to doggie heaven together.  Maybe…

Happy Halloween

Lolita swami

LOLITA SEES ALL…KNOWS ALL…

30

The Comeback Cat

When we bought our place here twelve miles outside of town a couple of years ago, three cats came along as part of the deal.  For whatever reason, the previous owners didn’t want to take the cats with them when they moved, so we said we’d take over their care because we like cats and it’s always a good idea to have some outside cats on patrol when you live in snake country.

We suspect they all came from the same litter because two of them are solid gray in coloration and one is a combo of white, gray and orange.  Two are neutered males and one is a spayed female.

The female has kind of been through the wringer physiologically, because besides being spayed she’d also been declawed and her tail had been cut off right down to its base, with barely a little stump remaining.

For want of much imagination at the time when we moved in, we named her “T.L.C.”, for tail-less cat.  The other gray cat is “T.C.”, for tailed cat.  The white/gray/orange cat we call “Nemesis” because he tended to pick fights even though he no longer has any “habichuelas” to contribute testosterone to the mix.

It seems he was neutered after he was an adult, so I guess old habits die hard.

T.L.C. apparently had been an indoor/outdoor cat.  We learned this early on because she knew how to open the front door by jumping up and hitting the door latch hard, which resulted in the door becoming ajar enough for her to gain entry.

Although T.L.C. had been declawed, we already had an indoor cat and we were afraid the two wouldn’t get along, so T.L.C. has remained an outdoor kitty and despite some attacks from Nemesis, she’d done pretty well.

She even has a “husband” now in the person of Roadie, one of the two cats we rescued after they were dumped on our road as kittens and were living in a drainage culvert.  She and Roadie (who was neutered at six months of age) get along famously and he’s been kind of her protector from any of Nemesis’ advances.

But…shit happens, as they say.

A couple weeks ago I noticed that T.L.C.’s left eye was watery and she seemed to be squinting a little more than what she does when she’s in her Love Mode—getting right up in my face while “making biscuits” with her soft paws.

I looked at her eye as best I could and didn’t see anything obvious or any bleeding.  She didn’t seem to be in distress, so we just figured she might have scratched her eye on one of the spiny plants that naturally occur here in the hill country.

Her eye appeared to improve for a while, but then it got worse, so I started using some antibiotic eye drops that I had for my Himalayan inside cat.

(Eyes seem to play a big role in my life–from my Mother’s macular degeneration, to Neferkitty’s chronic dry eyes and conjunctivitis, and now T.L.C.’s dilemma.)

This last Friday (ironically the 13th) she had a lot of discharge coming from her eye and the pupil didn’t look right so I took her to our vet, a really nice guy who’s been in practice for many years and who has a wonderful bedside manner.

He took a good look at T.L.C.’s eye and said “You’re not going to like this, but the eye has to come out.”  He then showed me how her eyeball had become somewhat shrunken in the socket and that’s why the pupil looked distorted.  He thought she’d either been deeply scratched by another cat or her eye had been punctured by something sharp.

Either way, it had become infected inside and was losing fluid.  Since the pupil didn’t seem reactive, he felt that she wasn’t seeing much of anything, if at all, out of that eye.  He didn’t think it could be saved.

He tried to reassure me by saying that cats do very well with just one eye, but I was too busy mentally kicking myself for being a Bad Mother.  (And not “bad” in a good way like 70’s icon John Shaft.)

The vet gave me an antibiotic liquid to give T.L.C. twice a day and said to continue with the eye drops three times a day over the weekend.  We scheduled her surgery for today, Monday, at 8:30 in the morning.  *Sigh*

We isolated T.L.C. in the room off the carport so I could give her the meds. easily and just to keep her as comfortable as possible.  Through this whole thing she never stopped purring and wanting to be petted.

If it were me, I’d be pissed.  But that’s the beauty of pets—unconditional love, whether we deserve it or not.

This morning, after a little over two days of antibiotics, we were surprised to see that the discharge had lessened to just some wateriness and that the pupil seemed to be more normal and appeared to be reactive to light.

But still—over the weekend I’d done a lot of Googling about her condition and thought that maybe this was just wishful thinking on my part.  I really, really didn’t want her to have to lose her eye.  She’d been through a lot of physical trauma in her life and still was the sweetest cat.

I reluctantly left her off at the vet’s office at 8:30 and did some errands in town for a couple of hours.  Just after I got home the phone rang and it was the vet.  My first thought was, “Oh, no…something bad has happened during surgery…it was cancerous…or worse…she didn’t make it through the operation.”

My mind tends to work that way.  Just ask my husband.

But, thankfully, no!  The vet said that he had wanted to take another look at her eye before his assistants prepped T.L.C. for surgery.  He said he was amazed (his word) at how good it looked.  He had even thought that maybe it wasn’t the same cat!  So he called off the surgery and wants to continue with the eye drops to see how she does.  He said the puncture wound may have sealed itself (it happens).  That, along with the antibiotics, may have been enough to allow the fluid in the eye to restore the shape to the eyeball and reactivity to the pupil.

She isn’t entirely out of the woods yet, but he feels that she certainly is doing so much better that she deserves a shot at preserving her eye.

Hallelujah!

T.L.C. is home and back in her recovery room, having a welcome meal of kitty crunchies and is being spoiled rotten.

We’ve decided that her name “T.L.C.” now stands for “The Lucky Cat.”

16

The Mighty Mite–or–Ears to You

One of our inside cats, Culvey, has been scratching at his ears on and off lately.  That can mean only one thing:  the return of the dreaded ear mites.

He had them pretty badly when we first rescued him from the culvert on the side of our road where he’d been dropped off by some uncaring bastards people a couple of years ago.  His brother, Roadie, also was quite ill with feline rhinotracheitis, the kitty version of a bad cold or the flu.

After neutering, several rounds of immunizations, mega doses of amoxicillin and approximately $400 in vet fees, the boys were cured and had a loving home. 

This I can say assuredly:  there is no such thing as a “free cat.”

From time to time Culvey has needed to be dosed with ear drops to control the return of the ear mites.  I’ve found that the kind you can get at the supermarket from the Hartz Mountain company seem to be just as effective as the ones the vet used.  So when he started going after his ears a little too often, I knew it was time for Doctor Mom to make a house call.

Culvey is getting pretty cagey about the whole thing, though.  I’ve done it enough times for him to know my modus operandi for ear mite medicine. 

After I’ve located my reading glasses, I usually have the open ear drops tube and a tissue at the ready.   My operating table is the rug in the kitchen where the light is good and I can see what I’m doing. 

Today, when Culvey saw the tube and tissue in place on the rug, he took off running and had to be captured before I could do the deed. 

The procedure calls for me to straddle Culvey so I can hold him securely between my legs so he can’t go backward or forward very easily while I fold one ear back at a time to get the drops in.  This is being attempted while I have a vice-like grip on his head with my one free hand. 

He’s a pretty big cat now and it was a lot like Wrestle-Mania for awhile there on the kitchen rug until I could get him to hold still long enough to put the right dosage in and then massage the ear. 

No body slams or chair throwing, but a struggle just the same.

Now, here’s what the back of the medicine package looks like.  (Notice the calm, smiling cat who’s sitting upright and relaxed, allowing his owner to easily and gently put the drops in his ear.)  Uh huh.

 That cat doesn’t exist.  If anything, the cat that modeled for this illustration had been freeze-dried beforehand and can now be found gracing the top of some little old lady’s television.

I would love to hear from you if this is, indeed, how it goes in your house when you’re dosing your cat (or your dog) with medicine, be it drops, pills or liquids.  Any pet war (or horror) stories along those lines are welcome too. 

Culvey is giving me a wide berth today, post ear mite control.  I’m sure, if he could, this is what he’d be doing in retribution:

P.S.–This cat looks just like him.

4

Culvey, the Internet Celebrity

Wow!  Was I surprised today to get an email from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) letting me know that my cat, Culvey, was being featured on their website.  I had submitted his photo and a brief “bio” about him to the HSUS “Pet of the Week” contest they administer.  Every week a pet that has been rescued in some way or adopted from a shelter is featured in their email newsletter.

This article for December is called Home for the Holidays.  (Click on the link to go to that page.)  There’s a photo slideshow you can scroll through to view the pets whose corresponding stories appear on the page.  Culvey is the second photo–and a very handsome fellow he is too, if I do say so myself.

Please consider adopting your next pet from a shelter and, as always, please spay or neuter your pets.  Help prevent pet overpopulation, which always leads to the tragedy of euthanasia for unwanted animals.

Culvey says “Thank you!”