When you pet doesn’t feel well…

It’s awful when your pets aren’t feeling well, even if it is self-inflicted on their part!

Sylvester, our 13-year-old Tuxedo cat, has a penchant for mischief. Even at this stage of his life he likes to surprise us. Several days ago, I’d forgotten to take something out of the freezer for dinner, so at the 11th hour, I grabbed a small pork loin roast and threw it in some cold water in the kitchen sink to defrost. I do it fairly often (brain fogged menopause brain syndrome) and thought nothing of it and ran down to the basement to finish cleaning. When I came upstairs, I found Sylvester hunched over the pork roast, with remnants all over the floor and 2 big holes bitten in the plastic. Pork blood and tiny pieces of meat hung around his whiskers! I didn’t think too much about it because, well, this is not his first rodeo, and he had stolen frozen pork chops once before as a kitten! I cleaned it up and he still ate a nice hearty dinner later.

The next day I knew something was up with him. He only had a few licks of breakfast and was starting to vomit, mostly just liquid and phlegm. He has asthma and we’ve been monitoring his inflammation, which includes how often he throws up phlegm and I have a pretty detailed log that I keep. When he started to vomit bile, I knew it was time to contact the vet.

I emailed back and forth with his doctor who recommended a couple of medications. By this time, he’d also stopped drinking water and was looking a little shaky and miserable. I was told to withhold food from him for 24 hours and if he was still like that, take him to the emergency clinic the next day.

The next day was no better. He threw up on our bed during the night, so I got up and took him downstairs to the basement and we chilled on the couch for the rest of the night so that we could give Greg some peace. He just lay on top of me all that time and was very miserable. I tried to coax him with all his favourite foods and treats and even tried to get some water into him by using a syringe, but he was having none of it. Later, that morning he came upstairs and tried drinking some water but brought that up almost immediately. I called the vet and collected the meds, but they advised that I take him to the emergency clinic and don’t start the meds so that they can get a full picture of what’s going on.

The emergency clinic doctors only arrived at noon (yes, I know!) and we were there a little before. There are renovations going on there and no one is allowed in with their pets, so we consulted over the phone, and they came and took him from me so that he could see a doctor. The doctor examined him, and I’d given them a copy of the log I’d kept, as well as the meds I got from his vet, and she called me back and said she suspects it’s gastritis from eating the pork which was exasperated by his feline asthma symptoms. To be on the safe side she recommended taking an x-ray of his abdomen to ensure that he didn’t eat any of the plastic around the pork and that it wasn’t stuck somewhere in his tummy. Once the x-rays were completed she called me back to say there was no foreign body inside and there’s just an inflamed fold in his tummy that she says it’s fairly typical when a cat has been vomiting so much. She didn’t see any growth or obstruction, but she was going to send the x-ray to a Board-Certified Radiologist to confirm her findings. If I don’t hear from her, all is fine. I haven’t heard from her!!

She didn’t think Sylvester would be able to tolerate the oral meds at this stage, so recommended giving him an injection to stop the nausea and vomiting and an injection to stimulate his appetite and I totally agreed (one less pill to give him!). He could start the oral meds the next day. Within 15 minutes he was back in the car while I tried to be a brave girly and not cry!

I got him home and he was very happy to be back. In fact, he must have been feeling a lot better already because he went straight to the water bowl and sucked down a bunch of water. I followed him around like a hawk, making sure he didn’t throw that up, and he didn’t! Bit by bit, he returned to the feeding area and ate a little and drank more water. At dinner time he inhaled everything. I didn’t want to give him extra food, even though he hadn’t eaten for nearly 48 hours, because I didn’t want to upset his tummy, so I gave him a random treat here and there. He managed to keep it all down and there was no vomiting involved. He was perkier and getting stronger, but still not quite himself.

That night, after a bit of wailing and pacing, he finally jumped into bed with us and fell asleep. We were all exhausted and slept well. No vomiting through the night either. At breakfast time, his food bowls were empty so that was a good sign and he ate well again and was still drinking a nice amount of water. He started his meds and seeing as he loves pill pockets, it wasn’t very difficult to persuade him to take them.

Today, 4 days later, he is still a little sleepy and not quite 100%, but he is eating and drinking and doing all the cat related things. I’m just giving him some space and letting his body recover and giving his vet regular updates.

I’m incredibly grateful and thankful for everyone’s help, from the staff at his regular clinic, to the emergency clinic (who didn’t treat me like a crazy overprotective cat mom) and took everything I said very seriously. Now we will work on getting his asthma totally under control, but first he has to finish the gastritis meds and bounce back a little more.

Feel better Vestie-pestie. Your fan club is banking on it!

Sylvester making himself a comfy nest.

Cat Sitting

In the last month I’ve had the privilege of looking after a couple of friends’ cats. One cat I know pretty well, and he is familiar and comfortable with me. The other cat I just met for the first time, and she is very timid and skittish and not happy that I’m there instead of her family.

I’m no expert, but I do love cats. We have 3 cats of our own – each very different to the other. Aggie (13) is our diva, the tiny princess with the loudest voice and opinions to match. She hates her brothers! Sylvester (11) is the social charmer, the “southern gentleman”. Everyone loves Sylvester and he loves everyone. Bear (12) is scared of every noise and every sudden movement. He’s the most lovable of the 3 and a big snuggler and by far the loudest purrer!

Dealing with cats is exactly like dealing with children. You love them, entertain them, feed them and give them a loving and warm environment to live in. They will reward you with the occasional lap-sitting experience, fling litter all over the place, shed all over your furniture, throw up immediately after you’ve fed them (but making sure it’s in a camouflaged area so that you step in it first) and destroying your furniture with their claws. Despite all that, they give you just enough love, purrs and entertainment that make it all worthwhile.

We have provided our cats with giant cat trees, houses, windowsill shelves, a bajillion toys, catnip everything, regular vet visits to maintain their health and wellbeing, lots of love and attention, and an array of cozy blankets and throws in every room in the house. They are spoiled rotten! I can’t resist items with cat pictures on them. I believe I would turn into a cat if I wished really hard.

So back to the guest cats: The first one, who I will call “Dollar” is a feisty, all boy cat. He loves to play and hunt and chat. He loves to be brushed, loves his perches and watching birds and squirrels in the trees. I show up to feed him and he greets me with a small “mew” and then weaves himself in and around my legs while I get his bowls ready for food. He likes treats. A lot! He also likes catnip, but it doesn’t rule his day. I have a lot of fun with Dollar, and I know he likes my company because he will jump up on my lap and “make biscuits” on me while purring and we’ll have a little chat about life in general.

The second cat, who I will call “Flower” is very timid and skittish and she made me work hard for her approval. Flower comes from a cat-happy family who dote on her. She likes to hide in quiet, cool and dark spaces. I developed a ton of patience trying to coax her out from under a bed or out of a closet. She is food-motivated and treats and catnip won. She likes to do things in her own time and makes me hunt for her when I arrive at her house. I’m pretty sure she watches where I go and then hides exactly where I’ve already checked. She won’t come out to eat breakfast or dinner while I’m there, but the food is always gone when I go back. I started “marinating” a couple of toys in a catnip bag and used them to buy her affection. It worked! We slowly progressed to her playing with the catnip toy under a bed while I watch, to me laying out a path of treats out from under the bed and finishing with a treat on my knee. She works her way through the treat path and ends with the one on my knee. I get a quick head butt from her, and I’m allowed a quick stroke before a quick hiss and a scramble back under the bed.

Just like us humans, Flower is a morning cat. She doesn’t have a lot of time for me in the evening’s but is ready for me to give her some attention in the morning. I always let her know when I’m leaving and sometimes try to hide for a few minutes to see if she will come out and see if I’ve really left. By the end of the time I was looking after her, she would meet me at the front door when I arrived and flop over onto her back for me to stroke her. I didn’t get a purr out of her, but I got lots of friendly meows. She finally let me brush her and give her full body strokes. She was very happy to have me hang out with her and keep her company. I actually missed spending time with her once her mom and dad returned. I may have to go back for a play date!

My last day with Flower was spent with me oozing myself into a tiny closet where she’d hidden herself because there was a storm brewing, and she was scared of thunder. I feel like I didn’t quite finish off our time together.

If you’re a cat person, you will totally relate to this blog. If not, just insert “dog” where you see “cat” and maybe it will make more sense to you. Either way, we love our pets dearly and they truly are part of our family.

Sylvester and the Vet

It’s funny, but not really funny (but actually hilarious) when you see a cat recovering from the side effects of having been under anesthesia.

I took Sylvester, our 10-year-old tuxedo cat, to his vet at the St. Louis Cat Clinic to have his teeth cleaned. I had clear instructions not to let him eat anything after 10pm the previous night and that I could drop him off between 8am and 8.30am the next morning.

We nonchalantly went about our business in the morning ignoring his pitiful wails and arrogant mischief-making leading up to his normal breakfast time. That time came and went and that caused the other 2 cats to become antsy about no food. Suffice it to say I was waiting outside the vets office at 8.02am with a very “hangry” Sylvester.

A little later that morning I got a call from the vet to tell me about the procedure and to tell me that he was close enough to his annual visit and would I like them to take care of the annual shots, exam, blood work and urinalysis too. ANYTHING to not have to catch him again and get him in the carrier, so YES, do it all! She then said “well, he’s a little angry right now so I’m going to wait until he’s a bit sleepy before I look in his mouth because I don’t want to get bitten!”

Anyone who knows Sylvester knows that he is the friendliest, most social, charming, playful cat there is, so when the vet tells you “he’s angry” it’s a bit of an embarrassing surprise. I told her he’s not really angry, he’s hungry! She said she had 2 dental’s that day and he will be the 2nd one and she’ll call me when he’s starting to wake up and when she has all the blood results.

So, I went about my day. Aggie and Bear distanced themselves from each other, as usual and had a nice long nap.

Around 3pm I got the call from the vet saying that Sylvester was just starting to wake up and was very drowsy but doing very well. He didn’t have any teeth troubles, so just a cleaning, polishing and scaling was done. All his blood work came back purrfectly, as did the urinalysis results. His weight is also purrfect! Yay, we’ve been working on that for a couple of years. There was one little thing that happened under anesthetic and that was that he developed a heart murmur. It only occurred when they gave him the IV fluids and as soon as they stopped the fluids, the murmur disappeared. She wants to see him in a couple of months to check on his weight and listen to his heart again. I could collect him at 5pm.

At 5pm I was outside the vet’s office waiting for the little darling. They have very strict rules about dropping off and collecting animals, so we conducted all business over the phone and then they brought him out to me. He was furious! Lock, stock and two smoking barrels furious!

I got him home and opened the carrier door and a very drunk black cat shot out of it, flopping around and bouncing off walls. First thing he did was make a bullseye to the food bowls. There was nothing in them, but he fell all over the bowls knocking them all over the place, so I decided to feed him a small amount of food to tide him over! Ha! Vet suggested that I give him about a third of a can of wet food in case he vomits from the anesthetic, so I gave him the food. He could barely stand upright to eat it and fell all over the place with his head in the bowl but inhaled the food and looked for more. I waited a while and gave him some more. Same thing. He lumbered from one room to the next licking and eating everything. He ended up eating 2 full cans of food and was still hungry. He constantly jumped up onto the counter to see what food Aggie had but we put her food away. He had zero sense of balance and threw himself off the counter landing with a splat each time on the floor. I just couldn’t calm him down for a second. This went on for about 4-5 hours! Next time I’ll board him overnight at the vet.

In the meantime, Aggie was horrified with me for bringing Sylvester back. She hissed, growled, yelled, wailed and was a nightmare. Bear only added to her woes. Neither Bear not Aggie ate any dinner. Aggie was making a point of her fury and Bear was a little scared of her so wouldn’t go into the kitchen. I think Sylvester freaked them both out too with his behaviour, as this was totally out of character for him.

Bedtime finally arrived and usually we’re surrounded by cats on the bed, but none of them joined us. I suspect that Sylvester injured his back hip or leg from all the clumsy jumping he did because he now has a bit of a limp. I will be watching that and if it doesn’t improve, back he goes!

This morning is “the morning after” and it was still a bit bumpy as Aggie was still refusing to eat and Bear appeared for a quick snack, so Sylvester ate his and Bear’s food. Sylvester is still limping but not as much as last night. I was able to keep him quiet today and there hasn’t been any jumping. The anesthesia has worn off and his eye size has returned to normal. He is a bit off balance from the limping though.

Aggie settled down around lunch time. I finally had my purry little girl back and she let me stroke her again. She jumped up on the back of the couch and went to sleep. Bear has been sleeping in the closet all day which is mostly normal for him. Sylvester has joined me in the spare room to supervise my activities.

That was quite a 24 hours! We’ve had all 3 cats dealing with anesthesia at some stage and none of them had a reaction anything like Sylvester. I followed him around like a crazy person last night and yet he still managed to do too much jumping. Hopefully 24 hours of having a quiet day of napping will fix him right up. I’m just glad that Aggie stopped yelling at me.

Cats are smart!

Cats are really smart. Whether you like them or don’t like them, they are still smart. Ok, let me expand on “smart” in this context. We have 3 cats: Aggie (12), Sylvester (11) and Bear (12). We’ve had Aggie and Sylvester since they were kittens, and we inherited Bear from a dear neighbour who passed away several years ago.

When we first got Aggie we went to see her at our vet, held her, bonded with her and she purred and nuzzled up to us and we couldn’t wait to get her home. The vet told us that she’d been returned to them twice as she didn’t get on with their other pets (a sign we should have paid attention to!). She was roughly 12 weeks old! She is a grey and white tabby. We got her home, opened the carrier and she shot out of it like a bullet from a gun. She took off at top speed around our apartment, leaping over couches, under couches, over the bed, in and out of every room. I would have loved to have had a radar gun to measure her speed! We were gobsmacked. Where was that loving, purry, nuzzly kitten we’d just held? We hadn’t even sat down yet, we just stood by the door and took it all in. We grew to love her though – a lot. We named her Agatha CATrina because her approximate birthday falls on the day Hurricane Katrina hit – how apt!! We lovingly refer to her as Hurricane Aggie. Aggie has been through everything with us and yes, she is spoiled rotten! We moved into our house in 2009 and after a settling in period, we decided that she needed a friend. It had taken her 2 ½ years to start to calm down!

When we were ready for a 2nd cat I went back to my vet and told them we were ready! The next day I got a call “we have some kittens that you might want to look at” so I hot footed it over there to check them out. The vet is located next door to my office. Sylvester was estimated to be about 7 weeks old. It was the first time I’d heard the term “tuxedo cat” and he was true to form. Big green eyes, long white whiskers, big ears and a tiny black and white body. I fell in love immediately, went home to get Greg, took him to the vet and once again, as soon as he held him, there were purrs and snuggles and Greg was sold. He came home the next day. He was a boundy, playful, social, cute-as-a-button darling. Aggie immediately hated him! We kept him secluded in the spare room for a few days while Aggie hissed and growled outside the door. Sylvester didn’t care. He’s everyone’s best friend. On “meet up day” we opened the door and Sylvester bounded out and leaped down the hallway to investigate his new home while Aggie wailed, hissed, scratched and yelled at him and us. She refused to be near us, went off her food in protest and was determined to make us pay for bringing in another cat. We were mortified but determined to make this work. After several months (ok at least a year) Aggie finally realized that Sylvester was no threat to her great Alpha-ness. He has no desire to be a boss. They are not necessarily friends, but she will tolerate him and doesn’t get all huffy if he’s around her.

Fast forward to 2014: I used to take care of a dear neighbour’s cat when she went on vacation and ultimately when she got sick and was in hospital. After her passing her cat was still alone in her house while her family was sorting it out and I would still go there twice a day and feed him and play with him. After a while of doing this we discussed with the family that we’d take Mr. Bear (as she called him) and keep him with us until we could find a good home for him. Well, it’s 6 years later, so I guess he found a good home! Bear is awesome! At first we had him in the spare room separate from Aggie and Sylvester. Aggie went into defensive mode and hated him immediately. Back to hissing, growling and yelling outside the door (but this time we were on to her antics). Sylvester was so excited. He definitely sensed Bear’s pain and grief and camped outside the door quietly. After several days we opened the door and Sylvester shot inside. He jumped up on the bed and he and Bear started at each other, nose-to-nose for about 10 minutes not moving, and then they both jumped down and disappeared under the bed where they sussed each other out for about half an hour. After that, they came out from under the bed and have been best buddies ever since. At first Bear was definitely grieving the loss of his previous owner and his move from his old house, so Sylvester snuggled up next to him to keep him company. Bear never really learnt to play but now that he is with us, he’s developed an ardent love of the laser dot. He is the most lovable cat ever. He loves to snuggle and just be with you. He has the biggest, deepest purr ever. He’s not big on exercise, but he loves food in any shape or form, so he’s a big cat. Aggie was not at all happy about the addition of another cat. She and Bear are constantly vying for Alpha-ship. Aggie thinks she’s the alpha but in reality, Bear is the alpha. She has never accepted him and still growls and hisses at him. They have agreed to disagree, and we have a fairly calmish family.

Cats are smart! I sometimes feel like I have a school yard of kids. They all want attention, then they all don’t. They all want feeding, but they want what the other one has even though it’s exactly the same. They all want to play with whatever the other one is currently playing with, until they get the toy then they don’t want it anymore! People ask us why we don’t have or want kids. Who needs them when you have cats! They have regular birthday parties and we sing happy birthday to them. There’s cake and candles and presents. They celebrate Christmas with us – yes they get presents under the tree. We have conversations with them and they answer us. They do need jobs though!

Yes, cats are smart, but not so smart as to make us think they need jobs!