Saying Goodbye Too Soon

I’ve hesitated to write because things didn’t really get easier after Henry passed. Exactly two weeks after I made the tough decision to say goodbye to her, I had to let my Socks go over the Rainbow Bridge as well.

He was a big cat, weighing in at 32 pounds. And yes, I know he was overweight. I had stopped feeding them dry food at night to try and get him to lose a little poundage, but he caught the same bug that Milo and Otis had.

He didn’t seem to be as responsive to the antibiotics as the other two, so I dragged him off to the Vet, realizing that I’d never been to the vet so many times in my life. My cats don’t go to the vet. They get homeopaths and they recover.

Socks went in on the previous Friday and he stopped eating. I force fed him all weekend until I finally panicked and took him back to the vet on Monday. They kept him there and did all kinds of tests. He wasn’t breathing very well, wouldn’t eat and the vet was afraid he would get Fatty Liver Disease, so I went down there twice a day to sit with him in the little hospital area and force feed him, brush him and talk to him. By Wednesday, he was put on oxygen and the vet told me that his heart wasn’t good, he couldn’t breathe and it wasn’t fair to keep him on this earth. It crushed me.

The guilt ran high. I should have put him on a diet sooner. I should have exercised him, I should have done a million things that I didn’t do. I made the painful decision to let him go. He wasn’t getting better. Not with all the homeopaths and herbs, not with veterinarian help. And he looked miserable.

It was hard to go through just two weeks after I lost my baby, Henry. I feel like I failed everyone. Going home and facing the other cats was really tough. I did a lot of crying. They did a lot of hiding.

I realize now that sometimes you do need more than your own knowledge about homeopaths and drugs. Maybe if I’d taken him in sooner, I could have saved him. I don’t know. I will never know.

My other cats are doing well, although my 26-year old is on some algae concoction. She doesn’t show signs of kidney failure, but I want to be safe rather than sorry.

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Laryngitis in Cats

Have you ever been so wrapped up in one problem that you totally ignore another? I was so involved in the last days of Henry’s life on this earth that I didn’t actually pay any attention to my other fur-babies. Sure, I stepped in wet spots here and there but figured someone just had a hairball.

Turns out I was wrong. Milo had laryngitis and I presume a sore throat. He’s not an overly friendly fella anyway, but when I’d bend down to pet him, he’d purr. Then he’d hack and spit up phlegm. He looked so miserable with trails of drool hanging out of his mouth.

034Since it had been a couple of days since I really noticed his distress, I knew I needed to act fast. He wasn’t eating, and I wasn’t sure he was drinking. Milo is a BIG cat. I was worried that he’d get dehydrated. Since I already went through that with Henry, I couldn’t bear to deal with it again.

So, I pulled out the big guns. I totally believe in homeopathy, but I was afraid I waited too long for them to take effect. I pulled out some tetracycline and added a smidgen into a small bottle with an eyedropper. I added some bottled water and put in some Drosera. Drosera IS a homeopathic remedy for coughing and laryngitis. That was this morning.

I’ve been checking on him throughout the day, and tonight I grabbed the brush and started brushing him. He began to purr, and I waited for a cough and it never appeared. No drool, no nothing. I don’t believe he’s eaten anything yet, but I’m going to try to give him something light before I head off to bed.

I’ll also be giving him another couple droppers of the Tetracycline/Drosera mix. I suspect if I’d caught it sooner, I could have gotten away with just the Drosera, which makes me feel bad, but, I’ve learned a good lesson. Even though there are tragedies all around me, I need to remember all my babies, even when I have to say good-bye to one.

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The Rainbow Bridge

One of the hardest things I ever have to do in life is saying goodbye to one of my fur-babies. It’s been a tough year in other respects and losing one of them really knocked me to the ground.

Henry had kidney failure for about two years. She was on Epatikin and another herbal supplement (I always felt like a witch brewing up a potion making that one!), and she did really well for those two years. I could see her losing weight, and she didn’t get around as much as she used to, but she never gave up.

One of her favorite places to hang out in her last days was the bathtub. I had to pick her up, in the end, to put her there, but she seemed to enjoy it. She got so she’d paw at her water bowl, any water bowl, before drinking and the last day, she wouldn’t drink at all. It’s a combination of failed kidneys and dehydration that gets them. I couldn’t help but smile though because she ate her whole bowl of food.

I had a long talk with her and decided to have her euthanized. She could barely walk and was clearly in misery. Typically, I don’t like to go that route because I’ve always convinced myself that I want them in my arms at home during their last hours, but I’ve realized how selfish that is. So, I took her to my Vet. She sat on my lap the whole trip and got up once in a while to look out the window. She was calm.

Spencer Springs Animal Hospital in Henderson, Nevada is one of the best veterinarians I’ve ever been to. I went in and immediately broke down, and the receptionist put Henry and me in a room. Then she came back and asked if I was there to euthanized my baby. We filled out paperwork, and I asked for a private cremation. They provide a little box, a framed paw print impression, and another framed poem. They took her to put a catheter in her paw and brought her back and put her in my arms. They gave her some pain medication, then the stuff that helps her pass. It was all very compassionate and quick. And it broke my heart.

I know I did the right thing, but I miss my girl. I honestly think 17 was too young to go. Taylor, my 26-year-old is still going strong. I’ll need a Valium on the day she dies.

Cystitis – more common than you think!

Most women have had a bout of cystitis at some point in their lives.  Also called a Urinary Tract Infection, it can be caused by a variety of factors.

Believe it or not, animals can get cystitis too!

Male cats, especially, are prone to cystitis, or UTIs.  They won’t come tell you why, but they will give you signs.

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An observant owner will usually put the pieces together:

  • urinating outside the litter box
  • crying when urinating
  • small, scanty drops of liquid
  • frequent trips to the litter box without much to show for it
  • starting out normal, but almost standing up when finishing

DON’T get mad at your cat if he’s suddenly peeing on the floor.  He can’t tell you he doesn’t feel good. He has to show you.

CANTHARIS is a great little remedy to have on hand and it usually works within a day or two.  I use the smallest pellets available and sprinkle a few in the offending cat’s wet food, twice a day.  You can attempt to put the pills into the cat’s mouth, but I don’t have much luck with that.

Ten days is the norm, but I find it works within 2-3 days.  Of course, every feline is different.

If your cat is totally plugged, take him to the Vet immediately.  This is a very dangerous condition for male cats, because the urine has crystallized and it cannot pass through the urethra.  Cats can die within 4-6 hours of total cessation of urine output.  There ARE homeopaths that you can try if you have them on hand, but I highly recommend a Vet visit.  I’ll post more information in another post.

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Tattling on Tuffy

UGH.  There is nothing worse in this world than a cat with diarrhea.   Well, there probably is, truth be told, but….when you have a long-haired cat with the runs that literally clears a room after he uses the litter box, you begin to wonder!

I did a lot of research into what caused diarrhea, what the cures were, what I could do about it without dragging poor Tuffy to the Vet.  He’s not really a people cat and I didn’t want to stress him anymore than he already was, but……sometimes you just need to bite the bullet.

My own thoughts drifted from kidney failure (dealing with that for a different cat), fatty liver disease, cancer, IBD, parasites and food allergies.  I started keeping a journal of everything he ate, what meds I was giving him (homepaths) and his litter box habits.  I stopped giving him chicken and started buying very expensive cat food.  He never gained weight, but didn’t lose much more than his 9 pounds.  At 9 pounds, he was too thin.  When he stopped eating a whole can of food and finishing off the other 3 cats’ bowls, I knew something was wrong.  The next morning, he ate very little, but threw that up.  Panic mode set in and I called the Vet.

Don’t get me wrong – I think everyone needs a good Veterinarian.  I just prefer not subjecting my animals to anymore poking and prodding than necessary.   Dr. Howarth at Spencer Springs Animal Hospital in Henderson, NV was wonderful!  He checked Tuffy all over, took blood, gave him fluids and gave me a bottle of antibiotics to give Tuff for 10 days.  Then we had to take a stool sample back the next day.

The blood tests came back negative, AND the stool sample came back negative.  Thank goodness!  Dr. Howarth told me that chicken was the #1 food allergen for cats.  So, I decided to do a little research on what exactly I was feeding the kids.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness with Red Meat…..has chicken in it.  Since when is chicken a red meat????  Don’t get me wrong….I love Blue Buffalo food for my cats….just not with chicken.  Buy Blue Buffalo Basics if you want to stick with the brand.  It’s chicken-free!

Blue BuffaloBlue Buffalo 2

 

 

The more I looked, the more I found chicken.  Chicken, chicken everywhere!  ARRRRRGH!  It’s in Temptations treats (Tuffy’s favorite!), it’s in cheap cat food AND expensive cat food.  I was getting really depressed at PetsMart yesterday, until I started looking at Fancy Feast.  I’ve fed them Fancy Feast for years, but usually mixed it up between the Poultry and the Seafood.   And now that the Poultry was out, I needed to do something to keep my cats from all out mutiny.  And purchasing ridiculously expensive cat food for 4 cats is out of the question.  I don’t make enough money for that!

The 5 Fancy Feast cans below have no chicken in them.  Against the Grain and Avoderm Crab & Shrimp also have no chicken.  The Simply Nourish Tuna and Salmon both have chicken liver.  I’m going to give it a try anyway.  I gave the Blue Buffalo dry food away and purchased Simply Nourish Salmon.  I’ll probably go back to Blue Buffalo Basics next month.

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They say it takes 6-12 weeks for the allergens to leave the body.   I’m hoping it takes less time.  My Scentsy burners are hoping it takes less time and my husband is hoping it takes less time as well!

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Dogs are People Too

I love my dog.  She is treated like family.  Since I don’t have any 2-legged kids of my own, Dixie and my cats ARE my kids.  That being said, she is still a dog and sometimes we need to be reminded of that.

Losing Bosco and Moose last year within the span of 3 months was really tough on both me AND my husband.  Moose was his sidekick.  He went everywhere with him.  And when Moose crossed the Rainbow Bridge, I think something broke inside my husband.

When Bosco and Moose were so sick, we fed them by hand.  It seemed a natural thing to do – chicken, roast beef, Vienna Sausages, sandwich meats and American cheese became their staple.  They also had pieces of Fresh Pet dog loaf, which, after awhile, Bosco wouldn’t eat.  He was picky about his food to say the least!

Well, after our boys passed, my husband continued the tradition of feeding Dixie by hand.  It seemed to start innocently enough – chicken and roast beef and dog loaf in the morning and at night.  Then in the morning, mid-morning, lunch time, dinner time and after dinner.  Yogurt bones and peanut butter bones that had been reserved for an after dinner treat were suddenly given as a lunch-time snack AND a dinner snack.  At over $5.00 a bag, I finally put my foot down.  I am not a millionaire.  I can’t spend $40 a month on dog treats!   Not to mention we still had 3 huge bags of dry dog food that hadn’t been touched for months.

I was then told that I would be feeding the dog from now on.  Since I work, it’s going to be a juggling act in the mornings, but…so far, so good.  Before the boys got sick, I used to cook up a chicken, add vegetables and dog vitamins.  That would be warmed up in the mornings and stirred into their dry dog food.  So, that’s what I’ve been doing.  Dixie still doesn’t want to eat out of a bowl, and admittedly, I’m handing her the food (while moving my hand closer and closer to the bowl), but I think we’re making progress.  She gets one yogurt or peanut butter bone at night.  She gets a gravy bone after she finishes her breakfast.

For dinner, I cook up a roast of some sort and mix that with canned dog food.  And she still gets a small piece of cheese as a treat.

I love my dog.  I love my husband.   But Dixie is only 9 years old.  I want her to stick around for another 5-10 years.  I’m hoping she’ll drop a few pounds, be more energetic and want to chase rabbits again.  (Don’t worry, they are WAY too fast for her to catch!)

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The Art of the Litter Box

Have you ever done any research on litter boxes?  Do you buy one that you like, or do you try to please the cat.  Do you match the furniture?  Do you try to camouflage it or do you train your cat to use the human’s toilet instead?  So many choices!!!!

For years and years, I would purchase the nice looking litter boxes that had the “hood” lid.  I figured it would keep the smells inside and the cats could also have some privacy.  They worked to a certain degree….until someone (Ralphie) decided to terrorize someone else (Simba) while they were in the box doing their business.  Now, we may think it’s amusing to have cats wrestling by our legs when we’re sitting on the toilet, but cats don’t appreciate other cats bugging them when they’re trying to do their thing.

Because I had so many cats at one point, I opted for storage totes.  (The BIG ones).  I cut a hole in front and used those for many, many years.  It seemed a cheaper alternative than the fancy hooded boxes.

Because they got so bulky and cumbersome to try and clean, I ended up just getting the plain clear storage pans from Wal-Mart.  storage bin

Not exactly like this one, but you get the idea.  Easy to climb in and out of (ditch the lid though!) and easy to throw away when they get too dirty.  Fairly inexpensive as well.  These have served me well for many, many years, although my husband still prefers the ones with lids.

Another box that I have been using is from Chewy.com.  If you’ve never looked at their site, I highly recommend it.  I have my cat food autoshipped monthly.  No shipping costs, their Customer Service is fantastic and I get some good discounts on the food.

litter box 2

This is the box I bought from Chewy.  It’s quite nice, although….looking at the size of a couple of my cats, it’s too small for them.  It still gives the user a bit of privacy but also has a quick exit over the side of someone decides an ambush is in order.

I always try to have +1 litter box per the amount of cats in the house.  So…if you have 3 cats, you should have 4 litter boxes.  Not everyone can do this.  Not everyone WILL do this, but it cuts down on a lot of accidents.  If you clean them at least twice a day, you and your cats will be much happier.  You don’t want to use a toilet that’s full of crap and toilet paper already, do you?  Neither do your cats.  Don’t fill them as full as you can fill them either – use no more than 2 inches of litter – easier to clean all the urine up (if you get the clumping litter) and it won’t permeate the whole box.

My cats seem happy about their litter boxes for the most part.  Of course, you’ll always have the cat that gets into the box, keeps his back to you, then proceeds to pee just outside the front of the box.  Patience grasshopper.  At least they’re trying!

box of Jo Jo

A healthy box of JoJo