Thursday, December 27, 2012

Playing It Safe

Safety is the first priority when you have a human child. So why shouldn’t it be when you have a fur child as well? Lately I’m seeing a disturbing trend of horrific pet deaths due to safety issues. In the last two weeks alone I’ve seen two cats in forums die due to being stuck inside a clothes drier. Leaving the doors open to appliances is asking for trouble as cats are always looking for a little hideaway spot. If your cats have access to your washer and/or dryer, always check inside before turning them on.

Believe it or not, your cat climbing the curtains is not just bad for the curtain; it can be deadly for your cat. In one forum I read of a cat yanking down the curtains while the mom was in another room. Unfortunately that kitty was hit very hard on the head with the curtain rod and didn’t make it. If you have a cat or kitten that likes to climb curtains, try to break them of the habit by getting a kitty condo or high cat tree for them to climb instead. If this is not enough of a deterrent, think about getting shorter curtains, tying them back so they cannot easily be ripped down, or hanging only valances at the top so they can’t be reached. Don’t forget about blind cords as well. It doesn’t take much for a cat to want to play with a stringy blind cord; I don’t want to think of what could happen if they get tangled in it.

Don’t forget about electrical wires. Pets love chewing on wires so it’s best to hide them as much as possible. You can use some bitter spray they sell especially for pets as well as a plastic cord cover. You can get those at any Radio Shack, Walmart, Target, etc. While we’re talking about chewing things make sure to keep people foods out of their reach as so many of them are either toxic or unsafe. Dogs are likely to grab anything they can get their mitts on and cats are forever curious and can jump up on the counters doing the old snatch, grab and run.

Be sure to use safe cleaning products as most things we use are highly toxic to them and their livers are not capable of filtering those toxins out. I only clean with vinegar and water now; it kills germs just as well as bleach and is non-toxic. As far as my furniture goes, I wash them down with a soapy sponge and dry with a microfiber cloth afterwards. I don’t trust furniture polish getting on their paws and coats, especially when they’ll lick it all off. Make sure if your cat likes to jump on the counter tops and especially the stove tops when you aren’t around that the burners are shut off and cooled down if you’ve recently used it. If your cat is indoor/outdoor, don't use pesticides in your garden or lawn. Try using something organic instead, there are plenty of websites with ideas on what to use.

Just like having a baby around you need to understand that your pet does not know the difference between safe and dangerous. It’s a big responsibility having a pet and one that should not be taken lightly. They are like children and need us to guide them and keep them safe. Always be aware of that, no matter what you’re doing. Being extra careful could save the life of your pet. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Every Day Gifts

I know I talk a lot about how they drive me crazy and what I can’t do and have because of them. But I’d like to take some time to talk about what I do have because my cats are in my life; laughter, sheer joy, unconditional love, companionship to name a few. There are countless ways they give these things to me. And as we’re now in the season for giving and are approaching the Christmas holiday, I think about the things I’m grateful for and how my kitties are my every day gifts.

When they’re sleeping and I kiss them, they curl their toes…one of my favorites. When I’m sleeping on my bed they bookend me and keep me warm, sometimes purring in my ear. I love how they get crazy before or during a storm. They’re both nuts and not one bit afraid of thunder or lightning. When a storm gets really bad I actually have to close the windows, otherwise they’d stay in the windowsill and get completely drenched if I’d let them. I love how they wrestle and run around the house, their feet sliding on the floor and their nails clicking as they round a corner.

Lacey loves it when I have music on. I pick her up in my arms and dance around the house with her. She loves dancing and there’s certain music she loves the most like Michael Jackson or Lady Gaga, she goes running through the house singing along with it. You’d think she wouldn’t like it since she hardly likes to be held. Other than dancing, she’s so squirmy she’s like Houdini in a straight jacket. They love going downstairs to visit my parents, they think it’s a treat. Mostly they’re adventure is to go sniffing around each and every room, the heck with visiting; it’s a whole new world down there. There are a lot of things they used to do that I miss (and a lot that I don’t, LOL). They used to love to go nuts playing with a ping pong ball in the bathtub. It kept them amused for at least a half an hour at a time and completely wore them out. They used to go racing around the apartment until I thought one of them would surely pass out. Sometimes they still play so hard if I happen to be downstairs, it sounds just like they’re moving furniture.

Lacey used to do back flips when I’d throw a ball or a toy, jumping at least four feet in the air. I love how Lacey will be chattering at me and suddenly have to yawn in the middle of it. While she’s yawning her ears go back and her eyes roll all over the place like a cartoon. She’s my little cuckoo and a lot of her actions resemble a cartoon. Speaking of cartoons, Finnegan loves to watch them and will sit in front of the TV with his head following each movement across the screen; up, down, back and forth. Finney is a big boy (Maine Coon, 17 lbs), but has the tiniest meow. He tries so hard to meow loudly and he’s unfortunately getting better at it, LOL. If I’m sad for any reason and maybe shedding some tears, he’ll come over, cozy up with me and lick my face as if to say “It’s okay mommy, I’m here”. Those are the moments I treasure so much with them. They are my comic relief, my entertainment, my pride and joy and my most of all they are the loves of my life. They give me daily headbonks, they are my purring machines and cuddle monsters, they are my every day gifts and I cherish each and every thing about them. During this holiday season when I am opening my presents, in the back of my mind I’ll think “I’ve already got the best presents in the world, the love of my cats”.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Tree-LESS

Yes it’s true. I am without a Christmas tree for the fourth year in a row. When Alex was alive she was such a good girl I could put up a tree, and even hang tinsel on it; she wouldn’t touch it if I told her no. Finnegan and Lacey are a whole other ball game. Long drapes – check! Climbs them. Loose TV or computer wires – check! Plays with them. Toilet paper – check! Plays with it and eats it. Finney even got constipated once after eating it, I had to take him to the vet. I have to keep the toilet paper in an enclosed trash can next to the toilet.

Most of the time I don’t mind too much that it’s not really my house or my things anymore. Because as every cat owner knows; we don’t own them, they own us. So it stands to reason that they also own everything in the house. Especially since they fully believe they do anyway. Christmas is the one time I wish I could have what I want for a change. I’d love to put up even my small, artificial tree, have some lights, pretty decorations, glittery garland, etc. But I can see it now. All day and all night I’d be fighting the inevitable; the chewing on the wires (absolutely too dangerous), the eating of the tinsel (also dangerous), the batting around and breaking of the ornaments, and so on.

In my mind I can see the tree being knocked over several times a day. I can see them ever so cleverly pretend they don’t care about it anymore only to wait until I’m sleeping or not home for the real fun to start. I can see my tree-top angel being mangled to bits and feathers flung, half eaten, all over the floor. I do manage to put up some decorations as long as they’re completely out of reach (which is not easy with cats). Even then it’s unbelievably compelling and they spend a good amount of time staring and thinking of ways to get at them. I also have some ceramic decorations but those also have to be kept out of reach in fear of Lacey’s paw of doom! You know that paw; the one that acts like they are just inspecting the object only to take a sudden swipe at it and before you know it…CRASH! I suppose I could put up a fiber optic tree but that still would not allow me to hang my ornaments and pretty decorations. And it goes without saying that there is absolutely no way I could ever leave presents out. That would be a complete waste of wrapping paper. For now (and maybe forever) that tree will have to stay in the basement all by itself, as if it’s the Charlie Brown Christmas tree; so lonely. Bah…humbug. And I will remain always and forever…tree-less.

If anyone has found a way to put up a tree and not have it torn down and ruined, I’d love to hear it so please leave comments. I’m sure others would love to figure this one out as well. OR if you have your own Christmas tree disaster stories, please also leave comments. I’d love to hear them. I’m sure we’d all love to hear some Catmus disaster stories. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It Takes a Village

It takes a village to raise a child but it also takes one to care for a sick pet. As a caregiver for some of my family members I can tell you it’s stressful. But to be honest, it’s by far easier caring for a person than it is a sick pet. I’m lucky enough to have my mom helping me care for a senior kitty with health issues in my home right now. I was also lucky enough to have her helping me with Alex when she was alive. But I get a lot of emails from people who are doing this all alone. I cannot imagine trying to give a shot to a sick and irritated cat by myself. My sister’s cat Midnight is a little sweetheart and I can pretty much pill her, give fluids, shots, etc. by myself if need be. But what do you do when it’s just you and your cat is completely uncooperative?

Things are getting better and easier in that regard thanks to new methods and medications. These days you can get a whole slew of medications compounded into either liquid form that you squirt into their mouths, or transdermals that you rub onto their ears. They also sell special bags where you can zip your kitty up for easier maneuvering. I don't know how well that works though, kitty may get even more irritated but I've heard of some using it with great success. If you can afford it you can have your vet come to your home or even call in a mobile vet for things like shots, fluids, etc. This might be a better solution than carting kitty off in a carrier each time to go to your vet’s office. Travel for most kitties is very stressful and can even be debilitating for some. My poor Alex used to vomit each and every time we went to the vet so I tried to do as much for her at home as I could. I even had the vet show me how to change her dressing for her feeding tube; something I don’t recommend unless you’re very good with this sort of thing. I had a mini hospital set up in my kitchen for her and my mom, who lives downstairs from me, would come upstairs several times per day and help me. She would hold and soothe Alex as I’d give her sub q fluids, her tube feedings, shots and pills. Again, Alex was a good patient, I was lucky. But I’ve learned that soothing a kitty by playing soft music and speaking quietly to them works great. You can also try flower essences, rescue remedy and keeping a Feliway diffuser plugged in next to the area you give kitty their medication. Never use anything like essential oils as they are toxic! Make sure there are no loud noises and/or talking going on other than the soothing and soft sounds of yours and your helper’s voice. Try to be calm yourself, kitty will know if you’re nervous, believe me. They are sensitive and perceptive. Try to stick with a routine of doing treatments and medications at the same time each day.

And I know I say this a lot but don’t forget about having support for yourself as well. Caring for them is a full time job that is exhausting. Recently I had to put out an SOS for help and the response I got was overwhelming. I always knew I was grouped with wonderful and caring people. But when you’re stressed, afraid and in need of help, that’s when you really find out how much people care about you. And I sure did! Having the support you need to get through a hard time is vitally important and for me it’s just something I cannot live without. I have found that the animal community are the best and most loving people in the world and while you won’t see me running through the streets shouting “Merry Christmas, it’s a wonderful life”, (from the movie of course), I do right now feel rich inside and well cared for. This helps me be a much better pet parent to my two healthy ones, and a better nurse maid to my sick little one. Positive energy, no matter how it comes to you, keeps you going. Whether its emails saying they love you, they are sending their prayers and hugs; or whether they help you out in other ways needed at the moment. Take it and use that energy for your sick pet and yourself. Know that when the time comes, you can return the favor because that’s what our community is all about. That’s what our worldwide village is made up of; love, support, caring and positive energy. And I’m so very grateful for that. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The War on IBD

It’s been almost four years since I started IBDKitties and although I always knew it would be an important resource, what I didn’t know is how much more prevalent IBD would become. To say it’s a war on IBD would be an understatement as I now have readers from every corner of the globe. And while I’m glad I can bring much needed information to pet parents struggling to treat this awful condition, it just shows me how much worse it’s gotten and how much more work there is yet to do. Thankfully since the site began there are a lot more studies, trials and research happening and many more ways to treat it. There is also a vast improvement in how veterinarians deal with IBD and its ever growing associated conditions.

Four years ago there was hardly a vet to be found that would be happy about you putting your cat on a raw food diet, let alone recommend it; not so these days. Yet there are still plenty who will never consider it, or even a grain free diet for that matter. But the communication between pet parents and vets has improved greatly for the most part. My beef is with the vets who still refuse to listen to the parent’s concerns and ideas, but also the refusal by some to drop the ego and learn something new. I’ve seen many a cat die in the last four years because of incompetent vets who refuse whatsoever to try a different medication, even with some of the case studies listed on my site as proof that it’s worth a try. Nothing is a guarantee, but when you have a kitty that is quickly failing in health, anything is worth a try. I’ve also seen some older vets agree to start using newer (to them) treatments for IBD such as giving B12 injections. Kudos to them for not only doing what’s important for the patient but also learning about what could possibly help others and using it.

I know we’re probably seeing a lot more cases of IBD because more cats are getting the proper testing done but no one can tell me that cases of IBD, pancreatitis, lymphoma, etc. haven’t gone through the roof. Of course there are many factors involved, including diet, bacterial overgrowth, genetics, chemicals, poor immune systems, etc. etc. But why so many? Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get one or more emails from someone or comments on my Facebook page asking for help. Lately I’ve had quite a few shelters and rescue groups write me as they see a large amount of cases. And though it’s not always financially feasible for them to change their diets to grain free (which can be more expensive), we can try and help them get it under control as much as possible. Hopefully teaching the adoptive parents about IBD can make the difference in some of the cats getting a good home. But unfortunately this could also be a huge deterrent for an adoptive parent. Who wants to adopt a kitty with a lifelong and unpredictable disease? I know some people that have and they are a blessing to those pets! That takes a mighty big heart to take in a kitty with health issues.

So what can we do now? What’s next in finding ways to control and maybe even cure this disease? We need to find and develop some protocols that won’t put places like shelters and rescues into financial constraints - as well as people with large multi-cat households. Treatments that involve less medication and actually work long term, so these animals can continue to be adopted into good homes and live healthier and longer lives. For me Alex was not my last IBD kitty as I’ve had to care for two of my sister’s cats that have it; one has since passed. I was quite upset when I realized I was dealing with this again so soon after Alex died. But I’ve come to realize that any one of us could have another kitty with IBD at any time, or any other condition for that matter; which is all the more reason to keep searching for answers. My goal is to find some of those answers and keep chipping away at this mountain called IBD. Sooner or later we’ll make a dent in this war and maybe even someday win it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why I Love My Cats

There are a whole lot of reasons why I love my cats, but let’s start with why they drive me crazy. Any pet lover who says that their furry kids don’t do anything to drive them nuts is flat out lying. Because let’s be honest here, they are just like kids. When they want you attention they will do everything in their power to get it, no matter what that is. But when it’s the other way around, they have very short attention spans as well as selective hearing. At times it even seems like they’re doing the opposite of what I want on purpose. Sometimes I swear I can hear those wheels turning in their heads, they are just too smart. If my cats were to write a book it would surely be called “How to Make Your Parents Insane”. That would no doubt be a best seller. On any given day you can hear me saying “stop that!”, “don’t touch that”, “get down from there”, and many other colorful exclamations. I often find myself wondering “why will they eat junk off the floor and not the food in their bowls?”, “why will they beg me to open a door, just to ignore it once I do?”, “why would they rather watch me playing with their toys instead of playing themselves?” So many questions without answers, but I’m guessing the answer to all of these are “because I can”; hence the driving me insane part.

At the same time they are so cute sometimes I can hardly stand it. They love each other so dearly, the grooming and kissing practically never stops. When one wants to play, they’ll simply go over and bop the other one on the head and run. That look of “what just happened here?” makes me laugh every time. When Lacey runs around the house she practically skips and lets out the funniest meow at the same time; she’s such a character. She is a big ball of sunshine, a happy go lucky girl who gets into more trouble than any other pet I’ve ever had. I’ve had to baby proof everything in my house, she’s entertaining to say the least. Finnegan has become a real momma’s boy. At this time last year I thought our relationship was over. I accidentally poked him in the eye and that was the end of him loving his mom. He was terrified of me after that and refused to come near me. Lucky for me one of my good friends online sent us a calming collar and it saved my relationship with him.

It took about a month for him to be completely over that horrific ordeal but when he was, it was a brand new start for us. He only needed that collar a short time and hasn’t needed it since. Now a year later, he wants to cuddle with me all the time. He’s a giant, puffy, ball of floof with a soft and tiny meow. It used to be that I could hardly hear it but Lacey has taught him some bad habits; one being how to yell at the top of his lungs for attention. The other is how to pound on the bedroom door all morning so mommy has to sleep with ear plugs. They sleep with me some of the night but at the witching hour, Lacey must get up and start knocking everything off my bookcase. She’s compelled to do it, she can’t help herself. These are all minor incidents compared to when they were kittens. They were little hellions to say the least. But as I sit here writing this, they are both napping and all I can think about is how much I want to tickle their furry little toes and bellies. They are everything to me and as much as they can drive me loony tunes, they make me laugh and smile a whole lot more. Life without them would be dull and I would be missing out on a lot of snuggles and kitty kisses. I’d be able to have plants in here again, I wouldn’t have to clean as much and I wouldn’t be eating fur all the time. Life would be a whole lot easier. But who wants that! I know I don’t!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Up Close & Personal

This is the age of technology and more often than not, this is how we form our relationships now…online. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, online dating and friend sites or joining a particular group, we are bound to make some incredible connections. For a long time I fought off going this route and wanted nothing to do with talking to new people because let’s face it, they can be very nice or they can be incredibly cruel. But when Alex got sick I was pushed into joining an online support group. I had no other way to find the help and answers I needed to treat her illness. It was scary to be honest and yes, there were days when I wanted to scream at people to stop being so rude. But this gave me the opportunity I needed to realize how much something like IBDkitties was needed and it also got me to open myself up to new people.

I have long since left that group but found another one I feel much more at home with. In the 2 ½ years I’ve been in this group I have met truly some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in this life; so much so that they’ve restored a lot of my faith in humanity. They’ve showed me how to have fun, how to let loose and open myself up, and most importantly to trust people. This trust always comes with a healthy dose of caution of course, as it very well should. But it’s very important to have that trust and let yourself be a part of something bigger than your little world. I’ve also joined some other groups and have my own newsletter from my website of around 300 people or so. In all of these people I talk to online and sometimes on the phone, I had never met a single one in person…until now.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to meet one of my fellow pet parents for the first time. She and her husband live across the country and were here visiting relatives. They were nice enough to take time out of their very busy schedule to come over and meet with me and even though it was a short visit, it was a memorable one.  I realize now how important this was for me, talking with someone about a subject we are both so passionate about connected us very deeply online. But talking in person was truly effortless, as if we’d already met before and have known each other for years. Even in that short time I felt so glad I’d made that long journey from seclusion to proud kitty parent who has that special bond with so many people, it’s made me a better person. I now hope in the future to make this happen again with other pet parents and hopefully even see this particular friend again. Who knows, maybe it’ll be me travelling that way this time, you never know.

This has shown me how important it is to meet new people not only online but in person. Nothing can beat that human, personal connection. And in this world where technology can seem so cold sometimes, we all need that, we really do. As I said, be careful and cautious but know when it’s time to open those doors and let some fresh air in. Find that something you are passionate about and share it with others! You’ll be glad you did.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

When A Pet Parent Crashes

Many of us know how hard it is to be a caregiver to a human; but being one to a pet is twice as hard. There is no way to make the pet understand that having continuous accidents on the floor, carpet and/or bed, takes its toll on the one who has to clean it up. There is no way for them to know how overwhelmingly exhausting it is to give medication to them several times per day and still have to make sure they eat, when you know without you coaxing them, they won’t. It is a thankless job but one that we do because we love them. When they reach the age where they are technically over 100, they can no longer control themselves and it’s really not their fault. Yet it’s still very hard on us, there’s no denying that. You can only pretend for so long that it’s not disgusting to pick up diarrhea three or four times per day. Why won’t they just go in the box? Because there is a big difference between a human having IBD and a cat having it. A cat just doesn’t have the control that we do. I’ve heard of people going so far as to cover their floors or carpets with plastic to make the cleanup easier.

But all of this aside, one thing is certain; these diseases wreck havoc on everyone. There are only so many medications to treat these symptoms in pets and they don’t always work. When they do work, it’s only for awhile until their bodies get used to it. Basically it’s hell to go through this with your pet and although Alex didn't have these particular symptoms with her IBD, I am currently caring for a senior kitty that does. It’s difficult to say how to handle this when I’m going through it myself. After Alex died I thought I’d have many more years before dealing with a senior kitty with special needs. But it is what it is and as I said, because we love them, we do it. That doesn’t mean however that we don’t have the right to have our moments. We may be loving parents but we are not perfect and we do need to vent once in awhile.

It’s easy to say “take some time for yourself, do something for you, or don’t let the stress get to you.” That’s all well and good but there aren’t any days we can tell the kitty, “okay I want today off, you’re on your own”. There are no vacations and no sick days for us. One thing I will say is to find a good peer group to talk to. There are so many of them online and it’s never tough to find someone who is going through the same thing. Be aware also when dealing with another pet parent who is crashing that they need the kind of love and support that they are offering you. Telling them to “be strong because their kitties need them” is counter-productive and just feels like more pressure. While good intentioned, it’s not something anyone wants to hear. They want to know that it’s about them and they have your full attention. Tell them you understand and that you’re either going through the same thing now or you’ve also been through it before. They need to know they aren’t alone, not be reminded of what they already know. Just listen with an open heart and mind, that’s all most people need, want and appreciate. If you know someone who’s suffering from caregiver exhaustion, let them know you care.

For yourself, maybe start your own pet caregiver support group online or even in person. Giving others a place to talk about it could very well be great medicine. You’ll meet new people and make friends with fellow pet lovers. Most likely you need to stay close to home to give them medication several times per day. But try to get out occasionally. Take a short ride and enjoy some nice weather, just get out of the house; even if it’s for a short time. Get on the phone with a friend who’s been there, or someone you’ve met through your group, and talk about it instead of typing it. Sometimes hearing an empathetic voice can mean all the difference. We do choose this path and we choose it because we love animals. We know they cannot care for themselves and that’s the tough part. But if you’re starting to crash and you need someone, then reach out. You may be a super parent to your pet but you are in reality, after all, only human.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Visits From the Fur Side

I know this will be a controversial entry. But I think that no matter what anyone’s belief system is, we all want the same thing; a visit from our departed fur-children. I am someone who respects all beliefs and opinions. I myself believe that energy does not die, it simply transforms into something else. Where the energy goes, no one knows for sure until it’s our time. But for the most part many of us have come to accept the idea of the Rainbow Bridge. Whether we really believe in it or whether we accept it to help us through a difficult mourning process is different for everyone. But no one wants to believe their pet simply disappears after they pass.

We all see the Rainbow Bridge differently. I used to think it was silly and never wanted to let myself imagine it. Now it helps me deal with Alex’s passing; even four years later. Before I took Alex in, I had a cat named Patches for 20 years. She was not the love bug that Alex was by any means but I loved her very much and accepted her rough personality for what it was. When she passed away I had the most wonderful dream. It was incredibly vivid and helped me greatly to heal. I dreamed that an angel came to me and told me that our souls were connected (mine and Patches). We were now separated by her physical death but our souls would meet again. The angel was gorgeous and so bright, even in my dream my eyes had trouble adjusting. It was just a dream but it carried me through some dark days.

I did not have any dreams like that after Alex died but she passed in my car on the way to the ER as opposed to Patches, who passed peacefully at the vet. The way Alex passed affected me deeply and I became shut off to everything. I was incredibly angry and traumatized. It took months for me to even open my mind to the possibility of a dream or visit from her. I was convinced it was never going to happen. Finally one morning I woke up very suddenly to the feeling of a cat jumping onto my bed. I only had Finnegan at that point but he was not in the room with me and the door was closed to him, so it was not him. I sat up and believed it was my imagination until I saw imprinted paw prints on my blankets. I very carefully got out of bed, trying not to disturb the prints and ran to get my mom, who lives downstairs. She came upstairs and the prints were still there, she saw them too, clear as day. It took almost 20 minutes for those prints to fade. Since then I’ve had more visits. I’ve seen Finney and Lacey playing together but acting strangely at the same time, like someone else their size was there playing with them. They’ve both been completely hypnotized for as long as 10 minutes at a time staring at her picture so intently, nothing I do breaks the stare. We’ve all heard a meow here inside my apartment when both of my kits were sound asleep and the tv isn’t even on. Several times it’s happened loud enough to wake them up.

There are more happenings and whether or not anyone believes these things happened doesn’t matter to me. I believe it and it’s made a big difference in my healing process. If you’ve had experiences and visits from your pets that have passed, but are not sure what to think or make of it; my answer to that is to think and feel whatever you want! Don’t talk yourself out of it because you’re afraid of what others will think or because you think it’s not real. Let yourself have the experience and heal from it, never mind if it’s real or not. Go with it and allow yourself to see or feel your baby again. Perception of reality is different for each person and what you perceive to be real and true, is all that matters. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Lessons of furballs

When Alex died I was beyond devastated. I was adamant that I would never again in this lifetime own another pet. I couldn’t take the pain of losing them. I tried hard to honor that promise. I was offered several kittens, all of which I turned down. I loved that I could once again have plants in my apartment, I hardly had to vacuum compared to before and I saved a ton of money. But I was incredibly lonely and severely depressed. Several times I was offered a tiny orange kitten from my vet’s office and constantly turned them down. Finally they took matters into their own hands. I went to their office for one reason and ended up coming home with a little orange boy named Finnegan.

Right away I knew he was trouble with a capitol T; full of more energy than all of my pets I’d ever had put together! It was very difficult to go from having Alex, who was always such a good girl, to Finney the little brat. He sure served his purpose and kept me extremely occupied. In fact he was so bad I thought on more than one occasion of giving him back. I’d never had more than one pet at a time before but knew I needed to do something drastic. So I got him a little girlfriend. I went to the rescue league and looked for hours. I was about ready to give up when this little tuxie kitten came down to see me from her climbing tree. She was cute, spunky and playful, very friendly and got along well with other kitties. It was time to take the plunge, so she got herself a new home.

The two of them fell in love within days and have been inseparable ever since. Recently a friend reminded me of some funny stories I’ve shared over the last four years of these two. They’ve always been double the trouble but triple the laughs. It didn’t take me long to realize there were some lessons here for me. What Alex had taught me was pure and untainted love. I’d always wanted to know what that felt like but never thought I’d receive it from a cat. That was her lesson to me; to let myself be loved and accept it fully. Even with the pain that comes from losing that love. The broken heart I had was worth every second I spent with her.

The lesson I’ve learned from Finney and Lacey is to let yourself laugh again. I mean really laugh, straight from your gut until you cry laughing. These two are like living with a comedy show. Lacey can do a mid-air back flip like I’ve never seen a cat do before. Finney teases her, chases her, makes her hiss and swat him. She runs like the road runner throughout the house and knocks him down; not knowing what hit him, he does a double take. (People that say cats don’t have expressions on their faces have never seen these two). He sneaks up on her and she jumps straight up in the air at least three feet and will make this insane meowing sound before chasing him throughout the house. One of my favorite things things in this world is to watch them play.

But mostly I love to watch them lying on the bed smooching and grooming. They'll make out for the longest time until they finally go to sleep. They are the perfect fit and I’m sure my Alex had something to do with that. They make me happy and even though she’s gone, Alex hasn’t stopped being my teacher. The lesson? I can’t and I shouldn’t live without love and laughter no matter what the cost; even if it comes with a couple of big furballs of trouble. LOL.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wading in the Sea of Regrets

Would have, should have, could have. How often have we said those words in our lives? I myself have said them too many times. Tell me one person who hasn’t? Grief in and of itself is all consuming but compiled with regret it can make you physically ill. When letting go of a pet, it’s normal to have deep regrets. It’s an enormous decision to end a life, even when you know that life is suffering and coming to an end on its own. If only they could tell us with no uncertainty, “I’m ready!” Because they can’t, even though we know in our hearts they can’t possibly take any more…some will always question that decision.

I myself am of the belief that when a pet cannot walk any more, cannot go to the bathroom, breathe well, etc., it’s time. That’s actually how I knew it was my cat Patches’ time. She couldn’t hold her bowels, was stumbling and looked just plain awful. The needle was barely inside her and she was gone. So yes, she was ready. Do I have some regrets? Yes, I do. There were things we should have and could have done while she was alive to better care for her. I was young and didn’t know there were signs. We also didn't know what we know now about proper nutrition and the diseases that senior kitties are prone to. But regardless of that, at 20 years old it was her time. And we gave her a long and happy life.

With Alex it was different because she died on her own and it was a shock. Even though she had been sick, she was doing well. I didn’t even have a chance to get her to the ER, she died in the car on the way there. I have PLENTY of regrets where that is concerned and that will most likely haunt me the rest of my life. Even though I know in my heart I did the very best I could for her through her illness, I still have doubts and regrets. My vet even told me she thought I was the best kitty parent she’d ever met and that I went above and beyond for her. It’s still not enough for me to stop that feeling, it’ll always be there, buried inside.

Blaming ourselves is normal and part of the grieving process. Sometimes that part never goes away completely but we learn to live with it or let it go. We have to in order to move forward. This is how we learn of what to do and what not to do next time around. And most of us DO learn those hard lessons. Think of it this way; if we weren’t good pet parents would we even care how good a life they have or if they went peacefully when it’s their time? Not at all. But instead of giving ourselves that moment of solace, we torment ourselves with “what ifs”. In order to love that deeply and strongly, we need to suffer for it. Why that is, I don’t know. It’s just the laws of the universe. But we are blessed with giant hearts and wide open arms that will yet welcome more fur balls into our lives. We cannot live without them and from what I’ve seen of most of my friends, their fur children lead the best lives possible with the greatest care.

Grieve! Do not deny your broken heart the chance to scream out in agony. Because that’s what it is when we love and lose them; sheer agony. But do not wade too long in that sea of regret or it’ll swallow you up. And your heart needs to mend for the next furry one that enters your life. Love yourself and give yourself permission to feel awful! But know you are a terrific parent and making yourself sick over regrets and what ifs will not change that they are gone. A fragile and broken heart should not be beaten to its core but treated as if it were a beautiful vase that can and will be mended. Even with a few cracks here and there, eventually it’ll hold the life of blooming flowers again.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Caring for a Senior Kitty

Caring for a senior kitty is no easy task. Most kitties these days are able to live well into their teens, barring any unforeseen problems. Alex was only 11 when she died but she of course had numerous health issues that eventually took her life. My cat before her, Patches, lived to be 20. She had a few urinary tract infections in her older years but was otherwise very healthy; which is ironic considering the awful diet we fed her (I was oblivious to pet food issues then). She eventually succumbed to CRF. By the time we discovered her condition it was too late, treatment did not help. So we said our goodbyes to a long life, well lived.

It doesn’t matter how long you have them for, it’s always devastating to say goodbye. When I took Alex in, I wrongly assumed I’d have her as long as I had Patches. And of course, I did not. Now I care for my sister’s elderly cat, Midnight who most likely has IBD and CRF. She’s estimated to be around 17 or 18 years old and has been on a rollercoaster this year. Taking care of an elderly human is stressful but a senior kitty who needs daily sub-q fluids, pills, appetite stimulants to eat, etc.; some days I am beyond tired running up and down the stairs. I never know how her day will be when I get up. One day she’s fine, the next she is throwing up and won’t eat. At her age it’s imperative that she keep eating so on occasion I syringe feed her when she’s on a hunger strike.

I never had a break after Alex died. Shortly after she passed away my sister moved back home with her then two elderly kitties; Moufasa and Midnight. Mouffey was a flame point Siamese with a large personality and a big mouth to match, LOL. He could practically form works and knew how to say hello. Right away I could see I would have to take over their care as Moufasa had severe diarrhea. I put him on a raw diet and voila! Diarrhea gone, just like that! Things went well until almost two years later, Mouffey began losing weight. He had a mass in his stomach and he was growing weaker by the day. I came home one day to find it was time to let him go. I still miss him very much, he was so funny! But I have had no time to rest as Midnight became sick afterwards. His symptoms were much easier to handle as she is a tough case. She reminds me a lot of how Alex was except Midnight has diarrhea and Alex didn’t. Truth be told I have wondered why I am the designated kitty caretaker. But that’s exhaustion talking because I do know why. Because of my experience with Alex, Mouffey and Midnight would most likely not have lived as long or have had this quality of life.

It’s not easy; we all know it and its okay to admit it. We get frustrated, upset and emotional about it. But I also would not change one day of caring for them. I love and adore them and they know it. Even with all the things I do to her, pills, needles, etc., she still runs to me and wants kisses. A friend recently stated that she is lost without her routine of doing her kitty’s meds. She is heartbroken to have lost her senior kitty but part of her is relieved and that’s how I felt after Alex died. It’s so hard not to be able to go anywhere for long periods of time, having to spend all of your money on medications and fluids, etc. And it’s okay that you feel that way. It in no way makes you a bad parent! On the contrary, it makes you human. You are NOT a superhuman who can do everything for everyone all the time and never feel compelled to run away from your reality.

What makes you a great pet parent is doing all you do for them, feeling those feelings and knowing in your heart of hearts, you wouldn’t make a different choice. It’s not in you - your love for them comes first and why not? They deserve it. But know this; once in awhile…it’s okay to exhale. Just breathe!!! They’re okay with that…really! And when it’s time to say goodbye to your long time furry love, know that it’s okay to feel so many different things, including relieved, for you and for them. It’s normal and part of the grieving process. When it’s Midnight’s time to go, I will be crushed. She is as sweet and loving as they come. But I also know I will have done everything for her that I possibly could and then some. And then, maybe…I will be able to exhale.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Changing Seasons & Sick Kitties

The fall season is always a beautiful time of year. The Leaves are changing colors, brisk nights, warm days and the beginning of the holiday season. But for some reason, sick kitties have a different reaction. The days are getting shorter and the air can be damp and chilly on rainy days. Kitties with arthritis begin to ache and feel their age. A couple of years ago those of us with sick kitties noticed this phenomenon where our cats began physically reacting to the changing seasons, even before it started. Their reaction is extreme in comparison to a healthy kitty who usually loves the changing temps. My healthy ones have begun playing again and running around the house at night. The hot temps all summer made it difficult for them to find much energy.

Things may be going well and your sick kitty may be stabilized for quite awhile. Then suddenly for no reason you can find, here it comes; nausea, vomiting, inappetance, tummy troubles, diarrhea, etc. Right on cue! September is here and although we’re as happy as clams that it’s not smoldering hot anymore, our babies are having a serious setback; unprovoked and almost uncontrolled. Because cats are so much more sensitive to everything than we are, I suspect it’s not one thing in particular but many small things setting off their conditions.

Change in daylight means longer nights and more sleep time for them. There's less time for eating, which is what a sick kitty needs. Ragweed, grass, nettle and other fall pollens are worse than ever. Ragweed thrives in dry, hot weather and the extensive drought we’ve all experienced here in the U.S. is helping ragweed explode. I believe they do affect our pets as well. Even my two healthy ones have recently begun sneezing. For that I give L-lysine twice daily. I also recommend following my instructions for spring allergy care:

Nights are getting cooler and those temperature fluctuations can cause many aches and pains to flare up. If your kitty is older and/or has arthritis, this can be tough. They’re used to the summer warmth and even having the a/c on became a habit. Now it’s time for a warm fleece blanket and a thermal pad or bed for your little one. I don’t have any explanations for the nausea, vomiting, etc. except that one symptom can lead to another. As many of you have realized by now, it really doesn’t take much for the whole system to go awry. I think when they get older or have a chronic condition like IBD or CRF, it’s just very difficult for any change in their routine whatsoever. I’ve seen kitties with chronic pancreatitis have attacks in the fall even though they were completely stable all summer. You’d think the days getting cooler and less humid would only help their condition! But it seems to be the opposite. You may have to make temporary changes in their medication doses in order to compensate for whatever their body is experiencing so speak to your vet about that if it happens.

So if you think it’s your imagination that your pets tend to have a setback at this time of year; it’s definitely not. It happens more often than you think and unfortunately it’s happening with several of our babies right now. Cats remind us that our bodies are very much affected by the tides, the sun, the moon, the seasons and the years. Nothing can change the fact that nature is the boss. And cats seem to have a direct line with Mother Nature. 

Monday, August 27, 2012


Nothing says frustration more than opening three different cans of food and having your cat stare at you with an expression of “and just what the heck is this? This is not what I ordered!”. It’s great to feel like a rejected chef isn’t it? Today they love what I gave them. Tonight may be a different story with no good reason whatsoever. It would be so much easier if they could just raise their paw, put it on the can they want and say “this one”. Gone are the days of kitten-hood when they eagerly chowed down on anything and everything I put in front of them. I miss those days so much.

Now they will not longer eat out of a 5.5 oz can. It has to be a 3 oz. can so there is nothing left over and it’s fresh. What they loved yesterday, they may stick their tongue out at today and walk away. When that happens, I usually take some Purebites dehydrated treats and crumble them up on top of their food, the love it. Or I’ll sprinkle a little of the Eaglepack Holistic Transitions probiotics on their food. It’s chicken flavored and as long as I don’t overdo it, they can use a little healthy bacterial flora now and then. I keep that in the refrigerator for freshness as instructed on the bottle.

There are times when they may not like a new food I’m trying out and no food topper in the world will work. They love the Soulistic brand food but unless it’s fed first thing in the morning when they’re starving, they’ll leave too many strands of chicken in the plate. I refuse to throw it away so I mix it with something else like Nature’s Variety venison or even some grain free Fancy Feast chicken or beef. They are getting pickier as they get older and I’ve had to make certain concessions and improvise. Food toppers are a great way of dealing with pickiness and I’ve found it works more often than not. Even using freeze dried foods are a great topper when crumbled! They did like Stella & Chewy’s freeze-dried for about a month. I bought it again and it was a no go. 

Lacey is more adventurous than Finney so she usually tries new things whereas he turns his nose up at a lot and walks away. Other times I don’t necessarily change what I feed them but when I feed it. Why they will suddenly decide they don’t want a particular food in the morning but its fine at night is beyond me. But again, it would be easier if they could just point to which food they want. I’d even give them a menu to read if I thought it would help, LOL. They both also know how to get my attention when they’re hungry and to say they are demanding is putting it mildly. Lacey has a big mouth and will meow at the top of her lungs over by her food dish until I stop what I’m doing and feed her; mostly out of sheer aggravation. Finnegan likes to tease me by coming over to the computer and clawing my furniture until I yell “stop it!” and chase him into the kitchen. It’s a fun game for him; for me it’s funny but sickening after two or three times. But again, they know how to get my attention. This does not mean however that I feed them whenever they want.  I don't need another obese cat and will never have one as far as I'm concerned.

I’m often asked how to tell the difference between when a cat is just being picky or if it’s really sick. Being picky is a normal cat trait and you get used to it; what choice do we have? Pickiness from being sick is a whole other ball game and when that happens, pay attention because there is a reason. Could be digestive issues, could be a toothache, could be an infection, it could be anything. When a pet is being beyond picky, there are other signs besides them burning a hole through your head with glare; Lethargy, depression, vomiting, feverish, lying in the meatloaf position (paws in, eyes puffy and closed, and back hunched up). Instead of sitting at the food dish demanding you open another can, kitty will be in the corner or somewhere else, with no interest whatsoever. There are certainly days when they could just have an upset stomach, sometimes a hairball can cause this. But keep an eye on this, if it goes on longer than 24 hours, call the vet. You don’t want to risk hepatic lipidosis so don’t let them go longer than that without eating, it’s dangerous:

As for my two healthy but picky connoisseurs, they leave me no choice but to be their slave, at their beck and call, wracking my brains figuring out new and improved ways of getting them to eat every last drop of whatever I put in front of them. Apparently that’s what I’m here for, as I am only the mom.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

House of Horrors

Twice this week I’ve had friends write to me referring to their multi-pet households as a “house of horror”. Both houses have an IBD kitty so the stress already exists but on top of that there is a lot of fighting between pets going on, causing IBD to up the ante. A multi-pet household is not always a happy one and usually there are one or two trouble makers causing a ruckus. Depending on how many pets are present in the home, someone is going to get picked on.

Pets can sense when another one is sick and if they get along, they may stick to them like glue and take on the role of nurse maid. But if they don’t get along, the sick one could be in for it; hence the house of horrors. When a kitty is sick, even the smallest change can stress them out and set IBD recovery backsliding. Add to that one or more household pets picking on them and IBD or any other illness becomes a raging fire.

Unfortunately IBD is extremely stress sensitive and calming that fire can be tremendously challenging. Integrating households is rough on the people involved but it will always be harder on your pets. They’ve got to get used to a new home in addition to new pets inhabiting a territory they aren’t familiar with. Scents have not yet been established in this new home and this can lead to confusion and being scared.

Although I don’t have all the answers I do have some suggestions that might work:

1.   Separation is usually the only way to start things off. Putting up a gate might work but of course cats can easily scale those. Find an area of the home that you can segregate for your kitty and let them get used to the place before having to get used to any new pets. I know someone who actually installed a screen door inside their house to keep several cats separated. They’re able to see what’s going on and not feel closed in by a solid door. It’s extreme, I know. But it seems to have worked well and it can always be easily removed later on.

2. Get a couple of calming collars, the ones I have in my gift shop: It literally saved my relationship with my kitty Finnegan this past winter. I accidentally poked him in the eye and he wouldn't come near me after that. He looked terrified if I even glanced at him. I thought I’d never have him back, but that thing saved us! It’s really amazing, works instantly and better than a Feliway. It’s completely handmade and the quality is MUCH better than the calming collars you get in the stores. She also makes calming sachets you hang on the doorknobs, which may work well if you have them separated by just a gate. You can add a couple of Feliway plug-ins to the mix anyway. They certainly won’t hurt and do work to an extent.

3.  When I had brought Finney to the vet a couple of years ago, Lacey growled and hissed like mad because he smelled like the vet when I brought him back. First I gave Finney a bath with some kitty wipes, and then Lacey. Then I took a towel and rubbed it all over Lacey and then on Finney and then on her again, so they got each other’s smells. It took a couple of days but I didn't have the collar then so I had to improvise. I’m smarter now and bring them both when they have to go, even if one isn't being seen.

4. Give one kitty on one side of a gated area a treat with the others watching, then give some to them with that one kitty watching and do it closer and closer to each other. Bribe them into thinking that being together is a good thing. Start putting their food dishes up close to that gate and let them see each other eating. They’ll hopefully pay more attention to eating than to each other. Keep doing positive reinforcement things close to each other and let them know whenever they've been good by rewarding them.

5. Try using harnesses as a way to have them in the same room. If one starts to growl or hiss you’re able to control any contact. Again use the reward system. If they are able to be close or sniff each other without any mishaps, reward with a treat and high praise! If you can walk them outside a little on their harnesses as a means of getting out some of that energy and facing different territories, this may redirect some of that nervous energy.

6. Establish some high areas for them to climb so any kitty that feels they are the alpha kitty can use that as a means to dominate instead of picking on the others or the one. Use cat trees or even shelves mounted on the walls if you can do it securely. If you have a large yard, try getting an outdoor kitty enclosure or even building one if you’re handy or have someone who can do it for you. The more healthy things for them to focus on the better. Lots of scratching posts and scratching beds as well. Use tools you’d have for them anyway as a means for them to redirect their aggression. Maybe just add extra ones.

7. Realize that the sick kitty takes precedence over the others. Especially if your kitty has IBD, be prepared for the possibility that they may have to go a little while with increased medication. If they’re experiencing a flair up, precautions should be taken immediately. A vet visit, maybe a short time of increased meds to calm things down, and plenty of quiet time as well.

8. Call an animal behaviorist. They can’t always help but it’s worth a try and many times they do make a huge difference.

9. Extreme measures should be a last resort such as behavioral medications for the other kitty if it’s just one who’s the culprit or maybe even for your IBD kitty if they are the ones that stress is taking over. If all else fails you may have to come to a decision such a re-homing an aggressor if nothing whatsoever has worked. They may be better off in a single-kitty home.

10. Last but not least make sure to take care of yourself! Do what you can to keep the peace but do not let it take over your life. The stress will not do anyone any good and can cause problems between the humans in the home as well. No one wants that so sit down together and discuss all options calmly, and don’t take it out on each other. Patience and perseverance may be the key to all of this so take your time, go for a walk every day for ten minutes, listen to some soft music and meditate. Do whatever you have to do for yourself to keep your own nerves from getting the best of you. Stress has a nasty way of spreading from kitty to kitty, and person to person. And stress makes any illness and situation worse, no matter what the cause.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Stressful Times

I recently had a couple of people write to me and tell me how stressed and overwhelmed they are with their sick kitties. This made me revisit that feeling; not that I’d ever forgotten it. I really never had much of a break after Alex died. I ended up caring for my one of my sister’s cats, Moufasa. He’s passed now and I care for the other one, Midnight. She’s elderly and has her own health issues that make it difficult and different to deal with from one day to the next. We’re pretty sure she’s got a form of IBD, along with kidney and bladder issues. Moufasa was also thought to have IBD but his was much easier controlled with diet than Midnight’s is.

It’s not easy guessing all the time what’s going on; what exactly sets them off or how to stop it. We love these creatures with all of our hearts but let’s face it; it’s daunting caring for them when they’re sick. They can’t tell us what hurts and how badly, they can only give us signs. Too often I see people in forums ignoring those signs. When you’ve cared for them long enough you get used to it. And what might seem like a small thing to the untrained eye, is really an alarm going off telling us to pay attention.

It’s a roller coaster and the truth is that you want the ride to stop. You just want things to be good for awhile, to stay on an even keel. Which means you can’t go on vacation or leave for any extended period of time. You have to be there at specific times every single day to give them structure with their medications and food or it will all hit the fan. In short, you have to make more of a commitment then you ever imagined you would. And it’s not that you mind that, you don’t; because your love for this baby is so deep and pure. But you’re exhausted, throwing out food, running out of money, losing sleep and forgetting about you. This is now the new normal and you feel guilty if you leave the house and something happens that makes you run late. You need to rush back and feed them knowing if they go too long without food, you’ll return home to vomit.

You know that awful sound, the sound of your pet vomiting. The second you hear it you jump out of bed and rush to them as if you weren’t ever asleep in the first place. The worry starts all over again and you feel like pulling all of your hair out. I can’t tell you how many times I sat on the floor crying, begging Alex to “please just eat!” Taking care of her was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever had to do. When she passed away I slept for a week and did hardly anything else. I was so distraught and exhausted my family and boyfriend had to make sure I ate at every mealtime. At the time, I didn’t care. After everything I went through with her I felt cheated and robbed. Then I felt guilty and panicked, like it must have been something I did and that’s why she died. Those feelings were there from the time she got sick and some of those feelings have never really gone away completely, not even now. It was a nightmare and one that I know so many people share right now or have shared. You feel like there has to be a reason your baby got sick and it must be something you did or didn’t do right. Blame is all you have that you can control, but blame isn’t going to change anything. They are still sick and need you to do it all.

I don’t have any new words of wisdom other than what I’ve already written on two of my pages from my site:, But I felt I needed to write a little something in addition to let others know that you are not alone in how you feel. Don’t be ashamed or feel guilty because you are tired of what’s happening. It’s a normal feeling, it really is. This is something all consuming and for however many years you have your baby with you, (hopefully many more than I did), things will never be the same. This is not meant to be doom and gloom, just that the words “I get it” can make all the difference. Remember that a little vomit sometimes is just that…a little vomit. Those setbacks can most often times be small ones and you can get through it, both of you. And when there are good days, oh those wonderful good days, cherish those and enjoy them! Try and let those good days be more important than the bad ones. Try and take care of you. Work it in the best that you can whenever you can and seize the opportunities. You’re in it for the long haul and knowing that ahead of time may help you understand how important those times for yourself can really be. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Disruptions In A Kitty's Life

Yesterday as my closet was being torn to shreds due to a broken water pipe, I had my kitties held up in the living room with the door closed. Or at least I thought I did. It was a stressful day here at my home, for everyone. In my almost 100 year old house of course nothing went as it should with these repairs. I’d thought Lacey was locked up in the living room with Finnegan but to my surprise after almost seven hours, after all were gone and I was left to clean up the mess, Finnegan found her hiding behind the stove in the kitchen. She’d never done that before and I had no idea whatsoever she’d been there all day. I felt so awful because she was slightly dehydrated, scared, hadn’t gone to the bathroom, eaten or drank all day. It took several hours for Lacey to calm down last night and get back to normal, and she’s a healthy kitty. Today did not go well either due to more plumbing issues but this time Lacey was locked away in the proper room with her food, water and litter box and is doing just fine.

This brings me back to the day that Alex had her feeding tube inserted. We’d had men here for almost two weeks blowing insulation into the walls. It was loud, highly disruptive and especially scary for her. All went well at the vets that day. I was so happy and felt something had finally gone right with her. Things usually went wrong; she’d either have rare side effects that called for a trip to the ER or her medications weren’t working. I was in the car on my way home when my mom called to tell me there was an “incident” in my living room and I needed to leave her downstairs with them. That was a huge understatement as I came home to find my living room COVERED in insulation. My walls were covered, my ceiling, carpets, my brand new furniture, everything. It even exploded into the kitchen there was so much of it! Apparently the outside wall leading into my living room gave way and this was the result. They had no idea this was happening and just kept going. Of all days for this to happen! Oh why that day, why did it have to be that day? I had to leave a poor drugged up Alex downstairs in her carrier for a bit while the guys stayed to help me clean it up as best as we could. They felt horrible about it and stayed an extra two hours.

Halfway through cleaning I brought her upstairs and put her on a blanket in my bedroom closet to get her more comfortable. Besides all of this, she was due for her first feeding and not only was I not ready for it, it was the first time I’d ever done it. We were all so exhausted, I was extremely upset and trying hard not to show it in front of her; she was already stressed out enough. The workers were not done for almost another week and the strain did not help her recovery at all. It was a tough situation that could not be helped but I know it hurt my girl’s chances for a full recovery. The very loud and constant drilling into the side of the house, the hammering and pounding, the strange men walking in and out, the dust, etc.; none of that did her or myself any good. Any small disruption to even a healthy kitty’s life is difficult. But this kind of jolt to a severely sick kitty’s life can be, and was, catastrophic.

Alex seemed fine for another couple of weeks after they were gone so her death came as a complete shock to everyone. She seemed to be healing well, even the vet thought so. But I do think the stress was too much for her. I’ll never know for sure if this had anything to do with her sudden passing but I do know it didn’t help. After my experience with her I will never put a sick kitty through that again. If you have a sick pet it may be best to bring them somewhere else more quiet and comfortable while any work is being done to your home; maybe a relative or a friend’s home that has no other pets and is nice and quiet. That in itself will be disruptive to their schedule and comfort level but it’ll be less so than having them terrified because of loud noises and strange people. Or if possible, seclude them in a part of your home that is far from the noise and indoor traffic. Just make sure keeping them calm is a priority.

Life throws us many a curve ball, some we can’t do anything about. But you’ve got to be prepared when you have a sick furbaby because things are bound to happen and unfortunately, they usually do. It’s just too easy for them to have setbacks as they are more fragile creatures than we ever thought they were. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012


As I’m approaching the 4th anniversary of Alex’s passing, July 10th, I’m reflective of my time with her. What she went through, all the ups and downs and how we all thought for sure she would make it. It’s wonderful to see the advancements that have been made since then but bittersweet all the same. I still wonder why she had to be the poster kitty for this awful disease and all of its extended conditions. I still get angry, even after all this time. I don’t know if it will ever completely go away. I don’t harp on it and I certainly don’t think about it all the time. Not even ¼ of the amount I used to think about it. But it still hurts and probably always will. I wish I knew then what I know now about some of the treatments, foods, medications, B12, etc. I’m thrilled and more than happy that so many others are not only surviving IBD but thriving in spite of it. But again, it’s bittersweet.

It took everything I had to start IBDKitties. I forced myself like I never have before in my life and with every page I wrote that contained information related to her and her conditions, I truly believed I would be physically ill. I relived it all in the hopes that the information would help others and I can honestly say that I know it’s helped a tremendous amount of people with their cats. I’m thankful for that. IBDKitties is a known name now and the amount of return visitors I get is equal to the amount of new visitors; telling me that it’s doing its job, continuing to educate.

I will admit I’m at a crossroads at this point in my mission. The word is out about food and how grains do not belong in their diet. Things are changing, people are pushing for what they want now. And more than ever people are reverting to a proper feline carnivore diet; most of the time with amazing results. Of course now many of us are trying to educate about the new “bad ingredients” in pet food. Pet food companies are just so brazen and keep spewing our own outrage right back in our faces. It’s discouraging and disgusting and that’s what they count on. That we get tired of trying. I have news for them; “not gonna happen”. We’re not going away and that’s all there is to it.

That being said I truly don’t know what path I am to put my foot down on next. I’m standing here in the middle of nowhere wondering what to do with IBDKitties next. How can I continue the mission and find that road I am to bring my passion down? I have some fundraising ideas for research I’ve been thinking of but even those need money to bring to fruition. Money I do not have. I've made the connections I need and they're all ready and excited for any ideas I may have; except the light bulb over my head is burnt out and so far I can’t find a replacement. I’ve asked Alex to help guide me but I guess she’s taking a little break herself. It must be exhausting being an angel and flying all over the world, finding the sick ones and guiding them to me and the site.

I picture her so much stronger than she ever was here. Poor thing never had a stable life until she found me and then our time together was way too short. I miss her so much. She was the kind of soul every pet parent dreams of having in their life. I was so blessed to have her love and devotion. I think she probably hung on as long as she did for me more than for herself. But when I think of the night she died and how it happened, it just isn’t fair. It was horrible and not at all the way I would have wanted to let her go. It was too sudden and shocking and traumatized me. But some endings are what they are and there’s not always a warning or any time to say goodbye. I say it every year at this time. I say goodbye again and tell her that no matter what, I’ll keep doing what she wants me to do, as long as I’m needed. I just wish I knew what I’m needed for next.

I hope my girl speaks to me again soon and lets me know what our next step is. In the meantime I’ll celebrate her life and mourn her death all over again. I’ll remember every little thing I loved about her, which was just about everything. I miss you sweetheart; you were, still are, and always will be the love of my life. Until we meet again.