Friday, July 10, 2015

My Heart

Seven years ago tonight, at this very time, I was sitting in the ER holding the lifeless body of my sweet and beautiful Alex. She died in the car, in the back seat while I was stuck on the highway because of an accident. There was a lot of cars backed up. I heard her die. I heard her and I sat there screaming and crying and no one could help me. I never in my life felt so helpless, horrible and broken. I ran into the ER with her carrier crying and screaming "NO NO NO! this can't be! Please no!"
And then they brought her to me, wrapped in a blanket, so I could say goodbye. I just couldn't say it. I drove home and my boyfriend at the time pulled up on his motorcycle coming home from work. He asked me if Alex was staying overnight at the vet. I told him she was gone. He immediately started crying as hard as I was. I got out of my car, he got off his bike and we stood in the middle of the street holding each other and crying so hard we couldn't breathe. I will never, ever, ever get over this.
I don't think about it that much anymore. But that little girl was the best thing that ever happened to me. she was an angel in a cat's body. She loved me more than any human ever did. I thought I would die right along with her. There wasn't anyone that didn't love her, she was utter sweetness. My boyfriend never liked cats. But she immediately turned him into a cat daddy. She loved him so hard he had no choice. I was a zombie for months after she died. But she visited me several times and I felt her here.
Part of me sometimes feels like she was a dream. A beautiful, beautiful dream. And then I remember everything. She sent Finnegan and Lacey to me, no doubt in my mind. Because they make me laugh so much and that's what I needed most after she died. She's a guardian angel now and stands at the gates to meet each kitty we lose to this horrid HORRID disease that took the love of my life. And I'm not one bit surprised at how glorious she is, and always was. My angel, my soulmate. I love you so much Alex. I never stop holding you in my heart.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pain in the Teeth Part 2

Now it was Finnegan’s turn and at first I thought maybe his teeth were not as bad as hers. How wrong I was! Of course he was much worse to bring into the vet, even for just an exam. He screamed bloody murder in the car, and he’s the one with the soft meow! He hissed at the vet and tech panted heavily and wandered the room continuously. He was a good boy for the exam though which showed he had some significant problems. We did the blood work, rabies shot and came home so we could go through this again in a month. Unfortunately, he had a bad reaction to his rabies shot and stopped eating completely. A couple of days later we were back at the vet (NOT FUN) and he had to get a Benadryl and famotadine (Pepcid A/C) shot. This took care of it and as much as I protested, unfortunately we’ll have to go through this again in the future. But this time we have it in his records and he’ll be getting the Benadryl and famotadine BEFORE the vaccine from now on. 

A month later we were back for the dental and thankfully due to his stress level, they were wonderful about making the same accommodations for him as they did for Lacey. All went well but he had two teeth that were already broken and needed to come out, and one lower canine that was rotting from the root that needed extraction. No wonder he was also not behaving as himself.

But we had another problem. When I got him home and gave him his pain medication (buprenex) he began acting terrified of me. Beyond anything I’d ever seen him or any of my pets ever do. He was shaking like crazy, hiding his face in the corner of the room, not eating, etc. It was horrible. I only gave him two doses and felt this was more than the anesthesia after effects. I called the vet the next morning and she told me to stop it immediately which I had. Buprenex is a good pain medication and as I said earlier, Lacey did well on it and so did my late kitty Alex. But it’s also an opiate and in some cases it can cause a pet to hallucinate and that’s what was happening here.

So in the meantime I had to syringe feed him some baby food (no onions or garlic) and my instructions directly from the vet were to give him a one-time only dose of baby aspirin (81 mgs). Aspirin can be toxic to cats so I asked a lot of questions and she assured me this ONE TIME dose would be okay. It did him wonders and within two hours he started eating on his own. It took a full 24 hours for the effects of the pain medication to wear off but he began to come around and was fine. It was an unfortunate incident but there was no way for my vet or myself to know he’d have this reaction. I am the one who prefers Buprenex over Metacam and asked for it but from now on, any procedures he has, he will have to use another pain medication. And again, NEVER give aspirin to your cat without specific instructions from the vet first, EVER. 

As with Lacey, since his dental procedure I am seeing a brand new cat. Playful, loving beyond anything I’ve seen in a long time and doing very, very well. In fact he had been vomiting hair up quite frequently for awhile before his dental. I had them give him a lion cut (shaved him) during the dental since he was already out cold and this has helped tremendously with that issue. But I also suspect that his vomiting had a lot to do with his bad teeth causing him gastrointestinal distress. Inflammation in the teeth and gums can cause stomach upset, which makes perfect sense because inflammation travels elsewhere in the system.  

Here is some more information on dental disease, the cleaning and dental procedures and what to look for:
Although my cats did not have tooth resorption, this is a common condition and very painful. Another good reason to have their teeth checked annually:

The vet wanted me to start brushing their teeth and gave me some CET toothpaste with a tiny finger toothbrush. Unfortunately the CET gave them both diarrhea. I looked up the product and it contains 50% sorbitol which is a gastric irritant. This is why I go on and on about even tiny amounts of certain things. If this can happen to my healthy cats...imagine what ingredients like this can do to a kitty that already has IBD or gastric issues.

There is no reason to put 30-50% sorbitol in a cat product, especially when it clearly can and has caused my cats to get soft poops/near diarrhea and tummy aches. It states right on their product pdf: Sorbitol: Reports of adverse reactions to sorbitol are largely due to its action as an osmotic laxative when ingested orally, which may be exploited therapeutically. I also found this on another site: The only significant concern with sorbitol is that it can promote Irritable Bowel Syndrome or lead to problems in the gastrointestinal system.

That's the last thing I need is another cat with IBD. And although IBS and IBD are two different things, we don’t know the effects it has on a cat’s body versus a human’s body. Either way, it made them both sick. And I tried to find one but I don’t think they make a pet toothpaste without sorbitol in it. I thought about what to do because I am going to have to continue brushing their teeth. So I decided to make my own toothpaste, and this is what I came up with. It may not be the best but to me it’s the safest and works just fine.

Use Amco spoons for measurement:

250 mgs opened capsule of lactoferrin

500 mgs opened capsule of taurine

One scoop of Viralys L-Lysine powder or 500 mgs opened capsule of L-lysine

Largest spoon dose of Petkins Invisible Formula Liquid Oral care solution

2 largest spoon doses of George’s 100% Aloe vera liquid

Teaspoon Beechnut baby food (meat and broth only)
Sprinkles of fresh catnip for taste and mint flavor
Stays fresh in refrigerator for 6-7 days
After brushing give a freeze dried all meat treat as a reward

Unfortunately to buy the tiny toothbrush you’ll need, you have to buy the CET product. But this is the sample paste so it’s not expensive. I personally wouldn’t use the toothpaste but that’s my preference. I wash the little toothbrush with clear dish liquid, no dyes or perfumes. This brush works better than any other, is softer and fits in their mouth perfectly,

For brushing, I sit down on the floor with one of them in between my legs, wrap a towel around the front of them and quickly but gently open their mouth with my fingers. Slide in the toothbrush and very gently scrubbed. It’s hard to get the back teeth, no ways around that. But if you can, those are the worst. Do it quickly for the first week, no need to get the back ones yet. After every brushing, give them a freeze dried, all meat treat. Let them know it’s not all bad.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pain in the Teeth; Part 1

None of my pets have ever needed a dental before; at least not that I know of. But I see now how incredibly important it is to check my pet’s teeth and keep them clean. It all started with what I thought was a cute picture of Lacey yawning. I never took enough pictures of Alex and now she’s gone. So when I adopted Lacey and Finnegan I bought a good camera and have taken probably thousands by now. As you can see her teeth are covered in plaque and tartar and her gums are incredibly red and inflamed.

I knew Lacey’s teeth probably bad, her breath was horrendous. Like something crawled up in there and died. But when I saw this picture on the computer I literally cried. I realized she had to be in a lot of pain and I needed to take care of this for several reasons. Yes, pain is number one. Your pet should never be in pain and because cats hide it so well, it’s your job to know their behaviors. I noticed Lacey slowing down a lot although she was eating fine. I thought it was just her age, but couldn’t understand that as she’s only seven. Two weeks before her dental, I also noticed she didn’t groom as much as she normally did. She did not experience all of these other symptoms but bad teeth and gums can also cause them to paw at their mouths, chew on one side more over the other, bleed from the gums, over groom themselves, become lethargic and develop an infection.

Eventually your pet’s teeth will indeed cause so much pain they will probably stop eating and that’s not something you ever want to happen. A cat can develop hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) within 48 hours of starvation. I know because my Alex had it and needed to be hospitalized, on an IV drip with antibiotics and fluids to flush out the toxins in her liver. It CAN be fatal so never let your cat get to that point. If your cat has not eaten on its own, or barely picks at their food, looks lethargic, tired, etc. please call the vet immediately and take them in as soon as possible.

There are other very important reasons to make sure they have healthy teeth and gums. Dental disease is just as hard on their health as it is on ours. Toxins can enter the blood stream through the gums and cause problems to vital organs like the heart and kidneys. I take excellent care of my pets and I want them to live a very long, happy and healthy life. This is no different than any other health issue and no less important.

Because I’d never gone through this before, I needed to do some research. So I called around to different animal hospitals and asked a lot of questions. You should know that it IS very expensive. They need to do a full check-up beforehand to make sure your pet has nothing else going on and that they are healthy enough to be put under anesthesia. Pre-op blood work is essential for this and can tell them if their organs are functioning properly, if there is any underlying conditions, infections, etc. They also check for heart disease which is again essential to know before putting them under anesthesia.

If you’re wondering why a pet needs to be put under for a dental cleaning, the answer is simple; a pet is not a human. They are already beyond terrified just going for a vet visit. There’s no way on this earth they’d lie still for someone to go poking inside their mouth and possibly even extracting teeth (which is painful). Under anesthesia the pet can have thorough dental x-rays, a complete scaling and cleaning and again, teeth pulled if necessary. Anesthesia free dental cleaning is growing in popularity but in my opinion is not nearly thorough enough and has some dangers associated with it. Here is an excellent article on why anesthetizing them is necessary:

The procedure itself doesn’t take long; usually no more than 30 to 45 minutes, but the pet must be prepped with sedation and pain medication before surgery. The time it takes for each pet to wake up is different. Lacey woke up very quickly and was tired when she came home but not at all wobbly or in a stupor. Finnegan was a different story. He woke up quickly but took a long time to come out of it once home.

What I did was call around to several veterinary hospitals, including my old vet, to see what they used specifically for anesthesia, pain meds, antibiotics, etc. I asked if they would honor my requests that certain medications not be used, what the entire dental exam and cleaning entailed and I asked for a quote. Since there are four stages of dental disease categorized it’s difficult to give a quote. But usually they will give you a range and quote on the high side the day of the procedure in order to prepare you in case they find extensive tooth and gum disease.

The hospital I ended up choosing was one that a friend had recommended to me some time ago. For all my questions and concerns I had, the vet tech stayed on the phone with me for over 30 minutes and was completely willing to answer anything and everything. They explained everything to me in great detail and because my kitties were new patients (or potential new patients) they offered me a free tour of the entire facility; the exam rooms, surgical area, in house lab, feline recovery area (which was kept in the opposite part of the building from the recovery area for dogs), etc. During the tour they again went over every aspect of the procedure and if I had any questions I could easily ask. I beat them over the head with questions to be honest and it didn’t faze them one bit, they were courteous and extremely helpful.

It just so happened that both my cats needed their rabies vaccinations and as it’s the strict law here in my state I had to make the choice, even though they are indoor only. If they were to bite anyone there, including the vet, the law requires them to be quarantined for 10 days in the pound if they are not vaccinated and I cannot put my cats or myself through that hell. During Lacey’s exam they did her blood work and rabies vaccine (rabies only, nothing else) and examined her teeth. She was surprisingly good about it. But since she’d just had her rabies vaccine that day, we had to schedule her dental for a month out to give her immune system time to rest and recoup. If your pet gets a vaccination of any kind, surgery or any kind of invasive procedure should not be done for at least a month out for that reason.

It also happened that her blood work results showed her liver enzymes were up slightly, which can be a sign of infection. She seemed to be fighting it off on her own so we did not give antibiotics at that time. We kept the schedule and decided to do blood work in house right before the dental and I would wait for the results to make sure they’d gone down. A month went by and the morning of the procedure was a disaster as the waiting room was filled dogs barking loudly and nervously. The good news from her blood work was that her liver enzymes were normal, however she spiked a fever. At the urging of the vet, I left her there for several hours to see if her fever would come down on its own. But it fluctuated. The vet felt it was due to the stress of the dogs and told me to bring her home and see how she does. We had to reschedule the dental for the next week. I was not at all happy, very stressed out myself and began to wonder if I’d made the right choice.

However, the next morning they called me to say they had made a plan that would accommodate Lacey better. We were to go in at 8 am instead of 7 (when the waiting room was full). We would wait in the car and I’d call when we got there and they would wave us directly into the exam room. They’d check her temperature again, and get her into surgery immediately, no waiting; in and out as quickly as possible to alleviate her stress level. This pleased me tremendously and I felt they really cared about my pets and as the vet had said “the goal is to take care of them but put as little stress on them as possible.” And I do know from being at other vet hospitals in the area, no one has separate waiting areas for dogs and cats. But for sure none of the others would have made these accommodations; I’ve been to some of them so I know this.

The day finally came and everything went smoothly and according to plan. Her temp was still slightly up but they felt it was still due to stress and she needed her teeth done badly, so we went ahead with it. In the end, three teeth were pulled and one canine has to be watched as it showed signs of some “potential” issues. She was sent home with amoxicillin (antibiotic) and Buprenex (for pain). She ate some soft food within the hour of being home and did well with her medications. Within a week and a half after surgery I began to see my little girl coming back to life again. No more tooth pain meant feeling good enough to play, groom and act as silly and loving as she used to. I was instructed on how to brush my cat’s teeth and will be discussing this and Finnegan’s dental experience in part 2.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Safe Cleaning for You and Your Pets

I’m on a mission; not only for my cats’ health but for my own. I’m using as many homemade, safe and non toxic items as I can as opposed to chemicals to clean.

I stopped using sprays like Fantastic or 409 for my counter tops and Windex for my mirrors and windows. I now use a 50/50 solution of white distilled vinegar and water and if I need to disinfect something more than that, I use straight hydrogen peroxide. Because of it's acidic nature, vinegar cannot be used on natural stone counters, floors and tiles. I also don't use any dish detergents with phosphates, dyes or fragrances. But vinegar and baking soda is great to use on baked on pots and pans.

Usually I use a stove top cleaner called, Cerama Bryte cook top cleaner for my ceramic flat top stove. It says its eco friendly and biodegradable and it does not contain phosphates. However its main base is citric acid together with some other oil based liquids. I don’t know what those liquids are and citric acid can burn the skin. Seeing as how I don’t know if my cats jump on top of that surface at night when I’m asleep, (I can only imagine they do), I chose to stop using it and tried simple baking soda and vinegar. 

I sprinkled a little bit of baking soda on my stove top and sprayed it with the vinegar and water solution. I then took the same special scrub sponge I normally use with it, made especially for ceramic stove tops and voila! Clean as a whistle! I had to rinse really well though to make sure I got all the baking soda off just to be sure. But it worked like a charm, there’s no residue and it’s now safer for them. 

Next I switched from using Lysol toilet bowl cleaner to adding some baking soda and pouring a bit of straight white vinegar in the bowl. It fizzes and also works to unclog anything stopped up in the drain. I used my regular toilet brush (no chemicals on it) and it worked great! (No my cats don’t drink out of the toilet bowl but I still want to use safer cleaning items for myself).

I then took that same spray bottle with the vinegar and water solution and cleaned the rest of the toilet. For a great disinfectant fill another spray bottle with pure hydrogen peroxide and spray on the toilet seat and wipe. I also used the vinegar/water and baking soda to clean my sink and again, it worked really well; shiny, now safe for kitties to walk on it, and no toxins for me either. I did the same thing for the shower, used the baking soda and vinegar/water solution. And gone is the Scrubbing Bubbles spray bathroom cleaner.

For cleaning my floors, I use a Bissell Steam Mop but will not use the chemical laced cleaner pads that you can buy to go with them. I should have bought a Shark steam mop instead as it has a washable pad that comes with it but after spending $50 on the steam mop and liking the way it works, I’m keeping it. So instead I use some thick Swiffer dry pads and fill the tank with another 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. Even works well on my laminate hardwood floors. Apparently though vinegar should never be used on natural stone of any kind whether it's the floor, counter tops or bathroom. Here is a great alternative to vinegar:

Next is the furniture. Furniture polish contains petroleum distillates, which are highly flammable and can cause skin and lung cancer. They contain nitrobenzene, which is easily absorbed through the skin and extremely toxic. Since cats absorb everything through their skin very easily and lick it off, this was bothering me a great deal. I researched for days and found something about coconut oil. I tried it but it smears and doesn’t absorb into the wood. Then I found a recipe, non toxic, easy to make and shines like the dickens! I went the extra step and used organic apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Be aware that the organic ACV smells much stronger than regular but the smell does fade. Please do not use any fragrances, natural or not, as things like citrus of any kind and essential oils are toxic to cats. If you can, dust and polish when you’re able to open some windows for a few minutes to air the place out. Otherwise, just wait it out, the smell fades.
Mix 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with 2 tsp. of olive oil. The vinegar removes dirt from furniture and the olive oil shines without greasing. This homemade polish is safe for homes with kids and pets, and it's gentle enough to be used on most any surface that needs polishing. As you can see, my wood looks amazing! In fact, it hasn’t shined like this since I bought it years ago.
I no longer have carpets anywhere in my house but I did find these instructions and I know these ingredients are safe. Again, follow only the pet stain formula and don’t use any fragrances or essential oils:
Basic Pet Stain Formula

Try this on stains that have already set. Caution: test first on a hidden area
to be sure the peroxide won't change the color of the carpet.
to be sure the peroxide won't change the color of the carpet.
Note: You may be tempted to use a scrub brush for this treatment, but you risk splitting the carpet fibers if you work it too vigorously.

Baking Soda
White Vinegar
Liquid glycerin soap (or dish soap)
Hydrogen Peroxide
Mix equal parts of vinegar and water, and work the mixture well into the stain using a clean white towel. Blot well, and let dry. Once the area is dry, sprinkle baking soda generously over the spot. Mix together 1/4 cup peroxide with 1/2 tsp liquid soap then pour the soap mixture over the baking soda to dissolve it into the nap of the carpet. Work the paste down deep into the fibers. Blot again, and let dry. Vacuum to remove the residue. You may have to repeat this treatment on persistent stains. 
Last year we started using straight white vinegar as bug repellent around the house and yard. I couldn’t believe how well it works. You have to reapply it every so often, maybe once every couple of weeks to a month, but it does the job and you don’t have to worry about fumes or anything. We had these awful red bugs infesting our tree in the yard. They took over and multiplied like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. One year they were swarming the house and coming in everywhere. They don’t bite or anything but were an awful nuisance. I got desperate and sprayed chemicals on that tree for three straight years but it didn’t work that well and I hated handling that stuff. I decided last year to try the vinegar and I couldn’t believe how well it worked. I just dumped half a gallon jug of straight white vinegar on the tree and they were completely gone, the tree was fine.
I also take a spray bottle and go around the foundation on a nice day to get rid of anything like ants, crickets, etc. trying to get in. You can even spray it indoors as well, especially if you get ants in the kitchen area.
Vinegar is simply amazing and although it's not the greatest smell there is, the smell does wears off fast and I am very pleased with how well it cleans and how safe it is. My advice if you want to go green, get yourself a couple of gallon jugs of white distilled vinegar, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. The uses are endless.

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Resolve

I wish I’d had Alex since she was a kitten. She traveled far and changed hands many times before coming to me. She never had a proper diet and maybe she still wouldn’t have had one even if she was with me. I didn’t learn what I did about pet food until it was too late for her.  I’d like to think maybe I would have learned about it sooner and maybe she would have had a healthier and longer life. I can do the “what ifs” all I want but it won’t change anything. I can’t get her back and I can’t erase her illnesses and how she died.

By the time she came to me she was obese. I put her on a diet and fed her Iams and Science Diet. I thought I was doing better by her than her previous owners did. She did start to lose weight but she also got very sick. She began throwing up all the time which eventually led to her anorexia and fatty liver disease. No doubt she was sick before I switched foods. I certainly don’t blame it solely on the foods I gave her; but they didn’t help the situation. (These particular foods contain a large amount of grains and by-products). While she was sick I did an enormous amount of research and I found groups and vets online that explained how cats don’t eat grains in the wild; how they’re obligate carnivores. Grains can cause everything in a cat’s system from diabetes, obesity, allergies, food intolerance, to the dreaded IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). Things started to make sense to me but back then it was extremely hard to find grain free cat food.

I embarked on a mission to feed her a grain free diet. She was very sickly at this point but I had to try. Unfortunately the diet change was too little too late. Her system was destroyed and she left me regardless of my efforts. In the seven years since she first got sick I’ve done more research, started my website, and more grain free products have become available. Many kitties with GI disorders have since been stabilized on a grain free and/or raw food diet and educating others on this subject has become second nature to me. I’ve got two cats that are now five years old and have always eaten grain free since the day I adopted them. After what I went through with Alex, I wanted to start them off right.

If there ever came a day that either one of them were so sick they needed prescription food, or they refuse profusely to eat anything else but food with grains in them; of course I’ll always do what’s best for my kids. But for as long as I can and with a lot of resolve, I’ll feed them a grain free diet. Why? Because I’ve never once seen a cat run into a field to eat the corn; they run into the field to eat the mouse that ate the corn. This is my preference based on what I’ve learned, what I’ve experienced and what I see in front of me. My cats have shiny coats, lots of energy, are a good weight and so far (knock on wood) are very healthy. Will this kind of a diet completely stop illnesses? No. Will it cure any illnesses? No. But next to raw food (which is the ultimate species appropriate feline diet) a grain free diet helps keep them at a proper weight, is low carbohydrate (cats don’t need and all those carbs) and higher in protein (which is what they should be getting).

Why don’t I feed a raw food diet? I’m still trying to. I should have started them on it when they were kittens and they tore into their food. Again, I’m still learning like everyone else. Now, they are much more stubborn. And this must be done slowly and with patience. NEVER let a cat starve because they won’t eat what you want them to. You risk hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) in less than 48 hours of them not getting the proper nutrition; and its life threatening. I don’t know that my cats will ever eat a full raw diet but either way, I’ll continue to try, and in the meantime to feed them grain free. My goal is to keep their digestive tracts working properly, for them to stay at a healthy weight, and to stick around their mom for a very long time.

Aflatoxin: The Single Pet Food Ingredient to Be Especially Vigilant About

The Truth About Grains

Do Dogs and Cats Need Grains?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Good Vets, Bad Vets

Do you have a good relationship with your vet? Do you trust them to take good care of your furry family member? Too many times I’ve heard from people ready to give up because their vet has prematurely given up on their pet. One person told me that their vet felt just because her kitty was elderly and had IBD, she should be put to sleep. Without trying any treatments or proper diagnostics, this vet felt the cat should be euthanized. Luckily the parent didn’t listen and the kitty is now getting the proper treatment for her condition. But this didn’t stop her in the meantime from thinking that it may be the end!

Another person I know lost her kitty because the vet out and out refused to try a different medication with her and there were no other vets around for over 100 miles. The medication is used frequently for cats with IBD and could have potentially saved her life. Maybe not, but it’s always worth trying if there's still a possible chance of recovery. He wouldn’t even consider it and there was no good explanation given as to why. This poor woman eventually lost her best friend. There are more stories like these unfortunately. But thankfully there are plenty of stories of good and even great vets as well.

I know many people with vets that truly care about them and their pets. Some have more experience with IBD and certain medications than others. But here’s the kicker; the ones who don’t…are willing to learn! They take their oaths as healers seriously and put aside any egos to actually listen to the pet parents and possibly even try new things. If you have a vet like this, you’ve won half the IBD battle. You need a vet that will be on the same side of the battle-lines with you and your sick little baby and do what it takes…together.

If you are unhappy with your current vet or you need to find another one for whatever reason, here are some things to look for:

Find a vet that has experience with IBD (or any other disease that may apply) and is willing to learn more about it. They can always do consultations with other vets and/or hospitals and consult with you in the process. They can also take a look at my website and view the case studies to see what’s working and what isn’t for different kitties.

Make sure your vet listens to your concerns about medication side effects, long term dosing and different medication options. Arm yourself with knowledge so you know what questions to ask.

Keep a diary for yourself and your vet so they know exactly what’s happening with your pet and what they’re looking for. Mention any vomiting, soft stools, diarrhea, blood in stools, inappetance and so on. It’s much easier to remember everything that’s happening and give the vet what they need to make a diagnosis. 

Make sure your vet has flexible hours and can squeeze you and your pet in if you feel something is not right. You know your pet better than anyone. If you feel something is very off or they’re sick, don’t wait to call for an appointment. Otherwise you may end up taking your kitty to the emergency.

Ask your vet’s office for a copy of your pet’s records or at the very least, an itemized receipt. This way you know exactly what they gave your pet, how much, what tests were done, etc. If you do have to take kitty to the ER for something like an adverse drug reaction, you’ll know exactly what was given to them.

Just as in your own medical care or that of your human child, be involved and ask questions. It’s you’re right as a pet parent. Any good vet won’t have a problem with that as long as you aren’t bombarding and overwhelming them.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Kitty Caretakers

I often speak about how stressful it is to care for an ailing pet; how difficult it is and how draining. But also that there is a connection made that can’t be broken. Anyone who’s has a sick kitty knows how deep this runs. But what happens when the kitties become the caretakers?

This has been a very difficult summer for me. My father became very ill quickly and we almost lost him a couple of times. I’ve spent a lot of my time going back and forth to the hospital and taking care of my elderly mom as well. I wore myself out and my kitties knew it. They could tell something was wrong and different and did all they could to show me how much they love me.

There was no time or energy for playing. I came home and took naps, ate something, then went back out. I came back home, did my nightly rituals, tried to keep it together and went to bed. In between all of that I did laundry, dishes, housework, etc. etc. But something else happened that was wonderful. I got extra cuddles, extra kisses and extra love from my furry kids.

It was just what the doctor ordered as I was very scared and stressed. Finnegan and Lacey love my mom and dad and oftentimes go downstairs to their house with me to visit them. When they couldn’t go for awhile they knew something was wrong. So they gave me extra meows of comfort, they kneaded the bed longer and more often and they looked at me with eyes that said “we’re here for you mom, whenever you need us”. I don’t know what I’d do without my two nursemaids. But I’m so grateful for them.

They were so patient and understanding during this hard time, as if they knew that I needed their love more than ever. And I got it. I’m lucky to have such smart kitties, because for once I needed them more than they needed me. And honestly when we think about why we have pets in the first place, isn’t this the very reason? They are unconditional love and support during good times and bad. And there’s nothing better in this world than when your kitty kisses your tears away and purrs next to your heartbeat. That’s the best medicine there is. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ready or Not, Here I Come!

I can honestly say my babies are my life. I’d do anything for them, they’re my priority. I go without many things so my kitties can have what they need to be happy and healthy. I will admit that when I first took them in, it was no walk in the park. I had lost Alex in a very traumatic way and had convinced myself I would never again give my heart to another fur child. It was though, extremely difficult. I soon found out it was too quiet and too lonely. Although I did enjoy not having to clean so much and I was able to have things like plants again…it just wasn’t the same.

But taking in one new baby, never mind two, was a shock to my grieving process and admittedly it took a lot for me to let go of the anger, resentment and pain of losing my soul kitty. I know I felt pushed by a lot of people to get another fur child. And even though it all worked out in the end, at the time, I just wasn’t ready. But I wouldn’t trade this time with my two scampers for anything.

Finnegan came to me first and he was a handful! He climbed my curtains and wanted my attention 24/7, which is why I got Lacey. Both of them fell in love with each other immediately. However, it took me a little time to reach that point with them, I hadn’t finished grieving yet. But they tugged and tugged on my heartstrings until I couldn’t resist anymore and I gave in. I let my heart open to its full capacity and realized that Alex had sent them to me.

The shock of losing Alex the way I did though scared me to pieces. I realized there was always the chance of one of these two getting sick. After all, there are never any guarantees and eventually they will get old and get sick, and yes, die of something. It took me a good year to relax and just enjoy them. I was so scared they would develop some life threatening illness like Alex had.

Losing a fur child is without a doubt one of the hardest things we as pet lovers will ever go through. It can really mess us up! For me, I was thrust back into momma hood very quickly but it turned out to be just what I needed. I don’t think I could have done my website had I not learned to laugh again and have something to look forward to everyday. But everyone is different and we all know when it’s time to be alone and heal, or when it’s time to open our arms and hearts again.

If you’re in that position right now and aren’t sure what to do…don’t rush into anything because others are telling you to. Do it because you’re ready, you feel the situation is right and/or because you’ve fallen in love with the right little furry face.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Goodnight Midnight

It’s amazing how one small animal can make such a huge impact on your life. It’s true…I’m in mourning. This past weekend we lost a precious fur child to complications from inflammatory bowel disease. Midnight was one of the sweetest babies I’ve ever had the privilege of being owned by. She loved everyone and everyone loved her. It was impossible not to. She is the third fur child in five years in our family to succumb to feline IBD. After Alex, I didn’t think I’d have to deal with it again so soon. I was hoping not at all. But it was not meant to be. 

After my sister lost her husband, she moved in with us and brought her two cats, Moufasa and Midnight. Moufasa was sickly and it was not long before I recognized the symptoms of the dreaded disease I’d come to hate so much. Luckily his case was easier to handle than Midnight’s, but he did not live as long. I changed his diet to strictly raw food (Stella & Chewy’s) and it put an end to his uncontrollable diarrhea. He did very well for a long time. Sadly after almost two years, he developed a mass in his stomach and eventually we had to let him go. But with raw food, B12 injections and plenty of love, he lived a lot longer than we thought he would. 

After he passed, Midnight did very well for a few months and then began developing symptoms of her own. I was so upset and I couldn’t believe it was happening yet again. Because of all I’d learned between Alex and Moufasa, I was able to give Midnight an extra four years with us. Medications, B12, fluid therapy and diet all played a role and again, I learned so much I didn’t know before. In the end I know that’s a good thing and my knowledge can now continue to help others, as I did when Alex passed. But when it comes down to it, seeing yet another creature I love suffer is just unacceptable.

This disease is robbing us of way too many years worth of love and happiness. Yes, kitties with IBD can lead a very good quality of life but I defy you to find one pet parent that is accepting of what their babies have to go through, even in its mildest form. For me I’m left yet again to sift through the happy memories I have and try hard to remove the ones of how sick Midnight was at the end. Unfortunately it’s impossible to do completely and it hurts me terribly that she had to go through this at all. We need to push universities to further their research and make advancements into better treatments and hopefully a cure. The loss I experienced recently is one that’s happening every single day somewhere in this world and it’s leaving pet parents everywhere alone and traumatized. It has to end.

In the meantime, I’ll force the bad memories to the back of my mind and concentrate on how completely loving and affectionate she was; how she adored us and showed us every single day how big her heart was for such a little girl. She loved belly rubs, couldn’t get enough kisses and was the best patient for a sick kitty that ever lived. In all the years I had to give her pills, injections, fluids and occasionally syringe feed her, she never once fought me or made a fuss. She’d never even flinch. Until the very end where she was hurting so badly she couldn’t stand to be touched anymore and actually hid behind the bed for the first time.

Well Midnight, my sweetheart, there is no more medicine! No more poking with needles and no more losing weight and feeling lousy. You are free from all of that now and as much as it hurts us and we miss you, I can only hope you are running around and playing, having shed your old, broken body. I hope we meet again someday my sweet girl and until then I’ll see you in my dreams.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Risks of Feeding Your Pet

Feeding your pet these days is a dangerous task. Never mind all the disgusting ingredients in their food but all the recalls and notices are making it very difficult to know what’s safe! The 2007 melamine pet food scare killed thousands upon thousands of pets. I can’t even be sure I didn’t feed some of it to my Alex when she was sick. I’m assuming if she did eat it, her organs would have shut down immediately and she would have died within hours. Oh wait…that’s exactly what happened! I don’t know that the food had anything to do with it in all honesty since I was at the point of feeding her ten different brands, just to make sure she ate. Her kidneys were not failing as was the case with so many of the pets that died. She was eating something grain free, but I can’t be sure there was no rice in it, which could have contained melamine. It was not one of the better brands, that’s for sure and she did go downhill extremely fast and out of the blue.

The truth is we’ll never know. I didn’t have the money for a necropsy, nor was I even given that option. I wasn’t told much of anything really and once I found out I could have done that, she had already been cremated. Also by the time I'd even heard of melamine, the food I'd fed her was gone. Thrown out or given away. I’ve always wondered if it had anything to do with the food she ate. In fact I do know a few people who have lost their kitties to possibly tainted food; one as recently as a few months ago. Come to find out in this recent instance that the food she was feeding could possibly have been mislabeled and counterfeited as the real thing. Again, this may not be the case and there’s no way to know for sure but it’s currently being investigated. It’s beyond devastating to think that something you think you’re doing right for your pet could actually harm or kill them. And although it’s not the pet parent's fault in any way, there isn’t a one of us that wouldn’t feel like it was indeed something we did wrong.

There was a time when it was mainly dry food that had recalls. Then it was wet food and in the past year it’s expanded to premade frozen raw food. Feeding a home prepared raw food diet is the healthiest for your cat but how can you be sure the food you’re getting at the grocery store is safe when there are plenty of recalls there as well? Admittedly it’s mostly prepackaged, ground meat that’s the problem but chicken is not far behind. And the U.S. government is debating importing chicken from China which I think is the most preposterous idea ever! China is where most of the problems stem from, although the U.S. does have issues of its own. But given all the food issues we have with them, the recent bird flu deaths and all the dogs dying from chicken jerky, I see this as nothing short of catastrophic.

So what are we supposed to do? What on earth do we feed our pets? Every time we think a brand of pet food is safe, there’s a problem or a recall. Not everyone has the time to make their own pet food but I think it’s coming to that. Even without all the hidden dangers I have been questioning some pet food ingredients for years now; carrageenan, spinach, avocados, corn, corn and wheat gluten, etc. etc. etc. Not to mention the chemicals found in them such as BPAs. The way I see it, pretty soon it will in fact come down to most of us making our own food. I see that as the only option if things continue this way and I see no end to the corruption in the industry. Cutting corners, using cheap fillers and raking in the money are what it’s all about. In pet food, as well as people food.

In any event, whatever way you are feeding a homemade diet, whether it’s a cooked meal or a raw food diet, the safest bet would be to go to a local or holistic market to get your ingredients. I do this for myself anyways so why wouldn’t I do it for my pets? There’s one here that I go to called Fresh Market that sells fresh, organic and locally obtained meats and other foods. I absolutely love this place! They cut the meat fresh right in front of you and you can tell the difference between that and the supermarket brands or prepackaged meats. Most everything there is locally and organically grown and obtained. This is what I prefer to do, it’s probably the safest available, and it’s only a few dollars more than the grocery brands. And of course there's always ordering from reputable companies that cater specifically to raw pet food. 

If you can’t feed a homemade diet for whatever reason I suggest researching pet food companies extensively and even calling them and talking to someone in charge to get a handle on what and where they manufacture, distribute, etc. A good company will not make excuses but will understand your concerns and work with you. Staying vigilant and taking as much control of what we feed them as much as possible is what it’s going to take to keep them healthy.