Thursday, September 20, 2018

Kitty Update and Thanks

Hi Guys,

OK, first of all I wanted to thank everybody for all of your kind comments on my last post. Sorry I didn't respond individually - I was a bit overwhelmed.

Long story short, Jasper managed to avoid surgery for his urinary blockage - but just by the skin of his little pee-pee. He ended up spending a total of about 10 days in the kitty hospital, and while he's not back to normal yet, he's been home for about three weeks, and is much improved. He's still sporting a crazy haircut from where they shaved him for IVs and blood draws, but he's getting back to his normal little self.

The whole process was somewhat nerve-wracking because his status just kept changing from hour to hour. It would look like he was getting better, then he'd take a turn for the worse. They had surgery scheduled three different times, but then each time about an hour before the surgery he'd manage to pass a bit of urine and they'd call it off again. It didn't help that he kept chewing his way out of both IVs and catheters despite the cone of shame, and each time they'd call me (usually at around 3 in the morning) for permission to re-insert whatever he'd pulled out. I can't help but think that all of those re-insertions of the catheter helped to add to the cycle of inflammation that's made it so hard for him to recover.

They ended up breaking that cycle by putting him on a whole slew of drugs - anti spasmodics, muscle relaxants, and pain killers. When they finally decided it was safe to send him home with careful monitoring, he was so doped up that he could hardly walk, and I seriously thought that I might lose him simply from all of the downers he was on. I was soooo thankful when he was finally off of all the drugs.

So we still have a litter box in the middle of the living room - which I'm not thrilled about.

But it does make it easier to monitor his peeing, plus it did prevent him from having any accidents on the rugs or furniture. Hopefully as he continues to improve, we'll be able to move it out of the living room and eventually get back to normal with all the litter boxes in the basement.

The other part of this little adventure that we've been dealing with is diet. The vets want him on a prescription diet. Now, I know there are mixed opinions out there on these sorts of diets - some folks say that since the prescription foods contain byproducts, it's better to just feed them an all wet food diet of premium canned and raw foods. But, since that's basically the diet he was on (except for a small amount of his brother's dry food which he'd eat if I let his bowl get empty) when all of this started, I'm following the vets' advice and going prescription. It took a while to find one that he would eat (Science Diet is blick, according to Jasper) but fortunately he likes the Royal Canin Urinary SO (but only the paté - the chunks are yucky.)

The more challenging aspect of feeding has actually been Jasper's brother Smoky. The vets said it would be fine for Smoky to eat the prescription food, but he won't go anywhere near the stuff. Have I mentioned that the Smokster is the pickiest eater on the planet? It's virtually impossible to get him to eat anything but dry food, and even there he's ridiculously picky. In fairness to the little guy, I think he has some dietary sensitivities, because when I offer him something new he usually eats it happily and then barfs it all up a few hours later.

Sooo… this is sort complicated, but Smoky's favorite brand, Evo, recently was discontinued and we'd been searching around for a replacement. The one he decided he'd eat was Blue Buffalo. That's all well and good EXCEPT that when the vets interviewed me about Jasper's diet they said they'd seen a huge incidence of urinary blockages in cats eating... you guessed it, Blue Buffalo! Oy!!!

So I had decided to take Smoky off of the Blue Buffalo since I didn't want to risk any more problems - and we'd found another brand that he would eat... which was working OK while Jasper was at the hospital. But as soon as Jasper came home, instead of being happy to see his brother, Smoky became utterly convinced that Jasper had been replaced with some evil zombified replica, and he refused to go anywhere near him.

And of course, I couldn't leave Smoky's food out because I couldn't risk Jasper eating any of it. So the little Smokster was decidedly unhappy about the situation, and he basically went on a 4 day hunger strike. Seriously, I could not get that boy to eat ANYTHING, even solid white albacore, which is his favorite treat. I was really starting to worry that I might have to haul him off to the vet too. So finally, in desperation, I tried (you guessed it) Blue Buffalo, and he happily started eating again. Whew.

But... the situation was still really difficult because Smoky is a nibbler, and every time he'd get hungry he'd have to cry for me to put food out, and then I'd have to stand there and watch him eat, and take the food up as soon as he was done... and this was like every 2-3 hours including throughout the night. Oy.

Then CatMan found a brilliant techno-solution. Believe it or not, there's a company called Sure Petcare that makes feeders for this exact situation. It's actually rather amazing, but they have this contraption that scans the cat's microchip, and will only open the bowl for approved pets. I really didn't think it would work, but amazingly it did!

Here's Smoky happily eating out of his feeder.

He still won't put his front paws on the little mat where they're supposed to go, but he doesn't seem to mind stretching a bit to get to his food. The thing wasn't cheap, but compared to the $8000 we just spent on Jasper's hospital stay, it was a bargain!

So.... my plan is to slowly start adding small amounts of a vet approved brand of dry food to Smoky's Blue Buffalo and see how he tolerates it. I'm really thankful that he's not the one that has to be on a prescription diet, because that would be almost impossible.

Anyhow, that's the news from the funny farm. Hope you're all happy and well, and enjoying the waning days of summer.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Well, this Sucks

Well folks, it turns out my little Jasper kitty's urinary problems (which I whined about in my last post) weren't an isolated incident after all. Somehow I had a hunch it was gonna turn out this way.

So a week ago I noticed that there were footprints in Jasper's litter box, but nothing left behind to show for the visit. I also noticed that Jasper was acting kind of anxious and restless, and licking his little pee-pee an awful lot. So I followed him downstairs the next time he went to the litter box, and when I saw him squatting there for over ten minutes without producing anything, I knew it was an emergency that couldn't wait.

So I scooped him up and off to the kitty ER we went. Turns out he had a urinary blockage. They catheterized him and he got to spend two nights in the kitty hospital. When he came home, they told me to expect that he'd have some irritation - but on day two, irritation turned in to inability to pee once again, so back to the ER we went.

Long story short, he's been in the kitty hospital ever since, and will most likely have to have surgery tomorrow.

At this point they don't think he has a physical obstruction, it's just that they can't seem to break the cycle of inflammation so that he can get the urine out. We were all set to do surgery today, and then the vet called and said that he had peed. Alas, it appears that it was sort of a one and done thing, because he's been straining and unable to produce urine ever since, so now we're on for surgery again.

It doesn't help that despite the cone of shame, he's managed to pull out both his catheter and IV twice. Today they set us up in a private room hoping that he'd relax enough to urinate more freely. The counter had a hole drilled in it with a trash can below it, and around the opening was some sort of a metal ring. Well, guess who stuck his little head in there looking for an escape route, and came out with the ring stuck around his neck.

Fortunately it came off easily, but he's been quite the little pill. At least his little spirit isn't broken.

I'm not entirely sure I can say the same for mine... or my bank account for that matter! We do have kitty insurance, but we blew past what it would cover on the first hospital stay. Thankfully, I do have money set aside for these sorts of things - so I'm really grateful to be able to make decisions based on what's best for him rather than on what I can afford. But holy kazoli! I feel badly for people who don't have the resources to care for a pet in this way, and are left with no other choice but euthanasia.

Anyhow, the surgery is called a perineal urethrostomy, or PU for short. Basically, they remove the penis and shorten the urethra, creating a much wider new opening through which he can urinate - sorta like a kitty sex change operation. It's not minor surgery, but there is over a 90% success rate, so I'm hopeful - "hopeful" being a relative term. I still have a knot in my stomach about the size of Cleveland.

So I'll keep you posted. If anybody's got any spare healing vibes they can send our way, we'd be grateful.

Heavy sighs all around...

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Revenge of the Flies? ...and Random bits of Insanity

Well folks, the past few weeks have been, ummm... interesting.

It all started a few weeks ago when, after a bike ride, CatMan noticed a bug bite that just looked a bit "off."

He didn't think much of it at first, but after a day or two when it didn't get better, he finally when to the doctor... whereupon they took one look at him and nearly admitted him to the hospital! Apparently that red streak is bad news - it means that there's an infection that is heading toward the nearest lymph node where it can quickly become systemic and lead to sepsis. After some bloodwork they determined that it hadn't yet spread, so he got to go home with some hefty antibiotics, and he's now doing much better.

Fast forward a week or so, and we went for another bike ride... after which I noticed a strange bug bite on my leg. It was only about the size of a pencil eraser, but it had an odd dent in the middle. After CatMan's experience, I decided to watch it closely, and by the next morning it looked like this.

By that evening it had swollen up more (the yellow is magic marker so I could judge if it was growing)

And by the time I went to the doctor a day or two later it had progressed to this vision of loveliness:

Holy Kazoli! So I'm on hefty antibiotics now too, and CatMan and I are left scratching our heads trying to figure out what the heck is going on!

I mean, up until this whole little adventure started to unfold, neither one of us had ever considered that something as trivial as a bug bite could get infected to the point where it would require anything more serious than some antibiotic ointment. Then suddenly within the span of a few weeks we both end up with serious infections from bug bites?!? It all strikes me as a very odd and disconcerting coincidence.

To make it all the more puzzling, neither one of us has any idea what bit or stung us. In both cases we didn't notice the bite or sting as it happened - only later. And in both cases it either went through our clothes or somehow got into our clothing. Yikes!

It sorta has us wondering if there's some strange new insect out there carrying an infections bacteria or maybe we've karmically offended some force in the insect world. I suppose we'll probably never know, but we're both just hoping to avoid any further encounters.

Anyhoo… to make matters stranger, I was walking my neighbor's dog for her when she was out of town a few weeks back, when suddenly this woman a few houses down came running out of the house and started screaming a pile of obscenities at me, accusing me of having an affair with her husband. She had a truly bizarre litany of accusations dating back at least TEN YEARS! WTF!?!?

It totally freaked me out, so I called the cops who said there's nothing I can do other than avoid her. So I called my neighbor (the one whose dog I was walking) and she promptly erupted into "Oh my God... she did the exact same thing to me!"

Good Gawd! I mean, I think this woman probably has serious psychiatric problems, but I really don't relish the idea of ending up on the receiving end of her psychosis. So I've installed a security system and rearranged all of my routes so I never go past that house anymore. So far the only things the cameras have picked up are the comings and goings of the neighborhood cats, and an occasional raccoon.

Oh, and speaking of cats, my sweet Jasper kitty got sick.

We think it was just a bladder infection, and he's much improved after a round of antibiotics... but both his bloodwork and an X-ray turned up some somewhat concerning things - like he may be in the early stages of kidney failure and his bladder seems very oddly shaped. At the moment we're just keeping an eye on him and we'll do further tests if he starts to show any more symptoms... but honestly, it just makes me sick to my stomach to contemplate having to get back into sick kitty land. Sigh.

And don't even get me started on the insanity unfolding on the nightly news. Lordy! It sorta feels like the whole world (nature included) has gone stark raving mad.

OK, perhaps that's venturing into hyperbole just a tad bit, but I do admit I haven't exactly felt either centered  or gounded lately.

In other news, my little feral friend is doing well.

He's a boy, BTW - and while he still has to hiss at me every time I bring him food, he lets me get within a few feet as long as I don't look directly at him and move very slowly.

But craziness aside, CatMan and I have been riding up a storm and having a great time, so I'll leave you with some slightly more positive photos from recent bike rides:

Hope you're all having a wonderful summer, and staying clear of biting insects, crazy neighbors, heat waves, fires, floods, and random infections!