Sick Cat

Over the last few days, I’ve been dealing with a sick kitty. I noticed last week that Charlie threw up a few times. Now sometimes cats randomly puke. At first I wasn’t too concerned until I noticed he kept vomiting. Then his behavior started to change. Charlie is normally a busy, playful, and squeaky cat. Over the span of a few days I noticed that he stopped squeaking, played less, stopped visiting me in my office, and became skittish. He also started eating less. Similarly, Garrus started acting off too–skittish and moody–and appeared to be either babysitting Charlie or being his bodyguard. (Example: I found Garrus sleeping on top of Charlie’s kitty condo. I’ve never seen him sleep there before.)

I didn’t find any evidence that Charlie had gotten into something he should not have, and I deliberately don’t buy cat toys that be easily shredded and consumed. The one feathery toy Charlie plays with hadn’t lost any feathers. The boy cats’ behavioral changes bugged me. Something was up. So I called the vet’s office and spoke with a technician. I reported what I had observed and she concurred: we needed to get to the bottom of this. In order to do so, I needed to bring Charlie into the office.

Now, getting a cat into a carrier and taking them to the vet is not fun for anyone. I’ve met a couple of exceptionally rare cats who are so easygoing that they (a) don’t need to be put into a carrier and can sit contentedly on a leash when traveling and (b) don’t freak out at the vet’s office. None of my cats are that chill. Boudicca doesn’t like being confined and will turn on her diva meow routine once she’s in there, but she’s moderately well behaved when technicians and vets examine her. Garrus does not like getting into the carrier and protests quietly inside, but again, he comports himself like a gentleman with the vet.

Charlie is another matter. As a kitten, he was the shyest and most timid one out of the litter. I don’t know everything about his history but it’s pretty clear that he associates traveling (i.e. being in the carrier) with highly unpleasant experiences (such as being taken back to the shelter). When I fostered him and took him to the vet to get checked out, he panicked so much that he had to be sedated for his safety and for the staff’s safety. (A freaked out cat is all pointy ends.) Aaron and I tried to gently get him into the carrier as to not traumatize him but that did not work. After much laboring and Aaron donning protective gear (his motorcycling jacket and gloves), we were able to make a loose towel burrito and slide Charlie inside the carrier. (I use a carrier meant for small dogs rather than the typical small cat carrier. The larger space allows for greater maneuverability. In Boudicca’s case, she would have been cramped otherwise.)

I had never heard Charlie growl and hiss so much. I felt terrible and worried that I had traumatized him but I wanted him to feel better. At the vet’s office, he let everyone know that he was desperately unhappy about the situation by urinating in the carrier. The technician and vet covered him with a towel on the examining table and–behold!–he stopped growling and appeared to calm a little. Thankfully, he didn’t have a fever and there was no evidence of an obstruction. The vet administered an anti-nausea medication with anti-inflammatory properties and an antibiotic. The latter made Charlie drool a lot, which was simultaneously funny and sad.

This past weekend we’ve been able to give him his anti-nausea medication in a Pill Pocket and his antibiotic. (We’re not crazy about the drooling side effect of the latter.) He hasn’t vomited since Friday but he hasn’t had much of an appetite lately. He has also remained rather subdued and quiet for the most part, although glimpses of his normal personality surface for short periods. He even played briefly last night and this morning. He has pilfered a few of Boudicca’s kibbles and ate treats during a couple of play sessions, so that’s progress.

Garrus, meanwhile, seemingly doesn’t seem to know what to do with himself with his buddy being under the weather. A couple of nights ago he tried desperately to get Boudicca to play with him and even tried stalking her like he does with Charlie. He got mixed results–for her part, Boudicca was surprised and confused it all, but she did chase, ambush, and bat briefly around a box. When Aaron took out the laser pointer, we had at least one happy cat in the living room.

In short, sometimes pets get sick. It’s no fun. If you notice your pet’s eating, drinking, and eliminating behaviors suddenly change, especially in conjunction with personality and energy level changes, it’s a good idea to check with your vet to determine what could be the problem. That does not mean you have to hit the panic button each time: you may observe your pet for a couple of days but call when you get concerned, as I did in this case. As a responsible pet owner, it is your duty to do what is right by your pet to make sure he or she is happy, loved, and healthy!

Happy Black Cat Day!

NB: In the UK, National Black Cat Day takes place on October 30.

I volunteer at the Pflugerville Animal Shelter in the cat room. In my experience, black cats are frequently overlooked in favor of lighter colored cats. (Similarly, kittens are favored over adult cats, often leaving adult cats over the age of 8 without homes.) Each cat, appearance aside, has a distinct personality and this isn’t correlated with their coloring. Some cats are reserved, others playful, and still others attention sponges. It’s not fair to assume that one type of cat, such as black cats, are less friendly than others just because of the color of their fur.

Personally, I LOVE black cats (that includes tuxedo kitties)!  Black cats can be aloof just as much as tabbies, calicos, Siamese, Maine Coons, and Persians–and they can be just as loving, talkative, and adorable!

I’m so grateful that I adopted Boudicca from the Dallas ASPCA 17 years ago. (Or rather, she chose me and I just acquiesced and took her home!) She’s my adorable snuggle bug and queen of the house.

Be sure to give your house panther(s) extra love today!

Halloween Pet Safety

Halloween is one of the most festive times of the year. However, as a responsible pet owner, remember these tips to keep your fur people safe:

  1. Keep candy out of reach. Candy = poisonous choking hazard to pets! 
  2. Be mindful of your decorations, especially wires. Pets can easily chew up something they’re not supposed to and get sick or worse.
  3. Don’t leave pumpkins lit around pets. Lit jack-o-lanterns can be a fire hazard and possibly injure pets!
  4. If you’re having a Halloween party, make sure your animals have a safe place to go if they want to hide. Having a lot of strangers around, the door repeatedly opening,  lots of noise, and people in weird costumes can be stressful for pets. 
  5. Keep pets indoors. Make sure your pets have proper identification such as collars with current ID tags and/or a microchip if they do get out. Current ID can help reunite lost pets with their humans!
  6. Be careful with pet costumes. Some pets enjoy being dressed up; others do not. Don’t force your pet to wear a costume. If your pet does wear a costume, be sure it does not inhibit your pet’s movement, breathing, or ability to vocalize. Make sure that your pet doesn’t overheat in the costume either. 
  7. Last but not least, use common sense. Be responsible. Be safe and ensure your pets are safe too! 

Transferring Posts

For years I have made posts on Facebook about my cats, the shelter cats I work with, and cats in general. That habit is one of the reasons why I created this blog. For the sake of consistency, I have decided to republish here the most recent posts I have made, especially those concerning the Gentleman Cats once I took them into foster care and later adopted them. These posts are back-dated to the original days they were published on Facebook. That’s why you will see those posts chronologically before my first post (Welcome) when I started the blog.

In any case, enjoy!

Introducing the Clowder

As I said in my welcome post, I have a little clowder consisting of three cats. Here are mini-bios for them with corresponding photos:

  1. Boudicca. 17 years old. Tuxedo. Sweet, lovey, and very googly. Cat-dog due to growing up alongside two Miniature Schnauzers. Queen of the household. Chose me as her person at the ASPCA. IMG_0040.JPG
  2. Garrus. 6 years old. Like the Mass Effect video game character he’s named for, he’s tall, skinny, and grey. Gentleman cat. Introvert. Somewhat doglike. First foster cat.IMG_1250.JPG
  3. Charlie. 2 years old. Very handsome grey spotted tabby. Super playful, friendly, and squeaky but can be skittish, timid, and hidey. Second foster cat. IMG_1270.JPG

Halloween is Coming!

Due to lingering superstition, black cats can be targeted for abuse around Halloween. Please keep your house panthers safe by keeping them indoors!

When I adopted Boudicca years ago, the Dallas ASPCA had pulled all their black cats from the adopting room over Halloween and put them back a few days afterward. Because not many people are interested in adopting black cats, I was asked a few questions as to why I was interested in one. Thankfully, it was pretty obvious that (a) I was a genuine cat lover who simply liked black cats and (b) Boudicca had chosen me as her human so I got to take her home without any further ado.

Global Cat Day

In August 2001, the cat advocacy organization Alley Cat Allies launched the first annual Feral Cat Day to raise awareness about feral cat colonies and how to prevent them. Organizations like Alley Cat Allies promote stray cat capture programs in order to curb feral cat populations. Feral Cat Day was later renamed Global Cat Day.

My late cat, Nala, was born to a feral cat mother in the Bronx, New York. This mother cat, whom my family dubbed Isis, produced beautiful kittens several times a year. My aunt fed local stray cats and participated in trap-neuter-return programs whenever possible. We could never capture Isis but we did capture, socialize, and adopt out her kittens. My family adopted three of Isis’ kittens–I received Nala and, a year later, my step-sister received Stella and Perpetua. All three of these girl kitties were spayed as to not add to their mother’s notorious line.

When I adopted Boudicca from the Dallas ASPCA, she had already been spayed. The Pflugerville Animal Shelter neutered Garrus and Charlie before I fostered and later adopted them. Also, all of my cats have been strictly indoor cats. While it is certainly the owner’s choice whether to let their cat be an inside, outside, or inside/outside cat, you should be aware of the pros and cons of each lifestyle. Leaving your cat unaltered can easily produce many unwanted kittens. Cats’ predation on local wildlife is its own topic of discussion that deserves its own post.

Stealing Mice

This morning I discovered that Charlie had chewed one of the toy mice right off the cat tower and proceeded to chew on the elastic string from which the mouse used to hang. I snipped off the remaining elastic. Also he bit off at least three feathers from one of his toys and tried to eat one until Aaron stopped him. Still, he looked quite pleased with himself.

I don’t need a toddler to whom I say, “Get that out of your mouth!” I already have one. He has four legs and a tail.