serinde: (zzz)
No one is truly gone as long as someone speaks his name. )

If you have memories of my ginger kitty, please post here.
serinde: (zzz)
I have just returned from the open-on-Sundays vet, from whence Ranger has departed these fields (futons?) we know.

He had been declining gently over the last few months; walking was clearly more of a chore, and especially after the weather turned it was harder for him to get comfortable when curling up, but he'd been otherwise behaving according to his usual habits and I thought we still had some time before us.

Middle of last week, I had a scare where he was mrowing in that very-unhappy-cat way, and was about to take him to the vet when I realized that he would probably be much more comfortable without the half-extruded poop strung on a hair coming out his butt. Upon coping with this situation, he seemed much happier, and I figured "crisis averted" and thought little more of it. But then, I was gone Friday and Saturday as is my custom; and upon getting home last night I found that he was really doing nothing but sleeping, and when he got up he'd move about ten feet and then sit down for about ten minutes before moving another ten feet. I also--and this was of much greater concern, remembering Mage's Solid Silver Cat incident--took note that there was no poop in the box and that, as far as I could tell, he had not been digging into his dish at all. I offered him cheese; he took a piece to be polite and ignored the rest. So, I planned to take him to the vet in the morning, before things got really bad.

After a brief detour in which Google Maps pulled an iOS 6-style map fail on me, we got up there, and bless them, they managed to squeeze us into their extremely packed docket. They took his history and looked him over, and long story short, the prognosis was that things were just starting to fail. Their best guess was that he wasn't in pain at the moment, just kind of out of it and drained, but that it was likely to spiral to Very Bad very soon, and it was very unlikely that any measures would even buy him time that was worth living. So, I made the call at quarter to noon, and I held him as they gave him sweet nepenthe. (I recommend the Riverdale Veterinary Group highly. They were incredibly kind and thoughtful.)

If you look at it traditionally, Ranger is my 4th cat (well, tied for fourth with Mage, obvs). But if you look at it another way, he is my first and my only cat. All the cats we had growing up were bonded to Mom, if anyone; and Mr. Mage was, of course, everybody's pal. Ranger was mine and I was his in our little co-dependent bubble, and at 17.5 years is my longest-running relationship, and I feel empty and broken inside. No cat could ever be like him, my Spinach Cat, my Mr. MOW, my precious boy, and I can't yet imagine what any other cat could be to me.
serinde: (zzz)
Thus spake the vet, upon giving me the results of Ranger's blood work.

The immediate issue is not such a big deal: Spinach Cat has a urinary tract infection. I have antibiotics for that; it shall be handled.

But, his kidney levels are four times higher than normal. This is the same as it was in March, so it hasn't gotten worse, so that's something. But still with the 4x higher thing. Also, now he is anemic (probably as a result of the kidney problems). The mitigations are that I shall pick up an iron supplement, which he'll need daily for the rest of his life, and some trial kinds of kidney-medicinal cat food (it comes in both canned and kibble) to see if he will eat some or any of them. This does not, as you know, cure kidney disease; it just slows down the progress.

I confirmed with the vet that, since Ranger is eating and drinking and moving around and MOWing at me and all that, it is likely that he's not in any particular degree of discomfort beyond old bones; but as it progresses, he could begin to be. And I asked her, is there a standard or even rough guess at the progression timeline? If he eats his medicine and nothing else goes wrong, does he have six months or a couple of years or what? When should I start being afraid?

And that's when she said, "At these kidney levels..."
serinde: (Delirium)
I rushed home from work early (dissing the COO) to take Ranger to the vet; he had been peeing outside the box a few times in the last few weeks, and I wanted to know if it was physically triggered or just I'm Old, Damn Ya, Get Off My Lawn.

Background: All of the events, except one, have been while I'm home. He paces around yelling at me (as is usual if I am not in one of the Duly Appointed Places), and then his yowl takes on a slightly different note, and then I see he's blessing some random part of the apartment with his wee. (Once I figured out what was going on and carried him to the box before it started, and he was all "OH HEY BOX" and happily peed there instead.) He is using the box the rest of the time just fine. The box has been kept clean. He is eating and drinking and eliminating in usual quantities. So, I had been assuming this was some kind of new power play for attention; but then he did it Tuesday before I got home from work, and on the spot where he had been sleeping by preference, so I thought that this ought be looked at.

They check his weight and temperature and all; fine. They ask me questions which I have chiefly answered above. They ask if there is blood in his urine, or any diarrhea or vomiting or [etc]; no and no and no. The doctor recommends a blood test since his kidney levels were all very poor last time, and I agree heartily. Her guess is that he might have some kind of UTI starting up.

Ensues some hilarity as they try in both of his legs, and can't get his veins to disgorge enough blood for testing. (And the blood they do get looks rather thin and pale, so they figure he's anemic, too.) They take him away to get blood from his neck (I guess it takes deeper magic than you can do in the exam room? or it freaks out the owner?) and are gone for about ten minutes, whilst I look up kidney-disease-in-cats on the interwebs.

Finally they come back having gotten blood and a urine sample, which they show me and are all "There's blood! In the urine! Look at the pink urine!" and I am all WELL THERE WASN'T ON TUESDAY AND I KNOW THIS BECAUSE HE PISSED ON MY PRISTINE WHITE WORK BLOUSES RAWR and they are all "oh oh no no we believe you truly we do but there certainly is blood now". So they gave him an antibiotic shot, and gave me oral antibiotics which I need to give him daily for three weeks, because of course I am going away for two of those three weeks, and aaaaaaaaaaaa, and they will call me tomorrow with the blood test results.
serinde: (zzz)
[Edit: Cut tags appear to be b0rked at present, both at DW and LJ, so you get to read the whole thing. Sucks to be you.]

For aeons uncounted, my cat hygiene needs were very adequately met by regular old Fresh Step scoopable (or a comparable brand if the store was out of it). In the last year or two, however, problems have developed; not the fault of the product itself, but behavioral changes of my goober cat. His current methodology for personal relief is:

1. Pee right in the door of the litterbox.
2. Don't cover it over.
3. Turn around (in the box), sniff.
4. Walk through it as he jumps out.

Since this litter is designed to dry into rock-like, easily-scoopable clumps, by walking through the just-produced effluvium Spinach Cat will get daubings of befouled litter on his paws and legs which then dry to a nearly-impossible-to-remove crust. It gets tracked everywhere, and leads to what [ profile] audiovile dubbed, in their kittenhood, "little shitty kitty prints" all over the apartment, and plus it's just incredibly nasty and gross. And we will not even discuss trying to clean him off. Over and over and over.

I tried various methods of mitigation (chiefly, being incredibly diligent about scooping), but nothing really helped, so it seemed time to explore other options.

This is a clumping litter that claims to be environmentally friendly and even flushable (though I'm not going to risk anyone's pipes on it, and I'm continuing to bag and garbage the refuse). The packet claims that it reduces litter scatter, which is a giant lie, as you might expect--Spinach Cat is still kicking it all over a 5' radius outside the box entry, and some grit is attaching to his paw pads and getting tracked further into the apartment. But, the waste soaks right down into the lower layer, rather than pooling on top before hardening, and so the main problem is sorted; dry litter may be escaping, but not Precious Bodily Fluids.

It is harder to scoop, as the clumping action is much less firm. There is also a slightly-noticeable, unusual scent to the litter itself; it is not unpleasant, rather like a clean stable or gerbil bedding, but some might not prefer it. It's slightly more expensive than regular scoopable (and thus a lot more expensive than plain clay). I will probably continue to use it, though, because anything is better than washing my cat's back legs repeatedly.
serinde: (zzz)

Me: At the rate you eat, this is about two days' worth of food. What's the problem?

Spinach Cat: I can see the bottom of the food dish and it scares me. MOW MOW MOW MOW MOW MOW MOW MOW

Me: *grumble grumble growl* fine

[f/x: dish filled]

Spinach Cat: OM NOM NOM

Spinach Cat, later: *blerk hork BLERRRRRRK*

Me: You know, I could have just wet down the kibble and spread it around on the floor if that's all you were going to do with it.
serinde: (maneki neko)
I observe that my last several non-cooking posts were heavy on the stress and upset, so let me take a moment to reassure the Gentle Readers that matters are improving on most fronts. Ranger is in fine fettle and appears to have entirely recovered from his abscess. I have not yet been able to take him back to discuss the potential kidney issues, but he's eating, drinking, relieving, active (for age 17) and engaged; even his coat is looking better. I have been diligent in getting settled into the new place, and although there is still a dauntingly long list of Things To Do, it is definitely in a livable state. Not yet an entertain-able state, perhaps, at least not IMAO, but matters are progressing. And, I am finally reunited with all my STUF, including that which had been stored in [ profile] sweh's garage for the last four years.

Work is still getting ahead of me. The first session of the leadership program was terrific, though intense (duh), and there's a lot of homework and what-not I have to do; the idea is that you take these principles and apply them in your daily work, and then you need to Show Your Work. So there's that, and then there's also the big software implementation project I am running; and when you add that to the day-to-day, plus me being gone for a week, then various other people being gone for training, and now I'm going to be out three days for training on said software...I feel like it's all getting ahead of me. I'm not as stressed as I was last year about this time, thank fuck; it's not spoiling my sleep and I don't have electric worms running along my nerves; but I have definite moments of EVERYBODY PANIC. Well, I knew it would be a tough spring. Keep on keepin' on.

I am putting out cautious buds on the creative front as well. A Super-Secret Knitting Project, which is using a number of techniques I've never done before, is going well and may even be done on deadline for a change. At the last minute (and I do mean the last minute) I put my blue, unlined GFD into the A&S competition at Mudthaw...which, to be honest, I thought was a display not a competition, or I might not have done it...and got tolerably good feedback, and in the course of discussion of it I somehow committed to teach a class at Pennsic and also at Southern Region War Camp; and I'm excited to get to work on the summer sewing. (Though I need to bung the spare room/sewing room into better shape before that can advance.)

The main stressor, other than direct work stuff, is that there's so much I want to do and there aren't enough hours in the day. I can win some time by managing my time more wisely, but I fear I am still going to have to re-engineer some expectations, and I hate that. And I haven't even started folding in workout choices--extra time/extra hassle if I start commuting by bike, or timing and logistics if I start going to the neighborhood dojo or yoga studio. But I know I'm going to need one or more of those in order to not go mad. I really love the local hang-out/cafe/bar; they have a quiz night, they have a KNITTING CIRCLE, they have good live music, but if I go there much I shall be in the poorhouse, let alone the time sink. And I want to chum around with the peeps who live up here. At the same time, I want to stay in and nest and bloody well finish Skyrim and catch up on TV shows and and and.

This working-for-a-living thing. What bosh.
serinde: (zzz)
So, Ranger has been off his game since I moved, which isn't surprising of course; cats hate that shit. The problem is, with a very old cat, you can't always tell which parts are Goddammit Get Off My Lawn and which are signifiers of something actually wrong. On the one hand, after a few days, he was following me around (a little) and sitting next to me on the armchair and so on; on the other, he seemed a little bit wobbly when he first stood up and his fur is starting to get more of that staring old-cat look. And I figured that he was probably due a check-up when I got back from yon business trip.

Things took a more immediate turn on Tuesday evening, when I got home from work to find his right cheek markedly swollen. I took him in first thing Wednesday--fortunately there is a well-reputed clinic right up Broadway--and they ascertained that, why yes, he has an infection. (O RLY?) They did not drain the abscess, which in retrospect I thought odd, but gave me antibiotics for 10 days and recommended a warm compress (which I understand in theory but have you ever tried holding a warm damp cloth to a cat's face for five to ten minutes?), and said that once the infection was under control then we'd have a look to see if there's a particular cause for the infection--e.g., a rotting tooth. (Which, if it's that, I was warned that the usual treatment is to put them under general anesthetic to yank the tooth, which is a perilous undertaking on an old cat.)

They also took blood, which they didn't figure would say much about his current issue, but since he is so old it would be good to see what else might be up, which I fully agreed with.

So we are two days of antibiotics in and his face isn't noticeably less swollen. It's hard to say if his appetite is down, because he's such a minimal eater to begin with; at least there is some product in the catbox (and when we got back from the vet he headed straight for the kibble, which was a little reassuring). The vet apparently left voicemail whilst I was in the subway today, asking me to call back, but when I did there was no answer. -_- She said that his white blood cell count was up, because duh infection; but also that he has some evidence of kidney disease. Wonderful. (And I am in goddamn meetings all goddamn day tomorrow so I don't even know when I'll be able to talk to the vet.)

I am clinging to the fact that Ranger is still tolerably interested and interactive, even if not moving a huge amount. Because I am very not ready to say goodbye to my fluffeh kitteh.
serinde: (fighty!)
I have had cause to wonder whether Ranger might not do better with a companion; he has spent his entire life being half of a duo, and his behavior has gotten a little odd and proprietary (co-dependent?) over the last year, and he seemed to tolerate visiting kittens not too badly, and [ profile] nedlnthred has had problems finding home for poor Domino, a most sweet-natured cat; so I decided to take him on a trial basis and see how it worked out.

I picked him up on Friday morning and decanted him, whereupon he went directly under the couch. Ranger was, of course, hissingly displeased per usual, but not making much of a fuss. So, when I left Friday night, Domino was quietly hiding under the futon, and Ranger was watching with disapproval from the bed. Domino would occasionally make a tiny "mew mew mew" and poke his head out, or explore a little, at which point Ranger would hiss (giving himself a hairball) and he'd duck back under. But they were pretty much staying each in their own room.

Begins now the tale.... )


Sep. 25th, 2009 11:27 pm
serinde: (zzz)
For the past week, I have been babysitting Dr. Livingston, Adventure Kitten!, who is possibly the most lovable kitten to have ever existed. (You pick him up, and he instantly starts purring, whether he knows you or not.) He'd had a very bad infection of some kind, and managed to pull through, but needs antibiotics 2x/day for about a month; so to give [ profile] nedlnthred a break, I took him for a few days.

Ranger has coped with this surprisingly well. --Perhaps not surprisingly; he has dealt with (by which I mean "hid from") much more obstreperous and interfering felines; but I expected a great deal more fuss. I'm not saying he's delighted, but we sit together on the couch and sleep together on the same bed in reasonable harmony. No bloodshed, no peeing incidents. Now that Livingston is feeling a bit better and regaining some of his natural vif[1], I guess it's just as well he's going to go home tomorrow; but I'm sure going to miss him. He's so very people-oriented and friendly and cuddly and WOOGIE WOOGIE AWWWWWW *flail*

[1] I am particularly thinking of him tearing through the apartment last night and rear-ending Ranger, who was just standing near the fridge minding his own business. Ranger was Not Amused.


Aug. 2nd, 2009 03:15 pm
serinde: ("What fresh hell?")
Ranger just yorked up the cooked chicken livers I gave him to eat an hour ago; this after I got home yesterday to find two (small) pukes on the rug. He seems otherwise okay, but he's a cat who has never been ill a day in his life, so it's way off the normality scale for him.

I guess I better try and find a vet in the area who doesn't have a price list calculated for Ladies who Lunch and their toy dogs.
serinde: (zzz)
I'd like to take this moment to appreciate Ranger (pictured in icon), who, although being legendary for his wide-eyed brainlessness--Steve was wont to call him the Beautiful Loser--, has scrupulously observed cat box protocols through multiple relocations of domicile as well as of box location.
Ranger spontaneously decided that he wanted to start sacking out on top of my dresser. Said space is currently about 1/3 occupied by my ancient boom box; the remainder has the two small earring receptacles, and all my Required Pocketstuff when it is not in pockets or purse: keys, other keys, money, wallet, flash card, etc. So the sequence of the night went something like this:

1. I drift off to sleep.
2. There is an earth-shattering kaboom; I wake up.
3. I blearily look up to see Ranger looking at me going MOW?, having just kicked something clattery off the top of the dresser.
4. I make an "oh no not again" noise, chivvy him off, and pick up whatever's fallen down.
5. Climb back into bed. Try and sleep as Ranger paces around, settling first here, then there, generating a certain amount of nervousness about the chance for a nose chomp.
6. Repeat.

If you're wondering why I don't apply water bottle correction methods, it's because that making him spaz and flee would almost certainly result in my earring boxes going over, and we just do not want to go there.

So. Yes. Very, very sleepy.

(Also, some other tenant has an enormously loud fan in the airshaft, but it isn't bothering me too much. I had rather it were not there, certainly, but it's tolerable as white noise.)
serinde: ("What fresh hell?")
I woke up this morning, went in to feed the office cats, and was surprised to find that Scuzzy was not answering chow call. He was under the futon, curled up, uninterested in the proceedings; and when I extracted him to see if he had discernable injuries, he made a very unhappy MROW, jumped down, nearly fell over, and walked very unsteadily back under.


So, long agitas short, Dr. Not-Joel determined that it was the advanced version of what we weren't sure ailed him back in August: calcium crystals had in fact built up in his urethra, blocking it, so that he could not wee. This, of course, rapidly causes things to go downhill in a serious fashion. The good news is that I got him to the vet soon enough that it was fixable (and I should hope, considering he was his normal self as recently as Monday night! --though I do recall he seemed to be heading into the box zone frequently). The bad news is that it required surgery. The slightly less painful news is that, since this is East Orange and not Oradell, my wallet is much thinned but not actually emptied. And the vaguely *sigh* news is that El Scuzz will have to be on special diet for all his days, to prevent this happening again; it seems that this is a condition that if one gets it, one is officially Prone To It[tm].

I am somewhat previous; there was definitely a blockage and it has been cleared (and the patient is resting comfortably), but they are still waiting on analysis to confirm that this was indeed Cat Gout rather than, I don't know, the fool beast eating a tiny cork or something.

I can't imagine what it must be like trying to operate on a cat wang. Not unlike writing the Lord's Prayer on a dime, mayhap.
serinde: (bowtie)
Herewith a picture of Mr. Mage, from Christmas '04. Note his natty necktie, which he actually seemed to like; not usual for most adornments we attempted to impose on him.
serinde: (bowtie)
I did indeed get a call (if not quite the expected one), which was Steve, in considerable distress, asking me to please come to the house at once without delay. This of course I did, and after the usual hour-and-a-half of transit on tenterhooks, got home. The vet on call at the animal hospital determined that Mage's current and pressing issue wasn't an abdominal thing, lord knows what that might have been, but at least now he was showing clear signs of final stages of a brain tumor or other neurological disorder. He'd actually gone blind sometime in the last 24 hours, and wasn't able to walk without wobbling, and couldn't hold up his head. Tests could be done to prove this, but the vet said that in truth there was nothing to be done, whatever they found. So they made Mage comfortable, got some liquids (and I think some calming drugs) in him, and when I got to the house we drove up to the hospital to say goodbye.

I will say this for Oradell: they may cost the earth, but they have a really nice facility. They have special small, comfortable rooms where you can sit privately with your pet and make your adieux. So we did that (and the doctor was amazingly kind, even as vets go--I've never met a mean vet), and bawled a lot, and then I held Mr. Mage as the doc put the quietus into his IV. It was as quiet and peaceful and kindly as such a thing can be, and beforehand I didn't think I would be up to any of it, but I can state now that I feel much the better for having been there with my kitty to the end.

Then we cried some more in the car, then drove back to the house and had tea and gave Ranger some salmon and cried some more; and now I am printing out my STUF for the conference, since I sprinted out of work trailing all kinds of loose ends.

Mage is in the Land of Eternal Cheese, where no one takes away your people food and then laughs at you for being Chunky & Aggrieved. He is drooling on everyone there and making little huff-puff noises instead of purring, because everyone is scritching him and no one is paying any attention to any other cats at all.

(All the habitu├ęs of chez nous, in its various incarnations, are encouraged to post Favorite Mage Moments in comments here. I'd like it a lot.)
serinde: (Default)
Steve just phoned; he is taking Mage up to the animal hospital emergency room. He fed him some salmon last night (which worked) but he woke up to find it was puked up on the carpet, and Mage was at the bottom of the stairs trying feebly to crawl behind the shoe rack there. (And had his head stuck, and was mewing piteously.) I am fairly clear on what that means in animal-speak. I'm expecting another call in an hour or so.

Did I mention that today would have been our 10th wedding anniversary?
serinde: (maneki neko)
After previous meltdown, [ profile] nedlnthred mixed up a batch of condensed milk & egg yolk, a combination she's had success with before, and put it in the other bottles that Rollo et al. had sort of chewed the tops of the nipples off. This seemed like it might be too big for them to suckle on, but for some reason, it started to work; they did a kind of half-suckle, half-drink Thing which started getting warm food into kitten tummies.

And then! Piewacket, who had been sitting in the hallway watching with mild interest our strange proceedings, came over and started washing the kitten Beth was feeding. We put the kitten to her breast, and lo! she accepted it! And we added the rest, one by one, and she took them all!


I'm not sure but that we might still have some attrition--there is one squeaker who is always on the outside of the pile, and is noticeably more sluggish than the rest. And I'm still really worried about Mage, and I still rack my brains about who can take the office cats, and I have no clue how we're going to home these kittens; but we won this round.
serinde: (Cygnus X-1)
Piewacket has taken against her kittens. She has ignored them for the last ~18 hours, and hisses when they come near her. I tried bottle-feeding them, but although I know they're hungry--they crawl all over me and root against every bit of warm skin they encounter--they don't seem able to grasp the whole bottle concept. Five helpless little tiny bundles of fluff frantically crying and crawling on you, fighting to live, and you can't do anything for them; that's slit-your-wrists territory there.


serinde: (Default)

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