Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween Safety Tips for Cats

I've seen a few of these posts around the blogosphere, but the topic is so important that I thought it warranted a post from us as well.  Please keep these safety tips in mind as you celebrate Halloween in the coming days.

Candy Is For Humans Only: I'm sure many of you know that chocolate is very toxic to cats and dogs, especially baking and dark chocolate.  However, any candy containing the xylitol, an artificial sweetener, is also toxic to pets.  Moreover, candy and its wrappers pose a choking hazard to your kitty.

If you want to give your cat a yummy treat for Halloween, purchase his or her favorite kitty treats or try a new brand of cat treats.  Keep all candy out of your pet's reach.

Keep Cats Indoors: It's unfortunate, but not all people love kitties as much as we do.  To keep your kitty (no matter what his or her fur color is) from becoming an unwilling participant in Halloween mischief, keep him or her indoors.  Black cats are especially prone to going missing on Halloween.

If you are giving out candy to trick-or-treaters, it's a good idea to keep nervous kitties in a safe room in your home with the door shut to prevent them from escaping accidentally.  Even the most social kitties can become overwhelmed by all the trick-or-treaters visiting your home; keep an eye on your feline any time you open the door.  Keep collars and identification on your cat so that if your kitty accidentally escapes, you will have a better chance of finding him or her.

Halloween Costumes: Please do not put your kitty in a Halloween costume unless you know he or she loves it!  I haven't personally met any cats that would even tolerate being dressed up, let alone love it, but I'm sure there are a few out there.  Dressing up a cat who doesn't love being in costume causes him or her unnecessary stress.  An unhappy cat in costume may even hurt himself or herself trying to get out of it.

If you want your kitty to look festive for Halloween, you could try putting a decorative bandanna or bow-tie on his or her collar.  Mom Emily from Kitty Cat Chronicles makes some really adorable bow-ties that slip right over your cat's collar.  Carmine really loves his!

If you have one of the rare kitties who enjoys being dressed up, ensure that your cat's Halloween costume does not constrict his or her movement in any way.  Be sure your cat can see, hear, breathe, and meow without any difficulty in the costume you choose.  Try on the Halloween costume before the big night to ensure your cat is not distressed by it at all.  Be sure to make sure there are no small parts on the costume your feline could tare off and swallow as well.

Halloween Decorations: As you know, there are a variety of festive household Halloween decorations.  Please keep your kitty safe by using electrical cord covers on electronic decorations.  Cats can suffer cuts, severe burns, and/or life-threatening electrical shocks when they chew on electrical cords.  If electrical cord covers aren't an option for you, you can purchase some Bitter Apple to sprays cords with.  For added protection, unplug electronic decorations whenever you won't be around to keep an eye on your kitty.

Jack-o-lanterns also pose a danger to cats.  Jack-o-lanterns can be easily knocked over and start fires.  Curious kitties can also singe or burn themselves with flames, so it's best to keep all jack-o-lanterns out of your cat's reach.

We hope you all have a safe and fun Halloween next week!

Do you have any other safety tips to add?  Please let us know in the comments. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Milita's Post-Surgery Update

Milita had her dental surgery yesterday, and I was a ball of nerves the whole time!  Milita has been having some congestion and upper respiratory infection/herpes symptoms.  The vet took an x-ray of Lita before the surgery to make sure she was going to be okay to go under anesthesia.  They always do a urinalysis and blood tests before surgery, too.  The x-ray showed that Lita doesn't have any pneumonia or anything, which is definitely good!  She does have a little arthritis on her spine, though, so we have started her on Cosequin - it's the same stuff Carmine's been taking for his arthritis for 3 years and has made a world of difference for him.

Milita's surgery went well.  They ended up pulling fewer teeth than they thought they would need to!  They pulled one canine, two premolars on the top, and one premolar on the bottom.  The surgery ended up costing less than we expected since the vet had drawn up an estimate for 7 or 8 teeth, soooo....I put money on my account at the vet as a credit to pay for a future big medical expense for Carmine or Lita.  I hope that sits okay with everyone who donated?

They hope that Lita's upper respiratory infection will clear up now that her bad teeth are gone.  They think her mouth infection is related to the upper respiratory one.  Lita is on Amoxicillin for another week (this is her 3rd round in a row).  I really hope this is the end of the antibiotics for her for a while.

Lita has been a bit grumpy and nervous since we got home, which is completely understandable (I would be, too!) but she's also been letting us love on her.  Earlier, I found her sitting in her dinner spot waiting for food.  This is the first time she's done this in weeks!

I think as long as we can get her upper respiratory infection under control, she is going to recover very nicely.  Thank you all so very very much again for all of your donations, purrs, prayers, hugs, and support!!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Opt to Adopt: Phantom

Phantom

Cat Care Society, Lakewood, CO

Photo taken from Phantom's Adopt a Pet profile page.

Phantom is a handsome tuxedo cat with short hair.  He is outgoing and likes to play.  He's friendly, affectionate, and likes being pet.  I've spent a lot of time with Phantom over the past few months, and he always seems to enjoy our visits a lot.  

Phantom came to the shelter when his human got sick and had to give him up.  He is 11 years old, but he acts much younger.  Since Phantom is a senior kitty, he is part of the Perpet-U-Care program, which will pay for a portion of his veterinary care for the rest of his life.  

You can find Phantom in the Gold Room at Cat Care Society, located at 5787 W. 6th Avenue in Lakewood, CO.  Let's help this adorable and sweet mancat find his forever home!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Jewel's Journey Through CRF

While I'm not ready to talk about Jewel's final days, I want to share our journey through Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) with all of you in hopes that our experience will help someone else.  Remember: always check with your veterinarian before adding anything to your kitty's treatment regimen - prescription or holistic.  Every cat's situation is unique; just because something did or didn't work for Jewel doesn't mean your cat will react in the same way.

Warming Signs and Diagnosis

As many of you know, I was once roommates with Jewel's former owner, but it wasn't a good situation, so I moved out.  A month or so before I moved out, I noticed that Jewel was drinking even more than she usually had.  I planned to take her to my vet as soon as I could because her former owner didn't think this change warranted a vet visit.  

After I moved away from the house, it was two months before Jewel's former owner brought her to see me.  When I saw her, my heart broke.  She had lost 3 or 4 pounds in that short time span.  Jewel went to see my vet shortly after that visit.  The vet took a blood and urine sample from Jewel and called me with the results the next day.  Jewel had CRF.  I was rather upset when I heard the news and began to research the disease and how best to help her.  Jewel received her diagnosis in November, 2011.

Kidney Diets

Since Jewel's phosphorus levels were high, we immediately started her on Epakitin, a powder phosphorus binder you can mix into wet food.  Epakitin worked well for Jewel.  Her phosphorus levels normalized, and she didn't mind eating the powder in her wet food.

The vet also recommended we start her on Hill's Prescription k/d wet and dry food.  While Jewel didn't mind eating her k/d kibbles, she wanted nothing to do with the wet food.  

I did a little research and discovered Royal Canin also has a prescription kidney diet.  Unfortunately, she didn't want anything to do with the Royal Canin LP either.  

I had joined a CRF support group and asked if there were any other kidney diets she could try.  I learned about Purina NF, and tracked some down at a hospital close to her former owner's home.  Sadly, Jewel didn't like Purina NF, either.  

She was eating very little at this point so we started feeding her anything she would eat.  The vet confirmed that this was the right thing to do; we didn't want her to starve to death trying to get her to eat a kidney diet. 

High Blood Pressure's Sneak Attack

High blood pressure often co-occurs with CRF.  Our vet discovered pretty early on that Jewel's blood pressure was slightly elevated.  We started her on Benazepril to help control it.  It was at this point that Jewel's former owner and I decided that it would be best for her to stay with me full-time due to the fact that her former owner had a lot of other people, children, and a kitten living in his home.  We thought the stress was too much for Jewel to handle.  Later on, of course, I adopted her as my own kitty.  

Earlier this year, Jewel's blood pressure became out of control.  Her blood pressure was so high that her retinas were 50% detached.  We changed Jewel's medication to Amlodipine, beginning with one-half tablet once a day.  We had to raise Jewel's Amlodipine dose a few times before we found a dose that was able to control her blood pressure.  Thankfully, her retinas did reattach.  

Coping With Nausea and Stomach Acid

Shortly after being diagnosed with CRF, Jewel didn't have much interest in eating.  While part of this was due to the fact that she didn't like the kidney diets, nausea also played a part.  Our vet recommended giving Jewel 1/4 of a 10mg Pepcid to help her nausea.  This did, in fact, help, and she began to eat more.  However, Jewel didn't get the Pepcid daily because I wasn't able to pill her alone.  Jewel was always VERY stubborn about taking her medication.  

When I talked with the vet about the situation, she recommended we try Reglan for Jewel, which can be compounded into a liquid that I could squirt into her mouth.  Compounding medication can be expensive ($40 for a one-month supply of Reglan) though, so I did a little research and discovered a natural nausea remedy for kitties with CRF - slippery elm bark.  When I wasn't able to afford Jewel's compounded Reglan, I used the slippery elm bark to help her.  The drawback of this remedy is that you cannot give any other medications within two hours of slippery elm bark because it interferes with the effects of medication.  On the plus side, it wasn't difficult at all to get Jewel to eat her slippery elm bark mixed into a little bit of a Fancy Feast appetizer.  

Increasing Appetite

As the disease progresses, kitties with CRF lose their appetites.  Jewel would go for days or even weeks without wanting to eat much, but we found ways to encourage her to eat more.  A few times, I got her Hi'll's Prescription a/d, a canned food that's high in calories and can be syringe fed if necessary.  I didn't use this very often, though, because it really seemed to increase her stomach acid and nausea.  

Most of the time, I would go to the store and pick out a lot of different kinds of food in different flavors to see what Jewel would and wouldn't eat.  I discovered one of her favorites was Fancy Feast Fish and Shrimp Feast, so I always made sure to have at least one of those in the house for the times she turned her nose up at other foods.  

My vet also prescribed Mirtazapine to increase Jewel's appetite when she didn't feel like eating.  This medication really helped when Jewel wouldn't even eat her favorite foods, but after about a year of using the medication as needed, it stopped working for her.  We switched to Cyproheptadine to increase her appetite.  

Fluid Therapy

Fluid therapy helps the kidneys filter toxins out of the body.  I was really nervous at the idea of sticking Jewel with a needle to administer the subcutaneous fluids, and I was doubtful that I could do this effectively given my severe vision impairment.  The first time I stuck her by myself at home, I was a nervous wreck!  

Over time, though, Jewel and I both became more comfortable with this treatment.  Whereas initially, Jewel would try to run away from me during treatment, she soon began to lay down and patiently wait during treatment time.  She always received treats after fluids time, which I know she looked forward to.  Jewel LOVED treats!  

Love

It might sound cliche, but I think what helped Jewel, perhaps more than medication, was being loved.  Jewel had a difficult life, and due to her past, it took her a long time to trust me.  The love my friend, D, and I gave her gave Jewel something to keep fighting for.  Jewel turned from a cranky senior into a little love bug within months of me taking over her care.  She seemed to really begain to enjoy her life, despite all the pilling and poking we had to do to keep her stable.  

CRF Is A Roller Coaster

CRF is truly an emotional roller coaster.  One day, you're thrilled that your kitty seems happy, wants to eat, and seeks out your attention.  The next day, you're worried because she turns her nose up at her favorite food, and she's hiding under your dresser.  

To be completely honest, shortly after Jewel was diagnosed with CRF, I tried to distance myself from her emotionally so I wouldn't have to be hurt when she went to the Rainbow Bridge.  That didn't work.  Jewel wove herself into every fiber of my heart.  Yes, it hurt more than I ever could have imagined when she went to the Bridge, but I don't regret a second of our time together.  I don't regret opening my heart to her and loving her more than I can ever say.  It still hurts me; every single day I have to spend without her is painful.  I don't think that will ever change.  But I know that I will see her again, and I know that she is still around, even if I can't see her or touch her or hear her anymore.  

The love I have for my beautiful Jewel will never go away.  Even though I only knew her for four short years, she changed my life.  I love and miss my baby.  


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Milita's Infection Is Back



Hi everyone, it's the Mom here.  If you didn't see this on Facebook, Milita's mouth infection came back within a couple of days of her being off the antibiotic (which makes me wonder if it ever went away in the first place).  We picked up more antibiotics for her on Thursday, and she's been on the Amoxicillin since then.

I'm worried about her having surgery on Wednesday, though, because her breathing sounds a bit funny.  I've heard her wheezing, especially when I pick her up for a hug.

I trust our vet, but I cannot not worry about Milita; she is my baby!  I know the vet will give her an exam and draw blood before the surgery starts, but I'm really wondering if we should postpone it until she can get a little better.  I'm going to call on Tuesday when they open and see what she'd like us to do.

Please send purrs and prayers for Milita.  She really needs this surgery as soon as she can have it, but she needs to be healthy enough to have it, too.