A Cautionary Tale

A Cautionary Tale (2)

Tiki the Escape Artist

Few things cause real panic in cat owners. The retching sound before a hairball is ejected onto the carpet can be scary, and emergency vet trips in the middle of the night are far worse. What makes my heart stop is when an indoor-only cat darts out the door, which is what happened to me last week.

Tiki has lived with us for six years, inside the walls of our little Cape Cod. I don’t know much about her past, except that she was found outside and brought to the shelter. All four of our cats have spent time in the outdoors prior to being adopted.

We keep water bottles at both doors to spray any cats that get uncomfortably close. Some people shake pennies in a coffee can as a deterrent, but the water bottle method works for us. When we leave, we exit with the bottle, placing it outside the door until our return. To enter the house, we crack the door open and start spraying. The cats soon learned not to hang out by the door. We did this for a long time, until we were confident that the cats wouldn’t attempt to bolt. I never thought we would have an escape with a cat who has been inside for six years.

My hubby let the dogs out into the yard to do their business. Red fell over outside, and when he opened the door to go assist him (Red ended up righting himself anyway), Tiki went with him, down the concrete steps into the back yard. She froze at the next to the last step, and he was able to scoop her up and deposit her back into the house. I was coming up from the basement, just in time to see Tiki go out the door. Talk about heart stopping. Incidents like these are why all the cats wear breakaway collars with identification tags, and are also microchipped with a registered chip.

So what have we learned from this potential disaster? Never, ever let your guard down. There are plenty of cats who live inside for years and never make an attempt to go out the door. Tiki had never expressed an interest in going outside until that day, although she loves to sunbathe directly in front of the door. I had let the dogs in and out with her there several times before and she never moved a whisker.

As a cat parent, I am adamant about my cats being kept strictly indoors. Tiki’s less than a minute adventure had a happy ending, but that’s not always the case for other wayward felines. Some never come home. Please remain vigilant in your efforts at keeping them in if you choose to do so, as Tiki just proved to us that you never know.

I would also like to wish the puppy that stole my heart from the first time I saw him a very Happy 16th Birthday! I love you, Moose! xo

A Cautionary Tale (1)

Sunbathing Near the Back Door

Rude Awakening

Rude_Awakening_Moment

Tiger’s Rude Awakening

Cats can function as furry alarm clocks, especially when it’s feeding time. Some are subtle about it, while others are downright rude, beating you over the head to wake you up. Tiger has his own obnoxious way of telling us when he wants his breakfast.

We have four cats. Vlad will lay on us, Barney will stare from atop furniture, while Tiki taps me on the head, giving me gentle kisses. Not too bad, right? Enter the orange monster Tiger.

He jumps on the bed, all 13 pounds proceeding to pace on our pillows. It’s annoying, but easily ignored. If that doesn’t elicit the response he wants from us, he ups his annoyance game.

On the dresser located next to the bed is a clock radio where an old iPod charges. Tiger has found a way to walk on just the right button to start the music. I’m all for blasting heavy metal, but in the wee hours of the morning, not so much.

Remember I mentioned about being beaten over the head? Tiger takes this to heart. He sits on the dresser, proceeding to swat objects onto the floor. There’s not many things up there that are cause for concern, except the lamp. The heavy, brass lamp. He knocks it down onto the head of the unfortunate person who sleeps on that side of the bed. That unfortunate person is always my hubby. Luckily, he has never suffered a serious injury as a result of Tiger’s wakeup call. Did I mention that Tiger swats the lamp cord loudly against the side of the dresser before sending it crashing down?

I’m not exempt from Tiger’s morning tantrums. He wreaks havoc on my hair, but not all the time. He seems to take offense to the smell after it has been processed. That’s when he tries to wake me up if the hubby won’t respond. He bites as close to my scalp as he can and pulls. Hard. I shouldn’t be surprised that the scent bothers him, because this is the same cat who tries to cover up my coffee mug when it’s sitting out.

Tiger has another tactic to let us know that he wants breakfast. There are two pictures hanging on the wall, accessible to the tabby with attitude. He stretches up from the dresser and proceeds to swat the photos repeatedly against the wall. Wham, wham, wham! I think it is even more obnoxious than blasting the music.

As annoying as all of this is, when he doesn’t do it, we miss it. Tiger wasn’t eating for a couple days, and during that time he wasn’t into his normal routine. We’re not sure what was wrong with him, but he left the vet’s office with an appetite stimulant that got him eating again. I thought he might have a hairball blockage, so I found something at a pet supply store to remedy that. Now that he’s back to his usual self, he’s up to his old tricks. Maybe I will buy hubby a football helmet for Christmas.

Rude Awakening

Looking for a Way Out at the Vet

Bun on the Run

Bun on the Run (1)

Lockdown

In my last post, I talked about various rabbit habitats that I used throughout the years. Bugs still lives comfortably in the basement, but it didn’t take long before I found a shortcoming with his setup. In fact, I anticipated it.

One thing I loved, yet had concerns about, was that the wire cube construction had no top. It made the enclosure seem even larger than it was, and it was so easy for me to access Bugs to take care of him. The house is two panels high, which isn’t quite the recommended height for bunnies. However, I figured that it might be sufficient because Bugs is not a large rabbit. Also, since I am petite, I wouldn’t have been able to reach into his enclosure had I added a third panel. There is no door built into the wire walls, which would be convenient.

In the back of my mind I thought about a possible escape. Our basement is divided into three sections. The first is where Bugs is located. There are two doorways leading into the next section, where there are hazards for a loose bun. The second section is probably the worst place for Bugs to escape, because he could hide under the stairs, the defunct oil tank, or encounter the sump pump pit (which has a cover and a bucket on top just in case). Anticipating a possible hop to freedom, I put a baby gate across one doorway and a cardboard box across the other.

One day I came home from work and found an empty bunny house. How did Bugs get out, and where did he go? At first I thought he was hiding behind his igloo, but then I noticed that the igloo was turned onto its side. I read that rabbits can climb, but I believe that Bugs got on top of his hideout and jumped over the wire wall.

Frantically I searched the area where I thought he might be. No luck. How do you call a rabbit, and would he answer to his name anyway? I looked under various basement items to no avail. I ventured into the dreaded second area of the basement, but when I glanced into where I had been, out hopped Bugs from who knows where. I was so relieved to find that he was safe. Because I didn’t want this to happen again, I set him up in a spare cage where he devoured food and water, so he must have been out for quite some time. He spent the night in his temporary place until I could figure out a solution to the open top.

I had enough panels to construct a ceiling for his enclosure, but that left no easy way to interact with Bugs. I read that something on top might discourage any adventures, so the enclosure now has a sheet stretched completely across it, secured with clothespins. So far Bugs has not bothered the top and has remained where he should be. I love my bunny, but his disappearing act has given me more gray hare (pun intended).

I would also like to wish my husband and co-parent of the menagerie a very Happy Birthday!

Bun on the Run (2)

My Bugs Bunny

 

Pet Emergency Preparedness

Pet Emergency Preparedness (2)

Ozzy Goes Where Red Goes

Our power went out for a few hours on July 3 after a nasty storm blew through. Because Moose has a heart issue, we decided to leave the house so that he could be in air conditioning. We loaded up Moose and his brother Red for company, and ran some errands with them until the electricity was restored. I knew from experience that power outages are infrequent in our area, and that time without power would be minimal. As for the other fur kids without health issues, the house was comfortable, so we felt safe leaving them at home. Rest assured, had we thought the house was too uncomfortable, we would have left with everybody.

This ordeal had me thinking about pet emergency preparedness. What if we lived in an area prone to natural disasters? If we had to get out fast with the animals, what would we bring? The following is what I would bring for my own pets.

Vaccination Records. My animals are up-to-date on their vaccines, including some that may be considered optional, such as the kennel cough vaccine. That is sometimes required at boarding facilities, and you never know when you may have to put your dog in such a place in an emergency. Cats may also be required to have certain vaccinations.

Carrier/Leash/Identification. Sturdy carriers are a must for cats and small dogs, as well as for small pets like our bunny. Our parakeet Priscilla has a cage that can be lifted out of its stand and be transported. All my fur kids have their own carrier, because even the best of friends can lash out when stressed. (Photo disclaimer: Ozzy voluntarily walked into the crates with the dogs. He was only in them long enough for a quick photo before being ushered out). The dogs have secure collars and leashes, and are microchipped, because identification tags can fall off collars, making it more difficult to be reunited with you should you become separated. Our cats wear breakaway collars and are microchipped, too.

Plastic Bags/Disposable Litter Pan/Litter. I would bring plastic bags for doggie cleanup, and disposable litter pans and litter for the cats. Should we wind up at a hotel, or a family member or friend’s place, they will appreciate our cats having their own spot to eliminate.

Medications. As of now, Red would need his anti-anxiety medication, and Moose needs his heart prescription. I would also bring their chondroitin/glucosamine supplement, and heartworm preventative.

Food/Water/Bowls. I can’t forget the obvious.

Blanket/Toys. If we have the room, my pets would probably enjoy having their favorite blanket or toy with them. They will be stressed, too, and something familiar to them may bring them some comfort. I can count on bringing a stuffed ring, elephant, and platypus for Red.

Everyone’s list will be different, and mine is far from exhaustive, but these are just some items that I would bring for my own animals in the event of an emergency. Use your judgment for your own animals.

Pet Emergency Preparedness (1)

Ozzy Shares Moose’s Crate

The Moo Boo-Boo

The Moo Boo Boo (2)

Treat Time

Italian Greyhounds are a dramatic breed. The most benign injury can elicit a blood-curdling sound that is commonly known among owners as the Iggy death scream. While I’m not sure that I’ve heard the scream, I have heard my fair share of yelping and whining. Moose is our drama king. He lets it be known to anyone within earshot that he doesn’t like his brother Red stepping on him, or nail trims. The trims rarely result in bloodshed, yet he still carries on in his imaginary distress. Sometimes he starts his singing before the first nail is even touched.

Last month we found him holding up a leg, hobbling around on his other three legs. We didn’t see what happened, but we were spared the shrill scream. We think he hurt himself either jumping onto or from the couch. He limped for a bit but seemed to recover quickly.

A couple days later, when he and brother Red were enjoying treats, I thought I saw irritation along what would be Moose’s elbow. On further inspection, his armpit was raw and an angry shade of red.

My first instinct was to slather it with an ointment that I keep on hand to soothe irritated skin. However, Red had just recovered from a nasty skin infection, so I didn’t want to put anything on the area in the event that Moose also had the same affliction. Since the discovery was made on a Saturday, and our vet’s office is closed on Sunday, we decided to show up sans an appointment to see if anyone could spare a minute to look at the spot in question.

We couldn’t have timed our visit any better. There was no one in the office when we came in, and we saw the vet on duty in a matter of a few minutes. After her examination, it was determined that there was no skin infection, but she thought it may have been a result of the leg injury that he sustained. Not only was there redness under his front leg, but it was also on his side, radiating from the leg.

The treatment was rest and a short course of an anti-inflammatory. Moose walked out of the practice his usual happy self, making friends with a Golden Retriever on the way out. I’m happy to report that he has made a full recovery.

As bad as it looked, it could have been a lot worse. Italian Greyhounds are prone to leg breaks, but that is something we have fortunately (knocks on wood) never experienced. Moose’s once blue-colored head is mostly white now, but if he keeps hurting himself, the white on my head may rival the amount on his.

The Moo Boo Boo (1)

Armpit Closeup

Canine Cardiac Care

Canine Cardiac Care (2)

Moose the Young Man

This post was supposed to be about a charity dog walk that we were scheduled to participate in. As it turned out, the rain was relentless up to and including the day of the event. As a result, we did not attend due to the inclement weather. Instead, I will explain why Moose wasn’t cleared for the one-mile fun walk anyway.

Other than age-related hearing and vision loss, and a rare seizure, he’s in good shape for approaching 16. Although we thought he would be okay for the walk, his cardiologist thought it best that he remain a spectator.

Last August Moose had a heart murmur that jumped in severity overnight. Heart murmurs in dogs can fluctuate, but an increase so sudden raised alarm, so much so that our vet suggested that we make an appointment with a canine cardiologist immediately. It was all so sudden, and we were afraid we were losing him.

Moose underwent a battery of tests at a veterinary hospital, and at that time he was diagnosed with having a leaky heart valve. He didn’t require medication at the time, but his condition required monitoring and follow up. At a subsequent appointment in April, we learned that his condition worsened to where he was just in need of medicine for his degenerative chronic mitral valve disease. The drug he will take for the rest of his life should slow its progression, perhaps up to a year and a half. Given that Moose will be 16 in November, it’s possible that something besides his heart will take his life. The specialist assured us that Moose is nowhere near heart failure at this time.

So, out of an abundance of caution, it was the vet’s opinion that Moose skip the dog walk. While he was almost certain that Moose would be just fine, the fact is that he has been inactive for some time. Just as greyhounds are couch potatoes, so are their smaller counterparts, the Italian Greyhound. Moose and Red haven’t been to a playdate in years, and their walks around the neighborhood are few. We certainly didn’t want to put any undue strain on his heart, so we chose to exclude him from the walk. We couldn’t be happier with the treatment that Moose is receiving from the cardiologist. (Our primary vet rocks, too).

Moose’s heart may be beginning to fail, but I don’t think it’s through disease. His heart isn’t big enough to hold all the love he has to give. As the saying goes, to know him is to love him.

Canine Cardiac Care (2)

Moose the Old Man

Mother’s Day Madness

Mothers Day Madness (1)

Annie – Never a Mom

Happy Mother’s Day! Since my cats and dogs are all spayed and neutered, none of them have ever been parents, at least not since they came to live with us. However, when I was a kid, our pets sometimes came with surprises.

The first family cat I remember was Puff, a stray tabby with a chronic ear condition taken in by my parents. One day my mom was holding her when she felt something wet run down her arm. To her surprise, Puff’s water had broken, and we were about to have more than one cat in the house. It now made sense why Puff was spending so much time in a closet, as she likely planned to bring her babies into the world in the secluded space. She had three kittens, who later were all rehomed, and the new mom was spayed soon after to prevent any other unplanned pregnancies. (Puff was an indoor/outdoor cat at the time, which was common in those days). In fact, she had her surgery when we still had her kittens in the house. Our family dog, a male Beagle named Sam, took charge of her little ones in her absence. If any of them wandered too far, Sam would retrieve it, returning the wayward baby to the rest of its siblings.

When I was growing up, pet stores were the place to go for pocket pets. Today care is taken to identify the sex of the animals for sale. Some retail chains will carry either male or female, but not both. This was not always the case back then, when we brought home a golden hamster, a male I named Teddy. One day I asked my mom, “What are those pink things in Teddy’s cage?” It turns out that Teddy wasn’t the male hamster we expected. Those “pink things” were tiny, hairless babies. We kept Teddy, but her kids were taken to the pet store when they were old enough to be separated from her.

As I got older, the pets got bigger. Graduating from hamsters, we brought home a brown and white guinea pig I named Lucy from a local pet shop. It turns out that she was indeed the female I was promised, but we didn’t realize that she was carrying an added bonus when we brought her home.

One day I noticed that Lucy had a smaller version of herself in her enclosure, a tiny brown and white baby. She only had one little piggie, and when we verified that it was a female, we named her Suzy and kept the mother and daughter together.

If my memory is correct, that was the last time I got more than I bargained for when it came to pets and their unexpected offspring. Currently we have a parakeet that sometimes lays eggs, so I should probably change her name from Elvis to Priscilla. Unless she has been entertaining birds in her cage late at night, the eggs will never hatch, as she is the only bird in the house. So, no matter how many kids you may or may not have, I hope your Mother’s Day is filled with more mirth than madness.

Mothers Day Madness (2)

Tiki – Also Not a Mom