Visitors

Visitors (2)

In Loving Memory

If you don’t believe in the supernatural, you may want to skip this post. If you’re interested, keep reading to find out who I think visits us and how they make their presence known.

You may know that we lost our cats Annie and Ozzy to natural causes in 2015 and 2016. However, there are times when I have sworn that they were in the house, which of course is impossible because they have been gone for a few years. I can’t be sure which of the two I think visits, but it’s easy to assume that it is Ozzy, because he was more social than Annie. That being said, Annie could feel more comfortable now that she crossed over, able to wander the house without the current pets bothering her. Perhaps both are visiting.

One day I was perched on the ottoman in the family room, scrolling through my phone, when I distinctly felt a cat rub against my leg. I reached down to pet the friendly feline, but my hand was met with air. There were no cats in that room.

Another visit came one morning when I was wide awake. Tiki sleeps with me more often than not, and sometimes Vlad jumps up on the bed in the morning for snuggles. I was laying on my left side, leg bent, when I felt something jump on my knee. I glanced down expecting to see my cuddly black cat, but there was nothing there. Tiki was curled up by my head, with Vlad and the other cats nowhere to be found.

Cat parents know that kitties have their own distinctive voices. I can tell which cat is vocalizing by their sound, even if they are in another room. On another morning I was sitting on the edge of the bed when I heard Ozzy’s meow. It startled me and I even answered him back with a tentative, “Ozzy?” I expected no reply, but if it was my boy, I wanted him to know that I heard him loud and clear.

Barnabas has a sudden interest in the top of the fridge, where Annie’s urn rests. She still lounges in her bed, surrounded by her bowl and toys. This was her domain when she was alive, and if she were still with us, Barney would not be welcome there.

Another place Annie frequented was behind the television stand in our bedroom. It’s another odd place Barney goes where the others do not.

Sometimes I see a shadow throughout the house. It’s usually something small and dark, moving fast out of the corner of my eye. Whatever it is disappears as soon as I focus on it. These shadows can’t all be our black cat Vlad, can they? Maybe this is all my imagination, just wanting so much to still have them around. However, my better half has had his own experiences. At any rate, if Annie and Ozzy are visiting, they will always be welcome home.

Visitors (1)

Annie

Cat Toy Tears

Cat Toy Tears (2)

Cat Toy

Have you ever been somewhere and saw something that triggers a strong emotional response? Maybe it was something that brought back a memory, either good or bad. This happened to me a couple weeks ago. What caused me to break down in an aisle of a pet supply store?

I was volunteering for the rescue, which adopts cats and kittens from inside a local pet supply retailer, when I took a quick break to search for a new cat toy. Tiger has been destroying his toy mice of late, carrying them around while loudly announcing his latest “kill.” I discarded a couple disemboweled bodies, who suffered the indignity of their stuffing still hanging from the jaws of their killer, the orange tabby cat. Tiger was running low on stuffed mice, so I thought I might buy him a few more.

I knew they would have what I needed. I prefer plain mice, with few details that I have to remove for safety’s sake. Perusing the items for sale, I saw a toy on the bottom shelf that flooded my brain with memories. It was a simple plastic barbell, with balls with bells inside on each end.

Flashback to many years ago when we were only a two-cat household. Annie and Ozzy were young and playful, and they had a toy that they just loved to bat around. It resembled the plastic barbell that I just found. These toys weren’t exactly the same; I believe the original barbell had fuzz on the ends, and not plastic. However, the plastic toy was similar to the well-loved toy that eventually came apart.

I tried to find it everywhere with no luck. I wanted to replace it so badly for them, but none could be found. Wherever I was, I checked every pet supply place to find it. One day in February 2003 I went into a chain pet shop (now out of business), still on the hunt for the elusive barbell. They didn’t have it, but you know what they did have? My Moose!

I always say I went into that store for a cat toy and came out with a puppy, but that is not entirely accurate. Moose wasn’t an impulse purchase; I did go home and research Italian greyhounds long into the night to be sure the breed would be a good fit for our home. Bleary-eyed but excited, we returned to the store the following day. (Please note that this was before I knew about puppy mills).

I remember the store associate handing him to me for the first time, all soft and wiggly with that new puppy smell. I was instantly in love, as he stuck his needle nose in my ear.

It took me 16 years to find that cat toy, but sadly too late for Annie and Ozzy to enjoy it again. Tears fell the day I found that barbell, a lot of mixed emotions bubbling to the surface. I thought of the lives and loss of my beloved kitties, and the joy of bringing home the canine love of my life, who I wouldn’t have found if I wasn’t looking for that toy.

Cat Toy Tears (1)

Annie and Ozzy

New Year, New Pet?

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Happy New Year! I try to add content to this site on a consistent basis, but the second half of 2018 wasn’t kind to me and caused me to deviate from my plan. Don’t you just hate it when life sometimes gets in the way of what you want to do? Suffice it to say that I am hoping for a kinder, gentler 2019 for me and my family. We would all appreciate it!

Last year saw us welcome Bugs the bunny into our home, after I insisted that I no longer wanted anything else living in the basement. I have to admit that I missed having a rabbit, so when the opportunity arose to bring in another, I took it. If anyone asks me if I contemplate adding a new furry family member this year, I would have to say no.

I think we have reached our capacity. Of course, I’ve been known to say that and then do something else. I heard that more greyhound tracks will be closing. That means that there will be even more dogs available for adoption, and I am super tempted since I’ve always wanted to rescue a retired racing greyhound, even before we got our Italian Greyhounds.

Of course, as much as I would love one, I have to think of the other critters in the house. First and foremost are Moose and Red. Last year they celebrated their 16th and 15th birthdays respectively, and my little old men deserve to live out their golden years in peace. Introducing a new dog to the dynamic wouldn’t be fair to them, especially a much bigger, younger dog.

There’s also the cats to consider. They’ve never been around a dog that wasn’t close to their size. A couple of them are double digits in age or near it, so I doubt that they would appreciate a boisterous newcomer. In fact, I’m sure of it.

In light of all that, I think our family won’t increase in number this year, and that is fine. The current residents get along well the majority of the time, and thinking that it’s best not to rock the boat, I believe keeping the status quo works for us. I will still see new faces as I continue to volunteer for the cat rescue.

2018 was great in that we said hello to Bugs, and we didn’t have to say goodbye to anyone. (We lost Annie in 2015 and Ozzy in 2016, both on June 2). None of the fur kids developed any new ailments, and existing conditions did not worsen. We seem to have Moose’s occasional tummy trouble remedied with prescription food and a probiotic. He and Red have their yearly checkup next week, and I hope our seniors are in the best possible shape. Red continues to receive aquapuncture treatments and still responds well to it.

Do you plan to acquire a new pet this year? I wish you and yours nothing but the best in 2019 and beyond.

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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.

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Ozzy Shares Moose’s Crate

Shattered

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I could barely see anything through the stinging haze of my tears, as I slid into the passenger seat of my vehicle. The radio turned on as the engine started, and I didn’t think it was possible to cry any harder than I already was. Slaughter’s “Fly to the Angels” filled my ears, and I switched it off with a trembling hand. How apropos. Now sitting in the shadow of my vet’s office, only moments before, I sent my beloved cat Ozzy to fly to the angels.

Ozzy had been chronically ill 11 of his 14 years. Through it all he stayed the same gentle soul everyone loved; from several medical interventions peppered throughout the years, to his strict medication and prescription food regimen, he was always a happy guy.

Nothing got my boy down. That’s why it was strange in the weeks leading up to his death, that he fought me when I tried to medicate him. I asked him if he was trying to tell me that he was done with it all. He just looked at me with his usual expression, always appearing to smile.

When he showed signs of illness soon after, I didn’t think much about it. Surely it was another setback and he would bounce back from the vet, as good as he could possibly be. As my better half secured him in his carrier for the trip to the doc, I assured my boy he would be home soon. Little did I know one of the last things I told my baby was a lie.

The baby vet called with a diagnosis that I was not expecting. I say baby vet because she was new, and not one of the two senior vets that I normally dealt with. Ozzy had end stage renal failure, with maybe a week left. My heart broke in a million pieces. Is this really the end? Despair turned to anger when baby vet said that his kidney values were normal in December, but now (June) they were awful. Did he get into anything he shouldn’t have? It took every ounce of strength not to scream, “Are you kidding me?” into the phone. Eleven years of enemas, xrays, MRIs, hospitalizations, prescription food, and medication from various places. Again, are you kidding me? Most likely several years of meds took their toll on his kidneys. It was a double-edged sword, if it weren’t for them he would have been euthanized at age 3 at the suggestion of our prior vet. He made it to 14, much longer than was expected.

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We were given the option to bring him home (our regular vet would later tell us that was not possible), or give him another day of fluids to see how he responded. We made the difficult decision to euthanize him.

When the techs brought him to us, one glance at him told us it was time. He looked so tired, he’d had enough, and he had been trying to tell me. It was heart wrenching. My boy needed the gift of peace, but it was painful. I told him how much I loved him, and what a good boy he was, and how I tried for so long to keep this day from coming. I begged his forgiveness, his fur damp with my salty tears. I told him I wanted to stay with him until the end, but I was a coward and could not. (It’s the same with humans, I don’t get the point of viewings. I want to remember the person alive, not dead in a box).

Fortunately my petsitter and dear friend held him as he took his last breath while I sobbed outside the building. She told me he was at peace, and had closed his green eyes. I will be forever grateful to her for staying with him. All I could say between heaving sobs was, “my baby is gone.”

I have to believe that a Rainbow Bridge does exist. I told Ozzy when I get there I will look for him first. My boy was deservedly at rest, but where did that leave me? Shattered.

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To Ozzy, with Love

When we moved into our house with our cranky tabby Annie, it wasn’t long before I wanted to add a second cat to the family. By then Annie was three, and her personality was set. We thought bringing home a kitten would bring out her softer side, assuming she had one. We couldn’t have been more wrong. It turned out that Annie had the maternal instincts of Joan Crawford.

We acquired Ozzy in much the same way we did Annie. It was another unplanned litter, this time the mother cat belonging to someone working temporarily in my office. This person lived on the street behind our house, and one day brought over two kittens for me to choose from. Their mother was a Russian Blue, and their father a tabby. Both kittens were male, with handsome dark gray coats, one solid and the other with marble stripes. I sat on the floor, the solid boy aloof while the other was more curious, climbing on my lap. He was adorable and I was smitten. I chose the tabby-striped kitten, and because the owner had more kittens at home that looked like him, we put a drop of nail polish on his body to be sure I would get the right little guy when they were old enough to go to new homes.

Ozzy as a Kitten

Ozzy as a Kitten

When that day finally arrived, Annie was less than thrilled. She showed him no kindness, the only thing she wanted to show him was the door. She puffed up to twice her size and must have resembled a tiger to tiny Ozzy, who tried his best to puff up and look formidable. Their meeting can be compared to the scene in Jaws when Quint crushes the beer can and Hooper responds by crushing the paper cup. They hissed and cursed each other and with one quick swipe from the aggressive female, Ozzy was down the stairs.

I guess Annie didn’t expect her kid brother to ever grow. Eventually his 18 pounds eclipsed her 14 pounds, and her bullying wasn’t as effective. To this day he will instigate her into a reaction by getting close to her, almost purring, “I’m not touching you.”

Ozzy was a happy, robust cat until he was about three years old. He was having difficulty using the litterbox and appeared to be in distress. The vet took x-rays and saw that he was backed up. The vet performed a procedure to unclog him, but the issue became a chronic condition. He was going to the vet weekly, still unable to use the litterbox with any regularity. Ozzy was finally diagnosed with chronic constipation due to a low-functioning colon. This vet put him on two medications, a stool softener and a motility drug for his colon. We had hope that this would put an end to the problem, but unfortunately, it didn’t. We tried other ideas suggested by our vet, but nothing worked. When holistic methods failed, our vet told us there was nothing that could be done for him. Without saying it, the vet indicated that euthanasia was looking like our only option.

We sought a second opinion with another practice who is now our current vet. They kept our kitty on the same two medications, but added a low residue prescription food. He now had a food that produced less waste, a med to soften what waste he did produce, and other med to help him pass the waste. This combination saved his life, and we follow this regimen 10 years later.

All was well with Ozzy for quite a long time until one day I received a phone call from my mom, who was babysitting our animals. She was very upset, our laidback, loveable boy was howling at her whenever she went near him. Something was very wrong.

Back to the vet we went for more tests. It wasn’t until he had an MRI did we uncover the newest issue—inflammatory bowel disease. We were devastated, this guy has gone through so much, and now another medical problem. We were prescribed prednisone for this condition, which he continues to take.

Ozzy is a lovable lap cat. He is laid back, and never put up a fuss through any of the procedures he endured. From blood draws, enemas, x-rays, and MRIs, he took it all in stride, his sweet personality never changing. It’s a shame such a sweet cat had to suffer so much.

Ozzy has lived with chronic constipation and inflammatory bowel disease for years. He also suffers from arthritis for which we give a supplement, and occasional bouts of vertigo. We had no idea cats could have vertigo, and we were certain that trip to the vet would uncover something horrible like a brain tumor.

Ozzy will turn 14 on December 18, 2015. We have had 11 more years with him than we had expected. His food and medications to keep him with us may cost the equivalent of a car payment, but our little man is more than worth it. I know one day his conditions are likely to take their toll on him, and he may get other problems due to all the long-term medications. We will lose him one day, we’ve come close several times, and we will be devastated. Every day he is still with us as a blessing. I love you, Ozzy.

Ozzy-2015

Ozzy-2015