Storm Predicting Pets

Storm Predicting Pets (1)

Annie

I’m fortunate that I don’t yet have any aches or pains that let me know when bad weather is on the way. However, I’ve heard that animal behavior can be an indicator of an unsettled atmosphere. When New Jersey had a palpable earthquake in 2011, the birds on the power lines disappeared in unison moments before the earth shook. Can domesticated animals have the same proclivities?

Our brown tabby cat Annie (1998-2015) was more accurate than any local weather forecast. She spent her time perched on tall furniture, her favorite an old entertainment center, because she really preferred her own company to spending time with any of her feline or canine brothers. That was her domain, away from all of them, until later when she spent most of her time on top of the refrigerator.

As much as she disliked the other critters, whenever a storm was coming, she would abandon her high, safe place. You might guess that she would seek refuge under the bed, but she didn’t. Annie would sometimes hide out in the pantry, behind the safety of the wooden doors. Even if the other cats and dogs got close, she held fast to her position. She had another place to ride out the storms that was even more bizarre. She would lay in front of the subwoofer that sat on the family room floor. She was wide open to being annoyed by the others, little brother Ozzy in particular, yet she never moved. Sure enough, a storm followed whenever Annie fled to the security of the pantry or floor. When it passed, she would return to her normal hangout, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

After Annie crossed the Rainbow Bridge, we didn’t have another cat to trumpet the arrival of an impending storm until we adopted our little orange tabby Barnabas Collins. He’s been with us for two years, and we saw him exhibit storm-predicting behavior just once. He’s far from antisocial, so his safe place when storms are on the way is backed in tight against the curio/grandfather clock that sits in the dining room. From this vantage point, he is exposed to the other animals, but that doesn’t bother him since he’s a friendly guy. When a thunderstorm came through after he huddled on the floor, we realized that we did in fact have another storm predicting pet.

Our other three cats, Tiger, Tiki, and Vlad, show no ability to predict weather. The dogs have never shown any unusual pre-storm behavior. However, when they were younger, if a storm hit, they wanted to be burrowed under their blankets or be held by one of their humans. The weather doesn’t seem to affect them much anymore, but I think that is likely due to their compromised hearing more than anything else.

While predicting Mother Nature is difficult with even the latest and greatest technology, we will rely on our cat Barnabas for accuracy when it comes to predicting storms. Who needs to watch the weather report on television, when you have the cutest furry meteorologist at home?

Storm Predicting Pets (2)

Barnabas Collins

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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Welcome Vlad

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First Night at Home

People often ask me why I don’t have a black cat. As much as I love Halloween and Salem, Massachusetts, you would think one of my kitties would be a traditional Halloween cat. It just didn’t work out that way.  Until recently, the right black cat never crossed my path.

You may have read my post about adopting Barnabas Collins. When we adopted him, I was actively searching for a black cat, but not just any black cat. Since I’ve wanted one for a long time, and we had only one spot left for a new addition, he or she had to be a perfect fit.

Keeping that in mind, I didn’t adopt the first black cat that I saw. One kitty at age 10 was a bit older than I wanted. (This cat was later adopted). Another was great until he started biting. One boy just didn’t like other cats, and still one more was a little shy. He was friendly, but our existing menagerie at home may have been too much for him.

I had been checking Petfinder weekly to see the available black cats and had gone to the shelter that evening to see a four year old female who was no longer available when we got there.

When we were in the room of cats up for adoption, I recognized another cat from the website trying to get our attention. As much as he wanted to get out, he was the shy cat once we got to meet him. I saw a black cat not on the website, in cage #9, Bubba. He was stretched out in the front of his cage and squeaked out a sound when I said hello.

The volunteers were taking the shy cat away from the acquaintance room, and 10 minutes before closing, they asked if we wanted to see anyone else. I saw the only black cat that was listed on Petfinder, but I remembered Bubba in cage #9.

Within those last 10 minutes, we fell in love with Bubba. He was going to be my spooky kitty. He was eager to jump in our laps for petting, rewarding us with purrs. He even gave me kisses on my fingers. We couldn’t take him home that night because he wasn’t yet neutered or vaccinated. He had been at the shelter about a month recovering from an upper respiratory infection. He was two years old, brought to the shelter because his owner had too many cats. I noticed that they let him go outside and that he never had any veterinary care. His luck was about to change. My cats are strictly indoor and have pet insurance.

Two days later I had my Halloween kitty. Unlike Barnabas, Bubba was parasite-free. I thought I would have a bunch of great names for my black cat when I finally found him or her but I didn’t have any until it came to me on the drive home from the shelter following our initial meeting. Since our other cat had a vampire name, I renamed Bubba Vlad. I guess I could have gone with Bram, but Vlad sounds more bad ass. Of course, he is anything but a bad ass. He’s a 10 pound gentleman. I hope we have many more years together.

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Handsome Guy

Welcome Barnabas Collins

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After losing two cats exactly a year apart, on June 2, we added a new kitty to our family. Meet petite, one year old, Barnabas Collins, also known as Barney. He’s an orange and white tabby, named after the fictional vampire on the television series Dark Shadows. I’ve never seen the show, but the name sounds cool.

We decided to adopt two more cats into our household. These are not replacements, mind you, as like humans, each cat is an individual. Since my husband has never had a say in any of the cats we acquired, I told him I thought he should pick out one of them. (I had my heart set on a black cat, more on that in a future post).

Of course I wanted to adopt from the shelter where I volunteer, so when we were approved I started checking out the black cats. There were two in the PetSmart where I volunteer, but neither were the right fit. The shelter also has an adoption center in another local PetSmart, so we stopped one afternoon when they were closed. They had one black cat that I wanted to come back and see. In the cage below him was a small orange and white tabby. Hubby talked to him through the Plexiglas and the little furball rolled over to show his belly.

We returned the next night to visit the black cat named Dodger. While I spoke with him, the orange and white ball named Trapper was grabbing at me from his cage below. I ignored him, wanting a black cat for so long. Dodger was a great cat with people, but not a huge fan of other cats. He wouldn’t mesh with our two other cats and two small dogs at home. (I am happy to report that he was later adopted).

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Hubby wanted to see Trapper, and while I chatted with the other volunteers, he made a new friend. I didn’t interact much with the furry little guy, but he had fallen asleep in his new daddy’s hands. I thought I would find my black cat before hubby found his cat, but it didn’t work out that way. In fact, this cat was exactly what I didn’t want. I didn’t want another orange cat (our Tiger is orange), but at least he has four white paws and socks, and white from chin to belly. I like big cats, and he weighed in at a whopping 7.9 pounds at his well vet visit. I’m used to 12 and 14 pound cats, when they got down to Barnabas’s weight they died. He’s not a kitten, but I would have preferred an older cat. The shelter said he was 1 to 2 years old, but the vet believes he is closer to a year old. This means he gets into stuff. Confined to one room in the beginning, he spent his days knocking the phone off the hook and pulling books off the shelves. Our resident cats are believed to be around 8 and 9, estimates since they were also adopted from the shelter. I hope he doesn’t annoy them. As much as I didn’t want him, I love him. He has me wrapped around his little paw already, and I don’t regret a thing about adopting him.

The spare room that was the sick ward when our beloved Ozzy suffered setbacks now has renewed life to it. We’re no longer keeping watch over our handsome Russian Blue/tabby, praying he will recover from his latest tummy trouble. He is at peace, leaving us at age 14, after 11 years of chronic illness. Now there’s a young man to explore all the room’s corners, and play with the toys that now cover the floor.

Trapper was renamed Barnabas Collins by my hubby and is now a member of the family. His introduction to the rest of the gang was delayed because he came with an intestinal parasite, causing the need for isolation until it was resolved. I’m happy to report he is integrating with the others just fine.

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