Monday, February 25, 2019

The Continuing Apricot Saga

Well, he was okay.

Last night, Sunday, Apricot threw up his supper treat. This is unusual for him. Then, this morning, as I was getting ready for work (and it’s not like I spend a lot of time in the house awake in the morning before leaving for work), I saw Apricot scooting. Again. 

He didn’t have to let me see him do it, either. Which means to me, that it was serious. Again.

When I got to work I waited until my vet would be open and called them and got a same day appointment at 4 pm. Today or tomorrow I also needed to get an allergy shot. (It’s complicated. But essentially when you start a new bottle you have to build up your dosage and during that time you have to come in more frequently. And I’m in that time period.) 

I managed to leave work at 2:20 (a half hour early) and get to the allergist, get my shot, get home by 3:20 (I was blessed by traffic actually moving!), get changed, get Apricot, and head off to the vet. I didn’t bother changing my stuff out of my work bag, just took out my lunch bag and took the rest of it with me, since it had my water bottle and stuff.

Apricot was not pleased. When I put his harness on him before I got changed and explained the situation, he hid. I had blocked off both major hiding places though. He still managed to find somewhere I couldn’t find him. I actually have no idea where he was initially hiding. He tried to change spots and I saw him when he was inbetween them. 

Then, again in the kangaroo pouch like Saturday, when I started the car he let out an ear-piercing meow. I didn’t even know he could make a sound like that. I said, “ow. Loud much?” Fortunately for my ears and my nerves, that was the only sound he made on the way there.

Well, my vet examined him, and this time his left gland was impacted. Seriously. It was clear on Saturday and two days later it was full and, er, sorry for the detail, but “sludgey”. 

She said that it was really hard to tell with these things whether it was an infection causing it or not. I mentioned that someone in the house also had diarrhea based on litter box evidence but it was difficult to tell who given there are three cats. It’s a good assumption it’s Apricot, though. (If you want to know why, look up more detail on anal glands and why they get impacted. It’s kind of gross.)

So I have antibiotic pills to give him, two per time, twice a day. (And isn’t that going to be fun.) There were bigger pills that he could have taken just one twice a day but, despite his weight, he’s not actually that big of a cat and has a small mouth. I’d rather do two ... at the moment actually. We’ll see how he takes to having a pill. Two. She said they should help with his diarrhea too.

But something really awesome did happen during the examination. I suddenly realized, wait, I don’t let the vet tech hold him, I do the holding during the vet exams. So I got up and took the pouch off and said something incoherent along the lines of, “here, let me hold him”. And put my hands on his shoulders and along his neck as I was going to move them down to hold his front legs. 

She just so happened to be listening to and timing his heartrate at the same time I did this. 

She stared at me in astonishment. She said, “his heartrate went from over 200 to around 140 the instant you touched him.”

What I said was something along the lines of “wow.” What I felt was an urge to cry from happiness. I’ve worked so hard for so long to have him feel safe around me, and to have concrete physical evidence that he indeed does feel safer with me, even just me touching him, was overwhelming.

Now as we were leaving we had to stop to pay, of course. And it was only then that I realized I did not have my wallet with me. Idiot me had left it at home, in my lunch bag. My wallet lives in my lunch bag during the week because all I do is go to work, and the lunch always goes with me, and that way it’s less random clutter in my work bag. Oops. I felt so bad. But they let me call it in when I got home. It helps to be a long term customer. 

I’m at home now. I learned from Saturday and didn’t let Apricot out of the pouch until I had the door to the tvroom open so he could go hide in his preferred hiding spot. Thimble, prevented from being a pain in Apricot’s, well, butt, took out his smelling desires on the pouch. That worked out nicely.


And Apricot just came out so I need to go have Apricot Cuddles with him, as I promised him I would when he emerged.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Apricot’s Okay

For almost a week and a half now Apricot’s been exhibiting scooting behavior, dragging his butt on the floors. But these episodes were always brief and I didn’t really think about it much, other than to note that he was doing it and he seemed to be distressed by it when it was happening.

Fast forward to today, when the scooting became much more persistent and severe and it became obvious even to oblivious me that something was wrong. So I called the emergency vet (seeing as it was Saturday and my vet wasn’t open) and the lady on the line said that it sounded like impacted anal glands.

Lightbulb.

I knew about those. I’d never had a cat with impacted anal glands but I knew it could happen. I even knew it happened more often to overweight cats (like Apricot) and that one of the signs was scooting behavior.  Did I put two and two together by myself? As usual, no. Poor Apricot. I hate it when others suffer because of my brain’s inability to put two and two together and reach a conclusion of four.

The emergency vet suggested I take him to a regular vet that was open on Saturdays and suggested Banfields in Petsmart. For those of you who don’t know this, Petsmart is a store that sells pet food, toys, beds, and anything else you can think of for pets. In the store itself is also a veterinary practice that’s financially separate from Petsmart but physically you get there by going in the store. Some stores have separate entrances and some don’t. 

The closest two Petsmarts in my area were full up so I called the third one. After having a discussion with the veterinarian the vet tech said I could bring him in any time and they’d fit me in.

Why do these things always happen when it’s raining, cold, and I’m sick? I had a sinus headache, day two. And I’d already been out grocery shopping and vacuumed the house that day, too.

But Apricot is important to me, more important than any of that. I put on the kangaroo pouch, put his harness on him and popped him into the pouch. You see, ever since he was briefly adopted and then brought back to the shelter before I met him, he thinks a carrier by himself means that he’s being returned to the shelter. A carrier with the other two cats in it is safe, though. When I have to take him by himself, I don’t use a carrier because it’s traumatic enough for him.

I took his rabies tag with me as I couldn’t figure out how to attach it to his harness, having lost the little metal ring thingy you’re supposed to use for that purpose. Only to find out when we got there that they needed the actual paperwork and the tag wasn’t sufficient. (Then why give me a tag at all?) She said she’d do it this once but next time I needed to bring the paperwork. I offered to email them a pdf of it and that was accepted. I felt bad about that too, not bringing the paperwork. They’d told me to but I thought the tag and the paper were equivalent and the tag was a lot easier to bring.

This Banfields didn’t have a separate entrance and was at the back of the very busy store. I felt bombarded by the people and their pets (mostly dogs) and the noise and the chaotic visuals of all the products on the shelves with all the smells from all the people, the products, the animals. It was overwhelming. And there’s poor Apricot, in the pouch, unable to get comfortable.

The whole ride there he was moving around, trying to find a position he was okay with, shoving various bits of himself (mostly pointy legs and knees and feet) into my stomach. You wear the pouch around your front, you see.

But they were quick. Literally the tech took him back, did the expressing of the glands, and brought him out to me while the secretary person was taking down my information! She said the left one was fine but the right one had definitely clogged. I’d done some research and asked if it was still liquid or if it had gotten to the solid point yet, because I was afraid that since I’d left him for a week and a half with this problem it had gotten past the “easy” point of fixing. She said it was a little sludgy but still okay to express, not infected or anything. 

That was a relief. And they only charged me 27 dollars which for veterinary anything is amazing these days. 

When I got home, he promptly hid under the bed (because I had the door to the preferred spot closed). I opened it and urged him to come hide in the spot he wanted to, but Colby had managed to get under the bed too to pester him and I had to drag him out to give Apricot the chance to make a run for it. 

Apricot actually emerged less than half an hour later and came by to tell me he felt so much better. Thimble promptly pestered him unbearably, trying to get all up in his butt business, that Apricot disappeared under the couch again and this time stayed there for several hours. I called Thimble a bully. About ten minutes later he came and made nice with me and cuddled up to me. And they say cats don’t understand English.

By supper time, though, everyone had gotten back to normal with each other (thank goodness). 

And I can’t believe how many clues I missed as to how distressed Apricot was. He was such a happier cat now, like his old self. He eagerly participated in treat time (which for the past week he’d either skipped or had no appetite for). He wanted held and cuddled and I finally realized he was telling me thank you.

Because I had been apologizing to him for having to take him to the kitty doctor when I know it really sets his anxiety on edge and apologizing for not paying more attention earlier ... and now he was letting me know that he felt so much better and he was okay with the doctor visit since it made him feel better.


I do so love my sweet, fat, orange cat. They say there’s something special about orange tabby boy cats and I totally agree.

Monday, December 31, 2018

I Killed the Fire Alarm

This is a tale that happened over several months early this year (2018). Like over about 6 months of time.

Fire safety: you're supposed to have a fire alarm in every room. The one in the kitchen would go off every time I opened the waffle iron due to the steam from it. This got tiresome, so I would take the alarm in to the next room before cooking.

And then I'd forget to bring it back.

Well, that's not helpful for fire safety. So I decided to relocate it. I put it on top of the fridge. This solved the problem as it was far enough away from the waffle iron and stove not to go off every time I opened one of the two when they were hot and had steam emerge. (Steam and smoke trigger the alarm the same way.)

The refrigerator also had a stack of boxes on top of it, to the right as you look at it. Then there's cabinets above the back half, the way some kitchens are. The boxes were to keep Thimble from jumping onto the counter (which starts immediately to the right of the fridge) and from there to the fridge. So the fire alarm was put on the left side of the fridge.

I promptly forgot all about it, as it no longer went off frequently. I even forgot I'd put it there.

Fast forward several months. Thimble decides that it's possible to leap onto the left side of the fridge from the ground. Not acceptable. He does this several times before I gave up, realizing I wasn't going to be able to discourage him, and instead put a large vase with a fake flower arrangement on the space. Thimble had liked stretching out on the fridge and was put out with me until he discovered that moving the vase meant he could get on the rolltop desk (where the vase had been) and from there, onto the built-in pantry. There's not enough space for him to stand up on the pantry top, but he can sprawl out and vulture the rest of us from up there so that makes him happy.

One day when I was making supper, this horrible noise started. I couldn't figure out where it came from. It seemed to be coming from the microwave? No, the toaster? Both of these things are often in use for supper preparation and both are next to the fridge. The horrible noise ceased before I could locate it.

The cats gingerly came back into the kitchen. I took my fingers out of my ears and finished making supper.

Days or weeks later, it happened again. And again. It was completely random. Always when we were in the kitchen with me making supper but, during the work week, that's the only time I am in the kitchen for any length of time.

I was slowly going insane. I hate noise. I hate loud, high frequency, ear-piercing noise. I hate random screeching noises. It would startle me so badly every time it happened that my heart would literally hurt afterwards.

It happened often enough that I narrowed it down to the toaster. But it's a cheapo toaster. It doesn't have any way to make a noise. It doesn't make noise when it's done or anything. How the ... (suppressed curse word here) ... is it doing that????

And then something clicked. That sound. I know that sound. It's the sound a home fire alarm makes.

Where's the fire alarm?

The next time it happened something else clicked. Remember? You put it on top of the fridge?

I reached up and fished around and found it by feel (I'm not tall enough to see the top of the fridge), pulled it down, and yanked out its battery. The sound vanished.

Hallelujah!!!!

"Boys, boys, come see, I found it, I found it! I killed it, see? I ripped it apart! I killed it!"

Yes, that was me. Out loud, ecstatic, holding up the alarm and the battery, demonstrating to the cats that it was safe, see, here's its wicked heart! (It worked. The cats came back in and from then on were completely relaxed in the kitchen again, instead of being on edge the way they had been since the strange sound occurrences started.)

...

I'm really glad there's no humans in the house to video me and put that on youtube. 

---

So what happened was, Thimble sprawling on the fridge had pushed the alarm back under the cabinets. The toaster sent steam up which was then channeled into the space between the fridge and the cabinets as the cabinets continue over top of where it is. The steam rolled over top of the alarm, and, if there was enough of it, the alarm would go off until the steam went away, and then the alarm would stop sounding. Thus the complete seeming randomness of the sound.

By the way, fire safety be damned. I don't have a fire alarm in the kitchen anymore. It's still killed.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Vet Visit 2018

The last Friday of the year arrived, and time for our annual 3 cat vet visit. I loaded everyone up in the crate same as last year (using the dining room table), opened both doors now that the cats were secure, and carried the crate with all three cats out the house door and put them in the car.
All three of them on the dining room table. Look close!
Usually they don't talk in the car. But someone was complaining. It sounded like Apricot. I figured someone was stepping on him. (I mean, just look at the original arrangement up above.) But no; it turns out Apricot wouldn't have been complaining for a such a menial item. His problem was that he'd needed the litter box and I'd sidetracked him by putting him in the crate, and he'd peed on himself. Poor baby. 

The vet tech helped me clean him up with some waterless shampoo where I held him and she cleaned. Apricot didn't seem to mind the help at all and was actually fairly grateful. Considering his fear of other humans, that speaks volumes to his discomfort. I felt like a terrible cat mom but then again, what could I have done in the car? And he'd managed to mop it all up with his fur so we didn't have to clean the crate at all. 

Of course, when I originally got there it was dark inside and there was a sign on the door. I got out of the car to read it, in the light rain that persisted during the entire car drive, and saw "We've moved, come visit us at such and such a location" and it gave directions. Luckily for me we were (a) early for once, and (b) they'd only moved down the street several office buildings. I did mention several times to several people that it would have been nice if someone had mentioned they'd moved.
What do my wondering eyes does appear but the orange cat too!
After cleaning up Apricot I'd let him go back in the crate. Colby, being Colby, had already emerged to explore this new place and find himself a corner. You see he found it quite quickly. To my surprise, however, Apricot emerged from the crate too after the vet tech left, and explored as well. Perhaps he thought the worst had already happened inside the crate so he might as well find a place outside. Thimble, being Thimble, never moved from the far back of the crate.
Apricot breaks their chair.
Apricot made himself a place by ripping off the bottom of the chair. I apologized when the tech came back in, saying, "I think my cat broke your chair." She said it was all right and was completely un-flustered. This led me to examine things closer the next time we were alone and I realized the bottom of the chair was velcro-ed to it, and Apricot had merely pulled it down. 

The vet tech and I (you know, I should really find out their names so I can stop calling them "the vet tech", especially since there were actually two different people this time) discussed concerns and what I wanted done. The MC boys turned 4 this year, and while they don't usually do senior bloodwork till 6, since MC lifespan is average 10 years, I asked to have it done this year, only to have her tell me that was actually something she was going to ask me if I wanted done. I love it when I think along the same lines as my vet. Makes me feel like I'm doing this right. 

They asked who should go first. I said "Thimble." Here's the reasoning. If you don't take Thimble first, he'll find out what he's in for from whoever does go first. Don't ask me how they communicate stuff so quickly, but they do. And then he'll be even harder to extract from the back of the crate. He is a long, strong cat, and he makes himself even longer when he doesn't want to be pulled out. (I have harnesses on all of them so they can be grabbed/pulled by that instead of a leg or tail, which could cause injuries depending on the amount of battle from the cat in question.) 

So she pulled Thimble out and went off with him. They gave me the option of not taking him and doing it there in the room, but I'm a bit queasy about other people's blood, and someone I'm responsible for is even worse, and in Thimble's case it wouldn't help to have me there. (He looks to me for rescue and when none is forthcoming, attempts to rescue himself. Whereas if I'm not there, he stays confused about the situation long enough to get things done before he starts trying to leave.)

They did vitals while they were back there, so it was a while before they brought Thimble back. I took the opportunity to explain to the other two what was going to happen. I didn't lie. I told them it would hurt. I told them why we were taking blood and that it wouldn't hurt for long. And I told them I have it done, too. 

Now when Thimble left, Apricot decided his hiding spot was not safe and climbed up onto my lap and then back around into my raincoat. 
Hiding behind me.
This is where Pippin hid when he was younger. Yes, I was having some emotional difficulties with that. As well as being amazed that Apricot now trusts me enough to use me as a hiding place. That was not previously the case. 

But since Colby is the most calm of the three and takes being at the vet better than the other two, I sent Apricot next, feeling terrible as I extracted him from behind me. I kept saying, "you need to close the door or we'll never get Thimble out" but it wasn't until I realized that I needed to say "crate door" for the vet tech to know what I meant that she did it. I couldn't as I was pinned down by Apricot. We managed to get the crate door closed before Thimble could retreat into it. 
Thimble is seriously displeased by the closed crate door.
Colby had noticed where Apricot hid and thought that was a most splendid idea so the minute Apricot left, he came over and climbed into my lap and went behind me. It didn't work quite the way he wanted it to. His head stuck out beyond my hip on the one side and his tail wrapped around my waist almost to the middle of my body on the other side. He's quite a bit longer than Apricot.
Colby's head on one side ....

... and his tail on the other side.
Apricot didn't go back into my raincoat even when Colby was evicted for his trip to the vampire; he just went under the chair again into his first hiding place. 
Apricot "hiding" under the chair.
There were two chairs. Apricot was under the one I wasn't sitting in. I was sitting in the one in the corner. Thimble decided that if he couldn't have the crate, he'd have the back corner under my chair. He wedged himself in that corner with much determination. 

After Colby came back, we waited a little until the vet herself arrived. She talked a bit about the concerns I had raised and then did the physical exams. We did Colby first. I usually hold Colby during these exams. He feels safer when he's got his arms over my shoulder and she can get at head, chest, ears, and the back end of him quite well like that, as long as he's still standing on the exam counter, anyway. They q-tipped his ears for a cytology scan. The vet agreed with me that it was weird there was no outer evidence of the distress his ears are in. Just looking at them, they look fine. No discharge or anything. But deep in, where only a q-tip can reach, they are nasty. The q-tips come back covered in black gunk. 

I know this because he actually asks me to do it when his ears start bothering him too much. Considering how much he hates the process, that tells you something that he asks me to do it anyway. The normal treatment ear drops have been tried multiple times but don't work, and I suspect it's because they don't get deep enough. So now I have medicine (ketoconazole, would you believe, just like human dandruff shampoo!) that I dip the q-tip in before I clean out the deep part of his ears. I expressed that I was scared I was going to make him deaf (this is a distinct danger in doing what I'm doing with the q-tips and means usually a vet will not recommend that you, the individual, do it) but apparently they think I know what I'm doing. I'm not sure to be flattered or worried. 

Colby's chosen position. The exam table is right next to his tail.
After his vaccines (he was due for all of them this year) I let him go. He went back into his chosen spot to wait for the others to be done. 

Then we did Apricot. Apricot is too little and fat to be comfortable over my shoulder, but he finds my presence reassuring and I hold him for his exams too. Again, there's very little we can do for his weight. He wants to be as big as the boys since he feels unsettled being smaller, and trying to feed him separately from two others is just ... maybe if I didn't work full-time outside the house I could manage it, but not when I'm so tired all the time and away for so much of the time. 

This year he got a 3 year rabies vaccine. His teeth have mild tartar and he needs to have his teeth cleaned, although after thinking about it I believe I'm going to have it done next year. He had a very bad reaction to having all three vaccines at once the first time I took him to a vet and we'd not given him any since then (as I didn't know which vaccine caused the problem). Well, it wasn't the rabies one. He had some mild diarrhea yesterday, just enough to irritate his butt and make him do the scoot thing. I figured that's what was going on and picked him up and used a cold water-dampened paper towel to clean off the target area (so to speak). It wasn't that dirty, actually. I think it was mostly just irritated and the cool water helped calm down the irritation because he seemed to feel much better after that and didn't go back to scooting.

Once Apricot was put down and Thimble picked up, I opened the crate door because I know Apricot wanted to go inside. Which he did, rapidly. 

Thimble I don't hold, not by myself. It's not that he's aggressive or anything. He's just strong and he's too strong for me to guarantee the vet won't get hurt because I slipped up. So the tech held him and I just was where he could see me and I could reassure him. He's had plenty of physical exams and vaccines so he knows the routine. 

The vet actually told me, before the exams, that my cats are well behaved. I said I bet you say that to all the people. She said, well, no. They had a cat last week they couldn't even touch and she said that "I certainly did not say that to his owner." I shrugged and said, "I guess that's what comes of not lying to them." She had a puzzled look on her face. So I explained further my theory of being honest with your cat(s). If you don't lie to them, they can trust you, so when you say it's going to hurt but only for a short time, they know not to fight it and it'll be over soon, and so on. The vet said that it helps that my cats understand more than most. I felt that I was soon going to be monologue-ing and I shouldn't do that so I didn't go into how to teach your cats to understand English.

By the way, recognition of the fact that I was about to start monologue-ing and restraining myself is a big thing for me. I don't usually notice until I'm fifteen minutes into a one-woman show.

Anyway, Thimble is a nice, healthy cat with only one concern from me. He injured his shoulders making a massive leap onto the bookshelves (I showed her the instagram clip of the leap he normally makes to get onto the bookshelves and said that the one where he injured himself was even farther and higher and she looked like 'wow, okay, I hadn't quite realized what she meant by massive leap'. And then he reinjured himself the minute he felt better. 

We discussed using Onseor (sp?) to make him feel better but I said with a sigh, he'd just do it again and hurt himself again. (That's the only cat-specific anti-inflammatory and oddly, it came out in 2013, the year Pippin had his surgeries. I know quite a lot about it because they gave me some for him after his surgeries and because it was new, explained the "quite a lot" to me.)

So as of now we are practicing benign neglect. I'll keep an eye on him and make sure it doesn't get worse and hopefully he'll be careful since he won't feel perfect. He's not limping or anything. He didn't break anything. Basically I think he hit the ceiling with his shoulders when he landed on the bookshelf (I heard two thuds). And there's a narrow band of heat over his shoulders right in back of his shoulder blades. The vet said most often it's jumping down from places that makes injuries like that but I told her about the fact that he jumps down all the time and never had this happen but it started right after he did that leap and (I think) hit the ceiling so I think it's that and she allowed as to how that was a distinct possibility.
Thimble just wants to go home. He's had enough.
Apricot is wondering just why and how he's no longer in the back of the crate.
Thimble, once released, headed into the crate where Apricot had wedged himself into the back. That's Thimble's spot! So he simply wedged himself into the back on top of Apricot. As he is heavier and the crate surface is slick, Apricot got scooted forward. But as Thimble's tail is much longer and fluffier, it ends up wrapped around Apricot. (This happened last year, too). 
Colby's waiting to go home.
It took a while for the vet to type up her notes about three cats for me to take home, so we were once again alone in the room for a while.

It took so long that Apricot decided to come out and explore again. I asked him what did he think he was doing and we were going to go home soon and now I had two cats to load up before we could leave. Apricot realized I was merely fussing to hear the sound of my voice and wasn't truly upset (because I made sure I didn't sound upset) and went about his business. Actually I thought it was funny and a sign that Apricot was getting braver!
Admittedly this was the extent of his exploration.
When we got home Apricot tried to hide under the sofa and couldn't, because I'd shut the door first thing that morning (I'm not completely incompetent when it comes to impending vet visits!) and I wouldn't open the door till he came out and let me take off his harness. This was because I knew where he'd go and I didn't want to have his harness get caught on the mechanism under the sofa (it has both sides turn into recliners).

So he finally came out from under the headboard of my bed and let me take the harness off and then he had to climb around both boys when I opened the door to the room with the sofa due to the two of them being curious and standing in the doorway.

The boys were fine. They hung around me the rest of the day.
I was on the bed. So they had to both be there too.
And Colby reached out a paw and "held" Thimble's paw.
After an hour or so of quiet time, Apricot came out and was around, too. By evening I had all three with me. And it was calm and nice.
Thimble and Apricot to the right of me.

Colby to my immediate left. (He's leaning on me.)
We all survived this year's vet visit. Despite the rain. And the relocation of the vet office. And my sore arms the day after from carrying the crate.






Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Most Forgiving Cat Ever

Last Sunday I was apparently not quite focused enough on my physical control, because my clumsiness was worse than usual. This did not bode well for my poor Apricot.

When I come in and take off my shoes, Apricot comes over and "helps." Which mostly consists of me petting him with one hand while untying my shoe laces with the other. Last Sunday morning, when I came in from my walk, we proceeded as usual.

I call him my upside down cat at this point because I'm bent over at the waist to untie my shoes (and get a little stretching in on the side) and he really does look like he's walking on the ceiling, if the ceiling looked like the floor.

As I'm untying my shoe laces, I have a particularly stubborn loop that won't loosen. I have to loosen the first set of loops as well as untie the laces in order to get my foot out. Suddenly my fingers lost their grip on the loop and my hand went flying backwards--right into Apricot's nose!

He was greatly offended. Well, actually, first he was frightened and ran away from me. After I went after him (shoe-less now) and apologized profusely, then he was offended. And after more apologies, he forgave me and let me pet him (and I carefully checked his nose to make sure I hadn't injured it).

From there the day went like Sundays often do. Apricot was his normal cheerful, somewhat pesty self -- he has started bumping into my leg on purpose when I'm occupied doing other things, like food prep. I wish he'd quit.

And the day gave up a whole hour in which I could take a nap. I was quite, quite tired, so this was wonderful.

When I woke up, slightly disoriented, the way one sometimes is, I stretched out my arms -- and hit Apricot on the nose. Seriously. He had just then come up on the bed and was walking up toward me, in the exact spot where my hand was moving into.

I rather thought this might be it: the moment in time when Apricot decides I am dangerous and must be treated with caution at all times. The trust he has in me is something I value highly, considering how rarely he gives such trust and how hard it was to earn. And how fragile it is.

I underestimated him. As I apologized profusely to the air -- he had disappeared off the bed already -- his little orange head reappeared coming up the stairs onto the bed again. And he walked up to me (I put my hands down on the blanket and kept them quiet where he could see them) and gave me a head bump and jumped up on the headboard.

Tentative scritches were met with approval. Indeed, there seemed to be no hard feelings, no grudges, nothing. He acted toward me the same way he always does.

I have the most forgiving cat in the world.

But not a forgetful one. He'll still help me untie my shoes when I come home from work, but not when I come in from my walk! (It's not the same set of shoes, which makes all the difference.)

Monday, February 19, 2018

Colby Turns Into A Short Haired Cat

Every year Colby has grown older (this is expected, I suppose). And every year his fur is less kitten-soft and more adult hair. And his adult hair is more and more mat-prone. In fact, the white part is half the silky hair from his daddy and half the cotton-y hair from his mother's line (she didn't have any white on her).
Before the Trim

And the cotton hair is awful. It mats in hours. Literally--I could cut off all the mats I could find and two hours later there'd be just as many. I had to do something. Mats aren't just uncomfortable for the cat; they can cause skin problems and so on and so forth if you leave them to multiply. And like dust bunnies, they multiply.

Sigh. I should be grateful that Thimble grooms himself so immaculately I don't have to worry about him (or even comb him!) and Apricot, also a good groomer, has shorter hair that is not prone to mats. At least only one cat is a problem.

And since poor Colby sucks at grooming himself, it was up to me.

Only ... there was no way I could do what needed to be done. It wasn't like he just needed a bath. I can do that. It's a long process and I hate doing it but I can wash cats. I washed Pippin quite regularly (if you call every 6 months regularly). But Colby needed to become a short haired cat, and that requires the use of clippers, and more accurately, that requires the use of clippers by someone who knows what they're doing. Which isn't me.

Yet I don't want to take him just anywhere. There's the asthma, for one thing. I wanted to take him to someone who I knew had the training and the experience to deal with a cat who might have an asthma attack; and a cat who wasn't quite as strong as his size would lead you to expect (I now think this is directly related to his asthma; he got short of breath when running around as a kitten so he didn't do as much of it, thus not developing his muscles as much as, say, Thimble, who I swear lifts weights when I'm not around).

I was talking about this problem to a friend at work, who chirps up that her sister takes her cats to this one groomer that she really likes, and she (my friend) could get her (the sister) to give her the contact information should I want it.

Yes, please.

Last year (like at the end of 2016) I'd asked my vet for recommendations but she'd given me just a phone number and I hate calling when I have no clue who is at the other end. I prefer to do some web searching as well.

My friend at work got me the contact information and the phone number was the same as the vet had given me (so this person was doubly recommended), only now I had more to go on. There was even a website, so I went there and perused. I liked what I saw, so since I could make an appointment online (all right! No cold-calling phone call required!), I did so.

Since Colby absolutely loves his new hairdo, and came back completely okay both emotionally and physically, I can highly recommend this person / business should you also live in my area and need a groomer. It's Livie's Loft Cat Grooming.

On the one hand, the prices are expensive. On the other hand, they aren't, not really. Colby took two hours to do; and just how much would you want to be paid per hour to wash and blow-dry and comb out and clip or shave a cat? Remember there's overhead you'll have to pay (rent, etc) on top of that hourly wage.

Last Friday he had an 8:30 am appointment. I took the day off and brought him in. He was not pleased to be in the (small) cat carrier in the car and told me so at random intervals all the way there. It wasn't the strident meows Tiger (cat long time ago) was capable of. This was more conversational. Basically he was telling me this wasn't something he wanted to have happen and where were we going and could we go home now please?

He doesn't talk after you take him out of the car though.

Livie's Loft really is on the second floor but you don't go up there. You get stopped at the first landing by a heavy wooden countertop. You can pass cat carriers (with, presumably, cats in them) under the counter and fill out paperwork and pay and stuff on top. I filled out the form and looked around, wondering if I just leave him?

About that time another customer came in, this one a repeat customer. I asked her if I was just supposed to leave Colby. I said I kind of wanted to talk to someone before I left him. She asked if I'd rung the bell.

Me: What bell?

She points.

Yeah, there's this huge white button on the wall to my right, (it's about an inch or more square with a surrounding probably five inch square total installation white rim) with an equally huge sign above it that says "ring bell". In bright red, if I recall correctly.

I was so on edge that I could do nothing but laugh hysterically at myself while I pushed the button. So much for me being observant.

The groomer, a woman, comes down the stairs quite promptly. I tell her about Colby's paw (if you've read Colby the Nine Fingered Cat you know what I'm talking about); his asthma, and his strength issues. And she was very nice and reassuring and all, but I still felt like the worst kind of betrayer as I left him there, with a stranger, to be bathed and have a hair cut.

While I waited for the two hours to be up I needed something to do. Go home? Are you kidding me? You expect me to go home without Colby? Colby the baby? Colby that both Thimble and Apricot consider to be theirs, and Thimble would probably have a thousand fits if I came home without him.

Yeah, no, not going home.
Colby proves that anime eyes are real.

But I usually go grocery shopping on Saturday (the next day) and it's supposed to rain on Saturday but not today, and grocery shopping takes about an hour and a half, and I'm sure I can make it take two hours simply by strolling through the grocery store and perusing the shelves instead of my normal mad rush.

Pro tip: don't do this. Don't try to "waste time" grocery shopping. I spent way too much money. "Ooh, they have this? I didn't know they had this!" Multiple times.

When I came back to get him, he was in his carrier. I had asked her if she could take a few photos for the blog so that's where the "getting bathed" pictures are from. (He looks so much smaller wet!)

She seemed a little startled when I said I wouldn't know if I liked it or not until I saw how he reacted. I guess maybe to most people their opinion matters more than their pet's opinion, but quite honestly, I don't understand that view. To me, it doesn't matter if I like the way Colby looks. If he likes it, that's enough for me.

And he does like it. He loves it. I've seen him groom more in the past few days than I have in the past few months. His only complaint is that he's colder than he was, but he has solved that problem by sleeping with me. (And I'm certainly not complaining about that result.)

She had to shave his tummy due to the number of mats (I am such a bad cat mom. I should have had this done earlier!). And now I believe that cats really do have a natural body temperature of 99-102 degrees (F). His tummy radiates heat.

The rest of him, save his head and his legs--the part that had short hair to begin with--and his tail, which doesn't mat, was done in a "comb clip" or a teddybear clip. It's about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. And he's so incredibly soft and fun to pet. Before my fingers would always hang up on a mat and I'd end up picking at it and he'd leave in irritation. Now we both enjoy me petting him so much more.

I think I will like the visual look better when his tummy's in a teddybear clip too. He does look awfully funny now, though. His head still looks huge but his body definitely shows he's too thin. Perhaps he will eat more now that he's not so uncomfortable? We can but hope.

So if I want to keep him in a teddybear clip, I have to do this every 8 weeks. Let's hope Apricot learns to deal with it better.
Thimble! I haven't even let him out yet!

When I brought him home, Thimble was absolutely fascinated with the way the outside of the carrier smelled. I let Colby out and then had to walk after him trying to get the harness off him for a few minutes, but I succeeded in that and put the harness away.

I looked back and Thimble was sniffing Colby's neck. Although she used all un-fragranced products on him, he still smelled very different and not at all like Colby. And if I could tell (even though I do have that ultra-sensitive nose) you know Thimble and Apricot had it even worse.

Thimble, however, gave Colby a few licks, as if to say, "yup, you're you." and was fine with him after that.

Thimble still loves you, Colby!
Apricot on the other hand, reacted worse than I'd feared. He took one sniff of the carrier (even before I let Colby out) and took off for the hills (or under the sofa, as the case might be). He refused to come out for five hours. When he did, he took one whiff of Colby from a distance of a few feet and ducked right back under the sofa again. It took three days for him to start treating Colby normally again instead of "stranger danger!"
Apricot's checking out this stranger.
He seems awfully familiar ...

It's a good thing Colby doesn't get his feelings hurt easily.
Using his tail to keep his tummy warm.

Colby the Nine Fingered Cat

Okay, now before you panic, he still has all his "fingers." What's he's missing is one of his claws on his front feet (which have five claws apiece, or they did).

Here's what happened.

We had our normal vet visit at the end of December. Everybody went together in one large cat carrier like the previous "all-together" visit, and this worked admirably well. I was able to lift it into and out of the car, carry it to the car from the dining room table and back again, and drag it along on its Cat-allac roll-y thing.

Thimble at the vet.
The other two (including Apricot!) came out to explore.
Being together helped steady their nerves for all three of them, and they were fairly normal in behavior when I got them home. Apricot did his disappearing under the sofa act, but that is normal for him and he came out fairly quickly, just a few hours.
Colby and Apricot at the vet
Colby, Thimble and I were in the kitchen. I was doing something at the counter and Colby was using one of the cardboard scratchers behind me. I turned around and noticed Colby's white paw was all pink striped.

Wait, what? Where'd he get pink on his paws from--oh crap it's gotta be blood.

Next question. Where'd he get blood from? (In other words, himself, or Thimble?) And the big question, how?

He took a step and limped almost imperceptibly. If it hadn't been for something that had happened earlier with Thimble, my mind would not have gone to his claws.

About a week before I'd been clipping claws (I try to do this close to the vet visit in order to be polite to the people who have to handle my cats) and I noticed one of Thimble's back claws looked strange. Like it was only half there. I had brought this to the vet's attention and she said it looked like he'd ripped it partially off, and this did happen to cats (never happened to any of mine!) and since it was all healed up and stuff, not to worry about it.

So now Colby has blood streaking his paw and he limped just barely? I sat down with him and made him let me look. He didn't fight me about it, precisely, but he was extremely reluctant to let me see.

Left front paw, his forefinger (had he been human) was claw-less and bloody. It had already stopped actively bleeding, and when I looked where he'd been there wasn't any on the floor.

So bonus, my cat has fast clotting blood, I suppose.

There wasn't any blood on the floor but there was a completely intact claw, only minus a cat's foot in it. It was equal parts fascinating and gross.
Told you it was gross.

Okay, um, now what do I do? I've never had this happen to a cat before--Thimble doesn't count because that didn't happen where I could see it and deal with it. I felt like a right fool calling the vet half an hour after I left there, but I didn't know what else to do.

The vet's advice was to keep it clean as best I could (given that a cat walks on all four feet and needs to use the litter box and covers their litter box leavings using their paws to move the litter) and make sure it didn't get infected (that would be puffy bright red flesh and ooze; again, gross). If it did get infected, then I had to bring him in for an antibiotic shot but for now he could stay home.

Both Ginger (the breeder) and the vet recommended putting neosporin (or an antibiotic cream similar to that) on his paw. I knew from previous cats that they're allowed to lick that and it's not poison or anything.

But Colby was really reluctant to have his paw messed with, so I left it alone, just checking it once a day. And by two days in, the raw place was filthy because he wasn't cleaning it. Colby and his (lack of) grooming skills. I asked Ginger how to wash it without getting all of Colby wet. She said don't--just put neosporin on it.

Okay, I will, I will. Phooey on him not liking it.

And hey, presto, magic! For Colby disliked the feel of the goo on his paw and cleaned it off, thus cleaning off his wound in the process. I thought to myself, well, that's kind of cool. I'm tricking my cat into grooming himself.
The next day--
Colby's none the worse
for the wear.

Six weeks later ...

Colby's paw is all healed up. He's still got a "please don't touch that" response to that one finger, when I'm clipping the other claws, but it's just a residual. I don't think it actually hurts him, given that his response isn't the instantaneous reflex of pain but the slightly slower thought process of "that paw hurt a lot, don't touch it now."

But the claw shows no sign of growing back.

And apparently, sometimes that happens if the cat has ripped out the entire thing, quick and all.

So now I have Colby the Nine-Fingered Cat.