Archive for the ‘cats’ tag
… summer, that is. Hi there, summer is gone, it’s fall, and where did the last three months go anyway?
Work has been very busy. Stuff at home has been very busy. It feels like I haven’t really sat back and relaxed enough to appreciate the summer.
House and garden
The two big trees in our front yard really were hit hard by last year’s drought, so in June John decided to take down all of the dead branches in order to give them as good a chance at recovering as we could give them. “All of the dead branches” turned out to be a lot of branches indeed… both trees lost a significant portion of their canopies, and I am still getting used to the fact that the front yard is much less shaded then it used to be.
The garden did great…is still doing great. The tomatoes are almost done at this point, but I am not going to complain too much, given that we have been pulling 10-15 pounds of tomatoes a week out of the garden since mid-July. The green peppers, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, and eggplants are still going strong, however. We will probably be getting peppers and eggplants for at least another month. The only thing that we really botched with this year’s garden was the plant spacing. It is really difficult to move around in the garden, as the plants have all grown all over each other.
For John’s birthday weekend (this year was the big 42) we went to Cedar Point for a couple of days. We had been talking idly about wanting to go to Cedar Point for a while, and decided that it was finally time to stop talking about going and actually go.
I can remember staying at the Breakers when my family went to Cedar Point for a vacation when I was little, and John and I stayed there when we went this summer. Being right in the park, it was really convenient, and the early admission for hotel guests was also nice.
Going when we did – right after the 4th of July holiday weekend – was a good call, because the park was not quite as crowded as it might otherwise have been. I think that the longest that we ever waited in a line was maybe 45 minutes, the first time that we went on the Millennium Force. Most of the time we were in line less than 10 minutes. It was great. It was also a touch rainy in the evenings… a couple of quick bursts of rain here and there, but not enough to get us to go back to the hotel. However, the rollercoasters (and a couple of other rides) don’t run when it is raining… they stop wile it is raining and once it stops, they run a test through to make sure that the tracks and brakes are safe, and then resume. So the bursts of rain were great for clearing out the crowds and eliminating the lines in the evenings.
We went on every ride at the park. (Seriously, we had a checklist.) Many of the rides, especially the rollercoasters, we went on multiple times. Okay, we went on all of the rides except the kiddy rides and that one ride that is basically just pretend driving a model-T car around a fixed track.
It was an awesome vacation. Something we should have done a long time ago. Now we need to go to King’s Island (down near Cincinnati) for comparison. And more rollercoasters.
It has been almost seven months since Merlin died, and almost five months since we adopted Vena.
You can tell when Vena is really enjoying being petted, because her eyes roll back a little bit, her nose starts to run, and she starts to drool. It is simultaneously adorable and kind of disgusting. She doesn’t purr very loudly, not like Merlin (Merlin’s purr was like an idling diesel engine) but she loves attention.
She is getting slowly cuddlier, and if I am lounging on the couch reading or watching TV she doesn’t need much encouragement to jump up into my lap. It does take her a little while to calm down and get settled once she is there, though. And god help you if you try to hold a book with one hand and pet her with the other. She doesn’t appreciate the divided attention, and has been known to bite at the book (or tablet or phone) in order to ensure that all attention is on her. Once she is settled, though, she doesn’t mind if you read while she naps on your lap.
She is still a bit wary and shy around John, and won’t stay on my lap if he enters the room of joins me on the couch. It will just take time.
This is Ravenna.
She came to us with that name and I think that we will keep it, but as it is a pretty big name for a little cat, we call her “Vena”, or just “Baby Girl”, for short.
And she is practically a baby, at just over a year old. The rescue group that we adopted her from think that her mom was dumped while she was pregnant (and I don’t really want to think about what kind of terrible person would dump a mother cat and tiny newborn kittens) and they were all found and brought to the rescue when Vena and her siblings were about a couple of weeks old.
- The little plastic ring that you get on milk and juice jugs.
- A string on a stick
- The milk-jug-ring combined with the string on a stick. This is the best cat toy ever.
- The very top perch of the cat tree
- Kitty treats
- Did I mention food?
She is seriously food motivated, and if you are preparing food or eating something, then she wants to share. At least until she figures out if what you have is something she likes or not. This has included pasta, pasta sauce, butternut squash soup, bacon, cheese, bread, crackers (with and without spread) salmon, chickpeas, spinach, rice, barbeque pork… and most of what she tries, she likes. According to the vet, although she is in good health and up-to-date on all shots, she is underweight, so we are pretty much letting her eat whatever she wants, and as much of it (within reason) as she wants.
- Being picked up
- Being pursued. She prefers to come to you, she isn’t always comfortable being approached
- Any cat toy that we spend money on. As opposed to milk jug rings, crumpled bits of scrap paper, hair ties, and the pen that I am trying to write with. You would think that we would have learned this particular lesson with Percival
- Catnip. What the hell, kitty? I thought that all cats went gaga for the ‘nip
- Having her feet touched. Sorry little girl, but you are going to have to get used to us handling your feet and clipping your nails
She follows me from room to room a lot. When I come home, she runs up to the door to great me.
She has a little bit of separation anxiety, in that if I am at home, she doesn’t like to be separated from me, and closed doors between me and her seem to stress her out. If I go to the bathroom or go to take a shower, she is guaranteed to be sitting right outside the door waiting for me to emerge.
She sleeps on the bed with us, but waits until after we are asleep to join us.
She is not very cuddly yet. She will jump in my lap and demand attention by head-butting whatever I happen to be holding, and shoving her head under my hand. But she is still pretty skittish and is not quite at the point where she is relaxed enough to just curl up in my lap for long periods of time. I can, however, occasionally persuade her to sit on my lap if it is mid-afternoon on a weekend, and no one else is around. (She doesn’t like to stay on my lap if John joins me on the couch.)
She and Percival get along just fine.
She is doing a good job of settling in and getting used to us. She’s a good little girl.
She is a very good girl, and a little sweetie… but she doesn’t make me miss Merlin any less. I still miss Merlin a lot, every day. And Vena is in no way a replacement for Merlin. She is just herself, and that’s good enough.
2013, and in particular the past couple of weeks, has been pretty rough at our house.
On January 29, Merlin had what we thought was a stroke. She lost all use of her right front leg, couldn’t (and didn’t really want to) stand up or move around, and was obviously in pain. We took her to the urgent care clinic where she received a tentative diagnosis of heart disease and a blood clot, an appointment the next day for a specialist down in Cincinnati to confirm the diagnosis, and (most important) painkillers for Merlin so that she could rest comfortably.
The next afternoon, the specialist ran a number of tests, among them x-rays and an abdominal ultrasound, which revealed that while Merlin’s heart itself was structurally sound, but that there were masses in one of her lungs and in her abdomen near her heart. So not heart disease, but cancer. And the episode the night before was a neoplastic embolism… a little chunk of tumor breaking off and entering her bloodstream. Pretty advanced cancer. I was crushed. We were crushed. We left the specialist with a handful of medications and the gentle instructions to take a few days to “consider our options”.
We had already pretty much made up our minds that we were going to go the supportive/palliative route only. At Merlin’s age and condition, surgery and/or chemotherapy would have been pointless torture, and we just wanted to keep her as happy and comfortable as we could, for as long as we could. In addition, the specialist warned us that Merlin could have another neoplastic embolism at any time, and that the next one would almost certainly be the last one.
In hindsight, the start of this was not what happened on January 29, but earlier, just after New Year. Merlin had suddenly started limping on a hind leg, and when I brought her in to our vet, they found a lump on her back leg. They said that it could be a bad infection of inflammation, and gave her an antibiotic and a steroid injection. They also told me that they wanted to keep an eye on it, and that I should bring Merlin in again after a few weeks, and that if the lump was still there, they would have to start thinking about testing for cancer.
It seems obvious now that the first neoplastic embolism was in early January, and the second was on January 29.
We thought about our options (while continuing to give Merlin painkillers) and after a couple of days went to see our vet to go over what we needed to know for Merlin’s care. We started her on steroid pills (2 a day, along with 1/4 a pepcid pill) which might shrink the tumors and would certainly ease any pain she was in and kept her in the painkillers (the vet told us that as long as she was limping, she was in pain). We set up food, water, and a litterbox for her in our bathroom. She started to get a little bit better, though she wasn’t venturing much outside of our bedroom, our bathroom, and John’s office. Occasionally she would come downstairs and sit on my lap in the evening.
Then we found out that John’s Grandfather had had a bad fall and broken his hip. And I found out that my Grandma was in the hospital with pneumonia.
John’s Grandfather’s fall and broken hip exacerbated some existing health issues (to the point where the broken hip was actually the least of everyone’s worries) and he ended up going into hospice care.
On Thursday morning, February 7, John’s Grandfather died peacefully.
My Grandmother did end up getting out of the hospital, but in this case, unfortunately, “out of the hospital” does not equal “doing just fine now”.
We went up to Kalamazoo that weekend. Because of the logistics of Merlin’s medications and several other factors, we brought her with us. She seemed to be doing better, but she wasn’t eating much. (This worried me a lot, since “not eating” was one of the things that our vet had told us to keep an eye out for.) She handled the ride up to Kalamazoo like a champ, she didn’t mind being confined to the spare room where we were sleeping. She slept in bed with us, she purred, she got a lot of petting.
And then she didn’t do well at all on the ride home, and started sliding downhill that evening.
Sunday was also when (as far as I can tell) she stopped eating. She was refusing her wet food, and treats, and tuna, and bits of cheese. All favorite foods.
She stopped purring, and didn’t seem to care if we were petting her. She cried when we picked her up. It looked like she had given up.
Tuesday evening, February 12, we brought her to the vet for the last time. It was a hard, hard choice, but I couldn’t stand for her to be in so much pain.
And I miss her so much. The house feels empty without her here. I keep expecting to see her on the bed, or the back of the couch, or sitting on my desk chair…
And at night when I can’t sleep, my brain plays the “what if” game. What if we realized what the problem was in early January? What if we started her on medications sooner? What if there was something else I could have, should have, done? Could her last days have been made better somehow? Did I give her enough of a chance? Would she have improved any if I had decided to wait another day or two? Was she really ready to go? What if what if what if? Was I as good an owner as I should have been? Did she know how much she meant to me? I know that I shouldn’t beat myself up or dwell on things like this, but I can’t help it… because she was my companion for 18 years, and now she is gone, and there is a hole where she used to be.
John’s Grandfather, as per his wishes, was cremated and was interred next to his wife, John’s Grandmother, in a private ceremony.
Merlin was also cremated. John made the arrangements, because I wasn’t able to. He brought her home again on Friday, and we put her urn on the mantle in the living room, where she can keep an eye on things.
You were my pet for 18 years, just about half my life.
It is going to be a long time before I stop looking for you around the house, before I stop expecting to feel you jump up on the bed when I am getting ready to go to sleep, before I stop listening for your voice, before I stop wanting to pet you until you close your eyes and start to purr.
I miss you.
Last weekend there was an orchid show at the Cox Arboretum, so John and I walked over to check it out.
The orchids in the show/exhibit were spectacular.
Those are some of my favorite photos, and the rest are here on my flickr site.
I like flowers in general, and have started to like orchids in particular since getting into the Nero Wolfe mysteries by Rex Stout.
In addition to the orchids that were part of the show and exhibition, some of the orchid breeders/growers also had orchids for sale.
And I was tempted. I was really temped to ask around to find an orchid that would be easy for a novice to take care of, and get one to bring home. I like flowers. And I would like to be able to have flowers around the house.
I ended up not getting an orchid. I know how it probably would have ended if I had gotten one – it would have ended with a shredded plant and multicolored flower vomit on the carpet, courtesy of one or both of the cats.
I don’t know what it is about the cats, but they have eaten or otherwise mangled every single plant and flower that have ever been brought into the house… with a few exceptions. Those exceptions being the potted clementine in the kitchen (cats don’t like citrus, plus the clementine has some formidable thorns) and a couple of succulents (I guess that the cats don’t like chewy leaves) in the library.
It is probably just as well. It the cats didn’t kill an orchid, I probably would have. I am not the best about taking care of plants that need more the benign neglect in order to survive.
When we took him to the vet the last time for his routine check-up, we mentioned that his eyes had been pretty watery and weepy for a while. I thought that maybe he had a cold, or was allergic to something (because cats can have allergies too), or that Merlin had been whacking him in the face too hard or too often. So it was a little surprising when he came back with a diagnosis of a chronic eve condition.
We have a bottle of dietary-supplement-goo that we have to give him twice a day for the rest of his life. The label on the bottle claims that the goo has a “delectable taste”, which must be a flat out lie. It doesn’t smell delectable, and from the way that Percival reacts when we dose him, I am pretty sure that he doesn’t think that it tastes delectable either. The best way that we found to get it in him (and we pondered all sorts of different delivery methods, including mashing it up with some tuna and trying to get him to eat it of his own free will) was to essentially pry his little mouth open and shove it on in.
I squirt the dose onto a finger, John holds Percival and gets his mouth open, and then I swoop in and stick my finger in his maw, wiping the payload off onto the inside of his cheek or far enough back in his mouth on his tongue that he can’t spit it back out. He is not appreciative, but his eyes do look a lot better after a couple of weeks on the dietary supplement.
We also have a tube of “eye-drops” for him. I say “eye-drops” because it is actually a tube of ointment, and there is simply no way that we can smear ointment on Percival’s eyes. We have enough trouble with the dietary supplement. Eventually I will get back in touch with the vet and request actual eye-drops, but since the supplement seems to be making such a big difference, it is not a very high priority.
Most of the time the cats act like they can’t stand each other – Percival chases Merlin around and antagonizes her mercilessly in an effort to try to get her to play with him, Merlin rebuffs all attempts to initiate playtime and hisses and growls when Percival dares to step near her – but the secret is that they only act like this when John and I are around. During the weekdays, when we are normally at work and out of the house it is a different story.
Yes, they spend most of the day sleeping on the bed together.
Last night I woke up sometime very early in the morning to the sounds of something scrabbling around in the master bathroom. I didn’t know what it was, but I was sleepy and in no mood to get out of bed to investigate, so I dismissed it as “one of the cats playing”, and fell back asleep.
This morning, we couldn’t find Percival. He shows up sometime during the morning shower-coffee-computer routine for a little bit of petting and playing, so it was unusual for him to be AWOL. Then I remembered the scrabbling sounds that woke me up the night before, and went to check the bathroom window. The screen was loose and pushed out a little bit.
When we open the windows to let in the breeze, we open them at the top, and only open them a couple of inches at the bottom. This is because Percival likes to reach up to the windowsill, hook his paws in the opening, and haul himself up to look out. Sometimes he will try to squeeze his head into the opening. So, we try to keep the bottom of the windows open only a few inches, so he can’t get out.
The window in the master bathroom is kind of small, and about 4.5 feet off the floor, so we weren’t as worried about it. How could Percival get all of the way up to it?
Well, he did somehow.
And the garage roof runs under the master bathroom window. The scrabbling that woke me up must have been him trying to get back inside after he squeezed out and the loose screen closed behind him.
Long story short, and happy ending.
John found him again pretty easily. He had gotten down off of the garage roof somehow and was huddled up under a piece of plywood next to the shed.
The window in the master bathroom is now open only about a half-inch on the bottom.
Percival tried to follow me out onto the back deck this afternoon, so it seems that he has already forgotten how freaked-out he was by the wet, pre-dawn, outdoors this morning.
Does the Nexus One have a nice camera? Yes, it does. My current mobile (Pantech Duo) has a shitty camera. Even the cheap clamshell phone that I had prior to this one took better pictures.
As one does when one (or at least me) has a new camera to play with I ran around taking a lot of photos. The plants, the house, the cats… lots of photos of the cats. Mostly because they can’t really complain about the paparazzi treatment, all they can do is ignore me or walk away.
They aren’t great photos, but they are fun photos.
There are more at my flickr site.
Don’t think, however, that if I got a Nexus One that I would abandon the DSLR. Because I wouldn’t. But I probably would start to take and post more photos on a daily basis because the Nexus One makes it so easy and quick to do so.
For Christmas this past year, my Grandma gave me one of her antique glass pieces. This piece, in fact. A yellow, covered candy dish that her mother (my great-grandmother) had owned and that my Grandma could remember being used around the house when she grew up.
I like antique glassware, and I like antique glassware that has a family story attached to it even more.
The dish is on display on my coffee table (the cats are very good about leaving it alone) and is usually filled with pistachio nuts.
When my folks visited last weekend, they brought John and I an Easter basket with Paska, Kolache, sausage, red horseradish, some chocolate, and a bag of pink and yellow and cream colored Jelly Belly jelly beans.
I decided that I wanted to be festive and put the jelly beans in the candy dish. Then I decided that I liked the way that the late-afternoon light looked coming through the living room windows and shining on the glass, and decided to get out my camera. Then Percival came by to see what was going on.
Here is one of the dish sans kitty.