Thursday, April 29, 2010

More Kitties

I've been having more calls lately about our program at the hospital. Fortunately, it's not getting too overwhelming - and I'm kind of excited that we're going to be able to do more. Then again, tis the season of baby cats.

We're trying to come up with some sort of protocol concerning the homeless cats that don't reside in our town. When we first started the program, we planned on focusing on this town, but homeless cats are everywhere. I'm for spaying and neutering any and every cat that does not have a typical home, but Dr. R may have to approve each situation.

The donation definitely makes an impact, as well. I suggested that we have a "suggested donation" and reserve our free spots for those who truly need them. We'll see.

I start a new job this May, so I will only be working about 20 hours a week at the animal hospital. It will be a weird change, but not unwelcome.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kind of gross, but...

I saved one of Julie's nails to take a picture. The bloody middle part is where it had started growing into the paw. Keep in mind that we clipped after the quick - this is not the whole nail, just the over-grown part. (I actually just held the nail up to my own cat's claws to make sure I wasn't exaggerating, but yes, the blood marks where the nail had been embedded into the paw.) I had thought that about a third of the ingrown part would be involved, not half of it! Horrible, painful, very much cringe-worthy.

T ended up clipping the nails to save the owners the cost of an exam and a nail trim. The poor kitty was an angel for the trimming. Didn't make a fuss in the least. Fortunately, the back claws were not like the front ones - they were long, but not even badly curved.

I soaked her feet in a chlorahexadine solution right after the trim. Her paws were bleeding, but thankfully it was controllable. The paws didn't look infected, but T and I are not doctors, so when I called the owners to let them know how things were going, I suggested that they take her to their vet. The wounds are deep in her paws and I'm sure can be easily infected.

After soaking her feet a couple of times, I placed her in a cage in the cat ward. I took her home while on my break and brought some of the chlorahexadine for the owners to use during the next few days. I also grabbed some shredded paper to use as litter, not knowing if they had a paper shredder.

I told them to keep her indoors for at least a week, soak her pads a couple times a day until they look like they are healing, preferably keep her in the bathroom with a clean floor for at least the first couple days, only shredded paper litter (hopefully she uses it), to keep an eye on the wounds for infection, and most importantly, to take her to the vet. I can trim nails and clean wounds, but I don't know how bad is bad. And I don't want to be pretending I do.

They were such a sweet couple. I think I wrote that they are an older couple, but I realized yesterday that they're really not that old - maybe 50's. So they don't get to use old as an excuse. = ) I really liked them because you could tell they had genuinely not noticed, which is horrible, but better than noticing and not caring. As soon as it was pointed out, they were trying to figure out when we could take her and get it taken care of. They were perfectly willing to pay for the trimming/cleaning, but T said not to charge, so no worries there.

And they baked me chocolate-ship cookies, which made me feel all old-fashioned/ neighborly/old-timerly.

Oh, and Julie has the most croaky, pathetic meow. It's kind of funny. They said she's always talked like that. I love cats with silly voices.

Speaking of silly meows, here's my squeaky-man-Noms resting near the ceiling. They quite like being up so high. Great vantage point. The windows are in direct view, which is an added benefit to being up so high. Actually, I think he's looking out the window in the picture.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Pet sitting has been incredibly hectic this week. The couple I am working for lives a half hour away from me, so between work and feeding my cats twice a day, I am driving more than two hours a day. Singing in the car helps. I've only almost killed myself while driving twice (not related to the singing, however).

A little grey kitty with a bright pink collar ran up to me as I got out of the car yesterday. "Oh no," I thought. " A stray cat." It's very hard for me to leave these animals on the street when they are sociable with humans. I called the woman I'm pet sitting for to ask if she'd ever seen the cat before and found out that she does indeed have a home. With the neighbors.

I got out a can of food from the car and the little girl ate it up fast. She's not starving, as I initially thought with dismay, but really likes canned food. However, the reason I'm writing about this particular cat is because when I noticed her nails, I about had a freakout. They are fully curved around and growing into her pads. Very thick and horrible looking.

When I called Snoopy's owner, she had said that the neighbors are not the most informed pet owners. But very nice. She told me to just take the cat over and ask if I could trim her nails. I immediately went over with the cat in my arms, nail clippers in my bag. They weren't home, though, so I called and left a message.

On closer inspection of the nails, I realized that I do not want to trim them. Doing so is going to make the pads bleed and I don't want her pads to get infected because I don't know how to clean them or tell the owners how to take care of them after. In my message, I told them I would love to be able to take the cat (named Julie) to a groomer or hospital to have her nails trimmed where they would be able to clean her pads properly and inform them of what to do after they've been trimmed. They are an older couple and babysit their grandkids often and I really don't want Julie's nail issue to get overlooked due to time constraints and caring for little children.

When I noticed they had been home for a couple hours, I went over to see if they had gotten my message. I was afraid they were going to think me judgmental/be defensive/not allow me to help. They were wonderful, though. I explained to them that some cats' nails grow differently and you have to trim them more. My three cats, I could probably trim them 4-6 times a year and they'd be fine. My parents' cat, you have to trim them at least every 2-3 weeks or they get thick and start to curve inwards.

I told them that at first I thought I could trim them myself but wouldn't feel comfortable doing it when they're growing into the pad. I gave them T's number for grooming but later realized that not only is she super busy right now, she doesn't usually get back to her clients right away. I let them know I could also just take her to the hospital with me tomorrow morning when I go to work.

After trying to get a hold of T to make an appointment, the woman called me back to tell me that they may ask me to take Julie with me tomorrow.

I already called to make sure I can bring Julie in tomorrow morning. I hope that her pads are not infected and that it will just involve clipping and cleaning the pads. She has got to be in pain but is super sweet and let me pick up her paws and look closely at her nails. They are seriously the worst I have ever seen. The tips of the nails are embedded in the paws, no doubt about it.

Let's hope all goes okay and that I can bring her with me tomorrow to get this taken care of.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Quick Recovery

I set Stranger free Monday afternoon, hoping that he would be able to recover well. I had Tuesday off, but am scheduled on Wednesdays, so I made a point to see how the Stranger fared. Armed with three bowls of cat food, I shooed Jehzar away from the fence (he finds it necessary to greet me by running through the fence). Setting the bowls down, I watched as Stranger made his way over. No noticeable swelling (his paw/leg was huge on Monday) and no noticeable limp (he hadn't been putting pressure on it at all, gingerly laying down to rest before allowing his leg to make contact with the ground). Which is AMAZING!
I am very excited and relieved to see that he is doing much better, even just two days from treatment. Also relieved that we could help him, since daily care really isn't an option.
P.S. No sign of the fox since that one sighting, but possibly a new cat in the area, a mostly white one? Haven't seen him/her yet - one of the vet techs noticed the cat. We'll keep an eye out...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stranger Gets Bitten

Friday, Stranger was fine. Saturday, Stranger was limping. Dr. R had some time, so he said if we could trap him, we could bring him in. We put the regular trap out, but the cats are too smart and stepped over the trip plate to eat the food. So, no trapped cats on Saturday. (I need to figure out how to lengthen that thing...)

Sunday was Sunday, so no doctors. Monday, I brought my new drop trap in to attempt to trap Mr. Stranger. It would have been a bit easier if we had the right traps, but I didn't want to see him suffering. I set the drop trap up and waited, hoping I wouldn't hurt any of the cats.

Torrini was the most adventurous, being the first to enter and eat most of the food. I realized I had brought too little food out, but after he left, Pickle went in to inspect. I immediately dropped it on him, as he has been limping for months. However, I had forgotten the anchor, and Pickle was able to lift the trap up enough to escape. *sigh* Good job, huh?

I went back into the hospital for more food and to find something to use as an anchor. T had an old car battery sitting outside, so I grabbed that to use.

After putting more food under the trap, I sat back down on my blanket and waited. Torrini went right back in, and Jehzar followed. Stranger finally, slowly, made his way over, being ever so cautious. The three of them spent some time eating. I didn't drop the trap because I really didn't want to have to deal with all three in the trap at once. Also, Stranger's tail was sticking out, and though the trap has a slightly curved side to allow tails, I didn't want to risk it.

Torrini left first, Jehzar following close behind. As soon as they left, Stranger seemed to move a little closer to the food bowl, and his tail assumed a new position, so I dropped the trap immediately. I ran over with my blanket to cover the top, which calmed him down greatly. I grabbed the regular trap and had to spend a couple minutes figuring out how I was going to get Stranger in it without him escaping through the sides. (I don't know why I didn't figure this out previously)

I ended up grabbing a nearby cinder block to place on one side, and putting my foot on the trap to weigh it down, I grabbed the car battery to block the other side. The trap I used has a door that, propped open, sticks out a few inches. Placing it in front of the drop trap's door allows the cat to escape on the sides, because you cannot place the doors flush with each other. Hence the need to block the sides. (We're supposed to be getting a trap with a sliding door to be used with my trap, but it hasn't been ordered yet)

With both blocks in place and my foot still holding the trap down, I held the standard trap's door open, but ready to release as soon as he ran in. I slowly opened the drop trap's door and in he ran. I immediately let the box trap's door shut and covered it with the blanket. Then we went in to see the doctor.

Turns out he has a couple bite marks on his leg and paw. They tried to drain it, but there's no abscess, just severe inflammation of the tissues. They gave him an antibiotic shot that lasts for two weeks (forget the name of it) and soaked his paw in (forgive my spelling, it's probably incorrect) chlorahexadine. Blue stuff to clean everything, I believe? We updated his rabies and gave him a dose of revolution. He looked very healthy, though, no fleas or earmites (I think they gave the revolution in case of worms) and weighed 10.5 lbs. Nice coat, too.

I wonder who bit him? And in the paw???

After a few hours, I returned him. I hope the shot works and his paw is feeling better soon. Now we just need to get Pickle again! And use a stupid anchor! = )

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I feel that each type of animal/breed has certain qualities that you simply cannot ignore. Yes, some are exceptions: there are some beagles who don't need to get into everything. There are labs who are quiet and laid-back. There are tiny dogs that don't constantly yap and cats who don't scratch much. But when you are considering bringing a new life into your home, whether that life be human, feline, or canine, you need to do your homework and make sure that this new life is the best fit for your family.

It can be difficult at first to figure out the exact qualities you want in a "pet," but it is possible. If you want a "family" dog, do you want a dog good with younger or older children? One that allows lots of physical affection? Easily handled? Lots of energy? Who barks when people come to the door? Good with strangers/the kids' friends? Gentle on the leash? Listens even with a bunch of commotion?

Training is super important, but you cannot train animals out of certain qualities. You need to be considerate enough to pick an animal suited to your home. Not the cutest bunny in the pet store or the prettiest cat at the shelter, but one that will be able to share your life in the best ways possible.

For example: when I am able to adopt a dog, I want an older dog. Why? Because older dogs have less of a chance at adoption. BUT, I can't adopt just *any* older dog. I need a non-yappy dog. A dog that doesn't view cats as prey. Shy is okay, b/c I can respect his/her boundaries and work slowly. Laid-back is a must, because I spend a lot of time working/reading/writing. Good with other dogs is preferable b/c I would love to take him/her to work and join in playgroup.

But when you are picking out a puppy/kitten, you may not know much about that particular animal because of their limited time spent on the earth thus far. So you need to be able to determine which breed(s) are best suited to your situation. Qualified persons can help you choose which baby may fit best with your life, but overall, this baby is still a baby. So you need to be familiar with breeds and the needs of each species.

I hear much about people adopting bunnies because they're so *easy* to take care of. But they're not! They may be a bit smaller than the average cat, but they should be taking up just as much of your time. And cats are not necessarily *easier* than dogs, either. I believe they need just as much exercise (and attention)- and just as much space! It's simply *easier* to forget about the needs of a bunny or cat or bird than it is a dog's.

Anyway, back to my original reason for posting: declawing. As I said before, when you bring an animal into your home, you need to have done your research on that animal. In case you weren't aware, dogs bark. Some dig, all have to go to the bathroom at least 3 times a day, and they all certainly need COMPANIONSHIP (whether that friend may be another dog, cat, or human). And if you want to bring a cat into your home, make sure you know that the litter box needs to be scooped daily. That they need exercise as much as dogs. That they need companionship AS MUCH AS DOGS (whether that is another cat, dog, or human). And, THEY SCRATCH.

Unfortunately, many kittens are declawed every day. It's considered a routine surgery, along with sterilization. Kitten goes to the vet, gets spayed, declawed, microchipped. Package deal. But the thing is, even if you WERE just taking the claw *out*, it STILL would be cruel and unnecessary. Cats scratch as dogs bark. It is simply part of their nature. How dare we think we have the right to take something as essential as that away from an animal? Declawing has NO benefits to the cat, only many detriments. I won't go into how declawing is a wholly negative life-long experience for the cat, as you can find that information elsewhere. MY problem is that when you get a cat, you need to be aware that the fuzzy feline is GOING to scratch somewhere. He may scratch your furniture, your doorways, and may take a swipe at you every now and then. If you don't have the patience to train a cat where to scratch or the ability to allow some of your possessions to bear claw marks, then don't get a cat!

I don't want to sound harsh, but if someone were seriously considering debarking their chihuahua, we would consider them cruel and inhumane! Barking is annoying, yes, but you can't just debark a dog! Scratching is annoying, yes, but you can't just amputate the last digits off their paws because it suits your lifestyle!

Do people who declaw know that they are electing to have the digits AMPUTATED? That bone is cut off so that the claw cannot grow back? Since when do we amputate ANYTHING if it is not necessary for the patient's health???

These poor cats have to live with this cruel and unnecessary treatment for the rest of their lives. If someone is not prepared to take on the WHOLE cat, then maybe that person shouldn't be taking the animal in the first place?

I know there are a lot of "But..."s to this, but it's late, so I'll address my own at another time. :)

Refreshing the straw

I went out to the cats' huts Monday afternoon to replace the straw from last fall. I was afraid it would be moldy/bug-infested/smelly, etc. I was also worried about mites, as a fox had been seen climbing out of the little igloo and looked like he had a problem with loss of fur aka possibly mange? Now, I am the first to admit that I know little about wildlife. And I'm sure most of the information passed down is far from correct. But I've read and heard that many foxes have mange and I really really really don't want scabies. (Not sure if I need direct physical contact, though, or if it's possible to transfer the mites through non-bodies, so that's where my "research" has come up short...)

I headed out wearing a hospital gown, gloves, and sunglasses for eye protection. I first tackled the small igloo. Scooped out all the straw and piled it between the houses for added insulation. The very bottom was a little damp, but overall, it still seemed quite dry and odor free. Which is good to know, considering all the rain and snow we've had/been having.

The large igloo was a bit more difficult in cleaning out. I didn't want to disturb the tarp over top (and the straw between the tarp and igloos) but wanted to clean it out as well as possible. In retrospect, I realize I should have gone back for the rake. Or shovel. Either would have been much more helpful than the long stick I used to pull the straw towards me.

I must have looked a sight with my odd garb and using a stick as a shovel. All five of the cats just sat there and watched as I destroyed their nests. I wish I had brought my camera, because they seemed to be watching me as if I was some crazy entertaining show. But goodness was that straw DUSTY!!! And I definitely forgot how much straw I put in there. But I was so afraid of them freezing to death (actually, I would have preferred if they could have had a little fireplace built into the igloos, haha) that I just piled that straw as high as I could.

Straw is great, because each cat can make their own little molded nest. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the large igloo's straw smelled fresh, no dampness, no mold either.

Bugs, however, I am not sure. Some bugs are a bit small for me to detect, not that I really want to be out there inspecting the straw for fleas and mites.

Each of the houses seems to have good and bad qualities, so I can't really say which may be the best. I know that the super expensive insulated house SEEMS to be used the least, but that's really only going on the lack of footprints and "nests" in the house's straw. I've seen the two igloos used the most (cats frequently going in and out), probably because their type allows a better use of nesting and snuggling. Both of the wooden houses are built so that you can't really pile the straw in there.

I am pleased to know that the straw does a good job of keeping the cats warm, but also that the houses are not allowing too much moisture in.

After spending about 45 minutes in a swampy, wooded area, however, I am full of bug bites. So far *what I've read* has me feeling pretty certain I did not pick up some mites, but if my bites intensify, I'll have to have it checked out. The bugs love to chomp down on me anyway, so I'm sure they were simply delighted to feast on someone with significantly less fur than a cat. But I think I'd have to have direct contact with an animal that has mange? So I remain hopeful. = )

Thursday, April 01, 2010

"Blogging Policy"

Yesterday at work, we received a new "blogging policy." After reading it through, I realized I would need to go through my posts to see if I needed to change anything. Fortunately, I've used initials for most persons, and where I forgot, I simply changed them back. Also, although it may be simple to figure out where I work (I haven't named our hospital or organization, but probably other specifics), I'm sure no one really cares *that* much to figure it out. I do only have a few readers.

However, I really don't want to get "talked to" about my personal blog. I heard that this has come about because a person within the hospital network posted pictures of a questionable nature taken inside their workplace. And another was complaining about their work on some social networking site.

The only areas in which this policy affects me is that I cannot post pictures taken within the hospital or of our organization's events and I have to make sure I don't say negative things about my workplace or coworkers. Not that I do anyway, I know that this is a public blog - but I wonder how nit-picky they'd be... Is it safe to mention dissatisfaction with certain issues? I guess we'll just play it safe here. = )