Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy birthday Loulou!

A special mention has to go to our beautiful Loulou who turned 16 on 18th January. She's as sweet and gentle as ever, and is finally finding her feet in her new environment, getting bolder by the day. Happy birthday sweet Loulou!

Pix (clockwise from top left) show Loulou at five weeks old, at 10 weeks old (both with brother George and sister Stripey), at 14 years old, and at 3 years old (with brother George, RIP 8.3.09, still missed dreadfully)

Kitty smörgåsbord

For weeks on end we held our breath every time Jeffrey sniffed at a dish of food. Many times he would look like he wanted to eat, but then would not. We suspect that was because he felt nauseous. Seems CRF cats suffer from acid in the stomach as the kidneys are less efficient at removing toxins. The vet prescribed famotidine which helped to an extent, but what really seemed to work was us, trailing Jeffrey around the house with a zillion dishes of different food all day long. When he finally started to lick some gravy, we stood stock still and kept the other cats away to ensure that absolutely nothing distracted him.
When he later
actually started eating solids, we were jubilant. Even now, every time he eats, it feels like a major victory. Now he eats little and often. He even has his very own open buffet, which sometimes the other cats (and dogs, when we're not looking) like to visit (Curtis in this case, see pic left). In addition, we still present different types of food to him all day long, and he usually eats at least some of it. It's so much more than we ever could have hoped for. Long may it continue.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kitty ups and downs

The cats have taken much longer to settle down than the dogs, but finally now they have all found their territory within the house, and are enjoying long naps in the afternoon sun. They have also taken possession of their new 'kitty kondos', which are keeping them active till we can build them a proper, 'coyote-proof outdoor' enclosure.

Unfortunately we've had more ups and downs with Jeffrey. After a battle with Spencer, who seems to be trying to become 'topcat', with somewhat limited
success (i.e. none of the others are really that interested), he got an ear
abcess. As a result he started to feel ill and stopped eating, which brought on a second episode of acute renal failure on top of his already chronic renal failure (CRF). Another three days of IV fluids at the vet then. The vet was initially not at all optimistic, implying that the kidneys had stopped working altogether and that the bones were starting to weaken. We however knew that Jeffrey was not done yet, so requested another round of fluids. The vet was "game" to give it a go, but it was obvious he was not particularly optimistic. Lo and behold though, three days later, Jeffrey's recovery was "remarkable", according to the vet, "about the best" he's "ever seen". Elated though we were, we were not really surprised. Like I said, we knew he wasn't done yet.

Having said that, it was an uphill struggle again once we got him home. 18 hours after his return from the vet he started to crash again, having stopped eating and drinking and just sitting stock still in the 'meatloaf' position. It seemed like it could be the end after all, I was in despair. Our wonderful vet tech Vo saved the day and came round to administer a dose of sub-cutaneous fluids. Within minutes Jeffrey was up and about again, running around, demanding food. Enormous sighs of relief all round, as the reality of the rollercoaster ride that is looking after a kidney cat began to set in.

And so we began our struggle to encourage Jeffrey to start eating again. We bought just about every type of food in the shop and every flavour. Eventually we settled on two or three that he actually like, but he would only lick the gravy. He was so painfully thin by this stage, just a bag of bones. We went to the supermarket deli and bought fresh roast chicken and turkey, and were astonished to discover that he liked the turkey and would devour large quantities of it. One might argue that this type of high protein is not ideal for a cat with CRF. However, we were just thankful that he was showing an interest in food again. Gradually his weight and strength started to increase again, as did his interest in life. Now, two months later, he is looking the best he has done in a long while, and is showing increased energy by the day.

Pilling him twice a day and doing the subQ fluids is not a walk in the park by any means, but we are all getting better at it and refining our techniques with the minimum stress to all concerned. Jeffrey does not enjoy these sessions but the pilling takes less than half a minute and the fluids just a few minutes. So not too bad in the grand scheme of things. What amazes me most of all is that he never holds it against us. He still trusts us and never bears a grudge. Once it's done it's done and we are all back to a clean slate again. I hope he knows we're trying to help him.
(Pix from top: Loulou, Mini Me, Jeffrey, Curtis, Spencer & Finlay)

Jeffrey and Curtis wonder why they make these things so small

Dogs on the rocks

Time has been flying and everyone is well and truly settled in now. We have taken the dogs to the dogpark several more times, and also out on the trails a lot more where they meet other dogs and people. Roxy, Bertie and Daisy all take it in their stride now, but Louis, as ever, is still the problem child. Since he got jumped on by the neighbour's dog he has started to behave aggressively when other dogs approach him. So we do not take him into the dogpark yet, just walk him round the outside where he can see the other dogs and get used to them without having to worry that they will attack him. It's a long process, and an issue we really could do without.

He chased a deer up onto the ridge the other day and was having so much fun did not bother to respond to my calls to come back. So eventually, fearing he would repeat his disappearing act from a few days prior (where he ran off into the brush for an hour and could/would not be found), I scrambled through the trees, rocks and bushes to get him, with the other three obediently in tow. When we finally made it to the ridge, there was so sign of Louis. We trolled down several deer paths with no luck, then suddenly there he was, leaping around obliviously about 20 metres in front of me. Astonishingly he obeyed my frantic screeching to stop and wait and I was able to get him back on a lead. Moral of the story? Louis still cannot be trusted offlead.

In other news, the dogs were mightily unimpressed with the tornado that ripped through southern California two weeks ago. Trying to get them to go out in the pounding rain was quite the challenge, although they always seemed to enjoy it once they got going. Although they did not appreciate the hailstorm that rained down on us at one point...

Wet weather seems to have brought out the ticks and Daisy especially is covered in them, Frontline or no Frontline. The first one I ever found, on the back of her neck, took an hour to get out, simply because she could not quite bring herself to trust me not to hurt her, based on past experience with whoever hurt her before. Eventually, with the aid of some nice treats, I was able to persuade her that removing it was in her best interest. Since then, tick check has been a daily pleasure for her. She loves to roll over and let me pick them off her and will allow me to do so for as long as is necessary. Sometimes she even comes back for more. It's an amazing turnaround. Wish I could say the same for Louis, but he still gets snappy. The trick is to wait till he's up on his rock, overlooking the canyon. Then, when he's totally distracted, he'll let you pick off as many ticks as you like and will barely even notice. Bertie and Roxy, it goes without saying, are no trouble at all.