I am not a veterinarian

I take it as a compliment. People consult me all the time, especially about their cats and occasionally dogs, wondering if I can tell them what ails the critter in question. Or whether there is something they can give – holistic, herbal, OTC stuff, whatever – that will solve the problem they’ve self-diagnosed their pet with. (Bless Dr. Google.) I do know more than the average pet parent because of all my years of care for my own animals, for people’s pets, and with the trap-neuter-return program. But what I have learned repeatedly is this: I am not a vet. I’m not even  a vet-tech. And those folks are far more qualified to give advice when it comes to health issues for pets.

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m as guilty as the next person of consulting Dr. Google. I’ve just learned to take that with a very large grain of salt. At best, I’m coming up with a guess, and I’m wrong as often as I’m right. Whenever I’m talking with a vet about a sick animal I try to make sure that they know that my Dr. Google search was just a starting place, that I’m not married to whatever I happened to find. Is that blood in the cat’s urine a urinary tract infection, a problem with the bladder or kidney, or maybe stones or crystals, or something else entirely? Beats me. That’s what the various blood/urine/x-rays are for, and only the vet can order and read them.

My best advice when your pet is sick: pay attention. That’s what I try to do best. That’s what your vet needs from you too. Is the animal acting differently than usual, and if so, how? What about the four biggies: are they eating, drinking, peeing, and pooping? Has anything changed about any of those four basics? Has anything changed in the pet’s environment recently that might be affecting the situation – new people, new food, people leaving, new pets, change of furniture, anything! Does the pet seem to hurt anywhere?

Don’t get me wrong. I am truly flattered when folks consult me about health issues, but I almost always start the conversation by saying I am not a vet!  I’m likely to ask the questions above, and suggest they share that info with their vet, who knows a whole hell of a lot more than I do.

 

 

 

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Ready, Set, Go…Trapping Season 2017

We’ve gotten an early start on the trapping season this year. The winter was so warm that the female cats were in heat in January…very unusual for these parts. Kitten season will no doubt start early too. We trapped our first cats a few weeks ago, and are getting ready for another clinic this coming week.

Some people exercise to release those endorphins and get a natural high. Those of us who trap cats for TNR programs get a huge high from actually getting our cats. Cats are smart creatures, and actually managing to get them in our traps is sometimes tedious, frustrating, and ultimately, very satisfying.

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Don’t get me wrong. I feel for the cats, even in the midst of my adrenaline rush. We usually have to withdraw food for a day in order to get them into the traps, so they’re hungry, and they are scared to death in this box that will be their home for up to a week. The towels that we cover them with help, and give them some sense of security, but let’s face it…this is a scary experience for the poor things.

We call trapping weeks “spa weeks” probably in part to alleviate our guilt for the kitties. But we do all of this, ultimately, for the good of the cats, and to prevent more kittens from being born outside in harsh conditions. Not to mention preventing the poor female cats from being pregnant endlessly, up to three times a year. It has to be hard on a cat’s body to be pregnant for two months, nurse for the next two months, and then get pregnant all over again. Then winter comes and the reproductive process takes a break, but only if it’s cold enough outside. You’ll rarely get a feral cat to come live indoors. The transition is more than most will ever manage. The best we can do is keep the numbers of cats who have to live outside as low as we can.

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Sometimes, in the TNR process, we also encounter dumped cats…cats that folks thought they could just toss away when they moved or no longer wanted the cat. We’ve got one of those this time. The poor thing was so hungry she ate four bowls of food last night, and she’s a purring machine. She got herself a dog crate instead of a trap for being so friendly, and if it keeps up, we’ll see if she can go into an adoption program instead of back outside. You have to wonder what gets into people that they think cats are throw-away items.

You never know what you’ll capture during a TNR trap week. We’ve spayed/neutered/vaccinated over 900 cats since December 2012 at this point. Might hit 1,000 this year. But the surprising thing…maybe the good thing…is that we haven’t been getting many calls for TNR help so far this year. It’s early…I’m not counting any chickens, or any cats for that matter. But it would be fabulous if our work is resulting in fewer cats who need our services. That’s the ultimate goal.

In the meantime, it is “here kitty, kitty!” On the list this week is one cat with an injury, and we can get him vet care and his neuter all at the same time, and hopefully make his life a lot easier. We have three of the seven on the schedule for this week at this point. Hopefully tonight a few more will decide to come hang out with their buds.

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Snow Dog!

This is our first winter with Bodhi, and today was the first real snow we’ve had. Bodhi is overjoyed! Who knew we had a snow dog? He’s like a six-month old out there, even though he’s around five. He’s had a banner week, running in the fields with the bells, and now the snow. And the snow is pretty safe for a blind dog running…many fewer obstacles. I don’t think he could get much happier! Here are some photos…not very good ones…but tried to get them before the sun went too much further down. I have much to learn about action shots still.

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Wish I had half his energy!

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Vanessa: The Next Stage

It was both a sad and a happy day today. Vanessa was accepted at the Helen O. Krause Animal Foundation, into their special needs room for cats, where she can continue to recover. Today we took her over to continue on to the next stage of her journey, one that hopefully ends with her getting a wonderful furever home.

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She had a wonderful vet visit just yesterday. She is walking soooooo much better, and we are all optimistic that she may recover fully given some more time. She had gained two pounds in two weeks, so her hips – that were sticking out wildly from her body when we first got her – are now just looking scrawny instead of emaciated. She needs another couple pounds, but she is definitely eating and putting the weight back on.

She’s also getting some muscle mass back. She actually managed to escape from my office a couple evenings ago, and get herself down a flight of stairs before I realized she was off and about the house. Give her some more time, and I expect great things from her.

She was pretty scared being transported today, and cried the whole way over to the shelter, which kinda broke my heart. I think she thought she was home for good, and she was pretty happy in my office. She has a lovely room at the shelter, and will get to mix with the other cats as she adjusts. In the meantime, she has a cage that is bigger than the dog crate she had here, and tons of windows and light. When the temps get warm, if she’s still there by then, she will have an outside deck to hang out on. There are about a zillion cat beds and trees in her room. Life is going to be very sweet for her.

DTCC is not a rescue organization, so we are incredibly grateful for partners like the Helen Krause Animal Foundation, that help us put cats in a situation where they will be able to get great homes. I am going to miss that sweet little girl, but one of my blogging buddies will be keeping an eye on her and sending me occasional reports. Seven cats of our own is plenty for now, or we might have thought of keeping her, but we have a couple bullies in the house and a tipsy cat would be a bad match for them!

God speed, sweet Vanessa. I hope you worm your way into some really warm-hearted, lovely person who will treasure you for all your days!

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Blind Dog Running: Bodhi’s Bells, Part 2

One of the most difficult things to arrange for Bodhi is serious exercise. He gets four walks a day, and that’s great, but he’s only 4 1/2 or 5, and dogs that age want to RUN, and running is a problem for a blind dog. We don’t have a fenced yard, and even if we did there are way too many obstacles in the back yard for a blind dog. Twigs, and small indents in the ground can be major curses for a dog who can’t see where he’s going.

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But we found a way to give Bodhi some running time this week, and he had a blast. Some of you who’ve been around awhile may remember that a wonderful dog trainer in Sacramento recommended using bells to train Bodhi. I wrote about it here. Bodhi absolutely loves the bells – he’s very sound-oriented. And the bells mean “come here for a treat” to him.

We have a field nearby that is really flat and safe for him, and we often take him there on a 30 foot lead to wander. He wanders around for 20 minutes, and he enjoys it, but I wanted to see if he could run there. Off Marley and I went, silencing the bells in my pocket and hiding the treats, and we put Bodhi on the lead to wander. When he got a good bit away from me, the bells came out, jingling away, and Bodhi turned and broke into a run to come to me, a huge smile on his face.

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(This is a photo from the only other time he went running, but I couldn’t do the bells and the camera at the same time!) Once Bodhi had his treat Marley would call to him and off Bodhi would go, and then I’d call him to me on the other side of the field, and back and forth we went. Bodhi was one happy (and tired)  boy.

Making Bodhi happy makes us happy too. Who knew that an inexpensive pair of jingle bells would be such a gift?

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Vanessa Update

Some of you may be wondering how Vanessa is doing. (And, if you’re not, just skip this post!)

She’s doing very well, thankfully. She is still wobbly, but she can stand on her back legs and put her front legs up on things. She can’t seem to hop up on anything, but she did use her back legs to “climb” a pillow to reach the radiator and window sill the other day, and she used those back legs on the pillow to get herself down too. I was impressed!

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She’s a big fan of feather toys, and it’s fun to watch her play. She hasn’t moved around all that much until today, but she’s more active this afternoon and that’s encouraging. We want to see her using and strengthening those muscles. I had a hard time getting photos today as she kept following me around. Very cute.

Thanks to an amazing blogging buddy here on WordPress, Vanessa landed herself a spot in a great shelter that has a special needs room, and they adopt out special needs pets as well, so paws crossed that she will get herself a really good home as time moves on. And if she ends up recovering from the wobbles, even better. She has one more vet visit Tuesday for her vaccinations and medical clearance, and hopefully she’s off to her new home on Wednesday. Details to follow!

She continues to be an utter sweetie, and even puts her paws up on my legs looking for pet while I’m working at the computer. Very people oriented, but she didn’t seem to mind any of my cats when she saw them either. Bodhi startled her a little…don’t know if she’s ever seen a dog or not! But she recovered quickly. She’s going to make someone out there very happy.

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