Stretching for Animals

No, this isn’t a post about doing yoga with my dogs or cats. It isn’t about exercise at all actually. For whatever reason the universe keeps presenting me with opportunities to stretch my skills to help animals, and another of those has come my way. Last week I learned to give an intramuscular injection.

It all started about a dozen years ago when one of the local cat rescue groups asked me to foster a diabetic kitty. I’d never given an insulin shot before and was given a cursory lesson by the person who dropped off the cat. Feeling more than a little nervous I called a friend who had a diabetic cat and she walked me through giving my first shot. Easy peasy, once I got past the nerves.

Sheyden, my very first diabetic cat

Sheyden, my very first diabetic cat


So the universe decided I was ready for something bigger. Sub-Q fluids. Insulin needles are usually ultra-thin. Not so with those sub-q needles. I have to admit that I don’t use the ones that vet techs use, which look enormous to me. I’m afraid if I use them that everything will leak out of the cat, after I poke a huge hole in her. I know it’s not true, but I use the next smaller size anyway. It takes a little longer to get all the fluids to flow from the bag to the cat, but I don’t feel as bad about doing it. Between a few cats with kidney disease who needed fluids once or three times a week, every week, I got pretty good at the fluids.

So the universe is upping the ante on me now. The needles for intramuscular injections are bigger, scarier. But it’s either learn to do this for our old lady dog, Butterscotch, or take her to the vet each week. And for a dog with lots of arthritis getting in and out of the car isn’t fun, so I’m learning to do her injections at home.  I solo for the first time on Thursday this week.

Butterscotch, as some of you already know, has mobility problems, which aren’t unusual for a dog of her senior years. The injection is Adequan, which helps her joints function better. No miracle drug, but she can walk down the stairs again without sliding the whole way, and her daily walks are more lively and fun for her. She still can’t get up on the bed or couch by herself, but you can’t have everything.


I did the front legs, she says…can you do the back ones?

Giving the shot doesn’t bother me so much, but finding the muscle…there’s the challenge. Butterscotch doesn’t have great muscle tone at this age, and telling the difference between muscle and fatty tissue makes me just a tad nervous. But I guess the universe, and my vet, think I’m ready, so think a good thought for us on Thursday. Butterscotch is probably less worried that I am.



I’m almost afraid to master this for fear that whatever power that be out there will think of something more challenging in the future. Luckily, I think there is a limit to what is asked of non-vet tech types. At least I hope so.

Annie’s Wild and Precious Life

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
Mary Oliver


I haven’t shared much about Annie lately…thought some of you might like an update. For newer folks here, Annie was a very sick feral kitten that I captured and nursed from the edge of the grave back to health over four months. By then it was too late to return her to her colony, so she joined our house full of cats. Having been captured as a kitten of about seven months she is still fairly shy of people, but she loves the cats in the house and is content with her life I think.

We’ve had Annie about fifteen months now, and she has made a bit of progress toward trusting us. Not a lot, but she does the best she can. She is curious about us mostly, and she hangs out to watch us. Very occasionally she allows some light petting. She watches other cats climb in our laps and come to be pet and I think she wants to try it, but she lacks the courage still. We can wait.


In the meantime she is very healthy and active. A little too active sometimes for our largely-senior population! Every once in a while we hear a “correction” being administered by one of the older cats.

Like all formerly-feral cats, Annie is always ready to eat. Having spent her formative months hoping and fighting for food, she never turns down a meal or a snack.



(All of our cats get snacks occasionally on the breakfast bar and chairs so the dogs can’t join in.)

If she were outside still I have no doubt that Annie would be an extraordinary hunter. Her prey instinct remains strong.




When her brothers and sisters are lucky, she targets a toy instead of them. She has loved toys since one of our cats, Thomas, introduced her to them when she was first here and so sick. She still lives to play with anything moving, and that’s the easiest way for me, as a person, to interact with her. She would play from one end of the day to the other given a chance.


We’ve never brought such a feral kitty into the house before, and we’ve had much to learn over the last 15 months or so. I’m told it takes a long time for these little ones to trust two-legged creatures, and I’m here to say that’s true. If you’re looking for a snuggly kitty, don’t go for a feral cat! But she is warming up slowly, and getting closer each month, so there is hope. I doubt she’ll ever be a snuggler, though you never know. My goal for her is less lofty: I’d like to be able to actually put her in a cat carrier for her annual vet appointment this August rather than having to trap her! We’ll see…



A Day at Longwood Gardens

Today’s post is totally off my normal subject – animals – but I have to stray once in awhile, I guess! We spent a rainy day at Longwood Gardens today. Luckily we were inside the Conservatory to see the Orchid Extravaganza, and all the other beauties growing inside. It does a heart good, after a long, grey, dreary winter, to see lots and lots of color. Thought some of you might enjoy a little color too.