Roses are pink

Two weeks ago, I had the sadness and the honor of standing in for one of my clients when their very sweet cat had to be euthanized. He spent his last two days in my spare bedroom so I could keep a constant eye on him, and he was treated like a king those two days. He was, however, very ill and suffering, and finally the decision had to be made. I pet him as he passed away, and looked him in the eyes, and wished him a good journey to whatever comes next. I will miss the little guy – he was a sweetheart.

Imagine my surprise this week when the doorbell rang, and the florist’s delivery person greeted me. I was pretty sure she had the wrong address. But my little kitty’s people, grateful for my care of their guy, sent me these:

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An amazingly thoughtful gesture, given that they are grieving as well.

This past week, I had to call another client to let them know their cat was critically ill. Sometimes it is hard for people to notice what comes on slowly, over time, and the pet sitter, who doesn’t see the dog or cat every day, knows something at once that has eluded  the pet parent. I was glad that, this time, the clients were close enough to come home to spend time with their cat, and send him off themselves. I would have stood in for them, but I know their cat was glad to have them there with him at the end.

Tomorrow I take a cat I’ve been caring for to the vet. He was given a few weeks or maybe months back in February, and he has done amazingly well. But he is definitely slowing down, and with two different tumors, we need to be see what’s happening now, and be sure he isn’t in pain.

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Marley and I were at the vet’s today for our dogs’ annuals, and they are both getting up there. Butterscotch, in particular, is showing her age and then some. She’s now deaf, and her eyes are getting cloudy. That on top of her Cushings and arthritis is a challenge to her. Though she loves her daily walk (and I do mean walk…a very slow walk) she sleeps a large part of the day now. Paris, our lab mix, isn’t looking as old, but he’s getting up there too, and the vet noticed that his eyes, too, are getting a little cloudy.

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I signed up for this when I became a pet sitter, but it does wear sometimes. It is hard to lose or be losing these sweet beings, especially when too many come at once. The vet and I were laughing about it today, because there’s not much else to do sometimes. I told her I’m beginning to feel like a hospice pet sitter, and she joked that I shouldn’t take on any new clients over two years old. Sounds good to me. And then again, it is the old ones who need us most. I’m glad to be there for them.  But for tonight, maybe a nice glass of wine and a good book are in order. And a good night’s sleep. I’m sure I’ll feel better in the morning.

Little Piper

Part of my volunteer work with Derry Township Community Cats involves caring for cats that need a little extra TLC for one reason or another. Usually the cats are ill, and need someone with a smidgen of experience with medical issues. But this week I have a very healthy kitten who just needs a place to hang for a week until she can be spayed, and hopefully go into one of the local rescue’s adoption programs.

Meet Piper…

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Piper was sweet and so well behaved her first two days with me. Model house-guest. She’s still sweet, but her true personality has come out now that she’s comfortable. Piper is a diva.

Piper looks at kitten chow, turns up her nose, and waits for the canned food to be served. She will only eat kibble in the dead of the night when I’m not around to serve the good stuff. And she is a playing machine.

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I  introduced her to a cat dancer a couple days ago, and she is obsessed. I had her out of her kitty condo in our cat room with one of our own cats, and she wasn’t too excited about Thomas being in the room with her. But I put her toy about 6 inches from Thomas, and she decided she didn’t dislike him enough to stop her from getting her cat dancer.

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During our little photo session it was impossible to get pictures of her doing anything but playing. You can’t blame her though. She isn’t free to roam all the time, and when she is out of her condo, she makes the most of it. Smart kitten.

She’s gotten to spend some time with the dogs, which was a bit of a shock for her! Luckily neither dog had any interest in her at all, so no threat. She went from Halloween cat, with her back arched and tail fully fluffed out, to lying down and playing with her toys in just a few minutes. If she’s okay with dogs, that will make her even more adoptable.

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If we didn’t already have seven cats, I’d keep her myself, but seven is already too many! She is absolutely gorgeous, healthy, playful, and sassy…she’s going to make someone very happy. In the meantime, until her surgery next Wednesday, we’ll have a little fun with her and gently introduce her to as many new things as we can. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if our 80 lb dog ends up moving out of her way before her time is up here!

And please don’t tell her she’s the subject of my blog…it will totally go to her head!

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Foster Success

My sister, who volunteers with a Golden Retriever rescue group, has a wonderful blog where she talks about the gardens they tend where the dogs live, and the Goldens themselves. She often talks about the “foster failures,” the dogs who go home with someone as a foster-dog, but end up being a permanent household member. All rescue groups have their share of “foster failures,” and that’s a very good thing.

Fortunately, at least for the fosters who have full homes, there are also foster successes, and we have a wonderful one to share! Derry Township Community Cats isn’t a rescue group – we do trap/neuter/return (TNR) and work with area rescues to place cats 99% of the time. But every once in a while, we end up placing one ourselves.

If you’ve followed me for a bit, you might remember the kitten we trapped a month or so ago, the one whose poor mouth and body was full of fly eggs, and all kinds of misery. We thought the poor little eight-week-old kitten had a fractured jaw, but after he got cleaned up and some antibiotics took hold, we think he probably chewed on an electrical chord and burned his mouth, which let all sorts of infection set in.

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Well, he’s doing great, and he gets neutered this week. The vet will get the chance to take a good look at his mouth while he’s under. He did a number on his mouth and he may or may not need more care now, or when his adult teeth come in. Time will tell.

Check out the size of his ears, compared to his body right now…pretty cute!

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Here he is, about four weeks older, and doing great. And the very best part is that we found an absolutely fantastic home for him, one that doesn’t mind if he’s going to need a little extra care down the road. His new pet parents are actually clients of mine, some of the best cat guardians on my client list. And the best part for me is that I get to pet sit the little guy next time they’re away from home. Foster success, and it doesn’t get better than that! This little guy is one lucky cat. (Photos c/o his foster mom, Patricia.)

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Paris

Mystery or miracle?

That was the question I asked our dog’s vet this week: mystery or miracle?

Paris, our lab mix, has licked everything in sight for several years now. Himself, us, furniture, floors, blankets. If he can reach it with his long tongue he licks it…incessantly. The sound of his loud, lapping lick just drives me crazy, no matter how much I’ve tried to ignore it.

 

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That kind of licking is often a sign of stomach or intestinal distress, and we have tested and treated and changed foods and anything else we could think of over the years. He’s had ultrasounds and blood work. He’s been on just about every medication for irritable bowel disease (which he has) and for stomach distress, and the only one that helped at all had neurological side effects. If we have to choose between licking and being able to walk without stumbling, we had to choose being able to walk. Eighty pounds of dog is too much to carry around.

We’ve tried the allergy approach. You try to find a single source protein food, usually grain-free, and a protein the dog hasn’t eaten before. We tried them all over a couple years. Paris was even on a food made from kangaroo protein. No help at all.

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Well, a new pet store opened in town this week and they had a food I hadn’t heard of before. The brand is Verus, and the brand enjoys a good reputation among dog folk. One of the choices was Menhaden, a white fish, and potato. It includes lots of good things that I won’t bore you with, but it is supposed to help dogs with allergies, immune deficiencies, and inflammatory diseases. Seemed worth a try.

We started Paris on it that evening. Gave him a little with his regular food…no digestive difficulties. So I gave him half and half with his regular food, and then went straight new food within 24 hours since he was transitioning without any problem. Not only was he switching over without digestive issues, he stopped licking within a day.

 

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I was pretty sure I was imagining things. But day two on the new food came and went and still no licking, or just the normal grooming licks rather than the marathon sessions of yore (yore being a few days ago). I sent a note off to his vet asking if I was crazy and imagining things, and she doesn’t seem to think so. She thinks that if the main issue for him was stomach distress from his previous foods that switching to something that doesn’t annoy his tummy could stop the licking right away.  Mystery or miracle? “Either/or,” she wrote, “but if he’s not licking who cares?!”

We’re on the fourth lickless day now, and I so hope we’ve found the solution for the poor guy. I’m just sorry we didn’t find it sooner.