Monday, September 19, 2016

It Takes a Momentary Breakdown to Understand What Is Needed for the New Cat

When Roxy cries and begs to go out, she is aggressive and insistent about it. And if she believes she does not have my attention, she pulls all of my papers on my desk apart. And if she needs to go to the bathroom but does not want to use the litter box, it takes a lot of coaxing to get her to use it. Even then, she may not settle down because OUT is all she wants. We have tried fast and furious play time and treats and food and petting to distract her, all of which are only momentary distractions. And if we keep her in one day, and she seems calm about it, the next day, she will demand to go out as if her life depended upon it.

This brings us to last night. Yesterday, she was in the house all day. She had free range of the house and mixed well with our other cats. But she cried and cried last night to go out and I thought, sure, why not. It's not too late. She will go out; I will call her back in 15-20 minutes; she will come back, etc.  All summer long she has worn a pink collar with a bell that someone put on her. Yesterday, I attached to the collar, a tag with her name and our address. I let her out and called her back after 15 minutes, and nothing. She never came back. A few minutes later, I heard the collar jingle and I called out to her but she never returned. An hour and a half after I let her outside, she finally returned home. No collar; a scratch on her nose; and a very wet and runny eye. I brought her in, wiped her eye, cleaned the scratch with Duoxo medicated pads (for pets) and cried.

That was my momentary breakdown. I cried out of fear for her life. I cried because I was upset that the new tag was gone. I cried because she may be hurt or sick and need to see the vet. I cried because I realized she was unhappy with us because we keep her inside.  I cried because I don't know how to let her out safely and let her be happy. I cried because I was afraid she was bringing in fleas and disease that could infect the other cats. I cried because I did not have any answers, only questions, and a lot of fear.

This momentary breakdown, fueled by fear, has happened before. I cried like this when Jimmy originally was not using the litter box in 2010-2011 and often during that long struggle with him before drugs, behavior techniques, and prayer brought the problem under control. (Prayer brought my fear under control, as well.)  I cried like this in the first two months that we had our first cat, Baby, when she would not stop crying to go out, also; when she would also not use her litter box. (Part of the problem was solved with spaying; the rest with behavior training.)

Momentary breakdowns fueled by fear and frustration, when everything you try to solve a problem isn't working, will happen with cats that have illnesses or difficulties and issues.  It's that moment when we are overwhelmed and give up and say I don't know what to do. Nothing works.  It's when I said she needs a better home, a loving home, a home with a fenced in yard she can't leave, a home where someone can let her come and go every hour.  But how can we give up on her and be the third home she has had in three years? If we give her to the Humane Society, how will we know they will give someone her particular information to meet her particular needs? How do we know anyone would do better by her?

Today I read a local story about a man who dumped his puppy on the side of the road. The dog ran after the truck until it couldn't run anymore. For three days, it waited by the side of the road where it was dumped and for three days locals tried to capture the dog. Finally, someone did capture the dog and took the dog home to join their family.  I knew then we couldn't be those people who dump Roxy and hope someone else figures out what she needs.  When I woke this morning, that's when I realized that I had been here before-with Baby and Jimmy-at this place full of doubt, fear, and lack of answers. I found the answers then, and I knew I could again.

Did I want a sixth cat after Myrna died? No. Was the house better off with only five? Yes. If in May when we first met her, and if I had thought Roxy was a stray, would I have taken her to the Humane Society? Yes. But first she had a home; then the owner didn't really take care of her; then she got sick; and then...then it was up to me to solve her problems.

We've taken her in and we are the ones who have accepted responsibility for her care. We must also accept responsibility for her safety. If she had been seriously injured or killed last night, I would not have said "Oh, well. Comes with going out, which is what she wanted."  I would have felt responsible and saddened by my lack of resolve.

We will keep her inside because she will be safer.  We will keep her inside because she will be healthier.  Maybe she needs Prozac to ease her anxieties.  Maybe she can learn to leash walk outside. Maybe we can build a pen even if that still would be too confining for her.  Maybe this will take a lot of time and work.

I never had a breakdown regarding Myrna's illness. Cried yes on occassion. For long periods, no, and more out of sadness but not fear or for a lack of answers.  I think it's because everything with her happened in increments so I had time to find answers. And most of her care was based on meds which were the answer I needed.

So, cry if you need to; have that momentary breakdown but stop after 15 minutes.  Don't give up on your cat. The easy answer is to give up. The hard one is to go forward and find the answers and be the best solution your cat needs.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Roxy and Our House of Cats-A Slow Introduction of the New Cat to Our Home

So, Rox and the cats are getting along well. They've begun slowly mixing this week. She toured the house with us and mixed with the cats earlier in the week. We were worried about Jimmy because he kept hissing and following her. But today, doors are opened downstairs and all the cats are mingling freely all day. There has been slight hissing but nothing so far that has blown out of control. Jimmy did insist on sharing an opened window with Rox but she disagreed and hissed, swiped, and then moved to a new window. (Jimmy stared her down and said "I'm not leaving.") The only one still segregated is Baby because she's been upstairs for a year now, rarely venturing downstairs even though all the doors upstairs are opened. The only door closed is the one between the hallway and living room so that Katharine can't get upstairs (because Baby and Katharine fight all the time.)
My only concern: Roxy has been very anxious this week and demanding to go out more and for longer periods of time. And when out, she disappears for hours, even when called. It's been hard keeping her in because she gets into all of my desk papers, causes a commotion to get my attention to let her out or because it's a nervous tic. Or she goes to the door and paws and cries frantically. At one point yesterday, I gave up and let her out, at which point she ran off and didn't come back for two hours.
So, I've decided she may need medication to help ease any anxiety. I can't imagine letting her out in winter and she is supposed to get over bartonella by staying in and being flea free (even though she's on Revolution, she can still pick up flea mess.) Starting today, I'm giving her a small 1/8 ish or less dose of Valium twice a day. I tried this before earlier in the summer, during a storm. Too little, and she's fine and at ease. Too much, and she's frantic. Today, 1/8 or less was enough to seemingly put her at ease. She needs to be comfortable enough to use the litter box-which is one reason she frantically wants outside. And comfortable enough that she doesn't feel confined; and comfortable enough to become used to her confinement.
Today, it's raining so, while she may want out, I can point and say-"But it's raining. No going out today."

Inflatable Pet Collars at Pet Stores-May Be Easier Than Cone Collars

Inflatable collars for pets at Petco (I'm sure other places and online.) skip the hard to handle cone and try these next time your cat needs one.

Roxanne Gets More Updated Shots; Needs More Later; Gingivitis Linked to Bartonella

September 2, 2016

Roxanne saw the vet for her leukemia and rabies shot. She is responding well to antibiotics for bartonella. So well, that the slight gingivitis the vet thought was due to lack of brushing of the teeth, has all but disappeared. Bartonella causes the appearance of gingivitis by causing the gums to swell. That the gums have decreased, means that her swollen gums were a sign of bartonella and not gingivitis. She returns in a month for a second leukemia and distemper shot to replicate the series she would have received as a kitten because we do not have any vaccination records for her. Next year, she'll get all three again (rabies, leukemia, distemper); then the following year distemper will be every three years. And as long as she goes outside, she will need an annual leukemia shot along with annual rabies. And since I've not heard back in two weeks from her so called owner, even after I informed her that Rox had bartonella and tapeworms and needed meds, I decided to microchip Rox. At least this way, her vet is listed and my contact information is listed.