top 10 reasons I haven't posted since october fifth: number 10

Health problems.

Okay, so it's really one of the cats who has health problems, but how much sympathy would that garner? I had your attention there for a second, right? The rest of this is going to be me whining about the cat, so if you'd like, feel free to wait for number 9. Cat sick. Next.

Still with me? Here's Annabelle's story.

One morning, about 7 years ago, I woke up with an overwhelmingly maternal urge. As in biological clock was clanging non-stop at decibel levels equivalent to Chewbacca being torn up in a jet engine as it revs for take-off. As this was not the first time this had happened, BG was quick to look for the antidote that had worked so well 2 years prior-- a mewing bundle of kitten fluff for me to cuddle and mother. The first one, Savannah, he had found at the local SPCA. This time, having learned last time that I'm not a good candidate for taking to the pound, especially if you are hoping to walk away with only one animal and a minimal number of tears, BG began his search in the classifieds.

Free To A Good Home: Only one kitten in the litter left!
And she was exactly what we were looking for, complete with ultra pounce mode that kicked in when you dangled a peacock feather in front of her. The clanging in my head stopped. We two + two cats = a happy, contented family.

Fast forward a few months.
The scene: a bathroom shower, Anywhere, USA.
The cast: A smelly little kitten, two fully grown adults determined to rid said cat of said smell. Everyone knows this is unlikely to end well.

What we didn't realize at the time is how un-well it was going to be before it was all over. It goes without saying that she didn't like the shower much. But we got it done with little injury to human or cat and had her out on the floor, toweling her dry in record time. And then she had a seizure. A stress induced seizure, we found out. Because showering cats? Yeah, that tends to stress 'em. And some cats? React to stress with seizures. Okay. Lesson learned.

Fast forward a few more months.
The scene: somewhere near the kitchen, Anywhere, USA.
The cast: A not-so-little kitten with heinously bad breath and one adult determined to cast out the cat halitosis.

Guess where this is headed?
Yup, seizure. Turns out? Cat's don't like having their teeth brushed anymore than they like showers. But this time I noticed that she had these open sores on the inside of her lip. So we called the vet and booked another appointment. The vet hemmed and hawed and finally admitted that he had seen nothing like this in all his 15 minutes time working with animals. His assistant suggested that it might be an advanced allergic reaction. Possible, but unlikely, scoffed the doctor. We must boipsy! There must be tests! And bloodwork! 45 katrillion tests, biopsies, pokes, prods, and office visits later (to the tune of $cough!gasp!sputter!), he trailed his finger down the edge of the paper and sagely nodded, "Looks like a classic case of eosinophillic granuloma. In laymans terms, your cat has an advanced allergy."

But wait! There's more! Turns out that this advanced allergy can be to just about anything. Fleas, pollen, grass, dust mites, corn, beef, air. And diagnosis was just a one-way ticket to get on board the love cruise we like to call "testing". Have you ever tried to test a cat for allergies? Pause, for just a minute, and consider.

We moved from California to Texas soon after the initial diagnosis and our nitwit vet suggested to us that the change in locale might be just what the doctor ordered (read: I don't know which end is my head and which end is my ass, so if you want to get this cat some help, it's probably best for you to find another vet.) And we found a great vet, one that specialized in feline allergies and began testing and life was good. To the tune of $cough!gasp!sputter! every time we bought a bag of cat food. Because, you see, often the allergen lies within those $8-$10 bags of cat food that can be purchased at your local grocery store. So to be sure it wasn't a simple food allergy, our initial step was to switch her to specially formulated cats foods. Duck & Pea! Venison & Potatoe! And if those don't seem to do the trick, we'll try her on Kangaroo! We didn't get as far as the Kangaroo, but I kid you not, it was an option! Oh, and did I mention that since we have two cats in the house, it was $cough!gasp!sputter! times two? Because not a trace of the old, possibly allergen ridden food could be in the house while we were attempting to rule out food allergies as a possibility. Never mind that it could have been any of the the miscellaneous flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, or river rats frequenting our walls* that she was allergic to. No, no, keep the house free of corn!

Meanwhile, we discovered that she needed monthly steroid shots to boost her immune system, coupled with other shots and antibiotics and I-don't-even-remember-what-else-we-tried to heal the lesions when they occurred. She grew contented with the purr of the engine under her cat carrier as we made our regular trips up and down town in search of a cure.

2 years of fun and frivolity later, we made the move from Texas to Pennsylvania. Where, within 3 months time, the damn cat was miraculously cured. We kept her on a weekly steroid treatment, just to insure that no other mysterious ailment would compromise her immune system and make her susceptible from another (still unknown) allergen attack. She had a couple of flare ups -- small lesions would appear and we'd up the dosage (per doctor instruction, of course) until they disappeared and life would resume it's normal course. And life was good. Especially since she was now eating the $8-$10 bagged cat food again. We could even overlook that she had picked up the annoying habit of not being able to eat any of the remaining food in her bowl if she could see so much as a millimeter of the bottom of her bowl through the gaps in the kibble. Now we could afford to buy enough kibble to keep the bottom of the bowl covered! We could cover the entire floor with kibble and STILL not approach the cost that we were once outlaying to keep our two furry friends fed! Kibble here! Kibble there! Kibble, kibble everywhere!

Which might be why it took so long for me to realize that something had changed. Now this is the part where I worry that the SPCA might show up on my doorstep as soon as the cats arrive and take them off my hands. Suddenly the kibble consumption seemed to be out of control. And the barfing, ack! the barfing. I heave at the thought of the mornings when I would trip lithely down to the kitchen in my barefeet only to have toe meet spew at the bottom of the stairs.




Blame it on the boy, the move, whatever. I just got into the habit of wiping it up and going on with my day. And since our cats seem to prefer toilet water to the nice, clean, fresh water that I put in the porcelain bowl beside their food dishes everyday, I didn't notice one of those classic symptom -- excessive thirst. Which, it turns out, leads to that third classic symptom -- excessive urination. Which I had noticed, kind of. In truth? I thought the reason I was having to empty the litter box more often was because LG had recently discovered that if he turned the trashcan in the powder room upside down, he was at the perfect height to reach the sink. Under which resides the litter box. Good for hours of splashing (and, I thought, scooping) entertainment! Turns out? Excessive hunger, thirst, and urination + old age = feline diabetes. Which? Means twice a day insulin injections for the rest of her life. And? Hooray, special food! And? Those special little pills that I give her once a week? The steroids that keep her immune system nice and strong? Contraindicated for diabetes. Instead, it looks like we'll get to switch something of the once-a-day-horse-pill variety. How does that sound for stressful? You know, for our cat with the stress induce seizures.

Free to a good home. We kept our part of the bargain.

*I swear it was a nice house. It's just that the combination of being built in 1907, with the San Antonio River as your backyard and a pier & beam foundation leads to some interesting, uninvited house guests. We even found a baby opossum on our porch one night that had clearly mistaken the underside of our house for a jungle-gym.


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