Sunday, October 14, 2007

George's Adventures at the Vet

Not to be left out, George decided it was time for him to see the magical place Andrew gets to go to every two weeks or so. But, since he didn't want to be a copy cat (hee hee), he needed to find a different ailment, so after racking his brains, he went with the tried and true for all orange male cats - peeing in undesirable places (i.e. anywhere outside his box). And having gotten mad at another orange male cat for something that turned out to not be his fault, and actually was a precursor for something horrible, I thought "better to get him checked out and then, if there's nothing wrong, I can get furious without the guilt." So Friday night, off we went.

Unlike Andrew, George is one step removed from feral cats and can get MEAN so we warned the vet ahead of time, and, in true cat fashion, he was a doll. He let her poke him, squeeze him, look in his ears, eyes and mouth, without a murmur. After describing the symptoms, she is pretty sure he is reacting to a stray cat outside, and to him, he is not doing anything wrong but is actually marking his territory. A male tomcat's turf covers the area of 10 football fields. While I would love to say that my house had sufficient room so George wouldn't feel cheated (since he's not allowed outside), it doesn't even come close to one football field, let alone 10. So, George, poor boy, is trying to mark his tiny turf anyway he can. And since I very cruelly removed the glands necessary to actually "spray" and mark his turf before he was 5 months old, he can't even do that properly.

What it comes down to is we have to get rid of the outside cat. Now, I would like to point out that I have gone against every instinct in me, and NOT fed or done anything that can even remotely be looked at as encouraging the outside cat. I wish I could put up a sign that said "No Thanks, we have 4 already" or "We gave at the Humane Society" or the like. But this cat obviously never went to school and is also very ill mannered in that he insists on coming around where he is definitely not wanted. (Can't get more obvious than a huge orange blur throwing himself at the glass door whenever you enter the yard.)

It was suggested that we contact animal control, whom I'm sure are going to be overjoyed to get the call at 11:30 at night, since this cat is a night owl. Or maybe get a Have a Heart trap from the Humane Society. But what happens if we trap the resident opossum? or worse, if we trap our overly comfortable squirrels? But we do need to do something. George needs to go back to his comfort zone of being King George, Despot of the house. To be sure there is no underlying problem, the vet drew blood and urine for horrifically expensive tests that hopefully will tell us that there is nothing wrong. And then, I can yell and scream at him to my heart's content, until we either get past this or he sends me to the loony bin!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

To the Vet AGAIN!

Andrew's problems persist. Last night he was crying and pacing so we brought him to the vet again. From LBI (over an hour away from his vet). On Sunday again! The cat is addicted to emergency vet services. He is a very high maintenance creature:)

We got to the vet at 7:45 AM, an ungodly hour for a Sunday, and he was seen almost immediately. Then we had to wait for two hours to see the doctor, who was worth the wait. She had spent time with Andrew and took a lot of time to explain things and make sure we really understood what she was telling us. Then she went to give him subcutaneous fluids and we waited for another hour. While we were waiting, Helen heard a tech saying she had just had a cat arrest on her. Logically you know it can't be your cat - your cat is young and healthy and only has one tiny thing wrong with him. Emotionally, you are sure it's yours and that they're torturing him. However, after what seemed like an eternity, a tech came out carrying him and he was fine. Very happy to see us and very anxious to go home. He has to go back on his medicine and he now gets special food, but he is with us at home where he belongs, even now asleep in a sunbeam.

Friday, September 28, 2007


One of the jobs Andrew set for himself is patrolling the perimeter of the house. He takes this job VERY seriously and can not be disturbed while working. He takes great offense to being spoken to or, heaven forbid, being picked up during working hours. He goes from window to window, keeping an eye on those no-good outside animals, te be sure no one is getting too close. However, he has a habit of falling asleep on the job, at which point, the squirrels and birds get so close, they're practically tapping on the window. I never said he was any good at the job....
I just wish the poor cat could relax - you can see how stressed he is:)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Other Residents of the House .... Part 3

Gretel is the 4th and final cat in our happy household. She came to me from one of my sisters who adopted her, had her for a few weeks, and realized that she was allergic to Gretel's ultra fine hair. So poor Gretel Asparagus (yes, that is her real name) had to leave the lap of luxury and single ownerhood, and move into the slop house where there were two cats already residing. Can you see how UPSET she is about this? About 5 months after Gretel came, I lost Theo, a cat I'd had since college, and then it was down to two. She very quickly took over as the alpha male, even though George is about 3 times as big as she is. However, everything has worked out very well, even after I joined forces and abodes with my sister and her two cats. There is really very little discord, except when Andrew is on one of his wildings, in which case, the other three rally against the whirling dervish to try and slow him down.
Gretel's fur is like grey velvet. There are different layers of color to it and it is so rich. If you look very closely at her in real life, you can see that she has stripes around her tail of a slightly darker grey. She loves to be brushed - absolute ecstasy! She is a cat of routine and god forbid you start something and then decide you don't want to do it anymore. Right now, she sits on the bathroom sink in the mornings until I'm done showering, and as I brush my hair, I have to brush hers as well. Her brush is kept next to the sink so it's always ready when needed. If I'm running late (which is not unusual), she will reach out and grab me going by, with claws fully UNsheathed, to remind me of my duties.
Gretel is the Diva of the family. Her preferred method of transportation is to be carried on some one's shoulder, while she hangs on with all her might. This is not a bad thing in the winter when heavy sweatshirts or sweaters are in use, but during the summer when T-shirts are out, it can be killer. For evening treats, she likes to be summoned individually from upstairs, preferably by someone coming up to carry her down. You might think that we'd just leave her out of the treat process, but we are suckers (with a capital S) and spoil our cats unmercifully. Thank god neither of us has kids - think of the monsters we would loose on the world.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Other Residents of the House .... Part 2

This is George. Even without the sun highlighting his fur, he is a gorgeous orange. Poor George started life as Jasmine. I had convinced a fellow teacher to adopt one of our Principal's kittens for her daughter, who was in my class at the time, with the promise that if things got too bad (she wasn't used to cats) that I would take the kitten. So Kayla (the daughter) named the kitten Jasmine after her favorite Disney princess, and they took [her] home, where the kitten immediately got itself tangled in sheets, climbed up into the coils of the refrigerator, and jumped on the walls leaving large scratches through the wallpaper. Being used to cats, this doesn't faze me. To someone who is not so familiar, this is terrifying and my friend immediately started panicking that she had gotten a defective cat. To her credit, she kept the kitten for a few months, but she finally decided her sanity was more important than a few tears from her daughter, and the kitten came to me.

During those months, I had to put my cat Cecil to sleep because, one day he suddenly developed mouth cancer, and I was told he wouldn't last long, and the time he had left would be very painful. That was one of the worst things I ever had to do. Anyway, I was down a cat, so Joanne felt no remorse at bringing the cat to school one day for me to take home. The first thing I noticed was that Jasmine was not female, so we changed his name to George. I think he was so relieved to finally have a proper "male" name, he calmed down considerably. Also, coming into a household with a resident cat who quickly put him in his place, helped.

George has grown to be a stately gentleman (most of the time). He has his likes (food) and dislikes (Andrew) and he really likes his routine. He watches the dry food bowl diligently and if he feels the level is getting to within the panic zone, he lets us know by pacing back and forth and rationing what is left. If he feels one of the other cats has been at the bowl too long, he nudges them along. He is also one of the first to let us know it is time to distribute the nightly treats. One of the things he loves best is watching TV with us, especially when it starts getting chilly and the blankets come out. He gets himself situated, usually draped over and along the legs, and then goes blissfully to sleep.

George was born to a stray cat family. It happens very infrequently, but every now and then that wild side comes out when he is completely stressed. And then watch out. There is a male stray that is coming around our house these days. It's raggy and unkempt and he drives George crazy. They throw themselves at each other even though there is a glass door between them and the noises coming from George are unreal. You read about cats howling and this is the real thing. I'd love to know a way to keep the cat away without hurting it. He only comes at night, and then not every night, so I don't think animal control will work. I'll keep working on it.

My mother says he is the only cat she knows with a theme-song. We sing "George of the Jungle" to him occasionally. He wasn't actually named after that George. I got the name from Looney Tunes when (I'm probably remembering this wrong and if so, I apologize) Marvin the Martian kidnaps Bugs and says 'I will love him and keep him and call him George'. But that's how I remember it and that's why he's called what he is.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Other Residents of the House .... Part 1

Andrew thought it might be time to introduce the other creatures living with him in our house. We are proud to belong to four personality filled cats. Andrew is the youngest and he's been showcased before so I will begin with the Grand Dame. This is Tigger. She came into our lives 13.5 years ago, when, someone outside the local supermarket, had kittens and knew two suckers when they saw one. Tig very quickly took over and began running our lives. She really belongs to Helen, but she's been known to curl up on my lap when there's nothing better around. She has even deigned to sit on John's lap, but neither of them are very comfortable until that ordeal is over.
Tig is not the easiest cat to live with. She has very strong views about everything and everyone, and she is not afraid to share them. Her favorite form of communication is hissing now, especially since Andrew showed up as he makes it his life's mission to torment her. However, she puts up with everything we have thrown at her (moves, other cats, etc.) just to be near Helen. Truy unconditional love on both sides.
Her favorite pose is curled in the shape of a C, on her back, with her paws tucked up and her favorite spot is anywhere the sun is coming in. I'm beginning to sound like a dating service - "her favorite color is....." - so I'm going to stop here.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Andrew's problem persists, so he had to go back to the vet this week. He is such a great cat - he gets right into his carrier when asked, even though he knows that he has to go back to that awful place where they poke, prod and squeeze him in all the most undignified places. So he and his good friend Helen went off on their adventure. Helen was very mean - she wouldn't let him drive or anything. After visiting a veterinary technician, seeing a doctor, and spending time in the back visiting all his new friends that run his tests, he finally got to come home. And for the next few days, he didn't want to leave Helen's side. Luckily for Andrew, Helen is working from home so he gets to spend lots of quality of time with her. But his other good friend John had to hold onto him when Helen went to the post office to mail our store's packages, or whenever she left the house period. And since he is on his meds again, he gets to come to the beach with us again this weekend. This works out very nicely for me because it means I get napping partner. One of the great things about being unencumbered with children and their schedules, is that I have the luxury of taking naps on weekend afternoons, something I really enjoy doing! And having a furry friend to curl up with just makes it all the better:)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pilling the Cat.

This is Andrew.

He is the baby of the family at 3 1/2 and, as with most babies, he is adored. Two weeks ago, he got sick and had to go to the vet. Being a cat, he chose to let us know he wasn't well at 11:30 PM on Sunday night, sparking a visit to the emergency vet. Since we weren't the only ones there, we didn't get out til 2 AM. The vet gave us pills to give Andrew twice a day. My helpful mother had this to contribute -

How to Pill a Cat

1. Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

3. Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

4. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.

5. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered Doulton figurines from hearth and set to one side for gluing later. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

6. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap. Retrieve cat from neighbor's shed. Get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.

7. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Throw tee-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom. Call fire department to retrieve cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil-wrap. Tie cat's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table, find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed, force cat's mouth open with small wrench. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of filet mignon. Hold head vertically and pour ½ pint of water down throat to wash pill down.

8. Get spouse to drive you to the emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture store on way home to order new table.

After laughing hysterically, we thought we'd give it a try. After retrieving the pill from Helen's hair, we thought we'd put it in liverwurst to make it go down easier. After cleaning that pill and the liverwurst from Helen's hair, we finally got it down. Helen figured all her ailments would be healed since she was wearing most of the pills we lost.

Over the past couple of weeks, Andrew has become the consumate pro at taking his pills. When he wants something, he swallows it quickly. When he's feeling unloved, he spits it back up and spends as much time in our arms as possible. The good thing is he gets to come to LBI with us each weekend as we have to keep an eye on him. The other cats have to stay home, which I'm sure he rubs in their faces whenever he can. The life this poor cat has to lead -- living in a house on the river during the week and going to the beach on the weekend. Call Kitty DYFUS someone!