Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cinderella eats raw liver

Just got home from work, a moonlighting job, which happens very rarely. I was thrilled to see that the little feral had eaten the raw chicken liver I left in the kitchen for her. It's the first time that I know of that she has eaten in the kitchen; I always put her food at the end of the couch because that's where she lives, behind it. And Bella eats in the kitchen. I'm sure she thinks it's her place.

Bella is better. The vet's office called while I was at my other job to say I could pick her up, but it will have to wait till tomorrow. Glad to hear she is better, and wondering what it will take to keep her healthy. Bella would never in a million years have eaten raw liver.

I was glad to see the little cat did, because it tells me she has her instinct for raw food. I could also see that she had dragged it off the saucer, by the bloody marks on the floor (which I promptly cleaned). I hope this means the sores in her mouth have healed somewhat, and I also feel more optimistic that she could live outdoors, if she had to.

I have not yet told you what I named the cat. When I took her to the vet, they asked me her name, and if I wanted to list her as "stray." No, she was now living with me, so she's no longer a stray. I called her Cinderella, because of her dark color and because of her deprived early life. I pictured the irresistible ad I would write seeking a new home -- Cinderella is waiting for her prince, or something.

She doesn't seem so much like a Cinderella now; she seems more like a Spooky or Dark Shadow. She darts around like a rat, if I may say such an awful thing. Often I see only her tail disappearing into the crack between two sections of couch.

I wish I'd started writing this log earlier. Cinderella has been with me since Sept. 13, about two and a half weeks. There is so much to catch up on, like her visit to the vet. The vet found her negative for FIV and leukemia, excellent news, but when he examined her, he told me her mouth was very badly injured, from ingesting a toxic substance, like antifreeze. Feed her soft food, he said, and we'll see. Cats are resilient, they have nine lives, and "if she heals, she heals."

He had to sedate her in order to examine her and take the blood to test. He thanked me for telling him in advance that she was wild. Some people don't bother, so when the vet or assistant opens the carrier, the animal pops out and literally climbs the walls. He also gave me the "You can't save them all" speech and suggested that I take her for a ride into the country and let her out near a nice looking farm. After being spayed, of course. I am tempted, but it's getting cold now, and how would I know what had happened to her? I have more than $200 invested in this cat, as well as my own desire to see if I can tame her.

The vet was concerned about her, and asked me to call him two days later, which I did. "Is she eating?" was his first and really only question. Yes, she was, and she has been a good eater the whole time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bella's sick

Last night when I came home from work, Bella was not waiting for me at the top of the stairs as usual. I couldn't find her anywhere. I called her name, again and again, but she didn't come out. My apartment is not large, but there are plenty of places for a cat to hide. I decided to eat dinner. This was around 6:00 pm, and she didn't come out (from the closet) until 9:15. She looked all right, not limping or injured in any apparent way, but she hadn't eaten her canned food all day.

The last I saw of her yesterday morning, the little feral was chasing her. It didn't make me happy, but I know Bella has done the same, so I wasn't particularly worried. Now I was.

Bella spent all night in my room, on the floor behind the bed, and wouldn't come to me when I called her. That's very unusual. This morning, she was still hiding but at least I could see her. She felt limp when I picked her up. I brought her food into my room, but she wasn't interested. Of course, I had the day off so it would be another day off spent at the vet. To my surprise, I was able to get her right into the carrier, called for an appointment, and off we went.

The vet is very kind, and he explained the right thing to do was check her blood and X-ray her. But that's expensive. Still, I wanted to know what was wrong. She had been to the vet twice before this year, for dehydration. A saline injection fixed her up, both times. But we want to know what's causing it.

I blame myself, for bringing in a new cat that I know caused her stress. But the vet said she might have gotten this condition anyway. What he found in the X-ray was disturbing -- her whole stomach and intestines were filled with air.

"Can't she just fart?" I asked him. He said no. She might have to be force-fed, and all this other stuff. When I had my C-sections, I had gas, but they made me walk around till it passed. I guess this is different. She might have pancreatitis, and that would be very serious. Her condition is serious, as it is. I'm going to call the vet in a little while.

Monday, September 28, 2009

How I got my latest cat

Hello out there...
I adopted a young cat this month, the next-to-last survivor of a bunch of strays my friend Ali fed all summer. This isn't the cat I meant to get: those were two matching kittens, and both died of antifreeze poisoning, administered, we think, by one of Ali's neighbors. Some of them had complained about the cats hanging around. I knew the cats were strays, but when I saw them one day in August, they looked completely tame, relaxing on Ali's patio, some in the shade, some playing in the sun. There were eight or nine of them. He fed them a mixture of Cadillac canned food and rice. I went there to bring the two youngest ones home and have them checked out by the vet, and hoping to find homes for them. But when Ali's father picked one up and dropped him in Ali's old rabbit cage, he ran around in circles like a mad thing, then poked his head through a loose place in the cage, quickly squeezed through, and took off.
I had my cat carrier with me, so I left it there, asking Ali to call me if and when he caught the kittens.

Ali called me on Friday, Sept. 10, to tell me one of the kittens was dead and the other was paralyzed, still breathing, eyes open, "but he can't move." He wanted advice. I could give him none, except to take the cat to a vet, but we both thought it was too late. We didn't know if they had gotten sick or what. Both had come to his back steps, seeking help from the only humans they knew and trusted.

By Sunday night, Ali's father had caught a dark calico. I got the call, and went to get her. Ali had said she was banging around inside the the carrier, trying to get out, but by the time I got there, she was just lying on the carpet padding looking calm as could be. Ali had gone out for the evening, and his father handed me the cat carrier. As he did so, he told me she had never been touched, as far as he knew. As in, by a human. He got her into the carrier by putting a paper plate of food in it; she walked in, and he shut the door.

I wanted to say, Forget it! I can't take a feral cat home. But, I didn't have the heart.

On the way home, I talked to her and made sure nice music was on the car radio. I think she enjoyed the ride. At least, she did not complain.

I already have a cat, Bella, who is a beautiful, spoiled, black and white domestic longhair. She is about 11 years old. I've had her for ten. She was a rescue cat herself, and a little skittish at first, but nothing like this this one.

Twice before, I have attempted to adopt a companion for her, but it never worked out. She is territorial, and used to being the sole cat. Sure enough, when I opened the door and she saw the carrier, she must have known it had a cat in it. Her ears went back and she hissed. Then she turned and ran. "It's OK, Bella, she won't be here long," I said.

"She's our guest. Be nice to her."

As I've said, that was Sunday night, Sept. 13. I brought her into the bathroom, and opened the door to the crate. I put a night light in the room, closed the door and said good night. Then I went to bed and snuggled with Bella, trying to reassure her she was still my number-one cat.

I had left a litter pan in the bathroom, but when I went in there in the a.m., I discovered that the new cat had no knowledge of such things. She had pooped and peed on the carpet scrap, and boy, was it stinky. No wonder Ali's neighbors had complained. The cat herself was in the bathtub, discouraging me from taking a shower. So, I disposed of the carpet scrap, first taking bit of poop out and placing it in the litter box. I put the crate away, left food for the new cat, and went to work, unshowered.

When I came home that night, the bathroom had been trashed. All my cosmetics and skin creams, even my toothbrush, toothpaste and Softsoap were on the floor. Nothing had broken, but a bottle of scented oil was on its side. About half of it had spilled. Instead of smelling like poop, my bathroom and indeed, the whole apartment, reeked of scented oil, probably not the cat's favorite.

But, the litter pan had been used. Such a smart cat, I said, as I picked up all my stuff and moved it to other rooms. It looked like she had been running around ON the walls. We now had an appointment at the vet for the next day, Tuesday, Sept. 15.