Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Baby red pandas

The Red River Zoo is a zoo up in Fargo, North Dakota. They have a red panda exhibit there, and something amazing happened almost 3 weeks ago: the red panda Shan Tou became a mommy to triplets! Three baby red pandas were born, which is extremely rare.

Their progress is being detailed on the Red Panda blog. You can see cute pictures and videos. Here are some highlights:

So cute! I love red pandas. I look forward to the babies getting a bit bigger and seeing videos of them moving about and playing!

poisonous plants

The other day, Lewis threw up in the living room (thankfully, not on my Naot sandals!). I investigated and saw something a little odd for an indoor cat - dirt, tiny branches, and small leaves. Hmm. I'm not sure where they came from, but I have two suspicions. One, from our porch - there are some dead leaves on there left over from last fall. I could see him getting into those.

The other possibility is one of my potted plants. (However, doesn't explain the leaves or sticks.) I have noticed that one of the cats (probably Lewis) has been getting into the pot. The plant has been sitting on the end table in our living room and occasionally I'll find bits of dirt around the pot on the table. None of the leaves have been damaged, and the dirt has been just lightly messed with so I didn't think anything of it. However, a friend wondered aloud to me if the plant might be getting Lewis sick.

The plant is called Devil's Ivy (scientific name: Pothos). After looking it up, I see that yes - yes it is toxic to cats! Great. I've had this plant for 3+ years now and I never knew! It's listed on ASPCA's "17 Common Poisonous Plants". Pet owners should check out the list to make sure they don't have any toxic plants around!

I called the vet to tell her about the plant, but she said that if the cats aren't getting into the plant itself then it's probably not the cause. But I'm glad it's on Lewis' file as a possibility, though. I'm going to call tomorrow and see if they got the results from the thyroid tumor blood test that he had last week. As of yesterday, they hadn't heard back from the lab yet. I hope we find out soon. :-/

My Devil's Ivy can be hung, so I'm going to try that to keep it away from the kitties. However, we might be moving soon so I don't want to bother hanging it until we're a bit settled. So I'm trying to find a plant sitter in the meantime.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Take Your Dog to Work Day

Tomorrow is "Take Your Dog to Work Day"! According to the website that sponsors this:
"First celebrated in 1999, Take Your Dog To Work Day was created to celebrate the great companions dogs make and to encourage their adoption from humane societies, animal shelters and breed rescue clubs. This annual event encourages employers to experience the value of pets in their workplace for this one special day to promote pet adoptions.

"On June 26, 2009, businesses, animal shelters and pet-care professionals from around the world will work together to better the lives of shelter dogs everywhere. Thousands of businesses will open their doors to employees’ pets on this day in celebration of the great companions dogs make."

This sounds like fun to me, though I don't have a dog anymore. When we first got Zoey, I brought her to work with me for the first month or so that we had her. That was a lot of fun, and people seemed to really enjoy having her there! Of course it was only temporary - once she got old enough I left her at home and came home at lunch to take her on a short walk. We always talked about having a "Take Your Dog to Work Day". Too bad I didn't know about this then - it would have been fun to try and implement! (There were a lot of dog lovers at my company at the time.)

Other companies are getting into this too. If you live in Stanleyville, NC, Chick-fil-A is offering free "Waggy Deals" for your dog tomorrow if they come through the drive-through. You can see more stuff like this if you check out Take Your Dog's Twitter page.

Of course not everyone thinks this is a good idea. I came across this article written by someone who dislikes the concept.

If you bring your dog to work tomorrow, you can upload pictures to Flickr with the tag "dogsatwork". You can also browse everyone's pictures here.

Fishy fishy

My husband sent me this link today. It's a how-to for knitting cute little fish!

I don't know how to knit, but I wish I did! These would make awesome cat toys! You just stuff them with a little catnip and kitties would go nuts! And it seems like a great thing to do with extra yarn. (I'm assuming. Since I don't know how to knit, I don't actually know if that's a problem - leftover yarn in weird colors.)

I sent the link to my mom, who DOES know how to knit, and she offered to teach me so that I could make these. She told me that Lewis and Ebony would love the process of me knitting - chasing the yarn as I try to stitch. (Hmmm...)

I have too many projects on my plate to add knitting to them, so I'll just hold out for someone else to start making the fishies. They sure are cute, aren't they?

Friday, June 19, 2009

monday morning

I was supposed to take Lewis to the vet this morning, but I got a call earlier from the vet. Apparently the person who took my appointment didn't realize (and therefore didn't tell me) that this test requires Lewis to fast before. And, of course, Lewis has had breakfast, so we rescheduled the appointment for Monday.

I told the vet she didn't know what she was asking! I'll have to take up the food at 9pm the night before and they won't be able to eat again until Lewis has his test. (It makes the most sense for Ebony to fast, too, because there isn't a way I can separate them.)

Oh my gosh, do you *know* how hard it's going to be come Monday morning around 5am when we DON'T get up to feed the kitties breakfast?

Oh don't get me wrong... I really want Lewis to get better. :-) Just... without the insistent meowing in the middle of the night...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

how CAT-like!

I love icanhascheezburger. I go there every day. I spent today catching up on all the ones I missed while I was on vacation, and I especially appreciated this one!

I love cats. :-)

update on Lewis

Shortly after I took Lewis to the vet, I went out of town for 11 days. I did get an email from the vet saying that one of the blood tests came back okay, so that was good, but they were waiting for the other one. Then a week went by and I didn't hear from the vet, but to be honest with all the busyness and traveling I really didn't have time to think about it! So after getting home yesterday, I called the vet to ask if they got the results from the other test.

Basically, one of the tests was going to indicate some issues with the kidney. Those came back fine - he does have a *slight* elevation in levels, but that doesn't indicate kidney issues right now.

The other test was an ionized calcium test which is heightened calcium in his blood. That is usually caused by cancer. Lewis is only 4 1/2, and it's very rare to find cancer in a cat this young, though the vet has seen it before. Right now, there are two possibilities that we need to do further tests. One is that he has a thyroid tumor. We have to do a test for that specifically, and if it's the issue he'll need surgery. The other is that he has cancer or a tumor, and they want to do x-rays and scans on his body to see if they can find out where.

A third possibility is that it's purely behavioral. She asked if we had any major changes happen recently. I said things have been pretty normal around here except for the fact that I'm pregnant. I don't feel that I'm acting any differently, but I don't know what the cats can sense. The vet said that because his calcium levels are high, it probably is more than just a behavioral problem. I expressed concern about figuring out what's going on with Lewis earlier than later, because after the baby comes in September our whole house will be turned upsidedown.

I asked if we only did one, which one should we do, and the vet recommended the thyroid blood test. So I guess we'll have to make an appointment to get more bloodwork done, poor baby.

Lewis as a kitten

I need to add going to the vet to my to do list. It's getting long because I was gone for almost 2 weeks. :-) It'll have to go above "getting auto insurance quotes" and under "return books to library".

Friday, June 12, 2009


My family got Spunky back in 1998, eleven years ago. She was a tiny puppy, and her mother's owner tied a little pink ribbon around her neck when we arrived to pick up our new family member. We were, of course, so excited to get a puppy! We quickly learned, however, the downsides of having a puppy, including potty training and her frequent crying/whining. :-) It took me a long time to warm up to her because she was a dog, but I really did have a special place in my heart for her.

We got her when we lived in South America, and when we moved to the States in 2001 we brought her on the plane with us. She loved the States - it was such a good move for her. She mellowed out, and enjoyed having access to a yard where she could run and run and not be leashed.

The past few months, Spunky's health has been failing. It's mostly due to her old age, but my parents haven't had the money to run all the tests needed to figure out exactly what was wrong. She had lost a lot of weight from simply not eating, and not because she was on a diet or Phenphedrine or anything. I got an email from my mom this morning:

Just wanted to let you all know that this morning we took Spunky to the animal shelter for her eternal rest. We took her to the vet on Monday, and after doing a blood test he said she probably had cancer. She has not been eating (had lost about 1/4 of her weight in the last year), and was lethargic and often breathing heavy. They gave us special food for her, but we made the decision if she couldn’t eat, or hold down her food, we would know it was time. That happened this week, so we took her in today.

I know that the loss isn't as hard on me as it is on my family, but I couldn't help but cry this morning. My sister is the hardest hit - it was essentially her dog, and we've had Spunky since my sister was 9. I am very grateful that it was clear to my family that this was the right time for Spunky to go. But, it doesn't make the pain any easier.

Rest in peace, Spunky. We'll miss you.

Amy and Spunky

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Going on vacation

We are leaving this weekend for a bit of a vacation, and we'll be gone for 5 days. I was debating what was the best thing for the cats. I knew their litter box couldn't handle being left completely alone for 5 days, nor did I think that was very fair to them. The only person I know who lives close enough for me to ask them to come in and feed the cats is also going out of town this weekend. All my other friends and previous cat-sitters live in a different area of town, near where we used to live.

I have one friend we've traded cat-sitting over the years we've known each other. It worked out well - we never paid each other, but we were always willing to watch each others' cats when the need arose. She used to have an older cat that at times needed medication, and I remembered that during those times she would hire a cat sitter to come. She felt more confident with a cat sitter who has experience with medicating cats, whereas I've never really had to do that.

So after discussing our options, we decided the best thing to do for this trip was to hire a cat sitter. I got the name and number of my friend's cat sitter, but when I called she said that she wasn't taking on any new clients right now. She did however give me a website that she recommended.

The website is called Georgia Network of Professional Petsitters. You can enter your zip code and it will give you all the pet sitters who are in your area. I used that website to find a sitter (one my friend actually had used once upon a time when her regular cat sitter was on vacation).

The pet sitter came by yesterday to meet the cats and pick up the keys. Hopefully everything works out! It wasn't as expensive as I expected - definitely cheaper than boarding the cats! I'm just hoping right now that Lewis is okay while we're gone and that she doesn't have any problems. At least she's experienced with administering medication if he needs it! You know, if he decides he needs the best acne treatment. ;-)



I've been concerned about Lewis lately. The past couple of months, his appetite has decreased significantly. He stopped finishing his breakfast and dinner. He cries desperately for his food, but doesn't seem to be interested. I tried switching foods, but that didn't seem to help. I tried supplementing wet (canned) food to his dinnertime meal to help encourage him to eat more, but he doesn't even finish that! (I gave him only 1/8 of a can!)

I noticed that he's getting thin, which is unusual. For being such a fat cat, he is all skin and bones now. It's hard to see exactly how much weight he's lost because he still has a lot of loose skin, but I can easily feel his ribs and that seemed to be a little too thin. Combined with his unusual habit of not eating, I decided to take him to the vet.

We're going out of town at the end of this week, so I wanted to get him in before we left. I was glad they had a last-minute cancellation and so I was able to get an appointment for Lewis today.

He's lost 4 lbs since we last had him at the vet, last September. The vet agreed that he did seem thin. She took a blood sample and a urine sample. Then Lewis and I waited while she ran an in-house profile on them.

The results showed abnormalities with the calcium, glucose, and creatinine. I don't understand exactly what all that means... but the vet basically said that it could be the beginnings of a kidney disease, and/or the beginnings of cancer. :-( She took another blood sample to send to an external lab for more analysis, and she's going to get back to me tomorrow or the next day. We'll figure out what to do from there.

I've been kinda in a stupor all day. Poor Lewis... He's very mad at me for being at the vet for 2 hours today. Now's he been a little on the lethargic side, sleeping most of the afternoon. I have alternated between wanting to cry and not wanting to think about it. And then of course I go to an extreme of thinking of all the worst possible scenarios, having only Ebony left, lighting a candle in Lewis' memory... No, I won't let myself go there.

One thing I know is, we definitely need to increase the cat category in our budget! I know both things can be so expensive. :-( I just want my baby to feel better.