Dances with Kittens

May 31, 2017

Have you ever looked closely at a veterinarian’s hands and arms? If you have, you would see tiny lines of scars on them, a memory of the cats that have scratched them. I myself have plenty.

I have two scars that I actually cherish. When Cowboy Joe was coming out of anesthesia, he was a little goofy, and raked the back of my wrist with his back claws. There are two long, thin scars, memories of a strung-out kitten. It’s a memory from a cat I dearly love, so I am happy to look at them. At the time it happened, 2004, I was not amused. Since my cat was loopy, I understood.

The other scar I treasure was put in place by Pruney, the cat of my life. While living at home with my mom after college, I decided that Pruney, an inside/outside cat, should wear a collar. Many cats wear collars just fine. Pruney-not so much. She managed to get the collar stuck in her open mouth, and when I got her off the window screen where she hung onto dear life, she raked the same wrist with her two canine teeth. After over 40 years, I can still see the reminder that not all cats can wear collars. The last cat I tried a collar on was Kitty Alexander, our 20-pound tuxedo, who promptly got hung up on a door hinge. I had to unhook him. Now, I know how collars should fit on animals. No mistakes there. It’s part of what I teach my clients. These were just two freak accidents, and since Pruney was my last outdoor cat, there really is no need for collars on my cats. And a heads up to our humane society, I don’t license them, either, when they get their rabies vaccinations. Bad Mary.

In practice, my favorite part of well kitten visits is to educate people about how to care for their cats properly. The most important part of this lesson is, “How Not to be Killed by Your Kitten.” You see, people like to have Kitty chase their fingers across the room, or wave their hand back and forth on the carpet. It’s so much fun to see him get so riled up he can’t think, and runs around the room like he’s possessed. Bad idea. Kitty gets the idea that, 1. It’s OK to bite the finger when he catches it, which is instinctual, and 2. It’s OK that human body parts make great chew toys. They are not. NEVER use hands to play with your cat or kitten. Instead, have a toy or string that they cat catch and play with. For strings and similar items, be sure to put them away when you are finished playing, as the strings could be swallowed by an unsupervised cat and wind up stuck in his intestines and will have to be surgically removed.

The same play rules are true with human feet, except Kitty will add hiding for pouncing on and biting the feet. If you like being attacked by an unseen ball of fur, by all means, go for the foot fetish. It can, however, be very painful in the sensitive area of the top of the foot. Picture Tiger lying in wait until you come home from work, looking at the mail when, WHAM! You are attacked from below-a direct hit to the ankle.

Also be that cats like to climb things, like the drapes. Bad Kitty. This behavior is reinforced by thinking it’s cute for Kitty to climb up your pants with his razor sharp claws.

So what to do if your cat is the Kamikaze who actually gets to you even after you stop playing with hands and feet? First, don’t physically discipline an animal, ever. The cat is only acting on its instinct of preditory behavior. Second, you have only three seconds to react until the devious act is out of Kitty’s mind. Fill an empty soda can with small rocks, and have it ready to shake at Kitty when he is bad. Making a hissing noise is cat talk for “Look out, I’m going to get YOU”! You can also turn and walk away, play time is over, period. Be strong, even if he wants to start playing with you again. Nope-game over.

What’s more fun than playing with a kitten? Nothing! But be aware of safe ways to play with your little furball so no one, you or Kitty develop bad behaviors and gets hurt.


Hail to the Doodle!

April 5, 2017

The motto for Colorado weather is if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute. I was in the TV loft yesterday vegging, when the room started getting dark. I looked out the window, and there were gentle snowflakes falling. I looked again, and it was pouring rain. Remembering that Ivy was out (don’t worry, she has a covered porch also), I went to get her. Hailstones on the ground.

Now imagine a curly Doodle with hailstones just the right size to fit into the middle of her curls, and you have a new breed-the Hailstone Golden Doodle!


My masked Raiders

April 12, 2010

The mascot of my new school is the Red Raider. At football games, a masked guy called the Masked Raider  I think, dressed all in black, rides a black horse. My two ponies are close.

My sister reported today that for the first time, Scooter and Hannah wore their new fly masks all day. Her friend, CeCe, feeds all the horses in the morning and puts the masks on. Margo feeds in the evening, and takes them off. We were concerned that funny man Scoot would pull Hannah’s off, as he likes to grab her halter when it’s on.

He didn’t, all is well, and they are protected from the hordes of Arizona flying creatures. Only a few horses in Colorado wear fly masks. They are creepy-looking, as thought the horses are blindfolded or look like bank robbers, but they are designed so the horses can see just fine. But only Hannah could be called a Red Raider, although Scoot is black. Therefore, I have two horses that are red and black, respectevly. They would fit in here just fine.

I’ll check it out myself later this week and report back. Cheers!


No cancer for my guy!

April 23, 2009

After having half his colon removed, a half liter of fluid, and numerous lymph node biopsies, Earl does not have colon cancer. The pathologists even reported a normal appendix. Whew!

The two lymph nodes in his neck that lit up on the PET scan were suggestive of metastatic activity from the large skin tumor, not melanoma, that he is so susceptible to being 39 years out of a kidney transplant. These will be radiated right along with the area where the tumor was removed. 

Our hospital is so fantastic. Its mission is quality care for all. Consistently over the years, it is a top 100 hospital, hence the 2008 Baldrige award. I am still on call for the DC trip to accept the award from President Obama. The surgeon, father of triplets,  knows my level of interest in medical things, and came out to the waiting room after surgery Monday to show me pictures taken through the laparoscope. How many doctors have the opportunity to work on such a medical miracle as my spouse, let alone take a peek at a kidney transplanted in 1970? 

With the exception of a few, the doctors we have been dealing with us have been caring and kind, willing to go the extra step to see that we are all right. Even the dermatologist’s assistant, who  has assisted with all of the Moh’s surgeries on Earl, called yesterday to see how he was doing. She then called him at the hospital. ABCD-above and beyond the call of duty.

As always after major surgery, the third day post-op was the one where you feel like you were run over by a Mack truck. Earl felt this way. So did I after abdominal surgery 20 years ago, and after my initial trauma surgery. So, I went to a party at my former school given for five, count them, five staff members or their wives are expecting. A mass baby shower, if you will. It was fun, and a change from hospital sitting. As soon as the colon gets jump started, and he’s eating regular food, Earl will come home to the care of the cats. 

Thank you, Poudre Valley Hospital and Dr. Tom Chiavetta

Folks, if it your time to do so, get that screening colonoscopy!