Accidents happen: Don’t mess around with cats and flea meds

This is a cautionary tale for those of us who keep dogs and cats in the same household. And what happens when pet caregivers make a terrible mistake.

I don’t want to write it, because it makes me feel like a terrible, negligent person. But I will write it, because sometimes those experiences are the ones that impact someone else.

I know my cat bite experience and my resulting hospital stay is one of the most read pieces on this blog, right behind Girl Scout Camp Moseywood and my trip to Siberia for Pizza.

But enough of that… I didn’t get much sleep last night and I called out of work today… let me explain why.

The Mix-Up

Monday night when I got home from work, I was exhausted. For the second day in a row, I had surpassed expectations at work and was achy and just wiped out from getting up at 4 a.m. and grouchy.

The teenager gave me flea meds for the two foster cats that like me best and asked me to apply it. I tossed it with a little a package of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups into my clean laundry basket. I carried the basket to my room and started my nightly routine of feeding the birds, checking water bowls, cleaning cat boxes and organizing my clothes for the day to come.

Meanwhile, the teenager applied flea meds to Opie, our personal tripod cat who has survived bone cancer; Misty, another personal who is her baby— the runt of a litter born under a neighbor’s porch and the critter responsible for getting us involved with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab; and Touch of Grey, an adult foster cat who used to be extremely aggressive who is finally learning to be loved and appropriately social.

I grabbed the little silver packages from the basket and was about to set them aside (I’ll do it tomorrow, I told myself, I’m exhausted right now) when I noticed the words on the package— K9 Advantix Extra Large Dog Do Not Use on Cats.

F. Bean Barker

For those of you who normally read this blog, you know we have a 60 pound puppy, a mastiff/pit bull/black lab mix named Bean. These were her flea meds. Flea meds are extra important when you have dogs with indoor cats because the dog can transport fleas and other parasites into the house. So even if the cats never go outside they can get fleas and worms from the dog. So the teenager is religious about giving the dog her flea meds.

The cats get flea meds about every three months, or once a season, just in case. But, like the dog, you can apply monthly.

So immediately text the teenager— yes, from within my own house— because it’s the quickest way to get a teenager’s attention.

“You gave me dog flea meds. Please check what you gave the others.”

She kicked into action and gave all three of the cats baths with Dawn dish soap. (Which we later learned was the right thing to do.)

So the next step was to wait for signs of neurological distress. And for 24 hours nothing happened. We thought everything was good.

The Seizure(s)

The teenager is hosting a party on Friday and some of her guests are allergic to cats. She has an elaborate plan for cleaning and limiting cats to certain rooms. But we didn’t know what to do with Touch of Grey, because if she gets upset or can’t do what she wants she redirects and can be a bully.

Basically, no one wants to be trapped in a room with her. I suggested putting her in my room with the tripods, Opie and Louise, because Louise will hide and Opie is a boss with a good stare down. Touch of Grey had sneaked into my room when the teenager came to visit, so we decided to make her spend the night. And she decided to sprawl out in the middle of my bed.

I go to bed ridiculously early as I rise at 4 a.m. for my 6:30 a.m. 10-hour shift folding clothes at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse. I turned out my light at 8:30 p.m. and muttered sweet nothings to the cockatoo before falling asleep probably around 9 p.m. (26 hours after the application, for reference)

At literally midnight, I wake up to the cockatoo rustling and this horrible knocking sound, repetitive and frantic. I turned on my light. I am extremely near-sighted (like on a good day I might be able to see my toes versus my feet). I saw a cat thrashing against the wall, feet flailing on its back. I knew it was white.

That meant Touch of Grey or Louise. I put my glasses on and started counting legs. The two cats are extremely similar, except Louise is more white in the face and only has three legs. This cat had four. Touch of Grey! Flea meds!

I leapt out of bed and stopped to her side. The thrashing stopped but she was twitching and panting. I ran my hand across her and her heart was racing. I could feel it. I ran down the hall and woke the teenager.

She called our cat foster godmother, also president of the rescue, and brought her binder of pet first aid. The seizure had settled to twitching at this point, and Touch of Grey kept trying to leave the room. Lethargically.

Godmother told us to call poison control and Harmony Animal Hospital, one of the local emergency vets. Poison control directed us to animal poison control. We were given two numbers (which I wrote on the teenager’s arm with a giant green Sharpie)— one (the ASPCA) kept us on hold for about five minutes and the other kept trying to sell us car insurance.

Opie is looking at us as if to say, “What’s going on?”

We can’t find Misty anywhere.

We took Touch of Grey to the vet, and the vet explained that dog flea meds are extremely toxic to cats. I knew it was toxic, but had I know they were this toxic I would have brought them all in right away and not waited for symptoms (which can take three days to manifest).

We get home from the vet at 1:45 a.m. and the teenager finds her baby, her Misty, seizing in a cat box. I drive her to the vet and Misty is admitted. He’s running a fever of almost 105 degrees and showing more intense neurological symptoms.

Each cat could cost us $900 in vet medical bills.

We got home at 2:30 a.m.

No news this morning about how they are doing, but the vet is administering IV fluids and muscle relaxers. Opie seems okay.

Word of advice: store cat products and dog products in very different locations.

2nd visit to the hand institute… and some cats

If you read my post from earlier today, then you already know my hand specialist/orthopedic surgeon cut off my cast.

No more man with hat.

This meant I had to schedule an appointment with the very amazing staff at The Institute for Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation for a new cast.

This also meant I had to cancel my session with Andrew at Apex Training.

At the time I should have been sweating, the teenager and I were cruising down the highway.

The staff member who originally wrapped my finger anxiously stood by as a newer staff member removed the temporary splint.

“You look like you’re waiting for someone to open a present,” I said.

She was that excited to see how I was healing.

My finger is straight, which means the tendon is growing in the right direction. It does not have enough tissue to have any strength yet, so another cast was put on.

I was in and out in 15 minutes, including my trip to the bathroom.

In other news, our remaining two foster who needed shots made it to the vet today. While I was rocking temporary splints.

We also took one of our personal cats, Opie.

Louise did not stop yowling (video).

Cute animal photos and mallet finger impact

It’s the end of April and it was 35 degrees last night. The price of oil continues to skyrocket and I’m still heating my house halfway through spring.

The cold does not help the poor circulation in my hands which has intensified in my left hand because my mallet finger restricts my movement.

My hands are painfully cold, except when Andrew is making me curse him in my head at Apex Training. Today was leg day, and I was so tired that when I came home and let the dog out I turned around and lost my balance and slammed right into the brick wall between my mud room and my kitchen.

Nala, my six-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo, started shaking and plucking her feathers today. Nothing in her environment has changed except the neighbor’s dog has been barking nonstop all day. The teenager believes his distress causes her anxiety.

Speaking of the teenager, she made this thick chocolate chip cookie/blondie dessert that I topped with ice cream that Sobaka’s mom brought home from Penn State when we dog sat last weekend.

Before the teenager brought home our dog, I would never criticize a dog owner, but now that I see the difference between different dog care styles, I feel back for dogs that aren’t spoiled like Sobaka and Bean.

And I don’t know how Sobaka’s mom does it— that dog is a bed hog.

But now an update on my mallet finger:

  • Stitch Fix has been amazing. Because my specialist at OAA took a week to return my paperwork and then didn’t properly fill it out, the onus was on me to find jobs I could do to not hurt myself. It turned out I can QC just fine— I hit 92% just fine.
  • But here’s the thing… my specialist knows hands, he doesn’t know me. I don’t think he heard me when I said I have cerebral palsy and that I work 10 hours a day in a warehouse. I’m just not sure that environment is safe for me right now,
  • Why do I say this? Because this week drove home to me how much I rely on my left side for stability. By forcing me to work 90% on the right, I am struggling to keep my right hip in place.
  • I am so stiff by the end of the work day. I also end up pinching and slamming my right fingertips and by the end of the day my left fingers I can use are swollen and sore.
  • And I fold 750 clothing items a day, handle 150 boxes and rip open probably 500 plastic bags. That’s a lot of fingers moving.
  • Once I consider the risk of accidentally losing my cast and bending my finger (which would extend my healing time) and adding the increased fall risk of mine because I am aggravating known issues with my balance and mobility, I just don’t feel safe.
  • This is a horribly stressful feeling.
  • I’m going to talk with my family doctor about it. I already mentioned it to my therapist, because I wanted to confirm my thoughts were rational and not whiny or emotional.

Today’s vegan lunch: curry carrots, lentils, quinoa, my own roasted chick peas, toasted sesame seeds, green olives and a touch of Thai peanut sauce topped with pumpkin seeds

And last but not least, cats. Misty caught a mouse! Video here.

Day 1 in the books

My day started with an unfamiliar alarm at 5 a.m. I haven’t used an alarm to wake up for quite some time, and I’ve noticed recently that the iPhone’s “birdsong” no longer gets my attention. Though it does get the attention of foster cat Khloe and my Goffin cockatoo.

I quickly and silently crept from my room as to not wake said cockatoo. She needs her sleep and the last thing the teenager needs is a grouchy Goffin yelling for me.

I got dressed in the bathroom.

I had even worn my “Monday mood” socks with the coffee on them from my adult days of the week socks, because even though it’s Sunday, it’s Monday to me. I think this new work schedule renders my days of the week socks obsolete.

I went downstairs, made a cup of coffee and while waiting for it to brew, loaded the dishwasher. I had no intention of feeding cats at 5 a.m.

But you can’t sneak with cats around.

Most of them watched me drink my coffee.

I got in the car and discovered the teenager forgot to put gas in it. 85 miles to empty.

I made it to the Bizzy Hizzy by 6:05, greeted by my favorite security guard.

And I was assigned to Stitch Fix Freestyle QC. I stayed there until 3 p.m. so I guess that means I did a whole shift in that department.

The Big Boss of the Warehouse stopped by, I believe around 7:30 a.m. I overheard him ask our supervisor if everyone showed up.

I enjoyed freestyle today. And I really like the break schedule— it makes a 10-hour day feel like an 8-hour day, at least emotionally.

At our first break (8:55 to 9:10), Stitch Fix served us catered breakfast.

Meanwhile, the teenager and her dog hung out with Nala. The Goffin.

My phone would not track my steps today, leaving me to add them manually.

I had a good meeting with my new supervisor and process lead because they wanted to get to know me. And to introduce themselves. And this is one of the corny parts of Stitch Fix corporate culture that I like— they encourage everyone to connect with one another as people not just as cogs in the wheel.

Honestly the rest of the day passed quickly. Just before last break (3:10 to 3:25) I received word that my estranged husband crashed his car.

And after break, I was walking back to my station in women’s returns when I looked at the time clock at 3:27 p.m. — the time I normally clock in.

At 3:45 p.m., we all looked very confused as the loudspeaker walked us through our first stretches of the day.

Around this time, I received a call that Em was probably going to be adopted tonight. This was after hearing that Shady went home with her new family yesterday.

And we looked confused again when the 5 p.m. safety message played as we clocked out.

The teenager drove her father home. We then stopped at Wawa for gas and dinner. I got a black bean bowl with grilled chicken, spinach, carrots, lettuce and I’m not even sure what for sauce.

The first few bites were the best thing I ever tasted, but by the end I was very sick of it.

I ended my night trying to keep Nala the Goffin from attacking Khloe the foster cat.

Just me and the animals

The teenager and I did some cleaning today— all getting ready for the plumber to start building my laundry room on Tuesday.

The bathroom off the kitchen now looks like this:

But on Tuesday the shower is coming out to make room for a stackable washer dryer.

Meanwhile, after the gym and while the teenager was off at the diner doing her work thing, Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab foster cat tripod Louise and I did some more work on the fourth volume of the Kink Noir series by William Prystauk, a gritty erotic look at all the definitions of love with a hearty dose of darkness.

Then FURR Khloe came to relieve her. Apparently I need babysitting.

FURR Khloe

At 6:30 pm, I harnessed up the dog and we went to try a $3 pumpkin spice cold brew at Dunkin and pick up the teenager at work. The woman in the drive thru gave Bean a munchkin but she didn’t like it— probably because it was round. This mutt can’t eat round items.

And then old neighbors stopped by and we got to visit and hang out in another neighbor’s yard while there was quoits happening.

Isn’t that what Saturday should be?

Informal weekend update: Canning with the Blind

This weekend was hectic and quiet at the same time.

Saturday Nan and I canned some corn relish/salsa with some farm fresh corn on the cob. My mother-in-law, having grown up on a farm, knows her corn and has a gift for picking delicious corn.

Nan, as a lifelong blind person, has a fascination with all things cooking. She always says that she doesn’t understand how people learn these things. I told her I don’t quite remember how I learned to can, though I do know I always had an interest in gardening and in preserving the rich variety of foods we have in this region.

But it was fun to see Nan respond to the tools involved in canning.

Yesterday, Mars and Minerva attended an adoption event with our cat rescue group Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Meanwhile, the teenager and I volunteered with the FURR kitten event and backpack distribution through the Verizon Store in Forks Township. Our foster Touch of Grey came from there. They actually have foster cats free roaming the store!

The teenager and I finally got our FURR t-shirts. I’m very excited. The teenager looks really good in hers.

Meanwhile, at home, our foster tripod Louise has been very cuddly and at my side relatively non-stop.

Louise

And I finished the proof for Manipulations. The book designer (my partner Gayle) will check out the file tomorrow.

My friend Bill sent me the manuscript for his next book in the Kink Noir series, Bondage. I’ll start my review sometime this week.

And finally, I made a list of all the authors and books that I hope to publish via Parisian Phoenix.

I was shocked how many titles were on the list. I hope I have the resources and the marketing prowess to do these books justice.