For those of you who follow the craziness of my menagerie and my exploits with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, today’s post will be a cat update. (Though I am frustrated to report that Nala the Naughty Goffin’s Cockatoo has resumed plucking and barbering her wings.)
The two remaining guys from the ten littlekittens litters did indeed survive distemper, more evidence now shows. So we are cut off for the month of May— no more cats until our quarantine period is over.
We got a magnificent message from Hermes’ new family:
“The same cat that was afraid of hands now licks my hand and loves when I scratch his face. He’s improved SO much. We’re so happy 😊.”
I expected this change would come but I thought it would take at least another month. He literally sits in the window and watches for his people to come home.
Louise the Tripod has also made huge strides. She eats out in the open and snuggles in my bed with me. She even lingered a bit on the “cat throne” (the ottoman by the window) when teenager #1 came in the room.
And finally, Touch of Grey. TOG is a very sweet cat but has triggers that will turn her violent. For instance, you can’t approach her with a blanket. You also can’t touch certain body parts. Once she feels threatened, she will not hesitate to follow and attack you. But so far, despite her mood swings, she has not drawn blood on anyone in my house.
If you have pets, you know how vital a good vet can be. Early in my adult life, I had a series of vets I liked at Wright’s Veterinary Medical Center in Bethlehem Township (Pa.) but one by one they all left the practice.
The practice, as I understand it from my Pennsylvania Dutch mother-in-law, started with an old no-nonsense farm vet. His son continued the family tradition and stayed in the practice. From the get-go, I never liked the bedside manner of the younger Dr. Wright but they always had specialists— doctors who handled reptiles or birds, for example—and I always managed to find the “vet who loved cats.”
And truth be told they saved the life of our “Big Boy” Oz when he couldn’t pass urinary crystals circa 2014 and I couldn’t afford the $1,000 proposed treatment. I had agreed to have my daughter’s 3-year-old cat put down and they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse— 75% off an even more expensive procedure (removing his penis and widening the opening for his urethra) so he could pass stones easier. A young vet would do the procedure (for the first time) under the watchful eye of an experienced vet. So I did it, and Oz is still with us today.
But when my Opie got cancer, it took me weeks to get it diagnosed because the vet I used to go to had left the practice, I didn’t have a new one yet and Opie couldn’t walk and was intense pain so I took the first available appointment.
And that vet gave Opie antibiotics and said to come back if it got worse. It got worse. He then wanted to charge me several hundred dollars to knock Opie out so they could take an X-ray. A nurse alerted me that that vet didn’t like cats and said I needed an appointment with another vet in the practice.
She took the x-ray with him conscious and diagnosed suspected rare bone cancer via that x-ray.
She was right.
And then she told us to go elsewhere for the surgery because that particular practice was too overpriced.
My daughter contacted No Kill Lehigh Valley, a local nonprofit who specializes in helping people with seriously ill pets. They asked us how much money we had and found a vet who could do the surgery (and it turned out more) for that price. But they were more than an hour away in Tamaqua so we couldn’t keep going there.
And now we are involved with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Many local vets, animal shelters and other rescue groups work with each other to benefit domestic animals and their owners in the Lehigh Valley.
When the Norse Pride had ringworm, we took them to Canyon River Veterinary Clinic in the Phillipsburg (N.J.) area.
I wanted to support a local vet who also supported the rescue efforts of FURR. So we gave them a try, having them update Opie’s shots and look at a mass on his neck.
Every staff member was not only pleasant but personable, and they all seemed interested in relationship building— not just in-and-out money making vet care.
Today, Opie had his mass removed. The vet at Canyon River was confident his mass was just a dermal growth and we removed it so it wouldn’t pop and cause problems. I declined pre-anesthesia bloodwork, because with Opie’s history, I don’t want to worry about what else he may have. (I know that might not make sense.)
I also told them to send out the mass for the $160 biopsy only if it looked suspicious upon removal. They did not.
We also brought Bean for her first puppy exam and shots and got her microchipped, opted for the cream for the cyst on her lip, and decided to get the optional Lyme vaccine.
AND Fog & Misty went in to get the rest of their shots (it’s looking more and more definitive that Parker, Extra Crunchy and their litter mates did have distemper) and their microchips. And Misty needs to lose weight.
All of these animals. All of these, shots, exams and services and my bill was $848. I thought that amazing.
And Amanda and I swapped cockatoo stories for a good ten minutes.
I felt respected, heard, and empowered to make good decisions for my pets.
I don’t know whether I should apologize, explain my absence or dive right into this messy, stream of consciousness blog entry. Nothing new is happening but so many little things have brought joy to my life.
I had a great week at the Bizzy Hizzy. I spent most of my week in QC, and I hit 80% of the daily production metric except for one day when I hit 90 percent. But I just can’t seem to replicate that success. Last night I was in receiving inbound processing where I unboxed and received a pallet which included Democracy Jeans and Market and Spruce shirts. I caught a mix-up in tags. And I met a young man whose name is an abbreviated form of Jesus’ Angel because he was born three months premature as I was.
A few nights ago, I was listening to a podcast, probably Mayim Bailik’s Breakdown. They were discussing the ACE Childhood Trauma Test. So I took it. That was a mistake. It made me think about a lot of things— my past, my mental health, my relationships. I didn’t expect the results and I suppose in a way it was profound.
But as much as life may have had some dark spots, the foster cats sure bring joy. Hermes of the Greek Pride is already starting to bound with his new dad. (And even broke something expensive.) Louise the Tripod had a meet and greet with someone interested in adding a new cat to their household. And Parker and Extra Crunchy of ten little kittens are now playing and acting cat-like. Even Touch of Grey seems cheerful.
I picked up my new glasses, replacing my previous pair. I have abandoned my sexy librarian look and regained depth perception.
On another podcast, I heard a host discuss someone who wrote a memoir from her 20 journals. What a joke! He said 20 as if that number is impressive. I have been journaling for 30 years! I lost count after 100 volumes.
Speaking of journals, I splurged on a Silk and Sonder self-care planner/journal. It’s a monthly subscription and I am already anxious that it will stress me out. My regular journal is more or less a bullet journal now. I think another book that requires a daily check in might not be worth the pressure. And it’s $20/month. That seems expensive. More to come. Including unboxing and review.
Speaking of unboxing, I bought myself a Lite Brite in a moment of nostalgia. #NoRegrets
For a while, I was writing everyday on this platform. Recently, life has gotten busy and I shifted my focus to more organized blog entries than random posts.
So I slowed my writing down to times when I am rested and focused— which sometimes isn’t that often. But seriously, this week brought me great joy and also sorrow. In those emotions, I revisited some favorite life lessons. Many, but not all, involve cats.
First, there is Louise, the freshly amputee cat. She spent two weeks under my bed. Probably still confused and uncomfortable from her surgery, but also scared and scarred from her experiences before someone contacted Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab to get this injured apparent stray some help— both material and medical.
After two weeks under my bed, she’s trusting me. She’s super affectionate, cuddly, purrs like a machine and playful. She’s gentle and sweet and doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.
Louise tested my patience and rewarded me with her love.
Hermes, yes another foster, got adopted yesterday. He came to us as a very sick kitten on July 31, 2020 as part of the Greek Pride. His sister Hades sent me to the hospital. But that’s another story.
Hermes was terrified of human hands for most of his life, and he’s still a quirky cat. His new family knows his flaws, but they are confident that he should be their cat.
Hermes reminded me that some growth is slow, but can transform everything about how you live your life. And that we are all on a different timeline.
Touch of Grey, a four-year-old owner surrender, has been with us about two weeks because of her tendency to be bitchy and nasty. She’s been an angel with us, even going so far as to try and convince Hermes’ parents to take her home instead.
Sometimes we only thrive in certain environments. What nurtures me might not work for you.
The hardest part of this week was caring for the Ten Little Kittens who were starving and probably have distemper. Only two survived the week. (More on that here: Ten Tiny Kittens) To see some kitten cuteness: Parker Playing.
Sometimes there is beauty and divinity in the briefest of lives, and knowing you did something, even if it leads to heartache, is better than doing nothing.
Okay. No more cats. I had a conversation with someone whom I’m known for a long time— decades. She has had a good career with the same employer the entire time I’ve known her. She’s my age. She asked where I landed after last year’s job loss. I mentioned the Stitch Fix warehouse and expected the conversation to drop or to get that sense I get from people that my job makes me less important or less of a person now.
Instead, she asked if we were hiring and if I thought it was a good job. I explained the pay, the good and the bad. Apparently she has no holiday pay, no paid time off, and ten hour days. Her job is taking a toll on her body and she just wants to move on.
This country places too much emphasis on our jobs and careers as the definition of who we are. And it’s upsetting how basic quality of life items like health care and paid time off are regulated by/ reliant on corporations and small business owners. Your worth is not based on your occupation.
I went to the diner last night to have pancakes and see the charming teenager #1 at work. One of her regulars asked her to help with his dogs so he and I have been talking. He’s a conservative Christian Trump supporter and I am a liberal with socialist leanings. I told him right off we probably had very different opinions on a lot of issues. But we had a polite discussion and did not attack each other.
Listening and sharing information has to be a polite and earnest exchange. People can have different opinions but respect each other and, even so, cooperate.
As many of you may already know, my daughter (otherwise known as teenager #1) pet-sits for our cat foster godmother.
I think it was on Monday, with my daughter scheduled to start pet sitting today, that Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab ended up with ten four-week old starving kittens who may or may not have distemper as three adult cats associated with them had mysteriously died.
They were taken to our cat foster godmother’s house and she texted teenager #1 to ask if she could handle syringe feeding them formula five times a day. And if we could take them home if needed.
Two kittens passed yesterday. When we arrived today to feed them two more were gone.
So we set to work with the syringe.
I helped clean up the dead kittens, which will be stored in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer until taken for cremation. Teenager #1 was willing to do it but her witchy empathy made it uncomfortable for her to touch the recently dead thing.
She explained it like feeling a black void. She says living trees feel “fuzzy” and that dead trees feel empty. But this is more intense because of the sentience of the animal.
The little gray kitten in this photo almost died in my daughter’s arms— but he hung on until we put him down with his siblings. We named him Rufus because he has been refusing to die. But I’m told from another FURR volunteer that he is gone now.
Although our foster cat godmother would probably chastise us for going so with creatures that will probably die, we named three others: Parker, Spunky and Extra Crunchy.
Parker kept climbing all over everything like a parcour athlete. Spunky tried to climb out of the playpen. And Extra Crunchy is cover with food and who knows what else so his/her fur is extra crunchy.
It’s going to be an emotionally draining next few days, but this is what happens when domestic animals aren’t properly cared for. Sometimes a rescue group is too late.
The adult cats in the house probably died of distemper and passed it to these kittens. So while the owner did not abuse or technically neglect his cats, a vet visit for vaccines and spaying/neutering could have prevented the suffering.
I (and teenager #1) started the day receiving our newest foster cat, Touch of Grey.
So, here’s the thing about cats. Dogs are lovable, forgiving and devoted. They want acceptance, love, and structure. Cats don’t forgive. They are more aloof and nervous and neurotic.
The same cat— example: Touch of Grey— will react strongly in different environments and will remember whatever you do to “wrong” them. She is approximately four years old, FURR had her spayed. She is a newer addition, an owner surrender because of a move.
She has had a couple other placements. She seems happy here. Cats really a lot on body language to communicate. Her signals are very strong. If you heed those warnings, life is good.
I haven’t seen her bitchy side yet, but others at the rescue have. I don’t relish the day I have to crate her.
But this is her a few minutes after we spent our first time together: Play with Grey
At 10:30 I had my regular chiropractor appointment at Back in Line Wellness Center with Dr. Nicole Jensen. For the first time in ages, I was pretty much level and because I haven’t been dealing with constant pain she was able to stretch out my hips more than ever before.
And Thursday night, I reached a new career personal best at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I QC’ed 116 fixes.
When I arrived at work Friday night, I felt powerful and amazing. I looked forward to knocking out the shift and getting my nails done in the morning. My favorite nurse, my favorite QC/Style Card peer and I started talking about places open late at night, Waffle House, and potentially going out one night after work. Am I making new friends?
Even if nothing else comes from it, it felt good to be included in the discussion as a newer employee and in the Covid age.
Maybe I got a little cocky with the universe, because within a few minutes at my QC station, I moved wrong and post my chiropractic adjustment my body just said “nope.” I spent the rest of the night in pain. At about 4-5.
There’s someone at work who physically reminds me of a friend whom I’ve not seen in a while. That was bothering me. Not that the person can control their appearance.
And we had these new stickers that made the night chaotic.
To counter some of the chaos, the leaders hosted a “power hour.” This meant the different QC valleys would compete to see who could get the most work done in the hour. They blasted 80s music throughout the warehouse.
I knew every word to every song. And I didn’t even remember the songs. Isn’t that funny the way that happens? A lot of the music brought me back to childhood, and to middle school, and different events of the past. The emotional fugue dulled my senses.
The music included the song Elvira by The Oak Ridge Boys. That song, and I am sharing this video from a Grammy performance in 1982 (Elvira), used to be a favorite on the jukebox in every bar my parents used to frequent. I think the experience tapped my feelings of helplessness.
Between the pain and the new stickers, I only QC’ed 99 fixes. Though I did speed up as the night went on.
But then I got home— cuddled the dog, laughed at some comedy, made Mac and cheese. All is good.
I have been trying to jot down this entry for at least 24 hours. We got the exciting news that Hermes has an approved adoption application!
His new parents found him on Petfinder and will be coming to get him next weekend. They live north of the Bronx and fell in love with him via photos and YouTube videos.
And this cat who once wouldn’t let you touch him now let me hold him!
Not a flattering photo but proves my point.
Hermes just turned one. He is the last of our Greek Pride litter, which was our first litter fostering with FURR (Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab).
His sister Hades bit me and I ended up in the hospital. She eventually went to a barn home. Of the 12 kittens we’ve fostered, she was the only one that would not be domesticated.
Their brother Artemus got adopted first (by Jim West— yes like Wild Wild West). Apollo and Zeus were adopted together.
The Roman Pride and The Norse Pride came within a week or two of each other. The Norse Pride kittens were long-haired and found homes quickly because they were so goofy and lovable. They would have gone even quicker had they not contracted ringworm and then I contracted Covid.
Vesta of the Roman Pride found a home first. Those kittens are all tuxedoes. Jupiter is being adopted today. Mars and Minerva are still at Petco in Phillipsburg, N.J.
Two weeks ago tomorrow we got foster Louise, an adult cat of the sweetest, gentlest temperament. She had her leg amputated the first week of March and gets spooked very easily. She likes to hang out under my bed.
And today we took on Touch of Grey. She looks a lot like Louise. She can be moody, we are told. So we’ll do our best to win her trust.
Some of these cats have seen and been through so much.
Maybe next time I’ll do a brief update of our actual pets…
I started this blog entry in the middle of the night as I often do, thinking I would lead about how I think we should be more like my cancer-surviving three-legged senior cat, Opie. He’s calm, brave and steadfast. He doesn’t scream for breakfast like the impatient cats. And he holds his ground with the 50-pound puppy. He doesn’t even look concerned when she swats at him like she’s an overgrown kitten.
But then several of my cats— three out of four including Opie— decided to get me out of bed before my alarm. And Opie was uncharacteristically naughty.
I think they decided they didn’t want to wait for breakfast anymore.
My estranged husband still works for Lafayette College and they had a vaccination clinic scheduled on campus today. Spouses were eligible so he arranged an appointment for me.
I have strong opinions about the pandemic, my Covid experience and the vaccines, but I recognize that our government, other countries and probably employers will require vaccines for travel, work and life in general. So I just want to get it over with.
After cuddling with Louise, our latest FURR foster, I went to bed and slept very restlessly. One of my work colleagues got her second dose of the Moderna vaccine yesterday and I watched her develop more symptoms as the shift continued. My empathy went out, remembering my own struggles to work with the initial phases of Covid.
Speaking of life at the Bizzy Hizzy Stitch Fix warehouse, I did about one-third of my shift in pick and the rest of my night in QC. By my estimation, I nailed my partial pick metric. They also returned the timer to the cart. In QC, I managed 67 fixes. That’s about 84%.
And we had mini bundt cakes.
So after spending more of my night than I’d like to listening to news about the pandemic and the economy and the issues in Europe and AstraZeneca, I wake up to an email that my vaccine appointment has been canceled.
The FDA and the CDC have warned that the same blood clot risks that exist with the AstraZeneca vaccine exist with Johnson & Johnson.
And briefly, the dog keeps trying to eat some crazy stuff and I finally did some grocery shopping at Lidl with my good friend Nan. Nan, as a blind person, enjoys grocery shopping with me. After shopping, we ate pastry we bought at Lidl in the parking lot of Dunkin.
As my latest blog entry will detail, we have a new guest in our house, Louise the Foster Cat, a rescue available through FURR. She recently came to FURR as a mysterious stray with a leg injury that resulted in an amputation.
She’s enjoying her convalescence with us, and at night (when I return from work) we have long conversations as I try to gain her trust.
I snuggle down on the floor beside her and ask her about her day.
Me: What did you do tonight?
Louise: I slept in my basket under the bed and once night fell and the house quieted down I got a drink of water and slept behind the curtain.
Me: That sounds pleasant. I did my normal thing in the warehouse but man my body hurts tonight. I didn’t know if I was going to make it through the shift. Emotionally I had a lot on my mind.
Louise: They cut off my leg and keep shuffling me from place to place. And your house is nuts! So many noises and creatures. Can you scratch my neck? It’s really itchy and I do like attention. It’s just your house is scary. People in and out of this room. And this thing under the bed chased me.
Me: Sorry about that. That was the Roomba. It keeps the floor clean. I didn’t intend to vacuum until you got settled but somehow it got set off. You’re doing really well with your balance. You’re right. I should be more grateful. Can I get you some food?
Louise: I don’t like the wet stuff but kibble would be nice.
Me: Do you mind if I sit next to you and have some homemade Easter chocolate?
Louise: Not at all. But try not to be spastic. I need some calm in my life.
Last night I got a text from my foster godmother asking if we could take a special needs cat Louise who needed some time and some love to not only overcome shyness but also to convalescence.
You see, our new foster cat is a friendly stray who had a leg injury that looked like it might have come from being hit by a car. The vet had to amputate her leg last month (almost exactly a month ago). And it’s the same leg our Opie lost to cancer!
I picked her up this afternoon and she is a gentle beauty. So soft!
I allowed Opie to be in my room when we opened her crate hoping that seeing another three-legged cat might give her some self-confidence. It certainly might if she ever sees Opie stand up to our 50-pound puppy.
I also decided to sort and put away my laundry with her present so she could see me move around my room without looking at her specifically. She did make eyes to everyone as a hello before hiding under my bed.
I filmed some first day videos, they are rather boring but serve as a nice “This is where we started” marker. To see Louise’s YouTube playlist, click here.
PS — Teenager #1 had another shift at Tic Toc Family Restaurant today so teenager #2 and I made plans to have a dinner date at the diner. But when Bean the giant puppy ate her glasses, Teenager #2 spent the day with her mom at the mall and couldn’t make it back in time. So, I dined solo.
Speaking of Bean the Dog, a funny thing happened when Bean, her lead, the hammock and I got twisted up. I fell, as I often do, and landed on concrete and mud. My new Democracy Jeans are now literally dirty.
I expect my right palm and the outside of my left upper thigh will be very bruised tomorrow and I have a pretty interesting scrape extending about four inches down my left wrist.
Teenager #1 and I said earlier that today was canceled— maybe we should have listened to our own idea.
But, the good news is, I let the teen pick my meal once I selected the macaroni and cheese special. She delivered the pasta, potato salad, cucumber salad and French fries.
I am always impressed by the playing at the restaurant. The sprinkles of dried herb really make the dish look vibrant. The macaroni and cheese had a smooth hearty texture (I could only eat half of it). The cheese mix was not as exotic as I make at home, but not as creamy and Velveeta-y artificial as a place like Wawa.
I loved the cucumber salad. Crispy. Tangy. Wet but not soggy.
And the potato salad… Not bad. I am not a fan of the yellow potato salads. When I tasted this, the initial flavor was overwhelmingly sweet, which is odd. It quickly mellowed on my tongue and I enjoyed what appeared to be peppers and carrots in the mix.
The more I eat at Tic Toc, the more I marvel at the value for the price.