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.

Things that frazzle the mind in my forties

**this post may contain strong language… no, this post will contain strong language. I plan to drop an “f-bomb” in the first paragraph. But I promise it will be lighthearted and humorous not vulgar and full of rage.

Sometimes I wonder if the process of losing your mother-fucking mind which seems to descend upon a person once your children enter their teens isn’t the cause of dementia. Will the brain fog that accompanies keeping life together as the offspring prepare to leave the nest clear as they depart? Or is it permanent?

I think when you reach the latter half of the forty-somethings, the time you might have spent on hobbies, movies or parties in your youth is replaced by the tedium of home ownership, career, family, parents and medical care (your own, your family, probably even friends). And maybe you just don’t have the patience you used to.

I am currently waiting for the remediation team. If you skip back to Tuesday’s blog, you’ll recall that my 50- or 60-year-old toilet exploded and damaged my dining room ceiling. The plumber came Tuesday and installed a new toilet, and the teenager gave me shit. Not only does she not like the new toilet (as the plumber warned me) but she also had beef with the plumber for taking her old toilet.

I asked the teenager, “what on earth would you do with an old broken toilet?”

And, of course, the teenager told me. She wanted to take the ancient pink ceramic toilet and use it as a planter in our front yard next to our pink rose bush.

“It would look so cool,” she said.

And it probably would. But I did not go to college and embark on all the adventures I have to place a broken toilet in my front yard.

The scheduler for the insurance adjuster called Wednesday morning, about 29 hours after the incident, and scheduled the adjuster for Wednesday June 1. I asked the teenager if she could handle letting him into the house. She agreed. The scheduler called again and moved it to Tuesday. Teenager agreed again. Scheduler called a third time to ask if we had had a remediation company come to check if we had any or were in danger of collecting any mold. I said no. She said to call one.

So Wednesday on my lunch break (my first day back after a month of medical leave), I emailed ServePro because I didn’t have the time or the quiet to talk on the phone. They called, and after about three difficult phone calls with them, (the person on the other end couldn’t hear me well. I was wearing a mask, using one AirPod and working in a noisy warehouse.) they said they would confirm an appointment for Thursday or Friday by the end of the day.

[note: this is a pause in the blog post as the remediation team arrived.]

The remediation scheduler called about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, which was about 60 hours after I turned the water off to the toilet and started mopping up the damage. My appointment was for 1 p.m. Friday, about 80 hours after the original accident.

But at least I made myself a nice dinner of fig & ricotta ravioli from Lidl with Alfredo sauce from Hungryroot and vegetables (baby broccoli, red pepper, and peas) cooked in the Cuisinart air fryer toaster oven.

Last night, when the teenager got home from her dad’s, I think I was emptying the dishwasher and I went on a psychotic rant about silverware. You see, when her father and I got married, we registered for Oneida’s Easton flatware in the satin finish. I have always loved that silverware. It was $100 a place setting, and that was in 1999. That’s $20 per utensil. But it’s beautiful, and my husband and I both agreed on it without compromise, and it’s heavy, and we lived in an apartment in downtown Easton, Pennsylvania.

Oneida flatware pattern: Easton (Satin)

And sometime between when teenager two lived with us and now, many pieces of that silverware have disappeared. And it’s melodramatic, but the loss is like a gaping wound. No other silverware feels right in my hand. So I snapped, for the umpteenth time, and shouted at the teenager about my missing silverware.

In that moment, I realized that for some reason, that silverware really means something to me. Eating with it brings me joy. And that silverware looks as new as the day we bought it. Our marriage lasted 20 years, and the silverware may last generations.

“I don’t have the money to replace it,” I screamed.

And then I realized…

I launched a publishing company. I buy myself iced coffee about once a week. I spend almost as much on animal food as I do on people food. So, why can’t I figure out how to pay for new silverware? Especially since I know Replacements.com has just about every silverware and china pattern ever made (used) at a discount. I think I found my dream pattern. I ordered a few pieces of my silverware, based on cost and what I actually need.

This morning started with a cup of coffee, some cuddly cats, a trip to the chiropractor and a whole lot of cleaning before the remediation team arrived. I made the teenager and I a breakfast of fresh baguette from Lidl, toasted in the Cuisinart oven, buttered, covered a slice of proscuitto and toasted more, and then drizzled with hot honey and sprinkled with herbs de provence. It was as amazing as it sounds.

The teenager had her last high school final exam, the only one she had to take this year, and returned home to find me aflutter with the broom and a mop. I asked her to do something for me. It might have been to move a multipack of paper towels to another room, when she stopped and opened the sunporch window.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

And I thought to myself, she’s not smelling the roses.

And she replied, “I’m smelling the roses.”

“Seriously?” I said. “I ask you to do something and instead you literally stop to smell the roses!”

She then picked a bouquet for the main room downstairs. Eventually, she moved the paper towels.

Once the house was cleaned and the teenager shuffled off to work, I finished Natasha Sizlo’s memoir, All Signs Point to Paris. I received a copy via NetGalley and reviewed it on Goodreads and mentioned it in my Parisian Phoenix blog post that will go live tomorrow. I tried to start P.N. Dedeaux’s Algiers Tomorrow but it offended me beyond rebuke within the first two chapters.

I understand that the book was published in 1993. I also understand that erotica by its nature breaks rules and can feature taboos. But in the first two chapters, we join two bratty rich sixteen year olds nicknamed “Boobs” and “Butt” through a vacation in France. By the end of the chapters, I want them to get murdered. I was hoping for some cheesy references to Algerians with which I could have some Mystery Science Theater 3000-type fun.

chicken vodka pizza

I ordered a chicken pizza with vodka sauce from Nicolosi’s Pizza in Forks Township. It was a custom pizza and I told them to “put whatever on it to make it pizza-y.” They added fresh basil. It smelled amazing. The teenager was picking it up at 2:45 p.m after work.

And don’t you know it, the remediation team was late… They called at 2:55 p.m. and arrived at 3:05 p.m. I had one bite of my scrumptious, piping hot custom pizza. And it was time to find out if my house was wet.

Unfortunately, it is.

We could lose our bathroom subfloor. Our hardwood floors and walls are damp. We have five industrial air movers in the living area and a massive dehumidifier. And upstairs we have three more air movers in the bathroom and another dehumidifier.

But we’re safe, and sometimes you just have to have faith it will work out.

At the end of the day, Bean Dog got new toys.

Foster update: Louise, Touch of Grey and Hermes

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 little kittens 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:

Hermes at home

“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.

To see this strange darling, click here: Touch of Grey proving she does have manners.

All the Things

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.

Evening with Louise

Videos:

Parker and Extra Crunchy

Touch of Grey

I picked up my new glasses, replacing my previous pair. I have abandoned my sexy librarian look and regained depth perception.

New glasses

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

Video: Unboxing my Lite Brite

The copyrights for my novels so as soon as they return from the proofreader we can start production and get Parisian Phoenix off the ground. Expect my novels hopefully this summer!

And if you miss my Goffin’s cockatoo Naughty Nala, she was in a mood today! Video: Nala steals my underwear

My neighbor let me know I appeared in Lisa Boscola’s newsletter for my role in delivering her public service award given by ASPIRE to Autonomy.

And last in a long line of rambling, I reviewed the Dunkin Double Coconut Macchiato: Video Here

Lessons I Have Revisited This Week

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.