Last night I tried something new with cousin MJ and sister Melissa: a class at The Community House in Birmingham entitled “Paint Your Pet.” After arriving we each got a canvas with a light pencil sketch of our chosen pet (based on photos we had sent in ahead of time). Our teacher gave us instructions for painting, first the background and then the details. She went from person to person to suggest appropriate techniques for the animal each was attempting to capture on canvas. We really enjoyed ourselves, even though we were not 100% satisfied with the quality of our labors.
It has been a long time since I have posted anything here on my blog. It has been an interesting year: three felines have departed our household, and I have learned about something called the “Romance Scam.”
Last July, my oldest cat, Cara Mia, lost her two-year battle with breast cancer. Participation in a study with an experimental medicine extended her life in an almost miraculous way. Cara Mia was a beautiful calico with a loud and insistent voice. She was not thrilled with my administration of her medication, but she was—for the most part—happy with her circumstances. At the end, she began to have breathing difficulties and enlarged tumors on her belly, so I said goodbye.
Later in the year I noticed that Gobblin’ Goopuss had lost some weight and his appetite. Melissa took him to the vet, who did bloodwork. I was anticipating that with his thyroid under better control, the tests would reveal some underlying kidney disease. When I took him back in for the test results, I got a very unpleasant surprise: markers in his blood indicated the presence of cancer, probably lymphoma. I reluctantly bid farewell to a second cat on December 2018.
My mom’s male kitty, Charlie, was the family favorite. When Jim and I brought him home for Mom back in 2003, Charlie—then about a year old—quickly charmed his way into our hearts. He had the most distinctive set of facial expressions I had ever seen on a cat. He developed a habit of coming out to Mom’s kitchen at dinner time and meowing to be allowed downstairs to visit my cats. Until a year ago, he would return home at bedtime.
Charlie had a number of health problems. He had idiopathic cystitis, an irregular heartbeat (which changed from test to test), and abnormal kidneys. He also had a nasty tendency to barber his belly. A tiny daily dose of generic Prozac took care of the barbering. He also got compounded budesonide and azithromycin cream daily. For a long time he did well on this regimen.
In his old age, Charlie was not fond of change. When Melissa and her cat, Choco Latte, moved in a year ago, he was not happy, and his idiopathic cystitis got worse. Mom and I decided that he would be allowed to go wherever he wanted to go in the house. He spent more and more time downstairs with me and my kitties.
Charlie was still doing quite well in January 2019, when he saw his veterinary internist, Dr. E. In the next month, however, he lost nearly one pound as his appetite lessened. On February 28, I took Charlie and Mitchner to the local vet. Both of them had blood tests. Charlie’s revealed that his kidney values were very elevated. Since I could not get him to eat anything by then, the family decided it was time to say goodbye. Charlie crossed the Rainbow Bridge on March 3.
In October I was contacted on Twitter by someone who wanted to chat with me. The chat moved to Google Hangouts—which I had never heard of before—and my “chat buddy” quickly professed his love for me. It was not long before I discovered that the name and location he gave me were not genuine. The pictures of himself he shared with me belonged to someone else. His name, age, and location changed over time. Worst of all, he had the chutzpah to request money for various purposes.
I would like to warn anyone who reads my blog to be careful with online contacts. Not everyone is who he or she claims to be. Both men and women can be targeted by romance scammers. Here are several websites that provide information on romance scams and what to do about them.
- Wikipedia article on “Romance Scam”
- The Federal Trade Commission
- Cybercrime Support Network
- The FBI news report on romance scams
Many of these scams originate in other countries. Nigeria, for instance, is famous for a variety of types of online scams. It is a good idea to do a background check on anyone you meet online, whether it is on a dating site or other social media site. The requests for money began to make me fearful of reprisals when I refused to comply, especially since I had no idea where this person was, so I made a report to my local police. They were able to assure me that I was likely in no danger. I am certainly glad that I took these steps to discover the truth and protect myself!
As you can see, it has been an interesting year for me. It is my hope that the coming year will be personally and professionally fulfilling, but not quite so “exciting.”
One day. Two Cats. Two Vets. Two Cat Tales.
A Happy Tale
It has been three months since Pawscar Awesome’s last visit to the veterinary ophthalmologist at BluePearl in Southfield. I took Pawcar in for his check-up today. Although he was not thrilled to be in the car, Pawscar made it all the way to the hospital without vomiting or losing control of his bodily functions.
Once we were escorted to an office, Pawscar quit complaining and got very quiet. He tried to make himself as small as possible. Weighing in at 8 pounds, 15.8 ounces today, he already is my smallest male cat.
I am happy to report that Dr. S. found no new inflammatory activity in the back of Pawscar’s eyes, and the inflammation at the front of his eyes remains controlled. The pressure in his right eye is “stable.” Pawscar’s dose of the “chicken slop” (compounded prednisolone with chicken flavoring) is being reduced, but he must still get the drops in his right eye twice a day. If his condition remains stable in two more months, he may be able to stop taking the prednisolone.
I headed home, rejoicing over the good news. Pawscar made it almost all the way home before he lost a bit of lunch. He must have been pretty happy, too.
A Sad Tale
After taking Pawscar home, I paid a brief visit to Patch the Pirate at Gasow. Dr. R. had received the results of Patch’s culture, which showed only normal bacteria and no overgrowth. There was still no word on the other test results. I promised to return later, after teaching my Greek class.
Shortly after my students left, Dr. R. called me with some alarming news. Late this afternoon when she checked on Patch, she felt something like bubble wrap under the skin of Patch’s head when she petted her. Upon further examination, she discovered this strange texture under the skin of Patch’s neck and upper shoulders, caused by air under the skin. A couple of x-rays revealed free air in the chest cavity as well. These symptoms were NOT present earlier; even I would have noticed the strange feel of Patch’s head when I was there at 2:00 PM had it been present then. Before calling me, Dr. R. e-mailed the x-rays to a lab to get some speedy additional analysis. She was afraid that–because of the sudden appearance of the symptoms–Patch’s chest might fill with air overnight, causing pain or even collapsed lungs.
I had planned to make another visit this evening anyway, but the ominous news cemented my plan. I headed to Gasow to spend some time with Patch and try to reach some sort of decision with Dr. R.’s help. Patch was sitting quietly in her cage, not as feisty as usual in her reception of me because she had been sedated for the x-rays.
I petted Patch, speaking softly to her. After caring for other clients, Dr. R. came in, and we discussed the options. The new symptoms were definitely not caused by any viral condition that the awaited test results might reveal. There was a strong likelihood that Patch would face a difficult surgery and recovery–or no treatment option at all–if we pursued more testing (CT scan) with a specialist. Finally, there was a real danger of Patch’s lungs filling with free air during the night. We reluctantly agreed that it was best for Patch to let her join her “best buddies” Possum and Brave and Purrin’Dot on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. Patch the Pirate, you will be missed!
P.S. The results of the additional tests came back the following day. Although Patch had been exposed at some point in the past to the feline herpes virus, it was not a factor in Patch’s current ailment. This means we made the right decision, since the problem was neither viral nor bacterial.
It wasn’t exactly what I’d envisioned a homecoming to be. I arranged with Dr. L. to pick up Patch the Pirate this evening from Gasow Veterinary Hospital. Patch is not completely well, but there is little more that could be done for her by keeping her caged and angry.
I was not surprised to receive a hefty vet bill for Patch’s eight days in the hospital. In fact, I was expecting a higher total than I actually got. Cats are definitely worth it.
On the way home Patch made not a sound. Perhaps she could not believe she was finally coming home. Since she wasn’t talking, I admired and photographed a lovely rainbow created by the setting sun shining through the raindrops. I am hoping it was an omen that all would be well.
I lugged the large carrier, which was much larger than Patch needed, down the stairs and into our “living room.” I opened the door, and Patch promptly ran under the bed. I have not seen her since. Happy Homecoming!
P.S. I should note that Patch’s vet, Dr. L., was supposed to be taking this week off work in preparation for moving. Instead, she cared for Patch both Monday and today.