Friday, April 30, 2010

kitty tent first run

This past weekend was the first opportunity to try out the new kitty tent. And as you can see from the pictures below it was a success! The cats really seemed to enjoy being off-leash outside!





















Wednesday, April 28, 2010

turning point

Today was an exciting day. Hang the streamers, adorn the party hats and prepare to dance!

Today, Theo had his first solid-formed poop in three months!! Could it be that the chronic diarrhea is over and done with?!

When I picked Theo up from the specialist last Friday, he seemed different. He was acting much more subdued than usual. He still was interested in food but not crazy interested like before. He was energetic but not bouncing off the walls. And then this morning I witnessed the moment of glory.

What was the magic cure? We have no idea. The specialist didn't give him anything, they only performed diagnostic work. And we didn't change his meds until Sunday, but maybe the nasty deworming medicine (Panacur) has made an immediate difference. Whatever brought about this change, I am thankful.

I left Theo's regular vet, Annabelle Zastrow, a note this morning, informing her of the good news. I ended the note with "it is fun being a crazy cat person!" Denial no more, the actions prove it: texting my wife with the breaking news about Theo's accomplishment, sharing the exciting news with the vet, dancing a celebratory jig after Theo did the deed - they all point to one thing. Today is more than the day Theo's poop solidified, it is the day I realized I have crossed over the line into being "the crazy cat guy". Time to start shopping for the cat emblazoned apparel and accessories.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

opening day

Happiness is hunting moths with Willow!

Today was the official start of moth hunting season and Willow was rearing to go. I had spotted a moth on the front porch earlier that evening so we started there.

The routine goes as follows: the first one to spot the moth calls out to alert the other so both are focused on the same prey. Usually the moth is high off the ground so my job is to give it a gentle tap to get it flying lower. Willow tracks it and when it gets too low, she pins it with her paw and carefully brings it to her mouth. Then comes the quick snarf followed by a look of delight. We're then ready for the next one.

This night the first moth was a wussy moth (technical speak for a small, easy to capture moth). I assisted in the hunt several times by knocking the moth lower. Willow made a few attempts but then Nahum stole her joy and made the kill. Willow was devastated.

Before she could linger too long in self-pity the second moth appeared - this one was a prized giant moth, practically a small bird! Willow's eyes became big saucers as she tracked the moth's every move. The tension on the porch rose with the sound of her hunting cackle, the moth's fear evident. Willow boldly pushed the other cats aside to get first crack at the prey. This moth's preservation instinct was strong as it remained near the ceiling fluttering with wild abandon as it tried to cheat death's call. One more gentle assist with the moth stick and wham! - the death blow was swift. Theo appeared out of no where and ended it.

Willow was crushed. Twice now she missed her prize. No amount of consoling helped to clear the disappointment from her normally cheerful little face. I could think of only one thing to do - check out the hunting conditions on the back porch. Sadly no more bugs were to be found. Willow leaves the first day of moth season with the thrill of the chase but is unable to bag the big moth.

icanhascheezburger

A website that always gives me a laugh is icanhascheezburger.com. Cat pictures are paired with funny captions resulting in many laughs.

Here are my two favorites:



Saturday, April 24, 2010

chair

Nahum very clearly expresses his likes and dislikes. He likes his box, his shoe and his string. He dislikes getting medicine, being held and being placed in a lap. Until recently, I had forgotten that he also likes his chair - a blue desk chair that previously belonged to Laura.

The chair is ideal for Nahum, it provides a soft cushy spot for napping, has a built-in tall scratching post, it swivels, and it has an assortment of noise-making levers on the bottom to play with. When he is playing in his chair, his body exudes delight! It is very fun to see.

Seeing Nahum's joy made me wonder if I am as free to express my delight? I think the easy answer is "no". Freely sharing delight is too risky - why open oneself up to be mocked, shamed or hurt?

This morning I enjoyed a great moment of joy with Laura as we watched Nahum play with his chair. Nahum's playful freedom gave me a gift. Holding back my joy may act to protect me but it also prevents me from experiencing greater depth in relationship that comes with being truly known and loved.

Friday, April 23, 2010

specialist

Laura took Theo to the internal specialist today in hopes of finding the cause of his diarrhea troubles. His situation is certainly perplexing, as he looks a like a healthy cat and continues to eat like a horse.

The specialist-vet performed an ultrasound to check out his innards and we got the news that everything on the inside looks like it should. She read through his chart notes and wondered if he has ever been properly de-wormed. Wouldn't that be something, to spend all this time and money only to have it be worms! Ugh! They were going to give him the de-worming medicine just in case and meanwhile we are to return to the first medication we tried and hope for the best.

The vet also noted after looking over Theo's innards, that he is a young cat. We had been thinking he was young, but then the wear on his tooth made us think older, but now we are back to younger again! If only it was that easy to be young again!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

kitty tent

After some last minute lobbying and bargaining, approval was granted to explore options and come back with an estimate for materials to create a portable cat-enclosure for the side yard.

So, to Craigslist I went, searching for portable carports and animal enclosures. Soon enough, I found a portable picnic table screened tent. It is meant to go around a picnic table to provide dry and bug free camping. I instantly realized it was the perfect portable kitty tent. And it was well below budget, only $35!

After a phone call, some planning and a trip after work to Renton - we now have a portable kitty tent! it is quite large, which I hope will help the cats feel like they are not in a cage. I will need to engineer a fix so the cats can't escape under the sides, but a design is already being worked through.

This summer's project is to paint the exterior of our house. Whenever I am working on the house, the cats are in the windows longing to come out too. Now, the cats can lounge in the grass, enjoy the sun and hear and smell all the cool outside noises and smells as I make progress on the house. The next warm, sunny weekend, we get to try it out! Yahooo!!



Sunday, April 18, 2010

cat show

I went to a cat show yesterday! I have been to many dog shows in the past, but this was only my second cat show. Cat shows operate very differently than dog shows. They seem much less orderly and more chaotic, which I suppose could be a reflection of the species!


How the judging works is still a mystery to me. It seems various breeds and types of cats compete against each other. From what I hear there is a system to the process, however, I will need to attend more shows before I get a handle on how things work.


The basic operation is very different from a dog show. The handlers place their feline-entrants into the proper cage behind the judge and then sit in the viewing gallery to watch how their cat does. The judge takes each cat from it's cage, places it on the judging table and runs it through a number of various tests to check it out and then returns it to it's cage. The same process unfolds for each cat. The awarding of ribbons process is very confusing as there are multiple ribbons given out, it is not nearly as straight forward as a dog show. Ultimately how the winner is selected is still way beyond my understanding.

Similar to a dog show, you can walk around the animal staging areas, where the handlers are frantically prepping their cats before entering the ring. I have found the handlers to be very friendly and happy to talk about their cats. Sometimes they will even let you pet and hold one!

One major difference between a dog show and a cat show is the eccentric feline pampering paraphernalia. Cat show people certainly put a lot of work into the look and comfortableness of their cat-tent and accompanying space. Apparently, no amount of material or lace is too much for Fluffy.

It is clear from the energy in the room, that the people showing cats and spectating are having a good time. Compared to a dog show, there is a lot more interaction between the handlers, audience and judges. The judge often talks about what he or she is noticing in the cat as they look it over.

After another successful and fun show, I will be looking out for an upcoming larger cat show, one that hopefully has agility! That will be fun!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

week in pictures

Sleepy Willow


Nahum napping with his shoe


Theo playing in the blanket


Willow's new favorite nap spot, the cat carrier bag


Nahum and Theo playing in the tub


Beauty

bug season

Bug season is near and Willow is thrilled! Hunting bugs is one of Willow's passions. In most activities she usually passively trails behind the other cats but when it comes to hunting bugs she pushes them right out of the way and goes all out.

As the outside temperatures begin to rise with the coming of summer, the bugs are starting to appear. An occasional bug finds it's way into the enclosed porch and becomes a tasty snack.

Last summer, Willow and I had a nightly ritual of hunting bugs together. I would knock them down lower or get them to fly and she would take them down. Then as winter approached I searched for a humane moth trap so I could live trap moths and release them for her. I never found a catch-and-release moth trap, it seems most people are more interested in killing the moths directly.

Seeing Willow's enthusiasm recently as she hunted down a huge fly, I believe it's going to be an exciting bug season!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nahum

I have really been enjoying Nahum lately. His silliness and constant eagerness to play have been delightful to my heart.


His excitement of having me home is clearly communicated each time I return after being away for the day. I may get several requests for tummy rubs quickly followed up by requests to play. Meanwhile he talks up a storm with all of his odd but cute vocalizations.

If I don't make it into the living room where most of his toys are quick enough, he drags a toy out to me and asks that I make it move for him.

He is not much of a snuggler, unless you catch him right when he wakes up. Every morning I used to get great Nahum cuddles at around 6am when he would climb on my chest and snuggle in. Sadly, he recently stopped this ritual.

Nahum loves his boxes! Each trip to Costco yields another box of never-ending fun! His recent favorite is a flat tomato box. He carries all of his favorite toys to his box and enjoys having them near. It is common to find him sprawled out in his box asleep with his toys.

Nahum most always makes me laugh and smile. For this I am very grateful.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

treat heist

We used to keep some treats in a small plastic dish which was really handy.

Nahum and Theo took it upon themselves to break into the container and get the treats. I walked in on the scene of the crime after I heard a bunch of crunching and it wasn't meal time! I investigated and found them both snarfing down the loot. I think it's time for a new container!

Monday, April 12, 2010

eye trouble

Nahum has been having some discharge from one of his eyes now for the past few days. Since it seems to be getting worse, we decided to take him over to the vet to get checked out. They didn't find any foreign objects or scratches, so that is good. We have some magic ointment now that we get to apply twice a day.

Poor guy, he looks rather uncomfortable, with his eye partially closed and discharge oozing out. After the vet trip his eye is quite swollen. He seems a little less energetic and more skittish than usual.

I just want to scoop him up and hold him telling him everything is going to be all-right, but he would hate that! He only likes to be cuddled on his terms.

Max used to get eye infections somewhat regularly and it was always difficult to see him suffer. It is hard watching a cat you love suffer, even if in a minor way. Hopefully, the ointment does the trick for Nahum and he is back to 100% before too long.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

allergies

I recently heard that this year's allergy season has been one of the worst ever. I rarely pay attention to such things because neither Laura nor I have ever suffered from seasonal allergies. But now we have a member of the family who is affected by seasonal allergies, Willow.

For the past month or so Willow has been sneezing and congested more than usual. We wondered what was going on and yesterday I had the chance to ask Dr. Annabelle Zastrow, our vet. She said she has seen quite a few allergy suffering cats lately, some even needing oxygen to be able to breathe. Thankfully, our Willow is not impacted to that extent.

We have increased her asthma medication and hopefully it will help her breathe easier.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

update on Theo

I haven't posted an update on Theo's condition in a while. Basically, nothing has changed. He continues to have diarrhea, he eats like a horse and he still annoys the other cats.

I was hoping the diarrhea was due from his slight-hyperthyroidism. But after giving him thyroid medication for a month now there has been no change in the consistency of his poop, even though the lab work is showing progress in treating the hyperthyroidism.

So, the next option is for him to visit a specialist who will preform an endoscopy in hopes of diagnosing his condition. But before we can get this procedure done, he has to be off the steroids for 6 weeks. Thus, we have begun the tapering process, which will take several weeks.

It appears my hope that his problem would all be cleared up before the AAT evaluation in June is not going to happen. I suppose I might go forward with the evaluation and if he passes will wait for him to get well before bringing him into work. That means I need to resume practicing with him meeting unfamiliar people and doing all the things he needs to do to pass the evaluation.

Monday, April 5, 2010

favorites

I admit it, I favor Willow.

It seems Willow can do no wrong, at least in my world! I find myself making excuses for Willow's behavior, painting her in a more positive light. "Surely, she didn't jump on the counter, all the cats know better, especially Willow!"

Theo is not allowed on the table, especially when we are eating. Nahum is not allowed on the table near the food when we are eating. Willow, she is not allowed to eat off the plates on the table. She seems to get special permissions the other cats don't get.

Willow is allowed under the sheets on the bed. Theo has to fight his way under and Nahum is not at all interested in such craziness.

Willow gets first crack at hunting bugs even though the others are very interested.

Willow gets first dibs on newly created kitty spots.

Theo gets squirted with water when hunting Willow. Theo gets a verbal reprimand when hunting Nahum. Willow gets no reprimand when hunting anyone.

Movies get paused when Willow is being exceptionally cute. Actually, that's true for all of them!

Indeed, Willow gets special treatment. But is that such a bad thing?!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

tummy toll

Nahum has had an insatiable appetite for tummy rubs lately. That boy can't seem to get enough!

Everytime I turn around it seems he is flopping on the ground, rolling over and blocking my path. Got to pay the tummy rub toll before passing. Of course I don't mind paying, he's so adorable!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April fools

A few days ago we came up with the perfect April Fools Day practical joke. The recipient would be our vet, Annabelle Zastrow, DVM. I went over this morning to deliver the joke, but she wasn't there! She must have received advanced intel and took the day off. So now we make some minor adjustments to the plan and will try again perhaps tomorrow.

The idea came to me after our recent appointment with Theo, where his thyroid level was rechecked. It became clear in that visit, that Annabelle thinks we are over-the-top nutty cat owners. Thus, the plan involves playing into that characterization. I won't say more right now, but will provide further details after it goes down - stay tuned!