Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Feline Overlords - In Celebration of Pet Week

I didn't realize this, but it's National Pet Week this week (May 6-12).  Thanks to Sharla from The House at Bluebird Lane for letting me know!  She and Charming Zebra are hosting pet week link parties - I'll provide the links at the end of the post - this week, and I thought this would be a great time to share the best of my feline overlords - er, assistants.  They've cropped up in many posts, so you may have seen some of these pictures already, but it seems like a good time to gather them all together and officially introduce them.  I'll share a little bit about how each kitty came to be with us.

This is Karma.  Karma has been with us for six years now, and is the alpha cat, at this point.  Karma came to us through a series of unfortunate circumstances.   He'd been living as a stray outside the house of a friend-of-a-friend, and there was a terrible dispute with their neighbor over him. The neighbor let their dog out without a leash or a fence, and he chased Karma across the road.  Unfortunately, the dog was hit and killed by a car.  The neighbor blamed Karma, and told the person who was feeding him that when he saw the cat, he was going to "catch it and throw it in front of a car."  Karma then disappeared for two days.  When he came back, he was dragging his hind legs and he could barely walk.  The people brought him inside, hoping he'd improve, but he just got worse.  They had a few other pets of their own and couldn't afford veterinary care, so in a last-ditch effort to help Karma out, my friend emailed a bunch of people asking for help.  My husband and I stepped in, and we drive two hours to pick Karma up.   We took him to the vet the next day and found he had a dislocated hip and an abscessed claw on one of his hind feet.  I was already in love with him.  They couldn't get the hip back in the socket - it had been too long - but after an orthopedic vet saw him, it was determined that he'd probably heal up and walk with barely a limp.  It turns out the orthopod was right!  Karma limps once in a while now, and if the other cats play too roughly, he'll limp a bit more for a day or two, but he's just as active as can be.  He jumps up on the table, up into windows (high windows, at that!), plays, runs around the house - he's a very healthy, happy cat.  I'm so very glad he's in our lives.  I still remember holding him on my lap for that two-hour car ride home that night, with ten pounds of stripey orange cat curled up in my lap.  He was in pain, but still so sweet.  He snuggled right up to me and purred.  I cried most of the way home for what had been done to him.  Karma and I are, obviously, closely bonded.  I'm his girl, and woe betide anyone who tries to hurt me!  (Seriously.  He has quite a protective streak.)  He was amazing when Pippin was sick, and stuck by my side day and night, particularly when I was most upset.  They just know.  Explaining to Karma that Pippin had died was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  They were good buddies.  I don't know if he understood or not, but I still felt like I should - he was searching for Pippin.

Here are more pictures of the orange beast in action.

 Karma helps us construct the kitty castle.

 Karma and Pippin used to pretend they didn't like each other, but they were never far apart.  Boys.

 See what I mean?

Karma inspects the newly uncovered hardwood in the bedroom.

Karma helping with photographing the redone ottoman.  He wouldn't stay out of pictures, yet he wouldn't stay still long enough for me to take a picture that wasn't blurry.
Karma and Strider, helping us prep the carpet to be removed.

 This fiesty little black cat is Strider.  Strider came to us five years ago, when my husband and I wandered into Petco one night and saw a couple of ladies with a tiny black kitten in their cart.  Of course I had to go say hi to him!  It turns out that they found him while they were out walking one night, and he kept following them and mewing.  They brought him all around the neighborhood trying to find out who he belonged to, but no one claimed him.  So they brought him to Petco to find some food for him, while they looked for a new home.  They had a couple cats of their own who wouldn't have done well with a new family member.  Suckers that we are, Mike and I couldn't resist.  He came home with us.  Strider is a spunky little guy.  He's all of 9 lbs of long legs and attitude.  We adore him, of course!

When he was two, he was diagnosed with asthma.  It was really, really scary to see our cat coughing and barely able to breathe, but after a few trips to the vet and one scary trip to the emergency vet in the middle of an ice storm while we were staying with the husband's parents because we had no power for five days... his asthma is well-controlled now.  We give him a Flovent inhaler twice a day, with this nifty little device called the Aerokat.   Strider's great about it.  he jumps up on the table and begs for the inhaler (and the treats that follow).

This obviously isn't Strider, but he's even more mellow about it than this particular cat.  If you have a cat that's coughing persistently, know that it might not be hairballs - it might be asthma or heart failure.  Take your cat to a vet for a proper diagnosis.  And please, don't hesitate to contact me if you have a cat diagnosed with asthma - I'm not a vet, but I know how overwhelming it can be, and I also know how very treatable it can be!  Strider's life is so much better now that he's being treated for asthma.  He can breathe!

Strider helps with the carpet removal process.

Strider and Earl Grey inspect the new chairs.

Earl Grey is one of our newest arrivals.  Shortly after Pippin died, the husband and I stopped at Petsmart to get kitty litter.  We normally go to Petco, but we'd just been there the night that Pippin took his last turn for the worse, so it was a little to raw to do so... so we went to Petsmart.  Petsmart has adoptable kitties, and we just happened to look at them.  Much to our surprise, we saw three cats curled up in a row: the first one, at the briefest glance, resembled Pippin.  The second one resembled our dear (also departed) Horatio. The third one looked a lot like Mr. Karma.  And then the grey one - who looked like Horatio - rolled over onto his back and showed us his giant fluffy belly.  We couldn't help but go meet him.  We played with him (and all the other cats there) for a while, then went home.  When I looked on the shelter's website, it appeared he had already been adopted.  I thought to myself, "Good for him. It's not meant to be."  But then I randomly checked back three days later, and he was back up on the site - two adoptions had fallen through on the poor guy!  I took that as a sign from the Universe, and Earl Grey came home the following weekend.  Much to my surprise, he has integrated quickly and easily.  He has the sweetest, most gentle nature, and the other cats adore him.  Earl and Strider are, in particular, besties.
Earl also gets in on the carpet removal project.

Earl helps with my bud vase project.

Earl checks out my Rub N' Buff tiger.

And here's Princess Willow.  She's the only girl, and although Karma's the alpha cat, she rules the roost in her own very feminine sort of way.  We brought her home when I was a few months from graduating from nursing school, when she was all of eight weeks old.  Strider was just a kitten then, and he would not stop molesting poor Pippin - who was twice his size!  We decided another kitten was probably wise (I now believe in adopting them in pairs), and with perfect timing, a nursing school friend's neighbor had kittens.  And so Willow came home!  She's a little shy, but very affectionate in her calico cat sort of way.  She's incredibly tenacious, as well.  She'll scratch at the bedroom door to be let in for, literally, an hour or until we let her in.  She's very much a Daddy's girl.  Above, she's also helping with the Rub N' Buff project.

Willow helps with the apple blossom wreath.

Willow investigates the changes to the master bedroom.

I think this means she approves of the new decor.

Willow, helping with moving the mattress out of the way during our bedroom overhaul.

And let's not forget the newest addition, Lancelot!  He was a stray that our vet's head tech found near her grandmother's - he kept trying to escape INTO her grandmother's house.   He was a little wild, so he needed a home with patient cat people. Enter the Handyvergers.  Introducing him to the other cats is still in progress.  He and Karma continue to butt heads, but I'm confident we can make it work.

All the boys outside Lance's door, waiting to meet him.

Lance hasn't yet had the chance to help with many projects, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time!

And finally, a space for the kitties who've gone to the Rainbow Bridge.  Sad stuff below - but I can't talk about the cats that are here, without remembering the ones who aren't.

Pet Week Link Parties here - will add pretty buttons later - must run to work.

 Cleo was my very first kitty; I raised her from the time she was 6 weeks old.  She was feisty, but how I adored her.  She was with me when I met my husband - and let me know she firmly approved of him!

She was also with us through losing my father, and she was so good to have around then.  She moved into our first home with us, but became ill immediately afterward - we found our new vet because we were so scared for her.  She ended up going to Tufts and dying there of heart failure.  We had no idea she was that ill.  Cats are very stoic about hiding illness, so please take yours to the vet immediately if he seems off!

Horatio was only with us for two years, but we loved him so.  He got off to a rough start in life, being found on the side of a four-lane highway by a state trooper, who brought him to our vet.  After our Cleo died so suddenly, our vet told us about this kitten they were fostering...  and so we decided to "foster" him.  Clearly, it was a long term-arrangement.  Horatio became ill over a weekend, and we lost him to FIP.  We still miss him dearly, even though it's been five years.

So, we told ourselves when we brought Earl home that he didn't look that much like Horatio... We might have been wrong about that...

 Horatio was exhausting us - as kittens do - and we mentioned to our vet that we thought he needed a sibling.  A kitten came to them in need of a home, and so Pippin came to live with us.

Pippin was the love of my life; we were very tightly bonded.  This past October, he became ill and was diagnosed with diabetes.  I'm a nurse, so I thought for sure we'd be able to manage it.  We gave him insulin, checked his blood sugars twice a day... he was so brave and trusting about all of it.

But he kept getting sick.  He was in and out of the kitty ICU four times between October and January, and we worked very closely with our primary vet and an internal medicine specialist to try to figure out what was going on with him.  He had pancreatitis, which isn't uncommon in cats with diabetes.  But then he started developing kidney failure.  He stayed brave about his ICU stays, and he was so very good about letting me give him SubQ fluids.  The staff in the ICU adored him - they used to do rounds with him in their arms, paws over their shoulders, morning and night.

It started out as a low level chronic thing, but then suddenly in the last week of January, he declined.  We brought him urgently to the vet at 2 AM on a Tuesday... that morning, we brought him to Tufts University, where he was in the hands of one of the foremost kidney specialists in the country.  After searching our hearts, we decided to try Pippin on dialysis.  Since his change in status was so quick - his kidney numbers jumped drastically in less than a week - and he was so young, we thought it was worth trying, since there was a chance of recovery.

 We went through a roller coaster ride from Tuesday to Friday, and some days he was better, but eventually, he was worse and dialysis wasn't working.  He became unstable - his heart was not doing well with everything - and so we decided to let him go.  It was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

It's been more than three months... but I still miss my little friend so.


  1. Such beautiful cats! It looks as though your home is a kitty paradise. I especially liked the kitten pictures of Horatio and Pippin. (Pets add so much to our lives.)

  2. What a beautiful post! I really enjoyed reading about all your fur babies and seeing their darling photos. Your words about your sweet Pippin brought tears to my eyes. We lost our sweet cat, Fat Louie, to kidney failure right after Thanksgiving last year. It was one of the toughest decisions I had to ever make. Thank you so much for sharing your precious cats at our Rockin' Pet Linky Party! Hope you have a wonderful night!

  3. I had to follow you back over to your blog after your kind comment on my Pet Week story.. My husband stood over my shoulder as we read about your kittikins. It seems as if you two cannot go to a pet store without bringing home a new family member! Lancelot looks as though he will fit in with the others. We enjoyed reading your story. It was a wonderful tribute.

    Distressed Donna Down Home

  4. In my house, every week is pet week :)
    What cute kitties you have!

  5. Awww, thanks for the post. I am now crying after reading about your lost babies. I have some of my own that I have lost, so I can identify. It's sweet to hear about the personalities of your kids. I find mine are soooo different. Just like people really. It was a treat to read.

  6. Such cute kitties! I love the photo of Earl with his paw outstretched to the tiger.