Many of us are, or have been, actively involved with various Internet feline help-groups for troubled kitties. I cannot begin to express enough praise for all the good things they accomplish. A human database of accumulated cat experience; how could one explain it any other way? In my mind, there could be not greater tribute to humanity than to see people joining hands to help sick animals, and that’s exactly what we see on the Internet help-groups.people spending their time, energy, often their money to help troubled animals they’ve never seen and never will see. It’s incredible! But let’s not forget to mention something else they spend in dearly proportions, and that is their emotions. I’ve been on those lists, and like you, I’ve spent many a restless night fretting over a sick kitty in Topeka.fussing and fuming because it was Sunday and the Post Office was closed, and I couldn’t mail those “spare” supplies to Topeka until tomorrow! When in fact the supplies weren’t “spare” at all in many cases: Drugs or supplies were needed, the pet-parent couldn’t afford them and I could, and you could write the rest of this story because you’ve all done the same thing. Or you’ve spent countless hours on long-distance trying to console someone. Or..the list is nearly endless, isn’t it? But we wouldn’t change things even if we could; it’s who and what we are, and if there is a God watching, He knows.
Now for the other shoe (you knew there would be one, didn’t you?): Well, the drop is actually pretty soft this week; I have only two words of advisement: One, don’t ever stop being who you are. Pet owners.especially those with a sick pet…can be rude, thoughtless, inconsiderate and ungrateful, and sometimes downright obnoxious. Much of that, of course, can be attributed to stress, anxiety, and raw fear, but in any case always remember this: That sick kitty has none of those unsavory traits; he or she just needs your help. Two, remember that although our hearts are pure, we’re human beings with weaknesses and fallacies, one of which is a tendency toward tunnel vision: “Your cat sneezes twice every Friday? Gosh, my cat did that, and it turned out to be Flagrante’ Lopodozzilus, so that must be what your cat has too! Here’s what you need to do.” Take it all in, folks, but do not take it as gospel just yet; suck it up like a sponge and build your own human database! Yes, you must eventually settle on a treatment or protocol or diagnosis, (or perhaps the perfect diet?) but remember this: Universities with billions of dollars for research don’t know all the answers, so it’s fair to assume that neither do I, nor does a total stranger from Montreal, nor does Susan down the street.nor does even your vet. The only correct approach is to accumulate options, and choose the best of what’s available to you.
Your Inner Voice
by Kathy Fatheree
Sad story short: I had planned on telling you a story about a cat named Isky who died after a week or so of neglect, an open-abdomen liver biopsy to confirm fatty liver disease and e-tube placement. However, to this day, the story is too painful for me to repeat because the whole two-week event is about me and my vet making mistake after mistake after mistake. We both made so many poor decisions that it will take me rescuing 10,000 sick cats before I will be able to forgive myself.
One of the biggest mistakes that proved too stressful for this perfect cat was taking a liver biopsy using a technique that I pray is no longer practiced. Isky’s procedure was performed 7 years ago and at that time, the vet recommended taking a sliver of his liver….yes, they actually cut his little abdomen open to take a sliver of his liver. Why this is so painful for me is at the time, the procedure sounded too drastic and invasive, but I trusted the vet with my life and thought he knew best. I SHOULD HAVE expressed my concern and asked that we skip the procedure. Would we have placed the tube regardless of the results of the liver biopsy? YES. Because Isky was anorexic and not eating and at the time I did not know that it was possible to syringe feed or finger feed a cat. So WHY did we have to take the sliver? Just to confirm he had fatty liver disease. Isky was too weak to have the liver biopsy so we should have skipped it. I’m not sure how long he had been without food, but the liver biopsy could have been performed later. BETTER YET… why couldn’t the vet have performed a needle aspiration? This is a procedure where they guide a needle into the liver WITHOUT surgery to take a sample of the liver. Perhaps needle aspirations of the liver were not commonly done at the time. I don’t know… I just know that I should have asked. A lesson learned is to ALWAYS ask lots of questions and express concerns. Trust your intuition and listen to your inner voice.
ASK: “What tests can we run and what are the possible complications for each?”
ASK: “What less invasive procedures can be performed to help us make a diagnosis?”
ASK: “Do we need a 100% diagnosis right this very minute in order to help my cat start eating again?”
After you have asked your questions, hold the thought of your precious cat in the forefront of your mind and quietly listen to what your inner voice has to say.
The best photographs show your cat doing what it loves doing most and display its personality, such as playing with its favorite toy, watching the birds or getting ready to pounce. Unless you have infinite time and patience, the only way to obtain such photographs is to keep a camera within arm’s reach and ready to shoot. A digital camera is best as pictures already stored in its memory will not be affected by time, but even a partially exposed roll in a film camera will last for some time if shielded from light and the time does not translate into a month or more.
Yes, this means getting down on the floor on all fours so that you are able to hold the camera at an eye-to-eye level. Doing so will be easier, of course, if the cat is on a perch or sitting on a piece of furniture or in a window.
Many potentially good photos are ruined either because the cat’s eyes are out of focus or because of the animal version of “red-eye”, that is, the reflection of light from the camera’s flash back into the lens.
If your camera has a manual focus adjustment, be sure that the eyes are in focus even at the expense of other areas. If you have an auto-focus camera, as most of us do, filling a large part of the frame with the cat’s face will likely induce its auto-focus system to focus on the eyes.
Solving the eye reflection issue is more challenging as it may involve asking a helper to distract the cat while taking the picture. The cat need not be distracted enough to turn the head, but just enough to avoid looking directly into the camera lens. The best position for your helper is standing behind your shoulder.
If you don’t succeed in eliminating the reflection on what could be a prized photo, you may convert the photo into a digital format by scanning it, if produced by a film camera, and use most popular photo-editing software to restore the cat’s pupils to their normal appearance. Beware that most “red-eye” tools in such software will not work properlyon animals; therefore you will have to use other tools, such as the “brush” or “paint” tool. The photo in this paragraph is the same one as in the above paragraph, but which has been touched-up by a popular photo-editing application!
Using natural light, when possible, will eliminate the reflection problem and will make great pictures. Professional photographers use this technique as often as possible, especially when soft, natural light is available. Be on the alert for opportunities to take pictures of your cat while it is sitting near a window, a nearby sliding glass door or an overhead skylight. The best opportunities are found on cloudy, overcast days when the light is soft.
When peering through your viewfinder, insure that your cat(s) will be the focus of attention by eliminating any distracting elements from the photo. Examples of such elements may be a television screen, bright lamps or brightly colored objects. A solid color carpet or hardwood floor is best for kitty to pose. A large towel or tablecloth spread out on the floor may also obtain the desired effect.
We hope that paying attention to the above hints will allow you to take great photographs of your feline companions that will preserve memories that you will love and cherish in the years ahead.
No new food to brag about this week, folks; sorry about that. Sometimes my gut tells me to leave their guts alone for a few days, so that’s what we’re doing.letting their digestive systems settle down a bit with their regular food. Not that variety is a bad thing, as we all know. But it shouldn’t be forced. They’ll let us know when they’re in the market for something different, and they’ll let us know when they’d rather skip the variety. Much like when I’m out of good Scotch and you offer me a warm bottle of Thunderbird: Usually I’ll decline, but not always; occasionally I’ll nod my head eagerly to the gracious offer.
So that’s the scoop: Like most kitties, mine too have a regular and preferred food, and for the moment it seems that’s what they want. We’ll do a new food for next week, though, and I’ve got one here that appears to be great! Wilbur, as you know, will eat anything that doesn’t eat him first, but Clarkie’s appetite is a bit more polished and we’ll rely on him to give us a somewhat more reliable opinion.
Disclaimer: Kathy Fatheree is not at all a medical expert. Contents of this web site are a collection of Kathy’s assist feeding experiences as well as the experiences of other cat owners who have assist fed their cats. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, Kathy Fatheree or anyone associated with this web site cannot be held responsible for anything that may happen as a result of using the information on this site.