I have been awake since 2:57am. Mind you, I went to bed around 10:00pm, and with a dose of Tylenol PM in my system at that. But I had trouble falling asleep: pressure headache; Alyssa was in bed next to me, watching Pokemon; and my mind was too busy thinking about the rest of the week for me to relax. I think I fell asleep shortly after 11. What woke me up? A combination of Dan coming to bed, the bed being too crowded (Felix insisted that all 20+ pounds of himself join us), Dan snoring, breathing weird, and twitching because he didn’t put on his CPAP, and just…I don’t even know. Ugh. I tossed and turned for about an hour before giving up and getting up.
So now it’s almost 5:30am, and I’ve been showered and dressed and ready to face the day for nearly an hour. I’m going to be seriously dragging by the afternoon. :/
Alyssa just came to me and asked if she can use one of our cat carriers to try and catch a presumed stray cat she spotted. I sighed inwardly, but I said yes, because it’s what we do: we rescue cats. We can’t save them all, but we can at least save the ones we find (“save” meaning return to owner if tags are present; take to a shelter for possible microchip identification if no tags are present; if there is no owner due to lack of tags and no microchip, then we use the same local shelter’s TNR/stray cat program to sterilize and vaccinate, then try to re-home or end up keeping the cat ourselves). Is this what we ideally want to do? No, but somebody has to step up. Do I ideally want to claim ownership to six cats? No, but again: someone has to step up. And, for the ones that can’t be re-homed (we’ve managed to successfully re-home three females in the past year and a half, yay!), we end up falling in love with them anyway – Alcide and Felix are perfect examples of that, as well as Titanium.
And speaking of Felix: HE IS GOING TO BE OKAY. Thank God and all other possible deities. On Thursday morning I had the Wait And See approach going on, since at that point he was just a little lethargic and sniffly, but was still eating and drinking. By 2am Friday morning I was chomping at the bit to get him in for an appointment with our veterinarian: he was very lethargic, more sniffly, and there was discharge from his left ear, left eye, and both nostrils. By the time I left with him early Friday afternoon, I was convinced it was going to be Alcide all over again: a WBC test would show he couldn’t fight off the infection, and I would be signing paperwork for euthanasia, then holding him and crying into his fur as he was put to sleep. Because this is all too often how it is with FIV+ cats: when they get sick, they get SICK, and within a matter of days they’re in organ failure and there is nothing you can do for them except to mercifully euthanize them, and then avoid picking up their cremated remains for nearly four months because you’re still so heartsick over the loss and can’t bear the idea of facing the sympathetic staff as you collect your cat’s boxed ashes.
Instead, after an exam that included a blood test for a WBC count (as well as more thorough testing for liver and kidney function, though these results won’t be ready until Tuesday) and urine analysis (they directly tapped his bladder for that – eek!), we were sent him with positive thoughts and promises that Felix will come through just fine, as well as six weeks worth of antibiotics (oral, as well as eye and ear ointment). It has been a little over 48 hours since the first dose of medication, and already Felix is looking and acting so much better. He’s eating, drinking, using the litter box, and is much more lively: purring, walking around, trying to jump up on the kitchen counter, and hanging with us and cuddling with his best buddy Titanium (who is also FIV+, so we’re keeping a close eye on him in case he gets sick, too).
Edited to add: I’m kind of tired today and just realized I already blogged about Felix being okay. Oops.
Here’s a glimpse into what daily life with six cats is like:
- We scoop two large litter boxes first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and every few hours in between
- We top off our pet water fountain’s reservoir every couple of days, and completely tear apart the fountain for cleaning every two weeks
- We go through 12 pounds of cat food per month
- In addition to having a 12-pound-capacity food trough filled, I always try to keep around at least another month’s supply
- We regularly stalk Petco and a local outlet grocery store for super-cheap/clearance cat food from the brands we use (basically everything that is Hill’s Ideal Balance “grade” and above)
- I shamelessly pitch pet food companies for coupons, samples, and full-sized product (the last I offer blog & social media promotion for)
- I google the hell out of coupons and free sample opportunities for cat food and litter
- We dust weekly and vacuum every other day
- We keep canned food and treats on hand for medication that can’t be given via an oral syringe or field-punting-down-the-throat (such as liquid flea treatment medication that is designed to be mixed with food); we also keep these items on hand for luring strays
- We also have a small stockpile of basic pet medication, including flea and tapeworm meds; eye and ear wipes; antibiotic sprays, rinses, and gels; and bottles of Amoxicillin and Clindamycin in the freezer
- Due to the various quirks the various cats have, we have to do things like keep bread and butter in containers or otherwise under wraps, screw the lids of fish food on extra-tight, cat-proof the hamster tank (packing tape works nicely for this), hide cords, keep the bathroom floor mat off the floor except when someone is bathing, and we had to altogether remove the floor mat we had in front of the back door
I won’t lie, it’s a lot of work at times. But on the other hand, once you surpass three cats it’s just a little more litter scooping, a little more fur…and like I said, when it comes to stray cats…it’s what you do. And, we love all six. That certainly helps. And it seems like the FIV+ rescue cats are the most loving! It’s like they somehow know how bad life could be for them, so they happily express affection and gratitude on a daily basis.
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By the time I took Felix in to the vet this morning I was a sniffly, sobbing mess. What happened with Alcide kept playing over and over in my mind, along with the mantra that “simple” colds and infections can easily kill FIV+ cats. That’s what happened with Alcide: a simple stomach bug that an FIV- cat would have fought off in a couple of days ran rampant through his system, eventually attacking his pancreas and kidneys. He would have died from a combination of fever, dehydration, and organ failure had we not been merciful and euthanized him. And, seeing how quickly Felix went downhill between yesterday morning when he simply had a gooey eye, to 1:00am this morning when he was wheezing, sniffly, and very lethargic, was scary. FIV+ cats get sick FAST and HARD, which is why it is so important to keep a super-close eye on them and get them to a veterinarian.
Anyway, Felix’s story has a much happier ending. Because he is FIV+, a run-of-the-mill bacterial upper respiratory infection quickly and mercilessly spread to his left eye and left ear. He is now on a regimen of antibiotics: oral antibiotic twice a day for the next six weeks, eye drops three times a day for the next two weeks, and ear drops once per day for the next two weeks. Additionally, I will be giving him a Lysine supplement twice per day, and when he is not dealing with an active “outbreak” (illness), he — and Titanium — will get it once per day. Since we usually give all six cats canned food just once a week, it looks like we’ll need to stock up so we always have something to mix the Lysine powder into.
While we were at the vet’s office they took blood (to check on kidney and liver function, as well as white blood cell count – the results will be ready by Tuesday) and a sample from his bladder. I guess having his bladder mauled is all it took for him to let loose: he peed in the carrier he was somewhat crammed into (in my defense, he’s a BIG cat!), and once we got home he peed on our bed. But it’s okay – I was going to wash the duvet anyway, since there was crusted up ear/eye discharge on it from Felix sleeping there last night. So I bathed him, wrapped him up tight in a pre-warmed towel, and then Dan and I medicated him: pills just in case he has fleas or worms (we didn’t see any fleas on him, but there is what we suspect might be tapeworm residue near the base of his tail), and the three antibiotics listed above. Finally, once the bed was stripped and re-made, I wrapped him in my hoodie and laid him on top of me, and after a few minutes of purring and kneading, he settled down and went to sleep – and so did I. ♥
Felix is very sick, and due to being FIV+ this means he may not be able to recover. I’m taking him to the vet in less than an hour, so before I leave I want to dedicate this week’s Friday Favorites to my big Thor kitty, lover of lovey rubs, Cheese Whiz, meatballs, and pepperoni. ♥ Please cross your fingers that he can be treated, and I come home with a cat and a bag of antibiotics, and not a receipt for euthanasia and cremation.