Aby-a-Day – 17 Juni: The nose knows (Medical Movie Monday)

This happened two summers ago. Jacoby was acting like he had something stuck in his nose or throat. I checked his mouth to make sure a string or something hadn’t gotten caught under his tongue, but there was nothing there. The way he was acting reminded me of when I’ve gotten a grain of rice stuck in the back of my throat in my nose; Jake was coughing and snorting in the same way.

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This is what he was doing (click the photo to watch the video in Flickr). We were growing cat grass on the balcony that summer, so I suspected that Jake might have inhaled a blade of grass and gotten it stuck in his pharynx or nasal passages.

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So we went to the vet, and they flushed out his nose and checked him out. They noticed some irritation, but didn’t find any grass or plant matter. They prescribed antibiotics, just in case.

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After we got home, however, I found what looked like some dried, clear cat barf on the floor in the room Jake ate in. But it wasn’t like a regular hairball or food barf…it was a tiny leaf! I had been right – Jake did have something stuck in his nose! He just managed to get it out by himself before the vet appointment.

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So, I did a little research and discovered that it was a small leaf of Yarrow! I only know Yarrow from the Warriors books (the medicine cats use it, and there’s a cat named Yarrowleaf in the more recent books, but I had no idea it was growing in our lawn! Because they mow once a week, it never gets a chance to grow tall or flower. Jake must have accidentally inhaled the little leaf when we went outside – he loved chewing on the grass, and the yarrow is mixed into the lawn. It was an interesting mystery, and I’m glad I was able to solve it.

Aby-a-Day – 3 Juni: “Vaccines are the tugboats of preventive health” (Medical Monday)

As I posted on Thursday, we all took a trip to the vet last week to get check-ups and vaccinations. As soon as I parked the stroller in the exam room and unzipped it, all four of the cats jumped right out to investigate.

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Lorelai and Izaak, not having had as many vet visits as Alfred and Angel have had, explored the room fearlessly.

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As I’ve posted before, Angel becomes very brave in veterinary exam rooms.

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Zak was the first to jump up on something.

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Then he took it to the next level.

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Rory is turning into quite the little princess of posing…

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…except when her curiosity gets the better of her.

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Whilst the cats explored the exam room, I got all their passports organised with the relevant vaccination pages opened. Everycat needed their FVRCP vaccines, and Zak also needed his rabies vaccine.

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Freddy, of course, had to sit on the passports…

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For some reason (and I honestly have no earthly idea why), the sink was of particular interest. And not only to Rory and Zak…

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…but Freddy, too. They see sinks every day…I have no clue what was so fascinating about this one.

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When Dr. Birgitta came in, the younger cats all rushed to greet her.

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Angel, having had more experience in this situation, hid in the corner behind the cabinet.

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Nurse Camilla and I weighed everyone.

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Freddy could stand to lose a bit…but otherwise, we’re all good. In fact, the doctor commented on how solid and muscular Rory and especially Zak are. I told her how they eat (raw and Bozita, and a daily chicken neck) and how they regularly go outside to run. She was quite impressed with their condition.

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After they all got their jabs (no photos of that, since I was helping to hold them), Camilla carefully updated all of their passports. Freddy helped.

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One last note about our Freddy…

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…when he wasn’t exploring the room, helping the nurse, or getting injected, he was trying to break into this cabinet. He worked at it from both the top and the bottom of the tambour door, but he couldn’t manage it.
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He even checked the trash can! He is relentless in his quest for food. It’s no wonder he could stand to lose a few.

Aby-a-Day – 11 April: Why does the sun go on shining?

Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?
‘Cause you don’t love me anymore

Why do the birds go on singing?
Why do the stars glow above?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?
It ended when I lost your love

I wake up in the morning and I wonder
Why everything’s the same as it was
I can’t understand, no, I can’t understand
How life goes on the way it does

Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?
It ended when you said goodbye

Jacoby died at 18:35 CEST today. May StarClan light his path. May he find good hunting, swift running, and shelter when he sleeps.

A vet at Anicura called me around 18:25 to tell me he was having trouble breathing and they wanted to know what to do, if they should resuscitate him or use heroic measures…and while I was on the phone with the doctor, he just…died. He was alive at the beginning of the call (which thank StarClan I didn’t miss), and gone at the end of it. Apparently, 20 minutes prior to her calling me, he was doing all right, but then he just crashed. There was no possible way I had time to get there before he was gone.

A different vet had called me earlier in the afternoon to tell me how he was doing. He was still having a lot of trouble breathing outside of the oxygen cage. He was still on the feeding tube. He was too weak for another round of chemo. She told me that the total was up to around 43,000kr in charges (which puts us over his cap; more about that later) and wanted to discuss my DNR wishes, so I knew it wasn’t going to be good. I was already bracing myself for him not celebrating his 10th birthday on Sunday.

The worst part is, when that last call came…I was sitting in a nail salon, getting my toes painted green for Jake. I heard that my soulmate cat had just died whilst having a woman put my feet under the dryer. It’s so hard to watch them die, to say “okay” and watch the vet inject the overdose of painkillers into them…but it’s a million times worse to not be there…not even be able to be there. Long distance is not the next best thing to being there.

I was planning on going to Jönköping to see him tomorrow. I still will, just not in quite the same way.

Jake was such a special boy. He was born to be my kitten. He bonded with me instantly, and slept by my side within a day of joining our family. He was smart, friendly, and bulletproof. His name was decided twelve days after he was born, when Jacoby Ellsbury stole home against the Yankees at Fenway Park; I didn’t name Jake after the player, but rather the awesome thing he did that time on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball at Fenway against our most hated rivals. I was right about that, considering that Ellsbury eventually ended up going to play for those pinstriped goons.

Jake was a therapy cat, and he loved riding in his stroller when we walked to our visits at the psych wards at facilities along Harrison and Albany Streets in the South End. He loved people, especially children. He loved going on shopping errands with me and I would take him along if I was shopping anywhere that didn’t involve food. He even went to restaurants with me, as long as there was outside seating.

He was also a minor celebrity in Boston, known as Strollercat. He appeared on the cover of the Boston Herald during a newsweek consisting of Hurricane Sandy, the Patriots playing at Wembly Stadium in London, Halloween, and a Presidential election involving a former Massachusetts governor. He got a two-page spread in Your Cat, the UK’s biggest cat magazine, and there was an article about him and his travels in CFA’s Cat Talk. He was a celebrity cat guest at the first ever Somerville Cat Film Festival. And, perhaps most amazing of all, he was named Cat of the Year by the Westchester Cat Club and honoured with the Scarlett Award for his therapy work with first responders after the Boston Marathon bombings.

He was a show cat, but he didn’t start his show career until he was two years old, partly because of this therapy training, and partly because he got his foot caught in the top of the escalator at Broadway T Station when he was a year and a half old. He did well, the judges exclaiming over his rich ruddy coat, and his decidedly non-Abylike behaviour on the judging table. One judge called him a “poseable action figure,” and another said he was “a Persian in an Aby suit.” He became a Grand Premier in a nailbiter of a show, needing only one final to have enough points and not getting it until his last ring on Sunday. One year, he was in the top ten Abys in Premiership in all of CFA, only to get bumped to #11 on the last weekend of the season. Ironically, in the 2015 season, he was 8th best Aby in Premiership without even trying…and then in 2016, he was 10th best after having gone to only two CFA shows! He also managed to crack the top 25 Best Cats in Premiership in the Northeast Region in 2015, earning a regional win and placing 21st…again, without really trying. The year we went to the World Show in Philadelphia, he was the Best Abyssinian Premier in the Red Group. The only thing he failed at in cat shows was agility. He preferred to pose on the obstacles rather than run through them. He was also a Double Grand Champion Alter in TICA.

After we moved to Sweden, he registered in FIFe, where he earned Nominations, a Best in Variety, and a Best in Show in Altered Males, Category 4, along with several Best in Shows in the Senior class. He ended up with the title of International Grand Premier before deciding he didn’t like FIFe’s style of showing.

He did like dressing up for NEMO’s costume contests, though. Except for wearing pants.

Born in Canada, he lived in Boston and visited New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania in the States and then Göteborg, Stockholm, Helsinki and Tallinn (and Reykjavik’s airport) in Europe. He’s ridden on almost every form of transport imaginable: Car, bus, subway, train, ferry, airplane…and of course, stroller.

As I said above, the insurance cap has been reached so I won’t close the GoFundMe campaign for his chemo just yet as we don’t know what his final total bill will be. Also, the insurance won’t cover his cremation. An anonymous donor made an extremely generous donation, so I am confident there’ll be something left over for New England Abyssinian Rescue. I will close it down on Jake’s birthday, 14 April.

My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend has stopped running today. Sleep well in Tuonela, my beloved Jakey Bakey.

Aby-a-Day – 10 April: Wordy Wednesday (Update on Jacoby)

Jacoby spent last night in an oxygen cage because his red blood cell count was low and he wasn’t oxygenating properly. He’s still in the ICU, probably for another night at least. I am not sure when he will be able to come home. If he needs chemo next week, depending on when they do it, he may stay until then to save him two round trips on the train. He has got pretty good insurance, but it looks like his ongoing treatment and rounds of chemotherapy will outpace what the insurance will pay, especially if he needs to stay in the ICU. The photo above is Jake and Dr. Cecilia. He has a feeding tube in his nose to get nutrients into him.

They also sent this text. Isn’t it sweet?

Now, on a serious note…I always hate to be “that person,” but I also hate the thought of losing Jake so young (he’s only turning ten on Sunday the 14th), so I set up a Gofundme page for him.

Any leftover funds will be donated to NEAR (Northeast Abyssinian Rescue).

Aby-a-Day – 9 April: Update on Jacoby

This morning, I had a message on my phone from Dr. Cecilia. Jacoby was moved to the ICU because his blood pressure had dropped. He’s still on fluids, plus pain medication. At the time she left the message, they thought he might have leakage in his abdomen from the biopsies, but when I called her back, they discovered that was not the case. They had gotten his blood pressure stabilised. His albumin is also slightly elevated. He also has some fluid in his thorax, but it isn’t affecting his breathing or his heart.

Later this afternoon she called again. He’s still in the ICU, and he is now on a feeding tube. He cooperated well with that, and she let me talk to him on the phone. He heard my voice, but he was so very tired he didn’t react much. Dr. Cecilia told me she had been discussing treatment options with the oncologist, and they think he is stable enough to start reduced-dose chemotherapy today. Apparently, it’s a delicate balance between starting as soon as possible vs waiting until he’s stronger and giving him bigger doses of the chemo cocktail.

That’s all we know so far. I’ll get another call from Dr. Cecilia tomorrow.

Aby-a-Day – 8 April: “Cancer is a fight to the death. Either you kill it, or it will kill you. Get ready to brawl.” (Medical Monday)

Cutting to the chase, the vets think Jacoby has Lymphoma.

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On Friday, Jake and I repeated the trip we took back in August when we went to Djursjukhuset in Jönköping to try to find out what was the matter with him.

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They have the best cubbies for cat carriers in the cat waiting room.

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When they called us back, they put us in a really nice, sunny room. Anicura puts birdfeeders outside the windows of the cat exam rooms. Birds came to the window whilst we were there…but not when I could take a photo of any of them.

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The first thing they did was weigh him. As you can see, 4.35kg (9.6lbs). On 3 March, he was up to 4.9kg (10.8lbs). When I weighed him on the 31st, just under a month later, this is what he weighed. I called the vet the next day.

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After the nurse took some blood samples, he went back to the sunny windowsill.

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The vet felt something when she palpated his abdomen, so she ordered an another ultrasound, which they managed to squeeze in that same afternoon. They sent me off for a couple of hours, and when I came back…the news was not great.

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They suspected Lymphoma, and scheduled another exploratory surgery for this morning. I was meant to bring him back on Sunday afternoon.

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It was a pretty long day, and Jake was exhausted. He didn’t even get out of his carrier on the train ride back.

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On Saturday, Jake was worse than ever. He spiraled in the 24 hours after our visit the day before.

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He wasn’t eating or drinking, just lying on the kitchen floor. I tried putting him in comfortable places, but he kept going back to the floor. I knew he needed to go back to Jönköping, but I wasn’t sure that the train would get me there fast enough. Björn got home from work at 5, and I asked him if we could borrow one of our neighbours’ cars. He did, and we drove to Jönköping.

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We saw a majestik møøse on the way to the vet!

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When we got there, we were put into the same exam room we’d been in on Friday.

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You can see how much worse he looked than the last time we were in that room.

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Despite having no appetite, Jake was still interested in the treat jar.

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When the nurse came in, she gave him a few…and he ate them!

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Then there was some paperwork to fill out…

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…farewells to be said…

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…and then he needed to go into the hospital transport cage.

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At first, he didn’t want to lie down so she could close the carrier.

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Finally, he cooperated, and they rolled him away.

One of my favourite things about Anicura is that they send good morning texts with a photo of your cat. This was this morning’s text, after being on fluids for a day, before his surgery.

They called me after his surgery was finished and he’d woken up. He was doing well, and the samples from the biopsy were sent to the lab but from what they observed when they had him open was that they were fairly certain that Jake does have Lymphoma, and they are going to start the chemotherapy as soon as they can without waiting for the results.

Cats respond differently to the treatment, and can live for three or four months to three or four years. We just don’t know how he will respond. According to this article I found, “Feline lymphoma cases currently appear to fall into three groups from a prognostic point of view. There are some that fail to show a good response to any chemotherapy offered. For these patients, their lymphoma is unfortunately fairly rapidly progressive. Patients in the middle group tend to show a degree of response to the treatment but never achieve complete normality and for these patients there is an average life expectancy of approximately 4 months. The third group achieve complete remission from their lymphoma and their life expectancy is measured in years.” We just need to wait and see which group Jake falls into.

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I wish I knew what else to say. I mean, his 10th birthday is next Sunday. I can’t imagine not having him with me.

Aby-a-Day – 11 Mars: The rest of Lorelai’s vet visit (Medical Monday)

Last week I posted about Lorelai’s first visit to Min Vetrinär.

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But that wasn’t the whole story.

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We took all the Abys to the vet that day. This was before Izaak joined our family, of course.

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Alfred got busy exploring the doctor’s supplies.

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Freddy! That’s marked “biohazard” for a reason! Get your face out of there!

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Oh? It’s my turn?

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Wait…a shot? Nobody told me about a shot…

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After the shot, Freddy was a little jarred.

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But he had his new little sister to cheer him up.

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Next up was Angel.

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Being the oldest cat, this was definitely not her first rodeo.

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But that doesn’t mean she enjoys it.

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She took her vaccination like a champ, though.

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The last cat to be checked out was Jacoby.

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He is always so good at getting his shots. Like everything else he does…he’s just bulletproof.

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I wanted the vet to take a look at Jake’s teeth.

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He’s an Aby, a breed known for bad teeth…but he was nine years old and had never even had a cleaning. When Angel was his age, most of her teeth were gone already.

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But Jake has awesome teeth. Partly because he lets me scrape and brush them…but partly because he just got lucky in the genetic roulette.

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All in all, a pretty good day at the veterinarian.