Aby-a-Day – 19 Mars 2020: Another trip to the vet (Thursday Things)

Yesterday, Alfred and I went to the veterinarian to see how his lungs look after pneumonia.

freddybusstop_1282

freddybusstop_1281

As I have said before, it’s a two-bus, almost hour long bus trip from our house to the vet. And we had lots of hang time waiting for the transfers.

freddybusstop_1303

This is at Resecentrum. I love this shot.

freddybusstop_1305

When we had a bus transfer wait of more than ten minutes, I let Freddy out of his carrier.

freddybusstop_1306

Goofball.

freddyXrayLast1

But at the vet we got good news: Freddy’s lungs are completely clear.

freddyXrayLast2

freddyXrayLast3

Not only are his lungs clear, it also looks like he doesn’t have asthma. So that’s great!

freddybusstop_E1321

freddybusstop_E1337

freddybusstop_E1355

Much like Jacoby, Freddy loves to sing the song of his people when he’s outside.

freddybusstop_E1344

This IS an Airport, Please Announce Your Departure: Aeroplane Ear Posting.

freddyDjurM_1362

After the vet visit, we stopped off a DjurMagazinet to stock up om raw chicken necks and raw meatballs.

freddyDjurM_1364

Of course, Freddy helped me pick out the raw food I bought.

freddyDjurM_1367

freddyDjurM_1368

Of course, Freddy made friends when we were on line for the cash.

freddyDjurM_1369

That’s Freddy’s superpower: making friends wherever he goes.

Aby-a-Day – 19 Augusti: Dashiell’s first Swedish vet visit (Medical Monday)

Last Wednesday, we had to take Dashiell to see our veterinarian in Skultorp, not because there was anything wrong with him, but because we needed a health certificate to send to the insurance company to start his health insurance. We also needed to get him his EU passport.

dashvet_8607

As he was on the ferry and the train, Dash was much happier in his carrier with the top open.

dashemmavet_8615

Emma sat beside him and managed him on the bus ride.

dashvet_8621

Dash rode the bus like a seasoned professional.

emmadashvet_8631

It’s a long trip from our apartment to the vet, and we have to change buses in central Skövde. It’s not usually a long wait, and the weather was nice. Dash seemed happy enough.

dashvet_8639

Look at this bus riding champion!

dashvet_8648

When we arrived, we were put into the same examination room all the other cats were in when we went in for our annual checkup back in June.

dashvet_8650

dashvet_8652

Like any good Abyssinian, the minute we let him loose in the room, he proceeded to explore it thoroughly.

dashvet_8645

The first thing we did was put him on the scale and weigh him.

dashvet_8643

2.85 kg (6.25 lbs). Exactly the same as Lorelai!

emmadashvet_8658

emmadashvet_8660

Emma helped the vet with Dash’s exam.

emmabjorndashvet_8662

She’s definitely a natural when it comes to taking care of cats.

dashvet_8663

This actually happened by accident, but we thought it was funny: I gave Emma one of the vet’s free magnets and it jumped from her hand onto his round tag!

dashvet_8667

dashvet_8674

Waiting for the passport to be completed, Dash got sleepy and laid down on his show book. Well, he’d only been in Sweden two days after his long trip from the States, so I guess he deserves to be a little tired.

emmadashvet_8680

After the visit was over, we got back on the bus and headed home.

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.

jakegrassnoseIMG_9230

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.

jake-plantnose

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.

jake-yarrow

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.

yarrowgrass_7479

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.

yarrow_7526

This Yarrow plant is entwined with a bicycle rack, so it misses getting mowed. This is what it looks like when it’s allowed to grow. 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 – 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.

jakeanicura-train_6575

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.

jakevet-friday_6621

jakevet-friday_6625

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

jakevet-friday_6627

jakevet-friday_6631

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.

jakevet-friday_6626

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.

jakevet-friday_6632

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

jakevet-friday_6636

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.

jakevet-friday_6637

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

jakevet-homewardbound_6638

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

jakeanicura-lördag_6641

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

jakezakanicura-lördag_6643

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.

moose_jakeanicura-lördag_6646

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

jakeanicura-lördag_6647

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

jakeanicura-lördag_6648

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

jakeanicura-lördag_6651

jakeanicura-lördag_6652

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

jakeanicura-lördag_6671

jakeanicura-lördag6672

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

jakeanicura-lördag_6669

jakeanicura-lördag_6674

Then there was some paperwork to fill out…

cocojakeanicura-lördag_6662

jakebjornanicura-lördag_6668

…farewells to be said…

jakeanicura-lördag_6675

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

jakeanicura-lördag_6676

jakeanicura-lördag_6677

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

jakeanicura-lördag_6678

jakeanicura-lördag_6679

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.

cocojakeanicura-lördag_6655

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 Februari: All clear! (Medical Monday)

A couple of weeks ago, I got the following email from Dr. Cecilia: Hi Koshka!
I just got the results back and all cats are free from Tritrich! Great job!
Hope you haven’t waited too long for the results. They appeared in a weird place in the journal, so I hadn’t seen them before. No more restrictions. Hope Jakey is doing fine. Otherwise get back to me to discuss treatment with prednisolone.

I wrote back: I knew it! There’s been no diarrhea and he’s gained weight. We’ve been feeding him sensitive stomach food and kitten food, but he is still a little growly. It took me a while to get all five cats’ poops. Angel is a very stealthy pooper. So no, I didn’t wait too long at all! Great news! What do we do about the prednisolone?

jakeC05216

She responded: Hi! If he’s had no diarrhoea and gaining weight I wouldn’t put him on pred for now. The best would be to put him on a hydrolysed feed. There are a few different ones, but I recommend them in this order of priority (based on protein and fat content): Purina HA, Hills z/d, Royal Canin Hypoallergenic, Specific CDD Allergy Management Plus. Also I’ve written a prescription for folic acid and B12. He should be on it for 6 weeks, then off for 2 weeks. After that I recommend a revisit to check his B-vitamin values, evaluate the feed and recheck his albumin and proteins, which were abnormal before the treatment.
Is that an OK plan for you?

My answer was: It’s a great plan! to which she said: Super! I’ll put him up for a revisit in 8 weeks. We’ll call you to make the appointment.

But what AWESOME news! We have successfully conquered both Giardia and Tritrichimonas Foetus. I am earning my cat-parent merit badges!

Aby-a-Day – 21 Januari: Tritrichomonas Foetus (Medical Monday)

You may recall that Jacoby has been having some sort of vague mysterious ailment. We spent much of the summer shuttling to the djursjukhuset in Jönköping to try to figure out what the problem was. But we have finally gotten to the bottom of it. It took a while because I needed three separate fecal samples from Jake…and I was having a devil of a time catching him in the act! But finally the first week of September I got that third sample, and a week later Dr. Cecilia emailed me with the result: “Today I’ve finally recieved Jacoby’s fecal sample results. We have significant findings that may well explain his weight loss and (quite possibly) also his change in behavior. He has the parasite Tritrichomonas foetus that in chronic cases may induce chronic intestinal inflammations. He also has toxin-producing Clostridia in overgrowth.”

jakeminvetC05988

TriTrich is a protozoan parasite that can infest multi-cat households. But it’s good news, right? At least we know what the problem is. I mean, we have already dealt with Giardia, which is a huge problem to deal with, and we managed to survive that…so TriTrich is at least better than that, right?

jakeminvetC05986

Well, yes and no. Whilst Giardia is harder to kill in the house because the protozoa are shed encased in cysts which are hard to destroy, the medication is readily available in any Apotek. The TriTrich protozoa have no such protective “shells,” but the problem with treating TriTrich is that the medication for it, Ronidazole, is toxic. Like, wear rubber gloves when giving the pills (for four days), and also wear a face mask when cleaning the litterbox during medication and three days after the last pill has been given. Dr. Cecelia had to get specific licenses from Läkemedelsverket (the Swedish bureau that deals with prescription medication) for each cat based on their weight. This was delayed a bit because, as usual with Swedish government agencies, the instructions on the paperwork weren’t entirely clear, and there was an error on the original paperwork so it needed to be redone…and Läkemedelsverket only sends the denial notifications by snail mail.

But we finally got ahold of this highly-regulated, super-toxic medication, which I had to give to five cats once a day for fourteen days…yeah, good times. The exact written instructions were as follows: “All cats are treated with 1 capsule per day for 14 days. They are prescribed and will be sent directly home to you. The drug is toxic and is excreted through feces and urine. Therefore, you need to use disposable gloves and masks when you’re cleaning the litter boxes. The most common side effects (still uncommon), are neurological. Contact us immediately if any of the cats show any neurological abnormalities or other symptoms.” Now, that’s not at all daunting, is it? At least I’m not the only person who’s been through this! And hey, this time I didn’t get bitten, either!

I also had to bathe all the cats. I wasn’t sure when during the medication timeline I should bathe them all, so I emailed some researchers at North Carolina State University for advice, and was pleasantly surprised at their quick and helpful response! They told me: “To my knowledge, no one has looked at the optimal time for performing a disinfection during treatment for T. foetus (ie. at what point during the treatment, on average, is T. foetus no longer being shed by the cat). The good news is, the T. foetus organism is not particularly robust once outside the host. We have observed the organisms in feces are no longer viable 24hrs after being voided into a litter pan, in the absence of litter; the presence of litter likely speeds the process up via desiccation of the feces.” So, towards the end of the dosage period, we cleaned one room, washed all the cats, locked the cats up in the clean room and then cleaned the rest of the house. We used liberal amounts of Virkon (which is actually better than bleach for sanitizing – and without the smell and turning things white).

cleanlitterboxesC03312

Another importan part of eradicating TriTrich is to thoroughly clean all the litterboxes, since it is mainly transmitted in feces.

litterboxes_5164

litterboxes_5165

It wasn’t easy, cleaning six litterboxes, but between the two bathrooms, I managed to wash them all.

cleanlitterboxesC03322

cleanlitterboxesC03327

cleanlitterboxesC03333

We got all the freshly cleaned boxes back in their places…

cleanlitterboxesC03335

…and filled them up with clean, fresh litter. We use two types, PeeWee pine pellets, which are wonderful, and Cat’s Best Öko, which is a plant-based wood fibre clumping litter. Both of these make collecting fecal samples very easy – much easier than clay litter.

This is important, because once we were done with the medication and the bathing and the cleaning, we needed to test all five cats’ poops. Which involved catching each cat “in the act,” so to speak. Izaak and Lorelai were easy – just catch them when we’re at a cat show. Jacoby, as well, was simple: he eats in a room with a box in it, so just catch him after he’s been fed. But Alfred and Angel…it took me weeks to catch them, especially Angel! I finally managed it, though…

jakeminvetC06023

So now, we are TriTrich free…no diarrhea at all, and Jake seems happier and less growly, although he still hisses and growls at the younger cats…but I think now it’s just become a habit to be a grumpy old man towards them more than an actual medical symptom.

(And yeah, I wasn’t going to post a photo of anyone actually using a box, so have a shot of Jake having his perfect teeth checked instead.)

Aby-a-Day – 10 September: There ain’t no party like a South Boston party, ‘cos a Southie party don’t stop! (Medical Monday)

Last week, we went to the South Boston Animal Hospital’s grand opening party at their new 9 West Broadway location…the building I used to live in.

jakeSBAHpartyC07587

After Jacoby and I toured the medical facilities, we went to check out the new exam rooms. At the old location, there were only two rooms…I don’t remember how many are at the new place, but it’s at least double that.

jakeSBAHpartyC07595

One room was set up as a photo room, with decorations and props, and guests were invited to use them and take photos. As you can see, there was a luau theme. So we started with the lei, and shot a few poses…

jakeSBAHpartyC07612

…before adding the grass skirt.

jakeSBAHpartyC07599

Jake wasn’t sure about that bit.

jakeSBAHpartyC07603

Okay, Jake, we’ll take it off and move on.

jakeSBAHpartyC07627

In the new location, there were exam rooms specifically for cats! No dogs allowed.

jakeSBAHpartyC07620

In one exam room, there was a rocking cardboard scratcher.

jakeSBAHpartyC07636

I didn’t think Jake would go for it at all, but he surprised me. He ROCKED that thing!

jakeSBAHpartyC07643

Then he noticed the mechanical mouse-in-the-cheese toy.

jakeSBAHpartyC07647

The yellow plastic mouse would pop out of the white plastic cheese wedge at random.

jakeSBAHpartyC07648

Apparently not randomly enough for our Jake.

jakeSBAHpartyC07655

“When the bloody hell is this sodding thing going to pop out?”

jakeSBAHpartyC07657

And then, finally…

jakeSBAHpartyC07662

“Well, that wasn’t worth all the excitement, now was it?” No, Jake…and welcome to about half the TV shows I watch.

jakeSBAHpartyC07630

Next we encountered a good, old-fashioned scratching post.

jakeSBAHpartyC07633

Finally, a toy I can relate to! Thought Jake.

jakeSBAHpartyC07635

“Oh, scratching post…you understand me.”

jakeSBAHpartyC07673

In another exam room, there was a catch-the-string machine.

jakeSBAHpartyC07691

Despite having a similar toy at home that has, the entire length of its career, been completely and utterly ignored.

jakeSBAHpartyC07696

Oh, but downstairs, it’s the Best. Toy. Ever.

jakeSBAHpartyC07700

jakeSBAHpartyC07704

jakeSBAHpartyC07719

And you know when we went back upstairs the toy we have? Totally ignored.

jakedrnatSBAHpartyC07723

But no playtesting session of the exam rooms would be complete without a bit of a schmooze with the vet.

jakedrnatSBAHpartyC07733

Jake and Dr. Natalie really did have a connection.

jakeSBAHpartyC07736

I know I miss her…I wonder if Jake does, too?

jakeSBAHpartyC07742

At the snacks table, there was, of course, ham…and Jake did get a bit.

jakeSBAHpartyC07744

He handled it extremely awkwardly, but he got some ham.

SBAHpartyC07665

Finally, I just have to share this lovely painting of a white cat and a martini. It reminded me of Kylie.

Aby-a-Day – 27 August: “Birth control is the first important step woman must take toward the goal of her freedom” (Medical Monday)

Lorelai is on the pill.

rorymobile_4171

We started her on Perlutex last Wednesday.

rorymobile_4172

We do want to breed her someday. Just not yet. And since Izaak is the same age, even though he’s not displaying any “maturity” signs…ya just nevah know.

rorymobile_4173

We want to let Zak mature as much as he can before giving him Suprelorin. So starting Rory on birth control now seemed like a good idea.

rorymobile_4174

We want to show Rory to Grand Championship before she is spayed. We also want to breed her, since I do have a registered cattery name. I also want to experience having Aby kittens. But not now. Maybe in a year or two. We were going to breed Logan…but boys are hard. We are not planning on breeding Zak, and as soon as he shows any signs of maturity, he’s going on Suprelorin.

Meanwhile, our liberated lady will, happily, be on the Pill.

Aby-a-Day – 15 August: Wordless Wednesday (Home again, home again, jiggity jig)

jakepostopIMG_4296

IjakepostopMG_4297

jakepostopIMG_4298

jakepostopIMG_4299

jakepostopIMG_4307

jakepostopIMG_4308

jakepostopIMG_4313

jakepostopIMG_4318

jakepostopIMG_4325

jakeangelpostopIMG_4332

jakepostopIMG_4334

Good morning from the Cone of Shame

Here’s this morning’s greeting from Jacoby in hospital. I’m taking the train later today to collect him and bring him home. I hope he won’t have to wear the cone for very long…and I’m sure he does, too!

Update on Jacoby

The vet just called me with a post-surgery update. Jacoby did well and I can pick him up tomorrow, most likely. They didn’t SEE anything wrong with him inside (ie, no visible tumours, enlarged organs or infection), so hopefully the samples they took will tell us what’s wrong with him. We’ll find out in a couple of weeks when they get the results back from the lab.

One thing I really love about Anicura is that they send you morning texts with a photo so you can see how your cat is doing. They did this with Logan, too. It’s just so thoughtful of them.

Aby-a-Day – 6 August: “It’s worse than a needle in a haystack. We don’t even know it’s a needle we’re looking for.” (Medical Monday)

We took Jacoby into the Anicura hospital in Jönköping almost two weeks ago to have more blood drawn for more tests to try to sort out what is going on with him. Whilst we waited for the nurses to come. we availed ourselves of the free treats.

jakevetblood_153808

jakevetblood_153846

The first thing the nurses did was take Jake’s blood pressure. It’s a bit more involved than a human getting blood pressure tested.

jakevetblood_153957

There’s a sort of doppler machine and they use headphones to listen to his blood whilst they press the button on the sphygmomanometer.

jakevetblood_154123

Jake was less than impressed with the cuff on his arm (which was still bald from the last time he had blood drawn.

jakevetblood_154604

After getting his BP, it was time to draw some vials of Jake’s blood. I hid his eyes because I don’t like to watch when they take my blood for a test!

jakevetblood_154704

I have no problem watching someone else get their blood drawn, though.

jakevetblood_154826

jakevetblood_154840

But before they were done drawing all the blood they needed, Jake broke loose from my grasp and dislodged the needle.

jakevetblood_155002

His pulling away like that caused a haematoma (bruise) on that arm, so they had to shave his other arm to get the rest of the blood.

jakevetblood_155051

Again, I covered his eyes so he couldn’t watch the blood coming out of him.

I just got a call from Dr. Cecilia with the test results, and…I’m going to have to take him in next Monday afternoon. Tuesday the 14th he is going to get biopsies done on his intestinal tract.

We still need the parathyroid test confirmed, because Dr. Cecilia needs to call the lab again; the results don’t make sense to her and she wants to verify them. But he has increased antibodies and decreased albumin in his blood and he seems to be “leaking” protein in his digestive tract, but it’s not coming out in his urine, so we need to figure out why that’s happening. His calcium levels are fairly normal, though, so that helps rule out a few things.

jakevetblood_155121

I will have to take him in Monday, and he’ll stay overnight. Then they’ll do the surgery Tuesday morning and keep him for observation. They may do an ultrasound Wednesday, and then I pick him up Wednesday afternoon or perhaps later depending on how they feel he’s doing. The biopsies do leave small holes in the tested organs which are sutured, and in 5%-10% of cats there can be complications due to these holes. Hopefully we won’t have any of that. The alternative to the surgical biopsies is to try giving him corticosteroids such as prednisone, but the problem with that (as anyone who’s ever watched House MD knows), is that because we don’t know what is causing his pain and weight loss, the steroids might just mask the problem, without helping to cure it. Or they could be contraindicated for whatever his condition actually is and make everything worse. Or, when we do get the diagnosis, having had cortisone treatments might mean we can’t go ahead with the new treatment because of drug interactions.

Luckily, it does not look like FIP, and the protein levels don’t indicate that it’s anything like FIP, which is good, but it could be lymphoma (which is what we thought Logan might have had before FIP was confirmed). It could also be a lot of other things: pancreatitis, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal ulcers…it’s really hard to say.

jakevetblood_153603

The bill is going to be around 20,000kr…so glad we have insurance and that this is not a pre-existing condition!

Aby-a-Day – 16 July: “No guts, no glory” (Medical Monday)

(This post was written by Björn, as I was so busy helping the doctors I wasn’t as able to record what was going on.)

jakestrollerIMG_3979

Jacoby has been really grumpy for the past few months now. He’s been hissing and growling, lashing out at the kittens (but not hurting them, thankfully) as well as attacking Alfred and Angel. He’s been barfing more than usual, and on top of that, he’s lost a significant amount weight over the past seven months, going from 4.9 kilos in January to 4.1 kilos the first weekend in July (10.8 lbs vs 9.4, or a sixth of his weight). We’ve been mystified by this change, which is so unlike Jake. He used to be a sweet, stable cat, and his current grumpiness has to be an indication that something’s physically wrong with him. He’s been to our local vet a few times; a blood test done in April showed no abnormalities and we tried amitriptylin, Metacam, Feliway, calming collars…everything we and the vets could think of, but nothing helped. While at the cat show a couple of weeks ago, we were talking to our neighbor about cats (of course), and she mentioned a cat of hers that had had similar symptoms because of plastic he had eaten that had stuck in his digestive tract. That set off bells – Jake has always been a plastic eater, to the point where we have to tuck the plastic garbage can liner in carefully so he doesn’t eat the bits hanging out; we just had never made the connection between that and his sudden personality change. We had an ultrasound appointment with our regular vet, but as it’s vacation time right now, the ultrasound technician wouldn’t be back until 24 July. We didn’t want to wait that long now that we had the idea about plastic, so Koshka called the AniCura animal hospital in Jönköping, some 100 km (60 miles) away. They are the same people who took care of poor Logan in his final days, and we know that they are a professional outfit.

jakebjörntouristofficeIMG_3982

We got up early on Friday 13 July, and took the local bus to the railway station. The train ride was one hour, passing through the fields and woods of a summery western Sweden. We arrived in Jönköping around 10am, and killed half an hour before getting on the bus to the animal hospital.

jakebjörntouristofficeIMG_3983

Jake visited the local tourist office where he made an impression on the staff.

jakepigeonIMG_3991

jakepigeon20180713_102027

Next to the bus stop, there was a pigeon with a death wish, as it strutted about without any regard for the predator in the stroller. Good thing for the feathered fool that Jake was tethered.

jakebusIMG_4006

jakebusIMG_4010

Then we got on the bus, where Jake regaled the bus with the song of his people.

The three of us arrived at the hospital some 20 minutes prior to our appointment. The animal hospital is a well-run operation, with separate waiting rooms for cats and dogs.

jakeultra20180713_111514

Jake was called up, and it was time for his ultrasound. The ultrasound tech was a friendly Pole named Dr. Wojciech who had 20 years experience in examining animals with ultrasound. He shaved Jake’s belly (the fur would interfere with the readings otherwise),

jakeultra20180713_111526

applied the gel,

jakeultra20180713_111612

and began the examination.

jakeultra20180713_111624

Jake struggled a bit, but he bravely endured the 25-30 minute examination. Dr. Wojciech pointed out the organs to us, like the intestines, kidneys, stomach and so on. It was really interesting to see Jake’s insides.

jakeultra20180713_111903

jakeultra20180713_112408

He could tell us that there was no signs of any plastic or other foreign bodies, which blew our working theory out of the water. There were signs of some enteritis in the small intestine, but Dr. Wojciech didn’t think that was the reason for Jake’s problems.

jakevetjön20180713_121348

jakevetjön20180713_121133

After the ultrasound, we were taken to another examination room while we waited to see the next vet. You may recall from when Koshka took Logan to this vet that they have excellent bird TV.

anicuramagpieIMG_4022

Well, this time it was extra excellent.

anicuramagpieIMG_4019

A magpie came to eat at the feeder! Jake wasn’t especially impressed, but Koshka got very excited.

Dr. Cecilia arrived, and, like Wojciech, she impressed us with her professionalism.

jakevetjön20180713_121628

She asked us about Jake’s symptoms and problems. As an optometrist, I know about how to do an anamnesis, and I thought she was very thorough.

jakevetjön20180713_123346

Dr. Cecilia ordered a full set of blood tests to be taken, and a veterinary nurse (whose name unfortunately evades me) brought syringes and the other paraphernalia needed.

jakevetjön20180713_123407

jakevetjön20180713_123427

jakevetjön20180713_123501

jakevetjön20180713_123658

Jake got a mild sedative, was rolled into a towel, got his front leg shaved, and his blood drawn. He was very brave about it, not causing any trouble. The vet nurse bandaged his leg.

jakevetjön20180713_123721

Dr. Cecilia wanted a urine sample, which was to be drawn by Dr. Wojciech.

jakevetjön20180713_124307

jakevetjön20180713_124441

Jake had to go back to the ultrasound room, where his bladder was located by ultrasound.

jakevetjön20180713_124558

jakevetjön20180713_124604

By using a syringe and drawing the urine directly from the bladder, any contamination by proteins from the urinary tract was avoided. Dr. Cecilia returned, as she’d remembered one more thing she wanted to check. She palpitated the base of Jake’s neck, and confirmed a suspicion she had. She noticed that his thyroid was somewhat enlarged on the right side. Jake got a prescription of Royal Canin Sensitivity Control. This diet is to be followed until the vet calls back about the final diagnosis, but if we are lucky, there’s just a problem with his thyroid. That is easily medicated.

jakeIKEAeatIMG_4035

The whole visit took about two hours with very little waiting time between the examinations. The vet bill was about 6000 SEK (about USD $680), but most of that should be covered by the pet insurance. We said our goodbyes to the hospital staff, and took the bus for a quick trip to IKEA.

jakeIKEAeatIMG_4034

Even in his stroller, IKEA would not let Jake in, so we took turns shopping. And, since he had fasted from 21:00 the night before, Jake was ravenous. While I shopped, Koshka let Jake try his new food, and he polished off two packets of the wet version.

jakejönIMG_4039

After IKEA, we had a quick visit with my mom, brother and sister, and then, finally, dinner at a new Mexican restaurant in the center of town.

jönsunsetIMG_4042

jakejönIMG_4043

A long day for all of us, but well worth it.

Aby-a-Day – 9 July: “Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero” (Medical Monday)

The last time we all went to the vet, we encountered a gorgeous German Shepherd in the lobby. He was so huge compared to Lorelai!

rorydogvetC06060

But Rory was her usual fearless self.

rorydogvetC06058

In fact, she barely seemed to notice him at all. “Dog? What dog?”

freddyrorydogvetC06055

Alfred, on the other hand…

freddyvetC06054

…did not like the looks of that enormous predator at all.

freddyrorydogvetC06061

In fact, he put his body between the dog and Rory to protect her.

freddyrorydogvetC06065

The dog had the good sense to look appropriately intimidated.

freddyrorydogvetC06068

“Don’t worry, little sister. I won’t let this beast hurt you.” Not that Rory looks at all concerned.

freddydogvetC06069

The Shepherd was actually a well-trained tracking and guard dog, and he and his human volunteer with the canine unit at their local Hemvärnet battalion. Hemvärnet dogs are very disciplined, and he wouldn’t have hurt a kitten.

freddydogvetC06076

Freddy didn’t still didn’t trust him. The entire time we were there with that dog, he remained vigilant, protecting Rory from harm.

Aby-a-Day – 28 May: Nothing butt the truth (Medical Monday)

Today’s post is…I’m not going to lie. Today’s post is kind of nasty.

Today’s post is about cats’ anal glands. Now, 99.9% of cat owners don’t even know their cats have anal glands. But if you completely ignore them, it’s (pardon the expression) a complete pain in the ass.

jakefaceC02957

It started with Jacoby, who has had a history of soft poops, which means that his anal glands don’t get expressed natually when he poops. When he started smelling “whiffy,” I would have my vet express them…but it was happening too often to make that a regular thing. He was young and trusting, and I used to have to do this with my old Siamese Harri, so I started expressing Jake’s anal glands the same way I used to do Harri’s. He let me…and now it’s routine. But almost every other week, I’m justified.

I know this is a completely disgusting topic. The stuff in your cat’s anal glands is related to the stuff that skunks spray when they feel threatened. There are two methods used to empty the anal gland sacs; I use the “squeezing a zit” method as opposed to the more invasive, “grab the rubber gloves and the lube” method. It works, and I can sleep at night.

freddyfaceC05007

If you haven’t had the pleasure of dealing with cats’ anal glands.…well, it’s about as pleasant as the words “anal” and “glands” in the same sentence might lead you to believe. Tessie had a problem with hers that ultimately required an anaesthetised procedure, and when I helped my vet to hold her while she looked at the problem, Tessie nearly ripped my throat out. So it pays to get your kittens used to having their bums squoze before it becomes a problem.

roryfaceC04999

Because Jake needed his glands expressed on a regular basis, when we added Alfred and Logan, and later Lorelai, to our family I added “checking the bum” to the bi-weekly grooming routine of weighing, clipping claws, cleaning ears, scraping and brushing teeth (except Angel) and combing and rubbing with Bay Rum and a chamois cloth. I think it helps; at least, it should prevent any horrific issues.

The reason for this post is due to the fact that, this past weekend for the first time ever, I was able to express Angel’s glands. And believe me, she needed it done. It’s a not-so-nice aspect of cat parenting…but it’s an important one. As our friends at Cats Herd You say, why don’t we cat owners talk about these sorts of things more?

Edit: Our friend Summer suggested I post a tutorial on how to do this. Turns out there’s a Japanese YouTube video featuring an Abyssinian that shows pretty much how I do it (but not exactly). For more information on how I express the cats’ glands, read my reply to Summer in comments.

Aby-a-Day 30 April: Jacoby’s mood swings (Medical Monday)

Last week, Jacoby and I went to the vet to check out his sudden shift in attitude.

jakevetIMG_3102

Now, those of you who have followed Jacoby’s career know that he is fine in any situation.

jakevetIMG_3104

And, most of the time I have known him, he has been bulletproof. He’s been through some stuff with me, and he survived it. But lately, he’s been pacing and yowling and growling, and also lashing out at Alfred and Angel. When I clipped his claws, he growled at me the entire time. He never growls when I clip his claws!

jakevetIMG_3107

But the last time we went to the vet, he needed to wear this almost-muzzle just to draw a blood sample!

jakevetIMG_3105

Jake growled and hissed throughout a completely normal examination. His growling and hissing is so…wrong. The vet palpated his body, and she decided he has some soreness, but his bloodwork was completely normal. She has him on Metacam for 20 days, so we’ll see if that helps.

This angriness in Jake is so unlike him…I hope he gets over it.

Aby-a-Day – 22 April: The Watch that Ends the Night

Alfred was so lonely after Logan went to the Djursjukhuset in Jönköping.

freddycarrierIMG_2942

I got a call from the vet in Jönköping on Friday the 13th, of all days, that Logan was going to die. He had a surgical biopsy of his mesenteric lymph nodes. In his belly, they found gelled fluid indicative of FIP. After Pyret, and the way all the cats paid their respects to her, I knew I couldn’t let Logan die without saying good-bye to his brother from another mother.

freddytrainIMG_2956

freddytrainIMG_2946

So I bundled Freddy up and took him with me to Jönköping to say good-bye to our Logan.

jkingvetIMG_2961

We had to wait in the cats-only waiting area first, where there were lots of certificates announcing how cat-friendly the hospital is.

catsoftheworldIMG_2924

They also had this awesome poster showing Cats of the World. The Abys were much better than on the last poster I saw in a vet’s office…and there is a Singapura on it, too!

freddyjkpingvetIMG_2962

Eventually, we were taken to a room. Not a hospital room, but an office-type room, with computers and a comfy leather sofa.

loganfreddyjkpingvetIMG_2966

The vet tech brought Logan in, and Freddy was right there to greet him.

cocologanjkpingvet<

Then I cradled my baby and cried over him.

cocologanjkpingvetIMG_2979

Being on his back was uncomfortable for him, so I held him turned over. I wore my Porg T-shirt because Logan was my little Porg.

freddyloganjkpingvetIMG_2982

Freddy didn’t care that Logan was wearing the Cone of Shame. He was just happy to see his brother from another mother.

loganfreddyjkpingvetIMG_2992

loganfreddyjkpingvetIMG_2993

Logan struggling to get into the carrier with Freddy after the vet tech took off the Cone of Shame. I have no words to express how much I miss his love of Freddy. And his funny faces.

loganfreddyjkpingvetIMG_2999

We had to wait a while before it was our turn. We didn’t mind.

loganjkpingvetIMG_3019

Logan was so weak and tired. He had had surgery, blood tests and so much else done to him those last few days. But still he hung on.

loganfreddyjkpingvetIMG_3011

He was happy to be with Freddy.

loganfreddyjkpingvetIMG_3018

Finally, the vet tech came back with all the syringes. Because the doctor was tied up with an emergency, she was going to administer the drugs.

loganfreddyjkpingvetIMG_3026

She flushed out his port with saline before starting the euthanasia procedure. I didn’t take photos of that. I wouldn’t normally have taken as many photos of all this as I did, but Björn was away that weekend on his Hemvärnet exercises, and he couldn’t be there to see Logan that last time. So I took these for him, and also for Lisa, his breeder.

loganfreddyjkpingvetIMG_3028

All clear.

loganfreddyjkpingvetIMG_3031

He started receiving the sedatives first. While they started to work and make Logan drowsy, Freddy was right there with him.

loganfreddyjkpingvetIMG_3032

Brothers to the end.

loganfreddyjkpingvetIMG_3036

Finally the last needle was given, and Logan left us. They gave us a blue towel to wrap him in, and Freddy said his last goodbye.

logangonejkpingvetIMG_3037

I hated to leave him alone in that empty room, so I left one of his favourite fishes with him. It’s been just a little over a week since he died, and Freddy and I are so lost. He was our little dude, and we miss him.

Aby-a-Day – 21 April: Last Train to Jönköping

On Wednesday, 11 April, Logan left home for the last time.

logantrainIMG_2893

We took a 15:55 train from Skövde to Jönköping to see the Djursjukhuset. Logan loved to look out the window on the train.

logantrainlapIMG_2889

But he loved sitting in my lap even more.

logantrainIMG_2897

in Jönköping, there’s even a bus stop named for the animal hospital…how cool is that?

loganvetjkpingIMG_2903

When we got to the hospital, they showed us into a room. Logan was weighed and had his temperature taken, and he was given a little bed to sit in. This hospital has a colour scheme to rank urgency: Red is life or death; Yellow is not quite life or death, but the nest best thing; Green is well…it might be serious, and it’s good you came in when you did; and Blue is you can come back tomorrow, you’re not dying. They told me that Logan was between Yellow and Green

vetbirdfeederIMG_E2908

They had excellent Cat TV in the room we were in. This nuthatch was one of the actors.

loganvetjkpingIMG_2904

Logan liked the bed the vets made him…

loganvetjkpingIMG_2906

…but still…

loganvetjkpinglapIMG_2907

…no bed is as good as mummy’s lap.

loganvetjkpingIMG_2913

Then they came to take some blood samples and put in a catheter port.

loganbloodIMG_E2918

We got some…but poor Logan wasn’t happy about it.

loganvetjkpingIMG_2916

They put a red bandage on his arm.

loganvetjkpingcageIMG_2919

After some more waiting, the transport cage came to take Logan to his hospital enclosure.

loganvetjkpingIMG_2921

Logan was skeptical, to say the least.

loganvetjkpingIMG_2922

Poor Logan…all he wanted was the bandage off his arm…if he only knew…

loganvetjkpingIMG_2923

Eventually, Logan got into the transport cage.

loganvetjkping_patientIMG_2932

While Logan was in hospital, the vet staff texted me photos of Logan every morning. This was Thursday morning…

loganvetjkping_patientIMG_2939

…And this was Saturday morning, after his biopsy surgery on Friday.

Aby-a-Day – 16 April: Beginning of the end…

Vide. It means “pussywillow” in Swedish and “empty” in French. Ironically appropriate.

Also appropriate: the British meaning of the word “gutted” for this feeling I have right now.

arsenalIMG_2741

Logan was losing weight, but I fed him kitten food, Hill’s A/D, Royal Canin Convelescence, and Aptus Reconvalescent Paste.

I called the vet on Tuesday, and the first appointment available was Friday. We took it.

loganvetIMG_2721

loganvetIMG_2723

Logan was thin, but he didn’t look sick.

loganvetIMG_2724

He definitely didn’t have the swollen, fluid-filled belly.

loganvetIMG_2726

loganvetIMG_2725

Logan needed an ultrasound of his belly, but there was another patient in that room, so we had to wait.

ultrasoundIMG_2727

We finally went in. I don’t have any photos of him getting his ultrasound because I was busy helping to hold him.

loganbloodIMG_E2918

After the ultrasound, they took samples of Logan’s blood for testing.

loganvetIMG_2728

He did not like that.

loganvetIMG_2729

Although I think he was more upset about having to have a bandage on his arm than the actual blood draw.

loganvetIMG_2731

“Can we please go home now, mom?”

And when we did, all we could do was wait for the test results. It was a very long weekend.