Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Henry's Intensive Care

First day with me, he's obviously very sick.

Head up, food down, starting to discover what works.

Feeling so good!

In case anyone ever runs across a cat like Henry, perhaps I should detail his therapy. This is what I figured out works best for him based on my experience with Darling and my other cats and human babies:

I weigh Henry every day at the same time and keep a record of when and what he eats, his meds & supplements and notes, if needed.

He gets 1/4 Pepsid AC (10mg tablet) every 12 hours ON THE DOT!!! One minute late and it's extremely obvious because he get severe reflux and regurgitates and swallows over and over and over and it sounds like choking.

I feed Henry 5-6 times a day in small amounts. He gets ready-to-feed KMR (kitten formula) because the powdered stuff is too chalky and not as sweet, but it's costs a LOT, finely ground raw homemade food based on the recipe at catnutrition.org, calorie gel for cats and added most recently, digestive enzyme supplements, which have made a huge difference. He hasn't needed the calorie gel for two days since he's been gaining so well.

I put his bowl on a folded towel so he doesn't have to dip his head down to eat. This helps keep the food in his stomach.

After meals I hold Henry upright with his side against my belly and I burp him by patting his ribs on his side. Until I started the enzymes, I did this after each meal for a long time, 5-15 minutes. Now, I he stops burping much sooner and I've even not had to burp him after his milk, just the food.

Henry sleeps with me, with me on my back, his rump in my armpit on the bed and his front legs and head on my chest. This upright position keeps his food down in his stomach. Once the food is well-digested (even faster now with the enzymes), he can curl up like a regular cat or lie flat on his side.

The homemade raw food was the biggest turning point after the Pepsid. The food is super easy for cats to digest and its very slippery. Henry's esophagus I'm sure was burned from stomach acid and it was painful for him to swallow so he has oral aversion. Once he tried the food and it didn't hurt, he liked to eat it.

Henry absolutely cannot have any grains or vegetables. Because the food sits for so long in his stomach (I believe the opening between his stomach and small intestine is constricted) it's imperative he not have any grain since it bloats up by absorbing fluid. Henry was amost always dehydrated because the water in his body was soaked up by the grain in the food. Likewise, he shouldn't have produce of any kind because it's too fibrous and tangles and balls up in his stomach. Once the food stays in his stomach, he makes too much mucous, and this also requires much needed body fluid (water) and also causes dehydration. Henry used to have to vomit the mucous to clear his stomach so there'd be room for food.

The vets were not helpful. They didn't recommend anything at all. Before he was mine, I had my friend insist on an x-ray and it showed fluid in his lungs. This was from aspirating into his lungs the regurgitated fluids from his stomach. He tried two antibiotics before this cleared up.

How did I know the food wasn't clearing from his stomach? I could see what his vomit looked like, and I could smell it and smell his nasty burps. Without the Pepsid, his belly rumbles non-stop louder than a grown human man. It's alarming.

How did I know he was in pain? He did the "pain crouch" all the time, never folding his legs underneath him, never curling up or laying long and stretched out. He cried pitiously at each meal, while swallowing and afterward. His eyes were showing obvious pain because he always kept his head down and looked upward at us with only his eyes.

How did I know he wasn't getting enough nutrients? Obviously he's not growing, but also his fur is awful, fuzzy and brittle and short, not like fur, but like cheap polyester.

What made me think to add digestive enzymes? Since the food sat so long in his stomach, I thought if the digestion process could get further along there, he'd absorb more nutrients from the broken down food and it would also pass sooner and easier into his small intestine where it would also be broken down to such an extent and the nutrients would be more readily absorbed. The dose was common sense. I give it to him as each meal, enough to lightly dust his food or milk. He's still on his first capsule!

Does he like the burping? Not really, but now that I've found a position that's comfortable for him and he realizes it helps, he relaxes until I'm finished.

Is all this worth it? Of course! Now that Henry feels well and has some energy, he is running and playing and able to do all the things a healthy cat does. He and Poppy and particularly good friends since they are close in size and he plays more gently than the healthy cats. He might out-grow this or get large enough for surgical treatment, if possible. If not, he can live a healthy life like this.

Is it a lot of work? Not really. He and Poppy both come with me when I'm gone for more than six hours. I put Poppy's nursery on my large red wagon and they both like it in there.

I LOVE having 10 cats. Of course in my apartment it would have been crazy, but I did think it would be awful to have TEN cats. I'm truly in cat heaven!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Beautiful Poppy

Dainty Little Thing

Stretching in the Sun

First time sleeping outside the "nursery"

Ah, mama's jammies smell so nice!

I'm just a speck on the bed, but I'm growing!

Poppy is now ten weeks old. She weighs about 1.75 pounds (She should weigh at least 2.5 pounds). I started letting her have the run of the house but it overwhelmed her so she still spends some time each day in her "nursery" which is a soft-sided kennel with her bed, litterbox and play space. At night she still sleeps in the small carrying kennel by my bed and she gets a bottle of kitten formula first thing in the morning.

Poppy has discovered how nice it is to cuddle and be petted instead of always trying to nip and play. She's developing very nice manners and talks in a pleasant voice that is mostly Mouse Speak since she squeaks still instead of having a real meow. She can be loud when she needs to, like when she was first in foster care and scared. She gives The Boys a run for their money at play time and they've learned to be gentle (most of the time). Poppy hides in a tiny place where The Boys can't reach her when they get too rough.

Poppy is VERY smart and knows her name, knows when and where dinner is served, figured out how to get up on my bed via a little basket, she grooms well, for a baby, and always uses the litterbox (though in her night quarters she still uses a pie tin!). She's my absolute delight!

Three Pounds!

Henry has set a new record for himself. He gained weight for SEVEN straight days!!! He now weighs THREE whole pounds!

Compared to Brother, Henry is still very much too small. At eight weeks, these two looks identical, then the reflux started with weaning to solid food. Hopefully, one day, Henry will match Brother again. The running joke I have with Henry is that his legs are growing and he's looking more and more like a giraffe. Once he starts growing some "real hair" which is quality fur, not the brittle down he's got now, then I'll know he's doing okay.


Henry and Brother

Thursday, July 16, 2009

27 Months Behind Me

It's nearly 2am and I'm just getting around to posting that my dossier has been logged in with CCAA in China for 27 months now. It's been a very long day, the second in a row and I didn't get to bed last night until 4am. Here are the quick highlights:

· Poppy is now 8 weeks old and she is just over one pound. She is extremely cute right now, having just discovered she has legs with feet attached and a TAIL. She lays on the floor trying to catch one of these body parts and play with it.

· As of today, Henry and Brother are now my cats. My friend came back from her trip and took them home after I worked hard to stabilize and improve Henry. She wasn't able to keep up the regime (she is fostering other kittens along with her own 7 cats) and he had a bad relapse. Brother also started reacting to the stress by hiding so in she marched in this morning with the Indy Brothers (Henry and Brother) so named because they have extremely loud purrs.

· Henry did begin to stabilize after 6 hours, but I had to do a subcutaneous fluid infusion. If he responds to what I was doing before my friend came back, he'll be a happy kitten in about two days.

· I have mowed my own lawn twice now, the first two times I've ever done it in my life. I have also used a weed wacker.

· I got one measely apricot off my fully laden tree that is now completely bare of fruit thanks to the local wildlife. Next year it's WAR!

· I went to Yanni's concert here in my area last month and it was WONDERFUL! I've been enjoying the new CDs like crazy.

· I have three new appliances that make my toes curl with glee, a Dyson vacuum, Vita Mix Blender and a large electric griddle. I have one new piece of furniture that I love even though I'm not sure where it will finally be placed.

I will post pictures and video soon!

Happy LID Anniversay to me.

P.S. I forgot to mention that I've now reached my definition of certifiably insane, I have 10, TEN, cats, and they are all MINE!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fashion Friday #13

It's been awhile since I've bought anything for Apple, but this past week I finally had a chance to get to my favorite baby shopping places and have a look around. These are various sizes from various places.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

Apple seems far, far away right now. I'm so busy getting the house settled and to maintain the housekeeping that I'm very distracted from my adoption process. However, I always peek at baby clothes when I'm out and every time I see a little Asian girl I say, "That's my future."

I've got 10 cats in my house right now and 8 are mine. Poppy is continuing to grow, but at nearly 7 weeks, still hasn't hit the one pound mark yet. She's growing, though, hitting a whopping 13.4 ounces, which is more than three times what she weighed when I got her. She runs and plays now, tackling me like she's a giant and not a pygmy. I keep her in a big kennel during the day and a small one beside my bed at night. As often as I can, I let her out to run around but I have to be right with her the entire time because Merlin treats her like a mouse, grabbing her and kicking her with his back legs like cats do. She freezes and plays dead when she feels threatened, or sits and shakes with fear so I have to be her protector so she feels perfectly safe.

I have two visiting kittens. One is special-needs. They are orange tabby brothers, Hank and Henry though Hank name doesn't suit him at all. Hank is very rough with Poppy as he really thinks she's a toy or mouse so I have to be very, very vigilant when he's not shut in the playroom and Poppy is running around. They started out almost identical but Henry didn't eat well and didn't grow. While Poppy is about 40 percent normal size for her age, Henry is around 25-30 percent normal and he looks unhealthy, especially compared to his sleak, handsome, soft brother. I believe he has severe reflux. Though he's been at the vet several times and finished a course of strong antibiotics, I am also treating him with Pepcid, grain-free food, calorie gel and kitten formula. He's gained 4.2 ounces in 4 days, he's not vomited except once right after he arrived and he's been playing a little bit. Without the medication he burps a LOT, coughs up mucous and his stomach grumbles and growls constantly and violently and he does the pain huddle after eating, when he'll eat. With the medication, he burps, but less, has stomach grumbles, but much less and less severe, and he doesn't cough up mucous, except in the early morning before his dose. The vets didn't diagnose this condition or prescribe the medication, but after having Darling and after some daycare kids with GERD, I recognize the symptoms and know what to do.

Needless to say, it keeps me busy taking care of everyone. Pooch is still spoon-fed and I'm training Meow to the spoon now since she's having eating issues, too. Sammy is regressing. He has fond memories of his bottle and has always been interested in sound of formula being shaken. I let him try a bottle and, while he didn't suck, he also didn't bite it, but did a half suck/lap thing. It was probably bad of me to give in and give him a taste but Rose is 9 and still sucks on my finger at night.

I finally had a chance to read the instructions that came with my Kodak video device so I'll have more videos of Poppy to post that are easier to upload. For now, here are my favorite photos so far (do click to view them larger)...

Gorgeous whiskers

With gentle Sammy

Meeting Bianca, a very, very, very large dog