27 January 2013

CH Kistha Peaches-N-Cream


CH Kistha Peaches-N-Cream is a shaded cameo girl, who is 3.5 years old.  She's being retired from a breeding program.  The truly special part about her is that she will soon be coming to live with me.

A dear friend, who breeds Persians, wants me to have a healthy Persian and wants me to have a cat I can show.  Peaches is the solution.  I am more than a bit honored that she would entrust Peaches to me.

And I'm terribly excited.

Now, I have thought long and hard about getting Peaches -- this is not a snap decision.  So before people criticize me for getting another cat, for not getting a rescue cat, or for getting a cat to show, please consider this.  I have taken in and cared for the 'unadoptable and unwanted' cats for 15+ years.  I donate considerable sums to help cat rescues.  And I have spent hours helping people with their cats.  At some point, I do think I have earned the right to have a healthy cat just to enjoy and play with (as in show). 

26 January 2013

How I Discovered Holistic Vet Medicine

For many people, when the cat gets sick, they take the cat to the local vet and the vet treats the cat.  It's only when this treatment 'fails' that the owner may question the vet or the general approach to veterinary medicine.

And such was my case.  I had Emily, a Persian mix, and for some reason, she stopped eating.  After about 10 days, she became jaundiced and I took her to every vet in town.  Each one told me the same thing -- "Best to euthanize her now because she has less than a 10% chance."  Finally, I took her to the local vet college and they agreed to treat her to show her students how a cat dies from liver failure.  Not a great prognosis.

So, for a few days, I followed all the directions.  And she got worse -- much worse.  The solution was to give me more medication to treat the side-effects of the other medication.  Still she got worse.

In a desperate attempt to save Emily's life, I called an animal healer and then a holistic vet.  The healer suggested several herbs and a raw liver mix and then insisted I call this one vet.  So I called.  We were on the phone for about an hour.  He asked me some "weird" questions which didn't seem relevant and then prescribed a homeopathic remedy which I had no clue what it was.  I had nothing to lose, so I tried it.

Nothing happened the next day -- she got neither better nor worse.  Then Saturday, she began to act perkier and to throw up every half hour, for most of the day.  On Sunday, she didn't vomit and let me force feed her and was even more perky.  Whatever that little white powder was worked!  (She made a full recovery and lived another 15 years.)

This is my story.  And it's not dissimilar in broad respects to how other people have turned to alternative treatments.  Cat is gravely ill -- try any alternative possible.

But this whole episode with Emily had two significant effects on me and the way I treat my cats:

  1. These alternative medicines, be they herbs or homeopathic remedies, do actually work.  From what I have seen, they work a lot better for some conditions, such as IBS or mild URI caused by viruses.  And most alternative medicines have few, if any, side-effects.
  2. I don't trust most vets.  Vets do make mistakes -- some are honest mistakes, others are driven by money, and a few because the vet doesn't look at the individual cat.  The more educated I am, the better I can check that the vet doesn't make mistakes.

25 January 2013

Herbs: Echinacea

As you may have noticed, I do use various herbs when treating or supplementing my cats.  I know most traditional Western veterinarians scoff at the effectiveness of herbs in treating serious diseases and medical conditions.  I also know, based on first-hand observations, herbs can be a powerful tool to restore health to a cat.

One of the most common, and unfortunately now one that is widely touted, herbs is echinacea.  Echinacea usually refers to the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) but can also refer to several closely related species of echinacea, each with varying degrees of medicinal properties.  The plant grows naturally on the prairies and scrublands of the US, but as it has a pretty purple flower, it's now grown as an ornamental.

Echinacea has been used by many people, including Native Americans, to help fight infections.  While echinacea does not kill bacteria or viruses directly, it does strengthen the immune system to attack these 'germs'.  And it does work.  Isabel, my silver Persian, has had a runny nose lately, probably from a chronic sinus infection.  So, for about a week, I have been adding drops of echinacea to her food.  That's really all I have changed and now, her nose is clearing.  While this may be a coincidence in some people's view, I have seen this occur with other problems -- from URI to abscesses.  For infections, this is a great herb to use.

But there is the problem -- it does work.  And if it works on one thing, then there are people that suggest it to be used on everything!  I've seen claims that it will cure ringworm, cancer, and even stud tail in cats.  I personally think it might help, but I doubt it would cure any of those three without some other medicine.  Echinacea's effects are noticeable, but with very serious infections or diseases, it generally does not seem strong enough on it's own.  Still, if you look in a grocery store, there it will be.

Unfortunately, what is in the grocery store may not be the most helpful.  The cheap, common version is powdered leaves and stems compressed into a tablet.  There's two problems:  First, the buyer has little way of knowing how much active herb is in the tablet.  Second, leaves are considered less potent.  From my readings and my own use, it's the roots which are the most effective.  And they are the most effective as an extract in alcohol.  The glycerate form is fine and a bit more palatable to cats, but does spoil quicker. (Extracts can remain usable for over 5 years!)

There are two constraints when I use echinacea.  First, since it boosts the immune system, the immune system must be functioning to some degree.  Some conditions like FeLV so destroy the immune system that there is little left to work with.  Other problems such as cancer, overwhelm the immune system.  In either case, echinacea can help but I wouldn't use it as the primary treatment option.  Second, since it boosts the immune system, it can only be given in short cycles and not as daily treatment.  What I mean is, after 2-3 weeks, it's effectiveness diminishes, so I have to rest the cat's immune system for at least a week before again using the echinacea.  Many books recommend 3 on, 1 off, but I've found 2 on, 1 off to be better for most minor problems.

Here's how I used echinacea to treat Isabel's nose:

  • I used it because this was a minor, not-life-threatening and chronic infection
  • I use the glycerate extract from roots, which she doesn't mind
  • I give her 2-4 drops mixed in food, twice a day for 2 weeks, then I'll stop for a week before giving her another round

Mandatory disclaimer:  I am not a vet.  If your cat is sick or injured, take your cat to a vet.  The information I have here is what I do for my cats.

First Semester is Over!

Okay, I haven't published anything lately because I've been a bit busy at school.  Today was the end of the semester.  So, for the last 3 days, I've been giving finals and trying to get those finals graded.  And I was doing quite well, until today.  Today was a bit of a train-wreck with a number of student problems, so I didn't get done with all the grading like I had hoped to.

So, here's my must do list for this weekend:
  • finish grading 5th period geometry tests
  • grade ~20 extra credit projects
  • write lessons for next week
  • work of credentialing stuff
I'm hoping I can get most of this done on Saturday, so that on Sunday, I can relax and do cat stuff.  I would like to give Wendy a bath, partially shave Clancy, and clean the carpets in here again.  (About this last point, the previous cleaning did help, but didn't totally remove the odor so now that Anya peed on the floor again, I notice it much more.)

And please note -- I said I haven't 'published' anything lately.  I have a couple of half finished blog posts that I would like to finish and publish.

21 January 2013

Anya's Peeing

Well, I spent most of yesterday cleaning the carpets in the bedroom and in my studio.  They really needed it in general, but the reason I did it was because this room began to smell.  With a bit of warmth from the sun, it was bothering me, and I'm not terribly sensitive to smells.

And what was the smell?  Cat urine... from Anya.

Anya is my 14 year old, one-eyed, lilac-point himalayan cat.  She also has herpes and on/off nasal infections, which I can control with lysine and echinacea.  But she's quirky at times.  She'll be asleep, wake up, stretch, and then howl.  She's also very loving and affectionate.

She just doesn't always use the litter box.... And this is probably part of the reason she was dumped at a shelter.  Anyway, sometimes she will go for 2-4 days with no accidents and then sometimes she will go 2-4 days without using the litter box.  Well, you know a cat has to pee, so she does it on the floor.  (And she occasionally poops on the floor too.)

Normally, peeing outside the box normally comes down to 3 causes:

  1. Urinary tract infection -- Cats relate the pain of peeing to the litter box, so will pee outside the box.  The pees are usually small and frequent.  Maybe with a drop or two of blood.
  2. Dislike of litter/box -- Some cats object to deodorizing crystals in litter, or the size of the grains, or the height of the box, or ...  If the cat doesn't like the box, the cat will find a place and substance it likes to pee on.
  3. Dirty boxes -- Many cats object to using a dirty box.  And if you think about it, it's like going into a public toilet and finding "stuff" in the toilet.  With these cats, you need to get more boxes and/or scoop frequently.
None of these fit Anya.  So, I'm left with the more exotic causes:
  1. Incontinence -- Cats can lose control of the bladder sphincter.
  2. Dementia -- Older cats forget where the box is.
  3. Medication -- Oral steroids can cause sudden urges to pee.
  4. Not trained -- I know there are some cats who never were trained by mom or the breeder to use a litter box, but I personally think these are few and far between.
  5. Tumors
The dementia and incontinence fit to some degree because she will walk along, pause, pee, and continue walking.  If I see her pause and especially if she's pawing at the carpet, I can call her name and usually that is enough to interrupt her and THEN she will use her box.  But I really can't sit here 24 hrs a day!  This is why puppy pads won't work -- she will pee anywhere and not just one spot.

I also wonder with her if her nose isn't a factor.  Cats are attracted to places to pee by smell.  Since I clean the litter box and remove the smells, the carpet ends up being smellier.  Now that I cleaned the carpet (and 90% of the smell is gone), I'm hoping she'll be more attracted to the litter box.  So far, it is working... knock on wood.

I know many people wouldn't tolerate this and... well, I don't know what the alternatives would be.  Dump her at another shelter?  Put her to sleep?  Lock her in a bathroom with hard floors?  These just don't seem viable options to me.  When I adopt an animal, it's for their lifetime, come good or bad.  Putting up with this problem does not make me a saint -- I just love her for who she is.

But she has helped me clean my house... win-win for both of us!  

20 January 2013

What's On Today's 'To Do' List

Yesterday wasn't too bad.  I got most of my 'must do' list done, except for grading those <bleep> quizzes.  I don't mind grading quizzes if the students know the material, but it is so depressing when many of the students don't get it and/or don't care.  So, I put them off.  I may actually get my husband to work on them.  And I did several things, like book reviews, snuggles, and watch Numb3rs, that were on my 'want to do' list.  So I did make progress.

Also, Wendy seems much improved over night.  She was hungry and anxious to get fed, unlike last night.  The world is just not right when Wendy, Miss Happy Kitty, isn't feeling good.

The 'bad' part of yesterday is I spent too much time sitting at this computer.  While there is nothing wrong with chatting with friends on Facebook or blogging here, I do tend to do it to the exclusion of all other things.  For example, I was chatting and blogging and 'playing' on the internet, when I realized it was 12:26pm.  The post office closes on Saturday at 1pm and I still had to package things.  I got one ready and made it with 6 minutes to spare.  Had I done what I needed to do first (mail the package), I would not have been as stressed.  I really need to watch the amount of time I spend online.

So, what is on today's 'must do' list?

  • order lysine powder, cosequin, and taurine for the kitties
  • try out the carpet cleaner
  • grade those quizzes and be done with that
While I would like to get a lot more done, I do know that the carpet cleaning will be 'fun'.  I've not used the Bissell steam cleaner so I'll have to figure out how to use it in addition to moving lots of stuff and keeping cats away while the carpet dries.  I do hope the carpet dries quickly -- I know it would in summer at 110F -- but at 40-50F outside, I can't really open the windows.

After this is done, or while I'm taking breaks from the carpet cleaning, I will try to get in some serious kitty snuggles.  Oh the hardship!

Well, better get going and finish my coffee so I can start on the carpet...

19 January 2013

Poor Wendy -- Stupid Me

Some days I will never learn.  I know Wendy can't handle beef, canned food, or kibble, so I got her some pheasant (frozen commercial raw food) and fed it to her 2 meals in a row.  She spent most of the afternoon curled up, not active, slightly miserable.  So, I need to add commercial raw to the Wendy Food Caution List, with the note for only one meal...

To be honest, I don't know what part of the food caused the problem.  The two leading candidates are:

  1. The sudden switch in food caused her tummy to be upset.  While pheasant is probably close to chicken (at least closer than say beef), it is different and would require slightly different enzymes and bacteria to digest it.  The food is also HPP (high pressure pasteurized) which does effect the proteins. If it effects the proteins enough, or if my nuking it effected them, the food may actually be semi-raw. (Raw vs. cooked food in my opinion is handled by a cat's digestion in different ways -- I can't yet prove this, but I've seen results.)
  2. The food lacks enough fiber so she's mildly constipated.  Wendy was 'diagnosed' as having the beginnings of megacolon.  Her pooping has never been normal and small changes will effect it.  Even though I put psyllium in the homemade raw, with Wendy, I still have to add a teaspoon of pumpkin also.  I'm thinking between the lack of fiber and water in the food, she may be slightly plugged up.
So I wait...  I did get my homemade cat food made with extra fiber for her and she did eat some, which is good.  But it's so sad to see Wendy not my happy little girl.


Book Review: Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi

Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander, illustrated by Wayne Geehan
ISBN:  9781570911668

One of King Arthur's knights, Sir Cumference, is turned into a dragon and the knight's son, Radius, must find the right potion and proportion to turn his father back to human, before the dragon is killed. This children's book for grades 2-5 explains the relationship between the number pi (3.14159...), the diameter of a circle, and it's circumference.

While the writing is find, the math is find, and the illustrations are okay, I did not care for this book. It was very tightyly focused on one fact about pi and it's a fact that would lack spark to many students.  There are many other facts about pi that could have been introduced. Unlike Sir Cumference and the First Round Table, the illustrations are just there but not especially helpful at clarifying the relationship.  Additionally, the entertaining puns were sadly absent.  

This is the second in a series of children's math books by Cindy Neuschwander, called A Math Adventure.  While I had intended to buy all of six plus some of her other books, this one is making me rethink that.  I really would like to see the others before I blindly buy more.  What a pity -- could use more fun math children's books.

Book Review: Sir Cumference and the First Round Table

Sir Cumference and the First Round Table by Cindy Neuschwander, illustrated by Wayne Geehan

King Arthur is convening his knights for the first time, but there is a problem -- the table.  Sir Cumference takes it upon himself to solve the problem. 

This children's book helps children in grades 2-5 see the connections between various polygons and a circle. The properties of each polygon are used in the story. Mathematically it is sound and the author does explain the material in a very nice child-friendly manner. Adults will enjoy the plethora of puns. 

My only complaint is the colors in the illustrations is a bit too wild -- tone down some of the contrasts would help the appearance. ( )

As a high school math teacher, I do use this book to reinforce the properties of various polygons, because it is accurate and because even teenagers like to be read to.  I also show it to students a good example of a math book for children and then I assign them the project to make their own story book on a math topic.  While it is easy to create simple and engaging counting books for lower grades, my students begin to appreciate for much work and thought goes into presenting high school math while entertaining an audience.

3 Glorious Days!

It's the weekend and a 3-day one at that!!!  Yipee!  I can really use this extra day off to get stuff done and to work on other things.  Having Monday as a postal holiday is a bit of a nuisance, since I will have to get dressed and run into town this morning to mail a package.

So what do I have to do today:
  • mail 2 packages at the post office
  • buy and make cat food (because we had to open the mackerel this morning -- emergency supply)
  • grade geometry quizzes and finish their grades
  • clean up some of the 'stuff' I have left around here so I can vacuum and carpet/clean tomorrow
Well, if I get all that done, I'll be a happy camper.

Of course, the list of "I want to" do is much longer:
  • snuggles kitties
  • read
  • review a couple of books
  • start in earnest on the cross-stitch
  • watch a couple of episodes of Numb3rs
  • take more photos of my cats
  • go shopping for a skirt and blouse
  • etc.
I hope I can get a few of these done -- especially the snuggle part.  But I'm not going to get anything done sitting here -- I need my breakfast, more coffee, and to get moving!

18 January 2013

Cats: A Health Survey of the Herd

Continuing on what I was saying about my cats and their health...

About every 6 months, I sit down and think about how my cats are doing individually and as a member of the herd.  It's a time to put my prejudices away and really think carefully about them.  I do this in part so I can adjust supplements, including herbs and nutricals.  There's no sense in using something on a cat for years just because it is a routine -- it wastes money, it may lose it's effectiveness, or it may actually harm the cat from long-term use.  But with herbs and nutritional supplements, I can't see the effectiveness of something in 2 or 3 weeks -- usually these products are slow to work.  So, each 6 months is a good time to reassess things.

So let's look at a couple of the cats:

Isabel taking a nap
Isabel -- She's my silver chinchilla Persian and about 4.5 years old.  To most people and vets, she's perfectly healthy.  I have a slightly less rosy opinion.

I did have to shave her this fall because her coat got terribly matted.  The reason it was matted was in the Spring of last year, she had a UTI and/or a large bladder stone.  The vet tried to get a urine sample by flipping her upside down, holding her down, and sticking a needle in her bladder.  It didn't work (and one vet tech has scares to prove it).  It did make her impossible to groom, especially on her tummy.  Eventually, she was so matted, I shaved her.  Since then, I have been working patiently with her to get her to trust me to groom her tummy and back legs.  That has gone very well, and she's back to trusting me.

On the down side, I know she has nose problems.  My vet says "It's just a Persian thing" but I disagree.  when she was antibiotics for the UTI, her nose improved.  I also know that with high doses of lysine, her nose and eyes improve.  (Her eyes water and stain her pretty face.)  So, it is a problem that can be fixed.  Lysine alone helps, but I have been giving her echinacea extract, off and on, for a couple of months, and this seems to hold it at bay.  But I'd like something more permanent, so I'm considering Chinese herbs, Immunoplex, and/or goldenseal nasal drops.  The last one may stain her fur yellow and is a fix for her nose, but not her immune system.  It would work to knock any infection down and then build the immune system to prevent it from coming back.

Her ears also have a lot of brown wax.  I'm not sure why, as she shows no sign of mites or food issues.  I'll thoroughly clean them this week and see what happens over a couple of weeks.  I do wonder if it's from the treats or the commercial food which hubby slips her when he feeds Clarissa lunch.

Psychologically, she's quiet and likes to be left alone.  Unfortunately, she's in the bedroom with Clarissa, the Tortie Monster.  While she has made great strides in trust since I've had her (she had spent the first 6 months under the bed), I'm wondering about trying some Bach flower essences.

I know I need to keep the lysine in her food (and at 150% the recommended level when she is have problems).  I'm going to try the Immunoplex for long-term immune building, the echinacea for another cycle, and maybe try just plain saline nose drops, which she will love (or not).

And then there is:

Robbie -- He's a 10-12 year old Maine Coon/Persian cross.  He nearly died of liver failure when I got him ~6 years ago but has been basically healthy since then.  He did develop an intolerance to poultry products, so he get beef, rabbit, lamb, pork, and venison, plus some fish occasionally   When we got ringworm and ear mites, he did get both pretty bad and he got an allergic reaction to both.

Physically, I worry about him.  He has seemed 'off' for a year or so, but blood-work shows nothing and I can't point directly to anything.  He is thinner than he had been, and he has itchy skin in spots.  There is also a tendency towards constipation followed by a drop or two of blood.  But I can't say, "Look at this."  So to most vets, this would just be an over-anxious owner.  To my homeopathic vet, ... she does take what I say seriously, but can't figure out anything.

Psychologically, he's more timid, more likely to strike out in fear-aggression, and less snugly   I'm not looking the combination because it says to me he feels vulnerable.

I really think with him the problem is his immune system being overactive.  The allergies and skin sensitivity all indicate that.  I have tried various things, with minimal improvement.  He has eaten more enthusiastically since I have been adding commercial raw food to his diet, which is where the venison, rabbit, and lamb come from.  I feel kind of lost as to what to do.  If I knew more about acupressure, I would try it.  I know there are a couple of Chinese herbal combinations with mushrooms that might help, so I'll poke around the Internet and see what I can find.

So, two cats looked, more to go....

But my whole point is I don't wait for clinical problems to appear before I tweak their care.  There is what is ideal health for a cat in general and then there is normal for a cat.  My goal is to move my cats' 'normal' closer to the ideal.

17 January 2013

Cats: What is a Healthy Cat?

I got thinking about my cats, their health, and what I need to do to improve their health.  This then led to me pondering what is a healthy cat.

See, if I loaded the herd up and took them to a traditionally trained vet, I would guess only Clancy and Dante would be considered unhealthy by a vet.  Clancy has advanced CRF, so any bloodwork would come back pretty bad.  Dante, who is 20-21 years old, probably would have bad bloodwork too from CRF.  The rest, most vets would think are basically healthy.

I look at them and I don't see totally healthy cats. Tolstoy is healthy.  The rest, well, the rest I don't see as truly healthy.

It's not that I'm looking for sick cats -- I would love to have totally healthy cats -- but I have an idea of what a healthy cat is like and how it acts.  Yes, acts.  I don't like the traditional western medicine approach of only dealing with the physical situation because with a cat so much of their being is psychological.  I also view health and illness as a continuum, with no clear lines.

So, why do I consider Tolstoy healthy?

  • His body is lean and muscular with a nice feel to it.
  • He has no observable health issues.
  • He eats/digests food without problems.
  • His ears and teeth are clean.
  • He eats just about everything.
  • He is neither too aggressive or too timid.
  • He recovers quickly from stress.

My other cats fail on one or more points.  For example, most people and vets would consider Olivia to be healthy.  While her body is great and her digestion is fine, she apparently has a tendency towards UTIs.  This is not huge as many cats do have the same tendency, but I look at it differently.  A cat should not get a bladder infection from being upset!  Her bladder and her immune system are off.  Furthmore, this flaw arises from her tendency to become very stressed.  A healthy, well-balanced cat should not have either of these 'problems'.  The good news is with some work, I think I can 'fix' it so she doesn't get a UTI after every bath.  It will involve both her physically and mentally.

I'm not saying a cat has to be perfect to be healthy -- just that when I look at the entire animal, I see the physical condition, the physical tendencies, and the mental conditions all to be part of health.

16 January 2013

Higher Geometry

In an effort to improve my mind, I had started on Modern Geometries by James R. Smart.  It is a college level geometry book, so it's a step or two up from what I teach.  And I'm finding it a challenge.

I fear my brain is mush.  I don't know if this is from growing old, being tired, not doing serious math for a year.  Whatever the cause, this book is harder than I thought it would be.

Then again, it's fun.  Okay, I'm only on chapter 1 which deals with finite geometries.  These are geometries that have a limited number of points and lines and a very simple axiomatic system.  The first of these has only 3 points.  It's sounds very limited (and it is) but it is fascinating to see how much can be done and proven with this.  Another interesting part of this is Gino Fano was the first to study these 'miniature' geometries in the 1890's.  I would have thought this had been studied earlier.

A couple of people, teachers actually, have asked me why I bother to work on this higher geometry.  I told them, "Because it was there."  They just roll their eyes and leave it.  They wouldn't understand if I did explain why.  See, what I find interesting is that many high school teachers are not curious about their subjects.  I don't know why, because I do like math.

So, why bother?

  • It is interesting in itself.
  • Because a lot of geometry is abstract reasoning, this is a challenge for me since I tend towards computational things.
  • The more I know about geometry and it's development, the more I can challenge some of my very bright students.
  • The higher geometry links various other areas of math together.

13 January 2013

A New Idea on FIP

FIP (feline infectious peritonitis) is a horrible disease in cats.  Most cats are exposed to a simple corona-virus and recover.  Some go on to be carriers.  A few of the carriers have the virus mutate so that it becomes deadly.  This deadly form, actual FIP, comes in two forms -- wet and dry.  With wet, the internal organs turn to liquid.  With dry, organs cease to function.  The wet kills in days to weeks, the dry in weeks to months.  The prognosis is 100% fatal.

So, when I was ready in Pets at Risk by Alfred J. Pelchner, DVM with Martin Zucker, I was stunned when I came across this quote:

All the FIP cats I test have the adrenal defect and the deregulated immune systems that cannot distinguish between the virus and the host. So the immune system attacks the body as well as the virus... The antibiotics are involved for the short term, the cortisone and thyroid for the long term. Using this approach I have been able to save about 70 percent of the sick FIP cats I treat. pg. 47

Now, Pelchner is a western-medicine, UC-Davis trained vet, and not some website vet trying to sell you something.  His explanations are reasonable. While there doesn't seem to be other vets confirming this, it is something to think about since the only option offered by vets is a quick death by injection.

This is one of those disease I do dread.  There aren't many diseases or conditions that scare me, but this one does because it is considered fatal.  If he is right, there is hope.  I just wonder if it's true and how long before his methods become well known by vets.

10 January 2013

Cats, UTIs, and Herbal Treatment

Note to readers:  Somehow I had envisioned me discussing grand, eloquent discussions on weighty topics, but looking over the recent posts, I'm settling for less grand, basically readable, and fairly random posts.  And I'm not sure I care!

Today's topic is: Cats, UTIs, and herbal treatment

For those that don't know what a UTI is, it is short for urinary tract infection.  This can be from bacteria alone or from bacteria relating to bladder stones or crystals.  The cat will go from one box to another, peeing tiny amounts or just drops.  In males, if the inflammation or crystals get too much, the urethra can block and the cat can be dead within 12-24 hours.  (This is an emergency situation and I would take the boy to a vet, even on an emergency call.)  In females, the chances of blocking is slim.

So, Monday as I was getting ready to go to work, I noticed Olivia visiting several boxes, one after another, and peeing only drops.  She has done this before, I've had other cats do this, so I knew what it was and, of course, I went into panic-mode!  (Anyone who thinks I remain calm when my cats are ill doesn't know me.)

I knew I couldn't get her to a vet that night after work and I was out of antibiotics, so grabbed what I could figure out and tried it.  I gave her 1/2 a cranberry tablet, 1/2 a 500mg VitC, and 4 drops of echinacea glycerate.  And then did a whole lot of worrying the whole day.  Hubby reported good things at lunch -- no frequent trips to the box.

So, I've given this combination to her (echinacea in food, VitC and cranberry as pills) since Monday and she now is showing no symptoms at all.

I am so relieved.  And before anyone worries, I did mooch some antibiotics from a friend just in case.

My big concern is why this happened again.  I suspect it is stress related.  She's had UTIs 2 other times -- each near the time she got a bath.  I know she takes the blow drying, but maybe I'm underestimating the amount of stress it causes.  Or maybe her system is slightly 'down' -- a friend has recommended Immunoplex for a couple of months, to help build her immune system.  I'm also thinking of Cosequin to help strengthen the bladder.

I know, this is the part where I say, "I'll be sure to ask my vet.  And don't you try any of this without asking your vet."  Honestly, I may eventually mention it to my vet next time we chat, but I won't be making a special trip up there for her to tell me this is a great treatment.

09 January 2013


I really should be in a circus as a juggler.  Why?  That's what I seem to do all day.  Juggle the needs of students, the class activities, the curriculum pacing.  And when I get home, I juggle feeding my cats, medicating several, and grooming them.  If I have time, then I juggle Persian-Cats.com, Facebook, and this blog.

It does create a bid of chaos, which unfortunately, I'm used to.  I would rather have a more peaceful life.  I know I could cut out or cut down the computer time.  It's not like I don't have other things to do.  But I do enjoy all three.

Persian-Cats.com -- This is a wonderful site for information and support when it comes to owning and caring for a Persian cat.  I have learned a lot of things over the years.  But I have cut way down on the time I spend there, especially at night, because of the other two and because I can access the site during the day.

Facebook -- I only recently discovered this site and it's fun.  I've been able to chat in real time with several friends.  And I've made some real good new friends.  The chatting does take up time but it's wonderful to have real-time chats.  What's hilarious is that almost half my friends are non-Americans....

This Blog -- I do think sitting here and writing and reflecting has helped me be calm and less stressed.  I don't think it has really helped me sort anything out, but it's fun.

So, I'm not sure what to give up to make my life simpler....  For the moment (and I'm chatting on Facebook as I type) I will continue to juggle all three....

07 January 2013

Do I Say Something or Not?

Today was the first day of school after a 2 week break.  It was rough!  I wasn't ready, the kids didn't want to do much, and my kitties missed.  But I made it through...

Now, the one nice thing about living an hour away is the commute.  Yes, I know it eats up a lot of my free time, but it does give me the time to think about things or to listen to audio books.  

And today's thinking topic was: What do I say?  Or don't I say anything?

Often in a cat group, a question will come up and various people will answer it.  Sometimes the advice is good and sometimes the advice is not so good.  For example, in a non-cat group, someone asked about treating kidney problems.  The standard treatment is low-protein diets.  This is what most vets, not all, will say.  I know from personal experience, low-protein diets don't work and I feed my kidney cats raw diets with about 65% protein.  My cats seem to have few of the common side-effects so I'm convinced this approach is right, although it is not widely accepted.  So here's the problem:
  • If I say something, some people may attack me.  True, alot depends on how I phrase my reply, because I do tend to say things without thinking.  This leads people to feel attacked (understandable to some degree), it really is only my bluntness.  I don't have a lot of time to write, edit, think, re-edit.  And even when I do that, my posts sometimes are misunderstood.  I have never figured it out.
  • If I don't say anything, the cat may be hurt.  If a person knows something that might save someone from pain or even death, there is a moral obligation to say something.  This should extend to a cat.
Do I say something or not?
How do I say something that is effective and not off-putting?
When shouldn't I say something?

These are questions that I struggle with and to which I have no answer.

06 January 2013

Book Review: The Hindu-Arabic Numerals

The Hindu-Arabic Numerals by David Eugene Smith and Louis Charles Karpinski
ISBN: 0-486-43913-5

The Hindu-Arabic Numerals attempts to trace the origin of our present numbers from either the Arabs, the Hindus, or the Chinese. David E. Smith collects much of the, then known, sources for the early development in a thin scholarly tome. This is a reprint of the 1911 book.

In terms of writing, the book is, as one would expect from a 19th-century educated scholar, written with care, without flowery sentences, and with appropriate footnotes. (One note -- Smith does assume a working knowledge of Latin, French, and German and is happy to quote long passages in these languages mainly in his footnotes.) Smith has included many reproductions of early numbers and references to texts, both printed and manuscript, to justify his conclusions. Anyone wishing to study the history of numbers could easily draw up a long reading list from his footnotes. This is THE book to start with, if one wants a scholarly treatment.

There were two 'problems' I had with this book. First, it was published in 1911, so much of the secondary material referred to was published in the 1890's or earlier. I do wonder what, if any, new work has been done in this field.

Second, I had assumed that this book would trace the Hindu-Arabic numerals from their origin to their present form. Smith does as good a job as can be done in defending his theory of their origin. He traces the numerals to about the 12th century and then skims over any later development. I understand that history from the 13th century onward is a bit out of his normal period, but I was hoping of a bit better treatment.

Overall, this is a great starting point for studying where the numerals we use came from. I wish I had read this several years ago! )

Last Day....

Tomorrow it's back to school.  I guess there is little point in whining about that -- I have to go back to work to get a paycheck to support my cats.  <sigh>  If only they would get jobs....

I actually had a pretty good day yesterday, considering my own stupidity.  I had ordered a rug cleaner and I saw on the FedEx site that it was "on truck for delivery".  They have delivered things on Saturday, so I thought it would come yesterday.  So, I waited... and waited... and nothing.  I finally went back to their tracking page and read the whole page, including the fine print "on truck for delivery on the next business day".  <pout>  It would have been nice to have it today so I could use it.

Another disappointed is the local fabric/craft store did not have the cross-stitch material I wanted.  Off-white 14-count Aida is not unusual, but they didn't have any.  So, my options are:

  • wait and hope they get more in
  • drive down the hill and see if Micheal's or Joan Fabrics has it
  • order it online
  • go to Wal-Mart (not a real option to me since I hate the company so much)
I think I'll probably order it online, since I'll be sure to get what I want.  But then I'll also end up ordering more, because I can't just order the one thing.  LOL!  It would get here this week.  But I'm still a bit annoyed that I can't get started on it today.

Lucky for me <note sarcasm >, I have some things to do.

  • Haircut
  • Buy furnace filters
  • Groceries
  • Make cat food
  • Figure out lesson plans
I suppose there are lots of other things I should do too, but if I get these 5 items done, I'll be okay for this week.  I do want time for snuggles and grooming and reading.

05 January 2013

Feeling Better

Well, I'm feeling better emotionally after a bit of a pity party last night.  Talked to one of my best friends and she sorted me out!  It is nice when friends care enough to verbally slap you back to your senses.

I have a few things on my list of 'should do', but, you know what?  Forget it.  If I haven't done it by now, it wasn't really that important!

Besides, I've finally settled on what 'fun' thing I should do in all my spare time -- cross stitch.  If I do smaller pieces, I can sit here and work so I won't have to re-arrange everything in my studio.  (This does not mean that my studio doesn't need a good re-arranging and de-junking regardless -- just that it won't get done now.)  I have a number of books with great cat designs so I've selected several, picked one to start on, and will get the material today.

It's been so long since I started a cross-stitch from a pattern that I had to look up how to determine the fabric size.  Several sites, which seemed to have copied each other, said to follow the pattern directions.  Oh so not helpful!  The directions for the pattern I'm using give the stitch count and the size of the image and nothing more.  I finally found a website that said round up, then add 2 inches to each side (or 4 inches to the dimensions).  The image is 4.5 x 6.875 inches, which rounds to 5 x 7, add 4 inches to get 9 x 11.  This seems like an awful big piece of material, but when I think about how to stretch it to frame, I suppose it's right.

Now the big question is do I have the fabric?  and the colors?  I'm going to have to go digging in the closet to see.  I had purchased some sale cross stitch material, but it's 18 count and not 14.  I don't want to make the design smaller, so I need the 14 count.  I know I used to have, but where is it?  (This is one reason I really want to clean up, clean out my house -- so I can find what I have!)  At least I know where the floss is, so that will be easy to check.  I'll check the floss and give myself 15 minutes to find the 14-count aida, before I head into town.

Oh, and before anyone asks what the design is (other than something with a cat), it's a secret.  Shhh...  I'm giving it to a friend, who I don't think knows about this blog, but still, I don't want to risk it!

04 January 2013

Cats: Picky Eaters

I am somewhat shocked by the number of people that have cats who are described as picky eaters.  I feed mine a variety of meats and they quickly eat their portions (and look to steal food from other cats).  Once I get a cat transitioned to raw and barring a medical/psychological problem (like Clancy's mouth or Isabel being hand-fed for a while), I've never had this problem in ~20 years of feeding raw. My cats eat all their raw quickly, with no hesitation.  I only have one cat, Anya, who doesn't eat with gusto and there are other issues with her. 

So, I got to wondering -- why?  What do I do that these other owners do not do?  Or vice versa.

I think they have ignored a few basic ideas:

  1. Cats prefer kibble because of the crunch. If they have access to kibble, they will gravitate to it instead of raw. James and Tolstoy grew up on raw but they go nuts over kibble as a treat. So when owners try raw and kibble, eventually the raw loses because it's not crunchy. Most raw feeders I know feed only raw with occasional treats of crunchies.
  2. Cats like stability. If you present a cat with a new food every day or two, the cat gets confused. By constantly changing food, the cat learns that a new food may appear in a day, so if it is not fond of the first food, wait a day and it's a different food.
  3. Cats need time to adjust to new food. It does take 5-14 days for a cat to fully adjust to a new food. If the owner gives a new food and then replaces this food before the cat is adjusted to it, the cat's body never fully adapts to any one food. When a cat’s body is not adjusted to the food, the cat is not comfortable and so comes to associate food and being uncomfortable.
  4. Cats' appetites vary for a variety of reason. A cat will not eat the same amount each and every day. If a cat doesn't eat everything for one day, so what? In the wild, cats do not eat 2 meals a day, every day. It’s not uncommon for small cats to miss meals for 1-2 days, yet domestic cats are ‘required’ to eat constantly by owners.
  5. Specifically with raw, cats will overeat raw when first introduced. This I believe is a response to the nutrient-rich nature of the raw and the nutrient-deficient state a cat is in when put on raw. The cat's body discovers the raw has all the nutrients the old food did not, so it eats more to catch-up. After a while, once the deficits are filled, the cat resumes eating a more normal amount. But then the owner panics because the cat is eating less. (This nutrient-deficiency may also be related to cats going from one food obsession to another -- when the shortage becomes severe enough, the cat refuses to eat it, knowing it will get something else, which hopefully will solve that shortage.)
  6. Cats take months to years to break the grazing habit. With grazing, a cat never develops an appetite because it never is hungry. Many cats will eat out of boredom. When transiting a cat, breaking the grazing habit is the hardest -- much harder than kibble to raw actually. It takes firmness from the owner not to sneak extra treats or small snacks or only leave the bowl of kibble out at times.
  7. Cats do pick up on owner’s anxiety about food.
So, you take 2 or more of these, do it to a cat for a while, and you get a picky eater. I know some owners don't want to accept this, but I've seen it in newly adopted cats and I've seen it in cats owned by people I have helped with their finicky eaters.  A lot of the problem is what the owner does.  It's not hard once you understand the 'rules'.  I've taken in cats which I was told only will eat Brand X food or starve to death. Guess what? 6 months later, they are on raw and eating fine with gusto.

Now, I have had cats who are picky eaters because of energy imbalances. (Yes, I know it sounds New Age, but western medicine sure doesn't have all the answers for cat care.) I have used homeopathy to remedy energy imbalances. It may take months or even a year, but usually I have had success and in the process, it also got rid of other issues and the cat becomes more eager to eat.  But I believe these cats are few and far between.

Last Day Of Break

It's Friday -- the last official day of my Christmas Holiday Break.  Saturday and Sunday don't count because I have those off anyway.  So,...

Let's get it out and over with -- wahhhhh!

There... all the whining done.  Actually, I wrote a long and whiny post and just deleted it.  I hate hearing myself whine.  Whining doesn't help -- doesn't solve any problems, but it does help me dwell long and hard on all the negative things.  So,


I did have a lovely morning -- called a friend in Ireland and chatted.  Then got to make cat food.  And I just had to take a photo of my fuzzy bowl cleaners!

Tolstoy (orange), Spencer (fluffy B&W), James (not fluffy B&W), and Dante (brown tabby)

After breakfast, I had a nice chat with another friend, I read some posts, and I snuggled Anya a bit.

Now I need to figure out what, if anything, I should do to relax when I have time.  I don't have a lot of time and it comes here and there.  This limits my options.  I can't do something that takes 30 minutes to get started or to clean up (no painting in oils) or something that requires daily work (no learning partial differential equations).  So, I need something that is quick to stop/start, this can be left for days to weeks, and can be done in here.  (The latter is because of Clarissa, my ever so helpful tortie tot!)

Clarissa, my tortoiseshell Persian

I've got it narrowed down to 4 possibilities:
  1. Quilting --  I do the hand-piecing of quilt tops.  I have a couple started and would like to finish them.
  2. Sewing vests -- They are quick and easy to do with lots of room to embellish them.
  3. Cross-stitching -- If I can find a place to sit and still see well in here, I have some lovely kits to do.
  4. Making cards -- I have bought some stamps and I would like to use them.
Each option comes with advantages and disadvantages, so I need to 'try them on' for a while.  I really am trying not to overthink this!

03 January 2013

I Survived!!!

8:12am power out
3:23pm power on

Boy did it get chilling in here!  And boring once my laptop battery died...  But we survived!  I got some excellent warm snuggles from Spencer and Wendy that helped me endure this hardship.

Actually, it wasn't so bad until 3pm when it didn't come on.  I did find things to do -- although I couldn't do a couple of things because I hadn't prepared.  I forgot a pattern I wanted was in the closet and the closet is dark without a light.  Of course, the flashlight was dead.  I got a bit worried about it not coming on tonight.  I love my house, but it has almost no insulation.  And I couldn't figure out what to feel the cats, since I need to grind chicken.

And now, off to a hot cup of cocoa and to grind the chicken...

Back to the Dark Ages

Today is going to be interesting.  Southern California Edison will be shutting off the power from 8am to 3pm today.  I have no clue as to how wide this black out is or what it is for exactly, but....

It still means:

  • no heat
  • no more coffee
  • no tea
  • no microwave
  • no vacuuming (not a bad thing)
  • no watching DVDs (unless I use my laptop)
  • no... lots of things
See, the moment the power goes out, I will suddenly think of all the things I want to do if the power was on. I can use my laptop for a while -- batteries -- but that is limited.  It's just that I had plans to do a bit of sewing today.

Well, I had better go get the rest of my coffee and make some toast. 

8 minutes until darkness...

02 January 2013

I Went Shopping...

I was going to write a bit this morning, but... well, I ordered some stuff online.  Cat stuff.  About $180 worth.    Clicked 'place order' and.....

Nada, zippo, nothing...

Did one of those online chats with a customer service person and he could not tell me if I had placed an order or not, because "it may take upto 24 hours for the system to process".  Huh?  It's a computer!!! Not a little old man with a clipboard in a huge warehouse.

Besides, and this is the 'fun' part, I was using a 15% off coupon which expires tonight, so tomorrow it's too late.  And 15% of $180 is $27, which is, well, the gallon of Urine Off for free.  (Yes, there is trouble in Kitty Land!)

So, rather than sit and stew over this, and because Clarissa was out of cat food, I went shopping at 'her' pet store in Redlands.  About 75 miles away.  Yes, I drive all the way over there for her food.  Why?  Because they also sell frozen raw food, they are nice people, and I almost killed Clarissa with a can of food from a national chain because they had never heard of rotating stock.  (I'll get to that story someday.)  And also because hubby wanted to go to a bookstore.

Okay, I also wanted to go to a huge craft store there to find an album cover for Maggie's pages.  They had lots of stuff, but nothing fit her, the pages, or my tastes, so I will probably end-up making something.  Actually ended up depressed because there was all that fun stuff and I have so little time to do anything really.  But I'm more in awe of what my friend did for me -- looking at all the bits and pieces she put on the pages and the papers and the die-cutters and ... wow!

One last thing -- the order did go through... Order at 7:30am, confirmed at 2:17pm.  Gotta luv computers!

01 January 2013

My Other Special Present

As I said earlier today, I did receive two extraordinary presents this year.  Neither technically were Christmas presents, but both came from special people and both really touched my heart.

The second one was this quilt my friend had made for me.  It's a simple design -- just squares -- made out of flannel.  Some of the fabric is plain, other fabric has cats.  Many of the plain blank squares are embroidered with cat sayings or images.  But what makes it so very special is that it has the names of almost all my cats on it -- living and dead.  (She really can't be expected to know all the cats I've had from over 10 years before I met here!)  I know it sounds totally ridiculous, but laying under this blanket makes me feel like I'm snuggling to all my kitties, even though some are no longer her.


2013 Resolutions

Like I said last night, I thought about where I was in 2012, where I want to be, and what to do about it in 2013.  The long and short of it is I don't like who I am -- I'm fat, mean at times, selfish, boring, and getting stupider.  I don't want to be like that, so I need to stop the slide and do something.

I have a few simple resolutions which should help.  I used to make long lists of complicated resolutions which I always failed to keep.  Now, being older and wiser, I keep it short and simple.

So, here are my resolutions for 2013:
For my mind:  I will work through a book on advanced geometry.
For my body:  I will exercise daily, if only for 10-15 minutes of yoga or tai chi.
For my spirit:  I will blog daily or as close to that as I can.
For my cats:  I will make sure to have homemade food for them and not get lazy.
For my husband:  I will limit internet usage so I can spend more time talking to him.
For my career:  I will praise my students more.
For my house:  I will clean 1 hr per day when I have days off.
For my friends:  I will be more generous.

I actually have another set of resolutions, which I'm stilling thinking about, all about my body.  The problem is I'm turning 50 this year, I'm fat (could lose 30lbs and still be overweight), and I feel like I'm falling apart.  If not for me, then I have to at least stay healthy for hubby and my cats.  But if I can get the above resolutions going, then working on my body more will be easier.