31 December 2014

Goodbye 2014!

I can't say I'm sorry to see 2014 go -- it was bad at times, great at other times, but just overall tiring.

Dante, RIP

The bad times:
  • Tom, my dear husband, had a couple of really bad spells where I thought he would actually die.  
  • Dante, my old 22 year cat, finally had to be put to sleep.
  • Bodhi, my crazy persian kitten, was sick enough to spend 3 days in a the ER vet clinic.
  • I lost some friends  -- some because they did die and some because they walked away.
The good times:
  • I directly helped to save 6 persians!
  • Tom (and I) got a cute, adorable persian kitten named Bodhi.
  • Peaches got some grand points in one cat show.
  • Bodhi, Halloween 2014
  • I met some truly special people.
Overall, I didn't like the year.  It was like waiting for something else bad to happen and that's never a good feeling.  I do hope 2015 is better, but I suspect I will lose Robbie and who knows what will happen to Tom.

28 December 2014

Advice to Cat Rescues

To my friends in rescue, here are three easy steps to alienate your supporters:
1. Beg for money from supporters for an ill cat and then NEVER give an update on the cat. Supporters like me love to wonder if the cat lived, if the money helped, etc. I'm not suggesting that a daily update is needed -- I know you guys are busy -- but maybe a simple post about the cat a week or so later would not be too much to ask.
2. Beg for money from supporters for cats, while claiming you are broke, and then bragging about the flat-screen TV you just bought on your personal page. Again, supporters like me love to wonder if the money we donate to help cats has actually helped you live a more comfortable life. As a corollary to this, if you are so desperate for cat litter and I want to buy cat litter and have it shipped to you, what is the problem? My little evil mind just wonders if the problem is cat litter can't be exchanged for movie credits on cable to watch on that big flat-screen TV.
3. Beg for money from supporters and NEVER bother to thank them. Supporters like me love to be ignored and taken for granted. I don't expect nor want a public thank you, but a simple email or PM with "TY" would be enough.
Are any of these three things too much to ask? No. Not in my world. I work hard for my money and, while this sounds childish, I would like to believe that if I give your rescue some of it, that you would appreciate the sacrifice. After all, I have bills and my own cats with vet bills to pay too.

27 December 2014

Book Review: Pasha: A Kydd Sea Adventure

Pasha: A Kydd Sea Adventure by Julian Stockwin
McBooks Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-59013-683-6

Pasha, by Julian Stockwin, is the latest installment in the Kydd Sea Adventures. In this volume, newly knighted Sir Thomas Kydd is sent to Turkey to help prevent the French from befriending the Sultan and thus establishing a land bridge to India. Meanwhile, his close friend, Renzi, leaves the ship and pursues his own destiny.

The writing, especially of the dialogue, was very impressive in this book. Not only were many of the accents accurately written, but the work choice itself was very reflective of the early 19th century. Likewise, the historical details, such as the loss of the Ajax, were spot on. The tale itself moved nicely along with enough details to be interesting, but not too many to drag.

Sadly, the book also suffers from predictability. Much of the plot is clearly foretold so that the climax is lacking. Additionally, and this is probably just me, but in 15 novels, Thomas Kydd has gone from pressed wig-maker with no sailing experience to a knighted captain on his way to admiral. I know this is fiction, but can't the guy have a failure?

Overall, it was a good, bedtime read. Not great, but serviceable. ( )

21 December 2014

Resigning From Facebook

I do not suffer stupidity well.  Never have, never will, and honestly, I don't even want to try.

I had the idea of creating a small group of people who would research feline health topics and then discuss their findings -- a real discussion with give and take.  I mentioned it, I set it up, and I got rude messages about it.  Why is my having a discussion at my level bad?  Oh, because my level is not for the average person and therefore very rude.  I'm intimidating, arrogant, overbearing, and disgusting.

Well, that group is gone -- stupid cat owners of the world celebrate!  Also, since it was pointed out to me that I'm egotistical and I stifle discussion in my other cat group, I will only reply when tagged.  And let's not forget that I'm not a vet so I shouldn't even be giving general advice... which really doesn't fit with me knowing so much vet material... but let's not be consistent... it is the hobgoblin of little minds.

And while we are at it, my owning a non-rescue persian is evil... Peaches' page is now history.

So, I hope I have made everyone happy.  I know this is petty and childish on my part, but at this point I don't really care.  I want to read and learn about cats.  I would like to discuss it with others, but obviously that can't happen on Facebook, at least not in public.

Peaches so very upset of the loss of her FB page

Cats: Causes of Chronic Renal Failure

What causes chronic renal failure(CRF) or chronic kidney disease(CKD)?  That is one of the most important questions that remains unanswered in veterinary medicine.  The problem, as I see it, is the cause in one cat may be different from the cause in another cat, which may explain the different progressions of the disease.

A small percentage of cats with CRF have this disease clearly because of genetic problems.  In Persians and related cats, the PKD (polycystic kidney disease) gene goes produce kidney failure due to the growth of multiple cysts in the kidneys which eventually are destroyed by the cysts.  Similarly, amyloidosis is a genetic disease in Abyssinians, Oriental shorthairs, and Devon rexes.

With the exception of genetic problems, the causes of CRF are not clearly known, but there is a list of potential causes.

1.  The after effect of acute renal failure.  Often any type of acute renal failure will scar the kidneys enough that full function is never restored.  With prompt treatment, some of these cats can reach a status where the damage does not lead to more kidney problems.  With others, the damage is too much and the scarring seems to hasten the development of CRF.  This latter group experiences a feedback cycle of lowering kidney function which leads to more stress on the kidneys which leads to lowering the function more.

2.  Immune problem which attack the kidneys.  The main two agents in this category are FeLV and mycoplasma polyarthritis (haemobartonella – feline infectious anaemia).

3.  Infections in the kidneys.  These range from chronic bacterial, to viral (FIP, FIV), to fungal.  Untreated, these infections interfere and then destroy the kidneys’ ability to function.

4.  Cancer.

5. Mechanical problems, such as large kidney stones, granulomas, or even the occasional cyst.

6. Idiopathic – no known cause.  This is, unfortunately, for most cats the ‘cause’ of CRF.   As late as 2 years ago, researchers still had no clear clue as to the causes (and there are probably multiple causes) for the development of most cases of CRF/CKD.  See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21262581 

What is interestingly missing from this list is food.  As I will explain in a future post, the moment a cat is diagnosed as having CKD, many veterinarians ask clients to switch the cat to a low protein food.  A few vets and some pet owners have taken this a step further and argued that the protein level in a cat's food should be restricted to prevent CKD from developing.  While researchers have looked into this, there is no scientific support for limiting protein levels to prevent CKD and there are a number of reasons why this could lead to other health problems.

17 December 2014

Cats: Demographics of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

One of the leading causes of death among cats over 10 years old is chronic kidney disease (CKD), which is when the kidneys slowly lose functionality.  A note about the name of the problem:  A decade ago, this was called chronic renal failure (CRF) because it involved the kidneys failing over a long period, as opposed to acute kidney failure.  In recent times, the preferred description is chronic kidney disease (CKD) because this name emphasizes the idea that many cats can live with diminished kidney function for years.  I became a 'cat person' when CRF was the term to use and often use that in preference to CKD, but I will try to follow the veterinary trend and use CKD.

Emily -- died of complications due to CKD
In terms of who is getting CKD, the ratio of females to males is 1.06:1, with a population ratio of 1.15:1.0, so females are a tiny bit less likely to get it than would be expected.

Some of the purebreds, eg. Birmans, British shorthairs, and Angoras, seem to be over-represented.  For example, DSH was 11.7%, Angora was 36.4%, Persians 9.9%. This could be either due to the owners of these cats being more able to do repeated early testing, or some yet-to-be discovered genetic factor, or small sample sizes on the rarer breeds.

In researching this topic, I ran across an interesting and horrifying statistic on the incidence of CKD.  In 1990, the estimated rate of CKD was 16 cases for every 1000 cats examined.  Looking at just the older cats, the rate was 77 per 1000 for cats over 10 yrs and 153 per 1000 for cats over 15 years.  The same type of study was conducted in 2000.  For cats of all ages, the rate increased to 112 per 1000, for 10 yrs or older 269 per 1000, and for 15 yrs or older it was 491 per 1000.

While some of this is due to the increased awareness of CKD and the importance of early detection, it is my opinion and the opinion of my vet that there has been an actual increase in the rate.  My vet started practicing in the mid 1980s.  She says she saw CKD in cats 12 yrs or older, but not at a high rate.  This summer we got discussing this and now she is seeing cats as early as 8 yrs old having the same symptoms and bloodwork as the 12 yrs cats in the 1980s.  She also commented that she now expects any cat over 15 to have CRF and is surprised when they don’t.  (She’s in awe of Dante at ~22 with no CKD!)

So, the question becomes what has changed in the last 20 years.  While one might want to blame inbreeding among some purebreds as a cause, this would not explain the increase among randomly bred cats, namely DSH and DLH.  My vet and I agree that there have been 2 significant changes which MAY explain part of the increase.

1.  Vaccines.  In the 1970s, most cats were not vaccinated.  In the 1980s, there were pushes to vaccinate cats for a variety of things.  By the 1990s, cats began to be vaccinated for 5-8 different diseases each year.  Some of the vaccines are grown on kidney tissue, which has lead to the speculation that the residue proteins from the kidney tissue in the vaccines may actually be causing inflammation of the kidneys which then leads to CRF over time. 

This actually has been researched (2005) and the conclusion reached was “Parenteral administration of vaccines containing viruses likely grown in CRFK cells induced antibodies against CRFK [Crandell-Rees feline kidney] cell and FRC[feline renal cell] lysates in cats.  Hypersensitization with CRFK cell proteins did not result in renal disease in cats during the 56-week study.” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15822597)  Now, on the surface, this seems to rule out that vaccines are related to CKD.  Looking at the methodology, I do begin to wonder.  First, only 14 kittens were used.  Not only was the numbers low (14), but these began as 8-week old kittens which means the kidneys and other organs were still growing.  Second, they received 4 FVRCP vaccines at 0, 3, 6, and 50 weeks.  Basically one year of vaccines.  Third, the study concluded at 56-weeks, which is only 6 weeks after the last vaccine.  No one is saying that a vaccine causes immediate detectable damage, so 6 weeks seems far too short.

A different study (2006) did produce interesting results.  Researchers sensitized cats to CRFK lysates (remains of cells) and several cats did develop lymphocytic-plasmacytic interstitial nephritits after 2 years. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16713319 )  A study from 2010 confirmed that vaccination with FVRCP vaccine grown on CRFK (kidney tissue) does produce antibodies after 2 years which have been associated with nephritis in humans. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20136712 )

So, bottomline… There is no clear evidence that vaccines cause (and I mean this is a statistical sense) CKD.  There seems to be evidence that vaccines grown on kidney tissue do cause antibodies against that tissue which (speculation here) may lead to antibodies against all feline kidney tissue which leads to CKD.  What I don’t know (because I don’t follow vaccine stuff) is how common it is for FVRCP to be grown on kidney tissue or if there are other options.

2.  Food. (And note: this is MY pet theory which my vet agrees with now.)  When meat is processed into cat food, the proteins undergo a structural change when cooked.  They are denatured – like the clear egg white cooked becomes white opaque solid.  The cooking process also can create partially denatured proteins.  My personal opinion is that these denatured proteins and especially the partially denatured ones are not easily nor thoroughly digested but are absorbed anyway into the blood stream.  There, the kidneys then must filter out these forms of proteins which they were not designed to handle.  (Think of putting diesel fuel in a car instead of gas.)  These ‘foreign’ proteins then begin to clog the tiny tubules in the kidneys which then lead to more problems and eventually full scale CKD.

My evidence for this is twofold.  First, 40 years ago, the rate of CKD seems to be exceedingly low and many cats were let outside to catch mice, etc.  As the commercial pet food industry grew, so has the rate of CKD.  Yes, this is guilt by association and not causation.

Second, I have observed in my CKD cats virtually none of the secondary problems associated with CRF even in cats that are in stage IV.  My CKD cats in stage IV live an average of 4 years.  I have taken cats in stage IV, put them on raw, given no fluids, and have had the creatinine level drop so that the cat was as low as stage II.  The only explanation I can give is the raw food has a purer protein which spares the kidneys further damage.

Are there other things that may cause problems?  Sure.  Some drugs are excreted via the kidneys and when given in large enough doses can cause kidney failure.  The question remains for some of these drugs what are the long-term low dose effects on the kidneys.  I’m one of ‘those’ people that given any drug, if it can possible affect the kidneys, I immediately ask for an alternative.  Other things, such as water impurities, do affect kidneys both directly and via stone formation.  Scented oils seem to be more of a liver function problem.

14 December 2014

Book Review: The Great Influenza

The Great Influenza by John M. Barry
New York : Penguin Books, 2005.

The Great Influenza focuses on both the actual pandemic of 1918 and the problems associated with it as well as the science and doctors who fought, and in some cases died, to understand and stop this pandemic. Most of the material is drawn from the US, with some mention of events in other parts of the world. The book contains photographic plates as well as an extensive bibliography.

I approached this book with some apprehension, fearing that it would be a dry recitation of statistics about deaths, illness, etc. Instead, I found a book that both gave the important statistics and clearly set them in context regarding science, society, and history. The writing was well done -- perhaps not the best prose, but not dry nor tedious.

If there was a criticism to make it would be the last few chapters, where some of the biographical information about the researchers seemed to far from the topic. Additionally, I would have liked to see a more thorough discussion of how viruses mutate -- this perhaps would have been best as an appendix, but it was a key point in the book (as the flu came in waves after each mutation).

Overall, this was a very good book and one that I highly recommend to others interested either in epidemics or in science circa 1920. (  )

Cats: The Use of Folate (vitamin B9)

Folic acid is one of the B vitamins (B9).  It is absorbed in the jejunum and ileum (the middle and last sections of the small intestine), and transported to the liver which either releases it for circulation or stores it.

Gratuitous photo of Spencer 
A deficiency can cause reduced growth in kittens, anemia, neurological development problems, and changes in the bone marrow. It was the relationship to anemia which led to its discovery and to its importance with cats.  As many know, CRF cats often are anemic.  Many owners and vets will give B12 injections to help solve the anemia.  Sometimes this works and sometimes it does not.  When it doesn't, the cause of the anemia may not be low B12 levels, but instead low folic acid levels.  B12 and folic acid work together and both must be present in sufficient amounts to prevent or correct some forms of anemia.

What this means is if you are using B12 for anemia, use mixed vitamin B for the injections and not just B12.  While the cat may have enough folic acid (and other B's), excess folic acid has not known effects.  It is water soluble and so easily removed from the body.

As it is stored in the liver, cats with liver disease often are deficient for folic acid and would benefit from supplementation.  In one study of cats suffering from GI problems (including liver and pancreas problems), 38.8% had low folate levels. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17392004

There also are connections between folate levels in the blood and intestinal absorption, bacterial overgrowth, and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI).  These connections can help with differentiating various gastrointestinal issues.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21596348 

In brachiocephalic dogs, the supplementation of folic acid in pregnant bitches decreases cleft palates significantly.  I could not find any information on this for cats, like Persians, but as neural tube development in mammals seems to be folate sensitive, I would presume cats are equally likely to have this type of developmental problems when folate levels are low.

What all this means is this: 
-- for anemia, you should use mixed vit B and not only B12
-- for cats with liver issues, you should supplement with folic acid

-- for pregnant cats, you should a well balanced food with sufficient folic acid

13 December 2014

Making Plans for a New Year and New Me...

Yes, it's a bit early to make New Year's Resolutions but, with Facebook not in my life, I have begun to understand how much time it eats up.  Actually, it took most of my non-working, non-commuting time such that I neither exercised nor read nor did anything fun.  Worst of all, I didn't dote enough on my cats....

So, I've been thinking of what to do and how to do it.  There's so many things I do want to do, but I really have a very limited amount of time, even without Facebook.  Something like learn to play my flute just isn't going to happen -- practice 1/2 an hour every other weekend....  But there are a number of things I can or need to do:

  • Do something about my weight.  Yep, I'm fat.  Not only are some of my favorite clothes not fitting, I'm beginning to feel a bit inconvenienced when I move around.... I need to lose weight and get in shape.  Now, I know me -- if I say diet, I will for about 2 hours and then binge on something.  With tom losing weight and needing extra calories, I can't even keep the stuff out of the house.  So, maybe eat better, more nutritious meals is more realistic than a diet.  Then rely on exercise to actually help lose the weight.  I have a great book on losing fat via working with weights, so I'll start on that.  The program is simple and designed to be done in 20-30 minutes, which really does fit my schedule.  While walking would be nice, I don't have the time to do a 30 minute walk every day, and I won't do it after dark here.  (Too many semi-feral dogs wandering around looking for a fat juice morsel...)
  • Read something other than cats.  Yes, I love cats, but really, I don't need to read about them all the time.  I just finished a book on the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and started on an older book on English Dialects.  They both reminded me of all the other subjects I'm interested in.  So, I did the only logical thing -- I ordered 5 books on linguistics.  That will be my 'area of focus' next year.
Now those are the things I've decided on, but there's a number of other things floating around in my head.  Things like:
  • something to do for fun -- stamps? quilting? cross-stitch?
  • organizing the house -- cleaning, finishing painting the bathroom, building bookshelves, etc.  I suppose tackling THAT closet should be on the list too.
  • bathing and grooming the cats
  • really studying either feline nutrition or nephrology -- I have wonderful books on these topics, but I need the time to work through them.
  • eating better -- as in actually cook something, not just heat it in a microwave.
  • deal with the stuff from my father's house that is in storage in Iowa
  • sort out my retirement/investments
I have about 2 weeks to sort through all this and come up with a game plan.  

10 December 2014

Facebook "Improves" Again

Once again, Facebook has improved something to the extent that I, being the last person in the Western hemisphere on dial-up, can no longer use it.  Yes, I know (according to a lot of people) -- I should fork over the $60/month and get satellite internet, but why?  So I can get on Facebook?  Is it worth $60 + taxes per month?

What is the worth of Facebook?  What do I get out of it?  That's a couple of interesting questions, because I can think of several reason why Facebook is not worth it, even if it was free.  Namely:

  • lots of bitching, bickering, and pettiness by adults who act like 5 year olds
  • more and more people wanting money for either themselves or for their cats which desperately need _________ treatment and they can't afford
  • people who I either have never talked to or only casually know suddenly asking me to diagnose and suggest treatment for their cat and then NOT taking the advice
  • posts in groups are barely searchable so it's a pain in the butt to look something up
  • a specific group of do-gooders who want to save persians (noble ambition) but whose method is to annoy the rescue people who are actually doing the work in the trenches
  • the fact that 95% of all users basically 'share' items and never write anything meaningful on their timeline
So why use Facebook?
  • I have met a few really good friends (after sifting through a whole lot of people).
  • I can help cats via my Facebook group on feline health.
This latter reason is, right now, the only legitimate reason why I stay on Facebook.  My true friends I call or email.  My cat group has helped a lot of cats, and for that I'm happy, but it comes at a price to me.  This is horrible to say but sometimes I feel I neglect my cats just so I can help other people's cats.  I will admit that I have learned a few things either from what others have said or because I looked up various things.  But couldn't I just read and look up things on my own?  Yes.

So I'm back to the initial question/situation -- why spend $60+/month to get an internet connect that can allow me back onto Facebook with no real benefits when I pay $12/month and can get to basically everywhere else I want to go?  I really can't think of a good reason....

Back to blogging!!!

28 July 2014

Cats: Where the Meat Comes From

As I've mentioned before, probably far too much for some, I make my cats' food.  I buy meat from the grocery store, grind the meat, grind poultry bones, and add supplements, so I have total control over the making and mixing of the food.  With cats with multiple dietary issues, this has solved most of their problems.

But I don't control what goes into the meat while the animal it comes from is still alive.

Honestly, I never expected that I would have to be concerned with what the cow was fed before it became steak.  My expectations and reality seem to be different now.

Robbie has allergies and intolerances to poultry and canned food.  So, he gets raw pork, beef, lamb, etc.  He still scratches some, but not as much, and I had assumed this was from environmental allergens.  And then I ran out of beef.  In an effort to clean out my freezer, I pulled 3 pounds of buffalo out to make his food.  Well, even discounted, it's $6 per pound so he gets it and mostly no one else does, so it lasts a week or more.

And then it struck me -- he was barely scratching!

That got me thinking what the difference was between beef and buffalo.  I know cattle and buffalo are genetically similar because they can interbreed.  Thus, I assume the actual protein structures are very similar.  So it had to be something else and the only thing I can think of is how the animals are raised.

Beef predominately is raised in large feed lots.  Because of the crowding and because of the desire to get them to market weight as soon as possible, most cattle are given a variety of antibiotics and growth hormones.  Also, one of the main feeds for the cattle is corn, which may or may not be GMO corn.

Buffalo on the other hand are grass fed without added antibiotics or hormones.

I wonder if Robbie is very sensitive to the traces of antibiotics, hormones, and/or "corn" in the normal beef?  Would he stop scratching on organic grass fed beef?  Is this why he's marginally better on lamb, since a lamb is exposed to less of this?  Is this why when I buy venison and feed it to him every other meal he seems a bit better?

For now, Robbie will get buffalo, venison, and rabbit.  After a month or so, I may try the organic beef.

It's things like this that make me stop and wonder.  How safe is the normal food we buy in a grocery store?  I understand Robbie's body is much smaller than a human's so the effects are easier to see, but still.  Makes me glad I'm a vegetarian.

27 July 2014

My RealAge

The other day when I was in the bookstore, I picked up a book called RealAge Workbook.  The reason I bought it was years ago I purchased another book called RealAge and found it interesting.

The basic idea is this -- we have a chronological age and we have the age which our body feels.  For example, two people might be 60 years old, but one smokes, drinks, and doesn't exercise so that person acts and feels like 75 yrs old, while the other does a lot of the right things and feels 45 yrs old.  So a person has a calendar age and a 'real' age.  The nice thing is the real age can be moved up or down by doing various things.  Some of the things are simple, such as take an aspirin a day, while others are more challenging, such as removing stress by completing most of those nagging little tasks a person avoids.

So, the first step is to take the RealAge test.  It's in the books and it's on line at www.sharecare.com  (You have to register to take the test, but it is free... except for the additional emails they will send.)  The online version takes about 30 minutes to do and is... interesting.  It's very easy to see what you should be doing but if it's going to help you, you have to answer honestly.

Despite a lot of indifference to my health, I'm 1.8 years younger.  To me this is shocking because I really don't take very good care of myself.

The next step is to pick out things to work on and change.  The website gives a lot of ideas and things to do, but honestly, it was confusing and on dial-up would be a challenge.  I'll stick with the book, which gives you a list of things to do, rated from "Quick Fix" to "Extremely Challenging".  It suggests picking out 3-6 items to do for 3 months, then adding another 3 or so items for 3 more months, and so on.

What I picked out was:

  1. An aspirin per day
  2. Folic acid tablet per day
  3. B6 tablet per day
  4. 1 drink, preferably red wine, per day
  5. Fish 3 times per week
  6. Tomatoes about 3 times per week (for lycopene)
Okay, these are not terribly hard and really there should be some exercising in there too, but I am doing something positive for me.  And that is hard to do -- I will work my butt off to help a cat, but ignore myself.  I know part of this is from my childhood, but part of it is from being depressed.  So, I'm giving myself credit for trying.

Now, people might be wondering why and some have suggested this is because I'm having a mid-life crisis because I turned 50 or because my husband is dying.  The former, no.  The latter, sort of.  It's not because I see him dying and so I'm inspired to improve my health.  That would be a noble reason.  No, my reason is much more practical -- I have all these cats depending on me and once he dies, if I should get sick, I don't know what will happen to my cats.  But in the grand scheme of things, even if my reason is for the cats, the end result of improved health is all that really matters.

So, off to take my vitamins!

Cats: The Use of Colloidal Silver

I have persian cats.  And as anyone who has had one knows, these cats have a tendency to have slightly runny noses.  Usually it's just clear liquid, but it can be slightly white.  It's not really a nasal infection as the snot isn't green and there's no fever.  It may be related to herpes but with some cats, even lysine doesn't help that.  I've even wondered if it's fungal.  Vets either don't consider it a problem or want to use steroids on it to cover it up.  It is a problem since some cats, like Isabel, are hesitant to eat if their noses drip.  And I refuse to keep a cat on steroids for life.  So, I've been trying to find something that will help.

One thing I'm thinking about using is colloidal silver.  I have used this on cuts, scratches, and ringworm with good results.  It does seem to have some antibacterial and antifungal properties.  I know people use it as a nasal spray and some people claim it is helpful for sinus issues.

To me, a natural extension would be to try colloidal silver as a nasal wash in a cat.  So, I posted this in a cat group hoping to get some suggestions on dosage, like I had with the MiraLax.  This sadly was not what I got.

It seems there are two camps when it comes to colloidal silver -- those that think it will cure everything, and those that think it will cure nothing.  And the two groups hate each other.  Yes, hate...  It's like all rational discussion goes out the door and what is left is grand pronouncements.  The 'cure nothing' group sees the words colloidal silver and then begin the automatic response to colloidal silver regardless of the question asked.

According to the "cure nothing" group, colloidal silver is also dangerous because:

  • high doses can cause kidney damage in rats
  • it's not a mineral found in the body
  • high doses over long periods can turn skin bluish
  • it may interfere with other drugs
Now these were all presented as reasons not to use 1-2 drops in saline as a nasal wash for a cat.  1-2 drops is not a high dose, so I'm pretty sure the bluing and the kidney damage won't happen.  And since the cats are not on other drugs, it will not interfere with anything.  As for the argument that it's not found in the body, so?  Most drugs are not found in the body but that doesn't stop them from being useful.  These dangers might be relevant for ingesting colloidal silver, but not really as a nose drop.

In all this was a quote from the Mayo Clinic stating that there was no reasonable research to support the claims.  Likewise there is no research to show that the claims are false.  There is no research.  Period.  End of discussion. So what was the discussion about if there is no research?  It should have then been based on actual experiences, but it was based on accusations for and against.  So was the discussion helpful?  No, because neither side listened to the other... Heck, some didn't even understand I had asked about nose drops!

Luckily, there is more than one cat group!  In another group (Fancier's Health Group on Yahoo, fanciershealth@yahoogroups.com), someone posted this:
I used Water OZ Silver full strength sucked up into a very small eye dropper found in the Rescue Remedy Pet Stress Reliever. One squirt in each nostril 3 X daily for 1 week, then 2x daily for two additional weeks. This cleared a upper respiratory infection that two rounds of antibiotics would not touch in a rescue cat that sneezed out 3 inch snot strings.

Does it work?  I have seen it work on skin problems.  
Will it work as a nasal wash?  I don't know...  But I will try it.  I can't see that it will hurt the cats -- annoy yes, hurt no.

In the end, the whole discussion left me wondering if there is any value in trying to have a discussion.  I'm sure some people would like to have a nice discussion -- based on facts and experiences -- but the problem is those that feel strongly about a topic will drown out all others by virtually shouting irrelevant ideas.

26 July 2014

Cats: The Use of MiraLax

My Robbie has a problem with constipation.  This may be due to low motility of his colon, or thickening of his intestinal tract as part of the development of intestinal lymphoma, or simple dehydration.  Whatever is the exact cause, the result is his feces are very hard and dry.  They don't come out easily, so he will strain for over an hour which in turn causes him to vomit.

Not the most pleasant thing at 3 am.  Or any time really.  And since this is nearly identical to what happened to Bertie, who died a year ago from lymphoma, it's hard.

Thankfully, someone suggested MiraLax, which is the trade name for polyethylene glycol 3350.  It's classified as an osmotic laxative, because it works by pulling water into the intestine to make the feces softer and easier to pass.

The only concern is the warning on the bottle:  "Do not use for more than 7 days."  My main concern was that it might prevent some nutrient being absorbed.  After some research and some discussions with people who used it on cats, it seems this warning is for two things:

  1. To encourage people/owners to have problems checked out if the problem does not resolve itself.  Or in simpler terms, the company is covering its legal ass if there is a major undiagnosed problem.  Okay, with Robbie, I know he's got intestinal issues and maybe the beginnings of lymphoma.
  2. To prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.  This is very reasonable since it does pull water from the body.  And the fix is simple -- give him fluids with electrolytes.
So for the last couple of weeks, Robbie gets 1/4 tsp of MiraLax and 50 ml of fluids every other day.  The MiraLax is dissolved in 1-2 tsp water syringed into his mouth.  The 50 ml of fluids is lactated ringer's solution given subcutaneously. He neither minds the syringed fluid (which seems to have no taste) nor the sub-Q fluids.  And the results have been great!  He now has firm but not hard feces which pass easily.

In my discussions, some people have used upto 2 tsp of MiraLax daily for several years without any reported problems.  This is encouraging so if he starts having more issues then I can up the dose.

Now, to me, this was what the internet was designed for -- I had a problem, people shared their experiences, some shared links, and everyone learned more.  There was no nastiness.

24 July 2014

The Lack of The Internet

I finally took my laptop into to have it checked because I was having so many problems with Facebook and other sites.  The folks said it would be 2-3 days, but that was over a weekend, and they took a bit longer, and..

And I didn't miss it all that much!

What I missed:

  • looking up a couple of facts about cats
  • finding out when my books would arrive

What I didn't miss:

  • the pettiness of many people
  • the negativity overall of most sites
  • all the drama related to someone else's ill cat
  • random requests for immediate help with a sick cat
I honestly did feel very much calmer and quieter inside without the internet.  Now that it's back into my life, I'm hoping that I can control how much I'm on the internet so all the negativity does not come back.

15 July 2014

Cats and Medicine: When is it not worth it?

I got into a bit of an argument with someone recently over giving cats medicine.  This owner was doing everything possible to help her cat and was following all the vet recommendations with the result that the cat was on 8 different medications daily plus fluids.  I commented that sometimes we need to focus on the quality of life and not just the quantity.  I further explained that for some cats, no medication is best even if that is not the 'right' medical decision.

This was then translated by someone else to mean I didn't love my cats nor did I see them as part of my family.

And that struck me as wrong... Somehow I managed to bite my tongue, but just barely...  From my perspective, there are several scenarios and each one must be treated differently.

  1. Willing cat with fixable problem.
  2. Willing cat with stable problem.
  3. Willing cat with terminal problem.
  4. Unwilling cat with fixable problem.
  5. Unwilling cat with stable problem.
  6. Unwilling cat with terminal problem.
Bodhi peeking out of a crinkle bag
By willing cat, I mean a cat that does not fight the pilling, syringing, etc.  The cat may not enjoy it, but he doesn't put up much resistance.  For these cats in group 1 or 2, yes, medicating them makes sense. They either get better or they stay the same.  For example, Bodhi got an URI and he got antibiotics, which, since he's a kitten, he thought the pink medicine was okay.  With Anya, she needs occasional eye drops for her herpes and in general she's fine with them.  The medicating of these two cats did not or does not upset them or otherwise bother them.  A willing cat with a terminal problem I think comes down to the owner's willingness, the amount of discomfort for the cat, and honestly, the attitude of the cat -- if all parties are willing, then fine.  My dear Maggie was like this -- she had cancer which had metastasized and was a very compliant patient who wasn't ready to die.  Some cats will endure receiving a large number of pills and liquids without any problem.

By unwilling cat, I include those cats that fight the medication process. (I'm not talking feral cats -- that's a whole other set of problems.) For an unwilling cat with a fixable problem, most of the time it does make sense to treat the cat.  There will be a period of stress with giving the medication for a few days to a couple of weeks, but then the cat is fine and back to health.  For example, Wendy had a scratch on her eye.  She is nearly impossible to pill or put eye ointment on, but for 5-7 days, she got it because I knew in the bigger picture, she would get better.

Now here is where I start getting in trouble.  I personally don't think it's worth it for the cat in the big picture to force medication on him if he is dying and there is no hope.  To me, that is creating not only extra stress in his life, but creating a living hell for his last few days or weeks.  Yes, do small things to keep the cat comfortable, but that is it.  If the cat is so uncomfortable without medication, then perhaps euthanizing the cat is the best choice.  My angel Bertie hated the medications, had not hope of recovering, and so, as hard it was, I let him go.

The big question is the unwilling cat with a stable problem.  Again, I usually get in trouble for my ideas about this.  I would work on helping the cat adjust to the process, give it a sufficient amount of time, and if the cat adjusted great, and if not... well, I guess I would try to decide if my interventions are helping or hurting.  Clancy has CRF among other things and when it comes to pilling, injection, or doing much with him, it usually ends with me bleeding.  But over months, I have gotten him to take a herbal pill by using pill pockets.  Giving him sub-Q fluids is still exciting, but we are getting it done although maybe not as frequently as we should.

If I'm not in trouble enough... I also include in 'unwilling cats' those cats that may not fight the medicating, but which you can see are upset and literally depressed by the whole experience.  Robbie is probably soon to be in this category.  He has the pre-cursors to intestinal lymphoma.  There is a well-tested treatment that might buy him more time.  He would need a biopsy (not just a needle biopsy either).  He would need to go to a vet 1-2 times a week.  He would need blood tests every 3-4 weeks.  He would...  The list goes on.  And I can tell you, his spirit would die -- he might live longer, but he would die inside.  He is terrified of cat trips and vet offices.  He gets depressed after each trip to a vet.  So, dragging him to a vet weekly would be nothing short of torture in my book.  I love him and would like him around for longer, but I can't do this to him.

There's two basic points I'm trying to make in all this.
  • Just because we can do something medically for a cat may not mean it is actually right to do it for the cat. 
  • Perhaps by not doing something to the cat, the owner is actually loving the cat more by respecting the cat.

14 July 2014

Morning Plan

I went to bed last night thinking that I would have a tough decision to make this morning -- do I take Peaches to the show this weekend or not.  The tough decision is now easy.  The answer is 'no'.  Two big sneezes helped answer it.  Whatever the virus we have in this house, she now has it.  She may get over it by Saturday or she may not.  In any case I won't risk taking her.

I'm still left with trying to figure out what to try to accomplish today.  I so impressed with the cleaning up in my studio that I would like to do more, but (a) the studio is done except for major re-arranging which I don't want to do and (b) there are other rooms that need basic clutter removal.  And it's clutter removal, not really cleaning, that I'm talking about.  I would like to do something fun and creative, but I honestly have no idea what I would do.

Today's list:
  1. Sand the bad spots in the bathroom.  I keep putting this off and off, but if I don't get it done soon, school will start and it still won't be done.  My goal is to have it done, excluding any trompe l-oeil painting, by the 25th of July, so I can start on the bookcases either in the study or the bedroom.
  2. Make an appointment for the dentist.  I truly hate going to the dentist and this goes back to my childhood when I had a rather masochistic dentist.  (He figured a 10 yr didn't need Novocaine for a filling.)  In all the chaos of the last few years, I have neglected my teeth (and other things) so now I have to pay the price.
  3. Thoroughly clean the kitchen.  There's a couple of shelves one cupboard that would be more usable if the contents were switched.  The kitchen table has lots of stuff that needs to be put away because someone (whistling here) buys stuff in town, comes home, and leaves it on the table.  And the area around the phone needs to be de-junked.  I'm sure I will have some fuzzy helpers.
If I do get done with all that, maybe I'll dig out the quilt I was working on years ago and continue working on.  I'd like to sew some vests, but it seems really silly to me to start yet another project when this little quilt could and should be finished up.

And now, off to make cat food...

13 July 2014

Day 2 Post(?) Facebook: Recap

Another pretty good day, although I didn't get everything done and it ended badly.  Of the 3 things on my 'must-do' list, I did get the dishes done and my studio cleaned.  I did not get to the bathroom painting because the studio was a big mess.  It looks a lot nicer in here and there is more room, but it wasn't easy and I can still do more.

But I got sidetracked by a sick cat.  Robbie is constipated.  When a cat gets constipated, they can leak feces around the dry mass.  And that's what he did.  All over the bathroom.  All over the carpet in the bedroom.  All over the bed.  And then after I gave him Miralax for the constipation, he tried pooping and threw up.  So he go another dose of Miralax.  And since Miralax is an osmotic stool softener (pulls water into the colon), I now have to give him fluids.  I hate sick cats.

Day 2 Post(?) Facebook: The Plan

Since yesterday went so well, meaning I got lots done, I'll try for two days in a row.

I'm not sure how it will go, since it's after 7am and hubby is still sleeping.  I want coffee and breakfast, I need to feed the cats and do some dishes, and I need not to disturb him.  I know he says my doing things in the kitchen won't bother him or if it does, he'll go back to sleep, but it bothers me.  I know he gets very tired and needs to sleep so it really upsets me to wake him up just for my coffee.  (I can write this and hopefully he'll wake up a bit by the time I get done.)

I'm now kind of caught between the major things I need to work on and small stuff that really doesn't matter.  I guess the key is to break the big stuff into smaller pieces and do one step at a time.  So, today's top 3 must-do's:

  1. I need to do the dishes, which I was planning on doing last night but we watched a video instead and get the kitchen cleaned up so I can actually cook.
  2. I box up some of the books I have here in the studio so cleaning the carpet is easier.
  3. I need to sand some of the drizzles and ridges that are in the paint in the bathroom so I can paint this week and get it done.  (Someone else painted it and did a bad job of it.)
#2 got moved up the priority list because I just picked up a pad of post-it notes and there was a tiny, baby scorpion on them.  Gulp!  I know we have them around, but it was so tiny that it must have just hatched.  Well, scorpions do not have 1 or 2 babies... more like 100-200 babies... in my house... I'm really not like this scenario...  Thankfully, I think our scorpions are the less dangerous variety, but still... I'm not keen on being stung.  I really don't know what boxing up books will do, come to think of it.  They would be more contained, maybe.  They would be easier to see, maybe.  It's one of those times where I feel I need to do something!

Well, I think I heard Tom move around a bit, so I should get going with my coffee and the cats.

12 July 2014

Day 1 Post(?) Facebook: Recap

Well, with a couple of suggestions and some trial and error, I have managed to get Facebook to work.  It still isn't working 100%, but I can use it.  I'm happy and upset by this all at once.  Happy because I know I would miss interacting regularly with some of my friends and miss help kitties.  Upset because part of me was looking forward to not using Facebook (I have a love/hate relationship with it) and because there is something just not right maybe with my computer. (Things should work so when they don't, I get horribly frustrated!)

In any case, I'm going to try to keep Facebook to a minimum, except for my cat health group.  I worked hard to create that group and it does seem to help some people, so I hate chucking it.

I must confess during the time I thought I was off of Facebook, I got a lot done.  I had 3 things on my to-do list and they all got done.

  1. Took Tom to the bookstore.  He did well getting there and while we were there, but not so good once we got home.  He found some books, and of course, I found some.  His were mainly science fiction.  Mine were all over the place from self-help (and I really need a lot of help!) to historical fiction to some art books and of course a cat book.
  2. Cleaned 4 litter boxes... Oh the fun and excitement!
  3. Dug out the tai chi and weight lifting books.  I still need to figure out exactly what I will be doing for the weight lifting, but I also know I need to buy some equipment and find some area to do it in.  I would like to do it in the house, but the cats will help.  So, the garage?  The tai chi I will read over the beginning moves of the 24-forms and practice them tomorrow morning.  I'm thinking even during the school year, I could do the tai chi  and qigong in the morning before I go to work, then weight lifting or walking at night when I get home on alternate nights.
Plus, I got 3 loads of laundry washed, dried, and put away!  This kind of makes up for the fact I didn't do the dishes.  I know part of this is because I stated publicly that I would do this stuff but part of it is also because I didn't have to run and check if so-and-so posted a reply or what about that kitty over there or ....

So, I'm actually fairly pleased with today.

Alpha Lipoic Acid Toxicity in Cats

I tell people over and over -- cats are cats and not short fuzzy people, so just because something is okay in people, it may not apply to cats.  And then I go do it!  Geesh!!!

Dante, my 20+ yr old cat, is diabetic.  I control it mainly by food and supplements.  One of the the supplements I was giving was alpha lipoic acid.  It does a number of good things in humans and has almost no side effects IN humans, so I assumed it would be fine for him.

Last night I was reading about feline nutrition and came across a statement -- "dl-alpha lipoic acid is highly toxic to cats".  My jaw dropped open.  I reread it 5 times, then looked for any references which it didn't give because this was common knowledge, I guess.  So, I looked it up this morning.  And yes, indeed, it is toxic.  At distressingly low levels -- 30 mg/kg.  Dante weighs about 11 lbs or 5 kgs, so about 150 mg.  Maybe less.  I was using 150 mg capsule, divided up for 2-4 days, so at the most he was getting 75 mg, which is under the tested level, but maybe not under the effective level.  (The researchers tested at 0, 30, and 60 mg/kg levels.)  There was hepatocellular toxicity at the 30 mg/kg level, but maybe lower?  Until someone comes back and tries 10 mg/kg or 20 mg/kg, there will be the question of where the toxicity level lies.

The good news is it effects the liver, which can and does regenerate.  The other 'good' news is I gave it to him off and on, but mainly off because I never could remember to do it.  So, my laziness and forgetfulness may have saved him.

For a summary of the research, see Lipoic acid toxicity research

Day 1 Post FB: General Plan

This is the beginning of the great "No Facebook" experiment and I'm already nervous.  "What if someone messaged me?"  "What if a cat needs help?"  "What if...."  The list goes on, but you know, if I can't get Facebook to work, I shouldn't worry about it.  People can contact me, IF they want to.

And therein lies the question -- what are Facebook friends?  Are they real?  Some of mine surely are but they are also mainly those that will call me.  Are they pseudo-friends?  I would guess that is the bulk of them and they might miss me but won't reach out to me.

Well, the thing is now I have to deal with me and doing stuff, rather than chatting with people.  My big plan for this summer was to:

  • exercise with the hope of losing some weight
  • do some repairs and remodeling around the house
  • get my cats groomed and vetted
  • prepare AP Stat material for the fall
  • read more on feline nutrition
  • sew some vests
I know, that's a lot and it's already mid-July.  I have started on the repairs and the cats, but the rest... maybe now without Facebook I can get more of this done or started at least.

Today's planned activities:
  1. Tom, husband who is dying of COPD, wants to go into town to the bookstore, so I will do everything possible to get him there.  I just hope it doesn't totally wipe him out.
  2. The glorious cleaning of the litter boxes!  Even with fresh litter, a couple of them smell because James (and yes, I will name names) raises his butt up to pee as high as he can.  So then the piss gets all over the sides, drizzles down the seam to outside the boxes, and collects in the ridge that top sits on.  I really wish I knew how to correct this annoying habit of his!  I at least want to get 3 of them washed thoroughly.  (I'd do more, but I'm shooting low because I don't want to kill my back.)
  3. Dig out two books -- one is Weight Lifting for Fat Loss and the other is on the 24-forms of Tai Chi.  (The former I need to review anyway.)  I picked up a 10lb dumbbell and it seemed so heavy, which is one reason I often feel like everything is such a struggle -- I have mass, but no muscles!  And I think going back to the Tai Chi will help me mentally also to be calmer.  So, if I can make a reasonable workout plan using both, I know it will help me a lot now and especially during the school year.
So, if I can get these three done, along with routine things like the dishes and cooking, I will be thrilled.  Fingers crossed!

Goodbye Facebook?

For the last year or so, I've been not blogging and instead have been writing about cats, my job, and my life in general over on Facebook.  That has been interesting, and I'll say more later, but I think it's over.  Several days ago, I noticed Facebook redid the chat module and added something about your friends' activities on the top of it.  This little addition was one of those dynamic components -- hover over and a box pops up.  And ever since this appeared, I have had issues using Facebook.

A typical problem is what happened just now.  I go to Facebook, the top bar loads and tells me I have 45 new items and 2 messages.  NOTHING else loads.  The rest of the page is blank.  I click on the items and while I get the drop down box, it never loads the updates.  Ditto with the messages.  I click on 'Home' and likewise, it loads the top bar and never loads anything else.

Several people suggested I dump the cached pages and cookies, so I did that last night.  (And now I have to remember all kinds of things the cookies took care of...ugh.)  So, when I turned on my laptop this morning, I expected Facebook to work, but it didn't.

I know the problem is probably mine.  I have a 5yr old laptop, so that is old by technological standards.  I connect via dial-up, which is both slow and also old.  I have old software, which I can't update easily because I'm on dial-up.

So, what to do?

Right now, I'm thinking of just forgetting all about Facebook.  I've had some very nasty experiences and met some very nasty people on there.  For example, I help a cat who was going to be destroyed get to a rescue, so I am told the only reason I do this is for the publicity.  Then again, I have met some truly lovely people who I don't want to just leave and through my cat health group and other groups I have helped some cats and owners and have helped save a number of cats.

So, for the next few days or week, I'm going to try to forget about Facebook, work on doing things I need and want to do, and return to blogging... assuming I can get this to work as I see a red banned that says "An error occurred while trying to save or publish your post."  Hmmm...