Pandora’s Blues

Bugs has started spraying.

Maybe “started” isn’t quite right. Maybe he’s been leading up to it for longer than I realized, as for some time I have seen him “vertical”-peeing and straining in the box. Maybe now he’s just “out” about it. Now, it’d be hard to miss. He climbed up on the kitchen sink and, right in front of me, sprayed the splashboard so hard I could have used safety goggles.

Mindful of advice to check whether there’s a medical reason for this behavior change, the vet found that Bugs flinched on palpation. He had white blood cells in his urine. No blood, no crystals, thankfully – but, still, we have a problem.

Another piece of advice, though: Watch out for some of these medics.

The first vet gave him an antibiotics injection. She scared me into agreeing to this, thanks to her dire warnings about blocked urethras in male kitties being possibly fatal. The shot had no effect; Bugs still tested positive two and three weeks later. Another vet proposed an estrogen pill to address the behavioral aspect. The homeopathic vet we eventually ended up with said the estrogen had been banned for people, but was still permitted for animals. (!!!) In any case, the vet said, it would be like tuning a watch (the endocrine system) with a sledgehammer.

Nobody had any certain read on what could be causing this.

Hence, the blues. Compounded by news of B.B. King’s death the other morning. King of the Blues, the expansive wise presence that he was, is now gone from us.


“B.B. King con Lucille” by Stoned59

One of the first things I did when I moved to Arkansas was to travel to Little Rock to see B.B. King play on the occasion of his 70th birthday. The whole King family turned out. It was highly memorable. I am very sad.

And I’m truly perplexed about Bugs.

The homeopathic vet said he might not necessarily have a biotic infection; white-blood cells could be present with inflammation, too. After extensively interviewing me, the vet concluded that Bugs is an intense little man, conscientious, hyper-responsible, sensitive, regal, self-contained, not notably demonstrative but, still, deeply attached. He was greatly affected by Fang’s death, hence the vet’s finding of “sensitive.”

So maybe Bugs is reacting to stress and emotional factors. New cats in the neighborhood? My own stress?

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Through a glass darkly

So now we wait, to see whether the homeopathic remedy the vet prescribed will work.

In the meantime thanks to the Conscious Cat and very timely too, we have now been educated about the “Pandora Syndrome.” It turns out that urinary issues in cats can be far from straightforward. The allopathic docs have a name for it: “feline idiopathic cystitis” (FIC). “Idiopathic” meaning who knows what. “Medically unexplained.”

Vet Tony Buffington, of Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, says cats with FIC “often have multisystemic comorbidities.” Dig the multisyllabic thingamahoojiggies. Meaning that the focus needs to be widened from just the bladder to include skin, neurological, endocrine, immunological, and behavioral effects – including the cat’s environment.

Dr. Buffington notes an increased risk for FIC in indoor-only cats.

Oh no. Not that again.

Yes, ’fraid so. That’s why Dr. Buffington calls FIC the “Pandora Syndrome” – it equates with the troubles that fly out on opening Pandora’s Box. According to Wikipedia, opening Pandora’s box might seem innocent enough, but, once done, it has “severely detrimental and far-reaching consequences.”


Pandora, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Pandora doesn’t look too thrilled. I likewise.

So where FIC is concerned, since Pandora’s Box has now been opened, let’s just have a look at what flies out. Here, per Dr. Buffington, is the confusing welter of potential contributing factors to FIC:

* Indoor litter boxes
* Close confinement with other cats
* Rainy weather (even for indoor cats)
* Dental disease
* Obesity
* Sensitivity to threatening stimuli
* Heightened sensitivity of the sympathetic nervous system
* Early adverse experience (orphaned, bottle fed, rescued)

“Nonspecific behavioral and clinical signs” may also be present, like overgrooming or vomiting. The “first line of therapy” to resolve these is “environmental enrichment.” “The broad categories of food, water, litter boxes, space, play, conflict management, and pheromones should all be considered [for their] influence on the health and welfare of indoor-housed cats.”

Dr. Buffington provides a nifty 36-item questionnaire that, all by itself, might serve as a primer for what to do about environmental enrichment.

So according to the homeo vet, all the dietary supplements I had been feeding Bugsy after the diagnosis – d-Mannose, Vitamins C and E, cod-liver oil – might not necessarily help, if the problem is Bugsy’s emotional state. The homeo idea is that Bugs’s system might be trying to compensate for a chronic condition of imbalance. If the right remedy, the right match for Bugs’s temperament, could be identified, then the symptoms might no longer be necessary.

As for managing my own stress, progress is being made. Read about it here, in my other blog on the FELDENKRAIS METHOD.®

pee3 002-cropIt’s a team effort.




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Unintended Consequences

I was so upset by my friends’ recent misfortunes, I took refuge in a little shopping therapy. Trying to persuade myself that this splendid cat tree was actually a necessary purchase.

change1 002-crop A year or so ago, the house had seven functioning cat beds.  That’s right, seven.

I relocated the one bed nobody ever used. (Why it was unacceptable in the former location and just fine in the new location has never been explained.) Anyway, Relocated Bed makes eight.

Refrigerator Bed brought the tally to nine.

Despite the plethora, however, the boys still feel it necessary to fight over East Bed.  This house has only one window with eastern exposure for the morning sun. That’s probably why the boys fight over East Bed. I got sick of the wrangling and went on the shop-therapy mission. What I intended was that both boys would get to enjoy the eastern exposure in peace.

See how this went.

First, Bugs turned his back on the eastern exposure altogether, preferring the cave instead. He looks fetching in it.

change2 002-crop However, this is pretty much the opposite of what I had intended. I dialogued, explaining my intention to Bugs. As No. One Cat, I offered him the penthouse.  Bugs declined. Maybe it’s his dislike of change. See what happened with the first bed I bought for him, here. Bugs will get up on the penthouse only if I bodily deposit him there, or if I lure him up there with a treat.

change1 001 Barney arrives.

change1 003 What do you suppose Barney might be thinking?

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Right. Of course. Here’s what happened after the fisticuffs.

change1 004-crop Certainly not what I intended. Let’s just call this a work in progress.

Also a work in progress is Heather’s situation.

change3 001-crop She has been removed from the shelter to the foster-mom lady, from whom I got Barney. Foster-mom is wonderful. Here she is saying bye to Barney when I got him. Heather is waiting at foster-mom’s to see where she will go next. She is in good hands.

change3 002-crop It is still spring here. Season of hope, cruel though it may also be.

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Not Necessarily So

This is not-Barney.

barney-notPhoto by Howcheng.

This is Barney.

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This looks like a lovely day in the Ozarks spring.

spring3-a 003Deep waters, though.

spring3-a 007Last year I met a couple with whom I fell in love.  Their first-born baby was born eight weeks ago.  Today, on the anniversary of their wedding, the husband is who knows where, and the wife and new baby have left town and they have moved in with her mother in a neighboring state.

Barbed wire in the quince.

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Bugs wonders why.

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I am desolated with loss and vexation. I try not to imagine the stress and difficulty of what the future holds, for this unraveling knot of people I care so much about.  It’s a sad, sad thing.

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These friends adopted a stray cat. They named her Heather.   Here is Heather:


As you can see, she is the most adorable, sweet-natured lady you can imagine. Yesterday, at the very last possible moment, we squeaked Heather in to the Pets In Crisis program at the Fayetteville Animal Shelter. The Shelter will hold her for ten days, free of charge, while we see whether she is chipped and in what state of health she is. She is currently in quarantine. I plan on visiting her tomorrow.


Love’s flowers. But what fruit?


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The Cruelty of Spring

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I wonder if I just might finally get what T.S. Eliot may have meant, when he wrote that April is the cruellest month.  Or let’s say March, given that we here in the Southern USA are about three weeks ahead of the rest of the country. Spring, cruel?

When Spring looks like this?

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Or this:

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When, at the dawn of Spring, Bugsy looks like this?

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Or Barney like this?

spring2 004-cropSpring, cruel?

But sorrow needs know no special season. The other day I wrote something that stimulated pain in a dear friend. I walked straight into a wall of special sensitivity, to pain so great it is unbearable.

It is tough to walk the line of empathy, in a situation like that.

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Fearing that the next thing said will catapult the situation into the abyss.

spring2 009-cropIt’s a long way down.

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You don’t want to make a single wrong move.

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Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk says that one of the worst things about overwhelming pain is the isolation. The feeling that what is most dear to us, that which we cherish the most, can be a matter of carelessness to another. That we are alone in feeling the way we do.

We are lucky, my friend and I, that we share empathy. Thanks go out to Brené Brown, again and again, for this charming video honoring the life-saving character of empathy. I remember it often.

What can be Spring to one can be cruelty to another.

We must hold each other with great care.

spring2 001-cropcatrun

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March Forth!

Nobody should ever forget my birthday. It’s today, March 4th. So if the memory-aide “March Forth!” sounds a little like something a Roman legion commander might bawl at the grunts to get them moving, I can’t help that. March 4th it is.

And also today is about as far away from marching forth as I’d ever care to get. At time of writing, the MidSouth is becoming inundated with freezing water, moving into black ice, sleet, and eventually snow. That’s all she wrote as far as marching forth goes anywhere today.  The cupcake with my good friend Pattie will have to wait.


And as far as the martial flavor goes, I’m extremely pleased to tell you that’s not happening either. Barney greeted me this morning with his customary cuddle under the covers, but with birthday value-added.

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He grabbed my arm in both paws and licked my hand. No claws. Purring all the while.

I was flooded with happiness. I wondered: What if that current looped both ways? What if my happiness fed into Barney’s happiness? And round and round? Wouldn’t that be an incentive to stay happy! I want happy cats!

I think this might be more than a “what if.”

I wonder. If those people whose idea of happiness these days is killing others, in increasingly bizarre and horrible ways, were to experience my kind of happiness, maybe they’d stop?

In that moment with Barney, I was sure of it.

Bugs’s version of “happy birthday” today was: “Where’s my breakfast!” Never mind. I love Bugs too.

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 Birthday present in a box.


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Struvites : Your Story?

Blog-friends, can you help? My bestie Kim asks for your experience in treating dogs or cats suffering from struvites.

Bugs is concerned.

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Barney feels boxed in.

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If you can help, would you please comment? Or re-post this – it would be great to get answers from a wider pool than just this little blog.

Kim is very knowledgeable. She’s used homeopathic treatments; raw diet; and supplements of glucosamine, cranberry, and cider vinegar. Even so, her two beloved companions – Ivy the lab and Stewie the cat – are having urinary-tract troubles.


Ivy and Stewie together

artwork courtesy our good friend HereThereBeSpiders

The guy in the next shot looks so much like Ivy, I bought the card to surprise Kim. But I figure the spoiler here is worth it. Maybe tennis balls are the problem. Except that Stewie doesn’t do tennis balls, and she has struvite trouble too.

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Is it something in the water? Except Stewie’s sister Meezer doesn’t have the problem . . . . .

Your help would be greatly appreciated.


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A Gift For Me, For You, For Us

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A friend and I were noticing the other day how some writers can be so self-centered. About how the reader can be left to wonder what the writer was going for. Was it important just to hear her own voice? Was she getting something off her chest? Sometimes it seems as if the audience just isn’t there, in the writer’s consciousness.

I want not to do that, not with any post in this blog. Though I am aware that the invitation otherwise is all too tempting.

Anyway, it’s mid-February, the groundhog saw his shadow, so winter looks like it could be here awhile. I wanted to share with you a gift Barney gave me the other day.

Cue SFX here.

biscuit-gifThank you, Barney!

biscuit3 001catrun

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