One in a Million . . .

. . . reasons I love cats is that they know what works for them. They accept no substitutes. They choose what works for them, over that which doesn’t, with a calm but insistent devotion.

Finding the right space for one’s self, as my cats remind me, makes even the most harrowing journey worth it.

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Sometimes (rarely) my cats end up in the same space.

A colleague blogs about the Feldenkrais Method®, the movement work we both practice. Recently she quoted the founder on the subject of our all-too-human willingness to sell ourselves out under pressure from the herd. Feldenkrais reportedly said (in English, one of six languages he spoke): “Would we know to be in Siberia and go to Cairo for warmth? We would have there a psychiatrist teaching us to adapt ourselves to Siberian cold and stay there. But millions and billions of birds go half the earth around to go to the places they like.”

To quote my favorite superhero:

I yam what I yam.


–Popeye the Sailor Man 

Art by Bud Sagendorf, fair use I hope

It’s August 7th, the third anniversary of the last day of Fang’s life. I’d like to remember him that way, instead of on the day of his death.  If you didn’t know Fang, please honor him by clicking on the widget with his picture in the right margin.

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Fang and Bugs then.

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Fang now.


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Guardedly Optimistic

Around two weeks ago I became concerned. Or, rather, more concerned than I already was. Bugs went from spraying once or twice every three weeks or so, to spraying every day and sometimes several times a day.

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Barney says, “What’s up with that, bro?”

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Bugsy says, “One day, grasshopper, all may be revealed.”

Back in April, the homeopathic vet treated Bugs’s urinary thing by giving him a remedy that was supposed to support his overall constitution. I believe the vet’s theory was that when Bugs’s whole being got righted, the urinary symptoms would no longer be required and they would cease. But when I told the vet about this recent spray-fest, he agreed it was time to treat the spraying directly. He prescribed a new remedy, I administered it, and last Thursday I tested Bugs’s urine again for white blood cells.

For the first time in this three-month period, this test showed improvement.

Can I hear a hallelujah.

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Barney is relieved.

The vet cautions that we need to see improvement over time and not just in the short term. But I am reassured. Since treating with this vet, I have discovered some stubborn belief-sets I hold that doubt the theory behind homeopathy. But Bugs’s improvement now, instantly appearing after the new remedy, seems so clearly connected that I’m ready to call it causation and not coincidence. But really – whatever. I am just so happy that Bugs is better.

He’s still spraying, mind you, around every three days or so now. But with that I can deal. All I need is just a little more than mere hope or faith that Bugs is, or will be soon, feeling better. And now we have objective evidence that he might, and I am so happy.

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Bugs being winsome.

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Barney can relax now. Another, in his series of interesting sleeping-positions.

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Just to show that I really did come round the kitchen corner and find him like this. Not in the middle of moving. Sleeping. Not moving.

In other happy news, here is Miss Minuet a/k/a Minnie. It is blisteringly hot now, in Arkansas, hence the sweat.

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Is she not a beauty? Minnie is one of the horses I am doing FELDENKRAIS® with.

Here is excellent old Riley, another horse plus scenic Arkansas Ozarks view.

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Riley is a patient angel for letting me also ride him. I don’t know how to ride. Riley, plus human trainer, are teaching me what to do. I feel myself to be a slow learner.

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Here is a representative sampling of the thirteen cats who share Minnie’s and Riley’s human’s home. So many cats because this is in the country and, alas, this is what happens when you live in the country. Humans – using the term loosely – dump their unwanted animals in the country and real humans, the ones with a heart like the horses’ human, take them in and care for them.

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What happens when I do FELDENKRAIS with the horses feels mysterious and miraculous. First, I forget myself. I simply abide with these magical beings. They take in what I offer with my hands. They seem to like it.

Today I was showing the trainer how amazing it is that I can suggest mini-microns of movement and these enormous half-ton animals respond, light on their feet as feathers. I was saying just look at this, when I do this, I’m hoping this mini-movement will encourage him to lengthen his back. Whereupon the blessed animal promptly stretched his head long and down and the trainer said, just look at that. He got it! a longer back.

Marvelous. Horse heaven.


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Two Steps Forward . . . .

. . . one step back.

The “forward” part is that I am enjoying the cats even more (if that were possible) than before I noticed Bugsy’s urinary problem. This much I know for sure. Otherwise, like most things with the cats, all bets are off.

Our homeopathic vet describes Bugs as having a heart of gold. Bugsy is a hard worker. Super-accountable. He feels personally responsible for closely supervising OutTV at all times. Also, the vet points out, Bugs is an emotional boy. I wrote about this recently. (And re-reading the post I linked to from two years ago, I note with deep regret that as long ago as that, Bugs was showing signs that all may not have been well in the urinary department.)

The homeo vet made much of Bugs having lost his voice when Fang died.

Now, after time has gone by in which an increased dose of the vet’s remedy has worked, Bugs seems to have grown back into himself. He’s feisty, energetic, playful, and just generally present. A “blue” vibe to him, which I thought I picked up in the past, seems to have gone away.

With this changed perspective, my love and respect for Bugs has grown greatly (as if that were possible).

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Thank you.  It’s nice to be appreciated.

More “forward”: I have started doing hands-on FELDENKRAIS® work with horses. I cannot tell you how exciting this is for me. I’m planning a separate blog-post on this, but for now let me just say that the horses seem to enjoy the work and I am in heaven. I have adored horses ever since little girls are supposed to and I have never grown out of it. For me to connect with such magnificent beings in this exquisitely intimate way is a lifelong dream answered.

So the success with the horses has given me confidence to lay hands on the cats too. I have not thought of doing this since we ended work with a Tellington Touch practitioner in May 2014.

I have found the cats are harder to work with than the horses. I’ve had to use some clicker- and treat-training to get them to sit still enough. But it’s working! It’s so exciting to see how quickly they learn to stay within hands-reach. And how, with the FELDENKRAIS work, they become so soft and buttery.

Oh lord, I think to myself, what a wonderful world. Brought to you by Louis Armstrong, through Keb’ Mo’.

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Bugs upside-down asleep.

The “one step back,” though, is that Bugs’s urine still shows positive for white blood cells and he is still spraying.

The vet explained he had originally thought the spraying was likely a behavioral expression of Bugsy’s super-responsible character. There are new cats in the neighborhood and Bugs probably felt it necessary to defend the house from those nefarious characters.

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Menaced like this, you might spray too!

But the vet says the persistence of the symptoms, despite Bugsy showing improvement overall in his emotional state, means it’s time for another remedy more-specifically targeted to the spray situation.

We shall see.

Otherwise, the great good news is that Bugs is peeing well in the box and there is no sign of crystals or blood. The vet said with that picture, blockage is a non-issue.

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Family portrait.

Here’s a funny thing. Sometimes Bugs sprays right in front of me. Sometimes, though, he does it when I’m not in the room. I know something’s up when I find Barney near Bugsy’s favorite spray-spots doing that shoveling thing that cats do in the litter box. That’s Barney. Also a very responsible cat. Cleaning up.

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Somebody’s got to do it around here.


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Bugs Expresses Himself

Bugs’s plumbing problems continue. He tested positive again for white blood cells and he’s still spraying. The homeopathic vet thinks the initial remedy took hold, though, so he upped the dose for a second round.

Over the course of the initial treatment, some of Bugs’s other old symptoms returned, specifically the dermatitis.  The vet interprets this as consistent with a healing trend, but he was cross with me for treating the dermatitis with Vetericyn.  Apparently Vetericyn could have messed up the homeopathic remedy’s effectiveness.

Even so, though, the vet thought that on the whole, things were still OK. He explained that Bugs’s urinary issues are probably an acute manifestation of a chronic condition. The vet’s treating the chronic constitutional state with the higher dose, but, he said, he may also have to treat the acute symptoms too. Then, when those are gone, he’ll go back to the constitutional treatment. I hope I’ve understood his thinking. “It’s complicated,” he said.

Bugs sleeps through it all.

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About that weird thing I mentioned last time? The other day, Bugs came over for his customary “biscuits” ritual.  This was the jump-up-and-dash version, except with one striking variation. After he jumped-up-and-dashed, I was overcome by an eye-watering – well, stink, to be frank. I went straight for it; no need to search. I found a small wet spot, bracketed with two yellowish spots shaped like grains of rice.

Yes. A topic I have not yet run across: The anal sacs.

If you should search the Net on this topic, you will find all manner of horrible stuff about problems in this area. Impaction. Hand-expression. You can actually find videos of the latter on youtube. I don’t even want to look again for the links – viewing them once was plenty. The kind of visual you know will never disappear from the mind’s eye.

Lots of explanations, too. Cats are supposed to vacate the sacs when they poop, or are alarmed or upset, or to mark territory.

The homeo vet was unfazed, however. He thought Bugs was probably a little blocked and that’s why he needed to express. The sacs were plugged but not distended and they needed to open up. He said the expression wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t been plugged. He viewed this as an improvement, evidence of a response after the remedy.

You may not be seeing anything weird in this. I am putting off telling you the weird part, but I see the time has come.

After I did a spot-clean of the duvet where Bugs left the mark, I found the smell, diluted and sweetened by the soap and water, to be quite, well – delicious?

This explains why a substance like this (happily synthetic these days) is added to perfumes. I like this description:  “The scent is very pungent and fecal but . . . gives an amazing radiance and warmth to florals.”

I’ll say. You might want to take my word for it, in case you’re not up for reproducing this experience at home. For my part, though, I must admit that it was a most remarkable exercise in the wonder of the senses. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything, especially because Bugs isn’t in trouble in that department at least.

That enjoyment might be the weird bit.

Barney wonders what all the fuss is about.

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Just For Grins

Friends, I have news on Bugsy’s plumbing problems.  But it’s involved (and, also, I’m thinking about telling you something you might possibly find a wee tad weird).  So I want to take more time than I have, right now, to write my next.

In the meantime, here is something.  Thanks to my new friend over at the Purr View, please enjoy the below and by the way, why not subscribe to her wonderful blog while you’re at it. That may put pressure on the author to post more.



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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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