Eight nights ago on Tuesday, August 18, 2020, I evacuated my two cats from my friends’ RV in Boulder Creek. I had been living there up until January 2020 when they let me know that I would need to move out, but my cats could stay.
Sadly, yesterday, I brought Blur into a veterinary hospital to have her euthanized. This last week with her, I noticed that her liver cancer was definitely worse. She had a voracious appetite, but the food ran right through her. She was starving. 🙁 I know I did the right thing, and if I had thousands of dollars, I would have spent them all on her when she first had a problem. Would she have wanted to be poked and prodded? No. Is she an easy cat to pill? No. As far as all of my cats go (past and present), she is by far the worst of them all – not wanting to be poked, pilled, or anything of the like. So, in the end, I think I did the best I could have done for her.
Now, I need to get my other cat to eat. Living in a 4runner isn’t easy, but I know that has nothing to do with the reason Aby is not eating. It takes her time to adjust to any new place. We’ve moved around quite a bit since our home burned up in the Bear Fire three years ago. Aby is very slow to adjust to anything new. At the boarding facility three years ago, I had to go over there everyday to coax her to eat, while looking for my lost cat, looking for housing, etc.
When we moved to Bakersfield, it was the same thing with Aby – it took her a few weeks to get adjusted. Then we had to move to Taft. Then to the RV, and now into my 4runner.
I just offered her canned chicken in water, and she won’t eat that either. She ate a few bites of Friskies pate mixed grill last night, but she won’t eat her normal ‘shreds’, or even her dry. Sigh. 😔
Welcome to the tale of how I met my dear cat, Abygayle. Before I begin, I have to apologize that this blog is rather lengthy. I have included some links if you’re interested in learning more about a particular topic.
AudubonSociety and Feral Cats
Aby was part of a feral cat colony near the wetlands by highway 101 north heading up to San Francisco. In 2013, the Audubon Society said they had had enough with cats killing birds and were going to put an end to this feral cat colony. Whether or not, the Audubon Society was going to do this by mass euthanasia or by poisoning, is anyone’s guess.
The cat rescue groups who go out there daily to feed the cats and TNR (trap, neuter, release) were not happy to hear about this. One of my friends knew I had a huge rodent problem and asked me if I could use some “barn cats,” as feral cats are sometimes referred to. She explained the cats’ situation, and I told her that yes, I could take a couple in.
The cat rescue lady delivered the kittens to my house. We made my outside kennel as secure as possible for them. They were still in their humane trap. She told me it would be awhile before they’d come out, and I don’t need to watch them. She left, and I continued to watch these two new kittens of mine. The boy, “Topaz” was grey with black stripes.
I watched them for awhile, but they were so scared. I walked into my house to get some coffee. I came back out about ten minutes later. Topaz wasn’t in the trap any more. I went into the kennel to locate his whereabouts. He wasn’t in either of the two crates that were set up. He wasn’t anywhere. 🙀 I closed up the kennel and ran around the yard looking for him. He was gone! 😿
I went back into the kennel and saw Aby – she was laying in the cuddle bed inside one of the crates. She looked so small, even at six months old. The sun was setting. The temperature had dropped significantly. I knew that without her brother in the kennel with her, I couldn’t bear to leave her all alone. I grabbed a blanket and placed it on top of her and the cuddle bed, and then scooped it all up. Carrying her close to my body, I brought her upstairs to my bedroom, where my cat, A’more was. Aby and A’more became fast friends – snuggling together, eating beside each other, grooming one another. ♥️
I never saw Topaz again. 😿
Although I set traps (humane cat traps) across the road for Topaz with fresh water and yummy canned food, I caught everything but him. I eventually gave up. I had caught a rat, a scrub jay, a raccoon, and a black cat, but no Topaz. I was scared that I was going to end up catching a skunk!
Maddie & Aby
Maddie also lived in the upstairs but only ventured out of her hiding spot occasionally – she lived mostly on the left hand side of my bedroom, whereas Aby took up residence on the right hand side, under the desk and in the closet. These two girls may have been close to each other in proximity, but they were not close in any other way. They tolerated each other. They would both sleep on my bed occasionally, but would not touch.
When A’more passed away in 2015, I felt badly for Aby. She was so close to him. I could at least pick up and love on Maddie. But I couldn’t even hold Aby. Heck, I was terrified of her!
I was so frightened of Aby I couldn’t even hold her to trim her nails. At one time, I was considering having her declawed. I was worried that she’d get her nails caught in the curtains and rip her nail out. (This happened with another cat of mine, but he lost his nail in the carpet and bled a lot.)
I finally found a veterinary clinic that still did declaws, and explained my situation to them as to why I needed to get Aby declawed. They told me they wouldn’t do it unless I could pick her up and hold her. Hmm 🤔 well if I could do that – then I’d be able to trim her nails and wouldn’t need to go through with such a barbaric procedure, now would I?!
BIG MISTAKE – Little Brother
So, as I was saying I felt badly for Aby because she didn’t have anyone. A’more was gone. Maddie ignored her, and I was scared of her. I decided to get her a little brother which turned out to be a huge mistake.
My friend, Callalily, had a feral that had kittens in her yard… I adopted one and named him Felipe and had him upstairs as company for Aby. Well unfortunately, Aby hated her little brother. She hated him so much that she took it upon herself to hide from him.
The queen bed that I had, had four drawers on its base. The two drawers closest to the foot had cubby holes that I wasn’t aware of. Apparently when the drawer is completely shut, there is a hidden compartment off to the side… a perfect place for a cat to sit. If the drawer is completely shut, the cat cannot climb back into the drawer. Aby has on occasion climbed into these drawers before, but usually if she’s in the drawer – I cannot shut it all the way closed.
It was in the winter when I couldn’t find Aby – January 2017 to be exact. I looked for her everywhere upstairs. The upstairs isn’t that big, but by golly there are a lot of hiding spots for a cat!
Where Is She?
I looked everywhere. I looked behind the curtains of all of the windows. Five windows in my bedroom. I looked behind the desk, under the desk, behind the bird cage, behind the bookshelf, in the closet, in the drawers of my bed, in the crevice between the wall and my bed. She was nowhere! I called for her. She didn’t come, she didn’t meow. I searched the drawers again and shut them. I didn’t take the drawers out though. I searched everywhere again. I was getting rather desperate.
I cannot honestly say when I first realized that she was missing. It could have been a couple of days before I started looking, or it could have been a few days. My cats are free fed. I just happened to notice that I hadn’t seen her around. When I still didn’t find her on the second day, I started tearing my room apart. I took the drawers out and that’s when I noticed that darn hidden compartment. She was just sitting there.
She was severely dehydrated and her skin was jaundiced. Once a veterinary technician, always a veterinary technician, I knew what I needed to do. I couldn’t immediately take her into the hospital as much as I wanted to due to the road closures. I had medical supplies on hand and after wrapping her up in a blanket, I gave her subcutaneous fluids. I also offered her some food which she did eat, but didn’t finish. (When I first found out she was missing, I put Felipe downstairs.)
It was January 9, 2017 when the roads finally opened up and I was able to bring Aby to the hospital. She was diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis which is also known as fatty liver disease. It is very common in cats who stop eating for whatever reason. The liver breaks down stored fat for energy and eventually the cat can become icteric (their skin and mucous membranes take on a jaundiced or yellow appearance.) She would need to have an esophageal tube surgically placed so that I could get enough calories into her while her liver healed. We had a long journey ahead of us.
Aby isn’t the easiest cat. She is a feral. Or maybe I should say she was a feral. I had to wrap her up in a blanket to give her her medications and feed her. Little, by little, Aby started coming around. I think by having to give her these meds and feeding her through her tube, I got used to her, and she got used to me. I was finally able to trim her nails which I hadn’t been able to do since the day she came to live with me. Eventually her tube slipped out, and we had to drive back to the hospital to have it replaced. But after awhile, she got better and started eating on her own again. 😻
Aby is a love bug. I cannot believe I was ever scared of her. She allows me to set her on my lap and trim her nails – on all of her paws. She still growls, but it’s all talk. She loves sitting on my shoulder like a parrot, telling me all about her day. She also loves to drool 🤤 on me. It’s quite disgusting. I’m not talking about a little bit of saliva either. She will leave a huge wet spot on my arm, neck, or wherever. When she shakes her head, spittle goes flying everywhere.
This blog is about the barbaric procedure known as declawing or onychectomy.
What is Declawing?
Declawing is not just removing a cat’s claws. It’s actually an amputation surgery where the cat’s first joint is removed along with the nail bed. This is so the claw doesn’t grow back.
Prior to the cat’s procedure, the cat comes into the veterinary hospital for a fentanyl patch placement. This is usually done 24 hours beforehand. Not all veterinary hospitals use fentanyl patches for pain control.
The day of the procedure, the cat is anesthetized and may be given a preanethetic (as long as it doesn’t cancel out the affects of the fentanyl patch.)
The cat’s paws are shaved – free of fur, scrubbed, and a tourniquet is placed on whatever leg the technician/veterinarian will be working on. This is to prevent bleeding from the toe amputation.
The cat’s toe is clipped off at the first joint using sterile guillotine clippers, the joint is then sutured and sometimes skin glue is used. At the hospital I used to work at, the technician also gave the cat a pain block in each toe for extra pain control. (This is also not normally done.)
Once all of the claws have been removed, the cat’s paws are bandaged. CATS DON’T LIKE STUFF ON THEIR FEET. They are woken up from the anesthesia and then placed in ICU.
Monitoring Post Declaw
As an ICU tech, I monitored a lot of cats post-declaw. I needed to make sure their bandages stayed on their paws, that there was no blood seepage, that the bandages weren’t on too tight, that the cats were comfortable – not in pain, screaming and thrashing around in their cages.
When fentanyl patches came into the veterinary practice, and we started using it on our cat declaw patients – it was a vast improvement for pain control! As were the pain blocks. But before those two were used, those poor cats. 😿 I was constantly trying to get their pain under control. It was awful to watch them even when they weren’t in pain, trying desperately to get those bandages off their feet.
The Next Morning
Then the cat needs to have the bandages removed. Oh my gosh. Trying to get a bandage off of a cat without causing it more undue stress and pain… not easy.
Then there’s the post operative care… the owner needs to use shredded paper in the litter box for at least two weeks post surgery, monitor for any bleeding, continue pain control, etc.
If a declawed cat ever gets outside, they have no weapons to fight off any wildlife. They are sitting ducks.
Is It OK To Declaw?
There are some circumstances when someone may need to declaw their cat. If it’s a life-death situation, then yes, I’d say go for it. But all four paws? No.
I hate declawing. But if a cat is going to be euthanized… Or an older person is being scratched… then make sure you ask that the cat gets a fentanyl patch placed on 24 hours before the surgery.
I’ve never had any of my cats declawed, but one of my cats did get a tendonectomy. It’s less painful for the cat, and they still need their nails trimmed. But with this surgery, the cat isn’t able to retract it’s claws or use them as weapons. I didn’t have this surgery done to protect me, but rather to protect anyone that came near him.
Kit Kat was a grouch to everyone but me. He was vicious, ferocious. He was an attack cat. When he got diabetes, he had to go to the clinic often for blood draws to check his blood sugar. He knew how to bite, scratch, and make people very scared of him. Having the tendonectomy, my colleagues had an easier time handling him. He didn’t need to be anesthetized as often as before. I certainly didn’t want to euthanize him just because he could sink his claws into someone.
These seem like a waste of money to me. If your cat will sit while you glue plastic nail caps onto his/her nails, why not just trim your cat’s nails down? What’s to prevent the cat from attempting to chew these off?
Blur is most likely a Japanese Bobtail, a domestic shorthair cat breed, but she is definitely not a purebred. The typical colors for a Japanese Bobtail are white with orange or tri, but they can also come in white with black too. They are very docile with loving purrsonalities. They are also quite petite. The most Blur has ever weighed is about eight pounds. Now, she weighs significantly less.
I got Blur from my friend, Callalily. I was actually watching her pets for her and later had commented on her new kitten. She had told me that she was actually fostering it for one of the cat rescue ladies as her house was overflowing with kittens. Callalily asked me if I wanted the kitten, and I said, “yes.”
Callalily and her Jewish boyfriend were thinking of calling the kitten yarmulke (pronounced: yamaka) because of the black cap of fur on her head. But I ended up naming Blur, “Blur” because every time I went to take a picture of her with my Canon power shot camera, I would literally end up with a black and white blur as an image instead of a cute little kitten. A lot of people misspell her name as Blurr, and I’m unsure as to why. Her name does not have two Rs. She is not blurry. She’s just Blur.
Sweetheart, even with Mice 🐭
Blur is probably the sweetest cat I’ve ever had. Although she has teeth and claws, she has never bitten or scratched me. She has also never been mean to any of my other pets. Never raising up a paw to swipe at another cat or dog. She doesn’t even hurt rodents! Now that’s saying something.
Many a times, rodents have come into my house. Heck, I’ve had lizards, frogs, crickets, and scorpions come into my house too. When you have three of your cats staring at the refrigerator… you begin to suspect that maybe, just maybe there’s a mouse 🐁 behind it.
So after moving the refrigerator out from the wall, the mouse took off and ran behind the range. Good grief! I had to move the range out from the wall too, but there was no mouse. Hmm 🤔 where did it go? I looked behind the fridge again, but it wasn’t there. Then Blur was staring at the drawer below the stove. OK… I opened the drawer and out popped the mouse. First, my cat, Velcro carried the mouse around telling it all about his day. Then he dropped the mouse. Next Blur picked up the very live mouse. When the mouse made an eeking sound, she dropped it and it proceeded to run under the stairs. At this point, I had my arms up in the air, waving them around, telling my cats,
Will one of you worthless cats 🐈 please kill the mouse already?!
But nope, then No Mar picked up the poor mouse, played with it and then dropped it. So, this little frightened mouse whom I couldn’t catch to release outside, ran down the hallway into the living room, and then into the bathroom. It darted under the tub. Lance, my Shiba Inu, jumped up from the futon he was laying on and ran under the tub right after the mouse. The mouse was killed instantly. My dog killed the mouse, not my cats. Go figure.
Friendship and Food
Blur had a best friend which I will talk about in another blog – his name was No Mar. Those two were major cuddle buddies… never far apart from each other. I honestly didn’t think Blur would be able to live without No Mar, but she has been trekking along without him for a couple of years now.
Blur and Aby haven’t always been friends. Blur tried to be friends with Aby, but Aby wanted nothing to do with her. Aby would swipe at Blur’s face with her paw. But then when I was moving and was vacuuming and cleaning carpets… these two were hiding together under an upside cat bed, scared out of their wits from the loud noises. They became fast friends and have stayed friends.
Friskies may not be the most expensive, or the most high quality food, but Blur loves it. She loves Indoor Delights, the dry food with its tasty morsels of chicken, salmon, cheese, and greens. She especially loves her Friskies canned food. Although she’ll eat the pate, she especially loves her poultry flavored shreds with sauce. Yummy.
Speaking of shreds, when I had my APBT (American Pit Bull Terrier), Brad, he had lots of toys. One of his toys was a red Kong. He was still an adolescent, and I had no idea the chewing powers of this breed! Well he destroyed that Kong. He tore it into little pieces. My colleague was astounded – she said it was almost like the Kong was made out of sponge instead of the hard rubber that it actually is. The little pieces were about the size of a dime – this would not have been a problem for Brad. Unfortunately, Blur had been playing with the small pieces…
I found some vomit on the staircase and my first thought was it was coming from my cat, Velcro who gets into everything! So, I treated him with injectable antiemetics. Well this of course didn’t solve the problem because it was the wrong cat! Then about a day later I noticed Blur vomiting. Eek. I knew she had been playing with the Kong pieces before I swept them up. I gave her some famotidine subcutaneously, hoping beyond all hope that this would help her and that she didn’t swallow a bit of Kong. This didn’t help, and I took her to work with me at the veterinary hospital the next day.
Lo and behold, the doctor in surgery that day had four exploratory surgeries – none that were scheduled on the books. All were emergencies! I had already told her about Blur’s possible foreign body, and she told me if there was any way it could wait… . Another doctor did the preliminary ultrasound and saw something suspicious in Blur’s intestines. We gave her some barium, a white opaque liquid that would show up on both radiographs and ultrasonography. Blur was also started on intravenous fluids. A few hours later, she had another ultrasound – the barium stopped in one spot – definitely conclusive of a foreign body. Because the surgeon couldn’t do any more surgeries that day, the doctor who had been doing the ultrasounds on Blur “cut her open.” Sure enough – positive for a foreign body which just happened to be a piece of the red Kong. I threw away all of the red Kongs that I had and bought black Kongs for Brad, which are made of a tougher and indestructible hard rubber.
Although Blur is a very short name, she is called other names as well… longer names than her real name. I call her Miss Blur and sometimes, I sing 🎤 to her.
🎶 Blurby Blurby Blurby get your adverbs here.
I don’t know how long I’ll have with Blur, but so far she has lived longer than I thought she would. I’m also not certain what is going on with her liver. When she first had the problem, I couldn’t afford to take her to the veterinary hospital. Since moving back to the Central Coast, a veterinarian has looked at her, but not in a veterinary hospital setting. We tried her on a course of medications, but they didn’t really help her. As long as she keeps eating and is enjoying life… then she will stay on this Earth.
Sadly, Blur went to join her feline friends Tuesday, August 25, 2020. Until we meet again Miss Blur – I love you. 🌈 bridge