Saturday, December 31, 2011


Today is December 31st, New Year's Eve.  My brother and I are so excited that Buddy is still with us.  Today is the third New Year's Eve Buds has seen since his diagnosis.  To say we are grateful for all who helped us get him to this milestone is understatement.  To say we are amazed by his patient, loving, sweet personality that has not changed one iota since all this began is definitely more understatement.

Yesterday, I took a break to meet up with two friends for a holiday celebration lunch.  We also squeezed in some errands, touristy stuff and of course, shopping for bargains.  We checked out Saks Fifth Avenue's windows.  What was that all about?  The windows were low-grade Steam-punk and had absolutely nothing to do with Christmas or any other holiday as far as we could see.  For us three native New Yorkers the windows were a big disappointment.  Oh well!

Our lunch was terrific and it was great to get the chance to catch up on what we've all been doing.  Our stops also included the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, the Channel Gardens and the second Swarovski Star (same as the one atop the tree) on display at the Rockefeller Center Promenade and shopping, shopping, shopping.

We did all this after I spent the morning running around to the library, post office, comparison shopping at Duane Reade and Rite Aid then picking up Buddy's meds.  Once evening came and I plopped down in my living room, my feet were killing me.

Today will be a down day.   I intend to straighten up, get ready for the new year, cook.  And because it is a holiday there will be some pumpkin puree and some especially tasty meat and fish treats in store for my boy and girl.  Thankfully, Buddy let me sleep a bit longer this morning before he became his usual demanding self.  He's taking a siesta now after having his milk, IV, meds, NF, capsule, clams - it never ends.

Annie on the other hand is still sleeping in!  Talk about a lay-abed, my girl is definitely it.  Additional meals were made for her yesterday so all I have to do today is warm them up and serve.  Savvy planning on my part I must say.

2011 brought many changes and I know 2012 will bring many more.  Some will have significance only to me and mine; some will have worldwide impact, possibly good, possibly bad.  My wish for myself, family, friends and the global community is simple - health, happiness, more of all our basic needs fulfilled.  By that I mean a roof over our heads, plenty to eat, the opportunity to earn a living, freedom from sadness and depression, freedom from oppression and fear.  Wherever we are, may our world improve for the better.

Happy New Year to all!  I have to go - I hear Annie's collar jingling.  She's up and our day together starts.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Today Annie is a bit off her food.  I think Buddy knocked some of his NF on the floor yesterday and she ate it.  She's sneaked his food in the past and it gives her an upset stomach.  Buddy managed to devour a decent amount of food today and I spent the day cooking for all of us.

Back to last winter:  Everyone was doing well.  Annie was looking better but she also had the additional problem of some gum irritation over one of her upper canines.  The vet dentist looked at that and prescribed some powder to add to her food; it made short work of that issue.  Buddy was holding his own, weight-wise and otherwise.  My brother was helping me with Buddy and his meds; I was finally starting to calm down.

During this time I kept thumbing through the books and trying different recipes which met with varying degrees of success.  Then things got a bit hectic so I decided to try concocting my own meals for Annie since I was finding it a bit hard to cook large quantities of food, mix it together, puree it and portion it.  The process wasn't going as smoothly as I'd hoped.  It seemed like I was always just one step ahead of another mealtime.

Cooking for Buddy was now following none of the feline recipes but rather the "mouse model" which is mostly meat.  Cooked chicken, turkey and sometimes pork added to his NF along with canned clams or canned tuna became what he ate and continues to eat.  Occasionally we add clam juice, canned pumpkin, peas and Whiskas pouch food to the mix.  

One day Buddy decided he no longer wanted dry food (much to my relief).  Before I started to cook for both of them Spot's Stew (chicken and salmon varieties), Holistic and Merrick's canned dog food became Buddy's meal of choice.  Concern about Buddy wanting dog food led me to call the vet's office.  Dr. Young said to feed him spaghetti and meatballs if that was what he wanted - with his condition the main goal was to keep him eating.

Now we were into the summer, mid-June to be exact, and Annie started to pass what looked like small clots in her urine.  She appeared listless, a bit warm and with a bit of discomfort.  She had several accidents involving large amounts of urine alternating with piddling small amounts of urine frequently.

Off we went to the doctor's.  Could this be from leaving the water dish out all day?  A tumor?  No to both was the doctor's response.  If it was a tumor, the bouts wouldn't come and go.  The consensus was this was coming from outside and the doctor suggested baby wipes to clean her after she did her business.  As an added preventative we should stir a small amount of cranberry juice into her meals.

My mission now was to find unsweetened cranberry juice.  Finally located the needed elixir at a Park Slope health food store.  Mission accomplished!

This post pretty much brings us up-to-date.  Future posts will consist of what we're doing to improve Annie and Buddy's health.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


While all of this was going on, I took a few stabs at creating meals for Annie by adding vegetables to her store-bought food but she still wouldn't eat so I gave up and tossed all the commercial dry food.  While surfing the net, I stumbled across Ann N. Martin's book "Foods Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food".  To say that this book opened my eyes would be an understatement.  The information inside was major scary and incredibly upsetting.

The bottom line?  You don't want to know what makes it into pet food.  It was a shocker to find out that the pet food industry isn't regulated at all.  Did I want to keep feeding this stuff to my cat and dog?  Hell no!  When I told Dr. Young I was considering cooking for both Annie and Buddy, she thought I should give it a try.

And so started a dialogue about what books would be good to read in addition to Ann Martin's book.  Dr. Young recommended "Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats" and Andi Brown's "The Whole Pet Diet: Eight Weeks to Great Health for Dogs and Cats".  We also discussed the types of commercial foods to try if I found cooking too daunting but Dr. Young assured me that it would be easy once I developed a routine.  After all, other pet lovers do it.

How bad could this be?  There were people who started home cooked pet food businesses - that was how Andi Brown started - by cooking for her cat who was ill.  She eventually developed Spot's Stew and started Halo Foods.

I never realized my biggest problem would be me.  Bad habits are never good to have and my biggest bad habit is that I love to jump around when reading informational books - OK, I confess, I even jump around when reading novels and sometime (gasp!) I read the end before I read the book.

So I started on my new cooking regime by reading a little bit here and a little bit there in both the books.  Annie still wasn't having what I was serving but after a couple of meals she must have realized the food was different and hey! this is what the people in this house eat (meaning the same ingredients not the same finished product).  The thought of getting the same as everyone else must have been appealing and Annie began to eat better.  The amount of coaxing was diminishing, Annie was eating almost all of her meal with every meal I served.  Even though she was taking in more food, after 2 or 3 days I noticed she was looking better and she definitely had more energy.  I was finally starting to relax.

Buddy, however, was another story.  NEVER, EVER try to get a cat to do what you want him to.  Once you learn this lesson, life with your cat will be wonderful.  I cooked a few recipes I found in the books and met with total indifference at worst or a small "taste test" at best.  Dr. Pitcairn's contained a recipe for felines with kidney failure so I cooked up a big batch intending to portion it out and freeze it.  Was I ever excited - this recipe yielded approximately 2 weeks worth of meals.  If I cooked a few more recipes, I would be ahead of the game as far as feeding Buddy which would give me time to focus on Annie.  The recipe contained egg, rice, parsley and some other ingredients and I thought Great! cats like egg.  It turned out that cats do like egg but not my cat.  Annie ate the food I cooked for Buddy with vegetables and grain added.

All of this took time but I was hopeful we were on our way to better health and greater control of our canine and feline medical issues.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


It's time to pick up Annie's story...

March 12th, the day of our scheduled doctor visit and Annie's acting OK.  Blood was drawn and urine was taken for testing.  A stronger one-week course of Clavamox was prescribed and we got through dispensing all of the pills by hiding them in peanut butter -which continued to work like a charm!  No battles and no missed pills.

Midweek, we made our follow-up call.  Annie's blood was perfect!  No underlying diseases indicated so far - the results ruled out diabetes and kidney stones.  The urine culture showed absolutely no signs of any infection.  This was all great news but there still was the issue of the battle of the meals (twice a day every day).  Annie continued to refuse to eat her meals but still scavenged garbage in the street, begged for our food and ate her own poop instead.  I wondered if this could be a mineral or vitamin deficiency.   My brother noticed that Annie was constantly licking her private parts - allergies? The doctor wanted a follow-up urine sample in two weeks and a stool sample now.

We scheduled a second follow up.  Annie was doing better at the time of the visit; no more signs of urinary infection.  However, I wasn't happy at all.  Sure, the emergencies were gone, the bleeding had stopped but Annie's energy level was at an all-time low.  She was fat but she wasn't eating well, she looked like she was retaining water, her coat was dull and rough and her eyes had lost their luster.  I was very distressed - my beautiful girl was looking and acting old but she was just eight!

My brother and I were at our wits' end.  There was only one road for us to go down so I made the decision to wean my babies off commercial food by cooking for them myself.  I had no idea what I was getting into.

For the record, it's not easy to post while your cat is sitting on your mouse pad...

Monday, December 26, 2011


Well, it's the day after Christmas and we're back to normal.  I'm not continuing my narrative today either since I need a bit of downtime to recoup from all the pre-holiday activity.

Buddy is back to normal.  That means being a pest and waking me up very early to have his milk, eat and take his capsule but today I am back to coaxing him to finish the remaining half of his milk and all of his capsule contents.  He definitely would not eat all his food no matter what I did.  To top it all off, he didn't want to hold still for his IV but he eventually gave up and stayed until I was done.

Annie came in for a bit of bullying from Buddy when he decided that the sun-covered part of my bed wasn't big enough for the two of them to bask in.  Never mind that Annie got there first.  He just walked up to her and stood in front of her face then let loose with a litany of meows until she decided it was better to yield the spot to him.  Buddy promptly made himself comfortable and Annie was left to settle down on another part of the bed.

This scenario goes on often and I find it a bit perplexing with Annie being 42 lbs. and Buddy only 6 lbs.  I never understood why she just gives up the bed, chair or couch to him.  She even allows him to eat from her bowl on occasion, just standing there watching him and looking distressed about the fact that he decided that what was in her bowl was more interesting than what was in his.  All he ever does is meow at her or just stare at her and she caves.  He's never been aggressive but he always gets his way.  All I can think is that she can't stand to hear the constant talking as much as I can't stand it.  Buddy has always been very vocal and incredibly persistent - he just doesn't shut up until he gets what he wants.

I hear the click of nails on my hallway floor; I know it's Annie and she is looking to go out so I'm ending this post to spend some quality time with her and relax before we begin a regular day tomorrow.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


I'm breaking from my usual narrative today to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and to shout from the rooftops that my little Buddy is here for a third Christmas since his diagnosis!

The only children in this household are the four-legged variety so you can imagine how important it is to us to have Buddy with us this Christmas Day.  I truly believe that even Buddy realizes today is special - he wasn't his usual demanding or contrary self this morning.  He drank all his milk, ate most of his NF prescription food, licked up all his capsule medicine and he even held still for his IV and injected meds, all without a single complaint.  To top it all off, he ate a bit of canned pumpkin without any coaxing and believe you me that's saying a lot!

Annie slept in (as usual) getting up about an hour after the rest of us.  Even she was undemanding this Christmas morn.  She spent some time on our back porch and didn't even sit staring at my back while I prepared her food.  No whining or impatient fidgeting either.  She ate her meal with her usual gusto and went back to bed.  As I write this post, the two of them are lazing together on my bed, keeping each other company and soaking up the sunlight streaming through the windows.

Buddy's survival is a triumph for my brother and myself.  Not just because of the longevity but more so because of the quality of his additional time.  We cannot take all the credit for this, his doctors and the veterinary staff are a large part of this success and of course we cannot forget Buddy himself.  If Buddy had decided not to put up with all the fussing, poking and prodding he would not be here today despite all our best efforts.

It's important in this type of situation to set short goals - we try to keep Buddy going for an additional six months or until someone's birthday; this past year our goals have been shorter - an additional month, two weeks, a week, until the next holiday.  Our next goal is to keep him going into the new year.

Today will definitely be a holiday for me.  I'll do whatever strikes my fancy - read, listen to music maybe watch some Christmas-related programming and later on, my brother and I will go out for Christmas dinner - what should shape up as a pleasant day.

So, as I sit typing this post while I drink my mulled hot cider and devour a Christmas Day brunch consisting largely of the remains of Christmas Eve dinner, I'm thankful for the simple gifts of family, friends and my two "babies" because it's the simple things that are the most important after all.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa too!

Monday, December 19, 2011


The December 16th office visit brought with it injections of famotidine and antibiotic then orders to purchase Pepcid AC (famotidine) administering 1 pill a day and more antibiotic for 5 days - 2 pills a day.  Annie also went home with 3 cans of  IAMS Veterinary Formula Intestinal Low-Residue food to eat giving her system a chance to settle down.  The problem cleared up.

We made it through the holidays and were now in the dead of winter when Annie became sick again.  February 17, 2011 was a particularly bitchy day at work; my brother and I were so looking forward to kicking back for the evening when at 9:30PM Annie piddled little blood clots.  It was hard to see and it looked like spotting from her anal sacs so we weren't concerned.

At 11PM she urinated clear with a bit of blood in the end part of the flow but by 11:30 she was pestering us to go out yet again and the urine she passed contained blood.  It was off to Warren Street Emergency.  We didn't have to wait long but by the time anyone could see Annie no one could get a urine sample since she'd wet the reception room floor 3 times.  Diagnosis: urinary tract infection (surprise!) and the emergency team wanted to do sub-Q since she was a bit dehydrated.  Since I was doing it for Buddy, I decided to play doctor for Annie as well and told them I would administer the 300ML at home.  This never happened because once we arrived home, Annie started to drink on her own.  We decided to pass on X-rays, wanting to clear the infection up before we went exploring for additional causes.  Once the round of medicine was finished we were to take Annie to Dr. Young for a follow up visit.

Two weeks' worth of Clavamox was prescribed.  Administering the pills turned into a royal battle.  I could only assume that they tasted vile since Annie wouldn't take them plain, wrapped in any kind of cold cuts or in pill pockets.  The only way to get them into her was to coat them thoroughly in peanut butter - and we're not talking your run-of-the-mill peanut butter like Skippy or Jiff, we're talking expensive organic peanut butter made from fresh peanuts and oil at about $4.99 a 18 oz. jar. At this point I was trying to figure out if there were jobs that either of them could do to earn a living!  The medical care was getting expensive.

As if the battles to get the antibiotic into Annie weren't enough, mealtime was turning into a battleground as well.  She would sit in front of her food dish, look at it, look at me but refuse to eat.  Once anyone else in the house had food she would beg; something she never did before.  Eventually, she resorted to stealing the cat's food so we had to make sure it was well out of her reach.  All unusual behavior for our sweet little Annie.  Around this time she started eating her poop and eating stuff off the floor and the ground outside.  I was ready to tear my hair out.

March 11th, the day before the follow up visit: as we came in the front door, Annie wet the floor.  Immediately we went for a walk.  She passed urine with blood and three little piddles with clots.  It looked like we were back where we started.  Needless to say my brother and I were extremely upset - we hadn't even made it to the follow up visit and Annie was sick again although she was acting fine - she ate dinner, had water and treats.  Two hours later she urinated again but this time the urine was clear.  We decided to keep an eye on her, taking her for her follow up visit the next day.  To say we were stressed would be an understatement; to deny that we were terribly upset and concerned would be the height of denial.  Where was this leading to?