Monday, January 30, 2012


Buddy still isn't eating much and is being very picky.  Although that hasn't stopped him from waking us up at 5:30AM for food.  He did do a bit better today by drinking his morning milk with enthusiasm.  His NF and capsule were another story.  He consumed very little of the NF but licked off all the capsule powder I sprinkled over it.  Some more of the NF was consumed when I added his pouch food to it.

Lunchtime was more of the same - he passed up both NF and pureed pumpkin as well as a bit of yogurt but ate some of it after I added low-sodium tuna.  I've also noticed he's sleeping more.  Thankfully, he's not howling like he was a few days ago.

Even though our weather has warmed up somewhat, Buddy is spending quite a bit of time by the radiator waiting for the heat to come up.  Usually, he heads for the radiator when he hears the steam making noise.  It seems he's feeling colder than what's generally the norm for him.

And as if I needed something else to contend with, Annie's stomach is making all kinds of squishing noises today and very loudly I might add.  She's also off eating and seems a bit uncomfortable.  At the moment she's sleeping as well so I'll just keep an eye on her for the rest of the day.  Another meal will be offered to her this evening - if she eats, fine.  If not, I'll see what tomorrow morning brings.  Not much else I can do at this point but observe them both.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Buddy's illness is becoming more challenging.  He became very labor-intensive the last few days and most of my time has been consumed with getting him to eat.  Crying and howling for food is the norm now.  He's doing this every hour or so but then he eats very little of what I offer him.  Heating it up, rubbing it on his lips or his teeth doesn't seem to make much of a difference.  He's also taken to walking through his food dish and he even sat in it a couple of times.

All this crying and carrying on for food but consuming less food than before.  Yesterday, I offered him NF, chopped clams, tuna, pureed pumpkin and pureed string beans.  He ate very little at each offering but continued to carry on for food.  Finally, at the end of the day, he did settle down to eat a significant amount of food.  We started today on a more positive note in that Buddy ate a bit more food in comparison to yesterday morning and did not carry on as much.

Buddy no longer grooms himself.  Now I am waging "The Battle of the Mats" on a daily basis.  Today I will set aside enough time to groom him completely.  That means combing his fur, removing mats, trimming the long hair on his belly and butt as well as cleaning his ears, trimming his nails and administering a baby wipe, damp rag bath.  A tall order.

Keeping my fingers crossed that this is just a temporary downswing and not the beginning of the end.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I've always been fond of all breeds of dogs and like every other dog lover, there are some breeds I favor over others.  My personal taste runs towards towards the hunting, sporting and working breeds.  And I've always had a soft spot in my heart for mutts and rescues.

Today, instead of my usual post, I want to direct my readers to the following news article.  It is by turns sad and heartwarming, in short, an amazing article.  It proves that one good deed can spawn many blessings, that it only takes one to make a difference, that we should follow a hunch and that we should never take no for an answer:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Bath time!  When bath time involves a dog it can be a fun experience.  Not all dogs react like the dogs in the old silent movies who did their best to outwit their masters and avoid bathing in a washtub full of soapy water.

Bathing Annie is definitely a totally different experience from grooming Buddy.  Annie runs around and walks enough to wear her nails down - we never have to trim them.  City living and concrete see to that.  If you don't walk your dog enough or live in a rural area with less concrete that we have in Brooklyn, you'll need to trim nails on a regular basis.  This can be accomplished at the vet or by a groomer or you, if you are a do-it-yourself-er.

If you are going to do this yourself, get a good pair of clippers (do your research) and read up on how it's done.  I strongly suggest a session with the vet to have someone demonstrate it the first time and watch you clip a nail or two before you attempt to do this on your own.  When trimming the nails of a dog with light colored nails it's easy to see the quick but dark nails hide the quick thus making this chore trickier if the dog has dark nails.  If you cut the quick the dog will bleed - it's very painful so you need to practice 'less is more' when cutting a dog's nails.

For the bath itself, I recommend some sort of plastic bucket or pitcher to pour water over your dog, a mild shampoo (preferably a castile or baby shampoo), a washcloth and a couple of fluffy towels.  Since Annie is 42 lbs. my brother and I will both handle her during her bath.  One of us will wet her down and the other soaps her up.  Soap from the neck down, making sure to wash the chest, undersides, all four legs, the hind quarter, all the way to the tip of the tail.  Once you have a good lather, rinse and keep rinsing until the water runs clear.  I wash Annie's face with a washcloth.  Wet the cloth well and wring it out, do not use soap.  Annie is used to this so I will wipe her face, muzzle, forehead and top of her head as well as the backs of her ears.

If your dog thinks this is fun and games time (as Annie does) make sure the bathroom door is tightly closed or your dog will shake water all over the house.  Having furniture and bedding used as towels isn't a fun thing to experience either so make sure your dog is confined during the drying off part of the bath.  We immediately cover Annie with a large towel, moving her haunches from side to side to get her to shake off the water.  Shaking is natural so don't discourage it just make sure the dog has a towel on them or else you and your surroundings will get soaked.

After we get Annie calmed down, I put a few drops of Epi-Otic in one ear and massage the base of the ear to clean inside.  Then, very carefully, I use a gauze pad to clean the inside of the ear removing as much wax and dirt as possible (don't push inside).  Repeat the process with the other ear.

Finally, we make a big fuss over Annie.  This helps reinforce bath time as fun.  If she wants to, we will play catch with her or chase her around for awhile until she's had enough fun and decides to relax.

Frequent bathing is ideal.  Your aim is to keep pollutants off the skin.  Dogs ingest them in the normal course of grooming.  We try to hold to a schedule of a bath a month because it is very time consuming, however, if you want do bathe your dog once a week that's OK.  Less, more, whatever you decide just try to bathe on a regular basis.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Buddy did vomit the other day.  We were concerned.  He did it again tonight and we have our answer to the problem - he brought up a hairball.  He's OK now except his right eye is tearing.  I'll have to start administering the ointment again.

Of course,Annie had to get into the act.  Tonight she regurgitated a portion of breakfast but otherwise she seems fine.  I might forgo her second meal tonight and let her system rest.  This is the reality of caring for a pet.  It's the same as having kids but kids that never grow up or learn to speak or get a job and contribute to the house.  Just joking but a truth nonetheless.

Which brings us to another thought - when contemplating adopting a pet one should keep in mind a pet is at least a 15 year commitment.  If you can't commit to the cost or to the care, feeding, walking, training, playing, don't do the pet the disservice of adopting him or her.

Caring for a pet is not an on again off again proposition.  It is a full-time 24/7, 365 days a year commitment.  Never forget that.  At times it's exasperating, at times it's fun; however you look at it it is rewarding. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012


(NOTE:  This post is about smells and bodily functions so if you're squeamish, be forewarned.)

I've been particularly busy the past few days so I've not posted and during that time taking care of Buddy I realized he smells like a bum travelling the MTA (or at least like certain areas of the system).

OK, maybe he doesn't smell THAT bad but he does smell - of urine and vomit.  This is pretty interesting because he hasn't upchucked at all.  The urine smell, however, does come as part of the package of renal failure.  I've noticed it isn't as intense when we make sure he is on a regulated schedule as far as his medicines and fluid intake is concerned.  Bad breath is also intensified if we miss a medicine dose or if he doesn't hold still for the subQ sessions.

From when he first came to live with us Buddy was always a very fastidious groomer but lately he's been slacking off.  Being a Maine Coon/Tabby mix, he has long hair.  Now he's nothing but a mess of mats, big and small.  It's almost like Rasta-hair so maybe we should rename him Bob Marley and leave it at that.  All joking aside, you really can't leave the mats because they become uncomfortable as they become larger.

So, how do you clean a cat?  Not easily that's for sure.  The very first part of this process should be trimming the nails.  If your cat gives you a hard time or appears to be getting annoyed, do the nails and postpone any other grooming until the following day.

Buddy had diarrhea twice since the renal diagnosis and he did allow us to stand his hind legs in a shallow bucket of warm water as long as we held his front paws up.  He actually gave up struggling once he realized his butt felt better as he was getting cleaned.  We did have a few escape attempts that consisted of Buddy trying to climb up our bodies - not a fun experience.

If you are going to attempt this type of cleaning make sure you know your cat's personality.  Buddy is incredibly laid back so his reaction to a partial bath surprised us.  I wouldn't recommend trying this with most cats.  If that's the case with your cat use baby wipes to clean the butt.  Also, and this is important, suit yourself up as if you are going to war.  Make sure your arms, chest, neck and hands are covered.  I recommend putting on thick clothing so you don't get hurt during the cleaning process. If your cat is a swiper,  or you suspect he might get ticked off enough to take a swipe at you, invest in some sort of eye protection.

Hair grooming:  I can't stress this enough, brush every day or every other day.  Unfortunately, we had a period of downtime because of circumstances which coincided with Buddy deciding not to groom himself anymore.  Result: tons of mats (mostly small but a pain nonetheless).  My remedy is to get Buddy  comfortable on my lap with a blunt baby scissors and a flea comb nearby (no particular reason for the flea comb other than that's what I have).  Once he's really relaxed, I start to pull the mats sideways to release them.  Combing them from the base is a good idea but it should be done working from the top of the mat down.  You should always hold the mat near the skin so it doesn't pull and if the mat is medium to large, work on a section of it at a time.  If you cannot undo the mat, cut it off.  Do this by working the comb between the skin and the mat cutting the mat just above the comb.  This will prevent you from cutting your cat's skin by mistake and will prevent you from getting scratched or bit.

Renal failure makes the urine smell and part of the reason why Buddy smells is the long hair on his stomach. It touches the wet kitty litter or in Buddy's case, wet newspaper, and voila! your cat smells like a urinal.  I trim all the hair on his stomach by half it's length and this definitely helps keep the stinky factor in check.  Always, make sure to cut the hair above the comb; don't attempt to trim the hair without the comb as a shield between where you're cutting and the skin.  If you can't manage this alone, get someone to help you.  By the way, the not grooming is also part of the whole illness thing.

Now, how to get the cat smelling like a rose again or at least not like the local garbage dump?  I use baby wipes.  The first time I tried to clean Buddy with a baby wipe, he took off for parts unknown.  Why?  The perfume smell and the fact that the baby wipes were cold!  Heat the wipes in the microwave but make sure they are slightly warm only; don't make them hot.  You can address the scent issue by either spending more money on wipes made especially for cats and dogs, test run baby wipes until you find a brand with less of a smell or do as I do, just hang on to your cat and make him stay still.  I wipe Buddy from his shoulder blades down his back and his legs.  Then I cradle him and wipe his stomach finally wiping his butt and what's left of his tail.  Since I don't like chemicals and really don't want him ingesting them if he licks himself, I have an old cotton cloth that I rinse in hot water, ring out and wipe him down a second time, this time including his head, neck and chest, before wiping him off with his cotton towel.  By this time, he's totally annoyed so I will follow up the next day by cleaning out his ears.

Dr. Young prescribed medicine for Buddy's ears when he was having a mite problem.  That stuff needed to be refrigerated.  It worked well cleaning up the problem; no more shaking his head or scratching his ears.  For normal maintenance, Dr.  Young prescribed Epi-Otic by Virbac and we use that on a regular basis.  You can find a good holistic alternative in Dr. Pitcairn's book, Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.

I use cotton gauze pads or a cotton cloth to remove dirt from the ears after putting a few drops of Epi-Otic into the ear canal then massaging the base of the ear.  Always follow the directions.

Once you are done your cat should be smell-free.  This sweet-smelling state of bliss won't last long so remember a regular schedule of maintenance is the key to keeping the air clear.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Buddy now has only one eye tearing; we are continuing to put ointment in his eyes.  He's definitely feeling good today - he's sitting in the bathtub just hanging out.  He does that every so often, he sits in the tub and watches everyone's comings and goings.

Annie's urinary problems were most likely a result of a lack of cleanliness.  A good way to control this problem and prevent continued infection is to use baby wipes when your dog relieves herself (urinary infections are by and large a female issue).  An additional aide to maintaining good urinary health is by putting cranberry or apple juice or apple cider vinegar into a meal once a day.

We generally use a cap-full of one of the three.  It's important what you buy when using cranberry or apple juice because the usual commercial brands are loaded with corn syrup.  My choices are:

1)  Knudsen's Just Cranberry Juice.  This is put out by the R. W. Knudsen Family.  It's found in health food stores or you can purchase it online.  Keep in mind that cranberries are very sour and this juice is natural 100% cranberry juice with a sugar content of only 9%.  Compare that to the usual cranberry juice cocktails offered in any supermarket with a sugar content of around 33% and you will agree Knudsen's is a better choice.

2)  Red Jacket Orchards Apple Cider. We order online through Fresh Direct.  It's freshly pressed at the orchard; made with select apples and potassium sorbate added for freshness.  The sugar content for the cider is 30 grams (high) but it's a good alternative to apple juice with corn syrup.

Alternating all three has helped us maintain Annie's urinary health.  She's been free of urinary tract infections since June 2011.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Before I get into today's blog, I wanted to give everyone an update for Buddy.  He now has two eyes tearing; still no coughing or sneezing.  I'm continuing to apply a thin ribbon of Erythromycin Ophthalmic Ointment to both eyes as needed.  We'll see what happens tomorrow.  Buddy is still giving out plenty of nose-kisses so I guess it's safe to say this isn't a big issue.  I wonder if the doctor can check him to see if he has a people allergy? (Just joking.)

Buddy still feels a bit light but he weighed in at 6 lbs.  I'm not worried since his weight seems to fluctuate between 6 and 7 lbs.  Food has been his All-consuming passion today - as long as he's eating, there's not much need for concern.

I wanted to use today's post to get information out about another pet food recall.  Some brands of dry dog food have had high levels of aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a mold by-product that occurs in corn.  This is exactly the reason why everyone should consider home cooking for their pet.  Not feeding dry food is the surest way to avoid your four-legged family member becoming ill from tainted commercial food.  Just can't stress this enough!

Please click on the following link to read the article about aflatoxin:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Yesterday, after I finished my post, I noticed Buddy's right eye was tearing.  It would be a big cause of concern if his breathing was noisy or if he were coughing or sneezing - he wasn't doing any of that.  He's had this problem before.  My guess is that I need to clean (it could be from dust) or possibly he's allergic to me like I'm allergic to him.  Who knows.  We will have to monitor him and put ointment Dr. Young prescribed for him in his eye until it clears up.

Buddy also feels a bit light which might be an indicator of some weight loss.  He needs to be weighed.  For those of you who haven't done this, it's really a very simple procedure.  Weigh yourself, pick up the cat and weigh the both of you, do the math and you have the cat's weight.

Mid-2006, we found what we thought was a pimple on Buddy's tail.  We kept checking it but it never went completely away so off we went to Hope Vet.  Doctor Young examined Buddy's tail and decided to biopsy the pimple.  The results came back - it was cancer!  Thankfully, it was a slow-moving cancer.  Surgery was scheduled.  When we reviewed what would happen the day of the surgery and what to expect post-op, we were told that Buddy's tail would be removed.  I freaked out.  Why?  Couldn't a margin be taken and biopsied to make sure all of the cancer was removed?  I just did not want him to lose his beautiful bushy tail.  Sadly, it couldn't be done.  Apparently the cancer was situated in a spot where big enough margins could not be taken so it was better to remove the tail.

Buddy had his surgery and adapted quite well to life without a tail.  No balance issues as we were warned he might have.  A few days' hospital stay post-op then Buddy was ready to come home.  The Veterinary Technicians were charmed by him.  He's a big talker and just talked and talked to whomever cared for him.  They loved it.  I, on the other hand, did not love the fact that he figured out how to use his Elizabethan Collar as a battering ram to get our attention.  If you did not respond to him quickly enough (which was immediately if not sooner in his estimation) Buddy would hit you behind the knee with the plastic collar.  Definitely not fun.

We managed to care for Buddy without incident except for one time when I accidently tapped his stitches with the back of my hand.  Amazingly all he did was meow a very loud complaint.

Once the bandages were off and the stitches removed, Buddy looked like he was separated from his tail in some terribly horrendous accident.  He had a 3 inch, hairless stump.  We took to calling him Stumpy but that changed to Bugs once the bushy hair grew back in.

All in all, Buddy is a four-year cancer survivor, two months into his fifth year.  He's an amazing little guy.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Today is the first regular day of the year for me.  OK, I know that technically it's a holiday for a lot of people since 2012 arrived over the weekend but it's back to normal (whatever that is) in this household.

Buddy's been taken care of and Annie is still sleeping in so I thought it a good time to get some thoughts out there.

In reviewing the previous year, I've learned the following about caring for my babies.  It's not easy and it takes a whole lot of dedication and patience, patience, patience!  Oh, and did I mention that it takes patience?  The bottom line is pets aren't easy to work with, in fact I bet in some ways it's harder than taking care of children.  I'm not an expert on the care of children because the ones I've cared for have all gone home to their parents at the end of the day.

I would say the key to handling pets and their illnesses is to keep to a schedule.  Once Buddy needed IV and various medicines it helped to write it down and check it off as it was done.  Tedious I know but very effective when you have a million things to remember.  Keeping a list puts it in black and white and takes the onus of remembering whether or not you completed the task off your mind.

When I began the home feeding process for Annie it helped immensely to have a list.  Into Word I went to devise a one-page letter-sized spreadsheet containing four grids with the following information:

Time of day,
Day of the week,
Additional items such as health powder, cranberry juice,
and a space under each day for me to check off the item once it was completed.

Then I copied the page to a second spreadsheet and adapted it for Buddy by removing the items that did not pertain to his daily routine, adding his medicines and IV instead.

On days where things get out of hand, this system is invaluable.  I highly suggest doing this as either a temporary measure (until your routine is set) or permanently (to eliminate the pressure of having to remember what you've done).  Anyone out there taking care of a pet should give this a try.  Very simple stuff but a very powerful tool.  It definitely will make life easier.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Happy New Year!

The first day of a new year - obviously it meant nothing to Buddy that his human family was up until some ungodly hour last night.  After all, he got his forty winks and even with sleeping in (for him anyway) he was up at 7 o'clock, standing on my bed and complaining into my face - meow, meow, meoooowwww (feed me, feed me, FEED ME)!  I suppose I should be thankful he wasn't up looking to start his routine at 5:30.

So far today, he had his milk; this really does keep him regular.  We celebrated New Year's Day with a buffet of  NF and puree pumpkin plain then with his capsule of Asodyl added.  Asodyl helps keep the kidneys functioning by preventing a buildup of whatever keeps Buds' kidneys from eliminating waste thus preventing toxin buildup in his blood.

I guess the small buffet was satisfactory because Buddy decided to go back to bed.  So I had a few more hours to laze about, listen to music with both of them by my side.  I'll get even with Buddy as soon as I'm done with my post.  His beauty sleep will be interrupted so I can do his IV and remaining meds.

As I'm posting this, I hear Annie awaking from HER beauty sleep; it seems everyone around here sleeps but me, anyway, Annie decided to forgo the usual morning bid for affection (pushing her head under my hand, against my leg, plopping it in my lap) and headed directly to the backyard to tally up the number of feral cats hanging around.  She's good for awhile, then I'll have to prepare her breakfast.  Sorry to say, Annie will start the new year eating leftovers but I had the foresight to cook a big batch of her favorite Ann Martin meal - Macaroni, Liver and Veggie Dinner.  This is a great mix of elbows, beef liver, vegetables and cottage cheese; Annie just loves it.  Of course, the fact that she never hesitates to eat this particular recipe means mealtime will be executed without my holding my breath for two minutes until she decides to dig in.  Don't misunderstand,  Annie's eating issues have evaporated but I still cannot help holding my breath at mealtimes because she will, on occasion, take a bit of time before she starts eating.  Kind of like she's deciding whether or not the meal meets some sort of canine culinary standard.

The humans in this family will relax this New Year's Day.  I'll prepare our New Year's Day dinner and my brother and I will check out the local programs.  There are several movie and TV show marathons on as well as the Strauss Concert from Vienna PBS always broadcasts.

Tomorrow will be business as usual.  The start of a new week and the start of posts describing how we worked at turning all our feline and canine health/food issues around.

It's a new year so, comments anyone?  Let me know if there are any issues in particular you'd like me to address.  Thanks and again, Happy New Year.