Tag Archives: Cat health

Cat calming collars–do they work?





We bought Effie’s first calming collar when she was in heat due to ovarian remnant syndrome.  She was yowling like a banshee. The collar honestly did not help at all in her–and our–time of need. Trust me, it was a rugged time.

Effie had surgery to remove excess ovarian tissue left behind when she was spayed. She had been spayed just before we adopted her, at 13 months of age. Unfortunately, shelter vets sometimes have too many animals on their dockets and may rush things.

After her ovarian remnant surgery, Effie was much better, but she continued to have yowly bouts. We bought her a fresh calming collar and it helped. Now we keep one on her and a new one ready in the drawer. She sleeps through the night; sleep formerly was not a priority in Effie’s night life.

The calming collar is infused with lavender, chamomile, and mama cat pheromones. Somehow the pheromones work with the fragrant essences, and Effie is a much calmer cat. The collars are supposed to last 30 days, but they are effective for Effie for only 2-3 weeks. We buy the collars at Walmart, where they cost considerably less than at Petco.

I don’t intend to actively recommend the calming collar because I know it may or may not work for other cats; I can only share our experience. Effie will still yowl at times, but she sleeps more at night and sometimes will even accept “No” for an answer, as in, “No, you can’t be outdoors now because we are going to bed and you are not an out-at-night kitty,” etc.

Effie seems proud of her collar. She has never attempted to remove it. She always readily accepted her walking collar with its halter and a lead to walk with me outdoors–though now we seldom use it, because she romps at liberty in the safety of her beloved Effieland.



Filed under Action & Being, Cats, Effie, Photos

Hang in there, Effie–Friday’s coming!



All but two stitches are dry and gone; the two remaining are dry and nearly dissolved. The Effielander will return to her realm and its choice hunting grounds on schedule.

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3-day countdown–and Effie is ready to resume her dominion

Effie has just three more days, counting today, of indoor-only recovery. The seven days behind us have been mercifully tranquil. The few mini-tantrums, aka yowling jags, have been brief, coming nowhere near the intensity and duration of her time in heat. The cause of her suffering–and ours–still grates on me. No cat should have to be subjected to surgery twice to be effectively spayed! But it happens.

Her sutures are fading, and she keeps them immaculately clean. She looks out the window overlooking Effieland and mews to go out, but I’m usually able to distract her with petting and toys. I know Halvor misses her. He comes for lunch three times a day, plus breakfast and dinner.

She watches birds through the windows and clicks her teeth. She’ll be back, she warns them. She’s never taken one down. The ones small enough to enter Effieland through the overhead bird netting stay off the ground and out of her reach. This does not thwart her determined hunting aspirations. Effie is a world-class huntress of bugs.

Effie’s regency in Effieland will resume early Friday morning. Our autumn has been sunny and mild, with plenty of bugs.

Here is our sanguine princess at rest and at play on the bed.






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Seven more days. . .


Cats like Cats.

Effie’s surgical follow-up orders require her to remain indoors for 10 days. Outdoors, she would roll in her precious garden dirt, and it is imperative to keep her sutures from infection. She has regained her pluck and recalled that yowling normally opens the door and frees her to enjoy her oversight of Effieland.  It is heartrending for me to see her so frustrated, but keeping her incision clean is a higher priority right now even than her love of fresh air, munching grasses, and bug safaris. She has no way, of course, to grasp this reasoning–she’s a random abstract and we who are charged with her successful recovery are concrete sequential types.

She is finding things to see and do around the house, and I’ve been able so far to distract her somewhat from her thwarted longings and her wailing. Just seven more days, Effie, Princess of Wails. . .



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Effie, as she recovers

p1020243Effie likes being on top of things. . .

p1020244She expects her self-determination to establish what she may and may not do. . .

p1020245And life goes contentedly on.


Effie sat by the window, then by the door, miffed that hints that she wanted to go outside were ignored. It was hard on me, too; but Effieland has dirt in which she delights to roll, and dirt severely compromises healing of surgical incisions. Nine more days, Luvmuffin. . .

Her yowling behavior has subsided almost completely. She slept on our bed last night.

This morning, after her requests to go out were ignored, quick and agile as ever, she leaped onto the counter and then to the cabinet above it before we could stop her. Our aftercare orders included no jumping or running.  I checked her incision when she came down from her nap more than two hours later: thankfully, all is intact. I believe Effie apprehends her limits better than most people.


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Welcome home, Effie!

Really, she took it all so much better than I expected. Her only plaintive mews were on the way home in the car, and then just a few. Once we were home, she sat on a window sill looking out at Effieland without a peep, instead of issuing the yowling demands I expected to persist a few days.

She ate some food, she used her box. Her urinary volume is back to normal. She had been frequent with small volume; now, with her volume back to normal, she should be less frequent. She has been very sweet, undemanding, and, understandably, is now napping. Our only follow-up instructions are giving her pain medication by oral syringe each evening as needed, and the hard part, keeping her indoors for 10 days.

Our vet told me last night after operating that he had rounded up a considerable amount of residual ovarian tissue. It’s terrible that shelter vets are so overworked that they leave cats with this problem and turn them over for adoption as spayed. Cats with ovarian remnant syndrome are not at risk of pregnancy, but being in heat certainly is bad enough. I have no doubt it could be a factor in some failed adoptions.

I am just so happy to have Effie home, relaxed, and so far, uncomplaining, even about being unable to nap under her grapevine in Effieland.




Filed under Cats, Effie

Effie is having surgery today



Effie has been yowling loudly day and night for the past week. At first I thought her indoor yowls expressed her desire to be out; but soon she was just as yowly outdoors in Effieland. I felt terrible, not just because noise affects me so acutely, but because I thought I must somehow have caused her distress, although I had no idea how. She was rolling over a lot, and last night she began an awkward backwards stepping habit. She was urinating more frequently, and my husband checked her bum and expressed some clear vulval discharge. I suspected a UTI, but despite her frequency, the results have been consistently  low-volume. All things notwithstanding, Effie’s physical and behavioral changes framed an all-encompassing question: “What in the world is going on?

We tried a pheromone collar–no help at all.

My husband researched her symptoms; I was too exhausted. Lack of sleep caused by Effie’s yowling has taken its toll. Within a few minutes of initiating his symptom search, up came the answer.

Effie has ovarian remnant syndrome. Effie was spayed just before we adopted her, when she was 13 months old. Effie is now just over two years old. . . and Effie is in heat.

Please permit yourself one “WHAT?!

The overlay of Effie’s symptoms compared with the classic symptoms of the condition is 100%.

Effie was taken to the Animal Shelter by her original owner. She was spayed by the Shelter vet at that time. We adopted her the following day. Shelter vets do a lot of spaying, and my vet says this inevitably causes lurking viable ovarian tissue to sometimes be missed. The bottom line is, the cat can go into heat. This is not a good thing for the cat or her baffled people who love her.

Our vet will scope out residual ovarian tissue and remove it. He’s private-practice and he will take the necessary time to remove all remaining ovarian tissue he can discover; however, he cannot promise that he will discover every ovarian cell present.

It is possible for the remnant scenario to recur. Another remnant and heat episode would likely mean another surgical episode.

Effie is not at risk of exposure to any non-neutered  male cat. The problem the ovarian remnant condition presents is the toll her estrus behavior takes on herself and on us.


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An I-Hate-Worms kind of morning

The veterinary follow-up schedule that came with Effie’s adoption documents included a follow-up de-worming, due this week. A fecal test was necessary to determine the presence of worms, but, even though Effie had come to us through the Humane Society, and even though worms are, I learned, nearly ubiquitous where we live, I was optimistic that Effie would test negative for worms. I preferred to have the fecal test run, rather than treat her for worms as a default measure. I dropped off her sample at our vet’s office, and went home to await the tech’s all-clear call.

But there was no all-clear call. The tech called back in just over half an hour. “Effie has a tapeworm.” I froze into a manic stupidity, a fog with dancing lights. “A tapeworm? Those are, like, huge and terrible right? But her energy is high, her appetite is good, and her stools are firm and normal looking. How could she have a tapeworm?”

The tech explained that fleas can be tapeworm vectors. “But Effie doesn’t have fleas. I’ve never seen one on her.” I appreciate a pragmatic tech. However the worm got into my precious cat’s gut, it’s there. It can be treated with a pill or a transdermal medication applied to the back of her neck. I could pick up the weapon of choice, or the tech could administer it for me. No charge for showing me how it’s done, and I could give Effie next month’s dose. That should be it.

I opted for the transdermal. I had to give Coolidge pills toward the end of his life, and even with the supposedly gentle pill delivery device, he gagged so horribly that I’m just not ready to pill a cat again, probably ever.

I thought I would just pick up the medication and bring it home and wait for my husband to come home and help me. Effie completely hates riding in the car. The options traversed my fogged thought process, and I packed Effie up for the car. I needed someone else to do this, and to do it now. I can’t have a tapeworm in the house, secreted in my precious cat’s organs, for the entire day. Bother how long it’s been there. It needs to be put on notice. Now.

I called the wonderfully understanding tech back and asked if she would be available in the 15 minutes it would take us to get there, to treat Effie so I could see how it was done. Absolutely.

We were taken into an exam room on arriving, and I saw how simple the transdermal administration was. We were soon home again. Effie headed for her food. Then Effie did two strange things. First, she ran back to where I was sitting, looking at me strangely and wide-eyed. Then, she began foaming at the mouth. Oh God, no, please no. Not a seizure. There isn’t time and I don’t know what to do!

But I had time to call the tech. Effie did not seize. The foaming subsided. My terror took a bit longer.

The tech told me the foaming was not unusual. Effie probably licked some of the gunky stuff on her back. It’s ingested and effective, one way or the other. It tastes terrible enough to induce a foaming reaction. The pill would have been just as bad. (Good! At least I didn’t give her a pill that would probably keep her from ever trusting me again!)

Here she is, sleeping off her exciting morning. And mine.

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Coolidge currently

Through Coolidge we have met some of the Valley’s best and brightest—veterinarians, of course: four, so far. I have been grateful for the earnest interest in Coolidge and the resourcefulness all of them have shown. Some work Saturdays, and all rotate to cover emergencies. We’ve always been impressed with whoever’s on.

Coolidge presents the challenges of advanced years and multiple chronic conditions. He was recently prescribed a course of antibiotics for a UTI, and a new infection set in, immediately behind the one we thought resolved. It wasn’t the wrong drug. It’s nine years of diabetes, confounded with hyperthyroid, and more recently the slamming blow of chronic renal failure. The multi-lateral crash has opened Coolidge’s system to new, opportunistic UTIs with worse bleeding than the one preceding. Immune compromise is a near-inevitable sequel of JTM—Just Too Much.

Gordon Lightfoot has a song, “Christian Island,” I think, that includes “She’s a good old boat, and she’ll stay afloat through the toughest gale and keep sailing. . . .”

That’s the way Coolidge is, and has always been. And we purpose to see him through.


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Another day, another diagnosis for Coolidge. . .and an example of when to change vets

I was prepared for it; I have long suspected it. Getting it confirmed required a change in veterinarians—not an easy decision in the late stage of the life of my companion cat of 17 years. Nine years of diabetes, two of hyperthyroid—a destructive enough alliance; confound these further with a UTI and antibiotics—we’re talking systemic overload. Coolidge had no appetite, and his potassium levels were cosmic.

I knew we needed a vet who thought more comprehensively and was more motivated by compound challenges than our vet of five years, which is the time we’ve lived here. The decision to change was hard. (What would the new vet think of our leaving our former vet at a critical time?)

But I already knew where we’d go. We met him three years ago. Providentially, he was the on-call emergency vet the day Coolidge had a clearly painful limp in the foot he had broken years earlier. My husband and I were impressed with the real interest this vet took in Coolidge, the extent of his knowledge, his investigation of the problem at hand, and his clear and affable communication with us.

I called yesterday morning and secured an appointment an hour out. The staff was cheerful and accommodating. I was permitted to remain in the exam room even while the doctor (not a technician!) drew blood—never a simple matter with Coolidge—and for everything else.

The doctor ran the blood sample and obtained the results then and there. I called my husband and asked if he could meet me at the clinic. He rescheduled a client and came over.

The crushing news of advanced kidney failure was mitigated by the doctor’s presentation of strategies for home care. Were we willing to give Coolidge subcutaneous hydration? Yes! The doctor showed us how. My genius husband can do this; it’s in his rancher DNA, even if he is a lawyer now.

Chronic renal failure (CRF) is the worst nightmare a diabetic cat’s person can confront. But we have been given a capable and caring new ally, motivation to meet the challenges before us, and the blessed prospect of a longer and higher-quality life for Coolidge.


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