Tag Archives: Pets

Smoke: The sequel

Smoke is no exception to the rule that the sequel is always worse. Probably because of the wind direction, the smoke from a new batch of forest fires surrounds us. The smell is the worst yet. The basalt hills are not yet completely screened out, but this time we are surrounded on all sides. It’s thick. Effie of course wants to be out in Effieland. I picked some catnip sprigs for her to eat indoors. She was momentarily compensated but now wishes to be let out again.

It’s going to be kind of a day here. . . .

Effie looks longingly through the window at her beloved Effieland  and I try to combine consolation with my chores. She caught and ate a tiny bug, which brought her transitory happiness.



Filed under Action & Being, Cats, Effie, Effieland, Health, Home Life, Nature, News, Photos, Rural life, Seasons, Weather

Effie desponds over Effieland precautions

Effie’s veterinarian recommended pets should be kept indoors until the smoke from the forest fires departs. Effie yowled in protest, and my husband was quite sure the smoke hadn’t killed or sickened us, and Effie was likely more resilient.

I’ve been letting her out for a half-hour to an hour at a time, and she seems perfectly well. She becomes understandably grumpy when I bring her in, unless she wants to come in.

I limit her time outdoors only because of our vet’s advisory. It’s difficult, because Effie yowls incessantly if she can’t be outdoors when she wants to be in her wonderful garden place, Effieland.

She came in a little while ago–actually I entered Effieland and carried her into the house. She ate some of her food and retreated to her window perch, looking somewhere between not amused and somewhat despondent.

“The smoke cannot retreat soon enough. . . .”


Filed under Animals, Animals, Nature, Gardens, Cats, Effie, Effieland, Home Life, Photos

Effie & Halvor: It’s more about jurisdiction than thwarted romance

P1020038 This is Effieland–does this look like Halvorland to you?


Filed under Action & Being, Animals, Nature, Gardens, Cats, Effie, Photos

It’s 102° in Effieland. . .and Effie is not happy about it

P1010978Let’s wait till sunset, Effie. . .it feels like Tripoli out here!

P1010979But I wanna go out NOW!!!!

Hang in their, Effie, just seven hours to go. . .




Filed under Action & Being, Animals, Nature, Gardens, Cats, Effie, Photos, Seasons, Weather

One for the dogs


                 The dogs’ disappointment

The dogs on my street bark all day and at night;

Each day brings a repeat; it’s really a blight.


One deputy who came thought he heard a safari;

He drove by the nuisance, wondering, ‘where are we?’


Each dog once had  hoped to have found love unending;

Now all are unwashed, bored, and sad beyond mending.

–Lauren S Bottomly



Filed under Action & Being, Animals, Reflections

Meet Euphemia, called Effie



I thought I would never get over Coolidge, but God’s mercy toward me is far richer than what I could muster toward myself.

Coolidge passed from scant life to death yesterday at 3:45 a.m. As the day, and I with it, wore dully on, I realized that I could not imagine spending the night in our house without a cat. I never had. It simply could not happen.

I went to the websites of a pet rescue organization and the Humane Society. Each had one stand-out cat. The pet rescue group required an interview and home visits, which my husband and I agreed were out of line. A further complication was the fostering hostess’s apparent reluctance to release the cat in her keeping to a series of aspiring adopters.

The potential new light of my life was hosted for the Humane Society at Petco. We went to check her out after dinner. Two wonderful ladies removed the small, sweet 14-month-old dilute tortoise shell kitty from her enclosure to my arms. She was nervous and shy, as Coolidge had been. It was a lock. And it was no hassle. We were treated as competent cat people, instead of as war criminals with animal-torture records as long as Cruella Devill’s nails.

She’s ours. I renamed her Euphemia, meaning “choice words” and “good repute,” for a character in Walter Scott’s The Heart of Midlothian. She purred her first night with us, and restored a sense of sustainability to life.


Filed under Animals

Whoa! Coolidge is eating!

There aren’t a lot of things more horrible than watching a beloved companion starve.

Coolidge pretty much quit eating two days ago. I began giving him sugar water from a syringe. He took it well, but it didn’t get him back to eating his food. This morning I diluted some of his special renal diet soft food with some water and tried to get it into a syringe. The uptake hole was too small to draw much, but what he got in his mouth he took with the same relish as the sugar water.

I dumped the remaining tinned food, along with a fair amount of water, into my Kitchen Aid’s bowl, and used the whipping attachment to make a thin slurry the syringe could draw. I fed Coolidge the slurry and he downed what didn’t dribble down his chin with increasing gusto. Oh God, my cat was never inappetent! He just didn’t have the strength to stand over his bowl and eat!

It’s not an easy maneuver to syringe feed a cat while sitting in a chair, and it’s hard on my back, sitting on the floor with Coolidge in my lap while I draw his life-sustaining food into the syringe and slowly express the slurry into his mouth. His acceptance is my magnificent reward. We knew it was going to be tough terrain along this journey—which was, after all, assigned to us.

Our vet called to check on how Coolidge is doing. We are blessed to have a vet who is so thorough, comprehensive, earnestly interested in Coolidge, and encouraging to work with. I presented some concerns about Coolidge’s ability to stand and walk capably, his receding desire to eat a sustaining amount, and urinary and bowel retentiveness. Our vet thinks these likely indicate a Vitamin-B deficiency. My syringe-habituated hands will give Coolidge a new weekly injection.

Some might consider these things heroic end-of-life measures, but I have come to see that you cannot be your cat’s hero, unless your cat is a hero.


Filed under Action & Being, Animals

Fallout: Rigor Exacts Rigor

End of life care for a companion animal is always rigorous. Everything is hard right now. Taking care of my 17-year old, very ill cat, knowing he will never improve until the final resurrection, is hard.

I’m not heroic. I have multiple energy-diminishing conditions. I need nine hours of sleep at night, and I’m getting up with Coolidge, sometimes for one to three hours, often twice in a night, because I can’t bear to leave him alone. Or he dropped a bit of food in his water and declared it disgusting, and bellows his need for fresh water, several times a night. But those were the good nights: those were the nights he was still eating.

Now Inappetence wields its sword, advancing on my cat’s life. I confront the foe, unarmed except for some sugar-water solution. “Be gone, fiend!” I spritz some sugar water on my cat’s soft food. He is not impressed. He lies on his towel next to his living-room water bowl, guarding it with his arms. Coolidge, like galactic hitchhiker Arthur Dent, is very proprietorial about his towel. He has never had one before.

Things that go bump by day and by night are lack of sleep, grief over the inevitable coming end, not far off, of a longtime companion under my limited protection; frustration with my own limits, and fielding blind good will in the form of cheery optimism, sent by dear people afflicted with the cheery optimism gene. I wish there were a mutagen readily available, but the only known remedy is disciplined grace—on my part, not theirs. Why should they not hope for the best? The clinical realities are my problem. Theirs is to be a friend to me, and that is certainly more than enough of a load.

I proceed through my normal homekeeping routine, but now I stretch it out so that it takes longer. I take a lot of timeouts to tend to Coolidge’s details: clean-up, cajoling to eat, more clean-up, administering medications, more clean-up, consulting with my husband, our vet, etc. With proper pacing, I can work in an adequate spin on my stationary bike, write something, shoot some photos, and do anything else to avoid reading. Reading is exhausting and frustrating right now; the mental gauze of fatigue deploys its allies, depression and anxiety, making it too hard to track anything worth reading.

Only God’s merciful grace has enabled me to accept these days with my sense of purpose intact and the ability to press on; and it will be by God’s abiding grace alone that I will be appointed the strength to continue for the unknown number of days ahead.


Filed under Action & Being, Animals

Unwished-for inevitabilities


I don’t like it, I don’t want to concede to its reality. But there it is, the rough beast slouching, crouching, armored with the manifest covenant threat.

My precious cat’s survival has been pulled out of so many hats, and now symptoms of mortality leech through some imaginary vanguard.

He’s had lungworm, a broken hock, diabetes, hepatic lipidosis, hyperthyroid–and our tough cat brawls his way to his 17th miraculous year. He’s tired. He isn’t hungry. He throws up clear liquid and white foam. I hand feed him half a bag of treats. Blast the torpedoes; I can chase his glucose with insulin, at least to a point. There’s no way to chase starvation except with something he’ll eat.

When Coolidge was eight, he nearly martyred himself when we had to convert him from high-carb kibbles to wet food. That’s how he got hepatic lipidosis, and its resolution was a feeding tube. Six belly snacks a day, ground in a food processor and hand syringed into the tube. Coolidge yanked his tube out so many times, and my husband, a former farmer/rancher, stitched it back in each time so we could quit going to the veterinary ER.


Now he wants his kibbles back, and he’s right to. He’s been losing three to four ounces a week. The dry, higher-carb food that once conspired to join forces with probably genetic factors and precipitate his diabetes, should now help him regain some safety-margin weight. And the tasty food should also help our pessimistic vet reverse her countdown mentality, and recall that our cat is a fighter. Her life-expectancy algorithm can jolly apply elsewhere.

I’m really not given over to magical thinking. I know the hairs, scales, skin cells, or whatever covers the heads of the creatures of God’s wondrous creation, are numbered, as are our days. But I don’t know how much knowing this reduces the other inevitability of life: grief.


Filed under Action & Being

Significant trivia

Coolidge once again astounds us with his patience with us. He knows we are dumb and slow, though bigger than he is, but this time it had to really have amused him as we went progressively nuts over, “Why can’t the Cat pee in his box anymore? Why does the Cat overshoot?”

He had to be amused with our conjectures: feline Alzheimer’s; an effect of a bygone urinary tract infection; spite over our doing or not doing something we should not or should have done. . .we decided finally to leave off looking to a cause and just treat the problem. So we arrived at Petco minutes before closing and purchased a pack of Potty Pads. We figured the Cat can’t help what he does, and what we can do is make what he does easier to clean up.

For the blissfully uninitiated, Potty Pads go under the litter box (or puppy papers) and extend sufficiently beyond the box to catch and absorb any off-trajectory liquid. Having Potty Pads in one’s master bathroom should not at all compromise one’s clean-freak reputation. They serve the purpose of simplifying clean-up, and probably also of psychiatric prophylaxis. What they do is help with the outcome of a problem, but they can’t reach its root cause.

We still need human minds to identify causes of problems, and my husband’s and mine, suddenly and almost simultaneously, but I think he was first, realized the reason for Coolidge’s problem. It was one of those convergent um-duh moments of American history-changing thought: “It’s the Cat’s arthritis, Stupid!” But of course.

I gave Coolidge a dose of Metacam, a veterinary formula for arthritis. The next time he went to his box, he was able to bend lower. He was right on trajectory.

Metacam raises Coolidge’s glucose terribly, way beyond his typical diabetic range. Insulin can’t chase it; we just have to wait till it settles out. Human minds make solutions that generate collateral problems. They’re small, dumb, and limited in the face of the ultimate, unfathomable Mind that created every nuance of everything that is, for reasons we can know very little, if anything, about.

We do our best each day for Coolidge, but it won’t keep him with us forever. His times, like mine, are in God’s hand. I don’t feel at all ready to face my cat’s final day; but nor do I know that he won’t outlive me. At times I think the advantage is his, because he doesn’t think about these things.

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