Friday, December 23, 2011

Sooper Hyooge Mega Update

So much to report... Travel, Kitty-Hand-off, and Settling in Update...

On Monday, I picked up Red from the boarding place and brought him to Beatrice's house, where Scoots (now 'Scuse) had been recuperating since his neutering. There was some hissing on 'Scuse's part, presumably because Red smelled like vet and because Red, who he hadn't seen in 2 weeks, was invading his space. (What if he eats all mah gooshy fud??) But there was nothing worse than that.

I left the room to get them some food and when I came back, Red was drooling. I started to panic-- what happened? Was he okay? Had he gotten terribly sick!? But then I discovered, beside him, a now drenched catnip toy that I had made. So, no, not sick, just really really high.

The next morning, a kind friend gave me a ride over Beatrice's house. I put harnesses on the kitties, which had the result of making 'Scuse walk backwards into Red-- who didn't care. I put them into their soft sided carriers, of which they didn't approve, and got a taxi ride to the airport, the boys meowing the entire way.  This didn't bode real well.

At the airport, there was no way to play down the fact that I had two cats. One cat in a soft-sided carrier? No problem- it looks like a duffel bag. Two? And both meowing? That's a lot harder.

Fortunately, I got all checked in with both of my tickets. (Yes, you can only fly with one pet per ticket. The boys' new human bought me a second plane ticket.) Then it was time for security.

Anyone who has flown post-9/11 knows that security has become somewhat difficult. Shoes, jacket, laptop and liquids all must come out of your bag.  I had a bookbag (with laptop) to disassemble before sending through the x-ray machine, and of course two cat carriers to go through the machine, and then 2 cats to walk through the metal detector. I started to ask a (n incredibly UNhelpful) TSA security officer for advice, but when he shot me down, the young woman in front of me offered to help by taking one of the cats through the metal detector. Grateful, I accepted.

I gave her 'Scuse as he is generally pretty accepting of new people. By the time I'd gotten my stuff ready to go through the xray machine and gotten a very scared Red out of his carrier, the kind stranger and 'Scuse had disappeared. Red started to do his best to get away from me, tearing my shirt in the process, as well as yanking it down to bare my (thankfully same-color-as-my-shirt) bra. Thanks, cat!

I stepped through the metal detector-- having been waved away frm the scary cancer-giving machine (which is doubly good because a) I don't think I could have put my arms up while holding Red and b) I always opt for the pat down instead of those things anyway, which would have led to more time for Red being scared and out of his carrier.)

On the other side of the metal detector, the kind stranger stood calmly, with 'Scuse wrapped around her leg, his eyes enormous and staring up at me. He looked like a little bear who had climbed a tree. The kind stranger just smiled and said, "I think your cat is scared."  I was so very torn between laughing hysterically-- it was really the funniest image ever-- and apologizing profusely to this stranger who now had 'Scuse's claws digging into her knee. She was calm and shrugged it all off.  She stuck around long enough for me to get both cats back into their carriers, then disappeared.


I recuperated from the ordeal by getting breakfast. The cats meowed in their carriers. Then at the gate, I spoke with the agents there because my seats weren't together. I was so not going to let one of the cats travel alone!! This led to a very nice chat with the gate agents who switched my seat for me. Unfortunately, no one told the person with whom I was switched, so an attendant on the plane had to ask her to move when I got on.

As I said above, traveling with two cats, particularly meowing ones, is conspicuous. It's triply so when getting on the plane. Because the aisles are narrow, I had to carry both duffle-shaped bags in front of me. This meant one cat was eye level with already-seated passengers. I was asked and therefore had to explain to the first twenty rows or so just what was going on. (And throughout the flight, when the cats got particularly loud, I'd get knowing smiles from nearby passengers.)

The whole trip, it was really interesting to watch people's opinions of me slide across their faces, as they went from thinking I was just someone odd who traveled with her unhappy cats to someone who was taking abused and abandoned animals to a home where they would be safe and loved.

Unfortunately, the whole thing got exponentially more difficult as the plane's engines revved and we began take-off  Taxiing was fine, but as soon as we hit the runway, Red freaked out in the biggest way possible.  He cried and meowed and warbled and scratched and scratched and scratched as his carrier. I put him on my lap, but that didn't help. I put my hand inside the carrier to pet him, but he just tried to escape. He wore several small holes and one large one through the mesh of the carrier, big enough to put his nose or his entire arm/paw through. Once I discovered that, I kept one hand at that hole the whole time, so that I could discourage scratching there. The very last thing I needed was a freaked out Red getting loose on the plane.

One possibility was that the pressurizing of the cabin hurt Red's damaged eye. I don't know when the cabin pressurizes, precisely. Another theory was that when the main engine's came online, the vibration upset him. Either way, he was a mess for pretty much all of the flight. Even when he was relatively still, he was panting hard. Poor baby. and he calmed down as soon as we touched down.

After the flight, a few people wished me and the cats well, which was sweet, and one guy actually struck up a conversation about them as we walked to the concourse.

My parents picked me up,but we still had a long drive to get home. 'Scuse was pretty quiet for most of it, and Red made himself known at weirdly appropriate times in my conversation with my parents.

We got home late and I made them comfortable in my childhood room/bathroom. They ate their gooshy food hungrily and cautiously explored a bit.

Kitty Hand-off
The next morning, I spent a lot of time hanging out with them. I had some fantastic cuddle time with Red as he just purrrrrrred and sprawled across my stomach. 'Scuse isn't entirely pleased when someone other than himself gets attention, but for a good long while, he lay beside me as Red was in my lap, and we just hung out. It was lovely. Less lovely was discovering that in his struggles on the plane the night before, Red had torn out one of his claws.  Poor baby!! As long as it doesn't get infected, it should be okay. It was obviously bothering him a little-- he kept licking it-- but it wasn't making him limp or anything, so that's a good sign.

Then, equally lovely, their new human, Tam, arrived after a 3+ hour car ride. She came up to meet the boys and they were quite friendly. Red was on my bed and was happy to accept love and pets. 'Scuse came out from under the bed fairly quickly and put himself in my lap. He accepted being put into Tam's lap for a bit, then went back to me.

The cats were a lot less sanguine when we brought carriers into the room-- they hid under the bed and even after leaving them alone for a while, we still had to pull them out when it was time to go. Immediately the crying began again from both boys and it accompanied Tam on her 3+ hour drive back home.

Settling in/Updates
Tam has set one room of her house aside for these two boys, in order to keep them apart from her other cats as they get healthy and comfortable. It is a kitty-cat paradise in there-- with shelves for climbing and perches, covered spots for hiding, and so many pillows.  They're also getting all the gooshy food they could want. The boys are on their way to being the spoiled kitties that they should be.

'Scuse is showing some brattiness, as he was doing at my house, too, in that he wants ALL THE ATTENTION. But he's lovable and sweet, so it's awfully hard to be mad at him. Red is backing down rather easily, so Tam suspects he's feeling insecure about his blind-side.

They went to the vet on Thursday, for a proper check up. (Everything that had been done in AZ was triage-- get the eye problem under control/neuter/test/vaccinate.  This was a real exam.) Other than known problems (ie Red's eye) and normal outdoor-cat problems (ie: worms), they got a clean bill of health!! HUZZAH! 'Scuse needs to gain about a pound-- he's just a small cat, evidently. 'Scuse also needs to be shaved, tee hee.  Turns out the mats he has are pretty much his undercoat being dirty, and it's not really fixable without shaving. (Grooming wasn't very helpful.) This will wait until it's warmer, however. (And then I SO want to see pictures of naked 'Scuse...)

Because of an opening in the vet's surgical schedule, Red's surgery is going to be on Tuesday. He will be neutered at the same time as his eye is removed, to save on multiple anesthesias  (as it's never entirely without risk, as you know.) Please keep him in your thoughts for this.

Thanks to the INCREDIBLE generosity of readers of this blog, I was able to send $400 to Tam yesterday. And if Bea's accounting is correct, another $300 will be on its way. (And that's *after* paying for the emergency vet and the ophthalmologist visits). If you wish to help this poor little kitty, you can still donate (and if you would prefer to send money directly to Tam via paypal, get in touch with me and I'll tell you how.)

Thank you thank you thank you thank you. These kitties are safe and sound, snug and warm. And it wouldn't have happened without your help.

(All pictures in this post are thanks to Tam!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Long Awaited Update

My sincere apologies-- there have been two reasons for the lack of updates. First, I was sick and the thought of doing anything other than sleeping was not one I could stomach. (Although as you'll see in a moment I did, actually, do more than sleep because I did take care of the fuzzies.)  Second, things kept changing on me, so I wasn't sure *what* to post, precisely. But let's see what we can see...

First, on Wednesday Scoots went to the low cost spay and neuter clinic. He didn't love being in the cat carrier, but he was okay with it. And while we were in the waiting room, I stuck my hand in the carrier to pet him, and he sprawled out just like he would if he'd been in my lap without the carrier and started purring. And this was with a very nervous, shaking pekinese sitting beside us. Scoots did just fine-- he woke up without trouble, he was eating and investigating by evening time. Equally important, he was tested for FIV and feline leukemia, and, like Red, was negative.  YAY! And he has also now been vaccinated. He has been recovering under the care of Bea's Mom's neighbor, indoors to keep his surgical site clean (and because indoors is where kitty cats belong, particularly when there's some kind of beastie out there attacking cats, as evidenced by Red and, previously, Sir Percy.)

On Friday, I took Red for his follow-up check-up with the ophthalmologist. As you can see in the picture (taken in the waiting room), his face has healed up but his eye is certainly still problematic.

There's good news and bad news. The good news is that he's not in any immediate danger, nor is he in any pain. The ophthalmologist said that the eye probably irritates him a little, but doesn't pain him.

The bad news, however, is that he does need surgery to have the eye removed.  Poor little pirate kitty. The eye is totally blind, so it's not like keeping it would benefit Red in any way. More importantly, and I know I'll screw some of this explanation up but I'll do the best I can here, because there is still blood on both sides of his lens, he's at an extremely high risk to develop a sarcoma. Worse, once that happens, it almost immediately metastasizes and kills the cat. As to when that might happen... well, could be months, more likely years, but it's likely to happen. Likewise, she suggested that the eye will develop glaucoma as well.  So, it needs to come out. He'll always need to be an indoor kitty, because his lack of depth perception means he'd have difficulty getting away from predators, although in general he'll learn to compensate in jumping up on couches and such.

Also, he can get the eye surgery at the same time as getting neutered, which is good, since anesthesia is never totally without risks. 

Red didn't much care for the carrier, either. We had a conversation all the way from the boarding place to the ophthalmologist's, Meow, Meow, MEOW, meow. Once in the waiting room, I let him out of the carrier and into my lap-- where he promptly plunked down, ignored the dogs around us, and started purring. In the exam room, too, he just sat in my lap (there was a bench to sit on) as we waited for the doctor to arrive. He even seemed to enjoy the exam (except for the eye drops). They wrapped him in a towel- and he really seems to love being swaddled. The tech held him and the vet started looking at his eye and then said, "Is he purring?" and yup, he was.

As for the big question you're probably wondering... what now? Do the kitties have a home to go to?

The deadline for finding a home for them was pretty much *now*, as I am leaving AZ (to visit family) on Tuesday. My friend Tam, who has commented on this blog, who first taught me about TNR and rescue, and who has been my guide through so much of Project-Cat, agreed to be a safety net. That is, if no one could take these cats, she would figure out a way to do so. Despite all the internet pleas I could manage, and several false hopes, I did not find a home for them elsewhere. So on Tuesday, two cats, with three working eyes between them, and I (whose eyes mostly work, heh), will fly across the country. And here I thought there'd be no way to go more complicated than getting Sir Percy to his forever home in Germany. Staying domestic this time, but adding a second cat... yup. Sounds about right for my life.

Anyway, the timing isn't ideal for Tam, but I know 110% that these kitties will have the bestest life ever thanks to her. She's already helped them (and me) immensely and I'm so grateful for her generosity. And I'm sure I'll get updates from her. :)

Thank you to all of you who donated (and donations are still very much accepted for Red's eye surgery-- I'll send them to Tam. It will, after all, be a $1000 surgery, plus the cost of neutering; that's on top of the cost of the boarding he's already done and travel costs and such. At some point in January, I'll be putting things for sale on Etsy again, with the proceeds going to Red's surgery as well.) Thank you to everyone who spoke to people about these kitties and who reposted their plight. Thank you all. I couldn't do any of this without you.