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Posts tagged ‘cats’

Coming this Summer: Attack of the Atomic Cat Turds!

Well, hello there. It’s been awhile, huh?

The past few months I’ve been doing all kinds of serious stuff like: attending conferences and trainings, creating and teaching a new compassion fatigue class for UFL, and going to grad school.

But that’s not what I want to tell you about. After all these months of total silence on the blog, I’m back to tell you about:

Cat turds.

C’mon, you know you love it.

So, here’s the story. Our cat Penelope (pronounced Peena-loupe, like cantaloupe) was diagnosed with hyperthyroid disease this year. Normally, I’m bummed when our pets whip up new and expensive diseases for us to treat, but it was actually a huge relief to find out that Penelope was sick.

For months prior to her diagnosis Penelope had turned up the My-Cat-Is-A-Dick dial to eleven. For those of you who don’t use Spinal Tap as a reference guide to life, eleven is as high as it goes.

Always a trouble maker, Penelope had upped her game to the max. Her move: sprinting around the house at top speed and launching herself at all of us. And by all of us I mean the other cats, the dogs, friends and family, houseplants, the walls, the windows, the furniture, and all the spaces in between.

She attacked our furniture with so much passion (and by passion I mean a certain, er, how do you say, psychotic, single-minded obsession with demon-spawn-like focus) that it not only destroyed a chair, but it nearly drove our dog Boogie out of his sensitive mind.

Here’s the thing: I am not happy when Penelope scratches the furniture. Boogie is not happy when I am not happy. Therefore, when Penelope creeps up next to a chair and just starts thinking about scratching it, Boogie starts whining.

And if she scratches, he runs over and gives her a nose-butt. Boogie does not enjoy this. He’s not cut out to be a Sheriff. Or any other form of full time law enforcement. Maybe a constable on a small island with a population of 19 in the winter. Maaayyybe.

Penelope attacking the furniture all day, as if her very existence depended on it, was driving Boogie bananas. Which meant it was driving me bananas. I couldn’t get any work done between the cat scratching and the dog whining and the constant reading of Miranda rights.

So when I found out that Penelope had hyperthyroid and that being a professional asshole is actually a symptom of this disease, I was relieved. It meant the Penelope I’d known and loved for the past 12 years might still be in there somewhere.

The only problem was that I couldn’t get her to take her new medication. Not in pill pockets. Not in wet food. Not as a compounded chicken flavored chewable treat. Not as a compounded chicken flavor liquid poured over and mixed into organic cat food with prayers from me to Judy Garland who, for no good reason, I imagine to be the Patron Saint of Crazy Cat Ladies, that Penelope would just eat it because omg, I have so much work to do and I can’t spend another minute of my life doing the Methimazole Shuffle to get my cat to take her meds.

This happened twice a day.

judy cat

FYI: Judy starred in “Gay Purr-ee”, an animated movie about cats, which you can see here.


After collapsing from feline-induced-stress and near bankruptcy from starting a world-class collection of unswallowed Methimazole, we decided to take out a 2nd mortgage on our house and spring for Radioactive Iodine treatment. Basically it’s an expensive injection (over $1k) of iodine that emits radiation to destroy overactive tumor cells and cures cats of hyperthyroid. Medication only treats it, this ends it.

And by Garland, I needed this to end.

But here’s the best part. After she got the injection, Penelope was radioactive.

After getting the injection, it’s illegal to take your cat home until their levels of radioactivity drop below a certain level. This can take a week or two. So Penelope spent 10 days with the best vet tech in Maine (Hi Kathi!) and we all spent 10 days at home enjoying peace in the living room for the first time in 2015. I mean, er, we missed her a lot and were so, so, so sad she was away.

Finally I got the call that Penelope was only a little radioactive and legally I was now allowed to take her home.

But you can’t just take a radioactive cat home. There are RULES and PROTOCOLS.

1. Do not allow your radioactive cat to sleep in your bed.

2. Wash your hands after you pet your radioactive cat.

3. Try not to fall asleep on the couch with your radioactive cat lying on your chest because you’re not supposed to touch them for more than 20 minutes at a time and that nap was definitely an hour and you might grow a third boob where your radioactive cat was lying.

4. Do not throw out your radioactive cat’s RADIOACTIVE POOP.

atomic attack


For two weeks, you will be required to scoop your radioactive cat’s turds twice a day into a double bag, while wearing rubber gloves and holding your breath. You should also avert your eyes, just in case one of the nuclear turds tries to make eye contact with you.

The poop must not be stored in your home. Instead, you take the atomic cat turds and dispose of them in a plastic tote, such as a Rubbermaid container, with a locking lid that is lined with a heavy duty garbage bag.

Note: “This tote should be stored outside and away from small children, other pets, and wild animals.”

I don’t know where that magical no-living-things, not even small wild children, might be on your property, but we settled for a random spot on our patio in our back yard.

After this two week poop quarantine is over (which you know because now you are the kind of person who has “Poop Quarantine Ends Today” in your Day Planner), then you add the litter boxes and scoop to the Toxic Tote of Doom. Finally, seal this poop package in three hundred yards of duct tape.

And then you wait. For 80 days.

Legally, you cannot dispose of the Atomic Cat Turds for 80 more days. Because they’re emitting radioactive poop particles.

So you’ll drag yourself back to your Day Planner, the one that you had hoped to one day write things in like: “10 hour massage today” and “8pm – meet Tina, Mindy, and the Amys for margarita night”, and instead you flip to the end of September and mark:

“Throw Out Turds Today.”

Because that’s your life.

Note: all of this is because you have a private septic system. If you’re lucky enough to live with a public sewer system, there’s still some atomic turd gymnastics you’ll have to do, but it’s not nearly as intense. Amateur stuff really. 

And if you’re like me, then you kinda love all of it, because despite having a nuclear kitty, a schedule that revolves around crap, and an empty bank account, after a few weeks you’ll get your old cat back.

Today, Penelope has returned her former self, the one that I love. The one that does not give my pit bull acid reflux or destroy furniture in a single swipe. She still makes direct eye contact with me – to make sure I’m watching – then knocks framed photos right of the wall. But that just means she’s healthy. Praise Judy.




Life With Cats: How I Saved My Furniture from Total Destruction

Two and half years ago my husband and I bought our first house. Over those last couple of years we’ve slowly been replacing our hand-me-down furniture with new stuff. As if we’re real grown ups or something.

At a rate of one purchase a year, we’ve brought home a brand spanking new tiny sectional couch and a pretty Mission-style chair. Next week, our last big purchase for a while, a sleeper sofa chair, arrives. Why am I telling you this? Because having new furniture kind of sucks when you have 5 pets, three of which are cats.

Our cats are like fresh upholstery seeking puke missiles. If there is a tiny sliver of couch that is not covered by a quilt, their radar starts whooping and off they run, heaving as they go, to make their deposit right on that spot. We have wood floors and I would pay them to puke there, but nooooooo...the cats assure me that they’d be kicked out of their feline terrorist cell if they made it that easy for me to clean up. That’s why they puked down the side of a wicker basket the other morning. Wicker. Woven. So awful.

Before you email me to tell me that my cats shouldn’t be puking this much – I know. Turns out that one of our cats, Penelope (pronounced Peenaloupe), the vomit ring leader, has Hyperthyroidism and throwing up is a symptom. This medical condition went undiagnosed for about 6 months. And those six months were torture because another symptom of Hyperthyroidism is that cats act like high energy assholes, attacking curtains and crank calling old ladies.

PSA time: If your pet’s behavior changes, go to the vet. 

I waited way too long to get my cat checked out. We were more than aware that her really annoying behavior had taken a sharp upturn these last few months, but Penelope has always been a real ball buster, so we figure she was having some sort of midlife crisis. It wasn’t until she showed us some other symptoms that we realized that for 6 months she’d been acting like a meathead because of a medical condition. Whoops. I feel real bad about that one.

I spend most of my day with Penelope inched away from my face.

I spend most of my day with Penelope inches away from my face.

Sometimes, when behavior changes are subtle  and build slowly over time, which is what happened in this case, it’s hard to recognize what’s really going on. But if your pets are suddenly acting like jerks, take them to the vet and find out if there is an underlying cause to the bad behavior.

Back to the furniture. During this time period our brand new furniture was under round-the-clock siege by our cat. Besides the puking, Penelope was attacking the furniture as if her life depending on it. Our poor dog Boogie was having a mental breakdown trying to police her away from the scratching the furniture.

So what to do? I hate putting on Soft Claws, those sticky stickers don’t work, two hundred scratchers and Feliway didn’t help. But one thing did and now we have it all over every single new piece of furniture we own.

Meet the Cat Scratch Guard. Cheap, easy to use, barely noticeable, and totally effective furniture protectors:

Not my couch.

Not my couch.

They’re just simple, flexible vinyl panels (they come in a few sizes) that you attach to your furniture with these clear pins that they provide. We have them on our couch sides, on the back of the new chair, and once we even wrapped them around the trunk of an indoor tree that she wouldn’t leave alone.

If your stuff is being destroyed by your cat, you should check these out. They’ve worked so well for us that I keep a spare set around, just in case Penelope finds something new to bother in the house. As soon as I put a set of these guards on, it’s Game Over.

Now we’re just waiting for her new meds to kick in and help her feel better. It’s a bummer we didn’t realize she needed medical attention sooner, but now that we understand what’s really going on, we’re feeling much more patient and forgiving of her behavior.

Except for that wicker basket number. Blech.

p.s. I’ve received no compensation for writing about this product. I just really like these a lot and wanted y’all to know about it.

Q: What Do Cat Pee and Governor LePage Have in Common?

A: They’ve both been stinking up my life this month!

First things first: I don’t know where the month of October has gone. Thanks to a handful of writing-intensive projects I’ve been busy working on for one of my jobs, I just haven’t had any brain juice left over to write much of anything here. Plus there has been cat pee. Cat. F’n. Pee.

There we were at the start of October in a clean house: smelling pretty darn fresh considering three cats, two dogs, and two humans are crammed inside. And then, the cat pee came to visit.

Do you want to talk about how awful cat pee smells? I don’t. But I’ll tell you this: it makes that hot blast of subway station air – the kind that smells like Mole People and foot fungus and ancient space heaters – smell like a summer rain.

cat pee

There are shirts.

I could never catch any of the cats in the act, but someone was whizzing on the dog beds. I didn’t know who to bring to the vet. Here’s the thing about my cats: for ten years, they’ve never had an argument with the litter box. They’re a well adjusted gang of jerks. They roll hard on litter. So when one of them started stinking up the house, I knew it was because they were sick.

Except all three of the stooges were acting fine. I couldn’t tell who the Rogue Tinkler was, until one day when our cat Penelope (pronounced Pee-na-lopue like cantaloupe) looked me right in the eye and unleashed a river of cat pee at me. There was blood involved. We went to the vet that day and saw the first doctor that was available (a dude we’d never met).

Because Penelope refused to give any of her precious pee to the vet, we got sent home with some special litter and syringes, so I could bring them back a sample for testing. Which is how I found myself the next morning, huddled over a puddle of pee with a needle in my hand. The pee was on a shelf. Not in the litter box with the special litter. Collecting cat pee with a syringe is one of those moments that makes me question the choices I’ve made in my life.

Later that day, the urinalysis revealed that she did not have what we expected: a Urinary Tract Infection. So the vet told us we needed to get an ultrasound to determine if Penelope had one of two types of bladder stones or worse, tumors. I asked him a lot of questions. But he felt sure those were the only two possible options: stones or tumors aka cancer aka my cat is going to die.

Here’s what I learned: the next time the vet sends you to a specialist for a very expensive test, ask them these questions:

  • Is this an emergency?
  • How long can we reasonably wait before performing the test? A day or three?
  • Are there medications we can try during that time?
  • What may be causing this issue that is improbable, but not impossible?

Because it turns out, hundreds of dollars I didn’t have later, that Penelope had cystitis, which is basically an inflamed bladder. No stones. No tumors. The treatment was a $5 prescription for Amoxicillin.

The specialist told me that the initial vet we saw probably didn’t think it could be cystitis because Penelope is 10 years old and cystitis usually presents in cats under 10 years old. The specialist suspected it was cystitis (even before she did the ultrasound!) because her 10 year old cat had recently had it too. So she knew that although it wasn’t probable for a 10 year old cat, cystitis was certainly possible.

She was right: One day (of a ten day run) of antibiotics and Penelope went back to normal, peeing in the box, ever since. Woo.

That’s a $400 lesson folks. Yours at the low low cost of reading this blog and imagining me in my pajamas sucking up cat pee in a syringe. You’re welcome. Now excuse me while I go back to doing three hundred loads of laundry and scrubbing every surface of my house. Cat pee. Blech.

Also in October: Governor LePage can go clean a litter box, if you know what I mean. This month I logged into my Amazon affiliate store to add some cool products to share with you (to help me pay off my cat’s ultrasound bill) and found out it had been shut down.

Turns out my super pro-business Governor (and the genius behind the “tiny beard” fashion trend for women) passed some Interwebz tax legislation this summer and now he and Amazon are in some sort of pissing contest, with me and my fellow Mainers in the cross-stream.


That’s my Governor!

Here’s the deal straight from Amazon’s mouth:

We’re writing from the Amazon Associates Program to notify you that your Associates account will be closed and your Amazon Services LLC Associates Program Operating Agreement will be terminated effective October 6, 2013. This is a direct result of the unconstitutional Maine state tax collection legislation passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor LePage on June 5, 2013, with an effective date of October 9, 2013. As a result, we will no longer pay any advertising fees for customers referred to an Amazon Site after October 6, nor will we accept new applications for the Associates Program from Maine residents.

While we oppose this unconstitutional state legislation, we strongly support the federal Marketplace Fairness Act now pending before Congress. Congressional legislation is the only way to create a simplified, constitutional framework to resolve interstate sales tax issues and it would allow us to re-open our Associates program to Maine residents.

We thank you for being part of the Amazon Associates Program, and look forward to re-opening our program when Congress passes the Marketplace Fairness Act.

So the point of this is to tell you that while my Amazon store still exists (for now), I no longer make any commission on the products you buy through the store. I wasn’t exactly making Crystal, Maybach, Diamonds on your timepiece, Jet planes, Islands, Tigers on a gold leash money from my affiliate store, but I made enough to buy a book here and there. Now it’s nada.

Just figured I should tell you guys in case any of you (MOM) were nice enough to purposely shop in my store to help support my reading-habit. 

Last up this month: I went to the No More Homeless Pets conference the other week in Jacksonville, Florida. I attended a couple of excellent presentations on stress reduction and compassion fatigue. More on that later.  All I’ll say about the conference right now was that the theme for the weekend was “Save Them All.” Someone awesome, who shall remain nameless, pointed out that this rallying cry sounds an awful lot like “Save the Mall” when you say it out loud.

So I spent the conference imagining that me, Jay, and Silent Bob were leading a campaign to save one of our many New Jersey state treasures. Save the Mall!

proud to be a native of Dirty Jerz.

proud to be a native of Dirty Jerz.

And that’s all there is to say about October.