So things were going along just fine and I was happily rolling around on the floor chirping and trilling and feeling very special in that certain way, then suddenly I was in a box and in another box and moving, and it only got worse from there. The human didn’t seem to be at all worried but I was sure this was the horrible end I knew would come one day. I was so stunned I couldn’t even say anything.
Later, after being rudely juggled around, I waited forever in my box and could smell and hear millions of other cats and then suddenly someone poked me with a needle….and I woke up tired, sore, stiff, still smelling and hearing a lot of other cats. I didn’t care when I was back in the other box with some strange kittens in boxes around me and moving again, then stopping and the kittens were taken away, then finally I was back in my room with my rug and my bowl and it was quiet and I was thoroughly confused. I first ran for the window but remembered I could only see through it, not go through it, then came back down to the floor and hunched up on my fleecy mat and felt miserable. The human came back after forever and tucked something under my fleece and suddenly it was nicely warm and snuggly. And there was catnip. I had smelled this stuff before but this time there was something irresistible about it. I indulged and then rolled up in a ball and had a nap. When I awoke it was a whole new world.
And so happened the conversion of Sienna. She is still with me, though I’d intended to surrender the healthy, friendly young tortie to a shelter just after the new year. The shelter would call me if anything came up with her, and they would also spay her if necessary and give her all necessary vaccines, so I hadn’t done that when she came in.
She came to my house on December 12. On New Year’s Eve she had a urinary issue, little spots of pale pink liquid in the tub. She was still producing urine and had no distended bladder or tenderness, though she was in and out of the box. I decided to watch her carefully and wait until veterinarians were open regular hours to get her examined. But also I had not found a spay scar on her abdomen, and because the spots had no smell of urine I thought she might actually have been pregnant, not too far along or not too many kittens, and had broken her water. I had seen young cats hop in and out of the box after they’d broken their water and were about to give birth. I actually sat up with her just in case she did give birth, concerned because there had been some blood and there might be complications. She was happy for the company but no kittens at any stage came to be.
I had added saw palmetto to her food and the next day she was passing more urine than the night before, whether it was the saw palmetto or the progression of her condition. By Tuesday when the vets were open she was clear. I talked to my vet and decided just to observe her for the time being. Of course, I couldn’t surrender her to a shelter with a urinary issue.
I never feed dry food, only feeding canned food with a little water added to fosters, though my household also gets raw and cooked meals that I’ve prepared. I’ve kept track through the years of the foods that work well for kitties with urinary or GI issues and tend to stay with them. Sienna’s condition seemed to be an infection and not stones or crystals, though, so diet was probably not as big a factor, though she had been fed exclusively dry food by her caretaker and this could be a holdover from that.
Typically I use wood pellets for litter, but when I really need to know how much a cat pees and I can’t be in the room, I’ll use scoopable litter to track output. Over the next two months I would see mostly normal amounts, but here and there a day where there was a pile of tiny clumps that seemed to coincide with her sort of being in heat, that rolling around on the floor chirping and trilling she talked about above. I never saw her hopping in and out of the box nor found a distended bladder. She certainly couldn’t go anywhere until I had this figured out.
On February 23 she was indeed hopping in and out of the box, producing small amounts, and as before she had no distended bladder nor painful areas in her abdomen. But I wanted for her to be seen by a veterinarian when the condition was active. Thinking she might need diagnostic tests and xrays I tried to find a vet with an open appointment that day, but none were available of the ones who work with rescues. So I called my vet, even though as a house call vet she can’t do xrays she does an amazing exam and I have always trusted her care. She was kind enough to return my call almost immediately and stopped here within the hour. No, she felt no distended bladder or tender spots either though one kidney was slightly enlarged, but it was clear she was hopping in the box and producing drops for some reason. She prescribed an antibiotic and I’d observe her for a week or so longer. It might have been related to her heat cycles, it might have been a nagging infection she’d had since she lived outdoors, or it might be from stress.
Since it appeared Sienna was going to be with me for a while longer we decided it was time to get her spayed, get her tested for FIV/FeLV and get her vaccinations done. All this time she’s been here she had to be locked in the bathroom because she hadn’t been tested, and even though she looked perfectly healthy FeLV can be latent and I would never put my entire household at risk. Now that I would be observing her for urinary issues she would be here for weeks longer it was time to get things done for her.
I was lucky enough to get a spot at our clinic the very next day so that’s the story of Sienna’s journey, and while she was waiting then getting her surgery and recovering I volunteered to care for cats in recovery after their surgeries. The clinic served about 90 cats so it was a very busy day.
My vet and I have tried to avoid getting FVRCP and rabies vaccines both in one day, and especially not on a day for surgery too, but Sienna was a healthy adult and while it might be uncomfortable it would certainly speed things up for her. Still, when we got home I knew she was feeling a little pain from her surgery and a little soreness from the vaccines. I had to run out to get a new heating pad, but she loved it so much she was spreading herself flat on the fleece as if she wanted every part of her body on the heat.
One other interesting thing about Sienna was that, although she is very affectionate and social with me, she is not particularly curious, nor did she play with anything from the time she arrived, no little mice, bizzy balls, cat tracks or flying birds or anything, not even a box, I tried it all, and she hadn’t been interested in catnip at all either. She actually spent most of her initial time here on the windowsill and in the cubby by the tub, then in the sink, and wouldn’t even eat on the floor. I’d used Feral Flower which helps a cat transition to indoor life as well as Safe Space for Cats and eventually she began to feel better on the floor and began to sleep on her mat there.
After she’d recovered a week from surgery she started swatting at the rope toy I leave hanging in there, and played with things I gave her, but still didn’t voluntarily play with anything or scratch a scratcher, nor even hop into the tub or up onto the cabinet. What kind of neglected life had she lived?
Since her infection seems to be cleared up and she’s begun to play, I decided that I’d start to integrate her into the household here rather than send her off to the shelter just yet. That way she’d see how other kitties play, and if stress was a factor in her urinary issue, integrating her into a household of eight other cats would certainly test that. Before she goes off to a shelter or a new home from here I want to see how all this works for her.
I am taking it very slowly and have her door set up so they can see each other but no one can get in or out. Once or twice a day I open the door and baby gate and sit in there with her so the other cats can wander in and inspect and come face to face, with liberal applications of Safe Space and Feliway. Basil came in first, smelled everything including her more than once, and there were no hisses. Basil is a very sensitive cat and understands how rescued cats feel, and while he can be annoying with his overactive play, he is gentle. She was fine with him. Giuseppe and Jelly Bean were a little more difficult—she is just a small tortie and they are big boys, but she stood her ground on her fleece mat and nothing too dramatic happened aside from a few hisses. When she can she slips out of the room into the space between the door and the baby gate and studies the world form there.
In the meantime she is a very sweet kitty and now that she’s loosening up to play she is even cuter than before. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on her progress.
Read more about Sienna’s arrival here in December 2017.
Donations for fostering and helping cats
I am fostering Sienna personally, not through a rescue, so I am paying for all her food and care while she is here; the exam by my vet and the surgery, vaccines and tests totaled $185.00. I also assist a few colony caretakers in my town with food and help with trapping and transportation when necessary as well as help some people surrender cats to shelters or rescues when they have too many. If you’d like to support me in this with a donation I’d totally appreciate it! If you’d care to donate to any of these efforts I will give you a gift certificate to my shop in thanks—for every $25.00 you donate in goods or cash I’ll give you a gift certificate for $5.00 off a minimum $25.00 purchase. Please visit my Donate for a Discount page on Portraits of Animals where you’ll also read about a TNR project I’m working on for this month.
Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
These two tortoiseshell cats are Cookie and Kelly, both rescued and fostered, but who ended up staying with me for most of their long lives. They were both inspirations for many works through the years, but this set of linoleum block prints is actually my favorite depiction of them, available as prints or on tees, textiles, trays and more. Read more and browse what’s available.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!
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