Not to Plan

This past week has not gone according to plan.

As some of you know, Yuki has hip and knee problems. Always has. He wobbles when he walks, has trouble with corners, and has his own unique style of movement–very Ministry of Silly Walks at times.

He’s never been so bad off as to need surgery; instead we’ve been giving him glucosamine and other joint-friendly compounds. However, recently he’s been wobblier than usual, and last Friday it was obvious he was having serious difficulty managing his hind legs.

So we took him to the vet.

Of course he took the trip in his usual phlegmatic style. Which is to say, not at all. He complained all the way there. He complained while we were sitting in the waiting room. He complained while being examined by the vet tech.

He finally shut up when he was allowed to take up residence on the floor. In a corner. Under a chair.

Once there, he settled down and displayed great dignity.

That lasted until Round Two, when the doctor came in, at which point the complaints resumed. They continued until well after we got him home.

Based on the X-rays, there doesn’t seem to be any significant decay in his joints. We’re hoping his current problems are a simple strain, rather than a spinal issue.

He’s currently on a two or three week regimen of painkillers, prescription-strength joint-support medications, and “don’t let him jump or go down stairs.”

This has been a major hardship for Yuki, given his preference for spending most of the day on our bed–a significant leap–with occasional forays out to the staircase to hang out in the center of whatever action is going on.

The first couple of days were especially bad for everyone: we had to confine him to the master bathroom. He complained incessantly, and we were sorely tempted to do likewise.

He’s now in a multi-crate cage in the living room. That’s much better all around. He can maneuver more easily on the carpeted floor, the other cats can–and do–visit, and we can give him pettings without worrying about him making a dash for the bed.

He’s alternating between goofy flop-on-his-back-and-wave-his-paws-around, as a request for tummy rubs
and giving us the Big, Reproachful Yellow Eyes of Doom.

It’s still too early to be sure, but I think he’s doing better. He seems a little more stable, and his complaints have more to do with his usual belief that we’re not feeding him enough or in a timely fashion than they do with excessive pain.

Cautious optimism, in other words. But please keep a paw or two crossed on his behalf.


Right now, Rhubarb is the happiest kitty in the house.

He had his stitches removed Wednesday, and the Cone o’ Shame came off too. He indulged in a mild frenzy of grooming, catching up on two week’s worth of missed washing, and since then he’s split his time between snoring on his favorite stair and hogging the heat vent under the Christmas tree.

Sachiko, however, is probably the most annoyed feline in the joint.

We figured that it would be safest for Rhubarb to travel to the vet’s office in our largest carrier, so he’d be able to move around with the collar. The last time we used that carrier was to take Rufus to the vet, and then we put in the garage. That being the case, we thought it would be a good idea to put it inside the house so Rhubarb could investigate it and get used to the scent.

He sniffed it briefly, gave a dismissive toss of his head, and knocked it on its side before walking off.

At which point, Sachiko came to investigate. More precisely, she claimed it as her latest den.

She was not at all amused when we dumped her out of it, loaded Big Brudder Rhubarb, and carried it away.

Worse yet, when we brought Rhubarb back, her den vanished back into the garage!

Forty-eight hours later, she’s still poking around the bedroom looking for it.

At least we know what to get her for Christmas–and it won’t cost a cent!

GT Update

Good news and bad news.

The good news is that GT is out of surgery and doing well.

Unsurprisingly, he’s dehydrated, so he’ll stay at the vet’s for at least a few more hours, possibly overnight, so they can get fluids into him.

The bad news is that the blood tests showed he’s FIV-positive.

As the ASPCA says, this is common in free-roaming, outdoor, intact male cats: transmission from cat to cat most often occurs through deep bite wounds–and guess which cats are most likely to get into territorial fights.

FIV frequently remains inactive for years, but the infected cats who live in a stress-free, indoor environment do the best.

Put another way, GT would greatly benefit from a retirement home, either as a single cat, or with other FIV-positive cats. And definitely indoor-only. Unfortunately, there’s just no way we can take him on. Our house can’t be subdivided to keep him away from the FIV-negative cats and, let’s be realistic: with six we’re already perilously close to the “Crazy Cat Lady” line (and note that I don’t say which side of the line we’re close to…)

GT is a sweetie. Very mellow, and now that he’s been neutered, he’ll probably be even mellower. He’s obviously at least half-civilized and would, we’re fairly sure, respond well to being the focus of a caring biped’s attention.

So, anyone want to rescue a cat? Drop me an e-mail–the address is over in the right sidebar (bottom of the page if you’re on mobile)–or leave a comment and we’ll talk.


Update 7/20

GT has taken up residence in the garage guest quarters. He’s not at all happy about the collar, AKA “cone of shame,” but he’s eaten some food, and seems to be settling in. We’ve got a larger recovery cage on the way. Hopefully the extra space will let us rearrange the amenities (bowls and box) to make things a bit easier on him.

We Have a Visitor

We’re going to have a house guest! Well, not quite. Actually, a garage guest.

It’s like this: Sunday evening, we noticed that GT had a large raw spot and some very dramatic swelling on his right cheek. He was clearly having some trouble chewing the krunchiez. So Maggie took a small can of gooshy food out and stood guard while he ate it, so that MM and Tuxie wouldn’t chase him away from it.

He downed the entire contents of the can and then nibbled at the krunchiez, and was generally rather mellow, so we figured we’d keep an eye on him.

Yesterday, I thought the swelling was a little smaller, but it was hard to be sure. I gave him another can of the gooshy and hung out while he ate.

GT dropped by this morning, as members of the Backyard Bunch often do, and we tossed him some treats. The swelling made it impossible for him to open his right eye all the way, and he was obviously having trouble eating. Maggie went out and patted him for a bit, then decided we should take him to the vet.

I brought out one of the cat carriers and we loaded GT into it. He’s a very mellow fellow: he didn’t want to go into the carrier, but didn’t make a battle out of it. We put the carrier on end, Maggie lowered GT into it headfirst, we disengaged his paws from the edge of the opening, and latched it shut. At that point, he seemed to shrug and settled down. Clearly not the first time he’s been in a carrier. We’ve speculated that all three of the Backyard Bunch are strays or abandoned cats, rather than true ferals, given their friendliness. GT’s reaction to the carrier certainly lends additional support to that line of speculation. We’ll be very interested to learn whether he has a microchip.

At any rate, he handled the short car ride to the vet’s office with aplomb, and once the tech joined us, we managed to get him on the scale. As soon as she recorded his weight, GT declared the inspection over, hopped off the table, and hid under one of the chairs.

* Eight and a half pounds–less than I expected. I suppose I was fooled by his stocky frame.

The tech decided not to push the matter and didn’t even try to take his temperature. A wise decision.

And, somewhere along the line, his abcess started leaking. Poor guy.

So, as I write this, he’s being prepped for surgery. While they’re draining the abscess, they’ll also snip his pom-poms*. They’ll also give him a general checkup and test for FeLV and other nasties.

* We had been planning to take both GT and Tuxie to Fix Our Ferals, as we did with MM, but FoF has been having funding problems, and are (temporarily, we hope) closed. They currently have a fundraiser going as part of the Michelson Challenge. Please consider that a strong hint… Once everything settles down and they reopen, Tuxie will be paying them a visit and spending some time in the garage guest quarters.

In the meantime, we’ve evicted the car from the garage and are setting up the same palatial quarters MM used for recovery from her surgery.

More details on this breaking news story as the situation develops.