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Archive for August, 2008

Cable Woes

I hate my cable TV company. They are this horrible necessary evil in my life. I know they’re not really “necessary”, I could eliminate them but in order to actually watch any TV (to which I’m addicted) I’d have to either get some big antenna, some converter box, or satellite/dish, none of which seem particularly better options. Ironically, while I feel I’m “hooked” on TV and must record my favorite shows, while they are actually playing I’m also working on the computer and multi-tasking and if you asked me the plot of the show I just watched I’d be hard-pressed to tell you what really happened. How they caught the “bad guy” or why the “bad guy” did what he/she did.

Anyway, I bought a new TiVo last weekend. (I LOVE my TiVo. My old one is over six years old and I fear it will someday die and I will be TiVo-less, plus the new one has a dual tuner and was on clearance.) So, I see I can use “cable cards” – so I had to find out about getting these cable cards.

Of course, I couldn’t access my cable account for reasons unknown. So, I had to CALL them.
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My friend Adrienne said if vitamin B12 was a person, she thinks I might marry it. Maybe she’s right. I’m a big fan. Oh, I like lots of the vitamins, don’t get me wrong… love me some vitamin D for example, but you can overdose vitamin D, so you need to exercise some caution, and some feel supplementation of vitamin D can cause problems if you suffer from a autoimmune disease. As far as I know, while B12 is the only B-vitamin that seems to be stored by the body (in the liver), there are no known risks of overdose.

Where does vitamin B12 come from? It’s found in meat and dairy products. Vegans should consider vitamin B12 supplementation. Of course, my interest is in cats and if they’re fed properly (recognizing they are true carnivores) they should be getting vitamin B12 in their diet, but most commercial foods and homemade recipes supplement all the B-vitamins, just in case. The B-vitamins are water-soluble and, as I noted, generally not stored by the body, so there’s no known risk of overdose.

What can cause deficiency of Vitamin B12 in cats? Anything that causes excessive drinking and/or urination (diabetes, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, etc.) can deplete B12 and the other B vitamins as they are “washed out” of the body. Giving sub-q fluids could deplete vitamin B. Chronic diarrhea can also deplete B12 as most B-12 is lost in fecal matter. Cats with an inflamed gastro-intestinal tract (such as cats with IBD) may not absorb B12 properly as it’s absorbed in the intestines. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause anemia, neuropathy, other neurological issues, etc.
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Let’s talk about canned food.  First, if it isn’t already abundantly clear – I think dry cat food is a very bad idea.  I don’t think anyone thinks the semi-moist foods (those little pieces that aren’t hard as kibble, but chewy, like Tender Vittles) are a good idea.  (If you do – well, they’re not for the same reasons dry/kibble is bad and more.)

So, where does that leave us?  Options remaining are a freeze-dried raw food,  a frozen raw food, or a canned food.  (Or, I suppose there’s the options of a freshly made raw food or whole prey or homemade cooked diet – I won’t go there for the time being.)  I realize there are MANY caregivers out there that are reluctant to feed raw for many reasons, and I do not fault them for that!  I think commercial canned food is a perfectly acceptable option!  While the majority of my cats’ diet is a frozen raw food, I do feed canned food to them on occasion and I feed my foster cats canned food.  Why don’t I feed my own cats’ canned food more often?  Well, a few reasons including cost (yes, homemade raw is less expensive), palability (if some of my cats get canned, they start clamouring for it and refusing to eat their raw), and a couple cats that had IBD so long before their diet was changed that even most canned foods cause them stomach upset…. among other reasons.

However, I’ve seen some  people argue against canned food – and I’d like to discuss some of the “reasons” why.
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 I’m pleased I’ve had more and more caregivers talk to me about putting their cats on a raw diet.  For those new to raw, I often recommend a pre-ground meat/bone product such as Hare Today, supplemented with a multi-vitamin/nutrient for cats such as Platinum Performance, as described in Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins in her book “Your Cat: Simple New Secrets to a Longer Stronger Life“.

One problem – it seems some of these caregivers view this Hare Today/Platinum Performance combination to be some magical “cure” for what ails their cat (diabetes, IBD or chronic diarrhea, obesity, “allergies”, etc.)  In a way, it is a “cure” in that the cat becomes healthier and may no longer show any symptoms of their prior ailment (no more need for insulin, no more anemia, no more diarrhea, etc.)  However, in my opinion, it’s not so much that the particular food is a cure in that you’ve eliminated the *problem* (dry food). 
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One of the five million things that drive me batty is some of the dire warnings about using Metacam (meloxicam) in cats. Someone will post on an online forum that their veterinarian prescribed Metacam and get a bunch of responses scaring the bejeezus out of them. Metacam kills! Metacam causes kidney failure!

Does Metacam have risks – SURE! The fact is, cats don’t generally tolerate *any* pain medications well. Metacam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), like aspirin, ibuprofen, etc, etc. The sad reality is cats don’t very well tolerate aspirin, or ibuprofen, or any of those handy little pain killers that get us humans through our routine headaches and muscle aches. Are there cats that have suffered severe repercussions after the use of Metacam? I’m sure there are.

The question the “Metacam kills” alarmists fail to answer, in my opinion, WHAT IS THE CAREGIVER’S OTHER OPTION? Let their cat suffer in pain?
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Grapes of Wrath

In contrast to my mother’s green thumb, I have a “black thumb of death” when it comes to gardening.  I do have a few things growing in my yard, and they’re generally either weeds or plants former owners put in and I’ve ignored.  Among those items surviving my presence is a grape vine.  It’s rather large, but despite having lived here several years, prior to this year I’d never actually had any grapes.  Not that grapes didn’t grow on the vine – they did, lots of them.  However, every year I’d wait for the grapes to ripen, and about the time it seemed they’d be ready – the birds (grackels, to be specific) would have eaten EVERY SINGLE ONE.

This year I thought I’d attempt to save a few of the grapes for myself.  I purchased some netting and a few weeks ago, I draped it over a small section of the vine.  I didn’t mind the birds having MOST of the grapes, I just wanted a few for myself.  It was only a couple weeks later that I saw many grapes were falling off the vine, and after a taste-test, I decided they were ready.

I spent significant time last weekend picking grapes.  (It’s not nearly as easy as Keanu Reeves makes it appear in “Walk in the Clouds”.)  I also pulled weeds – and possibly my back in the process.

All told, I had over six pounds of grapes.  It doesn’t sound like a lot – but trust me, it is.  I was already sick
of grapes just from picking them.  I set aside a few bunches for myself and decided to take the rest to work.

Well, unfortunately for me and my many pounds of grapes, my coworkers apparently aren’t big fans of grapes.  After sitting in the office all day, I drug most of them back home again.  A friend suggested freezing them, so I spent that evening rinsing and picking off the stems and bagging… and you know, I’ve tried tossing a few in my morning smoothie – and I am just REALLY sick of grapes.

Next year, the birds can have them all.

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Wake up! Coffee time!

Up past bedtime (again) last night.  Dragged my sorry self into work, late again.  Stopped at Starbucks on the way in.  Not sure how many times the young woman behind the counter asked me what I wanted until I realized I was next in line – and I ordered my usual Venti iced sugar-free vanilla soy latte (try saying that five times fast).  Stumbled up and paid for my beverage.  Fought my way back out through the crowd and started toward our offices – then turned around and went back to get my drink.

Doh!

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This would be fantastic! Ironically, I heard of the proposed legislation from some people complaining about it. So many people just don’t get it! There are over 20,000 companion animals put to death a YEAR in Chicago for lack of homes. More than 8,000 of these are young, healthy, dogs and cats that behave perfectly even when dumped in a shelter and poked and prodded.

The complainers were saying it doesn’t exclude purebreds. No it doesn’t. Do you really think purebreds don’t show up at shelters? Do a quick search on petfinder.com – they most definitely do. The proposed legislation DOES exclude registered breeders. So, the only “issue” would be for those backyard breeders – which I personally would LOVE to force to cease and desist! Can you say “puppy mills”? Well, don’t for one second think they aren’t “kitten mills” as well.

Voice your support!

http://pawschicago.org/animalwelfare/petordinance.htm

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I’ve been opining on feline hyperthyroidism a LOT in the past 18 months or so.  It all started with Latifah.  Something seemed amiss with her back in January/February 2007, as although her diabetes was well controlled, even went into sporadic remissions, she had a ravenous hunger and her fur/coat wasn’t as smooth and glossy as I’d expect in a cat on an all-wet diet.  Bloodwork looked pretty good, but I had this nagging feeling – and she just “felt” hyperthyroid, I’d tell the veterinarians.  They’d usually dismiss the idea, saying her T4 values (in her bloodwork) were well within the reference range.

In a conversation with Dr. Hogkins, I noted my misgivings and I got quite the education.  T4 values in an older cat (over age ten) should not *just* be in the reference range, but in the lower half to third of the reference range and decreasing over time.  Other ailments, such as CRF (kidney disease), IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), etc. deflate T4 values as well as age. 
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We had a ton of storms yesterday.  Lots of rain, thunder, and lightening.  For once, I got lucky and I actually landed up commuting when it wasn’t horrible out and got home pretty dry.  I was nearly done with evening “cat chores” when the radio announced there were three of four tornadoes sited.  One was destined to reach a neighborhood very close to mine in ten minutes. 

What to do?  Of course it wasn’t my neighborhood, but it was close enough that did I really want to take that risk?  Not like I could manage to get eight cats downstairs quickly.  So, I sprang into action (and if you knew me, you’d know just how ludicrous the idea of me “springing” into anything is.)

I finished giving Afer her sub-q fluids, then dished out their food.  Why would I choose to feed my cats at this moment?  Easy – so they’d stay put, in the kitchen, and I didn’t have to chase them all over the house.
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