Omaha goes by many names: Omie, Omie da Great, Omie da Terrible, Omie overalls, Ohama bin Peein, even Bubba.
I thought Omaha was adorable, although a bit intimidating at over 20 pounds, from the minute I met him when I began volunteering at Tree House Animal Foundation in June 2002. Because of my initial fear, I began brushing him with the “magic pink brush” rather than petting. Turned out he liked being brushed – on the head only. He’d clean his front feet while I brushed his head. Gradually, I worked up to brushing his body. He began looking forward to our “beauty appointments”. I started trying to sneak some pets into our brushing sessions. Then, I began sitting on the floor and sometimes he’d crawl into my lap, nuzzle his head in, and purr. (Too precious!)
At the end of 2002, I began noticing his fur falling out in big clumps and scabs on his skin. I felt so bad for him! Asked the clinic supervisor, and she said he got these “hot spots” on occasion. Oatmeal shampoo baths helped, but it was hard for clinic personnel to find the time to bathe him every week. Meanwhile, Omaha’s best friend, Michelle, left Tree House. I don’t know if it was because he wasn’t feeling well, or he missed Michelle, but I noticed a change in his behavior. It seemed like he’d either just be lying there, seemingly not interested in anything… or would follow me from room to room and not want to leave my side.
I decided to take him home as my birthday present in February 2003. He was 13 years old. It took him about an hour to get over his “what is this?” frights… after being at the shelter 9 years, he wasn’t sure what to think of this! But he quickly got over it, and purred up a storm in his new bed. He was inseparable from me at first, and would follow me from room to room and cry for me. He’s still my best buddy, and always is waiting at the door when I come home, and follows me around- although not all the time now.
He scared the heck out of everyone at the vet’s office, and most guests in my home… but he was a big teddy bear for me. He’d lost a little weight, and was doing pretty well. In June 2004, his arthritis was getting worse, and he was beginning to have trouble supporting his weight with his back legs. Thankfully, someone referred me to Dr. Swanson, a holisitic vet and acupuncturist. After only two treatments, Omaha was *running*! After more, he was “bounding” up the stairs on occasion, chasing the other cats again, and twice I’ve even caught him standing on his back legs (with his front paws on a window or a bench)!
In 2005, I learned the benefits of a grain-free diet and got Omaha off the Lite dry food completely and onto a grain-free wet food (canned and homemade). The weight started to come off more rapidly than I could ever have imagined! Better yet, instead of only 1/8 cup of dry food twice a day, and being constantly hungry, Omaha could eat all the wet food he wanted. By October 2005 he was down to 14.5 pounds, by June 2007 he was under 12 pounds! You can learn more at CatInfo.org. Recent studies all show that a low-carbohydrate diet more effectively treats both obesity and diabetes.
Omie is very territorial, and unfortunately for me that meant he feels he needs to mark his house – and ME – with urine to let everyone know we are his. After complaining to a good friend that I was losing sleep as Omaha bin Peein would sometimes urinate on me while I slept (meaning I had to wake, change bedding, change pajamas, etc.), the friend suggested I get him some “stud britches”. I tried a few different brands and finally found Joybies overalls. They work great, and Omie doesn’t seem to mind wearing them in the least.
In 2007, he was diagnosed as hyper-thyroid and was treated by radioactive iodine treatment. It was a long week for me, as I waited for him to finish his quarantine – I lost a lot of sleep. Another good friend suggested I send a small box with Omie, for him to hide in while caged, and that worked well. The veterinary assistant even reported he would let her pet him for a minute on the head.
Omaha’s very intelligent and knows a lot of words. He plays games with me (like “get the mail” and “attack of the great white tiger”), and is a real joy in my life. He hates the song Space Cowboy by ‘N Sync and will scream “NOOOO!” if I play it and put his paw over my mouth if I sing it to him.
Unfortunately, I lost Omaha on October 14, 2008 to something neurological.
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