Posts Tagged ‘Omaha’

Heart and Soul

I’d written recently of my loss of Afer E Granny, my “heart”.

When it rains, it pours – I lost Omaha, my “soul”, last night.  Perhaps they were meant to make this journey together.  Perhaps the powers-that-be just felt as long as I was grieving, best dump everything on me at once.  I don’t know, but my heart aches and my home feels empty and life isn’t the same without them.

I never knew Omaha healthy, nor has anyone I know.  He was admitted to the shelter with leg/hip injuries and potential neurological damage.  So, I have difficulty imagining him running free now – but I’m sure he is.

Omie da Great

Omie da Great

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I love all my cats, past and present. I have to admit, though, two of them are a bit special to me. I don’t love them any more than the others, but there’s just this particular feeling about those two. I suspect it’s because I didn’t adopt these two cats because they needed me (unlike the others), but because, in a way, I needed them. Adopting them just seemed to complete my life and my home. A shelter staff member once laughed at the first two I’d chosen from their organization, these two, saying they were the “yin and yang” of the shelter. I often said it was as though they were my heart and my soul: Afer my heart, so brave and strong, slightly elusive, expressing pure joy at the simple pleasures of being petted or brushed, a bit of cheese or sour cream from my plate… Omaha my soul, so smart and loyal, hardened by life yet so protective of those he loved, distrusting and willing to fight to the end for what he wanted (or didn’t want), ready to do whatever he wanted or needed to do despite any obstacles faced…

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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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It’s been one of those weeks… or months.

It’s been CRAZY busy at work.  We have a huge project going on that I’m immersed in and we’re under the gun.  So, I’ve been putting in extra hours, staying late, and doing some work from home in the evenings and on weekends.

I had the brilliant idea to schedule dentals for three of my cats:  Rumpelmintz, Omaha, and Jellybean.  Jellybean had been for a regular exam in November, and the vet noted severe tartar, etc., so she needed a cleaning.  Rumpelmintz had been acting funny around mealtime – eating a few bites, then running away from the bowl and stealing food from another cat instead – a possible indication she was having some pain eating (and thought it was caused by her particular bowl).  Omaha almost always indicates tooth pain, pawing at his mouth.  Has since before I adopted him.  Since he can’t be examined while conscious, I just schedule a dental about once a year, and they gas him down and examine and clean him all at once.

I decided that rather than take a cat for a dental once every couple weeks, I’d take all three at once.  It’d be time-effective, and I could charge the cost to my Care Credit card and pay it off over time with interest deferred.  One thing I neglected to consider in all this, is I now have THREE CATS on antibiotics and pain meds twice daily – in addition to all the usual cat medications, sub-q fluids, and insulin injections.  Jellybean and Rumpelmintz are both very difficult to pill, though I manage.  Pilling them twice daily does NOT add joy and sunshine to my mornings or evenings.

 To top it off, we got some bad news.  Omaha’s always had the mouth issues, as well as issues with arthritis and hip problems.  He had a couple surgeries on his hips  before I adopted him.  X-rays Wednesday revealed a bone chip in one hip, also that he had malformed carpas (wrists).  The vet was surprised he could walk at all.  In addition, when they went to clean his teeth, they discovered his enamel was just flaking off.  That means his teeth are very sensitive and uncomfortable.  I guess neither the hips or teeth are something new, but now I know about them and can worry about them.  My poor little man.  They gave me a referral to a dentistry/surgery specialist who he will see in early January.

 On top of that, when I got Rumpelmintz home she was falling over and her back legs didn’t work properly.  She was the last one to be gassed down, so perhaps it was just the anesthesia wearing off – but now it’s Friday and one back leg still isn’t right.  So, now I’m concerned she may have thrown a blood clot.  She’ll go back to the vet Saturday to be examined.

I don’t want to ask “what else can happen?” because I don’t want to find out.

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My friend Heather has inspired me to make some small steps toward being more eco-friendly. I started with some easy things. Rather than scooping the litter boxes and putting the “nasties” in an empty (used for cat food) plastic freezer bag, I’d use paper bags. Hopefully, even though they’re still going to landfills they’ll eventually disintegrate so future generations aren’t dealing with plastic bags full of cat poo. Also, rather than putting the homemade cat food in those plastic freezer bags, I’m using plastic tubs, which can be washed and reused. Baby steps.

The drawback to the tubs is the food takes much longer to warm than in the bags. I was tossing a bag of food in a bowl of warm water before meals, doing some other things, then pulling it out and serving. I’m doing the same with the tubs, but perhaps because they float so they’re not surrounded by warm water, they just don’t warm nearly as quickly. This morning, the food was still cold – still frozen in the center, but I had to get going (see Late-ness) so I just stirred it up and served it.

The cats were HORRIFIED. Louie didn’t eat. Afer ate only a little. Omaha barely nibbled. Rumpelmintz was yelling and complaining and hitting other cats for eating any of the cold breakfast, as they might convince me this was acceptable.

Studley and Latifah still ate well. Latifah ate her own and tried to finish everyone else’s. She said she didn’t mind.

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I planned an “early night” last night.  I was plenty tired, because of the time change, and thought it’d be a good opportunity to catch up on some sleep.  It was a disappointment. 

It took me a while to fall asleep – then I woke up around 2:00 because my legs hurt – so I rubbed menthol gel on them.  Then I woke up around 3:00 because Studley was playing “How loud can I make Jellybean scream” and Louie was cheering him on, so I made both boys leave the den and I shut the den door.  Then I woke up around 4:00 because Omaha and Rumpelmintz were fighting over who got to sleep on my right side.  Then I woke up around 5:00 because Latifah decided to come upstairs into the bedroom and was fighting with Omaha… so I let her go in the den with Jellybean.

I got up this morning to find Latifah had pooped on the bathroom floor, Omaha had pooped in his pants, and one of the cats had a hairball in the living room.  There was also a “shortbread cookie heist” in the den.  The cats had managed to get a tub of Trader Joe’s shortbread cookies off the top of the desk, get the lid off, and there were shortbread cookies with bites out of them all over the floor, desk, etc.  (When I questioned them about it, they said they did it to save me from the cookies.)  My suspicion on the shortbread cookie massacre is that either:

1) As part of the “Let’s see how loud we can make Jellybean scream” game, Jellybean climbed up to on top of the desk, and knocked the tub of cookies off the desk and the lid came off when they hit the floor – and the cats tested them to see if they were any good. (I didn’t notice them when I made the boys leave the room – but it was dark and I was half-asleep so I just removed larger furry objects, leaving smaller screaming furry objects in the room, and shut the door.)


2) Jellybean and Latifah were in cahoots and managed to get them off the desk and tasted while they were in there together.


3)  A combination of the above.

Latifah and Jellybean are the most likely suspects for the little kitty bite-sized missing bits from the cookies, as they are both carbohydrate addicts. Jellybean has been caught red-handed eating bites out of a blueberry waffle before…. and staff at the shelter used to laugh at how they could feed Latifah bites of bread.  Jellybean’s blood sugar was only 90 this morning (still no insulin since Dec. 31, 2006!), whereas Latifah’s blood sugar was 225 – further indicating Latifah in the crime.

I also discovered this morning that my favorite radio station, which was all music, all the time (no annoying talk), with a wide variety of music – had suddenly changed formats to all talk, all the time.  

To top off the morning, Studley sprayed pee on the back door, then Omaha pooped on the bedroom floor.  Glorious morning.  One bit of happiness – I started reading the “Crazy Aunt Purl” book, aka “Drunk, Divorced & Covered with Cat Hair”.  It is not a disappointment.  Though I don’t knit, I love Laurie Perry’s style of writing, and who can’t relate to her feelings of disappointment and frustration with life. The first chapter, where she has to resort to repairing her skirt at work with staples, is priceless.  If you haven’t already, you should check out her blog at crazyauntpurl.com, and buy her book!

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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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