Archive | Cats! RSS feed for this section

Miss Moneypenny Saves the Day

20 Jul

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 8.48.47 AM

It was storming when I went to sleep, so my cat, Miss Moneypenny, was a bit out of sorts. A few hours later, she woke me, running across the bed. Thinking she was making a play for mid-night attention, I tried to tip her over and make her snuggle – a move she usually goes with. This time, however, I was met with fierce resistance.

She was sitting near my head, and I could feel the twitch of her tail whipping my face. I nudged her, thinking she’d jump off the bed. No luck. Instead, she made a weird little chirping noise that I’ve only ever heard when she sees a bird out my window.

I turned on the light so I could assess the situation. It was 1am and she was staring fixedly at my bedroom curtains. I followed her gaze and spotted it: high on the curtain rod, her grey toy mouse.

“Miss Moneypenny,” I said. “You just now decided you needed to play with your mousie?” I stood on my bed so I could get high enough to knock it down – and then realized it was NOT her toy mouse. It was a real one, with huge ears and frightened eyes.

What was a mouse doing IN MY HOME? And how did it get up on top of a curtain rod, 8-feet in the air – at 1am?!

Miss Moneypenny was riveted. I considered knocking the mouse down so she could play with it, but decided: a) That would be cruel to the mouse, and b) There was a strong possibility I would lose sight of the mouse.

Decision made, I got an empty trash can and slid it up under the mouse. The mouse must have been wondering how it was going to get down from its high perch, because it (literally) jumped at the opportunity I’d presented. I slid a notebook over the top of the trashcan to makes sure I only had to do this ONCE. Dressed in my hot pink plaid pajamas – I slid my flipflops on and headed out to the DC street to release it.

Job done, when I came back to my bedroom, Miss Moneypenny was in the same spot, tail twitching, pacing to get a better view of a now non-existent mouse. Her obsession alarmed me – was there ANOTHER mouse I hadn’t found? Fortunately not, because after 45 minutes, she finally relaxed and we were both able to go back to sleep.

Who knew I had a mouse(r) in the house? She just covered her rent check for the next year.

 

Advertisements

There goes my Uber score.

25 May

Image Source: Groupon April Fool's Joke

The sun is setting on Memorial Day as I write this. I imagine most people feeling relaxed, rested and reflective after a nice three-day weekend. Not I.

I spent the day agonizing over whether I should take Miss Moneypenny to the animal hospital or wait until my vet’s office opens tomorrow morning. Because when I woke this morning, I discovered that my cat was pacing laps, alternating between peeing blood, licking herself and crying out in pain.

A quick Google search revealed that she likely had some sort of urinary tract issue that – according to the internet – could spiral out of control if left untreated.

I dialed the animal hospital to ask if I should bring her in or if I should hold off and take her to my regular vet on Tuesday. “You can schedule an appointment later this week,” the unhelpful girl at the desk told me.

I called Alan. “What do you think?” I asked, knowing it was unfair of me to pin my cat’s health prognosis on a recovering lawyer.

“Get a second opinion,” he offered.

So I called another animal hospital out in the boonies and reached a more helpful person (and cat owner), who said she would probably be fine if I waited a day, but that if it were her cat, she’d probably run it in.

I was torn. On one hand, the thing that would give me peace of mind would be taking Miss Moneypenny to the animal hospital. But I didn’t want it to turn out like when I took her in for eating the Christmas ribbon, when they looked at her and sent me home instructing me to “keep an eye on her and bring her back if anything changes.”

If I owned a car, this might be a no-brainer. But since I don’t, I have the added complication of figuring out how we will get to and from the vet. And Miss Moneypenny hates being in her carrier, so she is guaranteed to scream the entire time, making it traumatic on both of us.

Should I go? Should I wait? I was truly torn, so I decided to give it a bit of time to see what happened. Good news: Miss Monepenny eventually stopped pacing and took a nap, so I used that opportunity to run to Petco and get some remedy that is supposed to relieve the symptoms of a UTI.

All was well until Miss Moneypenny awoke from her nap and went straight to her litterbox – where she began howling, then pacing, then licking, then howling, then repeat. And repeat some more. Indefinitely.

Since it was looking like it would be a long night for both of us, I decided to bite the bullet and take her to the animal hospital. My driver on the way there was awesome – very understanding and sweet about the fact that he was transporting a cat. He went so far as to call himself a kitty ambulance, though he got a bit uncomfortable when he asked what was wrong and I told him she was peeing blood.

I guess that IS something of conversation stopper.

All was fine at the vet – they gave me two different medicines to get her started on immediately to help with the pain. And while I hadn’t spent my afternoon at a cookout, I’d only spent a few hours at the ER, so I was willing to consider it something of a win…

Until I had to get home. I was so relieved to have the worst behind me that I’d forgotten that the Uber ride is part of the trauma. Without thinking, I summoned a car and hopped into it. As soon as I set the duffel back containing Miss Moneypenny on the backseat, she let out a Volume 20 MEOW.

The Uber driver (named Cynthia) let rip with a blood-curdling scream and almost ran us into a telephone pole. “I’m sorry,” I began, but before I could finish, she interrupted, “What IS that?”

“It’s my cat,” I started to explain. In fact, I usually warn Uber drivers that I have an animal before getting into their car and ask if it’s OK. This time, however – probably because Cynthia had exercised a splendid lack of respect for other motorists and stopped for the pick-up in the middle of the road with a line of impatient cars honking behind her – I’d decided to just jump in for the sake of efficiency.

“Where IS it?” she yelled.

“It’s here – she’s zipped in this cat carrier,” I said, pointing.

“I hate cats,” she yelled. “They scare me. My ex-mother-in-law had cats. They sneaky. They all quiet. Then they just be there. Looking at you.”

“Well,” I offered, “This one isn’t quiet. She won’t sneak up on you.”

Miss Moneypenny hadn’t stopped howling from the second we’d sat down. Just then, as Cynthia turned around to look at us and confirm everything was manageable, Miss Moneypenny’s head came exploding out of the carrier. Cynthia screamed. I grabbed the duffel, somehow managing to halt Miss Moneypenny, who by that point had gotten both front paws out as well. Apparently the vet hadn’t zipped the carrier completely.

“Get that thing back in the bag!!!” Cynthia screamed at me.

I was doing my best, but if you’ve ever tried to force a cat to do something, you know it’s a lesson in stubborn wills. It felt like time stood still as Miss Moneypenny and I fought the containment battle. I finally prevailed, but had clearly lost Cynthia’s trust in the process.

About this time, we almost got hit by a bus because Cynthia pulled out into traffic. “My nerves!” she exclaimed.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “I don’t want to stress you out. Do you want to drop me off here and I’ll call a different Uber?”

“Naw,” she said. “We almost half-way there now. Just keep it in the bag.”

I assured her I would.

About this time, she started scratching herself wildly – her arms, her legs, her head.

“Are you allergic to cats?” I asked.

“Only when I see ’em,” she responded as she scratched.

Throughout all of this, Miss Moneypenny continued to shriek, making sure that no one forgot there was a cat in the car.

Finally, when we were a block from my place, we hit a red light. “I’ll jump out here,” I offered. “I feel so bad that this has caused you stress – I can take it from here.”

Cynthia didn’t argue. I just saw my door lock flip open. “Thank you so much,” I said, pulling the carrier from the car.

Without a word, Cynthia flipped a U-turn – at a red light, from the right lane – and burned rubber as she left us in her rearview.

You know I felt compelled to give her five stars. Out of guilt. Somehow I don’t think she had the same compulsion.

 

Is there a doctor in the house?

25 Jan
Image Source: https://www.recruiter.com/i/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/CURIOUS-INTERESTED-CAT-DOCTOR.jpg

“What seems to be the purroblem?”

 

I’m sick. I think there’s a chance it might be the flu, but I get irritated by people who self-diagnose incorrectly, so I’ll just tell you my symptoms and let you decide what I have:

  • Fever ranging from 102 – 103.5 for 24 hours, then in the 101 range for a day, now back to normalish.
  • Achy, like someone worked me over with a ball-pein hammer while I was sleeping, including in my ears, across my temples, in the back of my neck, in my hips, and in my ribs.
  • Sneezy, snotty nose and nagging, hacking cough
  • Splitting headache, exhaustion, fatigue, lack of appetite

Oh, and it seems that everything I read/watch/listen to makes me cry. (Don’t even try to tell me it’s PMS. It’s not.)

Now that we have that covered, here are a few snippets that capture the last few days of ceiling-staring:

Musings of the Ill…

ONE: Nurse or Saber-Toothed Death Watch Attendant? 

Miss Moneypenny makes a good nurse… I think. At least, she’s made a point of staying within arm’s reach (either on my lap if I’m upright or snuggled next to me if I’m lying down)  since I started feeling crappy. This could be seen as sweet, but because I’ve heard one too many stories about cats who live in nursing homes and have an uncanny habit of sitting watch for people who are close to death, I’m not entirely sure what to think when I wake up and find her gazing at me. Some part of me does wonder if she’s silently willing me to die.

TWO: Call and Answer

The acoustics in my apartment building are a bit challenging. Built in the early 20th century, I’m convinced the walls and floors are only one fiber more solid than paper. As a result, I can stand in my kitchen and hear my neighbors end-of-day debrief while they cook dinner. (Lately it has included a lot of f-bombs and the word “idiots” when the guy describes his co-workers, so I suspect he’s not long for that job.) And the two year-old below me? I know when nap-time is just not going to happen based on the tantrum that wafts through my floorboards.

This week I’ve been on the other side of it, broadcasting coughs and sneezes for the masses. I hadn’t realized how out of control it had gotten until – after a particularly gripping hacking jag – the silence that followed was met with a neighbor yelling, “Thank God!” No idea which neighbor, but since there wasn’t a key sporting event on TV, I’m pretty sure his words were for me. Upside? If I get into trouble, I know I can summon a neighbor if I shout loud enough.

THREE: Ethics Exam

We are forecast for a major storm this week. I have not left my house since Wednesday. I am down to one roll of toilet paper. Do I:

  1. Try to persuade Alan (who is also sick with the same symptoms) to come to my house and bring a package of toilet paper.
  2. Use InstaCart and pay $8 for what should be a $4 purchase – assuming stores even still have any in stock, given the forecast.
  3. Muster enough energy to go next door to Starbucks, purchase a tea, use their bathroom and take a roll of toilet paper to get me over the hump.
  4. Stop eating solids.

FOUR: Things I Have Actually Googled

  1. How do I know if I have the flu
  2. Dangerously high fever range
  3. Death watch cat
  4. Shows like Downton Abbey
  5. How much Tylenol in 24 hours
  6. Can pets get the flu from humans (answer: yes, apparently)

FIVE: It’s called “Zoonosis”  

On that last point… while Miss Moneypenny has been a great nurse, zoonosis (transmission of human diseases to animals) might explain why I’ve woken up to the not-so-calming sound of her barfing every morning since I got sick. I like to think of her as an overly committed professional, kind of like Marie Curie. “It’s not worth it,” I tell her when I hear her starting to rumble in the mornings, “You’ll never win a Nobel Prize.”

In other news, anyone who owns a vicious dog might want to consider naming it Zoonosis so you can trickily both accept and deflect blame if it ever kills another animal. Imagine how it would play out:

“Your dog killed my chinchilla”

“ZOONOSIS killed your chinchilla.” 

“No, your DOG killed my chinchilla.”

And repeat.

 

Back to bed for this girl. Here’s hoping you don’t get what I’ve got. If you do, blame your pet.

PS: I don’t have the energy to proofread or spellcheck this, so if there are errors: you’re welcome.

And now we wait…

7 Dec

Image Source: http://gooddogcoaching.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/xmas-cat-w-ribbon.jpg

When your *best case* scenario relies on hoping for your cat to shit out three feet of Christmas ribbon, you know some poor choices have been made somewhere, by someone.

In my case, I can’t decide if I’m at fault for pulling out green curling ribbon when wrapping a birthday present for my friends’ baby. Or if Miss Moneypenny – who suddenly decided that curling ribbon looked DELICIOUS – is to blame.

Regardless, one minute I was sitting there listening the Christmas carols and wrapping a present. The next, I was online googling “cat ate ribbon” and finding that I probably needed to rush her to an emergency vet.

Nevermind that it was 9pm on a Saturday and it was pouring rain outside and I don’t have a car. And the vet is located up near Maryland. Sigh.

Don’t get me wrong – I did consider just riding it out and seeing what would happen. After all, Miss Moneypenny didn’t seem to be distressed. In fact, she seemed oddly sated – and newly obsessed with curling ribbon.

Let me back up.

After wrapping my friends’ baby’s gift, I decided it would look better with a wee bit of ribbon on it. So I pulled out a spool of thin green curling ribbon – ribbon that I’m pretty sure was out frequently last year during the holidays and that seemed to have escaped Miss Moneypenny’s notice at the time.

I cut a four foot section of ribbon and draped it over the back of my chair while I returned the spool to its drawer. When I turned around, the ribbon was on the floor, Miss Moneypenny was sitting on top of it, licking her lips – and only a foot of it remained. I was baffled.

“Did you just eat that?” I asked. By the way she attacked the remaining foot of ribbon, it was obvious that she had. If I hadn’t moved quickly, that last bit of ribbon would’ve been down her hatch as seamlessly as a snake swallowing a tiny mouse. (This, from a cat who is super picky about her REAL food.)

Immediately, I thought of my childhood friend’s dog, Toby, who had once eaten an entire spool of dental floss – all 25 yards of it. My friend’s family had returned home to find the plastic dispenser hanging out of his mouth, and were able to pull about three yards of it out before it seemed to stick on something. They took Toby to the vet, where a chunk of his intestines were removed. Apparently that’s common when an animal eats an excessive length of a linear object.

I did what everyone does when faced with the prospect of bundling up their animal for a weekend/late night ER trip. I a) posted a query on Facebook, hoping my cat-owning friends would tell me I was over-reacting and could just stay home, and b) googled to see if the wider internet community could offer some reassurance that cats regularly ate three feet of curling ribbon and lived to tell about it.

Sadly, on both counts the response was, “Better get to the vet.”

I made one last attempt at avoiding the vet by calling the emergency line and asking if I could just monitor Miss Moneypenny and bring her in if she seemed distressed? Answer: No, get thee to a vet.

So we did. Thank you, Uber, for making that relatively easy. And the animal hospital was surprisingly well-staffed at 10pm on a Saturday. There must’ve been at least a dozen people working, and they were all really friendly. Fortunately, it was also a quiet night, so there were only two other people in the waiting room: one was a woman whose Labradoodle was having an allergic reaction to his vaccines, and the other was a man whose two daschunds had gotten into a tin of pure cocoa and needed their stomachs pumped.

Explaining that my cat had just ingested 2-3 feet of curling ribbon made me feel like they might send us home with a Darwin Award.

Instead, they sent us home without treatment and instructions to just monitor her for lethargy, vomiting or any other evidence that the ribbon had created an intestinal blockage. (I’d like to point out that that was the plan I’d originally proposed, and which they’d shot down over the phone.) There’s a 50% chance she’ll be able to pass it on her own, and a 50% chance we’ll need to go back for emergency surgery.

“Was there nothing that could be done NOW?” I asked, hoping to head-off both the possibility of surgery and having to monitor her litterbox for evidence that it had passed. I also didn’t want this trip to the vet – which would end up costing $200 – to be in vain. “Can’t we pump her stomach and make her puke it up? Or do an endoscopy and retrieve it before it works into her intestines in the first place?”

Apparently the answer to both questions is, “Not unless you want to spend an even crazier amount of money” – at least at 10pm on a Saturday night when their Surgical Internist is home in bed.

So I packed up Miss Moneypenny and we returned home.

Side note: The Uber driver on our way home puzzled me. He seemed to really like animals and was awesome about letting me bring a cat into his cab, but had some questions that indicated a lack of familiarity with cats. To wit:

Driver: How often do you need to cut her hair? 

Me: Cats don’t really need haircuts.

Driver: I take my daughter to PetSmart to see cats get their hairs cut. But there are never any cats. Just dogs.

Me: Yeah, I don’t think cats ever really get their hair cut.

Driver: How long can their hair get though? Very long? 

Me: No, it stays a pretty set length. You know how they have a winter and a summer coat? Maybe they just lose all their fur frequently enough that that’s why we never see it grow past a certain length.

Driver: Do you shampoo her? 

Me: No. Cats do a good job of grooming themselves.

Driver: What does the groomer do then? Just cut their hairs? 

????

So now we’re home. I’m monitoring her. And while I certainly don’t want to return to the vet for emergency surgery, I can’t say I’m looking forward to seeing that three feet of ribbon resurface.

My friend Andrew reminded me that he had an equally distressing situation some years ago when his doberman ate a box of dryer sheets. How’d it work out? According to his roommate, who witnessed the entire thing: “He looked like a tissue dispenser for about 20 minutes.”

At least dryer sheets smell nice.

The vet’s office is a zoo. Almost literally.

1 Sep
I said STOP WEIGHING ME.

I said: STOP. WEIGHING. ME.

Five months ago, I was given a lecture when I took Miss Moneypenny to the vet. “She’s gained two pounds since you owned her. Careful with the treats. Her ideal weight is 10 lbs.” So when we got home, I scaled back her treats. And maybe her dry food a bit. And I may have made a few jokes in her presence about kitty cat fat camp.

In any case, when we went back to the vet a month later, they said, “Yeesh! She’s down to almost nine pounds. We better do a blood test.”

I tried to explain that her weight loss was deliberate, but they were hearing none of that. They did a blood test and called me two days later to say, “It’s as we suspected. Miss Moneypenny has a hyperactive-thyroid. It’s off the charts and you need to put her on medicine now or she’ll waste away.”

Here I thought I was the Jillian Michaels of feline fitness. So much for the Biggest Mewser™ business plan I’d started writing.

I have enough medical fights in my life with my GI Specialist, who is always trying to guilt me into taking medicines I fundamentally disagree with, so when it came to Miss Moneypenny, my response was, “Fine. What do I need to give her?”

Long story short, thirty days after beginning her medicine, we were back at the vet for a follow-up blood test to see if the medicine was effective. I made the mistake of showing up at 6pm on a week night, which is apparently when *everybody* takes their sick pets in. I feel like I can *almost* refer to the waiting room as “literally a zoo” and not be completely deserving of a grammar infraction.

The cast of characters featured a French Bulldog named Lily, a Whippit, a Great Dane named Annie, three other random dogs (beagle, boxer and chihuahua) and a few cats in carriers. Miss Moneypenny hates being in her carrier, which – considering it looks like a gym bag that a mobster might toss in the river – is not completely without reason – but she was surprisingly calm in the midst of the chaos. After screaming at everyone to announce her arrival, she kicked back and took a bath.

Hint: One of these is a falabella.

Hint: One of these is a falabella.

While we were sitting there, a woman showed up with a cute puppy named Teddy, who was to Golden Retrievers what a Falabella is to regular horses. (I’ve included a photo in case you’re too lazy to Google that reference.)

The dog was adorable, but wildly out of control. When his other mother showed up, he was so excited, I watched him scale her like a mountain goat. She was seated in a chair and Teddy was standing on her shoulders, totally wrapped around her  head.

As we waited (and waited) for Miss Moneypenny to get called back, I had ample time to observe Teddy and his lack of discipline. He was on a retractable leash and his owners let it out with abandon. They were lost in conversation so they didn’t notice when Teddy began chewing on a dog wearing a cone, or when he tried to butt-sniff a dog who clearly wasn’t feeling well.

Everyone in the waiting room began exchanging glances. Teddy was undeniably adorable, but his clueless owners were allowing him to be a bit of a nuisance. About this time, Teddy walked to the center of the waiting room and proceeded to take a leak that would do Austin Powers proud. The puddle was not insignificant.

Amazingly, his owners didn’t notice this, despite my repeatedly looking at Teddy, then looking at them. Everyone else in the waiting room was doing the same as we all wondered if we should say something or sit back and see how long it would take them to notice. We silently agreed to go the latter route until a few minutes later, when the pee was flowing along the grout between tiles and was about to soak the bag of one of the women.

“Excuse me,” another (nicer) woman called to her, “You might want to move your bag.”

At this, Teddy’s owner looked down, saw the approaching pee and grabbed her bag up with disgust. Then she traced the stream back to its pool of origin, which by this time had little Teddy paw prints in and out of it. If it were a crime scene, it would be an open-and-shut case.

And yet, she turned to her partner and said, “Oh my God – there’s a whole puddle of pee on the floor. Someone’s dog peed there!”

To which her partner asked, “Do you think it was Teddy?”

Without missing a beat, she said, “No – he went right before we got in the car.”

Let me point out – there were no other dogs remotely near the puddle and the only wet foot prints tracked directly to their dog. Everyone in the waiting room again exchanged wordless glances that – had we been playing charades – would’ve prompted a win for the phrase, “You must be shitting me.”

After sitting there for a few minutes, Teddy’s owner finally said – loudly enough for everyone to hear, “Well, I guess if the owner isn’t going to clean it up, I will.” And she huffed over to the desk and asked for paper towels. Um, thanks for the favor?

Let’s just hope she decides not to ever have a baby. Ever.

Oh – and in case you’re curious, Miss Moneypenny weighed in at 11.8 pounds, which apparently is now great. Whatever.