Friday, December 18, 2009

So this is a horse blog right?

If it seems like I'm on a cat rant lately, that's because I am. But Armani thinks he deserves a mention. It is his blog.

While Baby was sick I spent 2 weeks away from the barn to nurse her. (...I also burned almost all my vaccation time for 2010.) It was the longest Armani and I had been apart. Armani was ridden by his trainer and was reportedly good... at first...

She called me a few times to ask how the cat was. "How's Armani?" I asked.
"Oh, don't worry about him." Hmm, ominous?
...I tried hard not to. When I got back to the barn finally, I had to pry the whole story out.

Armani makes hay

First, Armani apparently made hay at a lesson. Another Grand Prix trainer had asked to borrow Armani once a week for her students. Evidently his last lesson was cut short because of erratic behavior.

Armani declares war
Armani did not leave a fence untouched. He went on an unabashed board breaking, fence jumping, gate unlatching spree. Most uncharacteristically, he even left his dinner behind when he ran wild.

Armani is unrepentant
2 weeks later, I returned. Armani squealed and raced to the gate. He began working at the latch. "Hang on, Stinker!"

He danced around in the crossties. "Settle, settle..." I softly intoned. He completely disregarded my advice. He tried to follow me into the tack room. The crossties snapped, swung about. He knocked my trainer's saddle off the rack.

Back in the saddle, "It's not like riding a bicycle." I mused. I had my period. I felt out of sync. It was a windy, snowy day. Armani was high as a kite. He leapt at every gust. He carreened toward walls.  He snorted. He stomped. He spun. He flew.

Armani decided the indoor arena was a gladiator arena. For 3 days I struggled through his airs-above-ground. "He sure has gotten stronger."

I was frustrated. Armani needs a steady hand. I knew it was my fault for having been gone so long. But I couldn't have neglected Baby.

Armani reforms himself, a bit...

Then I was invited to go on a trail ride. My companions were a 80 year old lady on a quarter horse and a close friend on a 4 year old. In such company, Armani was expected to be a seasoned leader.

Armani rose to the occasion - sort of. Actually he grumbled and grunted for the whole ride. But that was his only display of defiance. We rode through wood and field, through 2 feet of dense snow, for over an hour. The ladies had a wonderful time. After we got back I gave him a massage and treats.

The next day it was back to the gladiator arena.

Vaccine-associated sarcoma in cats

Daisy made a very good point in comments, which is that there is a risk of vaccine-associated sarcoma in cats (read more...). It's good for cat parents to know about this risk. Our vet does vaccines in a leg, because that is easier to remove if a sarcoma develops. In our state, a rabies vaccine is required for cats, but nothing else. Keeping your kitty indoors can protect them from FeLV and other communicable diseases. Our cats are all indoors and only go out on supervised leash walks.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More about Leukemia in cats

We got Baby Scout's ashes back yesterday. We are having a very hard time accepting her death. A few weeks before she was vibrant, healthy and active. 

Here is some more info to go with this post about leukemia in cats.

It's hard to find info about leukemia in cats because most results on Google are for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) - which is a misnomer, it's a retro-virus, like HIV, not cancer itself, though it is suspected that it can cause cells to become cancerous.

Baby didn't have the virus. Baby had leukemia the cancer on its own. I got a little sad yesterday because I was telling someone and they scolded "Oh, well you should have vaccinated your cat!", implying I was neglectful and deserved it. I had to explain that it wasn't the same thing - but I'm not sure they believed me. It hurt because my husband and I treated Baby like she was our own baby. She couldn't have been more protected and pampered with care. Still I resisted my urge to slug this person. After all, if I thought someone failed to vaccinate a cat, wouldn't I "tsk tsk" too? I've been wondering if I should just tell people she died of "cancer" and leave it at that.

Info on standalone Leukemia in cats
There's two types of Leukemia, acute and chronic. Lots of subsets of each.
1) Chronic hits older animals, but is much slower, more treatable and the symptoms can be more subtle.
2) Acute usually strikes the young to middle aged and healthy. It kills very quickly. Based on Baby's health beforehand, symptoms such as very large, immature blasts, the extreme severity, and very sudden onset, I think she very clearly had Acute. The prognosis for this is "bad" as I highlighted below. Autopsy revealed it had already spread to her spleen.

A good plain-English article on Leukemia in cats and dogs

Therapy and prognosis for the different types of leukemia are quite different. ALL tends to have a very poor prognosis, and affected animals often succumb to secondary infection.... Unfortunately, pets with ALL often die within days to months of diagnosis.

A more medical article on Leukemia in cats with photos of blood cells

Although there are many similarities between the human and animal forms of the disease, the clinical course and outcome are very different. The prognosis with chemotherapy treatment is poor in canine and feline patients, and the average survival time is only a few months. Untreated, the estimated survival time from diagnosis is less than two weeks

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Baby passed away on Friday

Scout, "Baby", lost her battle on Friday.

We did everything medically possible to save Baby, including rounds of ultrasounds, endoscopy, IV/oxygen, and brought in our other 2 cats and my mothers cats as potential blood donors. But she was unable to recover and we had her put to sleep. We had an autopsy performed. The vets determined it was leukemia (the cancer not FeLV).

It would be impossible to sum-up what she meant to us. There are so many stories. She was more than our "pet cat" she was like another person to us and our best friend and baby. My husband and I are devastated.

Instead of gifts for us this Christmas, we asked our family to give to the Springfield Humane Society in her name. If anyone else would like to give to a very good independent, non-profit, humane society please consider leaving a donation in the name of "Scout". We did so the day after Scout passed.

Their Website is:

I also blogged about visiting them here. I visit frequently. And I can tell you that all the animals are wonderfully cared for and they are active in the community. They are a very deserving charity.

I probably won't feel like blogging for a few weeks. We are, anonymously through our vet, giving all of Baby's diabetic supplies to a needy family whose cat was just diagnosed. I couldn't throw away her last test strip just yet. We saved it in a baggy with her hair.

I wish you, your furry friends, and family a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Leukemia in Cats versus Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)

Might be of interest to cat owners, the similarities and differences between "Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)", a retrovirus that causes illness, for which there is a vaccine, and  "Leukemia", a form of cancer. Baby had Leukemia alone. She was vaccinated for FeLV and was retested as negative before her death.

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow and is characterized by an abnormal proliferation (production by multiplication) of blood cells, usually white blood cells (leukocytes). Leukemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases. In turn, it is part of the even broader group of diseases called hematological neoplasms. ...continue reading about "Leukemia"
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a retrovirus that infects cats. As a retrovirus, the genetic information of FeLV is carried by RNA instead of DNA. FeLV is usually transmitted between infected cats when the transfer of saliva or nasal secretions is involved. If not defeated by the animal’s immune system, the virus can be lethal. The disease is a virus, not a cancer. The name stems from the fact that the first disease associated with the virus was a form of leukemia. By the time it was discovered that the virus was not the same as leukemia, the misnomer had already found its way into the vocabulary of pet owners.
...continue reading about "Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)"

FeLV can infect wild species of cats as well, as in this case of an infected Bobcat.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Please think of my cat Baby

I've been quiet because my cat, Scout, aka "Baby", is seriously ill. She has been living with diabetes for a year. But recently she spiked a fever and out of control immune response.

She's in a vet clinic on multiple IVs. They aren't sure at this time what the original cause of her illness is. The outlook is poor.

Baby is my most beloved pet, and really my best friend. Please think of her.