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Monday, June 30, 2014

The Saddest Cat in Ohio

Yesterday I was stuck at a gas station in the city of Medina, Ohio for an hour.  It was there that I met the saddest young cat, probably between 6-9 months old based on his/her size.  The pictures are a little out of focus, but you can see that it had white and tan markings, beautiful blue eyes, and matted fur.  I could see fleas or similar insects on his coat, and his left ear appeared to be bitten.  He had trouble walking, and it was difficult for him to chew food as he appeared to have either no teeth or very few.

The cat was so friendly and desperate for love that he was walking all over the tiny gas station parking lot, bringing him at risk of getting run over by a truck.  I went into the gas station and bought him a can of wet cat food, and when I put it down for him, I realized that this poor cat was likely blind.  He wanted the food, but he could only sniff for it and seemed to look right through me.  I put down the food and he took a very long time to eat it despite wet food typically being easier for cats to chew.


I called the Medina SPCA, but since it was Sunday, they were closed and I have not heard back.  I tried calling the Cleveland APL, but they were also closed and only take animals if they are dropped off and I had no way of transporting the cat.  The local animal shelter still uses the gas chamber (according to a google search anyway) so I could not call them. When I left, I cried about having to leave this cat in these horrible conditions.  If I didn't already have 2 cats, I likely would have taken him with me, but I was hours from home and couldn't bring a very ill cat in with my own cats and risk their health and safety.  It was still one of the hardest things I have had to do.


Please, if you live near Medina or can contact their SPCA, help this cat.  I literally can't stop thinking about his sad little face just wanting a little love and attention.  I was told that the cat has been hanging out at this station for at least a week, but I can't imagine that he will survive much longer on his own.  In honor of the last day of 'Adopt a Cat month', please help this little guy survive to at least experience some compassion.  The address of the gas station that I found him at is 2968 Ridge Rd, Medina, OH 44256.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Small Pet Problems & Care

I am that rare person that loves cats and dogs equally, but I have yet to find a smaller pet come even close to comparison.  As a child, my sister and I had parakeets.  Their life spans were very short, and since they were our first pets, I cried every time.  They were named Chi Chi, Cookie, Coco and Candy. Cookie, a blue and white bird, was my favorite, because I was around 8 and he was a gift to me.  Next we adopted Coco and Candy, a pair of yellow and green parakeets together, and were our last pet birds. It was hard to connect with them; they were loud, messy and so mean that we could rarely pet them without getting pecked.

Then my sister adopted a white gerbil with red eyes.  He reminded me of Bunnicula, a story I read as a child.  This gerbil also broke out of the cage from time to time, and he ended up staying in our living room.  One time, he started drinking from our dog's water bowl, and one time he simply got out and sat on top of his cage.  The time he was sitting on the top of the cage, I was the last one awake in the house, and when I turned off the TV to go to bed, I simply saw red eyes staring at me.  It startled me, but I put him back in his cage.

None of the pictures on this page are of the pets in my post, but each are very similar to what they looked like.
White Gerbil with Red eyesGreen Frog

My dad created a small pond in our old backyard and put a turtle in it.  The turtle literally walked away one day. There were rumors for years after that people saw him in the much larger development pond, and I choose to believe he is there to this day.  My sister tried getting a frog next.  It ate crickets, and the crickets would escape from the cage, so she started keeping the frog's cage in our bathroom.  As a teenager, I was not at all happy with this arrangement.

Sulcata Tortoise
This Sulcata looks a lot like Morty.
Chris has a sulcata tortoise that's probably about a decade old now.  I have no idea as to what gender he is, but I named him Morty.  Morty is mildly entertaining.  Kita thinks he is a ton of fun and of course tries to play with him despite Morty's disinterest.  The cats stare at him, but don't get very close.  With Pearl's hunting instincts, we keep him well away from her.  On sunny days, we let him out in our fenced backyard and he strolls around for hours eating grass.  He alerts us that he wants to go out by bumping his shell into the wood side of his cage.  The sound is louder than you would think, so he typically gets his way.  Apparently, this species lives very long and gets very large, but we'll deal with that much later in life.  I wish our dogs and cats would live so long!

I have also had some experience with raising bunnies, but I will write about that soon.  Chris and I are pretty big animal lovers, and even though smaller pets aren't my favorite, I have had mostly positive experiences with them.  While I am definitely not an expert, feel free to ask me questions and I can probably point you towards more helpful information.  If you are looking for an animal that will love you back, I think cats and dogs are the way to go, but frankly, I'm quite biased, so don't take my word for it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dementia

My 'Nana' Tombazzi has Alzheimer's Disease The symptoms started over 10 years ago, but some family members couldn't accept the signs and attributed it to her being forgetful or her age.  I've watched the slow progression and it has been tough.  I try to visit 4-6 times a year, and every time I question:

"Will she remember me?  Is she having a good day or is she completely disoriented?  How can I offer her support without getting upset myself?"

She still knows my name and that I am her oldest granddaughter.  For a while, she could remember Chris's name, but now she doesn't know whether I'm married or single, go to school or have a job, have children or am still a child myself.  She introduced me to her daughter, my Aunt, recently as if we didn't know one another.

What started as forgetting a few things here and there has progressed very steadily as she slowly loses more and more of her memories and thinking skills.  She is now forgetting her own childhood, which she used to look back at with such joy, always telling stories about how her sister (and best friend through it all) and her grew up with a Mom and Dad that she adored.  It hit me hard when she couldn't recall her childhood or her favorite story, which is the story of how her Papa and her met and fell in love.

Nana & Papa with their 2 sons
Nana and Papa with their sons.
This is before Nana's diagnosis. 
Yet, she sings, remembering every word to every song she hears.  Those lyrics haven't left her, and when she goes into a daze, we can try to bring her back by starting to sing.  Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin are remembered with a smile, but she has no idea what year it is or what is happening in the world at any given time.  When I tell her my age, she goes "Oh my, then I must be very old!"

My Papa, whom she always referred to as her hero, has really filled that role as Nana's mind has continued to deteriorate.  Despite being in his eighties, he cooks, does all of the housework, and tends to her every need.  He has to answer her questions over and over again, give her pills, make sure she naps, that she eats and drinks water, and that she goes to the restroom enough.  She says "He takes good care of me".

Is she still there?  Still the same person?  Yes, but different.

Memories and experiences shape who we are, and she has lost a lot of that.  However,  her personality shines at moments, when she is singing, looking at photos and family videos, and when she is genuinely excited to see someone she loves.  When I spent a week there last year, every morning she'd exclaim "Angela!  I missed you so much.  Are you staying here with me?"

Every time she sees me, she tells me it has been too long since I've seen her, and it probably has.  But how long does she think it has been?  One time she thought she hadn't seen me since I was a very little girl, and she thought I had been missing for years.  I'll see her in two days and I'm preparing myself to stay positive and patient.  Negative emotions only upset her, so I try to be all smiles around her.  When I squeeze her hand and tell her that I love her, she says "I love you too."

Alzheimer's is taking her away from us bit by bit, and every time she is a little different, a little worse.  A mind is a truly terrible thing to lose, and it is also very difficult to witness in slow motion.  Learn more about the various types ofdementia here, prevention tips, and how to tell the signs early.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

If You Want To Make a Cat Mad, Get a Puppy

Seph and Pearl still have to get used to each otherOur tuxedo cat, Seph, is probably about 14 years old.  For the first 3 years after we adopted him, he only lived with other cats.  In 2009, we got our Husky, Kita, and he was not thrilled.  Seph believes that Chris is his human only, and Kita took some of his attention away.  Seph would constantly try to get Kita in trouble when he was a puppy, by bothering him until Kita got mad, and then Kita would have to go in his cage. After about a year, Kita began to figure out how to keep Seph from getting mad at him, and since that time, Seph has grown to love and trust him, even if he does get annoyed by Kita's high energy level at times.

Enter our puppy, Pearl.  Pearl is unpredictable, and if Seph hates anything, its unpredictability.  Change is not acceptable and loud noises are cause for shunning.  Pearl whines and barks much more than Kita ever did, and Seph could not make his disdain more clear to us.  He will stare at her while she barks with a look of pure hatred.  If she is energetic, he runs from the room and will run around crying until she is done.  He, of course, hates when Pearl jumps on Chris's lap, so he will sit in a place where she can't reach him and will stare at her some more.  In the mornings, I drink coffee before I feed Pearl and let her out, and Seph has learned that if he sits on my lap while I drink my coffee, Pearl will have to stay in her "house" longer.  He now schedules his own naps for when she is out playing.

I don't know if Seph will ever learn to accept Pearl as he has accepted Kita, but hopefully they will learn to live in harmony.  Pearl is a wild card to him right now, but the one thing Seph can count on is that Kita will not let Pearl hurt him or our other cat Zoey in any way.  Kita knows Pearl can be rough, so he watches her like a hawk, ready to run and pull her away if she bothers one of the cats for too long.

Seph keeps his distance from Pearl
In short, my limited experience has been that adult cats are not fond of puppies.  I can guarantee that this isn't a universal trait as all animals have very different personalities, but many dogs get calmer and more predictable as they grow older, and cats are much more willing to deal with a personality that they can understand and trust.  Also, Seph and Pearl are probably an extreme example, considering Seph is 13 years older than Pearl and a bit of a grump, while Pearl is young, rambunctious and loud.  Seph is unlikely to change, but he may learn to tolerate Pearl when she grows up and relaxes a bit.  Time can only tell.