Tim, and the Other Psychotic Cats...

Reply Mon 16 Dec, 2019 04:32 am
Nagahama Cat Life continues...

Tim is a white and grey tiger kitty who came to us in the summer of 2017. One of my karate students, lodging in the dojo, took a walk down the road to the nearby beach, and on his return, was followed up the hill to the dojo by a very small male kitten. Of course we made sure it had soft food and plenty of water before turning in for the night, and I rather thought it would go back home to his momma. However I was not surprised to find him waiting for me at the head of the steps when the sun came up the next morning.

But Tim couldn’t stand up. It’s probable that he suffered a misadventure in his new location during the previous evening. He dragged himself across the walkway to the food dish. I immediately put him in a safe cage, and took him to the vet as soon as the clinic opened that morning.

Tim’s left hip joint was snapped. He was too small for surgery, so the vet opted for letting it heal into a false joint that would be as usable as the real one reconnected. To do this, he had to adjust the leg so the joint pieces were at least in close proximity and they could heal together as well as possible.

He placed a fairly wide tube (smooth-edged holes on both ends) in Tim’s colon so he could pass solid waste, and bound the leg up against his hips so the bones were in the right place. It must have been incredibly uncomfortable at first, but young animals adjust quickly to almost all such situations. Tim was up on 3 legs in a short time.

He spent nearly 3 weeks in the clinic and another 3 or 4 at home in a large cage before the tube could be removed and the joint had set well enough that he could have the binding removed, and he could finally stretch his leg out again.

Tim turned out to be one of the most active, running, jumping, springing, playful – and lovable – cats we have ever had. However, over the past year he developed a urinary tract infection that eventually left him unable to pass urine easily. He was on antibiotics and anti-inflammation meds for several months, and seemed to be doing OK. But last week, he went for nearly 3 days without passing urine, and was laying on his side panting when I came home from school one day. I took him in to the vet, of course.

The crystals in his urine had scratched the urinary tract tube, and now it is blocked with scar tissue. He is scheduled for surgery this Thursday. The vet will check for clearance in the tube, and remove the section that has the scarring, then reconnect the shortened tube to create a nearly normal urinary tract. The tube will stretch and eventually grow to this length naturally. I am assured this is a common surgery and is usually successful. Usually. A slightly more complicated surgery is undertaken if so much of the tube is internally scarred that most or all of it must be removed, and the bladder connected to an opening in the cat’s abdomen. He would then have to pass urine through a hole in his abdomen. I was told that he could still control it as usual, just that it would come out in a different place than he’s used to. The concern is that the fur around the hole would be wet all the time, and could lead to frequent infections.

I go to see Tim each day after school, and he is really happy to see me. The vet tells my wife and I that our cats especially are all the sweetest cats they have ever had in the clinic, and none of them give any trouble. All are extremely friendly and mellow, and loved to be held and petted.

On the psychotic side, we have a formerly-feral male cat named Holiday who is angry at his tail... Holiday is another grey and white tiger striped cat, about 6 years old, and had one eye removed when he was very young because it was badly infected. We took him in at the request of a friend of one of my students. The friend was departing Okinawa for the USA (military family) and had been feeding Holiday and his mother for the previous few months. We agreed to adopt him if she would get all his shots, and have his infected eye taken care of at the vet.

Though Holiday stayed indoors, he was pretty much feral for his first year with us until we got him neutered. Then he settled down and very slowly trusted me to pet him, but as yet he will not allow me to hold him.

One day he escaped the house and was gone most of the day. Turns out he was hiding in the bushes in front of the dojo. When I got him back into the house, he acted and moved very strangely. By evening, he was unable to walk. His hind legs were paralyzed...

The vet examined him and couldn’t find a reason. Holiday wasn’t injured, there was no trauma visible, and his blood work came back “all normal”. But from the hips down, he was paralyzed.

Over the next several weeks, he dragged himself around the house, unable to run, move his hind legs, and unable to jump in a chair. We used a lot of newspaper on the floor during that time. Movement slowly returned, he was able to stand and walk on all fours but with a stagger, and could drag himself up the cushioning onto a chair. Finally, after nearly a year, he was back to normal. I was careful about the door since then, but he has shown little interest in going out anymore.

Holiday started being angry at his tail shortly after Nemo died this past summer. He was deeply attached to Nemo as a friend, and to Anna – absolutely devoted to Anna and would suffer any punishment or slight she would offer him gladly, just to be near her. I wrote another forum entry about Holiday grieving for his missing friend Anna some time back.

Anyway, I thought his tail might be infected, or have a fungus, or fleas – but no, he’s just really mad at it... It’s a psychosis. He bites the end of it so hard and viciously that it bleeds, and I think he has bitten off the tip-end vertebra already (the end looks to be about an inch shorter, with a stubby tip). Every other day or so, he just begins to growl, then he attacks his tail. The end of it is a mass of dried blood.

Of course, I took him in to have him looked at. The vet said “I think he will be happier without the tail. He doesn’t really need it.”

But the next surgery date being weeks away, Holiday had to come home. Now it’s near impossible to get him into a carrier cage again. He runs and hides, and if I catch him, he is all claws, teeth, and snarling.

I wipe his spattered blood off the floor, walls, and other items almost every morning and evening.

His surgery is scheduled for 24 December. The afternoon before, I am to give him a sedative pill, crushed and mixed with fish paste (his favorite), wait until he settles down into a stupor, then bundle him gently into the cage and bring him in to the clinic.

Next, one cat for whom we can do nothing but be patient... In my old office attached to our lounge on the 1st floor, there is a small black cat with a voice that can be heard up and down the street. Her name is Blackberry, and she is totally anti-social toward the other cats. The only cats she ever got along with were Chance (who passed away many months ago) and Amy (who passed away last year).

Blackberry screams. All day, almost all night. Top of her voice. She is screaming for her lost roommates, with whom she would snuggle and sleep. And it has been a long time since they've been gone.

I tried to introduce her to the rest of the indoor cats but in less than a minute, there’s a fight. Not just squabbling or squaring off and hissing, but an all-out attack by Blackberry especially on the younger cats. She hates everybody except her old absent roomies.

Once, I put her in a big cage in the same room with the others, but the stress she exhibits from being in a cage in the midst of “enemies”, and unable to run or attack, is just far too tense for me to even watch. The noise she makes is unbearable. So I just have to leave here in the old office which I can no longer use (can’t concentrate or work with her screaming for her lost friends). For now, the office is just storage for household stuff. And one small loud black cat.

Of course, she’s very gentle and lovable toward me.

And finally, there is Siren. She is another small black cat who just showed up on our doorstep about 4 years ago. She was young – less than a year old – and pregnant. We had problems with the young kids across the street, who would come over to our house and “play” with the cats. The friendlier cats soon learned to avoid them, but Siren didn’t know until too late. One day the littler girl (maybe 4 years old) picked Siren up by holding her under the belly and jostling her up and down like a rag doll. I heard the cries and ran out to stop this, but it was too late. That night, Siren miscarried and the kitten was born dead.

I kept Siren in a large cage inside for the next few weeks. She seemed sad and scared but I think she really didn’t know why she felt something was ... wrong, missing ...

She has been an indoor cat for the last 3 years. She used to go out with me, and come back immediately when I went in (maybe she associated me with her lost kitten or as part of herself?). But one day she and I were outside in the back yard, and she chewed on some grass (as usual, and really not much, just a small chew). But this time, she took ill. She began coughing up blood, and couldn’t walk (dragging her hind legs, much as did holiday). I took her to the vet as soon as possible, and an exam showed her stomach and intestines full of debris (not grass) and blood. She came home on meds and it took about 2 weeks to clear her system. She has been an indoor cat since.

For the past year, she has had seizures, very much like epilepsy. She begins with low growling, then sets off at a fast run around the house, jumping and knocking things over as if to get away from ... something. Then she begins flopping around, even leaping off the floor, very much like a fish on its side, and finally ends with heavy breathing and biting as deeply as possible into the rug or whatever might be near her mouth. After about 3 to 5 minutes, she opens her eyes and seems to be “gone” – it takes another few minutes for her to respond to her name, or recognize where she is. Then she’s all over me for comfort and care, she cries if I leave her or go out of the room, and runs to me for holding and petting when I return. She is really afraid, and I would think, also in some pain from her banging around on the floor and walls as she does.

If I am around while she’s having a seizure, I rush to cover her up with a blanket or towel to almost completely restrict the flopping about, though she struggles under the cover until the seizure passes.

After several test, the vet prescribed a weak sedative, but she choked up on the bad taste and I was able to get her to swallow it only half of the time. So the vet tweaked her meds, and now we have a very tiny ¼ pill which I believe to be a weak animal-strength form of Valium. She must have this twice daily for the rest of her life. So far, it seems to work, no seizures for some weeks. But time will tell whether it’s a form of animal epilepsy, or if it’s a brain tumor.

Do any readers have a fairly large cat population for which you personally care (all in your home, or settled near your house)? Do you find any of these situations familiar to you...? Last count, we care for 15 cats indoors, and probably 4 or 5 outdoor (2 of ours and a few more “peripheral” cats – mostly abandoned – that come for food, meds, and petting).
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Reply Mon 16 Dec, 2019 11:01 am
Most cats can occasionally exhibit signs of being mentally unstable.

Regarding health issue Tim's urinary tract infection, it sounds quite similar to what my late cat Arthur endured for most of his life. The vets (2 different ones over the years), called it F.U.S. or feline urinary syndrome. It comes on rather suddenly from what I recall and is quite debilitating to the creature.

Over time, I learned one warning with would be in his 'bathroom' visits (indoor cat, that's where I kept the litter box). He would visit more frequently and if I was him in there, he was clearly straining to discharge urine and would be standing as opposed to squatting. His dietary regimen came to include sardines (canned, in water, not oil) with plain, no salt added tomato juice. I also had to occasionally give him a direct does with an oral syringe gizmo into his mouth. Too get him to swallow, I'd rub his throat. However, speak to the vet, before even considering the method I used.

What occurred with your cat Holiday, reminded me of an incident in which there was a loud shriek from Arthur and he ran to hide under the bed for several hours, emerging only for bathroom visits or food for a few days. To this day, I've no idea what happened to scare him so. Maybe that was part of why your cat Holiday was hiding in the bushes that day, having been severely frightened by something.

Apart from my ramblings here, I hope things start to balance out for your feline friends. From what I've read here over time, you are a wonderful parent-figure to them, with care and hands on attention.
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Reply Sun 29 Dec, 2019 06:37 am

Tim had surgery, turned out it was the simpler and easy kind. A small section of the urinary tract was removed due to scar blockage and the tract reconnected easily. The doctor and techs told me Tim is a real sweetheart and loved everyone who paid attention to him. They remarked that this was the case with most of our cats.

Most of them...

Holiday was another story. The surgery to remove his tail was rather easy. However before he was sedated, and when he awoke, he was really angry at the world... Growls and snarls, hissing and a show of really long, sharp, pointy teeth. The vets (and I) thought he had reverted to Full Feral... Surprisingly, he never clawed or bit anyone, just gave everyone a piece of his mind regarding the whole affair.

To be on the safe side, he was sedated through the rear of the cage (and his rear, too). While he was out cold, his nails got trimmed and blunted, in case he decided to shred hands when he awoke.

Both Tim and Holiday are home now in rather overlarge cages (best kind). Tim was OK but quite vocal for a short time, then got used to incarceration pretty quick. Holiday climbed all over the cage (including swinging from the top) and put up quite a fuss. He is the only cat I’ve ever had who can make a mess out of a cage with nothing to make a mess with...

Both have large comfy beds, and instead of litter boxes I placed trays with disposable mats which they use – frequently. Food and water in clip-on bowls at face level so they can fit their cones over the bowls for easy access. I was able to let Tim out for a stretch and some wandering (with my eyes on him at all times) but when he tried to jump onto the table and cabinets, it was time to put him back in the cage. He bumps into things and I’m always afraid a cat with a cone-collar will injure himself.

When I let Holiday out for the same, he tried also to jump onto whatever he could get high up on, failed, then ran behind the upright piano. He got himself wedged between the wall and the wood support bars behind the upright. I had to move the piano away from the wall a bit, then wait until he decided to come out. This piano is on a carpet and doesn’t have rollers, so it’s really heavy and difficult to move.

When he emerged, I caught him and it was back in the cage for him (much wriggling, struggling, and cursing in Cat-ese, but no biting or attempts to scratch). For the past day he’s been mostly just crouching in his bed, watching everything going on as balefully as a cat can, I guess.

Holiday’s med is easy to give. It’s a pain reliever that crushes quite easily and mixes into a tablespoon of fish paste. I put it into a small dish and hold it for him to lap up (he can’t possibly do that if the dish is on the floor of the cage). He leaves my fingers and thumb alone, thankfully.

Tim is easy to medicate too. His are an antibiotic and a pain med, mixed into the same fish or chicken paste, squirted into his mouth, and he seems to feel he just got a yummy treat.

Unfortunately, both Tim and Holiday will have to remain in cones for another 2 weeks.

Now, the next one. A small orange and white kitty we named Peach went in for surgery for spaying yesterday. Turns out that even at about 7 months old, she was already pregnant with 4 kittens (about 2 weeks of development). They had to be removed, and the surgery was otherwise routine. My wife Sumako is at the clinic picking her up now. Peach is an outdoor cat, and the vet told us it would be OK to release her as soon as she gets home.

Finally, we have 2 more female cats in the house to spay (Flower and Paprika), and one young fella named Happy...

This has been an expensive cat month...


OK, so Peach just came home and we released her outdoors. She’s an outdoor cat and gets REALLY stressed if he has to be in the house or in a cage. She hung around me while I prepared her pain meds. She doesn’t seem to need them, but the shot she got at the vet tonight will wear off in a few hours, so...

The 4 fetuses are in a small box, and we’ll bury them tomorrow morning. Sad.

Then just about 30 minutes before typing this, Siren had a seizure. Her meds worked OK for the past few months but she still has one now and then, despite keeping the levels up in her blood. I was here (thankfully) and I threw my sweater over her to keep her from hurting herself. This one was about 4 minutes long, then she took about 15 minutes before coming to after the seizure. She’s scared and is huddled up on my lap right now, making it difficult to type with my arms outstretched (try it sometime). I’ll give her the anti-seizure meds again, and see the vet tomorrow. Maybe we have to tweak her meds again.

My life is cats...
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Reply Sun 29 Dec, 2019 09:44 am
I enjoy reading about the cats. I once had a female calico named Samantha, who was the gentlest soul I have ever known. That was many years ago. Circumstances keep me from having one anymore.
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