And she’d throw him bouquets on the stage

A slow day of catchup of things that were let slide because of catmergencies.  The laundry’s done.  Go, me.  I spent a little bit of time with Carousel Seas and managed to get some words down.  Socks has been intermittently about.  He’s still exhausted, poor guy.  Scrabble spent much of the day on the rocker, while Mozart helped me and Ox hold down the couch.

I am inordinately pleased to discover at this late date that Bruce Springsteen covered “The Man on the Flying Trapeze,” one of my grandmother’s favorite songs, and one which she sang with, err, GUSTO when we went to Sing-A-Longs in the Park.  (Are there still Sing-a-Longs in the Park?)  I was my grandmother’s chosen companion on these trips — possibly because I couldn’t sing a note, or because she believed that children should be exposed to the classics.  As a result, I know the words to a Very Odd mix of songs.

In the excitement of the Socks’ Homecoming Gala, I forgot to mention yesterday that…I bought more knives.  Cheesy Dollar Store knives, but they’ll spread the mustard.

Progress on Carousel Seas:

16,353/100,000 OR 16.35% complete

He shook his head. “Wasn’t a drop of harm in that girl, an’ her father could never say the same.”

Socks update: You can never tell with cats

This is a little later than I had intended to update; you’ll see the reason soon enough.  But I want to preface this with a story about another cat who lived with us, back when we were still in Maryland.  This cat’s name was Buzz-z; he was a grey plush who weighed in right about coon cat size.  He’d been allowed to roam by his then-owner, and one night he and a raccoon met each other out on the town, the raccoon said something, Buzz-z said something in return and, well. . .they kinda broke up the bar.

Buzz-z came home sporting multiple scrapes, scratches and bites, and over the course of a couple days, during which his owner refused to take him to the vet, because “cats heal,” he became sick, and progressively sicker. We remonstrated with the owner, the owner was adamant that it was “no sense” taking a cat to the vet, whereupon I suggested that what the owner really wanted to do, instead of talking to an animal control officer, was to give me the cat.

Steve and I then took our new cat to our vet, who checked him over, did blood work, and an x-ray, which found what appeared to be a raccoon tooth buried in Buzz-z’s  right foreleg, and said, “I’m not sure I can save this one, guys.”

We left him there, and waited for the call that would tell us that we’d waited  too long.

Well…the phone did ring, about five hours later, and it was the vet.  And the vet said something like, Can you guys come down here and pick up Buzz-z?  He won’t stay in a cage, and he’s running all around the office, flirting with the girls, and nobody’s getting any work done.

So, raise a glass of whatever it is you’re having to Buzz-z, who taught us that, You never can tell with cats.

Had we not had this lesson, we might well have told the emergency vet to let Socks go.  Had we, frankly, been as broke as we have sometimes been in the past (and indeed, as we were when we intervened on Buzz-z’s behalf), we might have told her to let Socks go.  Knowing that we had the funds to buy time, to see what would happen with treatment, because you never can tell with cats — I don’t think I can begin to tell you what a relief that was. Thank you all, again.

So, for today. . .We got up before breakfast, picked Socks up at the Lewiston Emergency Clinic, wearing a cone of shame and sporting some serious gearage in his right foreleg, and drove him up to our vet in Waterville to continue the IV hydration project.

The second we took him out of his cat carrier in the examining room, he perked up (he hates to be in the cat carrier and in addition this morning there was the whole cone of shame issue), he demanded skritches, he ran up to his vet and head-butted her, he made happy feet. . .

We left him, expecting that he would stay on ’til Wednesday, when the emergency vet’s 72 hours of hydration was complete.  Around 3:15 (after we had a nap, and lunch, and dealt with some business correspondence), we got a call from the vet, saying that we should come and get him, the new panel of blood work had shown much lower BUN/CREA numbers (though they are still elevated); the blood sugar values were down to normal.  There was, yes, still the heart murmur, and the  cancer issue which another of the vets in the practice had also scoped out, so there’s three vets saying the same thing, but what we have in hand at the moment is a joyful, comfortable, mischevious cat-person, who is extremely happy to be home.

So, that’s what we’re going with.  Steve and I now both know how to give subcutaneous liquids; we have needles and eleven sessions worth of lactated ringer solution, and Socks is right now sitting on the co-pilot’s chair beside me, having just finished giving himself a very thorough bath.


Socks on the co-pilot's chair. He's a little tired, thanks.
Socks on the co-pilot’s chair. He’s a little tired, thanks.


Socks update: the emergency vet says…

I spoke to the day-vet.  He says that Socks is doing “OK, all things considered.”  To the list of “all things” we now add a heart murmur and what this vet, as a result of performing his own examination, explains as a “lumpy, bumpy kidney,” which he finds “very suspicious,” and tentatively diagnoses as lymphoma.

On the positive side of the ledger, Socks is snacking a little, is taking a lively interest in his surroundings, and has started in to building the core for a Lewiston branch of the Socks Fan Club.

The plan remains for continued IV liquids and close observation at the Emergency Clinic, then a before-sunrise-pick-up tomorrow morning (the Emergency Clinic is 24 hours on weekends; all patients must be picked up before 7:30 a.m. on Monday), and transport to our local vet in Waterville for continued treatment.

Socks update: The news is. . .unfortunate

So, last night around 10:00, just about the time Steve and I had knocked off for the night, Socks rose from his floofy thing atop the hamper in the bathroom, walked out into hall, looked faintly startled, threw up. . .

. . .and fell over.

Long story short, Socks is at the Animal Emergency Clinic of Central Maine, in Lewiston, about an hour away from the Cat Farm.  This is an excellent facility; we’ve now had three interactions with them, including Hexapuma’s last journey, and the vets are knowledgeable and caring and very patient.

I have to tell you that the vet treating Socks. . .is not optimistic of a happy outcome.  His BUN and CREA numbers had gone even higher than they had been on Wednesday; his blood sugar was high; his white blood count considerably elevated; both of his kidneys were very large.  The vet was concerned that what she was seeing in ultrasound/xray was abnormal — she wasn’t able to tell if it was “just” inflammation, polycystic, or if the kidneys were being infiltrated by cancer cells.

Since much of this could be caused by the sudden spike in numbers, we have asked the hospital to put Socks on intravenous fluid and see what he looks like, once he’s properly hydrated and his system is less stressed.

I’m going to be calling the vet this afternoon, and will relate any new news, if there is any.  The clinic operates on a “no news is good news” policy, and they haven’t called us, so — fingers crossed, please, for Socks.


Socks update: The numbers are in

. . .and the numbers are Not Good.

Socks is in acute kidney failure*.  This obviously means that our plan of treatment has been radically changed.

We’re going to be concentrating on keeping him comfortable, hydrated, and fed.  I’ll be taking a tutorial on how to administer subcutaneous liquids to cats, so we don’t have to distress Socks with a ride to the vet every couple days.  The vet did say that she has never seen a cat with such high numbers who was still eating and drinking and enjoying life, which is a testament to Socks’ good nature and can-do attitude.


The ultrasound image is. . .inconclusive.  There was some concern about were or weren’t the kidneys polycystic — to my mind, that’s a technical detail.  The vet wants to diagnose correctly, and to that end, she’s seeking guidance from her colleagues.  The best she could tell me when we spoke this morning is that the kidneys are “not normal.”  Apparently in normal kidneys, the ultrasound will show the structure of the organ in perfect clarity.  If the kidneys are polycystic, the cysts are very visible and impossible to miss.  In Sock’s case, the kidney structure is. . .not what it should be, but if there’s a cyst tell, it isn’t obvious.

. . .as I said, for us, and for Socks — a side issue.

The other question — how long will we have him with us?  We don’t know.  We’ll treasure each day that we do have him with us.

Steve and I want to thank everyone who donated to defray Socks’ medical expenses, and everyone who were Standing Ready.  At this point, there’s really no sense in accumulating a Socks Defense Fund; this isn’t something that money — or anything else — can fix.

We’ll continue updates as seems reasonable.

Here’s a picture of Socks this morning, as Steve and I were eating breakfast.  He was full of smiles and purrs.  His position on the bench (on newspapers!  Socks loves him some newspapers!) is strategic:  the cat water fountain is directly to his left, where he can keep a close eye on it.

Socks at home, March 21, 2013
Socks at home, March 21, 2013


*Kidney function is measured in units of BUN/UREA and CREA.  The normal range for BUN/UREA is between 15 – 34 mg/dl; 0.8 – 2.3 mg/dl for CREA.  Socks’ numbers are BUN/UREA: 180 mg/dl; CREA 8.3 mg/dl.

Socks update; waiting is

Socks is home; hydrated, and a-glow with the received adoration of his fan club at the vet’s office.  What we’re waiting for are the results of blood work and ultrasound, which will help us decide what will need to happen, going forward.

Hopefully, we’ll have all the results in one place tomorrow, and will know exactly what we’re looking at.

Thank you all for your care.

Socks Update

. . .this is not the Socks update I thought I’d be making this morning.  Then, I thought that I would be saying that Socks has been going on pretty well; a little grumpy, maybe, since his last emergency trip to the vet, on March 7.  His sneezing had increased and we had reported that to his vet, who thought that maybe the Baytril he’d been on had stopped working and had put him on Clindamycin, to see if that made a difference.

That was what I would have typed, if I had written the report this morning.

Now. . .

I’m sorry to report that Socks started to throw up and showed some other distress. We called the vet (there is a snowstorm going on, though at the time of the call, and the subsequent travel, the snow had slowed considerably), and debated whether or not to take him in; since we weren’t sure there was a problem, but with his known problems did we want to take a risk. . .and, long story short, we wound up inching our way down to Waterville in the snow.  Steve drove, and it was a good thing that he did; I would have been a weeping wreck by the time we reached the vet.

Anyhow, there was a room ready when we arrived and Socks saw the lead vet in the practice, who said that, since this was a new manifestation, the best thing to do was to have Socks under observation, so. . .Socks is overnighting at the hospital, and we’ll have a report tomorrow.

We then inched back to our house in the country, the snow having picked up, and roads virtually empty, saving us, and the occasional plow truck.

. . .and that’s the Socks Update.


An overfed, long-haired, leaping gnome

Last evening, Steve and I went comet hunting — and we bagged one!  Speaking for myself, I’m always pleased when I can see anything through binoculars (Steve had brought the Big Telescope, but we decided not to get it out since the astronomical binoculars were sufficient unto the task).  The crescent moon was just brilliant — and I saw Jupiter, too, sitting right next to it.  Steve also saw three Jovian moons, but I’m not that good.

We finally left our vantage point on the ridge clearcut because we were freezing, and because the comet had traveled out of our line of sight, and came home to celebratory grilled cheese sammiches.

This morning was the morning that I was going to take my car to the Subaru Dealer in Augusta and spend (so said my pessimism, which is rarely wrong) thousands of dollars getting the ABS brakes fixed-or-replaced.

This mission was made somewhat more complex by the fact that the (brand! new! in August)  battery was stone cold dead and not even a click could be gotten out of it when I turned the key in the ignition.

I went back into the house, and called AAA, which promised a truck within the next 45 minutes, and then I called the garage, explained the whole business and asked if I was taking the car to Augusta or bringing it down to him.  He said to bring it to him and he’d figure out what was going on.

Which he did.

The (brand! new! in August) alternator was stone cold dead — and, no, we don’t know why.  However, the mechanic declared it defective and put another in, free of charge.  So, yay! I saved thousands of dollars, but still got to worry.

In other news, my credit card was (according to BOA) “compromised” via a “third party vendor,” and they sent me a new one (credit card, not third-party vendor, though come to think of it, I might need one of those, too…)  Which has the damn chip embedded. They didn’t even ask this time.

Carousel Seas, meanwhile, informs me that it must be a bifurcated narrative, instead of All Kate All the Time.  This troubles me, but the reasons given are compelling, and the book itself is adamant, so there we have it.

Now that I’ve accepted the inevitable, I need to rewrite a piece-already-written, and work out how the two threads will shadow each other.  Mozart will be pleased — this will require some serious couch time with pen and paper.

For those playing along at home — you thought we’d had the last snow of the year, didn’t you?  Yeah, so did I.  Fooled us both, they did.

We currently reside beneath a Winter Storm Warning, with 10-14 inches of heavy, wet snow expected to fall between early Tuesday morning and midnight.  Yes, Wednesday is the first day of Spring; what’s your point?

. . .I do believe that catches us up.

If you need more, I’ll be on the couch with Mozart.


Mozart, After; plus bonus pics!

Mozart is home from his ordeal and is of course exhausted.  Here, he observes the gooshy food that ought to be his, except that his sub-intelligent and unfeeling minion has instead given to Socks.

Mozart's new look
Mozart’s new look

Here’s Socks, trying not to look too smug:

Socks, being not very smug
Socks, being not very smug

Scrabble stole a march on everyone by sneaking into my Mozart’s her rocking chair while the Silly Fluffs argued over food.

Scrabble in the comfy chair
Scrabble in the comfy chair

…this has been your Thursday afternoon cat report from the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.

You’re welcome.

Today’s theme is! Errands, with a side of chores

Today, Mozart goes to the hairdresser for his summer do. It’s a little early, but Mozart had obviously planned for a Cold Maine Winter, Just Like Grandpa Used to Have. I think he fails to understand that Grandpa tended to exaggerate when he was into the nip.

Anyhow, here’s Mozart being prepared for winter:
Mozart is 15 March 1 2013

I’m sure he’ll be just as annoyed in the After shot.

So, first thing is hairdresser.  Then back to the house to cook and eat supper; the chicken already marinating because I am mighty!;  then out in the opposite direction to ransom the income taxes from the accountant.  Then back home, to check over the paperwork and doubtless to write checks to the IRS and the Treasurer of the State of Maine.  Possibly I’ll get some writing done, if no more chores or errands mount up while I’m slaying the ones already in-queue.

Speaking of checks — several kind people sent money via the Splinter Universe PayPal button, to help with the repair of my car.  Thank you so very much; I’m surprised, but grateful.

I did yesterday get to the library for a writing shift, after picking said car up from the garage, which was good.  I’m liking this  getting out to a new room; varying from the Same Old seems to be sharpening up the writer brain.  The writing goal is 2,000 words a day on Carousel Seas.  The plan is to get to the point where I can juggle one ball, and then add in another for later in the day.  This may or may not work, but if you don’t try, you never learn.

Or something.

And I see by the clock on the wall that it’s time to find a cat and insert him into a cat carrier.

See y’all later.

Progress on Carousel Seas:

6,004/100,000 words OR 6% completed

“Kate,” I said, bending over to pick up the Journal-Trib, “you lack vision.”