Mad Times

“To be sane in a mad time is bad for the brain, worse for the heart.” – Wendell Berry

March 16th, 2007 at 11:06 pm

On edge

cats on a couch

This is a decent representation of the current balance of power ;-)

Alice is doing very well. Well enough that I think you can assume that she’s doing well unless you hear differently.

March 10th, 2007 at 1:27 am

More neurotic than he looks

green-eyed cat

Theo isn’t sure what to make of Alice’s return. When she comes near him he hisses. He’s all jumpy. When she gets attention he pouts (never mind that the attention she’s getting is being stuck with a needle and pumped full of fluid.) He’s started spraying the perimeter of the house again like he has done when we’ve had neighbor cats who liked to hang out right by the windows and taunt the poor indoor kitties. We’re trying to balance the attention so he’s cuddled and cooed at as much as Alice. This means that we’re spending almost every waking hour comforting and coaxing one kitty or another. Hopefully everyone will calm down as we get into a routine.

Alice is doing okay. She’s eating. She’s being patient with her fluids. She even drank a little bit in front of us today. She’s played and begged for brushing. All good signs in our book. She’s still spending most of her time in the cubby at the top of the cat tree, but we’re hoping that’s just a response to the trauma of her hospital stay. We’re taking one day at a time as so many people have counseled us.

Thanks to everyone who has sent a note or thought of us. It’s surprising how much those little things help.

March 8th, 2007 at 1:39 pm

Lost glove #119

contorted black knit glove

Shot this back on Valentine’s Day, forgot to post it.

March 7th, 2007 at 10:54 pm

Fluids = good

What a difference hydration makes! We managed to get Alice’s 100ml administered successfully and she was immediately relatively perky. She ate a handful of food and took a bath and went to sleep in her tower. We’ve started a journal so we can remember the twists and flips of this roller coaster ride. I’ll try to blog less about the individual dips and peaks like these last two entries and more about the overall ride. Just because we’re going through emotional whiplash doesn’t mean you have to!

March 7th, 2007 at 6:47 pm

Alice report

She’s home, but she’s not all better by any means.

We tried doing her subcutaneous fluids for the first time on our own this morning and didn’t do very well only getting a little bit into her. I did some studying and know what I was doing wrong so we’ll take another crack at it tonight.

She’s still weak and sluggish. She’s sleeping a lot. We haven’t seen her drink water at all, though with all the fluids she’s been getting directly she may just not be thirsty. She’s been eating a tiny bit of the k/d (kidney diet) food we got. We haven’t quite figured out how to feed both of them since Theo will eat that too (though he’s currently turning up his nose at almost everything) and then we can’t tell whether Alice is eating or not. Becky got some food samples from our vet today and let Alice check them all out. While she seemed interested in food in principle (came over when Beck was dishing up the samples) she doesn’t find any of them appealing enough to actually eat some.

She’s breathing a little faster than normal, but the vet suggested that might be to compensate for the anemia.

In some ways this is harder than when she was in the hospital since we have to interpret her actions, not really knowing what any of them may mean. We’re trying to be positive, but it’s pretty scary.

Theo is being a pill and hissing at her whenever she goes near him. He’s been spraying again too. No fun wanting to strangle one of your cats while struggling to keep the other one healthy. Sigh

March 6th, 2007 at 6:19 pm


The latest shiny toy in the universe of social networking is Twitter. It couldn’t be more simple. Its complete reason for existence is to allow people to repeatedly answer the question “What are you doing?” It’s like having your very own four-year-old except this four-year-old won’t just ask you incessantly what you’re doing, she will also share the answers you give her with the other people she’s nagging.

It’s one of those things that only really becomes fun when all your friends are doing it too. Unfortunately for me, my real world friends aren’t all that interested in this kind of silliness and my on-line friends are more on the order of acquaintances and this level of sharing maybe isn’t suited to that level of relationship.

So go add me so I don’t have to feel so much like a lonely creepy stalker guy.

March 6th, 2007 at 12:23 pm

Alice is home

Alice has been eating well over the weekend and had actually gained a few ounces as of this morning so the vet decided to send her home without even doing another blood test.

We got a lesson in how to administer subcutaneous fluids and will have to give her 100ml per day for ten days, then we’ll do a blood test at our regular vet to see if we need to continue at that level or if we can do it less frequently.

Theo’s a little wigged out since his world just changed yet again, but they touched noses and hissed at each other and are getting used to sharing their space again. We’re very happy to have our little girl back at home.

March 5th, 2007 at 5:12 pm

Alice update

We talked to one of the vets at the hospital today and got a little more info about Alice’s status. She’s doing quite well. They seemed very happy with the second blood test results. Apparently she’s been happily eating the K/D kidney diet dry food which is a bit of a relief since last we heard she was only eating a little bit. They’d rather she ate wet food since it helps with hydration, but eating is eating. It looks like they’ll do another test Tuesday morning and if she’s continuing to show improvement then she’ll be able to come home! In light of her improvement they’re predicting that we’ll only have to do subcutaneous fluids a couple times a week rather than the daily they’d warned us of when we first took her in.

So the accepted treatment for kidney failure in cats is to put them on a low-protein diet since it’s the protein byproducts that the kidneys aren’t able to filter out of the bloodstream and result in a toxic condition. Plus the fluid therapy to fight dehydration since the kidneys can’t concentrate the urine so they have to put a huge volume of fluids through their system to flush the toxins out.

We’ve talked to one of our alternative medicine friends who pointed out there is some controversy about this approach. The alternate view is that the real problem is with the highly processed proteins in prepared cat food and that what they really need is something closer to their historical diet, i.e., raw meat. This is talked about in a sidebar on and also by Russell Swift and on this site and this site. We’ll be doing more research and talking to a local holistic vet about this. In the mean time, though, it’s a relief to hear that Alice likes the traditional food well enough and that the fluid therapy isn’t going to be as frequent as we thought it might be.

March 4th, 2007 at 11:04 pm

Fortress of Ice By C. J. Cherryh

Guy in armor on a rearing horse.There are four books previous to this one in this series. I haven’t read any of them. In light of that I was a little worried when this came up on the list for this year’s Endeavour Award reading. But the book starts off with a 2-1/2 page “what has gone before” summary of the first four books! It’s a little astonishing that that’s possible, but it was enough of a name-packed info dump to demystify enough of the backstory references to make the book feel like a stand-alone.

The book focuses largely on the story of two sons of a king, one, Otter, from an ill-advised youthful liaison with a sorceress, the other, Aewyn, from his queen. A huge portion of what makes the book interesting is that the treatment of this relationship is so completely contrary to the usual cliches of the bastard son. The king openly loves both sons, the two sons are best friends, the queen loves both sons. So nice. Of course there has to be conflict somewhere and it comes from the church (a really unpleasantly puritanical not-Christianity) and from the mother of the illegitimate son. Or does it?

All the action is told from pretty close third person with very little revealed that isn’t clear to the characters themselves, so it’s ambiguous where the creeping menace comes from or if there even is a creeping menace.

The tone of the book is claustrophobic and a little scary. Cherryh accomplishes this primarily through conveying every single thought that goes through her characters’ heads. The problem with the book is that these characters (especially Otter) are obsessive worriers, turning the possibilities and options over in their minds endlessly and repetitively. It reads like realistic internal dialog, but it also reads like redundant page-filling and sloppy writing.

In the end, I enjoyed the book mostly for the characters and the growth they all go through in the course of the story, but I would have appreciated it if Cherryh’s editors had been able to hack out maybe a sixth of the word count.

March 4th, 2007 at 12:53 am

Alice’s second blood test

We got the results of Alice’s second blood test today. The short version is that it’s much better, but still outside normal range in several areas.

We didn’t actually talk to the doctor today but he left us a great detailed voicemail on the results.

Here’s a table with the numbers he gave us:

Test 1st test 2nd test “normal” range
BUN > 180 80 10-30
Creatinine 14.8 5.3 0.3-2.1
Phosphorus > 20 10.5 3.4-8.5

In addition to those things moving in the right direction the new test also showed her “Hematocrit” at 21 which should be above 24, so she’s mildly anemic (the dehydration actually masked this one instead of accentuating it). They’re treating this with a hormone that stimulates red blood cell creation.

So she’ll stay in the hospital and her next test will be on Tuesday. We’re feeling guarded relief. I’ll talk more about what’s likely to happen from here and some more of what we’ve learned about Feline CRF (chronic renal failure) later.

output here