The Great Cat Escape

Posted on January 14, 2009. Filed under: cats |

The two wanderers/Photo by Rhonda Lane

The two adventurers/Photo by Rhonda Lane

This morning, we’re still reeling. Last night, about 11 pm, our two male house cats slipped out of the house to go walkabout.

Ever since we updated the attic insulation, we’ve been a bit warm, especially after exertion. DH Rod sat down at the dining room chair and slid open the patio door.

What he didn’t realize was that our friend who cleans had left the screen open. I hadn’t realized it, either.

I was in another room preparing Sam’s liquid heart meds for his nightly dose. I heard  Rod call in even but tense tones, “Come get Sam and Amber. Now.”

I left the kitchen to pick up Sam, who had a cold wet belly. That could only mean one thing — he’d been outside in the snow.

I carried Sam with his wet, cold belly to our bedroom and put him on the bed. We live on a busy road. Late night, busy road. Bitterly cold winter night at 22 degrees F. And I have heard coyotes out there. I was so glad to see him that I put him — wet belly and all — on the bed. And closed the door.

I managed to hold the panic reflex at bay. Back out in the living room, Amber was in up in the top of the kitty tree. I tried to move her, but she wouldn’t budge.

That’s when my husband came back inside with Max.

Rod’s story came out through tense, breathless sentences. While I had been in the kitchen, he’d been cooling off in front of the open slider door. He happened to look down to see Amber sticking her head out through the gap. Gee, her head sure went out far.

Our good girl Amber/Photo by Rhonda or Rod Lane

Our good girl Amber/Photo by Rhonda or Rod Lane

That’s when he realized that the door was open and then wondered where the other two were.

Out in the darkness, he saw Sam still on the patio but cowering under a table.

Max however, had disappeared into the night. That’s when DH called me to come get Sam and Amber.

Rod went outside and worked hard to stifle the rising panic. He called Max with as cheery a voice as he could muster. He had expected Max to have headed for the woods.

Soon, the orange cat came bounding back to the patio. But instead of from the woods, though, he came from the other side of the house, from behind the garage as if he were on his way to the busy state highway that serves as the town’s commercial strip, about the length of a football field from our hose.

We’re very glad that it had been so cold outside that Max wanted to hurry back inside.

We’re also very glad that Sam cowered under the patio table.

And we’re extra glad that Amber ratted them out and then refused to make her own escape.

We’re very thankful.

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Good Kitty Sam – Update III

Posted on July 22, 2008. Filed under: cats, Uncategorized |

Max (r) horns in on Sam's (l) space

Max (r) horns in on Sam's (l) space

Sam’s heart murmur now has a diagnosis. It’s the same as his pal Max’s – cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle. Both cases were diagnosed via echocardiograms. The pictures shows slight thickening of cardio tissue.

Fortunately, they both have mild cases of it because we caught it early. Each cat gets half a tiny pill of atenolol every night. Max, who just turned 5, has been taking it for a year. The atenolol has slowed his heart rate so that the vet can no longer hear his murmur, but none of it slows down Max. He still plays and romps and pesters Sam. (see above.)

Sam is 10. He still plays and begs relentlessly for treats, which are a part of pill time. And he’s not nuts about the pilling process. But he’s now first in the line for treats. Of course, he hasn’t figured out that there’s a perk to this.

And, BTW, we have three cats. She’s 11. So far, so good with her, but I know that it’s only a matter of time.

Vets, like other doctors, don’t sugarcoat news. Our doc told us that Sam and Max are prime examples of the benefits of routine annual exams. But he added, we were basically buying them time.

So, we’ll keep giving them their pills, annoying them with vet visits and enjoying each day of their lives for the gifts that they are.

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Good Kitty Sam – Another update

Posted on July 3, 2008. Filed under: cats, Uncategorized |

Good news! Sam’s lab results are in, and everything is within normal parameters. Not bad for a 10-year-old cat.

However, he still has the heart murmur. We’re setting him up for a kitty echocardiogram soon. Not sure when. The vet will call back to schedule it. And, because he’s a house call vet, he’ll come pick up Sam in the early morning to take him to the clinic. Sammy will be back home around mid-morning.

That should be an interesting day for He Who Hasn’t Left the House for years.

Anyway, thank you, everyone, for your interest in Sam. Good luck and good wishes to all your beloved beings in your households — no matter how many legs they happen to have.

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Good Kitty Sam – Update

Posted on June 25, 2008. Filed under: cats, Uncategorized |

Sam the cat lying on his back on the couch

Photo by Rhonda Lane

Take Two was not going well. Still determined to be a “good kitty,” Sam refused to use the nice clean box. He had waited overnight then into the next evening. He had given up on going upstairs and was hiding in the basement when DH took action.

Rod sprinkled a little bit of the regular kitty litter into another corner of the box. Then, we left Sammy alone in the basement.

Later on, I went downstairs to check to find that Sam, like Santa, must have solitude to deliver. Only, I don’t think Sam was certain that he had done the right thing. He remained in hiding under some shipping boxes.

He would only come out when I rattled the treat bag.

I think he was afraid he’d been bad.

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Good Kitty Sam

Posted on June 19, 2008. Filed under: cats, Uncategorized | Tags: |

Sam is comfy on his cat tree

Photo by Rhonda Lane

Sammy’s a good boy – maybe a little too good.

His vet told us we needed to collect a urine sample. The doc told us to isolate him so that only he could use a particular litter box. Then, our vet gave us a little cup with special litter to toss in so Sam could scratch. And, the doc added, cats may only urinate once in 24 hours.

DH and I accepted the challenge. We know the various ways that vets get urine on demand – and we’d prefer that gentle Sam not have to endure any of those. Sam’s big, almost 15 lbs, but sweet-natured.

So, we put him and his special box in the basement. There’s about half a cup of litter in a box the size of two milk crates. Then, we let him spend the night alone. The next morning, we saw that the box was untouched.

No worries. The vet had said 24 hours.

I closed the bathroom door so he couldn’t get to the other litter box and then let him upstairs. No pouting from Sam, he followed me with bright eyes and a vertical waving tail. I led him back downstairs to show him the box we wanted him to use.

Just in case, he’d missed the point. I scratched in the scant litter, first with my fingers and then with the regular litter scoop so they could pick up the “Do This Here” scent. Then, I put him in the box, which is how people show new kittens where to go. But he stepped back out, ready to follow me elsewhere.

He seemed so comfy and happy that I wondered if he’d found an alternate spot. I walked through the basement to search for smelly places. He trailed happily at my heels.

That began a day-long dance of upstairs/downstairs, opening and shutting doors, all depending upon Sam’s location. Soon, that day ended with Sam downstairs alone again with his clean special litter box.

But, on the second morning, Sam came back upstairs to make a beeline down the hall toward the bathroom only to find, again, a closed door. He plopped his tush in front of it and mewed. He may be a big guy, but he’s got a little monkey chitter.

So, I led him back to the basement. As I had expected, his box was still pristine. We had another day of upstairs/downstairs.I resigned myself to the idea that, if he had an accident, I would collect it wherever it might be. No matter what. Because Sammy had retreated to his alone zone — under the bed.

Finally, DH came home during one of Sammy’s upstairs sojourns. I was in the living room when Rod said, “Sammy’s scratching at the bathroom door.”

“Yeah,” I said, all the while feeling like a torturer plagued by conscience, “he’s been doing that.”

Despite Sam’s whimpering, we stood firm because we know that he Really Won’t Like what might be ahead. But Sam didn’t know any of that. All he knew is, I gotta GO.

A little while later, I spotted Sammy curled up on the kitty tree, no longer under the bed or whimpering in front of the bathroom door. I thought nothing of it because he’d been up there earlier in the day. But then, I walked down the hall to see the bathroom door cracked open. The litter box had been fully utilized. He’d managed to push the bathroom door open and help himself at the “good” box.

No wonder he looked so comfy.

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Call Me Ma-oww?

Posted on March 1, 2008. Filed under: cats, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , |

According to Max, my name in cat is “Ma-oww?” Complete with the rising question mark inflection. As in “Ma-oww?” If I’m away from home, DH says that Max goes to each doorway and asks, “Ma-oww?”Max who calls me “Ma-oww?”

But, also, if I’m busy with the computer, I hear “Ma-oww?” I’ll hear it a lot, each time with his inflection increasing in desperation. If I’m deep in concentration, especially while banging out a series of sentences on the keyboard, I’ll hear it with a little pained catch in his voice, almost like a sob. And, the Oscar goes to … .

Neither of the other two cats make that vocalization. Just Max.

Once, a friend on the phone with me overheard him. “Go feed your cat,” she said. “He’s hungry.”

“No,” I replied as Max boosted the dramatic whine. “He’s not hungry. He wants me to play with him.”

Resistance is futile

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