Indoor Preparation

The big day seems to be quickly approaching.  When planning, I am a bit over the top so that I cover all the bases!  My plan is to bring the outside boys inside in late December.  Soon after Christmas, the guest room will have all furniture removed and the new room will take shape.

For the room setup, I will have a cat tree and a small apartment.  I plan to bring one of the outside love seats inside and maybe 3 Magic Boxes.  I also have 2 tall cat cages and a large dog cage that I will have set up as well.  I want these in place in case night time is a problem the first week or so. There will be at least 3 large litter boxes.  I will have Feliway plugged in to help calm them.  I also plan to add some flower essences to their food and water.  Of course I will also have a wireless ip camera in the room to keep an eye on them. My ipod will be playing calming harp music at night and during the day I will play a radio station that has both music and talk.  There will be plenty of catnip toys and wand toys which they love.  Of course there will also be an area for food and water.

To prepare for this big day, I have bringing Shadow, Stellar and Hampton inside the house at least 3 times each week.  My husband takes our dog, Misty and the 3 inside boys upstairs.  I open the sliding door about a foot and call for them.  Shadow has always liked to have visits inside the house.  This spurs the other two.  I have been doing this now for about 3 weeks.  They are now getting very used to it and explore all over the first floor.  Hampton and Stellar have even ventured upstairs!  Some nights it is hard to get them to go back outside.

Shadow will use a litter box I set out.  Stellar and Hampton look at him with wide eyes, but also somewhat alarmed.  I am using a mix of my regular litter and litter attract.  So far Hampton has decided that it is so fun to roll in the litter box.  Ugh!  Stellar has no interest.

A few days ago, I got out one of the large carriers that I will be using to transport them upstairs to their room as well as transporting them to the new house.  I opened the door wide and placed one of their reflective heat mats inside sprinkled with catnip.  All 3 went inside and Stellar decided to curl up!  I was very pleased.  Then last night, I brought up 2 carriers.  I added the mat and some catnip along with a small dish of food.  All 3 went inside!  The carriers are large.  They are not typical small cat carriers.  I wanted something longer and taller that might resemble more of a feeding station.  On the next attempt, I will have all 3 carriers set up.  Now getting all 3 to go inside at the same time and getting the door closed, may prove more of a challenge!

My plan is to have the mobile vet come in early February.  It may be sooner depending on how they are adjusting.

Here are a few pictures of the boys inside the house

Stellar inside the carrier

Stellar inside the carrier

Stellar headed upstairs

Stellar headed upstairs

Hampton on the apartment!

Hampton on the apartment!

Hampton rolling in the litter box.

Hampton rolling in the litter box.

Shadow thinking about heading upstairs.

Shadow thinking about heading upstairs.

Shadow hanging out in the den.

 

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Some Big News

After over a year of looking, we are moving!!!  We decided in 2016 that it was time to leave our suburban neighborhood and look for a property with a bit of land, peace and solitude.  Of course within this peaceful setting, there needed to be amenities such as shopping close by and high speed internet!  Also an absolute must was a space for my outside boys! This all proved to be quite difficult. Finally early this fall, we found a home we just loved with 5 acres.  We closed on the house this past Friday.  We will be doing some work on the new house as well as preparing our current home to sell.  We hope to be moved by mid March 2018!

The really big news, is that my 3 outside feral boys will be moving inside the house!  I plan to bring them inside my current home sometime in January to start the transition.  After the holiday craziness, we will clear out one of the bedrooms.  I have no idea how I will get them inside and upstairs, but I do have ideas floating around in my head!  I have found a mobile vet who will come to the house to give the 3 checkups, vaccines and blood work.

Our new home has a beautiful sun room that will start out as a cat room for Shadow, Stellar and Hampton.  It also has a large walk out basement where a catio can be built. My 3 current inside boys; Jake, Marvin and Cisco will have plenty of space to roam around inside.

This is going to be a huge undertaking, but we are beyond excited at the possibilities.  I am putting it out to the universe that this transition will go smoothly and easily!

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Winter Shelter 2017-18

The winter shelters went up on October 29, 2017 on a cloudy 40 degree day.  It took over 2 hours to clear the deck of the summer furniture and get the tent up and heated house placed.  It was really nice this year only having to put up the two heated houses.  Last year I had 3 heated houses since Cisco was still living outside at that time.  We also put up the magic boxes.  You can read about all of my shelters here.

During the setup, Shadow and Hampton  watched for a bit from the back of the yard.  Stellar was having his alone time!  Once completed, Shadow was the first one back.  He did a quick survey and decided he wanted no part of the shelter.  It was 43, cloudy and windy.  He settled on the chaise lounge instead!

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I kept waiting and waiting for Hampton to return.  He is never too far behind Shadow.  We were finished by 1:00pm.  Stellar appeared around 3pm, but still no Hampton.  I began to go out and call for him.  He is always waiting at the sliding door by 3:30 pm every day waiting for his dinner.  I was worried when 4pm came and went and still no Hampton.  I decided to walk around our neighborhood and call for him.  Stellar walked around the backyard with me softly meowing.  I did not make any progress calling for him.  Of course so many things went through my mind; was he stuck in someone’s garage, did he get hit by a car, has he found a new feeding spot, did the coyotes get him, etc….  Finally at 7:15 pm, my husband spotted him on the deck.  He took some food out to Hampton, but he ran and hid.  Upon closer inspection, it was not Hampton, but another cat.  Shadow was hissing and then chased the cat away.  My heart sunk.  I went out and called for Hampton again.  A few minutes after coming inside, Hampton came running onto the deck.  He was a bit frazzled.  Shadow and Stellar sniffed him all over.  I retrieved his food and he was so hungry.  I did a quick once over on his body and he seemed ok.  He obviously had not been to a new feeding spot!  After eating his dinner, he went straight to the tent and into a heated house!  He did not leave the deck all night.  I have no idea what happened to him.  I have to wonder if the other cat had something to do with his being gone so long.

Here are a few pictures of the deck set up

Winter Shelter 2017-18

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Magic Boxes

 

My dog, Misty is doing a bit better than last week.  She is tolerating the new medicine and is now back to eating.  Her lumps are still large, but do not seem to bother her as much.  I have reduced her Tramadol amount and that is making her more alert.  When we set up the winter shelters yesterday she was outside helping us.  She went back and forth between the back deck and the front garage over and over.  Once we were on the deck for awhile, she jumped up onto the love seat and made herself comfortable on a heat pad! Crazy girl.

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Misty on the heat pad!

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It’s that time of the year again…

We have had a very nice fall here with mild temperatures and little rain.  Usually by this time of the year, the winter shelter has been put up.  This year, it will happen a bit later.  I did place a few of the K&H tent houses on the deck in September due to some chilly nights.  Last week I did place Magic boxes on the deck as it was to be in the low 40’s.  Later this week we are to be near 30 so the first frost is upon us.  I do think the winter shelter will go up this weekend.

My feral boys are doing really well.  Stellar is usually gone during the day, preferring some alone time.  He is always here for meals, but often goes out again at night.  Shadow and Hampton rarely venture far during the day, but they too have been venturing out at night.  Hampton gave me quite a scare the other day when he was not here for breakfast.  Hampton LOVES to eat.  He never ever misses a meal and usually is sitting in front of the door an hour before meal time.  I was a bit frantic that he was not here.  It was still dark outside, yet I was out calling for him.  Shadow was pacing pacing pacing.  All at once, Shadow ran to the back of the yard and disappeared from my sight.  A few minutes later Shadow appeared in the yard followed by Hampton!  I was so relieved.  It had been 45 minutes from his regular meal time.  I first made sure he was ok and then I gave him a gentle scolding.  Thankfully he was here for breakfast today!

The deer are now coming once to twice each day.  The pack still stands at 7.  The 2 male fawns ( Gadget and Willie) are getting so big.  Gadget is actually huge.  He is beginning to get his burst of male hormones.  His antler buds are growing and he is starting to chase the females.  Gidget is also a big girl.  I have no idea how sweet Gimpy gave birth to these two big fawns.  Wendi ( Webble’s fawn) is still quite small.  She is just so darn cute.  She reminds me of her Mama each day.  She has some of the same expressions.  I miss sweet Weeble, but Big Mama did a great job caring for Wendi.  Here is a picture of all 7 eating some corn.

Deer Family October 2017

Left to right: Big Mama, Wobble, Willie, Wendi, Gadget, Gidget and Gimpy.

My sweet baby girl, Misty is still having complications.  She had surgery on August 31 to remove a soft tissue sarcoma.  Her recovery was going so well.  Then 10 days post surgery, I found a wound on her body.  This led to a 6 week investigation into the wounds.  During that time, 2 more spots developed.  They are quite unsightly now.  She was diagnosed with sterile nodular panniculitis.  Basically it is an inflammation of the fatty layer of the skin.  Large lumps appear that then burst open and drain.  They are somewhat painful to her and has really zapped her zest for life.  For the first time ever, she is not interested in food.  She has tried some medication, but so far cannot tolerate them.  I am waiting to hear of her other options.  It has been quite difficult to deal with her oncologist, dermatologist and regular vet.  I get a bit frustrated that they are not all in the loop.  Fortunately I am very well informed and am doing my best to keep on top of all the veterinarians.

I will do my best to update next week after the winter shelter is up!

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Hello Fall

September has started off on the cool side.  Our day time highs have been in the mid/upper 60’s to low 70’s with night time lows dipping into the 40’s.  This is a bit unusual for so early in September.  Many years we are still in the mid 80’s.  Yet the cooler air has been beautiful.  All in all we had a very nice summer.  Temperatures rarely hit 90.  I hope the beautiful weather will continue especially as we look ahead to winter.

My outside boys are very spoiled!  As soon as the lows hit the 50’s, they want heat pads.  I wasn’t ready for magic boxes yet so I drug out the tent houses ( which by the way, Amazon has them for a great price right now; $44.99).  Within 10 minutes of me placing them on the love seat, all 3 had checked them out.  That night all 3 were in the tent houses snugly and warm!  Here is a picture of them.

Tent houses

Shadow, Hampton and Stellar (on the right on just a heat pad).

The long range forecast shows the temperatures to remain about the same.  I hope this will work for them until the winter shelter goes up in mid October.

Each year in late August/early September the neighborhood deer and their fawns all begin to reappear.  I have been seeing Gimpy with her two twins as well as Big Mama and Wobble with two fawns.  I do believe that the fawn Wobble is caring for is her twin, Weeble’s fawn.  Weeble must have been hit by a car in late July.  She would come to see me every day 2-3 times.  She had brought her fawn a few times as well.  She would go right up to my back door and wait for me.  I was so sad.  Yet her fawn remains.  Of course I continue to name them all.  Gimpy has a female and male.  We call them Gidget and Gadget.  I am calling Big Mama’s fawn, Winnie and Weeble’s fawn, Wendie.  Here is a picture of Gimpy, Gidget, Gadget, Big Mama, Winnie and Wobble with Wendie.  Oh how I wish Weeble was here too.

Deer August 2017

From Left to right: Gadget, Gidget, Wendie, Gimpy, Winnie, Wobble and Big Mama.

Misty is recovering quite well.  She was very quiet and subdued for a few days.  Partly as she really needed to rest and partly from a heavy dose of pain killers.  She is now off the pain killers and back to her ornery self!  She is not supposed to go up and down stairs more than once a day as well as no jumping at all.  We have put up baby gates, which she just pushes out of the way!  Fortunately her incision is healing very well.  Very little swelling.  Her perianal nodule is taking a bit longer to heal.  She goes back for a recheck on Monday.  We are still waiting for news on the biopsy report.

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Misty Sue

Today I am going to be writing about our sweet pup, Misty.  She is a Samoyed and will be 13 in November.  As I write, she in surgery having a soft tissue sarcoma removed from her left hip and a perianal adenoma removed from her anus.  That is quite a mouthful!  I am doing my best to keep busy today so I do not worry so much about her.

Misty was first diagnosed with cancer in February 2014.  She had cancer of the urethra which is a form of Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC).  This type of cancer left untreated is very aggressive and the life expectancy is around 3 months.   Misty had battled urinary tract infections her entire life which was treated with round after round of antibiotics.  It was discovered that she had an inverted vulva and surgery might help remedy the problem.  During this surgery, the cancer was discovered.  Misty was 9 at the time and in very good health.  We elected to do 19 rounds of radiation and then 1 year of oral metronomic chemotherapy.  She was such the trooper and sailed through all of the treatments.  She went into remission in July of 2015 where she still remains today.

In addition to the radiation and metronomic chemotherapy, I also put her on a regime of a cancer diet called Budwig Diet.  This is basically an emulsion of cottage cheese and flax seed oil.  I also used liquid zeolite to help clear the toxins from the radiation and chemotherapy.  She remained on a maintenance dose of the Budwig diet and I just started to put her on it twice a day since a new type of cancer was found.

In June I discovered a small lump on her left hip.  She had a few fatty tumors on her sides, but his felt somewhat different.  I had my vet aspirate it and it came back as unknown.  Misty was due for her 6 month cancer recheck so I decided to have it aspirated again.  This time it came back as a spindle cell tumor.  A biopsy was then done to discover the cancer.  By this time, the lump had doubled in size.

We met with a surgeon and oncologist to discuss our options.  If the tumor was not removed it would kill her in a very short time as it would grow into the rectum.  The surgeon was happy to report that Misty is still in very good health and should do very well with this surgery.  Unfortunately with a spindle cell tumor, wide margins have to be made both in width and depth.  With the location on her hip and near a bone, the margins may not be able to be as wide as needed.  This will result in some type of treatment after surgery.  We are hoping that metronomic chemotherapy can be used again as it does not involve so many trips to the vet.  Yet at the very end of her treatment 2 years ago, her blood platelet levels dropped.  The concern is that the levels might drop again and sooner this time around.  We will know more once the tumor is sent for complete biopsy to discover its true nature.

We are hopeful that she will get to come home this evening and a full recovery will happen shortly.  Please send good thoughts to our beautiful girl.

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Home Cooking

Summer time always seems to be a busy time of the year.  Also it has been a relatively calm season for all of the kitties.  I am still seeing the coyotes a few times each month, but they are not coming close to the house.  It still worry each and every night for my 3 outside boys.  My hope is that when the weather turns cooler, the coyotes will not travel so far thus keeping away from my property.

This blog post is going to be about home cooking for cats.  I decided in the late winter that I wanted all of my cats to be on the best food I could provide.  It was especially important with Cisco testing positive for FIV and later having lower urinary tract disease.  Last year I went through a process of trying new canned foods.  It turned into a disaster, when Jake and Marvin both became very sick from a spoiled can of Weruva.  I decided to not mess with their diet and went back to their normal canned food of Wellness and Trader Joes.   My inside boys are not picky at all.  They will eat most anything.  Yet, the outside boys are VERY picky.  Go figure that the feral boys are the picky ones!  The outside crew mostly loves anything with fish.  Of course this worries me as too much fish (especially tuna) is not good for them.  They also love to eat dry food.  I do whatever I can to get my outside boys to eat the best food, but sometimes I have to just be sure they eat!

I had always been interested in trying home cooked pet food. Raw feeding never appealed to me.  I wish that years ago, I had taken the plunge with our dog and give home cooking a try.  Of course, hearing lots of negative comments from our vet prompted me to not pursue this endeavor.  This time around, I researched for about 6 weeks.  I found forums, books and knowledgeable web sites.  I knew it would be a slow introduction process, but one I wanted to try.

I decided to start with chicken ( often the easiest protein to start with) and see how they reacted.  I chose boneless, skinless chicken thighs as they are a bit more tasty and less expensive than the breasts.  I chose to use a pre mixed supplement instead of mixing and buying all of my own.  I chose the company Food Fur Life  and used their product EZ Complete.  It truly was easy and simple to use.  I chose the method of crock pot cooking.  I then cooled the meat and liquid, shredded the chicken and then pureed it all in a food processor.  It is very important to use all of the extra cooking liquid as many vital nutrients are present in the liquid. All of my cats prefer pate style cat food so the food processor was a must.  Once the food reached the desired consistency, the EZ Complete was added and mixed thoroughly.  I then was able to place the food in freezer containers to keep frozen until needed.  I usually made 2 lbs at a time.  I defrost the food in the refrigerator and when ready to serve, I warm it a bit my placing the closed container in a small bowl of warm water.  I always add extra water when serving their food to be sure they are all getting extra water in their diets.

The inside cats took to the new food very well.  I started with just 1/2t. of new food each day, gradually reducing their current wet food.  It took a good 6-8 weeks to acclimate them to the chicken.  The outside cats were a much harder sell.  One day they would eat it and they next no one touched it.  Yet I kept offering just a small amount each day.

Once the initial 6-8 weeks had passed and they were eating just home cooked with an additional 2 T. of dry food each day, I decided to introduce a new protein.  I decided to try pork.  One of my indoor cats ( Jake) cannot eat any beef.  So beef would not be an option.  I used boneless pork butt roasts and once again used the crock post method.  It is often necessary to cut away some of the fat from the roast either before or after cooking. They all loved the pork.  Even the outside boys preferred the pork!  The introduction of pork went quicker and only took 3-4 weeks.

It is recommended that you introduce at least 3 proteins that are then rotated however you see fit.  I was a bit stuck on the last protein since beef was not an option and I did not want to use fish.  I was able to purchase the chicken thighs and pork roasts at local grocery stores, yet the last choice would need to be ordered online.  I decided that I would try both boneless ground rabbit and boneless turkey thighs.  A company called Hare Today-Gone Tomorrow sold both and the shipping was not horrible since I am only one state away.  The rabbit was a huge hit.  All of the cats really enjoyed it.  I was the one that really did not care for it.  While cooking it, the smell was not appealing to me.  It also was very fatty.  I decided that the rabbit would be used just once a week as it also was more costly.  I have since learned that rabbit is much cheaper in the winter months than summer.

After using the EZ Complete for a few months, it became apparent that it was going to be way to costly to feed it to 6 cats.  I needed to learn how to supplement on my own.  Through a wonderful forum, I was able to find very knowledgeable people.  There were many recipes with all of the nutritional information available.  I was easily able to purchase all of the supplements online.  I also needed to order chicken hearts, chicken livers, pork hearts and pork livers.  I was able to stock up from Hare Today-Gone Tomorrow so it would last for many months.  Using my own supplements has made the price of home cooking so very reasonable.  The chicken and pork are the best value while the rabbit in season is used as a once a week treat.  I also introduced ground turkey thighs, yet this too is a bit more expensive.

To add a bit of flavor to some of the batches, I have added 6-12 oz of no salt added canned salmon or tuna.  I have decided that doing this a few times each year is just fine.  I also have worked out a system, where I make the food in 5 lb batches.  I will cook for 2 days and then have enough food for 6-8 weeks.  It does take some time, but it is not an all day event.  The crock pot cooking takes 3-4 hours.  Then the cooling process is 1-1.5 hours.  The mixing and portioning is around 30 minutes. I use a scale to weigh the correct amount in each container as well as weighing their food at each meal.   I am sure in time, I will get more efficient.

A few things I have learned along the way:

  1.  Research, research, research.  I am still researching to be sure that I am feeding them the best food.  Be sure that you have accurate information.  There are some sites out there that don’t use supplements.  Cats need certain vital minerals and vitamins.
  2. Go slow and keep going slow.  I absolutely did not want any vomiting or diarrhea.  Follow the guidelines and introduce very slowly.
  3. Trust yourself.  I had a lot of doubt that I was doing the right thing.  I was worried, they would get sick or I would make them sick.  I needed to trust the process.
  4. When Cisco got sick, I had many moments where I freaked out.  I thought it must be the home cooked food.  Yet I knew that what I was feeding was better than commercially prepared canned food.  At that time, the inside boys no longer received any dry food.  This was very very hard for them.  Yet when you are dealing with lower urinary tract disease, it is most important for them to consume as much water as possible.  So no more dry food.
  5. I still offer canned food once a week.  I decided this needed to be an option since there are times when I am away and I have a pet sitter.  Canned food is much easier to portion.  We have canned food Sunday each week!
  6. My outside boys still have not transitioned.  I still offer and mix a bit into Shadow and Stellar’s food.  Hampton is not fond of any of it.  I just take it all week by week.

It has been an interesting journey for me.  I have learned so much and I am happy with how all of the cats are doing.  I do find that if the outside boys transition fully, I may need a separate freezer!  Right now I have 36, 8 oz containers and a few smaller size containers in my freezer.

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