Introduction Time

Last week I did a few room swaps and decided it was time for some between the gate face to face time.  I kept the interactions short and sweet with lots of fresh cooked chicken for all!  So far it has been going fairly well.  It took 3 days for the first hiss and that was from Jake.  I also started opening the door (with a barrier to keep him safely inside his room) to Cisco’s room so he could start to hear, see and smell the comings and goings of our house.

The room swaps quickly got boring.  Jake was the only one who really wanted to be in Cisco’s room as Marvin really didn’t care.  Cisco was unsure about my bedroom and I wasn’t ready for him to come downstairs yet.  So I decided to move to sight visits.  I have two gates separating Cisco from his room and the hallway.  Fortunately they are pet walk through gates so I don’t have to climb over them!  By having two it makes it easier to keep Cisco away from the door as well as allowing the cats time to visit without getting too close.  I started with both gates closed, but quickly moved to allowing Jake and Marvin inside the first gate.  I gave lots of plain cooked chicken to all.  There has been lots of sniffing between the three of them.  Jake did get a bit hissy, but at first it was directed at Marvin since he stole Jake’s piece of chicken!  Jake will be the hardest to accept Cisco.  It took him over a year to accept Marvin.  Fortunately Cisco is very docile and mellow.  Marvin was much for skittish and aggressive.  Here are a few pictures of their interactions.

When I introduced Jake and Marvin, I used the gates as well, but I also used a screen door.  We did not want to deface our current door so I bought a cheap wooden screen door from Lowes and would rest it against the door frame and secure with tension rods.  A gate was still in the door way for extra protection.  I only used this set up when I was home to supervise.  It was great for Marvin, but it was cumbersome to take up and down and it freaked Marvin out each time. Here is a picture of my screen door set up.

I really wanted something easier to set up, yet high enough so the cats couldn’t jump it.  My current walk through gates are 30″ high so not quite tall enough.  I scoured the internet and came up with something I thought might work.  You basically use 4-6′ in length wire shelving units and attach them together with zip ties.  Here is the article where I found this idea  It is a brilliant idea that works well as long as the cats are supervised.  We first started with the 6′ tall panels, but it was hard to maneuver and taller than I needed.  These were returned and instead one 12′ piece was cut into 3 pieces.  Zip ties are used to keep them together.  It is very easy to set up and easy to move around too.


I also had the idea that this would work well for my outside boys.  I have been bringing them inside the laundry room for some time with me when it’s been so cold outside.  I have to leave the door cracked for them, but they love it.  Jake and Marvin have been on  the other side of the inside door.  I have been giving treats to all and managing to slip a few under the door for Jake and Marvin.  Right off my laundry room is the den.  This would be another safe place for the outside boys.  I decided to give it a try and see how it worked.

I positioned the new barrier in my hallway keeping Jake, Marvin and Misty our dog out of the way.  I opened the doors and called to see who would come.  Stellar or Hampton are usually first.  They were a bit shocked to see the doorway into the house open.  Hampton ran right back outside before trying again.  Stellar decided to be brave and found his way into the den.  Of course Jake was on the other side of the barrier and Marvin soon followed.  No one sniffed, just lots of watching.  Of course all of the outside boys have seen Jake and Marvin through the screen door for years.  So this new barrier will have many uses.  Here is a picture of the barrier in the hallway and a few of the kitties.

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As January Comes to a Close

One more winter month is almost complete which takes us one step closer to spring! Our January has had its ups and downs weather wise.  We had some very cold temperatures and some very mild temperatures.  Yet very little snow.  We did have quite a bit of rain, but I will take rain over snow any day! It does seem now that we are settling into a colder weather pattern for the next few weeks.  I am at least hoping for some sunshine as January was quite gray.

Cisco has been inside for 5 weeks today!  He continues to progress, yet the progress seems slow.  I decided to completely hold off on any introductions until Cisco was done with all vaccines.  He went back to the vet last Thursday and received his second dose of FVRCP.  I had thought about switching and getting an injection, but decided to stick with the intra nasal type as I thought it was important moving forward to know if his reaction continued.  He did very well at the vet and so far no reaction to the vaccine. His tail is completely healed and 85-90% of the hair has grown back.  He is no longer limping at all!  He received a microchip and I also did a blood test that would determine if the antibodies present for FIV were from a vaccine or not.  Unfortunately his FIV positive was not from a vaccine.  I am just glad I know for sure.  It changes nothing for me and we will progress with introductions.

I had been doing scent swapping for a few weeks as well as using a cat brush and taking turns brushing all 3.  None of the cats were upset at all.  Today I decided to do a room swap.  My bedroom seems to be a place where there are the scent of all the animals.  I decided to take Cisco there and then allow Jake and Marvin time inside Cisco’s room.  Cisco did very well.  He sniffed around a bit and then settled on my bed.  He did better than I expected.  While he was lounging on the bed, I went and retrieved Jake and Marvin.  Jake went right to work sniffing and jumping up onto furniture.  Marvin was very cautious and not at all comfortable.  When I opened the door back up, Marvin ran right now while Jake wanted to remain!  I hope to continue this daily this week before moving to visually seeing each other between the gates.  Here are a few pictures:

The outside cats seem to be doing well.  Shadow steered clear of any vomiting or diarrhea and Stellar’s wound is almost healed.  I did find out that the wound was a scratch from a cat.  I found piles of black and orange fur on the side of my house.  There was lots of Stellar fur (black) and only a small amount of orange fur.  I do feel that the wound was a scratch and not a puncture from a bite.  The only issue seems to be that some of the fur that was sticky from puss has matted on top of the wound.  Stellar would not allow me to clip any more fur off or try to clean it any more.  I may try to put some Vaseline petroleum jelly on it to soften the fur.  Yet, I believe it’s more cosmetic than anything and nothing to worry about.

I am hopeful that February will be a peaceful month both inside and outside.  I have a lot of work to with Jake, Marvin and Cisco.  I also have to find the time to spend with the outside boys.  When the weather is cold, it’s very hard for me to sit outside with them for very long.

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I’m not sure what the Universe is trying to tell me….

It has been a rough month for my animals, both inside and outside.  It seems that just as I am coming up for air, something else happens.  Since the end of December I have dealt with 2 sneezing and eye discharge inside boys, two outside boys with upset stomachs, one outside boy with a large wound and my inside dog the ever lasting UTI.  I remain hopeful that this will all work itself out.

I will start with Cisco.  He had his first round of vaccines on January 5.  He was so good at the vet.  He was a bit tired after the ordeal, but bounced back.  On the fourth day after the vaccines, he started to sneeze.  At first it was just a sneeze here or there, but by the 5th day, he was sneezing over and over as well as rubbing his nose with such force.  I searched online and found that he was most likely have a reaction to his FVRCP vaccine that was given intranasally.  The reaction can occur 4-7 days after.  I called the vet for confirmation.  He had one day where he didn’t eat much, but he then perked up.  He was still on antibiotics for his tail so that at least prevented the virus from going to a bacterial infection.  Now 6 days later, he is no longer sneezing and really coming out of his shell.  He is starting to want to play.  My husband can go into the room to visit and occasionally Cisco will interact.  He does love when he brings chicken.  This is still a work in progress!

Next, Stellar appeared to have diarrhea.  Yet he was acting normal and eating well.  I only saw it one day and thought all was well.  A few days later, I found he had vomited all over the outside of the heated houses.  He had jumped on top and vomited there.  I do give him credit for not doing it inside the houses!  He continued to want to eat and was still acting normal.  Yet it’s always a concern.  A few days later, Hampton stopped eating.  I found more vomit.  Ugh.  Hampton is my chow hound.  He would eat 24 hours a day.  He would lap at the food and was constantly licking or smacking his lips.  I knew this was a sign of nausea.  He was not himself at all.  He stayed in the heated house and wouldn’t come out to see me.  One day, he snapped at me when I tried to pet him.  This was a real worry.  Yet each day, he did eat just enough to keep me calm.  By the 3rd day, he was eating better and the light in his eyes was coming back.  He is now back to his old self.  I am so hoping Shadow steers clear!

Jake, one of my inside boys always has a runny eye.  It gets worse during times of stress, weather changes and allergies.  This time, it was with lots and lots of sneezing.  He too was sleeping a lot.  I bumped his lysine dosage and he too is now feeling better!

Last night I was out visiting the cats.  On Sundays, I try to do a head to toe check looking for any bumps, bruises, cuts or scrapes.  I usually do not find much of anything.  Last night I found something on Stellar.  I at first thought it was an embedded stick or twig.  It was dark and I could not see.  I was able to lure him into the laundry room through the outside door.  He did not want me touching the area.  Of course Shadow and Hampton had to come in as well to see what was happening.  I ended up having to kick Shadow and Hampton out to examine Stellar better.  I also had to close the door so he would not escape.  I found a large wound that appeared to have some puss as well.  It was very clean, but the fur was matted.  Stellar allowed me to clean the wound, trim the fir and get a very good look.  I decided it would be best to start him on some antibiotics to be sure he doesn’t get it infected.  I will continue to clean it daily as needed.  I also gave him some Arnica and will then move on to Calendula.  I now have to wonder how did this happen.  I am thinking it most likely is from another cat, but this wound does look different than a puncture.

Lastly, my sweet dog, Misty has been battling a tough UTI infection since before Christmas.  She does this from time to time.  It is requiring urine samples every 10 days.  She also will go to see her oncologist in February.  She was diagnosed with cancer of urethra in January of 2014.  She was treated with radiation and chemotherapy and went into remission in July of 2014.  She has remained in remission since!!

I am ready for a breather.  My outside boys are such a worry.  I have to wonder if the Universe is telling me it is time to bring them all inside.  This is the plan, but I was hoping to wait until we moved.  I now have lots to ponder.

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Cisco’s Adjustment to Inside Kitty

I am really pleased with all of the progress Cisco has been making.  He has been inside the house now for almost 2 weeks.  The time has certainly gone fast.  He spends most of his time napping, but is starting to come out of his shell and play for awhile.  The biggest issue we have is men.  He usually hides when my husband or son come into the room.  This is a work in progress.

The first few days inside went very well.  He would meow and yowl just a bit and this was usually in the mornings.  He would hear my two inside boys (Jake and Marvin) running up and down the hall.  Cisco would come right to the door and meow and yowl.  He did try to escape the room one morning and I had a hard time pushing him back with a pillow while trying to get inside the room.  We now are using two gates.  He seems afraid of them and has not once tried to jump them or get near the door.  It is somewhat challenging for the humans to get inside the room, but we are managing!

At first he liked to hide and sleep inside his tent house that he used outside.  Next he hid under the dresser.  For the past 5 days, he prefers to sit on a low chair near the window.  Yet he does not even want to look outside.  I have a small cat tree for him as well.  He has been on it once or twice and starting shaking all over.  It is as though the outside just petrifies him.  I did wonder if the view from a second story window scared him, but I have seen him looking down to the ground and he reacted the same.  I then closed the blinds about 3/4th of the way down.  The other day, I took the heat pad out of his tent house and placed it on his chair.  He spends most of his time there.

The hardest part is his reaction to men.  I am not sure if it is the larger stature, deeper voice or bolder movements.  When he hears my husband coming, he will hide under the chair.  If I am in the room too, I try to prevent him from hiding.  He will allow my husband to give him a few pets and even play with a toy, but it does not transfer to the next time.  We have also tried yummy food.  He usually will not eat it.  I assume with time he will adjust.  Yet I wonder if something happened to him in his past that involved a man.

Cisco went back to the vet on January 5, 2017.  He needed to have vaccines and blood tests as well as having his tail looked at again.  The good news is that his tail is healing so well!  The vet was wondering if surgery might be necessary to remove the very tip.  Yet the tail is closing up and she even saw a bit of hair regrowing.  For now we will continue to wait and see.  I can tell the tail still bothers him, but he is no longer growling at it or over grooming it.  As long as it continues to heal and he leaves it alone, nothing will need to be done!  To speed the healing, I cleaned the wound daily with a solution of Chlorhexidine Gluconate (blue solutions) given to me by the vet.  I added a drop of Colloidal silver to the cotton ball.  I did this 2x a day each day.  I also used the homeopathic remedy Hypericum Perf for nerve pain.  I did this for 5 days and then moved onto Calendula to help the edges of the wound come together.  He also receives some flower essences to help with the trauma from his wounds as well as for adjusting to inside living.  Finally he gets 2 drops of Traumeel to assist his limp.

I received a call on Saturday morning from the vet.  Cisco had blood drawn to test for FELV (Feline leukemia), FIV (Feline Aids), Bartonella (Cat Scratch Fever) and Heartworm.  He tested negative for FELV!!!! Yet postive for FIV:(.  The other test results are not back yet.  The FIV diagnosis is not one I fear.  First off, he could have received the FIV vaccine when he was young.  This would show a positive on the test.  There is another blood test that can be run to determine if the positive FIV is due to a vaccine.  Yet the test is not foolproof.  It is something I will think about.  Since he will be living with 2 other indoor only kitties, I wanted to be sure they all will be safe.  The greatest danger for FIV transmission is between non neutered male cats that fight for blood.  Indoor neutered males usually do not fight for blood.  The method of transmission is through a very deep wound.  Superficial bites or scratches are not methods of transmission.  My vet felt it is very safe to introduce Jake and Marvin to Cisco as long as it is done slowly and I watch for any signs of aggression.  This will be a long slow process.  As I learn more about FIV, I will share it here.  I do know that I will be looking for a good immune supplement to help support his body.

Here is what I know about FIV so far:  It is refereed to as Feline Aids as it attacks the immune system.  The illness can stay dormant for years.  When it is active, simple colds or gastrointestional illnesses may take longer to overcome.  Gingivitis is another problem as the cat may have difficulty fighting off bacteria in the mouth.  Eye and kidney issues could also be a problem.  For now Cisco appears extremely healthy.  I am leaning towards using a good Colostrum supplement to boost his immune system. He will have twice yearly checkups to access his health.

Here are a few pictures of him in his room


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From Outside to Inside

As I had mentioned previously, Cisco had been limping for a few weeks.  The week of Christmas the limp became worse.  When he would arrive, he would hold his paw up not wanting to put weight on it.  I also noticed he was twitching all over at times and trying to bite at his backside or tail.  Since it was always dark when he arrived, it was very hard for me to tell if something was wrong.  Yet one night I discovered the tip of his tail seemed frozen.  It had been in the single digits for night time lows and daytime highs struggled to reach 20.  I knew something was wrong, but I was unsure what.  I kept telling him to come and stay all day and just rest in his heated bed.  Finally on the 23rd, he arrived at 4pm.  His limp was the worst I had seen.  I went out to try and get a good look at him.  I discovered a tail injury.  The tip had been bitten or torn away from getting stuck somewhere.  Most likely it had abscessed, burst and then frozen the fur at the end.  I knew he needed medical attention.

I called my vet and was able to secure an appointment for the 26th if I could catch him.  I figured my best approach was a medium sized dog carrier and not a trap.  I was worried he would not show up for breakfast on the 26th.  I had a very hard time sleeping that night.  I was awake from 3 am until it was time for the morning feeding.  I checked the camera and there he was waiting for breakfast.  I first went outside and took the carrier and opened the door.  All 4 outside boys scattered.  I then came back out with food and they all reappeared.  I was able to coax Cisco into one of the feeding stations.  As he started to eat, I picked him up and carried him to the carrier and inside he went.  He struggled just a bit at the end as I was closing the door.  I didn’t receive any bites or scratches!!  I placed him in the laundry room and covered the carrier.  He had to wait 4 hours before the appointment.  He yowled a bit at first, but calmed down when I turned on some soft music and turned on the light.

The vet appointment went very well.  My vet was incredible with him.  She took the appointment very slowly.  The limp seems to be from an old injury of the elbow joint that he has reinjured.  He was given some pain medication and told he needed complete rest.  The tail was definitely bitten or stuck under a door or possibly a trap.  The vet cleaned the wound, but said it looked in decent shape.  It still had blood flow.  I am to clean the wound 2x a day and he has a 10 day course of antibiotics.  When Cisco returns to the vet in 10 days, the tail will be x-rayed to see if any of the bones were crushed.  She will access how he is doing.  A simple amputation of the tip of the tail may be necessary depending on how it heals.  The tail does not seem to bother him, yet I still see him twitching and trying to bite at it occasionally.  At his next visit, we will do vaccines and viral testing.  During the vet appointment it became clear that Cisco would strictly be an inside kitty!

During the vet appointment my wonderful husband and son, cleaned out the guest room. The bed was picked up off the floor, the areas behind the bookcase was blocked, the blinds were pulled up and cords securely hidden, some furniture was removed and a cat tree, scratching post and toys were added. I also placed a feliway plug in, my ipod to play soft music and a surveillance camera to keep an eye on him.  The room was almost completely ready when we got home.

Once I let him out, he came out of the carrier very slowly.  He yowled a bit, but calmed quickly.  He got up onto the lowest level of the cat tree and looked outside.  Yet he did not throw himself against the window to try and escape as some of my other cats have done.  After a few minutes I allowed him some time alone to settle and explore.

When I returned later, I brought his K&H tent house  as well as a chair pad and blanket he liked from outside.  He then went and hid under the dresser.  This space is tall enough that I can still reach under and retrieve him if necessary.  He stayed there for hours.  I checked on him every hour or two.  He was not at all interested in the food.  When I went to visit around 8pm, he was very happy to see me.  He purred and purred.  I brought out his favorite plain cooked chicken and he ate and ate.  I then opened a 3 oz can of cat food and he ate all of it.  This allowed me to give him the pain medication and antibiotic.  The pain medication was easy to give, but the liquid antibiotic was hard.  I will have to find a new technique.  I left a nightlight on and also the music and left him to sleep for the night.

Overnight seemed peaceful until around 6:15 am.  My two inside boys (Jake and Marvin) like to run up and down the hallway and up and down the stairs to get my attention that it is time to get up.  Cisco heard them and started yowling.  I had placed a gate keeping Jake and Marvin away from the door, but Jake and Marvin made lots of noise right beside the gate.  I went to Cisco’s room and he calmed down quickly with me there.  I turned on the light for him and that helped too.  I later brought him some breakfast.  He did not want to eat at all, yet he was quiet and calm.  He went into the tent house and stayed there for quite awhile.

Later I returned with more chicken, but he refused it.  I then resorted to tuna and the water from the tuna can.  He liked the tuna, but not the water.  He then also ate more canned cat food.  Once again, I gave him his medicines.  He does not like the Clavamox antibiotic at all.  Not sure how I will get this down him.  He does not like when I mix odd ingredients into his food either.  Hopefully as he becomes calmer, he will allow me to give the medicine easier.  I also allowed my husband and son to come inside for a quick visit with Cisco.  Both of them were able to pet him.  He is resting now and very quiet.

It is clear that he has been inside a house before.  I do believe it has been quite some time, but he seems to be ok with being inside.  I did see him move around a bit this morning and the limp was not as horrible, yet he was still holding the paw up.  He also had a twitching episode where he tried to bite back towards his tail.  I am hopeful the transition continues to go smoothly.

Here are a few pictures of Cisco in his room.


Cisco in his new room on the cat tree.


Hiding under the dresser.


Inside his tent house.


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Trying Another New Shelter

Last week the temperatures were bitter cold.  We had two nights with low temperatures of 4-6 F.  Shadow, Stellar and Hampton did well in their heated houses.  Yet Cisco still would not go into his.  The first cold night he used his regular K&H Cat House and the second night he did use one of the Magic Boxes on the deck. The magic box only had one opening and it recently had been updated with two heat pads so it was much warmer than the K&H Cat House.  Of course this got me thinking of an update to Cisco’s area!

Now that Cisco was using a magic box, I figured he might use one in the current location of K&H heated cat house.  I bought another Hefty rubbermaid type box and went to work.  I decided to cut only one hole yet making it plenty big for him.  I lined the top, bottom and sides with Reflectix and placed a K&H outdoor heat pad on the bottom and one of the sides. This way he felt warmth on the bottom and could also sleep against the one on the side.  The Hefty container fit them both perfectly.  I then used a Self Warming Heat Pad for the other sides.  I used duct tape to secure the self warming heat pad.  I knew this had to be much warmer with the insulation, two electric heat pads and the self warming pad.  The next day I placed it next to the heated house.  I so hoped Shadow, Stellar or Hampton would not claim it.  Cisco did not arrive until the middle of the night as we were having rain, freezing rain and snow.  When he did arrive, he chose not to go inside.  Here is a picture of the new shelter.  It is the one on the right.


Last night Cisco arrived for dinner.  After eating he headed towards his area.  He stuck his head inside the new shelter, but would not go inside.  He then attempted another magic box, but did not go inside.  I went outside to check on him and decided to sprinkle just a hint of catnip inside his new shelter.  This worked like a charm.  He went inside the bed at 8pm and did not get up until 5:30am!  Last night the  low was 14.  Here he is sleeping away.  His back is against the other electric heat pad.


On a side note, on Friday December 16, 2016, it was warming as the evening went on.  We were to get a lot of rain, freezing rain and some snow.  Cisco came for dinner and explored some areas on the deck.  I had been out earlier in the day and sprinkled some catnip inside his heated shelter.  I figured it was worth a try.  He went inside and stayed there for almost 10 minutes!! This was huge.  He now knows that if he needs to, he can get inside for extra warmth.  Here is a picture of him inside the heated shelter.


Cisco inside the heated shelter on the left.

Two nights last week, the temperatures were so cold.  The heated houses stayed warm enough.  When I got up in the morning the lowest the heated shelters went were around 50.  I had told the boys that it was going to be very cold and that snuggling together would produce the most heat.  I never ever thought Hampton would snuggle with Shadow and Stellar.  Yet imagine my surprise when I saw on the camera the next morning that all 3 were in one heated shelter!!  I even caught Cisco coming in for a drink of water.


From left to right: Stellar, Hampton, Shadow. Cisco on the ground.

Today was finally a sunny day.  It is still cold with highs only near 20, but the sunshine is a welcome surprise.  I was able to get outside earlier and visit with Shadow, Stellar and Hampton.  They were happy to get some pets!  Here is a quick shot of the three.


I hope that all of my improvements will make for happy and warm kitties!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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Winter Woes

After a most glorious month of November, the month of December is full of wintry cold and snow.  We have had cold rain, snow, sleet and so many gray days.  Sunday was our first official snow fall.  Fortunately just an inch or so which melted by the end of the day.  Today it is lightly snowing again.  Yet with the snow, a bitter cold front will be arriving.  Lows tonight will be in the teens while lows on Wednesday and Thursday will be in the single digits with wind chills below zero.  When December gets this cold, it usually means our winter will be a cold one.

Since the weather had been so mild, the cats had been using many of the various shelters on the deck.  With the arrival of the cold and snow, three of them have retreated to the heated shelters.  Of course there are always issues since there are only two heated shelters and 3 cats that use them.  Fortunately I think they have figured it out and are starting to bond together.  I have wireless thermometers in each heated house so I can remotely view the temperature.  So far the heaters on still on medium and have remained near 60.  Tonight I will be raising them to med/high and then tomorrow all the way to high.

Cisco has still not taken to his heated house.  He is only using the K&H heated tent.  I have tried placing a bit of catnip in the threshold of the door and he has sniffed at it, but has not tried to go inside.  I know for the next few nights I will be worrying about his safety.  He also has been limping for over a week now.  It has not progressed.  He continues to come and go and walk around the property.  I have given him Arnica ( in tablet form) and it seems to be helping.  He has allowed me to check his leg and paw.  I made sure there were no thorns or visible injuries.  He does not react when I touch it.  I will be sure to keep an eye on it in case a vet visit becomes necessary.

The cats had quite a scare last week when 3 coyotes came through the yard.  I had just put the dog out and picked up the cat food from the deck.  It was just after 9:30pm.  The next morning when I checked the cameras, shortly after I came inside, 3 came running through the yard.  They were startled by the motion light and quickly left.  All 4 of the cats freaked out and jumped out of their beds.  All went under the deck for a bit.  It scares me so much to see the coyotes.  I have seen several throughout the years of living her.  Yet never 3 at once.  I hope they do not come back this way for a long time.

I believe I have mentioned about Gimpy’s fawn, Gizmo who disappeared at the beginning of November.  He still has not returned.  Also one of Big Mama’s fawn is no longer around.  I do not get a sense that either are still alive.  Big Mama’s fawns were almost always with her.  It has been 10 days now since I have seen her.  It makes me sad to see my group of 5 dwindle to 3.

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