nlbarber: (Default)
It's a rainy chilly Saturday, a reversion to almost winter weather for Atlanta (high in the 50's, which we can get in January and February). It will be back close to 80 by the end of the week, though.

The cats sleep in all day, of course, but on sunny days the window cat beds tend to be popular. Today's one of the few times all 3 cats have been in the newish bunk bed I put together for them.

stacked boxesThe bunk bed began with 2 wood wine boxes thrown out by a neighbor, which I picked up during a walk. They sat stacked on the study floor for quite a while, accumulating some bedding and a clamp-on light for heat, and proved a popular sleeping spot when I'm at the computer and the cats are hanging out with me.

completed bedI spotted a bunk bed idea on some feed or other made from 2 halves of an old suitcase, premade spindles, and bun feet. I pinned it on my tiny Pinterest board (though I see the link is now dead, this is similar), and thought about applying the idea to the wine boxes. I think about such things a lot....but mostly never do anything about it. This one, however, I finally tackled a couple of months ago. A trip to Home Depot for the legs and feet, plus quarter-round molding to use for support on the legs--I was dubious that they would hold against the forces and wiggles of cats jumping into the top bed--a little pondering of placing the supports, nailing and glueing, a little effort to put the pieces together from where my measurements weren't quite exact, and voila! the double bed.

Today, the full house:
Full house in the bunk bed

And the crowded conditions in the top box under the lamp. Trilla (the tabby) was there first, and Fish was in the desktop cat bed under the other lamp. He moved to the sofa for a while to cool off, then apparently decided that the bunk bed was better. Now, an hour after I took this shot, Fish is in sole possession of the top bunk and Trilla has moved to the desktop bed. Fred still occupies the bottom bunk.
Box full o' cats
nlbarber: (Default)
TrillaI have failed to announced the newest addition to the household. Trilla arrived last November, and after a somewhat uncertain beginning due to some health issues*, she has settled in nicely. Even Fred only growls at her some of the time, now.

Trilla the cat is "a compact and cheerful person" like her namesake in Scout's Progress (by Lee and Miller). Trilla is Jon dea' Court's second at Binjali's, a master pilot, and it's she who teaches Aelliana menfri'at, a style of fighting. (If you haven't read Scout's Progress, go do so At Once. It's my favorite of the Liaden books.)

Trilla's a bold explorer, at least in the absence of Strange People. From the first she would set out, encounter a warning beacon (Fish's growl), slightly alter course and continue, encounter enemy fire (Fred's pop! with a paw, accompanied by a hiss), alter course slightly and go on.

However, the name is most apt because....she trills. Most of her vocalizations (and they are many) are that sort of trilling speech most cats use only occasionally. I had considered Shadia as a name first but found it was difficult to use, and the little jump over to Trilla then was eminently logical.

Trilla Looking to alter the piloting equations.

Fish and TrillaFish, a pretty laid-back sort of guy, accepted Trilla's presence fairly quickly.

Trilla: I'm sure this is edible! First Christmas tree. *This is edible, right?*

Trilla: if not edible, then climbable *Well, if I can't eat it, I can climb it.*

Fred: is this thing edible?Fred: *What does that kitten think she is doing!?"* (OK, not really--at Christmas Fred was still avoiding Trilla whenever possible. This is Fred seeing if she can eat the tree.)


*Trilla came to me from my yard lady, who runs an informal rescue primarily of dogs. Yard Lady apparently thought she knew the history of Trilla and her sister and skipped a Feline Leukemia test. (insert glyph of extreme anger/frustration) When I took Trilla to my vet a few weeks after she arrived, she had a weak positive test. This is complex to interpret, but the bottom line is that I decided to live with the risk, vaccinated the other two (which in a worst case scenario would be bolting the barn door after the horse was well away), and will re-test in another month or so to see if Trilla still appears to be shedding the virus. Hopefully she will be one of the significant percentage of cats who get FeLeuk but then either get over it or have it go latent.
nlbarber: (devil Fish)
My supper tonight: leftover grilled turkey breast from last weekend. Leftover limas. Freshly cooked seared brussels sprouts.

The venue: my usual seat at the table-height breakfast counter, looking out at the front yard.

Hopeful dinner companion: Fish, a great lover of turkey.

I offered him a few tidbits of turkey which he accepted with alacrity. He then kept reminding me that he was there, in case I was moved to offer more--he does this by stretching up to put his paws on my leg, or trying a mini-claw-sharpening on my pants, or head-butting my shins. No talking, though--he's a quite silent cat, and leaves the vocalizing to Fred who more than makes up for his silence. I ignored all the additional promptings for food, being absorbed in the newspaper.

That is, until he did the paw-on-leg thing, and then I heard a SPLAT. Looked down, and Fish was investigating the brussels sprout half that he had neatly raked off the edge of the plate onto the floor. Unlucky Fish--the turkey was on the far side of the plate.

This "hook it out of the dish" is the same move he uses to try to steal food from Fred's bowl when I'm watching. (When I'm not watching, he just pushes her out of the way.) He sits a little away from the bowl, then sneaks out a long white paw and quickly rakes a piece or two of the dry food out onto the counter. He feels that once the food is on the counter, it's fair game.
nlbarber: (Default)
In a bad driving habit born of living alone and thus generally being aware of what might be in my driveway, I got in the car and backed out of the garage today before turning to look behind me as I approached the street. When I did look, standing in the middle of the back seat was Sheldon, the orange tabby from next door. I knew he frequents my garage when I leave the door open, but had no idea he'd take advantage of the open driver's window to find a place to nap. He was not at all alarmed, and waited for me to open a back door for him (after checking to see if the window on the far side happened to be open) before exiting the car and scampering toward home.

I'm going to need to keep Fish out of the car for a while lest he smell the intruder and get upset enough to do something about it. As far as I know Fish has never sprayed (and he's an exclusively inside cat except for the rare escape to the back yard), and I'd just as soon he never get the idea.
nlbarber: (Default)
I spread an old sheet over the dry-clean-only comforter to try to limit the amount of cat hair that gets on it, and thus extend the cleaning cycle. (Yes, it was a mistake--I need to find a light duvet and washable covers, because a washable comforter is too big for my washing machine anyway. I do like the colors on this one, though...)

Fred occasionally decides that she *must* sleep directly on the comforter. When she does, a mere sheet is no obstacle...



Apr. 11th, 2010 10:20 am
nlbarber: (Default)
Today's Rhymes with Orange comic is so apropos (hopefully this link will not die too quickly):

Fish and Fred have been having turf wars this weekend, the turf in contention being me. Recent scenario, repeated at least once: I'm at my desk. Fish decides he's a lap cat (though he's really too big for my lap unless he can prop up on something), so I push back a little to accommodate this, and allow an arm to keep him from sliding off. Fred then arrives, loudly demanding her due as the Princess, finds the lap occupied, and drapes herself over my shoulders to make her head accessible for skritches.

Hey, you two, I'm supposed to be finishing my taxes here!


Feb. 4th, 2010 11:12 pm
nlbarber: (Default)
One (or both) of the cats has forgotten that the kitchen counter is a forbidden surface. How can I tell? I rinsed out a milk carton for recycling this morning and left it in the drain rack. When I got home from work the cap had disappeared. It will probably turn up under the piano, or the cabinets, or in a corner somewhere, long after the milk carton has been recycled cap-less.
nlbarber: (Default)
1. Got back from Disney Sunday evening (more write-ups to come, whenever I finish all the drafts I've got stored), and took Monday off for the home catchup on laundry, errands, etc. Went back to the office Tuesday.

2. I'm not caught up at the office (that's perpetual, only aggravated by the vacation), on my iGoogle feeds, on email (piffle and Bujold being the worst), on SFF.Net, you name it. This will not improve until after Thanksgiving, probably. Facebook has not yet become a regular haunt, so I never think of 'staying current' over there.

3. Fred and Fish feel that the staff (that's me) should not spend 9 nights away from the job, and are still demanding recompense. Fred has been training the substitute (sister-in-law) but live-in staff attendance is really required.

4. Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK!!!! We're gathering in Atlanta, having decided not to have one last occasion in Moultrie. Older brother and spouse, and his older son are coming, and will stay with me. Sometime. (Probably Tuesday.) Cooking and cleaning are underway.

5. Sears and the freezer. There is progress, and the account probably deserves its own post. Short version: freezer is working, though the tech suggests not putting anything I care about in it for 2 weeks lest it fail again.
nlbarber: (Default)
My flight home was uneventful--I drowsed most of it while listening to Komarr on audiobook, a book I know so well it doesn't matter if I actually sleep through some parts. The interesting incident was before the flight when I was pulled out of the boarding line for extra screening by 3 TSA employees. I haven't even seen extra screening going on in several years. They searched my large over-the-shoulder bag, had me remove the cap from my water bottle (carried empty through x-ray, filled at a concourse water fountain) so they could wave a test strip over it, then thanked me and let me board. The rolling laptop case was ignored. I feel so much safer for this experience...

Anyway, sister-in-law graciously picked me up at the airport and whisked me home. I greeted the affection-starved cats, then went and bought milk before dosing myself with cold medicine and going early to bed. This morning, when I reached for that milk to add to my coffee cup, I found the fridge was at 70 degrees (F). Freezer was at 7. The settings are for 0 and 37. I tried playing with the controls, pushed the doors firmly closed, that sort of thing, then moved the frozen ice cream maker insert to the fridge to try to help keep some cool. Of course I could locate the owner's manual for every appliance replaced in the 2006 kitchen renovation except the fridge. It was time for my hair appointment, so I left.

On return, the fridge was at about 54, but the freezer was 12. I began calling repair places: Sears can come next Wednesday. The Appliance Doctor doesn't even answer the phone on weekends. GE Appliance Service can come Monday--I made that appointment, then kept calling. Finally got what appears to be a one-man operation who will try to get here today ("or tomorrow for sure!"). Meanwhile, the fridge is now almost at the setting of 37. The freezer is at 11. I guess I need to have a repair person look at it no matter what, even if the freezer should start getting to an acceptable temp.
nlbarber: (Agatha)

Agatha and I made the last trip to Dr. Dunn today. She had gotten really bony and weak, and this morning went part-way under the guest bed to sleep instead of one of her usual sleeping spots. I think it was the "find a place to hide" behavior, and certainly I've been expecting it. Advanced kidney disease, high blood pressure, blindness, and most probably cancer finally have overwhelmed her.

more, and pictures )

Good bye, Miss Agatha-cat. You are missed.

Agatha cat

May. 12th, 2009 04:47 pm
nlbarber: (Agatha)
My old lady Agatha-cat is failing. She's lost a pound (dropping from 9 to 8 pounds) in the last 6 weeks, and last Thursday she almost completely stopped eating. I took her to "her" vet, Dr. Dunn, on Friday, but there wasn't any obvious cause or anything much to do. We gave her subcutaneous fluids in case it might be just a temporary imbalance that could be corrected and get her eating again. However, all my tempting with baby food and cat treats got no more than a few teaspoons or so down her on Saturday. A phone consult with Dr. Dunn on Sunday led to a suggestion of Pepcid, as she's swallowing hard, but that didn't change anything, though a can of tuna did interest her in lapping at a little most of the day. Monday's phone consult reached the conclusion that it's probably something like cancer that's in the esophagus or stomach, perhaps spread from the mammary lumps that appeared a few months ago. At Agatha's age (17 and a half) and with the advanced kidney disease, high blood pressure, and blindness, extraordinary treatments for a cancer just seem cruel. I vetoed even an overnight stay at the vet for additional supportive care, as Agatha hates cages and strange locations. I think she's better off at home.

She seems comfortable, and does sometimes eat a little though the tuna has ceased to be interesting. When I left for the hospital to spend a few hours with my father, she was in her favorite day-time spot under a lamp, basking in the heat. She still moves around fairly well though she's been trembling a little when she stands up. If she starts to look like she's in pain, or if she goes to find a corner to hide, it will be time for the last trip to the vet.
nlbarber: (Agatha)
Agatha's on a 3-month checkup schedule now that the blood pressure seems stable, and today was the day. Summary: things are still OK, so keep with the current medication and come back in 3 months.

Longer report:

longer report behind the cut )
Oh, and one bit of very helpful information, garnered when I told Dr. Dunn that I'd be asking for a prescription from an online vet pharmacy for the Amlodipine, which VCA charges >$6.50/pill for, but online sources offer for as low as $0.19. (I'm still not sure I believe that one, but a different source offers it at $0.76.) Though they only tell you this if you ask, VCA will match prices for certain online pharmacies, and the $0.19 place is one of them, supposedly. You can bet I'll be checking that out when next I need a refill. It's worth something to have them quarter the little bitty tablets for me, but it's not worth over $6 a pill.
nlbarber: (Default)
My father is here this weekend, and my older brother should be arriving around midnight. (Daddy sees the oncologist tomorrow morning.) The cats find the various rearrangements at time interesting, other times frustrating.

The unfolded sofa bed behind me has kept Fish and Fred interested all evening.
The closed door to the 'guest wing' frustrates all of them, but especially Agatha when she bumps into an unexpected 'wall'.
Disruptions led Agatha to re-discover an old favorite spot--the cabinet under the bar sink in the laundry area, which stays toasty warm when the furnace is on thanks to the vent arrangement.
Luggage on the floor of both the guest room and the study--both fascinating (Fish and Fred) and a hindrance (Agatha).

Older brother just arrived...time to let him have the room.
nlbarber: (Agatha)
My father will come up here Wednesday for the oncologist appointment on Friday. My sister-in-law will go get him, then I'll take him home either Sunday or Tuesday--Monday being out because I have a conference call at work. That means Agatha's comfy nest area she's been using since she went blind must be dismantled--it's the guest bathroom. At a minimum the litterbox that pokes into the main floor area by the bathtub has to move. The basket she sleeps in under a furnace vent probably needs to go too, as that infringes on the area where you would stand in front of the sink. The food and water dishes can probably stay if pushed further back beside the toilet--but there might not be much point in it if she stops spending time in there.

Today's task was moving the litterbox, along with the puppy pad that it sits on to catch when she pees over the edge of the box (nearly 100% of the time, I think). After debating putting it in my bathroom (really no room at all), or perhaps in the laundry room blocking the coat closet door, I decided to try it in the Cat Room despite that being the location of the other 2 boxes. I moved the box, induced Agatha to walk to the Cat Room by herself, gently pushed her towards the box so she could smell it, then put her front feet in it, too. She of course stepped out immediately and left to go back to the cat basket in the guest bathroom. You can put a cat in the litterbox, but you can't make her use it...

Despite that initial reaction, so far this seems to be a success. The puppy pad was peed on sometime during the day, and neither the floor nor the bathroom rug were. Tomorrow I'll decide if I'm going to try to shift the cat basket. That will be harder on her--it's not the only place she sleeps, but it's the most common. And the second most common is a spot in the guest bedroom, which will be off limits to her (at night at least)while Daddy is here. She'll just have to move down her list of favored sleeping spots for a while.
nlbarber: (Agatha)
Got home from The Land of the Mouse last night without hassle--blog entries for the remaining days are in various states, and might or might not get posted sometime...

This morning in a make-up cat attention session, I found lumps near 2 of Agatha's nipples, and one of the nipples itself is enlarged. I managed an appointment with Dr. Dunn this afternoon, and it is probably either cancer or (I think I got the right phrase) mammary hyperplasia. Feline mammary cancers have a very bad prognosis--generally they metastasize, and the life expectance is 1-2 years with aggressive treatment. The hyperplasia, if I have the diagnosis right, can have various effects on quality of life too, but is not generally fatal in itself. Dr. Dunn thinks Agatha does not have any sort of treatable infection causing the lumps, in any case.

We're going to do nothing. Not going to worry about the exact cause, and just treat any secondary effects as they show up. Aggie's life expectancy at age 17 and with the kidney disease worsening isn't going to be significantly different either way, and trying to treat a cancer would definitely be too hard on her.

She's very annoyed with me for the vet visit on top of the 8-night trip to Disney World, and is hiding under the guest bed. Fred, on the other hand, who had her annual checkup this morning, is actively seeking attention just as she was before the vet trip.

Interesting side note: Fred is extremely vocal at home, complaining, demanding, or just talking. She gave maybe 2 meows on the trip to the vet, and was completely silent while there and on the way home. Agatha, who speaks only on rare occasions to demand some action on my part, cried all the way there and some on the way home, even though she was on my lap most of the return trip. Some sort of inverse action caused by the cat-carrier, perhaps...
nlbarber: (Agatha)
I made it back to Atlanta without great difficulty Saturday, though traffic made the normally 3-1/2 hour trip into 4+. Trip entertainment was largely the Georgia-Georgia Tech football game, which Tech won! First time in 7 years or's been a long drought.

Sunday was a no-effort day, as I let the head cold take over. Spent a lot of the day napping or reading in bed. Cold is no better today, though, ungrateful thing. I left work early due to non-productivity, and took another nap.

Had to bestir myself to get Agatha to a 6 PM vet appointment, for another followup on the CRF. I underestimated the drive time in rush-hour traffic, but we had to wait anyway--lots of people picking up boarders after the holiday weekend, plus ailments, so there wasn't a treatment room for us for a few minutes.

Once we got in, Dr. Dunn mostly focused on Agatha's eyes, checking the pressure again and looking at the retinas and blood vessels. Things look stable, but not great--the retinas still look OK (not like that very first visit, when they apparently flapped like a flag in the wind), but it still looks like the blood pressure is up. Dr. Dunn suggested going to twice a day on one of the medications, but to wait until I'm back from my Disney World trip so I can observe the effects and stop it if she gets lethargic or otherwise acts oddly. Dr. Dunn also had me put Agatha down on the floor so she could try to see how much vision Agatha has. Same conclusion as we had reached earlier: probably seeing light and shadow, but not much else. We'll go back for another check in 3 months unless something comes up, and I can send updates via email. Oh, and I have a topical cortisone spray to try on the part of Aggie's back where she's pulling out the hair, in either a stress or allergic reaction. We've treated this before with a cortisone shot, but those are not good with the progression of the CRF. And so we go on.
nlbarber: (Default)
You know the web comic Two Lumps? I have Three Lumps:

Three Lumps

That's Fred-Lump, Fish-Lump, and Agatha-Lump. Fish and Agatha appear even more Lumpish because they have appropriated bean-bag neck pillows (I was sitting on these to help the tailbone pain) as sleep aids.
nlbarber: (Agatha)
I almost forgot to mark the's Agatha-cat's birthday! (Well, it's the day we fixed on--as she was a rescue, the exact date is unknown.) There won't be many more years, I don't think, but she's doing pretty well for now. She is navigating the house quite securely now, and seems to see even more light/dark--she spotted an open cabinet door this morning and came over to investigate. I assume she saw the black opening instead of the light wood of the closed door that's normally there. She still is eating well, and over the last week or so she's gone back to being vocally demanding. She either sits by her feeding spot until I come by and then speaks to me to tell me to put her food bowl down, or if I'm slow to realize that she's waiting she will come find me and tell me about it. Oh, and the last few days we've had a cat-spat on the bed in the early morning before I get up, when she decides that Fish needs to leave the bed. Agatha wins. She's still getting 2 pills a day for the kidney disease and high blood pressure, and will probably start getting periodic sub-Q fluids when we go back for the next check...though I may postpone starting that until I get back from my DisneyWorld vacation in early December.

The one thing I wish I could figure out how to deal with is her litterbox habit. She doesn't step far enough into the box to pee, and thus pees over the edge. I keep puppy pads down under the box (and sticking 6-8 inches in front of it) to catch the pee, but it would sure be nicer if she'd walk all the way into the box before she lets go. Or just turn around, like she does to poop. All the solutions I've thought of seem impractical to implement with a blind, aged cat.
nlbarber: (Agatha)
Agatha went back to see Dr. Dunn today, for a three-week check on how the high blood pressure is responding to medication. Short answer: fairly well, but more is needed.

on the blood pressure... )

...and the blindness.... )

...and on the new cat carrier (with photo behind the cut) )
Agatha also likes the new crate, or perhaps she just got comfortable this morning. During one of our waits for Dr. Dunn to check on medication amounts, Agatha lay on her side (abandoning the defensive position of feet underneath/ready to run) and seemed ready to take her morning nap. Pity the various noises of the vet office kept disturbing her peace....
nlbarber: (Default)
Day two at the ag. show--hot. Lots of people, but it tailed off dramatically mid-afternoon, which normally happens on Thursday but not Wednesday. I talked to fewer people, I think, but still had some good conversations. Also showed off our realtime streamflow page on the new toy, when the iPod Touch was connected to the somewhat flaky WiFi in the building. The show is down in attendance and vendors, for sure--there are always some booths where vendors pulled out at the last minute, but there are more this year. And the Ginsu knife guy isn't here! He's been a fixture since 1994, at least. Must try to find out what's happened to him, at least.

Talking to fewer people means I got to sit more instead of standing on the concrete floor, so the feet are in better shape today. But it got pretty hot--the high was 87, I think, and inside the building the air doesn't circulate real well. Luckily another exhibitor was giving away little battery-powered personal fans...

Word from sister-in-law, who's cat-sitting for me in the evenings (the pro cat sitter is doing mornings and giving Agatha her pill), Agatha is looking more confident, and has moved back to spending more time on my bed instead of staying under the guest bed. The other two are doing their usual "Mom's away from home, and we're starved and neglected" routine. I'm very relieved--I was not at all sure how Agatha was going to do adapting to this, especially when I disappeared on her.


nlbarber: (Default)

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