Monday, May 11, 2009

Welcome to the chickie-chick-chicks

This weekend we drove out to Monroe Farm and Feed and bought some chicks for our backyard. They were living in big tin bins sorted by breed. We bought one Americauna, one Rhode Island Red & and one light Brahma. The Americauna is the smallest - still fluffy and without feathers while the other two have some feathers on wings and tail and are tufting out elsewhere.

Here is their home in the basement. We have a heat lamp which we are keeping angled to ensure a part of the box is around 90 degrees while there are cooler areas.

The chicks have names. The tiny one is Chippy - short for Chipmunk because of her striped back. The Brahma is named Sylvia (by Joshua) because "it is a nice name and means something abou the forest." The Rhode Island Red is named Ruby - because she is reddish. Here are Sylvia and Chippy in their box.

They enjoy periods of outside playtime when they lurk in the herb garden or shrubbery. They are cautious and remain undercover if possible. They also peep loudly if separated from their friends. They copy each other - if one pecks at something they all investigate and if one startles they all leap up and try to fly.

We are going to keep them sleeping indoors until Chippy is 6 weeks and it warms up. Meanwhile, we are going to cool down their heat from the light as times goes on.

Farewell to The Fat Cat

Yesterday, I had the cat killed. It was budgetry euthenasia after I did the math on how much it would cost and the effort required to care for a diabetic cat. There was the monthy insulin and syringes, the twice daily shots (within an hour of breakfast) the weekly blood sugar tests done at the vet (at 1pm), the prescription catfood that cost $90 a month for both cats, antibiotics and checks for UTI and then the extra costs for medical boarding at the vet if we ever decided to go away overnight. The vet said it was conservative to estimate a cost of $2,000 per year.

And its not as if we don't have enough going on.

Still, it was a hard decision. I had a vet appointment to have a blood sugar checkup. I picked up Kasharoo from her warm spot in the sun and put her in the catbox. She miaowed loudly. That's when I realised I would never be able to pick her up to have her put down on purpose. The moment would always be too poignant, too difficult, too painful. She's lived with us quite a long time after all and even though she was not a good cat, we had come to terms.

When I arrived I discussed it with the nurse. She explained that there just give the cat an overdose of a sedation and they 'go to sleep' quietly. We could either pay for private cremation ($128) and receive the ashes back or for 'public' cremation (among other pets) and receive no ashes. I wasn't offered a symbolic bag of mixed pet ashes although that might have been nice.

I didn't pick an option as such but I went to talk to the vet. He was very understanding. He said it can be very hard to keep diabetic pets within their blood sugar range and it was very expensive. He also said that it was unlikely that the neurological damage already causing her to have trouble walking and climbing would be reversed. I discussed the idea of just not treating her diabetes and he said that was not a good idea because she would get 'ketosis?? and acidotic" and need emergency treatment at the pet ER some Saturday night.

So I signed the form to have her put down right then.

I decided to stay with her till the end. I held her and then laid her down on a towel. The vet had a small vial of blue medicine which he injected into her back leg and I stroked her head and talked to her and she 'fell asleep' almost immediately. I expected him to do something else but he just listened with a stethoscope for a while and said she was gone.

I was very sad. As I said, she was not a great cat but that doesn't mean we don't miss her. She was a real habit around here. She was fat (Before diabetes), a bully of other cats, bossy with our own cat, grumpy with the kids and didn't like to be petted except for brushing. If she ever settled down to lie on you she started sucking at your clothes until you had a big wet patch of cat saliva and she dug her claws into you at the same time. She ate too much (even before she was sick) and never stopped demanding food with insistent mewling. We adopted her when she was 6 or 7 and she was already a really fat cat - about 17 lbs back then - and she fought with our first cat, Kitty Haiku, so much at first that we were not sure we would be able to keep her. She was fierce and strong. She would get in catfights and needed treatment for 2 absesses. Still, she never bit or scratched our kids and would just stalk off at the last minute if provoked.

Now the neighborhood cats are breathing a sigh of relief and looking to take over our territory.

Here is Kitty Kasharoo with Wren in happy times.

RIP Kitty Kasharoo.