Category Archives: Pets

Gombah On the Mend & Meets a New Friend ~ Chapter 6

Like human diabetics, pets food choices need to be changed. Gombah was prescribed a high-protein diet (not less than 40%) and limited (once-a-week) wet canned food as it contained too many carbs that would turn to sugar.   No more food grazing all day. He is allowed one cup of dry food a day which was later reduced to 3/4 cup a day because he is so sedentary.

The cost for blood work done every 6 months – about $75; insulin for month – about $150 a month, including disposal needles. Gombah slowly stabilized and now weighs 14 pounds again.

You would think the hardest part for us would be giving him the needles. We thought it would be. The vet trained us how to do that without pain for the cat and it is easy and simple to do. It does not hurt him and Gompah actually purrs while he is being injected. He is such a routine cat that when it is time to give him his shot, he sits and waits by the place where we administer it.

The hardest part was rationing his food. The vet told us he wouldn’t be happy with his lowered amount and he sure wasn’t. He meowed more and sat over his bowl and stared at it.  Often.  For long periods of time.  It is difficult not to feed your pet when you think he is hungry. The vet reduced his food intake to 3/4 of a cup but eventually he did get use to the lower amount and is not as adamant about nibbling constantly. There are times when he will find one of us, meow and put his paw on our leg and we know that he is hungry. We give him a rationed amount of treats to tide him over, but we know that in order to keep him healthy, we can’t keep feeding him like we did before. Besides, the vet admonishes us if he goes over 14 pounds.  We do indulge in wet food once a week because he gets so excited when he hears the ‘snap’ opening.

 

The diet part was easier to help bring him ‘back’ to his prior self than it was to bring back his personality.  He was traumatized by our absence and the fire.  t was a long haul to win his trust again that everything would be all right. He slept in corners with his back protected for 6 months. It took him that long, too, to finally jump on the bed and cuddle us again. We were joyful when he came in one night and jumped up like he had never stopped. We gave him a big welcome and Nello reached out for him first. That started a new precedent that Gombah seeks out Nello first when he joins us in the pride’s den. He switches sometime during the night and is always on my side in the morning. He was finally back!

The best part is he is healthy again – we have his sugar levels checked every six months. He no longer sleeps in corner and he grooms again and he snuggles with us. He is even more his affectionate and playful self again. Maybe that’s what attracted him to a female feral cat who befriended him.

TBC…..Chapter 7…Gombah Makes Friends with Feral http://expertistas.com/2012/09/23/gombah-meets-feral-his-new-friend-chapter-7/aboutme

Marie Coppola  ©  September 2012

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Gombah Becomes Traumatized…..Chapter 5


At some point in time in every pet’s life, he or she may need medical attention either at a veterinarian’s office or at an animal hospital. In addition , since the average life expectancy for indoor cats is 14 to 15years {although the oldest known cat, Creme Puff, lived to age 38 and some cats live to age 20} the costs for their care is increasing along with their age. And like humans, cats’ health issues can increase with their age, too.

Statistically, cats are prone to diabetes at age 9, and our cat was no exception. Since we had suspected, diagnosed and now corrected his affliction, the following might be helpful for those of you who will experience a similar situation.

Like humans, it is not good for cats to be overweight.  A survey of the National Pet Pharmacy informs us that 40 percent of cats are considered to be obese! Only 5 to 10 percent of all cats can be classified as only slightly overweight. In recent years Feline Diabetes Mellitus (diabetes) has become almost a daily diagnosis in animal hospitals all across America. U.S. cats are at risk for a number of obesity related disorders. Documented research indicates obese cats are far more prone than cats of normal body weight to Diabetes, arthritis and a very serious disorder called Hepatic Lipidosis.

And the 40 percent obesity figure seems to be growing.

 A picture of a fat cat — but it is not Gombah, although the markings are similar.

Along with the above, a cat’s history may have a genetic predisposition to diabetes, along with a sedentary life style. Yup, Gombah most definitely changed his habits from an active, outdoor cat to an indoor cat, who LOVES to be sedentary; he was also overweight. He was a prime candidate for diabetes.

One year we traveled for a month and at the vet’s suggestion, we always left him in our home since he is familiar with his surroundings and not farmed out where he may become disoriented and/or feel abandoned. We always left someone in charge that he knew ~~ to cat-sit overnight, to feed and pet him. This time was no exception.

But, an ‘exception’ did occur the very next day after we departed for our trip and were a continent away. Our area had a forest wildfire, a devastating forest fire that destroyed 72 nearby homes and continued to char 31 square miles near our home. Damage estimates rose to $16 million for the three-day blaze. The fire came within 5 miles of our development and neighbors tell us that ash and smoke were heavy on our street.

I’m mentioning this tragedy because the caretakers for our cat also live near us and were understandably anxious, under stress and preparing to evacuate if necessary. Although Gombah was being taken care of, we’re assuming that anxiety was high for both humans and animals. Gombah, just adjusting from his ‘parents’ not being there, aware of surrounding smoke, different feeding times and anxiety — were factors, we feel, in contributing to his onset of diabetes. Our vet concurs it probably did.

When we returned some weeks later, Gombah greeted us weakly – he was three pounds lighter – a lot of weight for a cat to lose in a few weeks’ time. He was thin and his gait was different; he weaved when he walked and his legs were wobbly.

He was constantly hungry and thirsty and we thought as long as he was eating, he would be OK. But, his routine had changed, too. He no longer slept curled up with us; he would find a corner in the house to sleep curled up in a fetal position with his back hugging the wall. Something definitely was not right. He wasn’t gaining weight and he was eating and thirsty all the time. He didn’t play much anymore, had stopped grooming himself and was lethargic.

A checkup at the vet’s revealed his sugar count was very high and after two overnight stays, he was diagnosed as diabetic and would need insulin twice a day.   It would take 6 months before he returned to normal.                                                    

TBContinued……Chapter 6

Marie Coppola (C) September 2012

 

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Gombah Becomes an Indoor Cat……….Chapter 4

Approaching his 13th year of living indoors, Gombah is very content, somewhat too plump, extremely affectionate and thinks we are his parents and we share a 'pride'.  Nello actually pats the bed and invites him to join us when we get ready to retire. He probably doesn't remember his "he can't come inside the house" remark.   Gombah is one of us; he watches TV with us, dines whenever we do and sleeps when we do.   He has his own room (the guest room) because it is sunny and when the sun moves around the sky to another room, so does he with it.

 

 

Gombah sleeping in his favorite room….

 

He has more toys than we do, and a wonderful contraption the size of a Frisbee, with a changeable cork board which he attacks with a vengeance to keep his claws sharp.    Sometimes he sits on it and whacks the ball attached to it or sometimes lays down and naps on it  He loves when we occasionally put catnip on it.   It is his favorite possession.

Although he is aggressive with his toy,  he is the most gentle of cats, and wraps his body around yours to cuddle. He especially likes to cuddle with Nello and still sleeps on his stomach. I suspect sometimes he is brown-nosing Nello (to let him stay in the house) although his nose is pink.

Yes, we let him keep his claws.   It’s for protection if he ever finds himself outside by accident. He has never scratched or clawed our leather furniture. I think that Nello probably sat him down and gave him the rules of the house. I also suspect that Nello speaks Italian to him and the cat understands it. The cat never jumps on tables or counters and turns his nose up at table food. He is the best behaved cat I have ever had and don’t all cat lovers say the same thing?

We had a pet door installed to our adjoining screened-closed in porch, complete with many plants, and Gombah spends many hours in this room, his favorite room, most likely reliving his experiences of once having been an outdoor cat.   This pet door is one of the best things we purchased for the cat.  He spends 50% of his time on the porch where the windows slide up so he has the full effect of being outside – only separated by screens.

He watches Nello garden from his chair on the porch, and Nello brings him fresh grass from outside to chew on.  We even grew seeded cat grass in pot so that Gombah would have his own stash.

Like humans, who take in more calories than they burn, Gombah, whom we spoiled and doted on, put on added weight more than he should have ~ having had the luxury of a feeding contraption where he could graze during the day. He was a nibbler and visited the feeding station more than he should have and was approaching about 15 pounds when he first showed signs of diabetes. Coupled with his obesity (the vet’s word, not mine, I loved him round) and his lack of exercise, his disease became apparent while we were on vacation one tragic year.  TBContinued…..Chaper 5.

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Gombah the Cat is Attacked ~ Twice………Chapter 3

Gombah2

We had received warnings that coyotes were in our area; how could this be? We lived in a built-up suburban area 13 miles from New York City and there were coyotes in our sparse woods?   Yes, they were, and one day, Gombah was injured by one.  It wasn’t a large injury, but it involved a trip to the vet, x-rays, antibiotics and follow-up visits to the tune of $500. When he recovered, he was anxious to get outside again, but having become over-protective and nurturing caregivers, we very reluctantly let him go.

Not long afterwards, he was attacked again, this time more seriously. He became infectious, and involved another trip to the vet, more x-rays, antibiotics and follow-ups, and another $500. The vet suggested that if we wanted to keep him as a pet, that we should consider making him a full-time indoor cat.

The vet had explained about the dangers of outdoor cats. He could suffer another wild-life attack or disabling cat fights, fleas, and/or ticks. Cat collars which do not provide stretch releases have killed many cats who literally get hung up on them. There was always the danger of him getting hit by a car crossing the road. There are diseases they can carry indoors, like ringworm or ticks that may transmit Lyme’s Disease.

He also told us that the average life span of a totally outdoor cat is about a year and a half, while a totally indoor cat is expected to live upwards of 15 years. And there are diseases  for which there are not effective vaccines for such as Feline Leukemia and Feline Infectious Peritonitis. We also knew and had read that cats are subject to mean persons who can poison them or abuse them. We went home and thought about all these things.

This second time when we brought him home from the vet, Gombah was “allowed”  to come upstairs from his apartment where we could watch him better; and we referred to his home-care as ‘intensive care”. We had spent some weary days watching Gombah cuddled in the corner shivering from his infection and sleeping almost all the time. One day, I went in to check on him and saw Nello covering him with a blanket.   Another day, I was surprised to see Gombah napping and covered nicely on a bed in the guest room.  Nello had been sold on pets in the house.  We decided together that we were quite attached to this pet and Gombah officially became an indoor cat.

I was surprised to see him in the guest room swaddled in blankets.

Once he mended, Gombah was not very happy at first that we would not let him go outside. He would sit by the deck sliding door which was the most used door to the outside. It was also the door where in the past Gombah liked to display his hostages before he let them go.

He would look outside and then turn just his head with the most pitiful of looks and then meow so sorrowfully, I swear he had tear-filled eyes. This went on for about 2 or 3 weeks and then he tried the resentment treatment. He would act cool and aloof, but he is so lovable, he couldn’t keep it up for long.  And he would look outside less and less.

For awhile, he did get lost sometimes on our bay window which was filled with plants; it was probably like being outside for him 🙂

Now he was settled in and Nello never again said, “He can’t come in the house.” He and Nello resumed their afternoon naps on the couch and do so to this day.  TBContinued….Chapter 4

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Gombah, Our Cat……….Chapter One


We all have special people in our lives who affect us in some way – emotionally, or memorably. Their specialness brings us joy at remembrance of the memory, experiences or any impact they bring to our lives. We’re lucky if we have more than one such person and blessed if there are many.

If we add pets to the statistics of memorable joys, a recent National Pet Owners Survey reveals there are over 90 million pet cats in the United States purring in 69 million households. I’m sure you all know people who love their pets and treat them like family members. Lots of love, joy and remembrances abound here. And we all announce that we have the ‘smartest cat.”

I had pets all my life. Many stray cats and discarded dogs all found their way to our home coaxed along by my siblings or me. Not everyone has had pets in their life. My husband is Sicilian, and his culture is quite different in that it frowns on “bringing animals into the home”. Many Sicilians believe animals are best left outside ~ animals are a helpful aid out in the countryside, but not welcome within the home walls.

Fully understanding this concept when my husband retired, I nevertheless wondered if he would enjoy the company of an outdoor cat while he worked outside in his garden which is his passion. He spends a lot of time in his gardens.   Since I was still working, I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to have a pet to keep him company. It so happened that right after his retirement, there was a post on the company bulletin board that a one-year old male cat was up for adoption. He was an ‘outdoor cat’, who was also used to people and affectionate.  Perfect.

He could keep my husband company while I was at work all day. My husband, Nello, was surprised when I came home, pet carrier in hand, with a beautiful tabby cat with black and white markings. His eyes were deep emerald green outlined by black markings. A very handsome cat, indeed.

Nello, was less than thrilled when I told him the cat would be his garden companion. His first welcoming remark to the cat and me was, “He can’t come into the house”. I assured him that this was an outdoor cat, used to the outdoors, and happy to be so and would not be invited inside.

Nello scowled, reluctantly put him in the garage and said, “Leave him in here or he’ll run away”. This was a good sign. He didn’t want the cat to run away. The cat immediately flew to the beams in the garage and we did not really see him again for a week or so, but knew he was in there. The food was eaten, the water dish was emptied and the kitty litter was used every day. There was no sign of affection or people-oriented traits. There was no sign of the cat, period.

After the week went by, Nello said, “Now he can go outside”. It had taken a long time to convince the cat to go into the garage – but it wasn’t hard to convince the cat he could go outside. He didn’t hesitate and flew out the door. We did not see him for days. But the food we left outside was always eaten and the water disappeared. Just like in the garage time.

I almost forgot that we had the cat because we never saw him. Life went on and the food and water always disappeared. Nello would occasionally mention that the ‘dog followed him around in the garden’ and of course, he meant the cat.

About a month later, I received a chatty phone call. It was such a beautiful spring day, I went outside on the patio and sat down on the bottom step. While I was chatting, the cat appeared. I was sitting down and on his level about 10 feet away. He started to eat, but instead, stared at me and moved away from his food. He meowed at me. It was so startling to actually see him and then hear him meow for the first time, that at first thought he had to be hurt or had contracted rabies and was rabid.    Why else would he approach me?

He started to prance and dance around – coming two steps toward me and then retreating two steps. He continued ‘dancing’ and I thought that there was something very wrong with him. I hung up the phone and went to the front of the house and he followed me. I went to the front steps and sat down, again on his level. He kept up his ‘dance’ and meowed. Did he have rabies? I had copies of all his papers and he was given all his shots. A little afraid myself of what he would do, I hesitantly put out my hand to him and he came closer.

He was as hesitant as I, but ventured closer and closer. I left my arm and hand extended and he came closer and jumped up into my hand with his head; I petted him.

He stayed awhile while I kept petting him. He apparently had been socialized in his former surroundings and was use to being petted. When Nello appeared, I said, “Look who’s getting friendly” and Nello, not surprisingly said, “He can’t come into the house.”

The days turned into fall and Nello was in the yard a lot digging up his dahlia bulbs and the cat was right behind him. When he wasn’t following Nello, he was leaping in the air – literally – and running up trees and enjoying his freedom or tormenting the smaller residents of the garden.    He would even venture up to the deck and indulge us in playing with some ‘toys’ from his former life.

I heard Nello call out to him one day – he called him Compare. Compare is Italian, means Godfather and with the Sicilian dialect, it sounds like Goom bah’.

The cat was named. This was another good sign.     (TBContinued  ~ Chapter 2)

© Marie Coppola, 2012; some rights reserved.