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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Toby day 48: Scrambled Egg, Food of the Gods.

Wet kitten food was great until it wasn't. Toby started spurning it in midafternoon yesterday, returning to the bottle for the remaining feedings of the day.

This morning I pulled out a custard cup, mixed up an egg in it, and microwaved it well past the point of food safety. It was no longer soft. It was 188 degrees. Apparently the directions were for a microwave less powerful than mine. I let it cool and offered a bit to Toby.

He sniffed. He took a tiny bite. His eyes got huge. Why have you been holding out on me all these days? he seemed to say, lunging at my hand. This is the real stuff! Give me more! He ate bits as quickly as I could pull them off until the chunk I was holding was gone. I grabbed a bigger chunk and started pulling bits off it for him. He ignored the bits and attacked the chunk. He ended up eating a third of the extra-large egg.

There you have it, folks: leathery scrambled egg is the food of the gods. At least for today.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Toby day 47: oh, NOW it's working

Am I sick? Yes.

Am I writing? Yes. I'll sleep again when this is done, for the rest of the day; the plan is to go back to bed when Matt gets up at 7. A couple of new things happened, and I want to document them.

After hardly seeing Toby at all since I started feeling sick in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, I saw Matt to bed at 2, which was the end of the 1 a.m. feeding, and napped on the couch till 4 a.m., when the alarm on my phone went off. I can sleep right through its little beeping noise, but when it's on vibrate and sitting on my Manhasset music stand, it sounds like the drums of doom, so that's what I do. I opened the carrier door. Toby walked out, stretching and yawning. I scooped him up and took him to the couch. We followed our usual schedule: the initial cuddle, the ritual spurning of the wet food, and the first drink from the bottle.

He hopped down onto the floor and scratched at the carpet. I bundled him into his cage, where a fresh paper bag was waiting. He walked into it and pooped at the back left-hand corner. I tried putting a paper towel over the poop so he could reuse the bag. He ran around and played with toys for several minutes, then started scratching at the carpet again. I bundled him back into the cage. He trotted into the bag, came out backward with the clean end of the paper towel clutched in his teeth with the poop stuck to the bottom, dropped it at the cage door, and gave me a stern look. Then he went to the old pee spot at the back of the cage (which I have disinfected over and over) and started scratching. I grabbed him with one hand and the unacceptably soiled bag with the other, put the bag aside, shook a fresh paper bag open with one hand (something I didn't know I could do), and stuck him into it. He peed as I was getting the failed experiment into the trash.

We played for half an hour. It doesn't matter how tired or sick I am: he has to play, and he has to be supervised, because often the other cats are around (having resisted all attempts to whisk them away into other rooms and hidden behind the furniture) and he has no sense of self-preservation. He chased toys and jumped on them and worried them; he leapt into the air after toys on strings and brought them down. He hid behind the hall curtain. He attacked my feet, gently, with soft bites and soft paws. When he started to flag a bit, I picked him up and he drank from the bottle again. He drank a lot.

On a whim, I grabbed a morsel of the previously spurned wet food. I stroked his cheek, counting on the old nursing reflex, and coaxed it into his open mouth when the reflex worked. He ate it, thought about it, and looked up at me. On impulse, I swept the food off the tongue depressor and presented it to him on my fingers. He ate it and licked my fingers clean. I ran to the fridge and got more. He ate that. He ate more than a teaspoonful by the time we were done, in four little chunks, and we stopped not because he felt done but because I was afraid he'd explode after all that food on top of that goat milk.

We have struggled and struggled with getting wet food into Toby. He would eat it nuked for three seconds to take the chill off, and then he wouldn't. He would eat off the edge of a plate held at 45 degrees, so I ran out and scoured the thrift shop for more discarded saucers, and then he wouldn't. He would eat it cold off a tongue depressor at the vet's, so she gave us a baggie of tongue depressors, and then he spurned food offered on a tongue depressor. We can't take him to Dr. Colleen every three hours. We were out of ideas. Now he was eating it out of my hand.

Did I mention we just ordered a hundred tongue depressors online? They just shipped. I thought about that while he slurped food off my fingers, but hey, he was eating. As the pilots say, any landing you walk away from is a good landing.

I put him back in the cage for a minute while I disinfected his snuggle disk, wrapped it up in a clean rag, and put it in the microwave, then back into his carrier.

After that, all that remained was to cuddle him for another few minutes. till his eyes started to close, then put him into his carrier and pulled a towel over the door. He went right to sleep.

It was 5 a.m., the time I've gotten up for years, so I couldn't sleep anyhow. I'll have a nap now--there are 45 minutes till the next feeding.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Toby day 45: Vet visit

Toby went to see Dr. Colleen this morning. She was thrilled with his weight gain, appetite, energy, and developmental progress. She now gives him a 60% chance of survival, maybe a bit higher. It's amazing how good that sounds after last week's 5%. He had another antibiotic shot and is to continue on the oral antibiotics until next week, when he will probably have another x-ray. His heart and lungs sound great.
It's not all good news. He's tiny, and my scale reads higher than the vet's, so I thought he was over a pound and he's only 12 ounces, very small for his age. Most kittens his age are eating 4-5 hours apart; he needs to eat every 3 hours, and he still needs to live in a pretty narrow temperature range.
He's still too small to vaccinate and too sick to worm again.
We'll hope.
We've reached a compromise on the elimination issue, led by Toby. I gave him a paper grocery bag to play in, and he decided it would be a lovely, peaceful place to do his potty duties. That was a lot better, by our standards, than his previous choices, which were his carrier (where he sleeps), his cage (the dog crate where we try to litter-train him), or a secluded corner of the carpet. So we went and bought a package of paper grocery bags from our understanding grocer. I put one in his cage every time he goes in. He uses them every time and has stopped going anywhere else, praise be. I can start introducing litter into the bag one piece at a time; eventually, I can put a bag in a litterbox, and with any luck I can, eventually, remove the bag.
She gave us some dry kitten food. I admitted that last week I bought a bag as an act of faith. She says to keep doing what we're doing, so we will.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Learning to use the camera for Toby photos

I've found out how to do the "continuous shooting" setting. Forgive the blurriness of some of these--I'll get better (and the little dude is really that fast!)


Full gallop!

Cartoon kitty!

Would you look at the size of that paw?

You can almost see the butt-wiggle.


Look how long his fur is getting.

Yes, those eyes are green--at least for now.

Toby, day 44

Toby is over 500 grams and growing bigger paws and longer legs. He's chasing toys, plotting complicated attacks on them (hiding behind his carrier and showing up on first one side, then the other, to ambush a hapless plushie or an empty plastic water bottle), and can run the length of the hallway with dazzling speed. His jumps are getting higher. He empties his bottle of goat milk with celerity and a certain verve.
What he won't do is:
1. drink water, He still sticks his face in the bowl and sneezes, then stomps off in a huff.
2. eat wet cat food more than once a day; the rest of the time, he snubs it and, if it is placed in his cage, tries to bury it.
3. use his litterbox. We watch him, rush him to a box when he starts going, and clean up a lot. Because he had terrible diarrhea for so long, he didn't get the chance to learn proper box manners.
We've all got our work cut out for us.
Will try to get more pictures today.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Toby, days 40 and 41

Wow, this fast from uninterrupted sleep has gone on as long as Lent!

Here he is last night, showing what a stretch kitty he's becoming:

I tried for a "sit beside the lion to show how big you are" picture.


Remember when the elephant was about his size and the lion was too big for him to play with?
Not anymore! Look at that headlock!

This tabby was Arwen's friend when she was little.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Other Toby milestones

Arwen tried to take his toy away. He hissed, made himself large, and chased her away. He weighs one pound. She weighs twelve.

Today I told him no about something. He ran away, gave me a dirty look,  turned his back, and revenge-peed on a pillow cover.

Toby the Resilient

If it weren't for the shaved spots on his neck and legs where the vet took blood and tried to place IVs, I wouldn't believe he's fighting a deadly case of peritonitis. I could hardly get him to sleep overnight.
Kill the wabbit, as Elmer Fudd used to say.

Ooh, it's the pajama drawstring!

I will get it!

Shoelaces! (Matt wears size 11.)


This is so exciting!



Mama's pretending to be asleep so I'll go to sleep. It won't work...zzzzzzzzz.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

5 weeks plus 1 day

He was doing so well--eating, growing, healing.

How quickly things change.

Toby gave a weird, grating cry at about 11:40 this morning and then was floppy, unresponsive, and panting. I thought it sounded like a grand mal seizure cry. I hate being right sometimes. We rushed him to the vet, who gave up her Sunday afternoon and ran over to the clinic. He was comatose when we got him there. Dr. Colleen took an x-ray and a blood sample. He had peritonitis with secondary sepsis, and he was seizing and later comatose because his brain was affected. She told us he had about a 5% chance of survival. Since he had already beaten the odds a couple of times, we asked to try. We just couldn’t bear to give up until we were sure he had.
She went out to get the IV stuff ready and I told him he could go on to next world if he needed to go, but if he wanted to stay, he had to show us he was ready to fight.
She tried to hook him up to IV antibiotics, but his veins were too small, so she gave him an antibiotic shot and a dose of subcutaneous fluids. About 10 minutes later, he gave us the sign: he lurched to his feet, opened his eyes, and started trying to walk off the examining table. She was amazed. We were stunned.
She kept him for observation for a couple more hours. Because she is an angel in human form, she let me sit next to his kennel and have my hand on him as he slept on a heating pad under a towel. For awhile I was asleep with my arms and head in the kennel. At the end of the observation period, he ate wet food out of her hand (first time ever, the little stinker) and drank a little out of his bottle, so he was pronounced fit to go home for 24-hour home nursing care and her emergency number on speed dial.
He has antibiotic drops to take every 12 hours. He has subcutaneous fluids so I can inject them if he crashes again. He is to be fed every time he opens his eyes, and wakened every 2 hours to be fed if he sleeps that long. His official chances of surviving this ghastly infection are very low, but we are beginning to think we should have named him Han Solo. Never tell him the odds.
He is asleep on his snuggle disk between my arms as I write this.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

And then we wormed him.

Toby's digestive system was working a lot better, so we wormed him. We're back to diarrhea and dehydration. That sounds sinister, but he's still a busy enough kitten that we think he'll make it.
Duck football as you've never seen it before. Here, Toby sacks the duck. 
Dog in the background is farther away than she appears.

The Contemplation of the Shoelace.

Pouncing prep sequence initiated. Contact in 3...2...1...

So much for getting a picture with the lion to show you how big he is.

Sooner or later, he wears out.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Getting better all the time

And there was a time, a couple of weeks ago, when I could easily have sung "can't get no worse."

But not today.

Be sure you're not eating if you're squeamish.

Toby finally stopped bleeding while pooping, so we could give him probiotics. We started yesterday. The diarrhea has diminished considerably. He is eating more. He's sleeping a lot and putting on weight faster.

His favorite snuggle position: tucked under the human's chin. 
Cat must think he's a viola.
(Happy cat. Happy, very tired mama.)

He doesn't mind being held like a baby, either. 
Bonus Toby toe beans!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Toby's second bath

These are post-bath photos because bathing him is an exercise for Cat Four Hands and Sink.

Toby wants you to know it was just awful and he was a very sad kitty.

So sad he has to hug Mama's finger when he thinks about it.

But the blowdryer felt good to him, and being brushed feels good, and having a toy to beat up on is very helpful. He thinks he might be cheerful again after a nice long nap.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Day 29 playtime photos

Matt put his photojournalism skills to work this afternoon to chronicle the post-pee, post-poop, post-feeding playtime.
What? Oh, just eating Mama's hair. Nothing to see here. Move along, reporter.

Raaaaawr! I will eat the elephant!

Bunny kick! Bunny kick!

A bit out of focus, but you can see his tiny sharp teeth!

This is getting dull. Maybe I'll wash my paws instead.

If you brush me, I'll go to sleep holding my toy.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The wee hours are full of incident

Toby can now run full tilt and can also back up very quickly. It's a whole new ballgame.
In the last hour and a half, he has eaten a moderate amount, pooped some, run around a lot (including running very fast and backing up at considerable speed), climbed the back of the couch, climbed my shoulder and tried to find food in my ear (whuffa whuffa whuffa), refused food when it did not come from my ear, galloped across the living room to investigate Matt's shoes, investigated the interior of a paper bag, tried to eat an empty tissue box, refused food that was not an empty tissue box, attempted to climb my neck and do a swan dive onto a tile floor, wailed when swan dive was thwarted, pounced on and thoroughly defeated his blue bear, washed his paws, fallen over trying to wash his tail, and gone to sleep abruptly.

There are no pictures because I was too busy keeping him alive.

Images from the last couple of days

He sleeps in this position. How?

Identical pensive expressions.

Washing the front end is working well. Washing the back end makes him fall over.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The grim saga of Toby's bath and assorted post-bath photos and videos

When a kitten has multiple episodes of diarrhea while sleeping, a wet washcloth doesn't do everything. He's been stinky and tangled in the nether regions, but he was too little and frail to wash. Yesterday we got the go-ahead from Dr. Colleen.
First, I had to find baby shampoo. Our local grocery, Huffman's, had it, in bottles bigger than my baby. As I have allergies to all artificial fragrances, I bought the "New Natural Lavender and Chamomile" version, which is a fetching shade of purple. Once opened, it bore all the resemblance to natural smells that Toby's blue plush elephant bears to a real elephant. Apparently there's a whole lot of fake in with that "natural."
Then we checked him with the blow-dryer. It didn't faze him at all. The bath was a go.
We ran a sink of warm water and I soaped him up. He began screaming at the first touch of the shampoo. Maybe it was the smell, but more likely his irritated skin was hurting. I scrubbed him as quickly and gently as I could, rinsed him twice, and spent a few minutes doing scary detail work with a flea comb to get the big chunks out, then towel-dried him very gingerly and pulled out the dryer.
I made sure my hand was always in the path of the dryer so I wouldn't inadvertently burn him. He was still complaining, but less vociferously, and by the end of the drying period he seemed to like the feeling of the warm wind.
We left the bathroom. I set him down on the couch and got out the thread scissors, intending to trim some of the longer bits of fur near his anus so they wouldn't get cruddy again. (I had already had to trim some of it, and parts of his tail, while he was too sick to bathe.) He took one look at the scissors, gave me the nastiest glare a cute baby can give, walked off, and sat down hard on his little bum with his back to me. "No way, lady. Just take those sharp things AWAY." I gave up.
He's forgiven me for the whole episode and is doing well. These pictures are from blear o'clock this morning (around sunrise; I'd been up since 1:30 doing the graveyard shift.)
The blue elephant is his favorite--there are so many good spots to bite.
Time to fall asleep with my paws on Mama's shirt.
Or lean on her arm.

The laptop is a warm pillow.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Three weeks old and conquering the heights

Friend Rebecca and I played for a wedding up in the Strawberry Mountains yesterday afternoon. Matt stayed home and took pictures of the intrepid Toby climbing Mt. Couchback.

Here we see him attempting the previously unscaled Doorblanket Couloir.

Near the top, he pauses for pictures taken by his faithful Domestic Geographic photographer.

The summit eludes him due to the need to descend before the next bottle feeding,
but the climb has still been a significant achievement.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Toby is three weeks old: Day 22

Morning Toby report: He now refuses to eat before he has had playtime, walking-around time, and a snuggle, as well as his elimination times. He eliminates on his own--we don't have to stimulate his orifices with a wet cloth. He still has bloody diarrhea every couple of hours, he cries when he eliminates because his skin is sore and he cries when we clean him and put Vaseline on his poor little self, but then he snuggles and sits up and says, "What's next?" He just took his meds an hour late because he wants his feedings farther apart now. All in all, I think he's improving. He is gaining weight.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Toby, day 21

Soon I'll post the long story of the last couple of days. For now, here are some pictures:

Toby vanquishing his archrival, Lellyfank the blue elephant.

Toby making short work of the Killer Rabbit.

(His bottom looks a bit ragged as we're not bathing him till he can regulate his temperature, and that means he gets wiped down with wet rags and then dried immediately. He's already had one bad chill.)

Toby spending time with his buddy Simba.