One less cat, one stoned dog

We’ve had some major upsets in the pet department here lately. First we had our brief and heartbreaking experience with Sophie. Now, Higgins, our big friendly dude of a cat, had to go back to the Humane Society. And Emma, our leggy lady, had to go on anti-seizure medication for epilepsy.

Despite having him since July 2003, Hattie never accepted Higgins. She hissed and growled at him, ran away from him when he tried to play, and just generally acted stressed. We couldn’t love on both kitties in the same room – she’d always run away.

Then Higgins began peeing on our furniture. We went through gallons of quality enzyme products trying to salvage our couch and loveseat, but they were beyond hope and we finally had to throw them away just before Thanksgiving.

We bought a nice new (to us) set at a local used furniture store and — You guessed it — found he’d peed on the couch. There was blood in the urine (hematuria), too. We’d seen blood in the litterbox, but didn’t know which cat’s it was. After this, though, we knew it was Higgins’. Several trips to the vet later, along with medication and a lab culture, we learned there was no underlying illness causing the hematuria. It was stress.

We tried a synthetic pheromone product, Feliway. This seemed to help, but even with following the instructions religiously, he started marking again within a couple weeks into the regimen. To top it off, we noticed Hattie’d been so nervous, she licked her beautiful long hair down short on her tummy and between her legs. The last straw was when, the day after Higgins christened one of the new chairs, we saw our old Siamese Elliott marking it, too. Aaaargh!

I love this cat. I mean, he was my black and white shadow, following me around the house and sitting with me on my desk every night. Nothing scared him except the vacuum cleaner. He walked into our lives like he’d been here forever. But even I had to agree that it just wasn’t going to work out.

Thank God, the Humane Society shelter (a no-kill shelter) agreed to take him back since we’d originally adopted him from them. We got his booster shots Wednesday, and Howie took him to the shelter. I just couldn’t do it. Howie said they doted on him and were very understanding. He has a nice big cat room he can walk around in, and can stay there until he finds a home. I cried many tears the three days between our making the decision and the time we surrendered him, for he was just a sweet, purring reminder of what we had to do. Howie and I both felt relief after he was gone, especially when we saw the immediate change in Hattie. She’s around us again all the time and so happy. But I miss Higgy. Looking at his pictures makes me really sad, and nothing except having him here (no peeing) would make me happier than knowing he’s found a really GREAT home.

On the canine side, Emma has begun treatment for epilepsy. Her seizures were few and far between, but when she had two within the 8 days following Christmas, it was time to get the medicine. She’s five days into Phenobarbital dosage, and for all intents and purposes is stoned out of her gourd. It takes a couple weeks for the medication to build up in the system and level out, and during that time dogs commonly sleep more, have increased appetite and thirst, pee more and experience ataxia (weakening/uncoordination, especially hind legs). Restlessness is also a common thing — and when she’s not zonked out, she’s restless. She’s a mess right now, with no self-control and wide-eyed stupid stare on her face much of the time.

It is kind of funny, though, to see her run outside. Instead of the nearly bottoming-out, lightning fast dashing, she now gallumphs in a large, easy gait. She looks like she’s running under water. When she reaches the end of the leash, she wipes out, gets back up, and runs back in the other direction. She’s having a ball, just looks crazy!

We take her for a Pb levels check next week, where they’ll see the level of phenobarbital in her blood and make any adjustments necessary for the dosage. Hope she gets over this headstrong doper thing after her body adjusts!

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