What Lies Below (TWM 103)

We’re away for the week, trying to get our heads in a better place. My brother and his girlfriend are staying at our place in Brooklyn so they have been tasked with taking care of our fatties.

The road to feeling normal again is proving to be a slow and rather hilly one. I go hours and hours where everything is fine and then BAM! something completely random triggers the anxiety or sorrow and I’m  a mess all over again. But I am healing. I went a whole three days without crying, which is pretty amazing for me.

On one particularly difficult day, I missed Murray something fierce. So I wrote to my brother and told him I needed to see the little guy as soon as possible. We received a video within hours. And even though I never actually got to see Murray, the video cheered me up. This is a regular occurrence at our house.

I hope you enjoy it too!

Abby Needs Your Help!

I get a number of email about cats. Some people ask me questions about their cats that I wish I had the answers to because I do so love these creatures. I am by no means an expert in this area. I just have a deep fondness for them.

The latest email I received is from Alyssa about a cat named Abby. I was going to answer her personally, but decided that it might be better if I give her a broader spectrum of feedback. I was hoping that if I posted it here, someone else might have the answer(s) for her.

Here is Alyssa’s email:

We found Abby when she was 4 months old and took her to our vet immediately. She had ear mites and worms, but nothing a few meds couldn’t fix. We made an appointment while we were there to have her spayed at 6 months. A few weeks before her appointment my husband was sleeping and she crawled upon him and peed on his leg! We called the vet because it was so out of character and they asked if she was acting more affectionate than normal, and we answered why yes, yes she was. They suspected she was in heat and said we could bring her in the next week. We took her in and 24 hours later brought her home. She was sleepy and was having trouble walking, so when she PEED ON ME WHILE SLEEPING I blamed it on the surgery/meds/whatever. So things were going fine until this morning when I decided to allow her in the bedroom at 5 AM because she was looking so darn cute when I woke up to get a drink. (On a side note, she is not allowed in the bedroom with us due to slight allergies.) So, just as I started to nod back off, she crawled upon me and left a mighty pee on my leg.

A few things that may help…

  • 1. We haven’t changed litter or moved her box and we keep it clean
  • 2.We feed her Dick Van Patten Natural Balance dry food

The only thing I can say with any amount of certainty is that cats tend to “act out” (do weird things—however you want to describe it) when they are trying to tell you that something is wrong. My cat, Schmitty, peed and pooped all over my house for months and months before I realized he had ash build up and had to have emergency surgery. I came home one day to find him screaming in pain—actually screaming because he hadn’t been able to urinate in who knows how long a time. He was rushed to the veterinary hospital where I was given an ultimatum: put him down, or cut off his manhood. I chose to cut off his manhood. (I always forget the name of the surgery.)

He lived another 11 years perfectly happy and healthy until cancer finally got to him. (And at the end of his life, he started acting out again by pooping in weird places.)

My only suggestion (and I am by no means very wise when it comes to this stuff) is to take Abby in and run some blood work. They can figure out if she’s diabetic. They can test her for liver function, kidney problems, you name it.

Are there any other suggestions for Abby and Alyssa? Do you have any ideas as to why Abby is behaving this way? Could this be due to a mental problem? Might she need kitty prozac?

Feel free to leave comments anonymously if you are wary of such.

Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 81)

I learned Friday that Murray isn’t only a little Internet famous. He’s also famous at a certain emergency veterinary clinic here in Brooklyn. He’s famous because of how much he enjoys chewing plastic and rubber.

When I walked into the ER on Friday, the head doctor—like, the guy with his name on the plaque everywhere, the cute one swamped with surgeries—stopped by to say hello personally. He told me that when he heard the name of the patient in exam room 3, he said, “Murray? WAIT! I know Murray! That’s the cat who likes pacifiers!” (Remember this?)

I wanted to be proud of the fact that the vet knew us by name, and at first I was. But then it occurred to me that my cat is famous for trying to bankrupt us or kill himself, and so I stifled that feeling of pride.

In November we had to make an emergency trip to that same vet because he started projectile vomiting. That ordeal cost us a paw and a leg because the nipple top (which is what the ended up digging out of there among other things) was lodged just inside his small intestines. They were able to scope it, but it was very difficult and took a lot longer than it would have had it just been in his stomach.

This time, it was in stomach, so they were able to get in there and out in no time at all.

The good news is—since we’re famous there and all—the doctor squeezed us in right away so that Murray might return home within a few hours. This helped us out a bit financially. (The longer the stay the more expensive.) It also meant that Murray didn’t have to spend the night. (He doesn’t do well with strangers and even worse if he’s surrounded by barking dogs.)

This operation, while still very pricey, was half what we paid the last time. That’s the good news.

There’s a lot of bad news, though.

I wish I could tell you that this was a new scenario, but it was eerily close to what happened to us the last time. In fact, the x-rays were so similar I joked with the vet who referred us that they didn’t even snap a new x-ray and instead used the one from November. They were so similar, the staff at the ER laughed out loud together when comparing them.

Who could be proud of that?

Murray ate a piece of rubber from a toy earlier last week and successfully passed that item. But then Thursday rolled around and I discovered the remains of a chewed up bottle nipple on our bed. That’s when I knew we were in trouble.

That’s right, Internet, the exact same item landed us in the hospital.

I think it may be time to ween Emory off his last couple of daily bottles. But this is what happens whenever you try and give him milk in his big-boy cup, he’ll drink water and juice out of the big-boy cup, but NOT milk.



I have to figure out how to get two of my boys off the plastic.

Anyway, I’d like to suggest that this recent trip to the ER was due entirely to our carelessness, but I don’t think that’s the case. Murray is insane. Last night, while scanning the house looking for more items he might consume, we made the following discovery:

Surely he’ll be able to pass that, right? I have upped his fiber intake just incase.

We now tip-toe around the apartment, wondering what half-mangled piece of rubber we’ll discover next. And I’m a little curious about what other items have made their way through his little body in the two years he’s been with us.

I fear that Murray is a ticking time bomb.

P.S. I am WAY behind on email. I owe quite a bit of responses to your questions. I hate that I’m using this page to say as much, but I will get back to you as soon as I find a little time and health. (Still sick.) Vaccine questions, cat questions, and medical questions will be answered soon. I am so sorry I have been so out of it lately.

Murray Is At The ER Again.

Oh, Internet. Please say a few kind words for my feline companion. Murray is at the ER again for ingesting some more of Em’s stuff. We need to figure out why he’s doing this. Someone mentioned PICA. I really need to put an end to this somehow. Please email me or leave a comment if you have any ideas or suggestions. My heart is on the heavy side today, for a number of reasons.

UPDATE: Murray is home. They were able to scope him and send him on his way all in one day, which saved us some money. He’s in good spirits.

Thanks, everyone, for all the well wishes, email and the like. I appreciate it. Now, we just have to figure out what to buy for him so he stops chewing on plastic. Someone suggested doggie treats like rawhide.

More to come at a later date.

They Made Up.

Remember the post I wrote about how Emory was terrified of the Fisher Price Glow Worm?

That’s the dish we use to feed our cats. Apparently someone decided that Glow Worm was hungry for some canned cat food. All I know is it wasn’t me and Toby was at work at the time.

Glow Worm had a bath right after his meal.

Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 72)

Moving Day!

I have a question for you cat lovers out there. We don’t yet have heat or hot water (gas) at our new apartment. It’s not unlivable for a grown adult (the building is “green” so it’s quite insulated) but I am worried about the cats. Would you leave them in an empty apartment (we have the old one until the 31st) where it’s heated? Or would you move them to the new one where they are surrounded by their stuff but are a little cold? Either way, they’ll be alone for much of the day as TJ has to work and I will be in New Jersey with the baby (whom I miss like you wouldn’t believe) until this heat fiasco gets worked out. These guys are like family to me. I want them to be as comfortable as possible. Any insight you may have is greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: We’re IN! And the cats are fine. The apartment is tolerable with the use of a space heater. (Good thing NYC apartments are tiny!) Murray is a bit freaked out by the continuing construction. He hid for the first 5 hours. And then at around 9 PM he came strolling out looking for handouts. So we put him to work and then fed him treats.

I am in Jersey getting my Emory fix. (I spent a whopping 4 nights away from him!) I will be back in Brooklyn tomorrow, God willing.

Things are really great, Internet. Thanks so much for your help and words and suggestions.

Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 71)

I can assure you, this isn’t how it looks.

I can explain. Really.

Edited to add: Many, many moons ago I read something someone posted on an “I Love My Cat” Flickr group. The question was: “Do you kiss your cat?” I thought, “Who doesn’t kiss their cat?” I kiss my cats every chance I get. (If they’ll let me.)

In related kitty news: Lisa and PJ of Empty Cages Collective are holding an adoption event this Saturday at NYC Pet (PARK SLOPE!!!! location) from 1 PM until 6 PM. Please stop by if you can!

Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 70)

Murray has been out of his mind for over a week. And by out of his mind I mean he’s acting like a kitten again. At first we were surprised by the apparent sudden burst of energy. Where had it come from and why?

You know how sometimes you live with someone for a while and they put on weight and you put on weight and neither one of you notices until one day you’re looking through some old photographs and you think, Wow! We’ve gotten fat together!

Or how about whenever you live with someone and you’re looking at a video taken a year earlier and you think to yourself, You’re growing up way too fast, little man! Slow down!

You know how that happens?

“I thought he was just growing up.” Toby had said.

It was a while ago (a long while) that I came home to find the remainder of a chewed up nipple from one of Em’s Born Free bottles. I am not sure why I didn’t immediately panic. I think it’s because this has happened a few times before. Murray eats everything, and up until two weeks ago he’s always worked it out. Nine times out of ten he doesn’t actually swallow whatever it is he’s chewed up. (Take the stethoscope, for example.)

But this last time he wasn’t able to work it out. Instead, he became increasingly sicker. He became more and more lethargic. He didn’t particularly want to play as much. He wasn’t running around as he once had. His energy level had been decreasing slowly over time, the process took long enough that we hadn’t really noticed.

For for too long, Murray felt unwell and I should have noticed. I should have assumed he had eaten the pieces. I should have taken him in for an x-ray just to make sure.

But I didn’t.

And he became sicker and whenever the change in personality failed to let us know, his body took over.

Think what you will about my denial regarding Murray’s condition. I’ve thought it and I deserve it. I think the Catholic girl in me craves the purgatory actually. But that’s not the worst part about all of this. The worst part is how we so readily and easily rationalized the change in his behavior.

“I thought he was growing up too.”

When did “growing up” become synonymous with joyless and lethargic? When did “growing up” come to mean giving up on everything that makes oneself (and others) happy? At what point during my 35 years did I agree to such nonsense?

I think I finally figured out why I’m so attached to Murray: he consistently humbles me. He chisels away at all the adult, grumpy shit. Murray’s youthful demeanor makes me feel younger as well. And while my adoration for him may be a little self-fulfilling, I certainly don’t think it will hurt anyone.

It’s mighty great having him back but I wish I’d never let it him go.


(Starring: Murray and Emory. Song by: Tom Waits – “I Don’t Want To Grow Up”)

Edited to add: Upon rereading this post (and a couple of email), I realize now that it may come off a little more serious than I had intended. It lacks the tone of my voice, without that, it reads like a real downer. My apologies!