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28 March 2010

Zippy journeys to the afterlife

We're not sure exactly when it happened, but Zippy Munchkin our dwarf hamster died this weekend. We adopted him from the SPCA 1-1/2 years ago and his eyes have been solid white for several months, so we knew he was getting old. I hadn't seen him exporing his cage on Friday and when I went to top off his food bowls on Saturday he didn't come out to greet me (or should I say attack the hand that feeds him). So I lifted his house to see if he was snoozing, and sure enough, there he was, curled up in his bedding. We suspect he died peacefully because we never heard him in distress or struggling around his cage.

Just a couple weeks ago I was thrilled with myself for outsmarting the little guy and being able to trim all his nails. Since he enjoys biting and we've never been able to hold him, I would trim his nails by sneaking a tiny scissors through the cage bars as he chewed a tasty treat. We leaned this trick with Rusty, our last hamster, but being a naturally skittish dwarf hamster meant it was lucky if Zippy would sit still long enough for me to trim a single nail. Then I came up with the idea to smear some peanut butter on the cage bars to entice him to sit still longer. Sure enough, Zippy was so focused on licking the peanut butter off the cage bars that he barely noticed I was trimming his nails. I got all his nails trimmed in one sitting! At least the little guy went to the afterlife with a fresh manicure.

Zippy got a proper burrial beneath a rock where Rusty is also burried. He was nestled in his favorite cotton bedding and got to take several of his favorite treats with him - shelled pumkin and sunflower seeds, a peanut butter treat, and a few pieces of dried apricot.

27 March 2010

Our experience with Feline Pine scoopable litter.

I gave it a three week trial and decided it wasn't for us. Here's what I found.

The litter has several good features. It is lightweight, which is convenient for carrying the box home. It's eco-friendly, non-toxic, and long-lasting. One cat used about 1/2 the box over 3 weeks.

Unfortunately, there are many shortcomings that didn't work for us.

The litter is so lightweight that both my cats tipped a litter box over when they stepped on the rim of the box. Granted, Raven is a 12 pound kitty who stands on the rim of the box so she doesn't have to dirty her paws after pottying and she will obviously be able to tip a light litterbox. But Sammi is only 7 pounds so she's quite dainty and shouldn't be able to tip over a litter box very easily. She's also a 3-legged cat who needs easy access to a litter box so we can't have a covered box. We figured out a fix to prevent tipping, but it's not ideal to have to figure out a way to keep the litter box from tipping over with normal every-day use.

The rough-edged pine shavings get caught in fur. I was especially concerned to see pieces of litter stuck in the fur near my cat's eyes.

This litter tracks everywhere! Because it's lightweight and rough-edged, it gets tracked all over the house. Of all the litters I've tried, this one is the worst in terms of tracking.

It's good, but not great, at forming clumps. You have to wait a while for a firm clump to form after kitty pees, and even then, it's not a hard clump and you have to be gentle when scooping and sifting the clump from the loose litter.

Unfortunately, the situations where I see this litter being useful are limited. Maybe a very short-haired cat wouldn't get much litter stuck in it's fur. The cat can't step on the edge of the litterbox, or the litter pan would have to have a cover or be inside some type of frame that prevented it from tipping over. You'll still get a lot of tracking, and I don't know many cat owners who want to have cat litter tracked everywhere.

I'm a mess but they still love me.

I've been in the Indulged Furry home for a little over a year now and my caretakers have come to realize that I'm going to be a high-maintenance kitty. This isn't a problem, just a little more serious then they thought when they adopted me. I was just one month out of the hospital from having my front paw amputated when they adopted me from the SPCA. But that didn't concern my new parents because they saw I was adapting well and they could accomodate my special needs.

Little did they know I also seem to have bad teeth and a probable case of inflammatory bowel disease. I was missing a top fang when they adopted me, and a recent dental cleaning showed I was missing a few more teeth and lost a little front tooth during the cleaning. At last week's checkup I now appear to have a broken root poking through my gum, so that has to be removed pretty soon.

We've also started testing me for inflammatory bowel disease. I've had off-and-on diarrhea since I was adopted and none of the foods I've tried have solved the problem. I haven't really apreciated having the fur on my backside trimmed, especially with the electric trimmer! Yikes, nothing should be vibrating back there! I've come to expect having my bottom wiped with baby wipes every time I go potty. It's not the most dignified activity for a kitty, but I do get cleaned and my parents get to keep their house free from a dirty bottom wandering around.

We're waiting on lab tests before we start medicine to get my mushy poop under control. Hopefully that will also help clear up the irritated skin on my paw, my gunky claws, my waxy ears, and my goopy eyes. My vet thinks all these things are related to my system being inflammed.

So lets take inventory: one missing paw, several missing teeth, a broken tooth, irritated toes, goopy eyes & ears, and chronic/intermittent diarrhea. I sound like a bit of a mess!

Luckily all these little shortcomings are outweighed by my finer qualities: I have a sweet, quiet, spunky personality; I like getting petted as long as I don't have to sit on a lap; and I love sleeping under the covers with my mom! I'm glad I found a family that is willing to do whatever they can to make my life wonderful.