When the cat’s away…

When the cat’s away…

Christmas Eve.  Normally I love Christmas Eve – it’s magical and atmospheric and the calm before the eventual storm of December 25th.  This year I am up to my eyeballs in packing and moving and I have had barely time to acknowledge what time of year it is.  I’ve finished my gift-buying (if I haven’t gotten you something by now, it ain’t gonna happen!) and can concentrate on the tasks at hand.  Except that I’m not.  Concentrating, that is.  I’m blogging.  Whoops.  I cannot face another box or the sound of packing tape or the smell of marker pens as they are scrawled all over the boxes to tell us what lies inside.  I’m so tired.  My kidneys are not coping well with the stress and my overall inability to take care of myself properly at the moment.  Am looking forward to being settled in the new house though not looking forward to unpacking everything.  Why do I have so much stuff!?

Over the weekend Mum and I had added stress.  19 year old Bronte (the tabby cat) had another bout of cystitis (the 2nd in a month) and we had to rush off to the vets in the middle of the night.  We had to find a 24 hour vet that wasn’t too far away and luckily we did.  They were awesome – very caring and thorough and, despite the late hour and the fact that Bronte had to stay in over the weekend, the account at the end was very reasonable and not at all scary.  Bronte behaved herself (for once) and is now back home with Mum, complaining about not being fed (she’s always being fed but she’s kinda senile and forgets whatever she has just done) and sleeping the rest of the time.  The vet did lots of blood tests and found that Bronte is actually very healthy for such an old cat.  Relief!  She is very dear to us and I would hate to lose her.  Mum would be devastated…   Bronte came to us via my old job as a vet nurse.  Her mother Minnie had been run over (unfortunately by her owner, accidentally) when she was 8 1/2 weeks pregnant.  She had suffered a pelvic fracture and a diaphragmatic hernia plus of course we had to get the kittens out to see if we could save them.  After a lengthy surgery to repair her diaphragm and a caesarean to remove the kittens, and then a hysterectomy, poor Minnie was a bundle of stitches and feeling very sorry for herself.  We managed to get all three kittens out safely – Bronte was the first “born” and she was a fighter from the get-go.  Feisty and much bigger than her siblings she was determined to survive.  She spent the first hour of her life in my pocket as we worked on the other kittens.  Poor Minnie suckled those hungry little kittens despite her pain and discomfort from the surgery and was the best mother ever.  She healed up nicely and was a beautiful cat.  Bronte and her little sister, Beauty, survived but their brother did not and passed away at a few weeks of age.  The owners wanted me to have my pick of the remaining girls and so I chose Bronte (she being the strongest and most wilful – I figured she would be heathy and tough) and at 6 weeks, brought her home.  She ruled the house from day one, bossing our dog and other cat around.  I have photos of her hanging from the Christmas tree and play fighting with our very large German Shorthaird Pointer.  She’s such a character and I will miss her when she finally succumbs to old age.  We’re praying she gets to 20 – that seems a nice round number!


It is super hot today and will continue to be for the next few days.  I feel sorry for the birds that are outside panting in the heat.  I hope when our landlords move back in they will remember to fill the bird bath each day.  It’s easy to forget and the water evaporates so quickly in this weather.  This poor crow was sheltering in our mulberry tree this afternoon, outside my window.  Such beautiful blue eyes.

IMG_7498 IMG_7500

Anyway, I should be packing, not bird-watching or blogging.  Feel free to come over and help me.  I hope you all have a beautiful Christmas.  Think Santa would have room in his sleigh for a few extra boxes?  I’m sure he could just drop a few at my new address for me… 🙂

A Trip to the Vet (and a near case of hysteria)

A Trip to the Vet (and a near case of hysteria)

Roderick the Wonder Guinea pig has a lump.  A big, swollen, nasty lump.  On his, um, private bits.  Where his testicles used to be.  Yesterday afternoon, as I picked him up for his cuddle and to get him out of the way while I cleaned out his hutch, I noticed he was swollen at his back end.  Which he shouldn’t be, having had his castration operation six weeks ago.  Immediate panic and meltdown from me, imagining all the worst things.  It’s cancer, it’s an abscess, he’s got a hernia, he’s got faecal impaction etc etc etc ad nauseam.  Because panicking is what I do in any situation that is out of my control.  Or even in my control.  I am a world-class stress-head.  I phoned Roderick’s vet and tried to get an appointment.  I couldn’t get in for two days.  I couldn’t leave him that long so I phoned another vet and made the earliest appointment that I could, which was for this morning.

I phoned my husband and said I had to cancel our scheduled coffee’n’cake meetup for our wedding anniversary.  He said he’d be home right away.  As he walked in the door I was sitting on the floor, wailing and sobbing.  He gave me a cuddle and went and had a look at Roderick, who, of course, was exhibiting no signs of anything more dramatic than being impatient for his dinner.  Well, he still had a big lump but it wasn’t bothering him.  In my panic, I had failed to notice all the good signs in the patient ie he was eating, pooping, peeing, jumping about like normal.  So I put my panic on hold for a while.  Nothing more I could do for the night anyway and he would be seeing a vet in the morning.

This morning, nice and early we trekked off to the vet,  Luckily it is only a couple of minutes drive away so Roderick didn’t have to be in the car for too long.  Since his neutering he is suspicious of any car journey.  We didn’t have long to wait at the vets and soon Roderick was being examined while his “Mummy” looked on nervously, expecting the worst.  The vet was very young, but very nice and actually seemed to know what he was doing and was familiar with guinea pig care and treatment.  He checked Roderick over thoroughly and said the lump was most likely an abscess.  No uncommon in guinea pigs but treatable.  He gave me a course of antibiotics which my little man will need to take for 10 days.  Hopefully the abscess will resolve in that time but if not, if there’s even a slight bit of infection and lumpiness left, we will need to have him back in for a quick anaesthetic and to lance the abscess.  Panic decreasing but not over yet.  I just feel terrible that I didn’t notice the lump.  I’m sure it wasn’t there a couple of days ago but what if it was and I missed?  He healed up so nicely from his surgery that I was sure everything was ok.  I feel like such a bad Mummy!

To make things worse (and more mortifying), he needs to go on a diet!  I knew he was a fatty and had put on a lot of weight recently but I think I needed someone to officially tell me he’s getting a bit porky.  So I’ll work on reducing his diet (which is already 95% veggies so I’m not sure what is making him fat…) and maybe encourage him to do some exercise.  Wonder f they make StairMasters for guinea pigs?

Anyway, we are home again now and Roderick is giving me the evil eye but otherwise seems fine in himself.  I love him so much and want him to be ok.  Today was the day he was supposed to be meeting his sisters to see how he would react to another guinea pig (before I buy him a little friend) but we’ll have to put that on the back burner for now until he’s better.  So much worry over such a little creature.  God help us all if I ever get a dog again!  I’ll need to be on sedatives…

Happy Anniversary for yesterday to my long-suffering husband and Happy Halloween to you all.  Make all your ghosts and ghoulies be friendly and lump-free!

Stitches & Glitches

Stitches & Glitches

Well, Roderick the Wonder Guinea Pig has now had his stitches out from his desexing operation.  The plan was to take him to the vets today to have the sutures removed and have him checked over etc.  I was just putting him into his carry box and I had a quick look at “the area” to see if all was as it should be before I took him to the vets.  Good job I looked.  NO STITCHES!  The little bugger must have yanked them out in the last couple of days because they were definitely there before.  He has healed beautifully – I can barely see a scar – and his fur is growing back well.  So all is good.  I guess he got tired of the stitches scratching him or whatever.  I think he’s been really good to leave them in for as long as he did and not chew at them.  So he’s all ready for a wifey – well, in the next couple of weeks.  Gotta wait at least a month after the surgery.  There will be no impregnating on my watch thank you!  Have already picked out a name for the little gal but you’ll have to wait for the official unveiling before I reveal it.  Anyway, I’m just glad my little man is all ok and suffered no ill effects from the surgery.  He’s back to eating everything in sight and running about the place like he owns it.

This month I’ve been working on my “projects” for the Design Team.  We had to use papers from the Melissa Frances range and some pretty ribbon, flowers and plain cardstock.  I can’t say I loved the papers.  They were closer to what I would normally use than some other ranges, but the palette itself was quite pale and, dare I say it, insipid.  As we are only given a few pages, not an entire range with all its different sets and embellishments, ribbons or matching “bits”, we have to just work with what we have and not add too many of our own pieces to it.  This is, of course, so that people wanting to make the same things we have produced won’t be disappointed if the store doesn’t carry some of the materials.  It is hard though and quite limiting but onwards and upwards! (etc).  Here’s the few things I made.  Some I like, some were a bit blah and I struggled through lots of glitches in execution of my ideas…anyway, check them out and see what you think.

“Dolly” Card

“Keep it Together” Peg Set & Tags

Decorated Jar

“Adore” Card (Pretty plain this one but just wanted to use exactly the stuff I’d been given for a quick, simple card)

Altered Book (It turned out kinda ugly.  I just lost the plot while making it…I’m not gonna even show you inside! The cover is sweet enough though…)

So, all in all, I was fairly happy with what I made.  It’s good to be challenged and try new things.  Am hoping next month’s paper pack is something cool.  Now I just have to find my craft room under all the debris and carnage of the last couple of week’s crafting…

Hope Spring is treating you well (if you’re in my part of the world) and that September has been a good month.  It’s been kinda up and down for me so I am looking forward to a fresh start in October.  And a new piggy to add to the family!  🙂

Roderick’s Op (or, A Lesson in Guinea Pig Recovery & Recuperation)

Roderick’s Op (or, A Lesson in Guinea Pig Recovery & Recuperation)

Yesterday I had Roderick, The Wonder Guinea Pig, desexed.  It was very traumatic (for him, I’m sure, but also very much for me!)  I have never had a guinea pig desexed before and I agonised over the decision to do it or not.  I’ve had GPs in the past operated on for other reasons, mostly dental, and it has always ended badly – they never really picked up after the anaesthetic and usually died or were euthanised the following day.  So, this surgery was not a decision I made lightly at all.  I love the little guy and couldn’t bear to think of him suffering and being in pain, much less actually dying.  But, as I want to get him a companion and that companion will be of the female variety, I knew I had to get him desexed.  It also stops them from getting “boar butt”, a condition in which the muscles of the anus stretch/weaken and the boar is no longer able to properly expel the fecal pellets from the anus.  Which means you have to basically help him go to the toilet “manually” each day.  Which is gross.  And above all, very stressful and unpleasant for the little piggy.  I have never had a GP with this condition and I’ve always had males, but apparently it is common enough to warrant having them desexed (which of course reduces the risks of this condition by removing the testicles which are large and heavy and weaken the surrounding muscles…or something like that!  I’m not a vet so if you think your GP has this problem, please don’t waste time looking on the ‘net for answers – go to your trusted small animal vet and get your little guy/gal checked out).  Anyway, my main reason for desexing him was so he could have a “wife” and not be lonely.  And of course desexing, in all animals, goes a long way to reduce the risk of certain cancers too, so that’s a bonus.

So, after nervously dropping him off at the vet’s yesterday morning (I found a clinic that specialises in “exotics” i.e. rabbits, guiena pigs, rats, snakes & other reptiles), I waited around in the nearby shopping centre until it was time to pick him up (about an hour or so later).  I wasn’t overly happy with the after-care advice from the clinic – they gave me a sheet with notes on how to care for the recuperating piggy and also sent us home with some painkilling medication, but I felt like I would have been put at ease more if the vet herself had come out and had a quick chat about what to expect, what signs to look out for that Roderick wasn’t doing well, how long before he could do every day stuff (eg exercise etc) and whether or not I should keep him warm/secluded/in the dark or whatever.  Now, I was a vet nurse for 10 years so I know a little bit about these things and most of it is common sense, but by the same token you still sometimes need a bit of verbal reinforcement and encouragement.  I didn’t get any of that.  It was basically “Here’s your pig, here’s your bill”.  I must admit it was a very busy clinic and there was lots going on but I think that’s no excuse for poor customer service, especially when an animal’s life is at stake.  Also, I asked that they clip his nails for me while he was “under” and they didn’t do that so I was a bit annoyed.  As I said, I have worked in a vet clinic before, and know that things get stressful and super busy and sometimes, things get forgotten so it’s no biggie, but still…

So, once I brought him home, I kept him in his travel box with his heat pad in it, a dish of water and a small handful of grass (which he actually ate straight away).  I kept him in the lounge room where it was warm and quiet and I could keep an eye on him.  He was so uncomfortable and kept trying to shift his body into better positions.  He was very quiet (understandable) and sad (equally understandable) and for a while I was worried about him.  I am a born worrier so this was not an unusual state for me to be in with regards to any pet I’ve ever had but he did seem to be very flat and not wanting to eat (besides his initial munching) or go to the toilet.  Eventually, I put him back in his own hutch, making it as warm and dark as possible, thinking that maybe that would cheer him and make him feel a lot more comfortable in general, being in his own house with the familiar smells and places to lie and hide.  I even bought some *hot water bottles to place in his hutch.  He perked up almost instantly and began eating his “cereal” and hay.  A few hours later he finally went to the toilet (such a relief for me and possibly him too!) and seemed a lot better.  At midnight I checked on him again and gave him his last lot of pain killers for the day.

This morning he seems brighter and he even came out for his morning back-scratch and rub.  He’s eaten quite a bit and has pooped and peed his normal amount (ie a lot, the bugger) so I’m making sure he stays as clean as possible.  His surgery site seems clean and not swollen.  There was a bit of blood on his blanket but he doesn’t appear to have ripped any stitches or chewed at them.  So, I’m feeling more confident now.

I’m going to continue to monitor him over the next week or two and make sure he’s clean and the wound’s not infected and I’ll keep him warm, particularly over the next couple of days and ensure he has plenty of hay and grass, fresh water and comfy places to lie down.  But basically I’m going to leave him be – he doesn’t need the stress of me fussing and worrying over him.  I’ll pick him up when necessary but for the most part will just let him rest and recuperate and hopefully the pain will begin to fade soon too.

I would say, please take surgery of this kind seriously – the risks are higher than in a cat or dog (anaesthetically speaking and also stress-wise) – and isn’t something you should do just for the heck of it.  Go with your vet’s advice and follow all directions they give you.  Seek out a specialist vet for these kind of procedures if you can or at least find out if your everyday vet knows lots about exotics.  Too much can go wrong if they don’t know what they’re doing.  Take care of your pet and make sure you are able to keep an eye on them for at least the day of the surgery – they can go down hill very quickly and you need to be around to take control of the situation quickly.  Having said all that, I’m glad Roderick is now “done” and hopefully will forgive me and go on to lead a full and happy life without those pesky testicles!

I won’t be completely at ease until his stitches are out and he’s back to normal, but hopefully he will be ok soon and wheeking and chirping like usual.  I just hope he doesn’t hate me 😦    Then of course there will be the drama of introducing a new companion to him in a few weeks…stay tuned for that little piece of stress & anxiety!

* Yes, I know there are those of you out there gasping in horror that I would use hot water bottles around a small, recovering animal.  “What if he gets burnt?!” you shriek and that is understandably a concern.  However, I made the water hot but not boiling, wrapped it in plenty of blankets and towels so just the barest little bit of heat was coming through, just to take the chill off.  He was awake and able to walk by this stage and so was also able to get off the hot water bottle if it got too warm for him. So, don’t panic!