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How I made a top hat for my dog – Valentine’s Day Edition!

Valentine’s Day is not one of my favorite holidays. I think that you should show your love all year long and I grow very tired of having to see all the fake love floating around. However, what I do love about the holiday is that I get to attend St. Valen-Chi which is an annual pawty for Chihuahuas run by Ada Nieves, pet fashionista.

Now you can’t attend a pawty without proper attire. For Mimi, she had her pink dress and bows for her hair and Eli had his tuxedo…..but I felt it was missing something. Yes! He needed a top hat. I turned to my friend Google and found several sites with instructions on how to make your own top hat. All the sites seemed to have similar templates and you can probably find a better template than the one I used.

I am not crafty by any means and I wanted to make a very inexpensive hat, so I used white cardstock paper and simply kept my screen set to 100% in Microsoft Word while I created black boxes and circles to match the sizes of the template (by holding them up to the screen). To print, I set the properties to “best” since “normal” would print black solids in a stripey way.

After printing, I just cut out the cone template and the cardstock at the same time for a perfect size. I ended up just using circle sizes that worked for the size of the hand you want – no template needed! One of the difficulties I faced while using the template and instructions was that she mentions that the sides of the cylinder should barely be touching; however, when I did this, the circle top was too small so I reprinted a larger one – that’s one of the beauties about making this out of paper! I think it may be easier to cut out larger circles than you think you’ll need and then size them down to the correct size to fit your cylinder. To secure all the pieces I just used Elmer’s glue and binder clips to hold it together.

top hat

To make the hat more Valentine’s-y, I printed a bunch of different sized hearts and glued them on. To get the hat to stay on Eli’s head, I used black bobby pins. For a more secure fit, alligator clips for a long haired dog or an elastic band to wrap under the head would be a much better option. I also think that you should print black shapes on both sides of the paper as some of the white would show through – especially on the bottom of the hat. I colored in some parts with black marker but forgot to do the bottom of the hat since I thought it would be hidden on his head – turns out it wasn’t. No biggie, but it did bug me a bit!

In the end, Eli’s tuxedo kept falling off of him but the hat remained and was a hit!

eli hat

Feline Hyperthyroidism – Simon’s story

He loved holding the remote!

He loved holding the remote!

One day I realized I had a really skinny cat. I’m not sure when Simon went from being a huge fat cat to a skinny cat, but one day he wasn’t my big lump of fur anymore. My feline friend was 15 years old so I knew that medical issues may arise, but I had no idea what a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism would entail.

Cats can live great lives if hyperthyroidism is caught early and is treated properly. For Simon, my vet and I chose to administer Methimazole via a gel rubbed on his ears twice a day. Administering meds this way is a much easier method than trying to give a cat a pill. Unfortunately, when I moved to another state and had to switch vets, the new vet had no idea that Methimazole was available in a twist-a-dose gel format. I had to keep getting the meds from my old vet in another state until my new vet was able to research and obtain the product. I also had trouble finding a place to buy it online. On a search today, I found this site which may help you in your search.

I was given great instructions on how to apply the gel to Simon’s ears, but if you were not or are just curious, check out this forumThey give a detailed and accurate explanation along with video on how it all works.

Anyway, the meds kept Simon happy and healthy for a few years. He gained back several pounds to be at a healthy weight. He was active and playful. However, meds are not a cure. As time went on, his health began to deteriorate once again. Trips to the vet now included rehydration via IV fluid. My only option at that point was to begin rehydration administration at home via subcutaneous injection. Fortunately, Simon was a very mellow cat so he tolerated this well. I, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck. I cried and at first it was very difficult for me. The first few times, my boyfriend helped me hold Simon steady which was a huge relief. After a few times though, I got the hang of it and was able to do it all on my own.

Watching YouTube videos like this one really helped. I can’t tell you how many videos I watched. I also read a lot about the various size of needles which affects the pain of injection and flow speed (the smaller the needle, the less pain, but longer to get the fluid in). It’s good to find a happy medium. Sites like this one will help you determine what size needle is best for you and your cat. You will most likely need to buy them with a prescription from your vet from the internet as many vets do not carry the smaller needles.  You can also purchase the fluid (I used Lactated Ringers Solution) from the Internet. Also, check Craigslist.org in your area for people selling excess product. After a cat passes away, many people are generous with their remaining product and will either give it away or sell it for a low price; that’s how I got my first batch of product. Personally, I ended up donating mine to a shelter when it was no longer needed.

For Simon and me, the easiest way to administer the fluid was to sit together in the corner of the couch. I hung the fluid bag on a hanger and attached that hanger to a standing lamp next to the couch. (I actually left it there all the time for ease of set up). Sometimes I would warm the bag of fluid in a large bowl of hot water first. I would have a bag of treats next to us, a bowl of milk or sometimes I would feed him breakfast or dinner while we fluid-ed. One of the most important things for me to do was to use a permanent marker on the bag and mark where the fluid dosages should be. This made it much easier to know when we were done.

The needle stays in on its own if the cat remains fairly still

The needle stays in on its own if the cat remains fairly still. Here he is eating treats.

You can see the yellow edge of the needle resting on his side here

You can see the yellow edge of the needle resting on his side here

He's obv not too bothered by it. Stayed busy watching TV :)

He’s obv not too bothered by it….must have been distracted flipping thru TV channels  🙂

Another issue that Simon ran into because of his dehydration was constipation. For this, my vet suggested Lactulose. It is given in a liquid form (but now seems to have a powder form as well). It is reasonably priced and comes in regular and flavored. Another option is to add pure pumpkin puree to your cat’s diet. Simon didn’t care for the pumpkin, and I tried administering it to him via a large syringe but it was more trouble than it was worth. Doing these things to keep your cat alive is only a good idea if your cat is going to be happy. Torturing him with too many meds and things he hated wasn’t an option for me.

Ultimately, Sub-Q fluids helped extend Simon’s life another few happy months. Don’t be afraid to try it. Your vet should help you try it the first couple of times. Also, having a friend help for the first week or so will be a huge relief to you – even if they just are there to provide moral support.

Good luck and best wishes in your kitty’s journey.

Sleeping wrapped up on my leg. His love never stopped.

Sleeping wrapped up on my leg. His love never stopped. I’m sure he knew I was only trying to help.

Feline Chronic Kidney Disease – Not a death sentence!

When my cat, Oliver, was about 11 years old, he started to lose weight and throw up a lot – mostly watery mush. Because my father had cats with kidney disease and these are key symptoms, I predicted this would be the case with Oliver as well. Unfortunately, I was correct. Also, unfortunately, I got the diagnosis from an inexperienced vet. She said the prognosis wasn’t good; Oliver wasn’t going to live long. His creatinine levels were supposedly bad, and I should prepare for the end. Thankfully the vet was WRONG!!!!!

I considered a kidney transplant but quickly ruled it out as they quoted me a cost around $8,000 and do not guarantee great results. I also considered subcutaneous fluid administration but Oliver was not a very easy-going cat so that wasn’t really an option either. Instead, I switched Oliver’s food to Hill’s K-D prescription diet food, left the bathroom faucet dripping to encourage extra water intake (and to increase my water bill!) and we went on living our lives. Oliver got regular check-ups and lo and behold, when I finally got to see the great vet that I usually took him to at the same practice, his creatinine levels were not at a death-level. I was told to keep doing what I was doing and that was that.

Oliver went on to live another healthy and happy three years. Chronic kidney failure is not always a death sentence. If you hear that diagnosis from your vet, do not freak out. Ask about and learn about what you can do to help your cat live his life to the fullest.

Oliver Garden

Feline Vestibular Disease – stroke-like symptoms

My cat, Simon, had a lot of health issues toward the end of his life. One of them was that he developed feline vestibular disease around age 14. This issue made him act as though he either had a stroke, an ear infection, a balance issue or was just completely uncoordinated. His symptoms started with walking into walls – with the side of his body – like he would fall over into them. He would cry and wail and be completely unresponsive when I would call him or try to comfort him. He would also cock his head to the side and walk in circles.

At first, I suspected a stroke, but he recovered from the episode within a few hours so the vet ruled that out. It is expensive to try to diagnose a stroke and there isn’t much that can be done about it, so I chose not to pursue that line of testing. Simon did not have an ear infection and blood work was good so by process of elimination, the vet gave the diagnosis of vestibular disease. Unfortunately, these episodes would happen every once in a while, but knowing that the condition had a name and it was not life threatening was a huge relief. It seems that this disease may run in the DNA of Siamese cats and I always suspected Simon was part Siamese.

It seems that vestibular disease is not a diagnosis that first comes to mind for many vets. If your cat is experiencing these symptoms, you may want to mention this disease as a possible cause.

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Tip of the day! Stock up and save

Find yourself buying pet food too often? Wait until Petsmart has a 15% off printable coupon then stock up for as long as you can easily afford. Incurring interest on your credit card wouldn’t help you save any money.   🙂

Tony tip meme

Tip of the day! Giving your pet a pill

Smush your pet’s pill in butter to help it glide down its throat. While holding your pet’s mouth closed, squirt water into its mouth via syringe after depositing the pill, in order to force your pet to swallow.

Tony tip meme

Kale is my new favorite food

Lately I have been obsessed with kale. I saw it prepared once on The Chew and decided to try to duplicate the recipe at home. Unfortunately, my plan was ruined when I couldn’t figure out which was the kale at the supermarket. All the greens look really similar and they are all bunched up together. Pathmark’s labeling system left a lot to be desired, so I just chose one and went to check out. Fortunately, the cashier asked what I was buying and when I said “kale” she said, and I quote “This ain’t no kale”.  So there went that idea.

Fast forward a few months and my sister starts making kale chips – turns out they are a big thing these days. I finally decided to try it on my own and here’s how it went.

First of all, I went to A&P this time and it turns out they have their greens labeled on their rubber bands which meant I was definitely buying kale! I felt so accomplished! I took that huge batch of kale home, took off the stems, washed the leaves, dried them by squishing them in between a few papers towels (twice and will be reused to clean up pet messes later), and ripped them into pieces (not too small since they will shrink during baking).

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Next I drizzled some extra virgin olive oil, regular salt and pepper on them. I sprinkled Adobo on a few pieces to see how they would taste as well. I have a heavy hand, so I’m sure I used way more of everything than a normal person would or should! I threw them in the oven for about 18 minutes at 325 degrees. This is how they ended up turning out. The whole tray was full at the beginning so you can see how much they shrink during cooking. Keep an eye on them after the 15 minute mark because they can go from crispy to torched in a very short amount of time.

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I definitely learned to lighten up on the salt. My chips were very tasty but also very salty. Adobo gave them a little extra kick which was nice.

Another tip: after I wrote this post I wanted more chips another day, but not as many, so I cooked them in the toaster oven. I put aluminum foil on the tray for easy clean up. The chips came out really well. For the summer especially this would be a great way to cook up some chips without heating your whole kitchen!

PS….even the dogs love kale!

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