Tag Archives: Ashes

Ashes’ Story

*** Some of the specifics might be missing, such as vets’ names, medications I forgot about, and other things that don’t really matter, but I wanted to share Ashes’ current health scare as a way to celebrate how well he’s doing right now. ***

So things have finally calmed down around our household.

In June Ashes, our 17 pound black Maine cooncat mix went in for his check up and an update on his shots. I asked one of the vets about an interesting issue: if you scratched right above the base of his tail, Ashes would go into a trance of sorts, waving his head back and forth while drooling. She thought it was odd, that she had only seen cats do that when they had a hot spot from fleas, which he didn’t. She said to keep an eye on it and to see what would happen.

I don’t know if it’s related, but it wasn’t long after that when things got scary, and a bit crazy, around here:

At the end of August – I think it was the 26th – we woke up to a cat crying in pain every now and then and not being able to use his box. We figured it was just that he was backed up with hairballs, as that had happened before, but never to such an extent. After picking up some laxatone and administering it, he settled down for a bit. Half an hour goes by and he’s upstairs vomiting up the last THREE feedings he had. He wouldn’t let me touch him and was severely lethargic.

We brought him to our vet, which thankfully does ER visits. Poor Ashes had a severe urinary blockage. I had never in my life heard of that happening in cats, but I’ve only ever had females. He stayed for a week. It was a VERY long week of twice a day check ins, a visit with Little Mister (my two year old human kiddo), and two different catheter inserts.

Ashes finally comes home. He’s on a list of meds including Valium, which is supposed to give him the munchies. It doesn’t. He’s urinating very little, refusing to eat – we had to force feed him with a syringe for two days -, and still hiding. He did seem better than before and since he wasn’t eating AT ALL at the vet’s office (went from 17 lbs, to 15 lbs in a week), our vet opted for him to stay home unless things went downhill.

They did.

All of a sudden it came on: Ashes would go to the box, act like he was urinating WITHOUT straining but nothing was there. The box was bone dry. I brought him in again. Our vet checked him over and decided that the bladder was way too small. Something was obviously wrong. We opted for an exploratory surgery. Sure enough Ashe’s bladder had a dead spot on it that was leaking urine into his abdominal cavity. the bladder wall was super thick, which made that nasty “cancer” word come up. After the surgery he was in the vet’s for another week to make sure all went well. He dropped more weight (down to 14.7) as he still wasn’t eating there due to not being comfortable.

We finally got to bring him home. He was on a two-part probiotic, amoxicillian, prednisone, and an appetite stimulant. Pilling was originally alright, until Ashes starting getting his strength back. We also had a fake scare as neither hubster nor I knew that cats will froth a the mouth to try to remove nasty tasting items – such as the apetite stimulant he was on.

Unfortunately, even with the stimulant, he still wasn’t eating well and gave us yet another scare when he went off his food and began having severe withdrawal tremors as the prednisone dose dropped down. After another night at the vet’s, an extension of the prednisone which cause severe stomach issues, and a change from the prednisone to an inject-able anti-inflammatory that tapered off over 10 days, he’s caught a break.

Ashes is now acting like his own self again. While there will be a long time span of me being paranoid and checking his box every time I walk by, he’s on the mend. While I still get panicky about how much food he has or hasn’t eat, he’s on the mend. While I still double check any spit up with a paper towel to check for blood, he’s on the mend.

Ashes is one hell of a trooper.

Snap-Shot Cleaning: Kitchen

One area of any house that tends to get ridiculously cluttered and falls behind in being kept up in the kitchen. While previously in Jacks’ room I gave myself 30 minutes, I made sure that this time I gave myself a good chunk of time, 45 minutes to be exact. I broke the cleaning down into 15 minute spurts to make it more manageable and to allow myself to take photos at each quarter hour mark as a way to tell whether or not I was truly making progress. For the sake of saving space, I’ll only post the before and after pictures here.

The “before” photos are on the left, with “after”s on the right and below the “before”s.

Amount of time spent cleaning: 45 minutes

There was a lot of little things that went into cleaning the kitchen, as is always the case. I feel a little odd that the “after” photo still has a load of dishes in the rack and the tea set drying on the table, but I really didn’t feel I needed to put in yet another chunk of time into the kitchen for the day. While I might not be able to list everything I did off the top of my head, here’s what I can recall doing:

  • Washed three loads of dishes.
  • Dried two loads of dishes.
  • Washed new tea set.
  • Took care of piles that had been building on chairs.
  • Cleaned window sill and placed pumpkins closer to the window.
  • Cleaned the top of the butcher block and reorganized.
  • Compiled and reorganized recycling.
  • Cleaned larger tea kettle.
  • Washed counter tops.
  • Took care of stuff that was on the table.
  • Took care of towel used to drying Belle yesterday.
  • Took care of blocking board for knitting.
  • Took care of the left over gift wrap from the holidays.
  • Fixed Belle’s and Ashes’ bowls and fed them lunch.
  • Found a home for the returnables.
  • Washed table.
  • Removed coupons from fridge and put them in coupon book.
  • Placed new magnet calendar on the fridge.
  • Cleaned off the pile on the printer.
  • Swept the kitchen floor.

With any luck, if I spend about fifteen minutes in the kitchen each day, aside from doing dishes, I should be able to keep it tidy and possibly work on further organization.

Family Fat Camp

So it seems as though a good chunk of us here need to lose a little pudge in the Raymond family. Jacks, the mini-rex, has a bit of a dew-lap that could be smaller; Ashes has no waist to speak of; Belle eats for exercise I think; I just need to lose about 20 lbs to hit my goal.

Jacks (mini-rex)

I’ve noticed that with Jacks, there seems to be a downturn of his energy levels if i cut off pellets, so temporarily, he’s on 1/8th of a cup of pellets in the morning and 1/8th at night, totaling to only 1/4 cup. I’ve also increased his hay dramatically. I now give him a new handful morning, noon, and night, instead of just at night. This is outrageously important since rabbits need a constant flow of hay to keep their digestive track stable.

Belle(Border-Collie mix)

I think the key thing right now with Belle is to increase her activity level. We’re getting more gutsy with leaving her off the leash when we’re outside, so stick fetching (one of her favorite activities) may end up happening a bit more often. Also, we need to keep a better eye on her food consumption. One thing that may actually help is what we’re going to try to do for Ashes, but I’ll get into that in a bit.

Her “walks,” which are just loops around the house, will be increased. When we first got her, we took her on daily one-mile walks, but she seemed to be getting stiff, and not knowing if she has arthritis or not, we did not want to take any chances, and cut back on the walks on the road; the impact of the non-giving tar on the road can severely damage joints after a while.

Ashes (Maine coon cat mix)

Right now, Ashes is my main concern. We did not realize how bad he was getting until I looked down at him the other day and realized he was almost the same width as Belle. I’m putting him as around 19 lbs right now. He really needs to lose about three. I’ve been doing a lot of reading the past couple days and have come up with what Joe and I feel is a pretty good plan.

Ashes has been getting for food….

* 1 cup of Iams Weightloss (dry) split into three meals a day

* 3 – 5 tartar control treats in the morning

Now, the dry food suggests that you feed 1 1/4 – 1 3/4 a day to maintain weight for a 16 lb. cat, and 1 1/4 to lose weight. He’s been on the 1 cup “diet” for close to a year now. Granted, he is getting older and went through a very lethargic period when we got Belle, but he’s gained a lot of weight. About two months ago we tried him on a more “natural” food with no corn — he ballooned up. I think that the rice fillers in the food was the main culprit. Regardless, we’re back to the Iams, but we’re going to try a few adjustments.

In trying to find a way to increase Ashes’ protein from meat and decrease his protein from plant matter, I spent some time looking at wet foods at the local grocery store. There were a few points I was looking for:

– Max crude protein – This should be at least 8% and should be primarily from meat. You can base that off from the ingredients.

– Max crude fiber – Should be considerably lower than crude protein, especially if you also feed dry food, as that has a lot of fiber.

– Max ash content – This should be as minimal as possible. After all, do you want to be eating ash?

– No “for pet consumption only” labels or anything in that regard. To me, if I’m feeding my animal food, it better be something that my future children could consume without me having a heart attack.

In looking at a wide assortment of grocery store carried wet foods, I decided I might also check out Agway’s selection at some point, but that’s neither here nor there. The wet food that I did decide to go with? Surprisingly, Fancy Feast Appetizers. Let me start by stating that for one, these little things are mislabeled. In no way should this be an addition to your cat’s regular meal — it should be one of the meals. (A rant for another time is that we Americans tend to fatten up our animals the same way we fatten up ourselves. We add snacks to meals, instead of creating it into the meal and adjusting our portions. ) The ingredients were very minimal with no artificial anythings and no filler. You can see that it literally is just meat in a sauce. The greatest thing is, with how picky he is on wet food, he loved it!

The game plan is thus…

* 3/4 cup of Iams Weightloss dry food a day split into four meals

* One 2 oz. serving of wet food a day as a meal

This doesn’t seem like much fo a change, but the trick is to eventually get him to a half and half diet, or all the way to wet food with dry as a supplement, the reverse of right now. We will have to keep an eye out, however, to make sure he does lose too much weight too quickly.


Don’t bake so much this winter and keep going on my walks…even if it’s cold out!


Well, I noticed that we haven’t done much here in the way of updates, and for that I apologize. Things have been a little hectic with the wedding, post-wedding aftermath, winterizing, Samhain, and everything else that tends to crop up during this time of year. Not to mention that just yesterday we had to have roughly $600.00 worth of work done to the furnace. Not sure how we’ll pay that yet, but we’ll get there.

In more personal news, I have decided to go back to school this spring for my Master’s. I love that Joe is behind me 100% on this. I can’t help but feel from trepidation over it all, since it ment leaving my steady and predictable job of Title I ed. tech. to become a substitute teacher for two districts (and I might have to pick up a third if I can’t get the ball rolling on freelance writing).

However, I do have to say that it’s been nice being able to get stuff done around the house and to be able to cook again, meaning less money spent on food. Now, with the holidays of Yule and Christmas coming up, it’ll be even nicer that I can put time into making gifts this year. I think I might even throw caution to the wind and make something for Mom, Dad, and Peter. (There’s a personal paranoia there that they won’t appreciate the homemade gifts.)

In the animal kingdom, Belle (border collie) and Ashes (Maine coon cat) are starting to get along very well. Belle’s even tried to initiate playtime with Ashes, who in turn just looks at her as if she’s lost her marbles. Unfortunately, Ashes has gained a lot of weight since going to the all-natural food, so we’ve had to swap him back to the IAMS Weight Loss formula. Hopefully that and more exercise can trim him back down. Given the heart problems that Maine coon cats are susceptible to, carrying extra weight isn’t really a good thing for him.