Adventures in Veterinary Medicine: Finding a New Vet

For the first time in over fifteen years, I find myself in a position of having to find a new vet for Allegra and any future feline family members, and I’m finding that it’s not an easy thing to do.  During the years I worked in veterinary hospitals, I always had an up close and personal knowledge of the vets who worked on Feebee, Amber and Buckley, from their medical skills and proficiency to their dedication and “bedside manner.”  I thought I’d never find better vets than the husband and wife team who owned the practice I managed for eight years.  Janet and Jack were the kinds of veterinarians you read about in James Herriot-style books. They were both completely dedicated to their profession. In addition to practicing exceptional, cutting edge medicine, they had elevated the art of compassionate care for their furry patients and their humans to levels that are rare even in a profession that is based on caring for animals.  There were many nights when, instead of leaving a sick pet at the practice overnight, they’d take him home and watch over him in their bedroom or bathroom.  Both of them loved their work, and they were always learning and growing in their fields.  They were a tough act to follow.

When I left their practice to start my own business, I began looking for a new vet.  The clinic I had worked at was a forty-five minute drive from home, and neither Amber nor Buckley ever did well on the long drive.  I never thought I’d find someone as good as Janet and Jack.  And then I met Fern (some of you already know Fern from my book, from some of the articles she’s written for The Conscious Cat, and from our first Ask the Vet teleseminar).  Fern and I hit it off immediately.  Not only were her practice philosophies in synch with what I was looking for, she is the consummate cat vet, and one of the most brilliant people I ever met.  And even better, we became very good friends in a very short time.  Unfortunately, she recently had to make the difficult decision to retire, at least for the foreseeable future, from her beloved profession due to a family health problem.  While I am fortunate that she will always be available to me for advice or a second opinion, I still need to find a new vet, since she’s not currently affiliated with a hospital and can’t do much beyond basic physical exams without that affiliation.  As you might expect, with my background, my standards of what I expect in a vet are very high.

I’ve previously written about how to tell whether your vet is cat-friendly, and how to choose the right vet for your pet.  One of the things I always stress when I talk to people about this subject is that I think it’s a good idea to make an appointment without your pet when evaluating a veterinary clinic.  By going to see potential vets without your cat, you will be more relaxed.  Ask for a tour of the hospital.  If you want to speak with a veterinarian, offer to pay for an office visit.  Most vets won’t charge you for this introductory visit, but it sets the right tone for a future relationship of mutual respect.  Come prepared with a list of questions.  Some of the questions I’ll be asking on my search are:

  • How many veterinarians are at the practice?
  • Will I always see the same vet?
  • Are there vets at the practice that specialize in working with cats, or that have a preference for working with cats?
  • Are they open to holistic modalities, even if they don’t practice them?
  • Are appointments required?
  • How are emergencies handled?
  • What is their policy for visiting hospitalized pets?
  • Are diagnostic services such as x-rays, blood work, ultrasound, EKG, endoscopy done in-house, or will they be referred to a specialist?
  • Do the veterinarians use VIN (the Veterinary Information Network)?  This is generally an indicator that they’re interested in pursuing continuing education and that they are staying on top of the latest developments in their profession.

I’ve narrowed my own search down to two hospitals – one of them a feline-only practice, which is what I would prefer, but it is further from home than I would like (about a half hour’s drive), the other a small animal practice with a terrific reputation much closer to home.  I’ll let you know which one I pick when it’s time for Allegra’s first check up.

Picture shows Allegra on the day I first met her, on an exam table at the veterinary clinic I adopted her from.

Allegra’s World: Changing the Sheets

I want to thank everyone for the birthday wishes – I didn’t know I had so many friends out there!

Things are changing around here now that I’m a big girl!  I have a lot of responsibilities now.  It’s not all play for me anymore!

One of my newest jobs is to help Mom with changing the sheets.  I’m really good at it!  I help Mom take the old sheets off the bed by jumping from one corner to the other.  Then, when she throws them on the floor, I take a flying leap into the pile and rearrange it so it will be easier for Mom to pick up to take to the laundry room.  Before Mom puts the new sheets on, I jump back up on the bed and sit in the center of the mattress.  I try my best to get under the fitted sheet, but for some reason, Mom won’t let me.  So instead, I help make sure that it’s put on properly by pouncing on any wrinkles.  Trust me, it really helps to smooth them out.  I’m also a big help when Mom gets ready to put the pillowcases on.  I attack the case and beat it into submission so that it’s good and ready to be put on the pillow.  I know Mom really appreciates that.  I always look forward to when Mom gets ready to put on what she calls the duvet cover.  Looks like just a giant pillow cover to me, but I’ve come to understand that humans like to call things by fancy names even when a simple one would work just as well.  I try to get in between the comforter and the cover.  I don’t understand why Mom doesn’t think this is helpful – I’m just trying to make sure she does it right!  I love it when Mom gives the comforter a big shake, it sends me flying off the bed with some extra velocity – wee!!!  The very bestest part is when we’re done, and I just sort of sit on top of the comforter surveying the results of our hard work.  Mom pretends the bed monster has come to visit, and makes the comforter wiggle from underneath, and I pounce on the wiggly parts.  I let her think I really believe that it’s a monster, and not just her hand under the covers.  Sometimes it’s best to just humor humans.

My other, more important job is Assistant Reiki Practitioner Trainee!  Mom sees (human) clients in her Reiki room in our house.  (Oh, I love calling it “our house!”) She says  Buckley, who lived here long before I came, helped her with her Reiki sessions, and I want to help, too, but Mom says I’m not mature enough yet.  What’s this mature?  I’m one year old!  I’m a big girl!  Anyway, she says we have to start slowly.  She says I’m too rambunctious to be in the room during a Reiki session (there’s those big words again!), but I’m allowed to greet clients when they arrive, and they all love it!  Because I’m so cute, they all pet me and sometimes even pick me up and hug me when they first arrive.  I’m giving them kitty therapy!  After being exposed to my cuteness, they feel better right then and there, and they probably don’t even need the Reiki Mom does, but Mom takes them to the Reiki room anyway.  I don’t like that Mom then closes the door on me.  I would just sit quietly and watch if she let me in the room.  Okay, maybe I would start playing with the client’s purses.  Or pounce on their feet.  But what would the problem with that be?  So, I wait patiently right outside the door until the session is over.  Then Mom finally lets me in the room!  I love that!  The energy in the room always feels really good, and I get to rub up against the client and get more pets.  I love being Assistant Reiki Practitioner Trainee!

That’s all for today.  Between blogging, making beds, learning to be Assistant Reiki Practitioner, playing, and keeping an eye on things in our yard, I’m a busy busy girl, and it’s time for a nap!

Happy Labor Day 2010

Happy Labor Day

from

The Conscious Cat

Allegra and I are taking a blogging break today.  We wish everyone a relaxing, fun-filled and happy holiday.  We’ll be back on Wednesday. 

Allegra’s World: First Birthday

Hey everyone – I’m a big girl now!  I turned one this past Friday!  I’m not a kitten anymore!  Mom says I still act like one, but that’s okay, just because I’m a big girl now doesn’t mean I have to stop having fun!

I loved my birthday!  It was a really cool day.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing until last Friday!  Mom gave me extra cuddles in the morning (and yes, I do occasionally let her pick me up and hold me for short periods of time now), and a yummy breakfast of raw chicken.  I love my chicken.  The turkey – not so much.  I think I’ve pretty much convinced Mom to not buy that anymore.  I’m pretty smart about how I do it.  I always clean my plate when she gives me things I really love, but when it’s something I’m not so crazy about, I leave a little something for her to throw out.  I know some cats will refuse to eat something they don’t like, but I’m no dummy.  I’m not going to pass up a meal!  Anyway, back to my birthday.  After my birthday breakfast, Mom gave me a really cool present.  It’s a big, round, long tunnel thing.  It’s so much fun!  At first, I just checked it out carefully.  Then I slowly went inside.  It made crinkly noises – how fun!  Once I was comfortable that nothing was lurking inside, I ran through it at full speed.  Wee!!!  Then I thought if running through it at full speed is this much fun, what about if I took a flying leap, and then launched myself into it.  Let me tell you – it was quite a rush!  The whole thing rolled and tumbled, with me in it.  Wee!!!  I played with my new toy for most of the day.  Well, at least when I wasn’t napping, I played with it.  And Mom played with me and my tunnel, she tossed toys inside and I went in after them, that was even more fun than playing with it by myself.  And then Mom gave me a yummy rabbit birthday dinner.  It was a purrfect birthday!

I asked Mom whether I could have a birthday every day, but she said I only get to have one once a year.  Hmmm.  But then she said that there are other things we’ll celebrate, and the next thing will be something called Christmas, which she says is even more fun than birthdays.  Apparently some dude named Santa brings cats and kittens toys if they’re nice and not naughty.  Huh.  Who is this dude, and how does he know whether I’m naughty or nice?  Does Mom tell him?  I guess I better watch myself, because I love getting new toys.

That’s it for today.  I’m going to play in my new tunnel.  Wee!!!

Allegra’s World: Busy Kitten

I’ve been a busy little kitten!  There’s always so much to do, a kitten’s work is never done.  I’ve got to keep an eye on the birds and squirrels in our yard – that’s almost a full time job right there!  And lately, we’ve had these very strange looking creatures attach themselves to the screen on the sliding glass door.  Mom says they’re called cicadas.  They’re really ugly, and when I try to bat at them, they make a scary noise and fly off!  Oh, and speaking of critters – this is the coolest thing yet since I came to live here.  These big black things are coming into the house sometimes, mostly in the basement.  Mom says they’re called crickets.  I say they’re really fun toys!  I chase them and they jump all over the place.  Wee!!!   The only thing is that they don’t seem to last very long, because I’m too fast for them!  But, unlike my other toys, I can eat them!  Yummy!  I do leave the legs behind, though – a little too crunchy for my taste.  Mom says it’s gross when I eat the crickets, and that she’d rather not know that I do that.  Ha!  I’m a fierce huntress!  This is what I do!  I bet she wouldn’t like it, either, if I left their dead bodies all over the basement.  Humans – sometimes they just don’t get it.

Speaking of toys – I got another cool new one.  Mom bought me a new cat tree.  You can see me posing on it in the photo above.  I really like it, especially the sisal scratching post, I use that a lot.  And I love it when Mom gets one of those fishing pole type toys and teases me with it around the cat tree.  I jump up and down and roll around at the base of it, it’s great fun.  Wee!!!  My birthday is only a couple of weeks away, and I’ve seen Mom take a box inside the one room downstairs that I’m not allowed in.  I wonder whether my birthday present is in that box?  It was a pretty big box!  Wee!!!  It sure is fun living here, so many toys, and so many presents.  Every day is so special!

I like that Mom works from home, and that she’s around a lot, so it was a little weird the other day when she was gone for a really long time.  She left right after our morning playtime, and she told me she would be gone all day, and that she would be back in time for me to feed me my dinner, but it still felt like a very long day without her there.  I slept for most of it, but then, I got a little bored.  Mom says I always look for trouble when I’m bored, and apparently, going by how she reacted, I found it.  I didn’t think it was that bad – all I did was chew on the edges of a book that stuck out from a lower shelf.  Oh, and I did knock her glasses off the nightstand.  But I do that all the time, and she just picks them up and puts them back.  Okay, so I did chew on the ends this time, and I guess they feel a little funny now when she puts them on.  Big deal!  That’ll teach her to leave me alone for that long!  Even though she said “oh, Allegra” in that tone of voice that I’ve come to know means she’s a little upset with me, I could tell that she tried really hard not to laugh, too.  I know I’m too cute for her to stay upset with me for long!

Oh, and I almost forgot – Mom has been feeding me some different food lately.  She says it’s called “raw” – I say it tastes really yummy!  I’m not a big eater, food kind of bores me,  most of the time I’m just too busy to eat, but this stuff, I usually inhale in one sitting.  It comes in different flavors, so far, I’ve had rabbit, chicken and turkey.   I like them all, but I think I like rabbit best of all.  Yummylicious!!!

That’s all for today – time to make the rounds and check on the birds and squirrels!

Adventures in Veterinary Medicine – Ingrid

Yes, you read right.   This Adventures in Veterinary Medicine post is about me, not one of the animals I encountered in my years of working in the profession. 

In Buckley’s Story, I share my story of how Buckley helped me take the leap to start my own business.  But this wasn’t the first step on my journey toward finding my bliss.  Prior to starting my Healing Hands business, I worked in various facets of the veterinary profession for twelve years. 

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I started my professional life by translating manuals for a computer manufacturer.  Then I wrote and translated ad copy for a magazine about diesel and gas turbines.  After that, I worked as a travel agent for a while.  Eventually, I ended up at a financial services corporation, beginning as a receptionist and working my way up into middle management.  After fifteen years in corporate America, I had enough.  At that point in my life, I was looking for purpose and meaning in all areas of my life, including my work.  That’s where veterinary medicine came in. 

Feebee, my first cat and the love of my life for almost sixteen years, who got me through a period of great upheaval in my life in the mid-90’s when my marriage of thirteen years ended and my mother died, all within a four month period, developed bladder stones (most likely, as a result of trying to absorb some of my stress).  We ended up spending a lot of time at various veterinary hospitals while he was going through treatment, and ultimately surgery (he fully recovered and lived for many more years).  One afternoon, I was sitting in the waiting room of an animal hospital while they were taking x-rays of Feebee in the back, and I looked around and found myself wondering what it might be like to work in an environment like that.  The thought wouldn’t let go.  I started to do some research, and saw an ad for an office manager position at a nearby vet clinic.  I knew I was well-qualified for the position from a business perspective, even though I knew very little about the inner workings of a veterinary practice at the time.  I applied, and was invited for an interview.  The clinic’s owner offered me the position.    Sadly, I couldn’t afford to take it at the time.  The one aspect of veterinary medicine I hadn’t researched very well ahead of time was the pay – the salary offered was not enough to support myself.   So, instead, I asked whether I could volunteer at the clinic .  The clinic’s owner laughed and said sure, why not!

My first day as a volunteer at the clinic arrived.  I was so excited.  I didn’t really know what to expect.  I was introduced to the head technician, who I was going to be shadowing all day.  I was told that, due to insurance restrictions, I wasn’t allowed to touch any of the animals there, which was a bit of a disappointment.  I had sort of figured that if I was going to be allowed to do anything, it wouldn’t be too terribly glamorous.  I was prepared to do lowly things like cleaning cages and emptying trash if that’s what it took.  I just wanted to be in a clinic environment and learn as much as I could through observation and by osmosis.  

The first thing the technician showed me how to do was to set up a fecal test.  In retrospect, I think it was a test on her part to see how dedicated I was to this volunteering gig.  She showed me how to separate out a small amount of stool from the (giant! smelly!) sample the dog’s owner had dropped off, and how to set it up in a small plastic vial with a solution that would allow any parasites that might be in the sample to float to the top.  Icky, stinky, nasty work.  I was in heaven.  That’s when I realized it – I had found my bliss.  If I could feel this happy playing with a fecal sample, surely I had found my calling!  

It was the beginning of a twelve year journey.  I was eventually hired as a part-time receptionist at this clinic, then went to work part-time at my own vet’s clinic, where I was trained as a veterinary assistant.  I did everything from cleaning cages to answering phones to giving injections and monitoring anesthesia.   I reduced my hours at the day job as a business analyst at a financial services corporation to part-time status, and for the next three years, I worked pretty much seven days a week at either the day job or the vet clinic.  Being at the vet clinic never felt like work, no matter how many hours I spent there – another sign that I had found my passion.  In 1998, I quit the day job and took a hospital manager position at a vet clinic, in essence combining my business background with my newfound love for veterinary medicine.   It was the beginning of my adventures in veterinary medicine.

You really can find your bliss in the most unexpected places.

Allegra’s World: Big Girl

It’s been a while since I last wrote here, and I need to catch you up on what’s been happening in my world.  Yesterday was my almost birthday – I’m eleven months old now!  I’m almost a big girl!  I don’t really know what birthday means, but Mom says next month, when it’s my real birthday, we’ll have a little celebration and there will be presents.  I think I know what presents are – I think it’s the new toys that have been appearing here occasionally.  I can’t believe there might be more!  Wee!!!

Since I am a big girl now, I’ve been trying to act more grown up, too.  Well, maybe not quite grown up, but I am trying to be a good girl.  Mom says I’ve been doing really well with some of the things we’ve been working on together . I didn’t realize we were working on them together, but whatever – let her think that!  I may just be a kitten, but I’m still the one who decides what I do, make no mistake about that!  Anyway, I let her pet me for longer and longer periods of time now, and I don’t nip at her near as much.  I really don’t know why I even still do it, but it’s like I have all this extra energy that needs to be discharged somehow, and nipping is a way for me to do that.  It’s like I don’t really want to do it, it just happens.  I think Mom understands that, and she knows I’m not nipping at her to hurt her.  I love that she gets that.  I love her a lot, and I’d hate for her to think that I’m doing it on purpose.  I also don’t like that she simply walks away from me when I do nip at her, so I’m starting to put two and two together.  I’m a smart kitten!

I’m learning to be brave, too.  When I first came to live here, loud noises, especially the big trash trucks that go by our house every day, would send me running for safety under the sofa.  Now, I just watch them go by from the window – I know they can’t hurt me.  I still don’t like the noise of the lawn mowers that come every other week.  Why do humans need to have their lawns mowed anyway?  Don’t they know it scares little kittens like me?  Last week, I discovered a cool new spot to hide when scary noises happen (I still haven’t been able to make Mom stop what she calls thunderstorms – she keeps explaining to me that she has no control over the weather, but she seems to control so much else in our house, I’m not sure I believe her – after all, she can open cans!).  Anyway, I went behind the shower curtain in the downstairs bathroom.  It was nice and dark and I couldn’t hear the loud noise from the thunder as much down there.  When Mom found me there, she started to cry.  Turns out that this was Amber‘s safe place, too, and I guess seeing me there made her miss Amber a lot right then.

I can tell that Mom still gets sad a lot.  I don’t really know what to do when that happens, I’m just a kitten, but I want to help her!  So sometimes when she’s sad, I curl up next to her and just sit with her, even though that much closeness is still a little bit overwhelming for me, but I do it for my Mom, because I know it makes her feel better.  I know she’d like me to do more of it, and I will, but on my own time.  I love that Mom understands that.

Anyway, that’s all.   It’s time for a nap now, and maybe I’ll dream about this birthday that’s going to happen next month!  More toys!  Wee!!!

Allegra’s World: Chewing

Things have been really interesting around here!  My mom and I are still getting to know each other, and I love how she wants to make sure I’m happy.  I want her to be happy, too!   But sometimes, I think the things I do to try and make her happy actually aren’t such bright ideas.  I don’t really understand why she doesn’t think it’s totally cool when I stalk her when she walks down the hall and attack her ankles.  I also don’t understand why she doesn’t think it’s fun when I nip at her hands to let her know that I’ve had enough petting.  Doing those things is soooo fun!  But I’m starting to get a clue that maybe it’s not okay to do these things, because when I do, Mom stops talking to me, won’t even look at me, and just walks away from me.  I don’t like that at all!

The other day, I did something so amazingly cool, I couldn’t wait for Mom to see!  I chewed off the edge of the big dresser in the bedroom!  It was so much fun to nibble on it, and it felt really good on my teeth!  Wee!  I worked at it really really hard, and managed to make it look like a work of art, if I do say so myself.  But when Mom saw it, she wasn’t impressed at all.  In fact, she got pretty mad.  I could tell when she said “Oh no, Allegra!” in a voice that didn’t sound loving to me at all – and believe me, I can tell the difference, because Mom sounds loving almost all the time, so when her voice changes like that, I kind of know I’m in trouble.   She told me I shouldn’t be doing that, and then she sprayed some stuff on it that she says is called Bitter Yuck.  She said I might not want to chew on that spot again, or I’d be sorry.  Okay fine, whatever!  Well, I waited a little while before going back to chew on the dresser some more – I’m not stupid, I’m not going to do it right in front of her!  It tasted a bit odd – but the chewing was so much fun, it was worth the weird taste in my mouth.  Mom got really exasperated with me and taped some stuff called Sticky Paws around the corner I’d worked so hard to chew off.  Again, she told me I might not want to chew on it again, as the stuff would stick to my mouth and feel really awful.  Hmmm.  Okay.  Whatever!  Of course I tried again.  Did you really think I wouldn’t?  It was really interesting, I managed to pull the sticky stuff off, spit it out, and then proceded to chew on the wood some more.  I was pretty pleased with the result – but Mom wasn’t ready to give up on making me stop.  You have to give her this – she is persistent.  I watched her rub a lemon on the area I’d chewed so nicely.  Some of the juice dribbled on the floor, so I investigated.  YUCK!!!  Major yuck!!!  I’m sad to say my work of art will not be completed – that stuff just tastes too nasty even for me to persevere.

Then, the other night, Mom was on the phone for a long time.  I heard my name mentioned a lot during that time.  After she got off the phone, she told me that we’d be making some changes to cure me of some of my “undesirable behavior.”  I have no idea what that means. It sounded very grown up and something humans would say when they’re trying to sound important.  I wasn’t too worried about it.  That night, Mom spent a longer than usual time playing with me, and then, she fed me an extra meal just before she went to bed.  How cool was that!  If that’s the kind of change she was talking about, I’m on board with that!  The next day, I got new toys!  Wee!!!  Now mind you, when I first got here, I thought for sure that I had landed in kitty paradise.  There were so many toys!  But now, there are even more!  How lucky can one kitten get!  I got a new play house, and a Kong Kickeroo.  I also saw her stash a bag of stuff in the closet, so I’m thinking there may be more new toys!  And I was right.  Last night, she brought out a really fun toy that has me somewhat puzzled – I just can’t get the little mouse out of it, but I’m going to keep trying!  I know there’s more in that closet, I just know it.  One of these days, I’ll figure out how to open those big closet doors….  but you’ll have to excuse me, I have to go play in my new playhouse now!  Wee!!!

A note from Allegra’s Mom:  I was becoming increasingly frustrated with watching Allegra be a sweet little kitten 80% of the time and then turn into devil kitten the remaining 20%.  She’s a little play aggressive, and she tends to bite when she gets overstimulated.  I knew the basics of how to respond to this type of behavior, but I wasn’t making much headway, so I decided to consult The Cat Coach.  Marilyn Krieger is a nationally recognized and Certified Cat Behavior Consultant and has been successfully solving cat behavior problems since 1990. Offering both on-site and phone consultation sessions, Marilyn’s expert advice solves diverse cat behavior problems.  Marilyn is the resident cat behaviorist for Cat Fancy Magazine and their web site, catchannel.com.  I’m sure Allegra will keep you posted on future developments as a result of Marilyn’s recommendations!

Pretty Litter

Adventures in Veterinary Medicine – Oliver

white-cat-tabby-markings

This is an excerpt from Adventures in Veterinary Medicine: What Working in Veterinary Medicine: What Working in Veterinary Hospitals Taught Me About Life, Love and Myself

When I first began working in veterinary hospitals, I did a little bit of everything.  I worked as a receptionist, veterinary assistant, and kennel attendant.  Being a kennel attendant involved taking care of animals that were boarding at the hospital, which included everything from cleaning their cages, making sure they had fresh food and water, walking them, and giving them medications if needed. Continue Reading

Happy Father’s Day 2010

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! 

My dad passed away more than six years ago.   This Father’s Day, I miss him a little more than I normally do.  My grief over Amber is still fresh and raw.  One aspect of the grieving process that often catches people by surprise is that frequently, it causes us to relive all the other losses we’ve previously suffered.  Holidays like Father’s Day always intensify the emotions.

Last year, I wrote a piece titled Father’s Day Reflections, and I thought I’d share it again here today:

My relationship with my dad was complicated at times, but I always knew that he loved me, and I have many wonderful memories of him.  His life was shaped to a great extent by his experiences during World War II in Germany, and as a result of suffering so much loss at such a young age, he held those he loved close to him – at times, too close for a daughter who wanted to spread her wings and fly from the nest!   He instilled in me my love of nature – some of my earliest and fondest memories are of long walks in the woods and parks near our home.  He taught me the names of all the flowers, trees, butterflies and animals we’d encounter on those walks.

He worked hard at a job he didn’t enjoy all that much to provide for my mother and me.  We were by no means rich, but he always made me feel like we were.  He fell in love with the Alps after first catching a glimpse of them as an American POW in Bavaria after the end of World War II.  The story he told was of being held captive in a basement with a very small window, through which he could see these beautiful mountains, and even in the darkest days of his captivity, looking at the mountains would give him hope.  He vowed that he would come back to these mountains someday, and he did.  Some of his happiest times were vacations spent hiking those magestic mountains.  He loved to travel, and after taking early retirement, for the next nine years, he and my mother traveled extensively.  He especially enjoyed his travels in the Western part of the United States – every Western movie he’d ever seen came to life for him there.  He would talk about those trips for years to come.

He had a difficult time dealing with my mother’s death in 1994, and his life contracted again.  He didn’t enjoy traveling by himself, and other than his annual visit to the United States, he stayed close to home.  When he became ill with prostate cancer, I wasn’t sure he would want to fight – but he surprised me.  He wanted to live, and he survived.  Then he decided that it was time to make a lifelong dream come true.  He sold his home of forty years almost overnight, and bought a condo in the Black Forest, where he spent the last two years of his life in an environment that he loved.   Having been a life-long worrier, he learned to live in the moment and “appreciate each flower and each butterfly,” as he once told me.  He passed away after a short illness, and knowing how happy he was the last two years of his life was a great comfort to me.

If you still have your father, tell him that you love him today.  My dad had a long, sometimes difficult, but ultimately good life, and I miss his physical presence in my life.  However, his spirit is never far from me.

Allegra’s World: Loud Noises

Wee!  Mom is letting me write a blog again!  Mom keeps telling me that I’m a good little kitten, and I guess this is my reward.  I have been very good, if I do say so myself.

I’m continuing to learn stuff about my new home, and I still discover new things every day.  Some are fun – like when I discovered that I can climb on top of the dining room cabinet.  Wee!  That was so cool!  It’s the highest spot in the house (short of the curtain rods – I haven’t figured out how to get up there yet, but I’m not giving up….psst, don’t tell Mom!), and I can see everything from up there.  And the most fun part is that if I lie down and make myself really flat, Mom can’t see me!  One time when I was up there, I heard her calling my name all throughout the  house, but I wasn’t going to move or let her know where I was.  But then her voice got kind of panicky, and I realized that she was worried because she couldn’t find me, and that’s when the game stopped being fun, so I popped my head up to show her where I was.

Some things about my new home are not so fun.  I really don’t like loud noises, and every morning, these big, noisy things go by the house.  Mom says they’re called “trash trucks” and “school buses” – all I know is that they scare me and I run and hide under the sofa when they come.  Sometimes, I’m really brave and just watch them from the top of the stairs through the window – but I’m always ready to run, just in case.  Every other week, there’s an even scarier loud noise.  It sneaks up on me, because at first, all I hear is some rattling in front of our house, and some men talking, and then, all of a sudden, this deafening noise starts!  Mom says it’s called “lawn service” and that it will come every other week all through the summer and fall, and that she hopes I’ll get used to it.  Maybe I will in time, but for now, I’m under the sofa when they come!  Thankfully, they don’t stay very long, but I still won’t come out unless Mom tells me it’s safe.

And then the other night, there was the scariest loud noise of all.  It woke me from a deep sleep on Mom’s bed (I know she loves it when I sleep on the bed with her, and most nights, I try to spend at least part of the night with her.  I know she wished I stayed all night, but there are things a kitten must do in the middle of the night that she couldn’t possibly understand!).  Anyway, that night, these horrible loud noises kept coming, one after the other.  There were also really weird flashing lights along with the noise, and sometimes it felt like the whole house shook.  I was so scared!  Mom tried to calm me down, but even though she talked to me in a quiet, soothing voice, it didn’t help.  I hid under the bed, but it wasn’t any less scary down there, so I decided to run from the noise.  I dashed all over the house trying to find a place where the awful noise wouldn’t follow me, but it was everywhere!  Finally, I ran back under the bed, and that’s where I stayed until after what seemed like forever, it finally stopped.  It took me a while to trust that it was safe to come out from under the bed, though, despite Mom reassuring me that it was over.  Mom said the loud noise was what’s called a “thunderstorm,” and that we’ll have them all summer long.  She said she’ll give me Rescue Remedy from now on whenever they’re in the forecast, and she said it would help calm me down.   She also said to tell you to read her article Thunderstorm Anxiety in Your Pets for more on how you can help your pets during those scary loud things.

Other than that, I’m just loving life.  I know Mom wishes I’d mellow out a little bit more and sit in her lap or let her hold me, but I can’t help being who I am – I’ve got to be me!  I’m not just a kitten, I’m a tortie kitten!  It’s a good thing that Mom understands about “tortitude,” because she says I have it in spades!