Happy Boxing Day!

Newt in the BoxHappy Boxing Day!

Newt is still sleeping off the excitement of his first episode-free Christmas yesterday.  Even though it was a quiet Christmas here in Newtopia, he still had a grand old time. Like several other liver shunt kitties, Newt does seem to be triggered by stress, so even though it was “fun” stress, we weren’t sure how the day would play out.

What a joy that we were celebrating his third Christmas, and with no hepatic encephalopathy signs. It was wonderful to see him so excited and having so much fun.

Much hilarity ensued. Newt Devours Nip Toy

With a gleeful gleam in his glorious copper eyes, he annexed every opened box; leapt and writhed and gnawed on his new catnip toy (after repeated and determined earlier attempts to steal the fleecey bits that I had been marinating in the Valerian and nip oil so I could make the toy); and, ended the day by co-annexing the new dog bed I’d made for The Dog.

Another Newt BoxWisely, he has NOT (yet) attempted to annex the Slasher Queen’s new bed. It’s probably only a matter of time, though.

Or, perhaps not, assuming we celebrate our “boxing day” by letting him KEEP one or two of the empty boxes he annexed yesterday!

Pecker Flicker

Newt has had a string of great days, including yesterday, and yet, we got to spend most of another night at the emergency vet hospital.

Don’t worry, he’s fine now. We’re both in need of a nap to sleep off the excitement. Will try to write as many of the details as I can, but some things are a bit hazy, and I’ll need to go back over my notes and his file once I’m more awake.

The Good News – once again, knowing your cat’s unique behaviors, along with careful and vigilant monitoring pays off. Crisis averted.

The even better news: No major crisis! Minor crisis? Yes, but, NOT the possible and likely major crisis.

While Newt’s urine output is both prodigious and frequent, his fecal output is fairly predictable. Usually at least twice a day, after a meal, and accompanied by a bit of a post-potty vocalization.  (Oh dear, I can NOT believe I am actually turning into one of “those people” and talking about my baby’s bathroom habits! All in the name of shunt sharing, I suppose.)

Newt’s been great, eating well, playing, doing all his normal Newt things. After his dinner last night, I went into his lunchroom to let him out and wash his bowl (he had cleaned his plate), but he was perched precariously hanging off the *outside* of his litter box.

Interesting. (The outside-the-box part, not the precarious part). He typically has a rather unusual litter box stance, sort of bracing his long little lizard toes, with one front paw and one back paw teetering on the edge of the box, and waiting … waiting, before he finally eliminates. Kind of makes cleaning the box a challenge, as he loves to “help” by leaping in, mid-clean, and doing his business during the scooping process.

But, I digress.

He seemed frozen in place, so I gently flipped him round so the business end was facing back in the box, thinking that perhaps not having his supporting paws in the litter might have thrown him off his game.

I waited. He waited.

I waited some more. He waited some more.

I stared at him. He stared at the wall.




He finally moved from the box, and then assumed the “poop position” outside of his box.

Well, THIS was new!

More waiting.

I told Cat Daddy what was happening (or, NOT happening, as it were). We thought perhaps constipation.

Odd, when you consider that Newt is on the highest dose of Lactulose of any of the other shunt kitties we know.  However, the pharmacy had substituted his Lactulose yesterday. One would think that the same med, but different manufacturer, would not make that much of an impact, right? (::groans aloud at the inadvertent bad pun:

However, this IS our special little snowflake we are talking about, so, who knows?

Newt had moved a bit further outside the box, and was still straining. I picked him up, gently palpated his abdomen, but didn’t feel anything, aside from his usual after-dinner full tummy. He didn’t seem uncomfortable with my rude tummy squishing, so we set him down again.

Wiped the affected area with a wash cloth, like a good mamacat.


Tried gently inserting a well-lubricated thermometer. (Note to self: Replace thermometer STAT)

Nope. No poop, just Newt glaring at meanie poopy-head mum and Cat Daddy for the indignity.

More crouching and straining. This was decidedly NOT cool, so off to the ER we went.

By the time the vet arrived, Newt was still straining, but his posture had changed from the crouching at a semi-vertical position, to straining with his back more horizontal, and his tail quivering.  Vet said that this posture appeared to be more indicative of a urinary blockage as opposed to constipation.

Oh, shyte (or, not, as it were). 

VERY not cool. Here I was, all calm and zen-like, thinking maybe a quick suppository or enema, then suddenly, we’re faced with sedation to treat a probable urinary blockage, quite possible in light of his liver shunt.


VERY long story shortened a bit. After X-rays showed enlarged bladder, and lots of soft stool, along with firmer stool further up the tail pipe, Newt was sedated with Isoflurane and the vet immediately located a mucous plus in his penis. Flicked the plug from his little pecker, and whooooosh, there she blows!

Lactulose enema yielded an impressive array of much-firmer-than-normal Newt poop, compounded with lots of hair, culminating in one impressive, hardened, hairball.

Wowza. No wonder the poor baby was straining!

The vet was very pleased with the blood work, especially the post-prandial ALT. Slightly on the high side, but well within acceptable parameters for a kitty with a shunt. Same thing with the ammonia levels.

Urinalysis yielded the happiest news – NO Struvite crystals! A lot of Bilirubin crystals, (apparently not surprising with his condition) and some signs of inflammation. Aftercare instructions included a two-week dose of Clavamox, and advice to start using a flea comb to help remove some of that extra hair. Follow up with his normal vet within a week, and we are back in business.

Was amazed at how quickly he came out from the Isoflurane, and returned to his normal, foraging, cleaning, flitting self.

Vet was really complimentary at intake; said that immediately noticing the change in Newt’s behavior certainly helped and earliest intervention yields the best results (especially in a blockage situation). He was also very impressed at Newt’s overall health and appearance, considering his liver shunt. He seemed very intrigued with Newt’s condition, and we had quite an interesting discussion on how different types of anesthesia can affect the liver, how Bilirubin levels can affect eye color, and, how long-term Lactulose can affect the normal anal gland process, so periodic expression may be suggested.

More lessons learned in the ever-evolving body of “Newt knowledge” and more pieces of the puzzle to research and share with fellow shunt cat owners.

Maybe later, after Newt and I have a little nap.

Annex Bed #47

Newt Helps TreadleBetween The Dog barking and Newt acting jealous and destructive, my spinning wheel practice has been haphazard at best.  Until today.  Newt seems to have gotten past his annoyance, now that he has annexed Bed #47.

Couldn’t figure out where he had flitted off to as every time I attempt to practice, he’s either been been hanging from wool I’m trying to feed into the wheel, batting at the tools and decoration hanging from the wheel, or, climbing my leg while I’m treadling.

Where's Newt?Ah well, no worries, as it was about time for his afternoon nap. I could spin in peace – or so I thought.

Tried to lift the bag to reach for more wool, and ugh! It was heavy! What on earth?

I rooted around in the now solid and heavy bag, (formerly light and airy, in spite of the pile of wool inside). Poked around underneath the wool, and who did I find burrowed inside?

What’s a girl to do? I readily admit that Newt gets everything he wants (which is why he already HAS 46 Annex Beds), but I need that wool for practice!

Snorgle that Spotted Belly!

For Newt’s friends who say they want to snorgle Newt’s little spotted belly, here’s your chance! Snorgle snorgle snorgle mwuah mwuah MWUAH!

Bury your face in his adorable yumminess. Go head, you know you wanna!

He was fairly cooperative, in spite of the fact that I rudely scooped him up from oozing comfortably in his cozy Annex Box #312. He begs for hours’ long belly snorgles while he is comfortably reclined in the sunny window, lounging in his tanning bed, or burrowed in any of his innumerable Annex Boxes. Being precariously waved wildly under the camera is NOT his preferred position, thankyouverymuch!

Feels Like My World Is Spinnin’ Round

Newt has been doing pretty well lately. He got a little over-stimulated (okay, a LOT over-stimulated) on Wednesday, as I was frantically re-arranging furniture and such, trying to find the best place for my spinning wheel. He had SO much fun “helping” me to move furniture, and doing his customary excellent job of Chief Inspector of every item that was being moved from room to room.

Poor baby must have been exhausted (I know that *I* was!) as he made every step that I made, and then some. Lots of running, scampering, excited whisker twitching, and, happy dashing to-and-fro, re-inspecting each room as any change was made in it.

This stress may have been what triggered him into Thursday’s episode, but he bounced back to normal on Friday (except for a couple of hours of mid-day drool). We’ve seen this before when Cat Daddy and I have to move things around (like prepping and loading for a craft show). He gets all happy and excited and over-stimulated, then usually has a mild-to moderate episode the next day.

Like several other owners of cats with liver shunts, part of our theory is that stress can trigger him – even “good” or “fun” stress (like setting up a Christmas tree, or having company visiting). The delicate balance lies in managing his (and our own) stress levels so that he is able to experience normal day-to-day life in all its wonderful excitement as part of our efforts to ensure his “quality of life.”

And boy, let me tell you, he REALLY enjoyed himself! With the organizing, that is. The spinning itself? Not so much.

You may remember last year, when I lucked into a fabulous find of an antique spinning wheel. Well, I finally got her operational again! Upon retrieving the wheel from the master craftsman who repaired her, Newt was NOT impressed. Between him acting jealous of the wheel (sulking and demanding snuggles while I was showing it to Cat Daddy), and, The Dog barking hysterically at it and trying to bite it while it was in motion, I was beginning to despair of ever being able to use it.

With the re-organization efforts, the problem seems to be solved, for now. Amazing what a closed door can accomplish!

For your consideration, here is my first video of me trying to learn how to spin! Maybe as I (and Newt) get more comfortable with the wheel, you might see him in future spinning videos, as he appears in some of the free crochet and other crafting tutorials we’re doing to help promote awareness of liver shunts in cats.