Legs and Lactulose

Pathetic attempt at a catchy title, isn’t it? (What can I say, living with a liver shunt cat certainly makes you appreciate when life is “boring”.)

Just a quick update on everyone’s favourite Spotted Schnookums.

We’d been having another round of urinary issues with him – back and forth to the ER, during late spring and early summer, if I recall.  Once again, the P.U. surgery was being brought up. (Do. Not. Want!)

He’s now been on a Chinese herb, and his Cosequin four times per day, and mostly his pee output has been acceptable for the last few weeks. (I don’t want to jinx it!) He has a follow up exam soon; more urine tests, and possibly another blood test.

We’re still trying to get his gut back to normal after last year’s Clavamox for those rounds of urinary problems, and then the ABX earlier. He’s been on a new probiotic for a couple of months now.  We’re still not back up to his previous high levels of Lactulose, but things are hopefully moving back to his normal.


Now we’ve been having more frequent Hepatic Encephalopathy episodes with him. Some are micro-episodes, with barely discernible drool for a couple of hours, yet normal behavior. Others are more moderate drool for 12 or so hours, but again, more or less normal appetite and behavior.

But, he has had two episodes this summer that really worried us. Both times his hind end was significantly impaired – to the point we were concerned he had fallen and injured his leg. However, it was not injury, but more significant neurological impairment than he typically has experienced with his prior, worse episodes. I’m pretty sure it was the same (right hind) leg both times.

While he does often get what I call “wobbly” during his more moderate episodes, these were the first we can recall where he really acted as if he couldn’t bear weight on especially his hind leg for a short period of time.  Shortly after I had palpated the entire area and found no tenderness, he began drooling, and we realized it was not an injury; it was a New! Previously Unseen! Oh Scheisse! sign of an oncoming episode.

I know with every major milestone Newt has had, we have had to make adjustments. Initial full stabilization, teenage kittenhood, early adulthood, etc. And with him now being NINE YEARS OLD, we will probably have to make adjustments as we learn more about his “senior” status and how that might come into play with his liver shunt.

I’m really hoping this current probiotic is finally doing the trick, and we can ease him back up to his previous Lact level.  (For years, he was on the highest dose of any of the liver shunt cats in his support group – and still not quite at the preferred output consistency.)  So, hopefully all these summertime blips are simply blips as we get him back to his old normal.  Or, we keep making notes, and identify what his newest new normal is going to be.

Another Lesson


Hello. It’s me again. The reluctant blogger with the world’s most adorable liver shunt cat? Oh, I know, all of you owners think your OWN liver shunt cat is the cutest, but humour me, okay? I need a bit of tea and sympathy, and possibly a swift kick in the ass.

I think we’ve gotten Newt’s annual ER visit out of the way.

He’s been doing so well. Cat Daddy had been out of town for a few
days, and I was trying to complete some major home improvement projects,
and my vigilance slipped. I’m trying desperately to not feel guilty,
but … it’s my fault.

Any sort of change can affect my special little snowflake, so between
the moving of furniture, the painting, the slightly off-kilter feeding
schedules, the dashing to and fro from the store, the missing his daddy,
my own personal stress of family crisis, and various other stimuli,
well, he was already showing mild pre-episodic signs, but I was hoping a
full-blown Hepatic Encepalopathy episode might be averted.

I carefully prepped his meals and soups, trying to keep him on some semblance of order while Cat Daddy was away. Things were going really well, in spite of the frenzy.

Until some dumbass (that would be moi) forgot to pull the bowls of
Forbidden Food after Other Cats had lunch on Sunday. By the time I realized what had
happened, and began administering extra Lactulose, it had already gotten a
firm hold. This was his worst episode in almost 5 years. Not as bad as
the worst early ones, but pretty worrisome. Heavy drool, progressing to appareent blindness, low temp, weakness and neurological impairments.

If things had been worse at
the ER and they had insisted on keeping him, I woulda been begging for
mojo like I did when he had his little Pecker Problem. But a Lactulose
enema, some fluids, and chilling under the expert care of Cat Daddy (who
returned home JUST in time) had him right as rain again.

I seriously doubt that he learned anything about stealing Other Cats’ Food, but I certainly got a rude lesson!

Camel Whisperer?

Or, how Newt almost got a new, not-so-little friend this weekend.

A shared concern by many owners of cats with liver shunts is that we often get so wrapped up in taking care of our special kitties, that we often neglect our own self-care. I freely admit to being pretty self-neglectful, and it’s gotten even more difficult with the strains of the new gig. In the interest of trying to de-stress me, darling Cat Daddy has been
once again making noises about me needing to get away from it all, at
least for a few hours, and try to relax. I guess it’s the Quarterly
Spousal Mandate for Relaxation?

Whatever it is, I ended up with some free time over the weekend, and with his gentle urging, decided to have a mini-vacation by spending a few hours visiting a Fiber Festival. Not that I need any more fiber, mind you. Haven’t had a chance to even touch my spinning wheel for months. But, you know, FIBER WHEELS BUNNIES YARNZ!!!


As with prior fiber festivals, Cat Daddy reminded me “Honey, you are not allowed to bring home any bunnies. Or sheep. Or goats.” Remembering how last time, I almost scored an alpaca because it was NOT on the verboten list, he quickly added “Or alpacas. Or llamas.”

Curses, foiled again!

Satisfied that he had exhausted the ever-growing list of new, fiber-producing friends I am not allowed to buy for Newt and host in our house or backyard, he kissed me and sent me on my way, urging me to “have a good time and buy something fun!”  (Have I mentioned lately how much I love that man?)

The drive was nice, with the slightly cooler air, and the leaves just beginning to turn. The festival itself was small and friendly, lots of time to visit with vendors, fondle yarn and fiber, and meander around, relaxing and admiring all the lovely items. I decided to stroll through the barns, just to chat with some of the sheep and goats. Suddenly, the light coming from the other end of the barn was blocked, and I looked up to see …


Okay, so I thought I was recently hallucinating Ariana the Chicken, but no fracking WAY was there a camel. Right? RIGHT? It HAD to be a stress-induced hallucination.  A CAMEL?

Holy Cow – errr, holy camel, as it were – it WAS a camel! A glorious, beautiful, Bactrian camel gazing down upon me.

I was smitten! A real live camel, up close and personal!  I’ve been fascinated by camels for years, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would get to meet one.

It was big. REALLY big. Like, hugely big. Its feet were as big as my head. Its double humps towered and swayed gracefully far above my reach. Its eyes gazed contentedly at me, while chewing and pondering and watching the amazed people go by.

I began to talk to it, asking how it ended up in this part of the world, telling it how beautiful it was, all the while trying to find any sort of owner or sign indicating whether or not I might be permitted to ::gasp:: touch it?

Several other folks were taking pictures, and a few brave souls had reached out to pet it. It neither burped nor bit, but stood calmly,  swaying serenely, and looking at me expectantly.

Slowly, I reached out my hand. The camel reached its face down, ever closer to mine, and as its chin met my upturned palm, I slowly began to scratch.

Yes, just as if it were a VERY LARGE CAT, I scratched its chin.

The camel gave a deep, contented sigh, and as I continued to scratch its chin, slowly began to sink to the ground, finally coming to rest on its belly, with its legs comfortably tucked underneath.

There was a collective gasp from the small crowd around the pen, and hushed comments of “Wow! Did you SEE that? She must be a camel whisperer!”

I gave the camel one more gentle chin scratch, then it turned its attention to nibbling the hay as I thanked it for the privilege of petting it. Still awe-struck from this wonderful exchange, I floated out of the barn, and then managed to call Cat Daddy.

“So, you said I should buy something ‘fun’ today, right?”

“Of course, sweetie, you’ve been working really hard, you should spoil yourself!”

“Okay. I want to buy a camel. Newt NEEDS a camel. I found a camel! I petted a camel! People called me a camel whisperer! Can I have a camel?”

After all these years of dealing with me, my darling husband is pretty accustomed to my unusual outbursts. He never even missed a beat. Cheerfully he replied “Of course you can have a camel! As long as you can fit it in the car.”

Oops. No way would that camel fit in the car. Why does Cat Daddy always have to be so practical?!

Needless to say, Newt did not get a camel that day. I, on the other hand, had a wonderful vacation, and obtained an amazing memory.

(I did, however, buy camel down, and Newt WILL have his own camel!)

A Day of Thanks

Well, here we are, on this fourth Thursday of November – the day Americans celebrate as their national day to give thanks. If you guys are celebrating today, Happy Thanksgiving!

Cat Daddy and I are very thankful that Newt is here for his third Thanksgiving with us. We did not expect he would see his first Thanksgiving, so this is a very special day for us!

We are also thankful for each owner of a cat or kitten with a liver shunt who has contacted Newt, or joined his support group. Thank you for sharing your kitty’s stories with other owners around the globe, and providing Hope. Big hugs!

As with everything in Newtopia, today is uncertain. Even on this happy day of celebrating, there is a minor undercurrent of worry, and a bit of an imbalance in the Force.  For quite a while, Newt was on a merry-go-round of intermittent drooling one day, hen fine, the next. The last couple of weeks, he’s been perfectly normal, but, for the last couple of days, he’s been mildly drooling and slightly off his food.

Back to normal last night, but this morning, more very mild drool.

That certainly has not interfered with his appetite or enjoyment of the day so far! He was sunning himself in one of his favorite spots before breakfast, and began eating with gusto. Alas, because he is mildly symptomatic, we will likely not be preparing his customary four-course Thanksgiving feast, scattered throughout the day. Instead, we will stick with the basics (and his favorite – chicken!) Should his appetite diminish, we will, of course, be offering the tried and true tidbits to tempt his palate.

These very mild episodes seem to last less than six hours, so it is quite likely that later today, when Cat Daddy is in full Chef Mode, that Newt will be dining on hand-fed morselettes from mum’s plate. But for now, we are again reminded of just how MUCH we have to be thankful for, with our darling little liver shunt cat.

Each day is a gift for which we are thankful, and that the good days far outweigh the bad. His quality of life remains paramount, and on days like today, even while showing a bit of drool, he is happily sunning, eating with gusto, and reminding us that every day of Hope is a day to give thanks.


After this past week of me being back on-site, working a new contract, and Cat Daddy taking his usual, excellent care of the Great Spotted Newt, it would appear that he’s gone episodic today.

Was it my cooking?

As much as I hate to take pictures of Schnookie when he’s sickly, today I decided to try and grab a quick snap to show you what a medium drool day looks like for him.

Never in my life did I ever imagine I would have accumulated such a diverse knowledge of the various degrees of drool and progressions of poo!

But, living with a liver shunt cat can do that. As Lactulose can be such a critical aspect of medical management, and its dosing can be as much an art as a science, determining the exact dosage is based upon careful observation and monitoring of kitty’s litterbox (assuming you are able to beat the dog to the scat snacks, that is!)  For those kitties who have drool as one of their symptoms, you learn to gauge how bad the drool is, how long the episode will probably last, and how much Lactulose to administer, in order to help minimize the episode.

Here’s the pic of Newt’s medium drooly day today.  And don’t worry, no poo pics, as the Dog beat me to it

Relax. Yeah, Right!

Wrapped the last project for Major Corporation, yay!  Have a couple of days to “relax” before the next one hits.  This one is scheduled to run for two months, so, trying to hurry and catch up before heading back into the fray.

Top of the list, Schnookie Snurfing, of course.  I miss having that spotted belly to snurf at will, and those darling pink footie paws waving at me from wherever Newt happens to be lounging. Have some other accounts that I want to try and wrap up as well, plus am still desperately searching for the shaman’s drumming CD that I wanted to share with a friend.  I KNOW it’s got to be here .. somewhere.  Am embarrassed that it’s taken so long. And I can’t even use clutter as an excuse, everything is pretty well organized and in its place. It’s probably hiding in plain sight, as the router software CD was, when I had to do an emergency network repair.

Note to self, never again should I be allowed to repair the network, or do any other computer repairs, until at least four days after completing a major project.  My aging brain does not recover as quickly from the long days as it used to, and is prone to making strange errors.  Cat Daddy said toward the end of this last effort, I was speaking German to him!  Uhm … das ist nicht sehr gut, ja? 

Needless to say, tearing the entire software library apart, ripping out all the computer cables, running back and forth between systems, all the while muttering obscenities (in English, German, French, Spanish and Klingon) on the first day after wrapping the deadline was rather amusing.

For Cat Daddy and The Dog.

I, on the other hand, was far less amused – particularly when I looked yet AGAIN where the router software was SUPPOSED to BE, and discovered, much to my bemusement, there it was … right where it belonged, hiding in plain sight.


Not a great start for “relaxing.”  Toss in the fact that Newt is having an odd spell the last couple of days, and I’m not doing much resting right now. 

Newt’s drooling.  After the last few days of him behaving oddly, he began slightly drooling this morning. He also refused his breakfast of chicken and cheese.  He’s been mildly off his feed for the last couple of days. Eating some, but pickier than his norm, and not clearing his plate. So, we resorted to the old standby of chicken morsels, and added a pinch of shredded cheddar.  Worked last night, but not this morning.

He’s been looking tired, and he’s been half-crouchy, and not lounging in his normal spots. This time around, he seems to prefer the floor, under the bed, or the annex box, where has gathered together some plastic bags for a nest. I haven’t the heart to take the bags away from him, as he seems so comfy there. In other words, he’s not seeking warm spots as in a usual episode.  Now it seems like he’s wanting cooler places to hang out.

Another shunt cat seems to get episodic during the heat.  Cat Daddy agrees that possibly it may be affecting Pookie as well, as we’ve had three days in a row of 100+ degrees.  The air conditioner has run non-stop (poor Dog, with his thick, hairy fur coat) to help keep the house cool.  Aside from giving Newt an ice pack for a nest, I’m at a loss as to what else to do for him.

Anyone else’s shunt kitties seem to go episodic during the heat? If yes, what do you do to help them? We’ve already been direct dosing the meds, offering enticing morsels for him, and keeping things quiet so he can relax.

Me, on the other hand? That’s another story!

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

What an interesting day today – definitely a combination of good, bad and ugly.

As with everything though, if you break things down, and try hard enough, you can find the good in everything, right?

The Good

  • I was delighted to hear that Newt is being RAKd by one of his Ravelry fans!  OMG how COOOOL is that? The RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness) are such a wonderful idea, and I hope to participate in them soon, but never imagined that Newt would be a recipient. 
  • Two projects have landed, woohoo! Work is good, especially after so much downtime that I’m having delusions of sheep and bunnies LOL
  • Another shunt cat has found Newt’s site. Jet is being medically managed and doing well.

The Bad

  • Newt is intermittently drooling again today.
  • One of our shunt cat friends, Simon, is having post-operative challenges.

The Ugly

  • Two projects have landed. Simultaneously.  That means at least 18-20 hour days for the next couple of weeks or so. Which means that I won’t be able to have Newt with me while I am on-site at the client.  Ouch.
  • Sari yarn. Oh my word, that stuff is a PITA to handle.  But I looooooooooooooove it!

Now, how to flip the bad and the ugly into good?

Well, Newt is drooly, but not overly so, and only intermittently.  He’s eaten most of his snacks today, snuggled with Greycie, and has spent some time in his sling snuggled on my chest.  Gazing into those magnificent copper eyes and cuddling his warm little body brings an indescribable love and joy.

And while I would never speak for Simon’s family, I’m in awe of the fact that we now have, I believe, around 30 cats from all over the world who are in contact with one another, able to lend support and encouragement to Simon and each other. Knowing that we are not alone in our struggles and challenges and can act as a united support system is so awesome!

As far as the long days sari yarngo? Cat Daddy does an amazing job with Pookie Bear, so I know Newt will be in very capable hands.  And being able to juggle multiple projects and extended days during my busy season is exactly what enables me to have that wonderful downtime at home.

And I really shouldn’t call my luscious recycled Sari silk yarn ugly.  Far from it – it’s fabulous. Was a gift from a dear friend and fellow rescuer, and I’ve been waiting for the right project to use it as a gift in return.  Experimenting with slip stitch crochet / shepherd’s knitting of the faux knitted kitty has been wonderful. 

It is an amazing yarn – fuzzy and thick in places, practically threadbare in others; it twists and turns and kinks unexpectedly – much like life.  And yet, as I am working it up, bringing its rough and ragged pieces together in a dizzying tapestry of color, it seems impenetrable, while soft, sturdy and beautiful at the same time.  It’s difficult to work with, but has been so very rewarding.  The most challenging yarn I’ve worked with and certainly the most instructive.

Life’s lessons from yarn?  Or more lessons from Newt?  Take the bad with the good, and understand that ultimately “it’s all good.”

Jinxed It

Well, rats.

Newt has begun drooling again.  Cat Daddy saw drool forming at 1230PM.  Newt did not eat his normal lunch snack, but did nosh on a bit of chicken.

Direct dosed Lactulose, and back on the merry-go-round again.

Got the next round of go aheads from major corporation to begin work on a backup project – but not til next week.  I love major corporation work when I can get it, but the red tape wait is agonizing.  Hopefully it will be fairly steady part-time for at least a couple of months. Still waiting for the main project to kick in; that should be a nice check (I hope).  Would be nice to buy some fat yarn to use with more of my stash and make more of the nests.  They seem to be a hit, and I am having a blast making them. Nice stash buster, easy to see without having to take of my glasses, and minimal pain and after effects.

Still doing paperwork, and debating about which bit of crochet to do now, if any.  Want to finish the current nest / beds to donate, but out of main yarn those in progress.  Want to finish the little kitty, but the smalls are wrecking my wrists. Want to find cheapo, bigass, obese yarns beyond a 6.  (I’m talking 12s, baby!). Want to get regular income again.  Want to take a nap. Want to go sit in the sun. Want want want want ….

Most of all, I want my Pookie Bear to be better.