Dear Dog

Dear Dog,

If I had known what lovely yarn your fur was going to make, I would have been a LOT less annoyed with your neurotic nature. The only thing that has kept you in my good graces over the years has been your incredible connection with Newt.

Nothing in the world like seeing an almost 90 pound Lassie carefully cleaning and caring for a 9 pound, runty little spotted weasel varmint kitty bunny named Newt.

Wait! Why are you running? It’s already been a whole day since I last brushed you, and I neeeeeeeeeeeeed more fiber!

So, uhm .. yeah. Perhaps I’ve been a leeeetle overzealous in harvesting cheingora for my spinning attempts. But the last few harvests have been PATHETIC! How am I supposed to spin yarn if my fiber source is not producing?

I never thought I would say that I was looking forward to the Spring Coat Blowing Season LOL.

But, Newt and I need that fiber! Newt especially, as he stole the last big fluffy wonderful batch when he annexed my wool bag while the Collie fur was waiting to be spun. That luscious harvest of fluffy springy yumminess has been flattened into a flatter than flat cat mat – and yet, Newt STILL insists on sleeping in the bag.

Yes, Newt’s doing MUCH better! Output is almost back to normal, and he has been acting quite normal most of the time, sleeping in his preferred spots, tanning at his normal tanning appointments, and gulping soup like a fiend.

Sometimes I just have to shake my head. Trying to adjust his diet to ensure we are meeting all of his Newt-rition requirements, and dealing with his often finicky nature when it comes to the amount of liquid in his food? A smidge too much liquid and he refuses to touch his meals.


The little beast has been slurping down soup like crazy! Hooray! It’s not an ideal solution, I know, but at least he’s getting liquids – and a LOT of them! So far his favorite is still the sardine soup, sprinkled with a soupcon of grated parmesan and romano.

We took one 5.5 oz can (162 ml) of sardines in tomato sauce – his fave – and blended it with 3.5 cups (875 ml) of water. He’s drinking 1/4 cup (60 ml) of it on each of his four daily meals, plus also getting another 1/4 cup every couple of hours for between meal snacks.

Did the same thing with a can of tuna, and he’s also drinking low sodium beef broth, and is still pretty fond of the juice from low sodium spicy southern style greens. His marrow soup is still iffy; sometimes he likes it, and sometimes he doesn’t. So far the main hit is the sardine; we’re just trying other things to get the liquid intake up, and to hopefully keep him from getting bored with the sardines.

As for me? I’m actually beginning to enjoy the smell of fish soup in the morning. As long as I don’t accidentally mix his creamy tuna shake into my coffee again …

Happy Valentine’s Day!

For those of you who celebrate Valentine’s Day, I’m a bit stumped. While Cat Daddy and I don’t usually make a big deal out of the day, we usually surprise each other with some small, sweet or amusing token.

My original plan was to dye and spin some fiber, then make him a little red heart from The Dog’s fur. However, because of all the recent excitement, am reverting to plan B, C, D – heck I think I’m on plan X at this point!

With the current minor tweaks to Newt’s diet – primarily that of an assortment of tasty soups, do you think that Cat Daddy would enjoy a saucer full of steaming sardine soup? No? How about warm beef broth? An ice cold tuna shake?

You’re right. I didn’t think so, either.

However, Newt will have any / all of those for his Valentine’s Day present tomorrow, as they seem to be working!  He is eating his Cosequin on his food, and enjoying lots of extra broth and soups. Yesterday’s intake was 1.25 cups (295 ml), and his output is approaching normal – yay!

Guess I’ll have to do something else for Cat Daddy.

I know! I’ll send him this valentine!

Pookie Pecker Power!

Newt is still at home and stable. Not nearly back to his normal prodigious output levels, but eating, drinking, playing, snuggling and being his adorable self.

Still monitoring very closely. Vet visit today went well. She wasn’t as dire and full of doom as the releasing ER vet was, but understands too well the gravity of the situation and the delicate balance that we need to keep him safe while juggling the dietary and medicinal conflicts of urinary crystals vs liver shunt.

He has no stones, but some Struvite crystals – NOT the ammonium urate variety typically associated with a liver shunt cat. No sign of underlying infection. His pH is high, but not overly so. Maybe a chicken and egg thing brought on from the UO?

For now, no real answers or options. Get him to drink as much as possible, minimize as much stress as possible, keep a VERY close eye on his output, and … Hope.

He’s having Cosequin once per day, and we are likely going to add Cranberry Extract. No major changes to his diet yet, but research is ongoing to hunt for possible subtle tweaks. We’ve been so lucky to find the right diet and “Newt-rition” to keep him stable, it’s going to be tricky to make any major changes. Plus, not only are we his personal chefs, we are now working on recipes for kitty cocktails.

While he IS drinking, I don’t think he is drinking quite as much as he normally does (which is usually a LOT), and he is soooo particular about the amount of marrow soup in his food!  Too much and he simply will not eat. Same thing with his sardine goo or cod goo. He does love his cream and also his spicy seasoned greens, so am going to see if he will drink a watered down saucer of cream, or the juice from his spicy greens.

He’s not usually a fan of watered down cream (or watered down ANYTHING); he wants it straight up, thankyouverymuch! So, that’s where the mixology is coming into play. I feel like a kitty cocktail chemist – how many tablespoons of water to teaspoons of cream with how many mls of sardine juice and how many drops of cod flakes will turn out to be the perfectly flavored kitty cocktail? While Newt may not be enjoying all of our juice experimentations, The Dog is certainly loving it!

Good thing he’s not litter shy, what with me setting the alarm to check his pee every hour overnight.  The little exhibitionist even leapt into a litter pan for his vet and wizzed on demand.  What a guy!

Oops, gotta go, the pee alarm is sounding! Thanks again to all his many friends around the world for the love, Hope, healing songs, mojo, vibes, pawprayers and well wizzer wishes.

A special thanks to his knitting buddy for today’s title. The Supersized Font screaming a simple, yet elegant,”POOKIE PECKER POWER” gave both Cat Daddy and me a MUCH-needed giggle and a reminder that so many people are pulling for our Pookie and his little pecker. You guys are helping more than you can ever know.

With Love and Hope,

Newt’s Mum

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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all of Newt’s American fans, Happy Thanksgiving!

On this national day set aside to demonstrate gratitude, Cat Daddy is in his element.  The man loves to cook.

Hey, if it makes him happy to do all that work, who am I to argue? 

It has been our annual custom to begin our celebratory meal with a list of things for which we are thankful. Having an awesome husband who loves to cook is always on my gratitude list LOL.

As you can imagine, Newt’s continued stability and good health was once again at the top of the list for both Cat Daddy and me. Additional thanks were made for Newt’s many friends and fans around the world, whose support, empathy and encouragement have come to mean so much to us – in particular, our growing community of shunt cat parents, who continue to be a source of information, love and Hope for us.

Newt has been enjoying his Thanksgiving feast throughout the day. Due to his dietary restrictions from his liver shunt, he is not allowed to gorge and stuff himself silly (at least not when we can catch him!) Therefore, his menu for has been designed as a four-course meal, served in shifts.

Newt has partaken today from an assortment of items selected and prepared especially for his pudgy Pookie palate, including: cheese and broccoli casserole, baked ham, carrots, cucumber salad, freshly roasted chicken, roast pork and warm buttered croissant. Dessert will be a bit of Danish apple yogurt artfully adorned with a splash of cream.


And if you tell anybody that Cat Daddy cooked for the cat, he will lose all of his man points. 

So let’s keep this between us, shall we?

Fish Filching Fiend

Little brat broke into the “food safe” and ate eight times his normal amount of fish last nite! He’s okay so far this morning, but monitoring closely.

We had prepared cod for his upcoming meals – at least 1/2 cup of it. Some for yesterday’s snacks, and the rest to freeze for later. We placed it in the “food safe,” also known as a bigass, glass cake dome, which has worked very at preventing Pookie’s pilfering.

Until last night.

Totally my fault.  Was motivated and productive yesterday, clearing out excess crafting supplies to donate. (An aside – do any of you know any animal rescue groups, or struggling owners who may want supplies to make things to raise money for their pet’s care? Please let me know! I really prefer to have my stuff go to help liver shunt kitties, or rescued animals, if at all possible.)

In my rush, I may have not gotten the cake dome flush against the stove, and possibly a small sliver of entrée was left – just enough for a mangy tabby’s little lizard toes to slide underneath, crack open the safe, and gorge on the contents like a deranged and starving piranha.

I left for the dog park to sneak in some knitting at 9:55 pm. When Cat Daddy got home at 10:07pm, the dome was slid across the stove, and fish flakes were scattered across the stove, the counters, the floor, the Newtster …

Yes, I smelled his breath!

Not surprising, as that boy inhales his food, and can clean out a full bowl of food in seconds.  Ten minutes would be a veritable eternity for him to burp, slurp and gorge himself silly on whatever he happened to find.  We’ve already had to put safety locks on the cabinet to keep him from breaking into where The Dog’s kibble is kept, and move any appealing items in the fridge up on the top shelves (and yes, we have caught him clinging like a limpet as he climbs the shelves to get to the good stuff!)  So, a valuable lesson – Schnookie is a safecracker!

His usual protein per meal is approximately one (1) US Tablespoon. We’re estimating he ate at least eight (8) tablespoons. Immediate direct dose of Lactulose, followed by another dose three hours later. Needless to say, he did NOT get his midnight snack last night.

Yes, I confess, I punished my Pookie by sending him to bed without any supper!

Monitored closely through the night for any signs of trouble. He was fine, but I wasn’t LOL.

So far, he’s okay today. I, on the other hand, am a bit groggy and nervous, but hopeful that today will be normal for him.

Scaling Mount Refrigerator

Mount RefrigeratorMost of our cat liver shunt friends have commented on their kitty’s appetite extremes.  They seem to roughly fall into two categories – the Ravenous Rogues, or the Finicky Fussbudgets. Guess which our Pudgy Pookie is?

While diagnosed as a kitten with probable brain damage, (later rescinded as his HE symptoms got under control), Newt had no problems with food finding. Once he located a food source, he would return again and again to see if he could snag more snacks.

As we began implementing Newt-rition 101 and began cooking fresh meals for him, he soon discovered that the Source of All Good Things was Mount Refrigerator.  We learnt very early on to ALWAYS do a fridge check!!!  Especially when he was a wee kitten, it was too easy for him to hide behind his veggies.  Now, it’s a bit harder to miss the ten-pound tabby swinging from the vegetable crisper.

Some cats come when the can opener beckons.  Newt comes thundering into the kitchen when the fridge door is opened. Not only does he peer into the fridge, lately he’s begun climbing it!

Note his little lizard toes clinging tightly to the bottom shelf as he
scales the precarious cliff wall to reach the summit, containing the forbidden
fruit of Other Cat’s Food!

Do the Math

For the folks who have been asking about Newt’s diet, here’s a sample breakdown of what he eats, and how much it costs. This exercise can also be useful for those owned by other special needs kitties requiring limited protein intake or special diets.

A typical meal involves one (1) US Tablespoon (T) of meat-source protein (usually chicken, sometimes cod or other) in combination with a fresh, pureed vegetable mix of three (3) Ts of vegetables, typically selected from cucumber, green beans, zucchini, broccoli, yellow squash, carrots. We also incorporate dairy proteins, including cottage cheese, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and yogurt, both as meal components, and as between meal snacks.

For today’s sample menu analysis, we chose chicken, cucumber, broccoli and green beans.  We splurged and got the broccoli florets from the salad bar; otherwise, it would have been less expensive.  Gotta love Cheap Chicken Fridays where the freshly-roasted rotisserie chicken is on sale for $5.00!

Meat Component $ 0.06:

  • One medium chicken $ 5.00
  • Marrow Soup for gravy. No cost, as it is made from the chicken carcass and leftover broccoli crowns, carrots, etc.

Upon food processing, one medium chicken yields an average of 5.5 cups, With 16 T per cup, one chicken yields 88 servings (1T per meal), and six cents per serving.  Yes, six cents per serving.

Vegetable Component $ 0.11:

  • 1 large cucumber $ 0.79 (did not weigh, sorry. They are per each, not per pound)
  • .27 pound of green beans = $ 0.54
  • .07 pound broccoli = $ 0.35
  • Veggie Total Cost = $ 1.68

After pureeing, the above yields three (3) cups of fresh veggie mix, or 48 T.  At 3 T per serving, each meal’s veggie mix costs 11 cents (10.5 cents).

Cost per Meal $ 0.17; Food Cost per Day $ 0.68:

His meals are roughly the same volume as the typical 5.5 ounce can of cat food.
Combining 3 T of veggie mix and 1 T of chicken, Newt’s meals cost $ 0.17 per meal. At four (4) meals per day, this is $ 0.68 / day, or $ 4.76 per week.

Compare with the average price of one single serving of:

  • Generic, canned cat food – average $ 0.40
  • Commercial, canned cat food – average $ 0.60
  • Human grade, holistic, canned cat food – average $ 1.50
  • Prescription food (he ate previously) – average $ 1.41

So, when you do the math, it becomes glaringly obvious that preparing your liver shunt cat’s meals in-house is tremendously more cost-effective than any other food choice.  Plus, you have the added benefit of knowing exactly what ingredients are included – no worries about food safety recalls, such as the one required by Newt’s former prescription diet (prior to his consumption), or concern about the quality of ingredients  – no corn or grain filler, and none of the 4 Ds commonly accepted in commercially-prepared food sources.

Home cooking for your liver shunt, (or other special dietary requirements), cat, under the guidance of their veterinarian, can be a truly rewarding experience. 

Not just in terms of dollars and cents, but also in dollars and sense!

All’s Quiet on the Eastern Front

Newt has had another good day.  A bit manic this morning, and more re-arranging the living room. Naughty boy keeps knocking the dog brushes onto the floor.  Wish it was because we trained him to brush the dog, but no.  He likes to gnaw on the rubber tips of the brush.  I guess it’s better than him chomping on me or his One True Love. (Little bugger left a humongo bruise on me the other day.  Ouch!  No wonder One True Love screams obscenities at him.)

Cat Daddy is doing a fine job with Newt-rition. He says Newt is eating every bite of his normal meals.  Yay!  I guess after weeks of me whining to him to “fix my Pookie Bear” he finally decided that doing so would be the only way he could get any peace.

I heart Cat Daddy

Are We There Yet?

Call me conservative, but I’m still not ready to completely relax and believe that Newt is fully back to normal just yet.  However, all symptoms are go; and, we have lift-off.

Hopeful signs include at least 36 hours with no drool. (Thought I may have seen a tiny fleck of drool at 1230 lunch yesterday, but could have been paranoia on my part, and simply a moist mouth from him lolling contentedly in the sunshine).

In addition, we have:

  • Five (5) series of nocturnal, stealth footsies attacks,
  • Four (4) regular, home-cooked meals in a row – eaten to the last crumb,
  • Three (3) rousing games of tormenting One True Love,
  • Two (2) flying feeding forages into the top of the bay window, and,
  • One (1) guardedly optimistic set of shunt cat parents.

Houston, has the Newt landed?