Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cat pee.

Nick and I decided that, since the weather has been so great here, we'd make a roadtrip down to my parent's second house this past weekend. The creatures rather enjoy it, it's a good opportunity to visit some friends and my grandparents. It's also nice to spend a few days totally unplugged from the world, which is easy to do when you don't have cable or easy access to a radio. The most difficult thing I plan to do on these weekends is usually spend a lot of time cooking, which is actually pretty fun in my mom's fancy kitchen.

Lots of drama was had, but I'll save most of that for another post.

The weekend actually started on Thursday with shopping. I am very particular about what we eat, and from whom I purchase our food. I made a special trip to the Bellevue farmer's market, since the markets anywhere near my parent's place would only be operating while we were in transit. As usual, I bought way more than I had intended to: I met this nice lady with some beautiful rainbow-colored potatoes. She told me all about her farm in the mountains, incidentally the perfect place to grow potatoes. She was also selling beef heart. Beef heart, pasture raised and organic. I was so excited, I bought one that was as big as my head! Well, maybe just shy of that, but it was enormous.

Most people don't get all doe-eyed over this particular part of animal anatomy. Even in humans, we are only particularly interested in the heart as a metaphor. Some people are concerned about their heart health, of course, but few people even want to know what the thing looks like or how it works. Nick, being the squemish Norwegian that he is, would never dream of eating heart, and he's not alone on either count.

This massive, beautiful heart was not for Nick, or for any person. I bought it as a special treat for my cat, which turned out to be serendipitous. Heart, beef heart in particular, is extremely high in Taurine, one of the amino acids that cats cannot produce on their own. It's low fat content and that nature of the heart's job within the body make for a chewy meat, which helps to excercise kitty gums and strengthen their teeth. This is all in addition to the fact that eating raw meat makes my cat think he's a jaguar. Huntard is more like it.

I said before that I am particular what we eat, and that's no exaggeration. My dog eats a homemade diet to help control her allergies. The cat, out of convenience and his personal preference, has been permitted to go back to a very high quality dry cat food after a year and a half of homemade. He lso has an unfortunate habit of playing with the raw stuff. Incidentally, we moved back to dry food right after I had spend 2 hours scrubbing beef blood out of my off-white carpet. My concern about having him on a processed diet has been growing as my health has been improving, and I decided that it was time to at least reintroduce homemade food into his diet, even if it wasn't for every meal.

I had the heart all packed up, and was planning on chopping it into bite sized pieces when we arrived at our destination. After all, if ever there is a time for special treats, it's when you're on vacation. While I was packing, I noticed that the cat was refusing to sit all the way down, and was walking with stiff back legs and hips. I went over and squeezed everything a little, but he didn't seem to be in any pain. A few minutes later, I saw him sit-squatting again. This time, he was urinating. On the floor. My cat has never messed outside the litter box in is entire life. He will follow you through the house marowing for litter before he would even consider messing outside the litter box. Sure enough, there was a spot of blood and some grit in the urine: bladder stones.

Cats are super suceptible to accumulating grit in their bladder. It apparently has a lot to do with the pH of the food they're eating, which has to be very specific. Too alkaline, bladder stones form; too acid, and it weakens their bones. I grabbed my Pitcairn guide and read up on what to do for bladder stones. They suggested a few days broth fast, followed by (of course) a gradual reintroduction of the feline's natural diet: raw meat and bones, or meat supplemented with an appropriate amount of calcium to balance the phosphorous in meat. I made the quickest shopping trip of my life to the local health food store, where I picked up stew meat, distilled water and liquid aminos. Seriously, It took me 7 minutes, door-to-door-to-door.

Ciaran turned his nose up at the broth initially, but once I started adding meat to it he decided that he was hungry after all. I warm up some broth, add supplements and a big spoonful of chopped meat, which warms from the hot broth but does not cook. He's been eating his kitty sukiyaki for 3 days now, and he has not had any urinary issues since peeing on my jacket* on the way to my parent's place, which was within hours of the first incident. In the next few days, I'll be increasing the ratio of meat to broth, and by this time next week he should be back on the Pitcairn diet full-time. Maybe he'll still be able to have dry food as a treat, and I may mix some in with his raw food for texture.

More info on Richard Pitcairn and his awesome, balanced and super healthy cat and dog diet: http://www.drpitcairn.com/index.html

*In fairness, it was the jacket I wear to volunteer at the Humane Society, so it probably smells (to an animal) like all manner of stinky and wonderful things. It might even smell vaguely of animal urine, and seem an appropriate place to relieve one's self.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Poor Kate.

It's not really pertinent to my life, but I just have to say something about Kate Gosselin from the show Jon and Kate + 8.

To give some background, I've occasionally enjoyed the show in the past, but you couldn't really call me a big fan. I'm not a mother at this point, and so I have not yet become deafened to the sound of screaming children. If too much of anything is going to give me a headache, it's wine, not whine.

Anyway, I feel for these people, especially Kate. Neither of them are perfect people, and neither are any of the anonymous cocks on the internet that feel obliged to persecute them. Yes, they signed up for noteriety, but no one signs up to be lambasted. Yes, they make some questionable choices, as individuals, as lovers, and as parents. Ultimately, most choices people make are selfish: have kids, don't have kids, cut that @$(@*&$ off in traffic, fake sick from work, steal the neighbor's wifi, drive "buzzed," etc. We justify all the ridiculous things we do to ourselves, our kids and our families, but it doesn't mean anything. Anything. Everyone believes they're doing the best they can, which renders any grand societal concept of a moral compass about as useful as a roadmap made of pudding. People are twats, almost without exception. This is especially true when no one is there to smack their mouth when it starts running off with them.

Jon and Kate seem like average people, with average kids and a surprisingly average life when you consider that they have 8 youngish children and run their own business. I might be alone in saying this, but people should back the fuck off and worry about their own jacked up families. Most kids will tolerate a certain amount of crazy if they know their parents love them. Most husbands will tolerate a certain amount of crazy if their wives are good cooks and give good head. Most women are going to make way too much of everything anyway.

^^^ Case in point.


I've been thinking a lot lately about what bonds people to one another. There's shared history, understanding, acceptance, and common interests. There is also a sense of obligation that I am still trying to understand. I'm not talking obligation in the sense of, "I have a responsibility to care for this person," but rather, "I have a responsibility to tolerate this person's abhorrent behavior because society has deemed it so." Friendship, in many ways, is much less complicated than family. It's socially acceptable to walk away from an unhealthy friendship. Maybe that's why I hold my friends in such high regard: I have to choose to have them in my life, every day. I feel somewhat the same about my marriage, in that I chose to be here, and I have to make choices that are responsible to both of us. My blood relatives are difficult for me to understand, often impossible for me to justify, and yet somehow I love them and continue to allow our lives to co-mingle, if at long intervals (for the relative sanity of all involved). If someone told me I do this out of self-loathing, they could have a point. I'm far from the only one.

I wish this had more of a point and less of a ramble, but I'm still muddling through it myself.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Motita (or, Canine Devotional)

When Nick and I decided to shrug the shackles of apartment-dom and buy ourselves a proper home, my heart's instant reaction was to need a dog. NEED. I had suppressed this feeling for a year, out of necessity, but our pending freedom incited me to search out the canine companionship that I had cherished, quite literally, every day since I was born.
The months leading up to buying our house were mostly bleak for me. We were having major roomate turmoil: drugs, sex, catfights, and general scandal. I slept every single chance I got, I gained 20 pounds eating Nick's extraordinary cheese sandwiches, and I was seriously questioning why I had thought it was a great idea to further my education in a career I had come to hate. I was working part-time and going to school full-time, but I stole every spare moment I could keep my eyes open to troll PetFinder for a small adult dog. This little dog was going to be my ticket out of this shithole existance. I cannot tell you how many adorable little Lhasas, Shi Tzus, Poms and mini Shelties I mooned over. I loved each and every one of those precious little furballs, all fluff and moxy. It was too early yet, but I was getting geared up. I knew I would find the right dog-baby for us, if only I persisted.

Then I found her.

We still hadn't picked out a house yet, let alone made an offer, but I knew. And I had no illusions. I could tell that her face was carefully angled, her hair coyly coiffed: something was up with that hidden eye. The particularly gray and hairless belly did not escape me either. Her bio said that she had been rescued from Puerto Rico. I had been to the territory a few years prior, and was appalled at the mistreatment of the animals there. She needed a family with no small children. Our home had some childish behavior, but no actual children, and none on the way just yet. They were looking for a home that had experience grooming Lhasa-type dogs, which I did. She had some food guarding issues: so did my mom's dog Wally, so I was pretty used to it. She had a bit of an attitude. I don't think I would want a pet that didn't. But the clincher: she was a special-needs animal. She had bad skin and would need eye drops and perhaps oral medication for the rest of her life. No one would want this dog because she wasn't perfect. But I wanted her. We were perfect for each other.
This is something weird about me: I don't know much about the stock market, I don't know a lot about antiques or fancy dolls or any of that crap. I don't invest in things that could benefit me financially, or that could offer some kind of security. For me, the deepest satisfaction is investing in lost causes and things that are deeply broken. Maybe I feel a little like that about myself. Maybe I feel I can be redeemed by works. I don't really understand it, but I am irresistably drawn to the things that other people don't want. I want to discern value in something other people consider worthless, even if that currency only carries weight with me.
I had waited a year for my Motita. In some ways, you could say I'd waited my whole life, because she was my first dog. And not only that, she was my first choice. I waited further through several months of house shopping, house buying and moving in. I checked up on her every day, fully expecting some very canny person to have recognized her worth and snapped her up. I would later learn that no interested families made it past meeting her. No one could see past her cosmetic flaws.
As soon as we'd gotten most of our important crap unpacked, I finally contacted Animals In Need about adopting Miss Motita. They wanted a fenced year, which our condo definitely did not possess (it's really an unfenced, inintentional bog). Nick had taken notice of my dog crush, and prodded me to contact them anyway. Well, glory be, they responded! Would we like to meet her? You couldn't hide her from me anywhere, people!
This little girl is so ridiculously important in my life. She's not my dog, exactly, as her heart belongs decidedly to Nick and bacon, not necessarily in that order. Regardless, I cherish her funny little face and all of her adorable mannerisms. I have made many compromises to give her the best of everything. I've dragged Nick, unwillingly or unwittingly, into these compromises as well. Since she's been with us, she's shed most of her food guarding issues, her tiny body has taken great steps to heal itself from its previous neglect, and her clever personality has blossomed. Although she is often sweet and funny, she is such a challenge every single day. Motita is a stubborn, button chewing, zipper dismantling, cat-headbutting, belly rub demanding, bed stealing, foot snuggling (even when your feet are plenty warm enough, thank you), STINKY, intrepid discoverer of the cleanest spots in the house (so she can dirty them up).

I saw a program recently that made mention of the habit, held by many tremendous painters, of reusing their canvases. They would take a piece of art, maybe whitewash it, and paint something entirely new over the top. Sometimes a single work of art would even evolve, over many days and weeks, layer by painted layer. On one hand, this is practical: buying new canvas is expensive, and they can't all be winners anyhow. On an esoteric level, these canvases were given new lives, given a chance to be something great. But regardless of how they look on the surface, the same mundane master's castoff still exists underneath: it's all a facade. It works the other way around, as well, and I have found a great blessing in what most people would consider an unexpected place. It doesn't take a deep mind to realize that neither gods nor men would hide their greatest treasures where one would think to search. What I have is not just a dog, but a witty and compelling companion. She's no lap, leash or yard ornament, and she is certainly no accessory to my life: this girl is front and center, always.
Anyhow, it's late/early, my stomachache has mostly passed, and I am feeling right exhausted. Truckasaurus is snuggled up to my knees, having a hard time getting back to napping between my sporadic ear scratches, back massages and belly rubs. The cat will probably make a big ruckus any minute now, and get Nick up for the day. I should really get to bed.