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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Manja left us quietly at 3:40a.m. this morning.

She did not want us to see her go. She held on while we were stroking her, massaging her paws, talking to her. She finally let go when we placed her back in her pen on a fresh sheet scented with catnip, and turned off the lights leaving only a vanilla candle burning. When she took her last breath, one of our foster kittens Kirin immediately went to Manja's side. I checked for pulse and breathing. She was gone.

Before she left, her body communicated to us that it was going to break down, so we knew and stayed up with her. I had syringe-fed her some Natural Balance chicken canned food mixed with pet milk and her usual supplements earlier - she had difficulty swallowing even when I slowly dispensed her what turned out to be her last meal. I took her out of her pen to give her a massage using baby oil infused with bergamot and eucalyptus essential oil and placed her in the recovery position. She later started to breathe heavily in a laboured fashion, so we knew it was time. Her paws started to grow cold and her central nervous system was also in distress, causing her to spasm a bit here and there but not violently, she was very graceful in that way.

We will be sending her remains for cremation and Iva her rescuer will be asking Manja's caregiver when she was a street cat if she would like to have Manja's ashes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cat personalities! Which one do you prefer?

There are various ways to classify cats' personalities into types. Knowing this will make a difference when you adopt a new cat, and in understanding and communicating with your own cat based on his personality type.

One way to classify a cat's personality type is very useful in cat adoption and adopted by some animal shelters overseas. Cats can be classified as:
  • Extraverted, confident and outgoing
  • Reserved at first, but affectionate given time
  • Independent, does not seek much physical affection
Extraverted cats are playful and adventurous. Imagine a boisterous kitten with boundless energy, connecting with you via play, cuddles and purring. An adopter who seeks this kind of personality trait in a cat is looking for lots of fun. Extraverted kittens are almost like dogs (but without the needs for walks and are litter trained!) who enjoy play time a lot and make for great entertainment.

Initially reserved cats are usually shy upon meeting strangers but can be affectionate once they get to know you. This kind of cat is very loving, probably purrs as much as the extraverted cat or even more, but they need time, and should be allowed to come to you instead of you to them. The appeal is in winning them over to you! Adopting a cat like this makes for good quiet companionship like lying beside you while you watch TV.

Independent cats that want to be left alone are the epitome of the typical cat personality - a bit anti-social, acts like a Master, while you are the Slave that feeds, waters and cleans its litter box. And gives the occasional head-scratch. A human attracted to such a cat is understanding of cats' eccentricities very well, and prefers such a cat to accompany a work-hectic lifestyle and preference for peace and quiet upon coming home. These cats are usually adults or senior cats, or at the very least older kittens. So if you are a workaholic who likes to chill out alone when you get home, an older cat is very much a more compatible companion for you than a young kitten.

If you know what you prefer, finding out about the cat's personality type as above will be useful when you adopt a rescued cat from a shelter or foster home (like ours!). It may be however a bit difficult to know when you adopt from a large shelter that hasn't interacted with the cats enough to know which kind of personality type they are: if this is important to you, adopt from an independent rescuer or rescue group that really knows the cats well.

So you bring your kitty home. Another classification of cat personalities is according to Dr Andrew Edney's book ASPCA Complete Cat Care Manual (a must have for cat owners, this book is really good). The personalities listed are more like 'problems' that can be solved with the right socialisation and training.
  • Intraverted cats: Timid cats
  • Intraverted cats: Dependent cats
  • Extraverted cats: Aggressive cats
  • Extraverted cats: Straying cats
Intraverted timid cats are easily scared of humans, loud noises and such. Socialisation is key for this kind of cat, and a lot of patience. They will need to come to you and not you to them, and need safe 'corners' for themselves. Only expose them to strangers when they are more socialised.

Intraverted dependent cats are attention-seeking, often wanting affection and attention, and like to 'talk' to you. They also easily suffer from loneliness and will do well with another kitty companion.

Extraverted aggressive cats are those that play rough even with humans. They need to be trained to play only with their toys and not bite and scratch your hands and feet as if they were live mice. Do not allow your kitten to play with your bare hands as this will only encourage them to do the same when they grow up.

Extraverted straying cats are usually un-neutered cats who are looking to mate. Neuter your cat. And be disciplined in keeping him indoors. He will probably meow a lot to be let out but this is unsafe for him and you will need to take some time to let him adjust to being a fully indoor cat.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pain-relief and Symptom Management for Manja

Manja is a street cat from Choa Chu Kang diagnosed with late stage intestinal cancer. She is now in our foster home to live our her last days the best we can give her.

Manja is a gift. She teaches us a lot in her own quiet feline way, about having to deal with cancer.

Manja, the pretty torbie ex-stray cat
 Lately she developed conjunctivitis and is now on Terramycin antibiotic eye ointment as the only other alternative to treat her conjunctivitis is antibiotics, something we do not want to do as it will stress and weaken her digestive system and immunity in general.

Manja having conjunctivitis, treated with Terramycin
She is also being syringed supplements of vitamins B, lysine, colostrum, omega, and probiotics, which I mix with water and a bit of sardine mashed in to flavour it. In the mixture, which is syringed fed to her (about 10ml worth) is also added Periactin (Cyproheptadine) which is an appetite-stimulant drug.

Soon to be added to her supplements are herbal extracts, mainly Burdock Root which Helga is also taking for her CRF, and Azmira ImmunoStim'R which we are getting at charity rate from The Water Dish, which makes it very affordable. Azmira ImmunoStim'R is a herbal blend similar to Essiac, which is the renowned herbal remedy for cancer, unfortunately hard to find in Singapore in our usual health stores. If you have a cat having cancer and wish to use Essiac tea as a remedy (which usually also contains Burdock), the dose is 15ml for cats weighing less than 15lb - you can buy it online at health sites like iHerb.com. We will also be adding Slippery Elm Bark as part of her herbal remedy, since her cancer is in her digestive system.

Manja has been eating less & losing even more weight
We didn't jump into herbal remedies with Manja straightaway from the time she came over because we didn't want to bombard her suddenly with syringe-feeding and pilling, and we also needed to know her better to see how she takes to both medications and supplements. Now we know she rejects canned food (so no adding of any supplements or herbs to that), has begun to hate pilling, and the only thing she is okay with is syringing. Herbal supplements will need to be syringed separately, so it means that once we start administering her with herbal remedy it will be twice a day of meeting the syringe for Manja. Hence the need to ease her into the regime. Will be starting her on herbal remedies tomorrow when our Azmira ImmunoStim'R supplement arrives.

Unfortunately the B vitamins and Periactin have not helped much in improving her appetite. These past two days she has been eating lesser and lesser. She also meows for no reason at times nowadays. Hence we came to the point where we needed to plan for her pain management, as she will likely be in pain if not already. Our medical supplies sponsor Catherine suggested donating us some pain-relief medication for Manja. There are a few that will help in pain management in the market. Buprenorphine was our first choice initially. But because it is a highly controlled medicine in the medical industry (due to Subutex drug abuse, same drug) Catherine won't be able to get that. We considered Tramadol which is either orally administered or injected, and also pain-relief patches in the form of Durogesic (Fentanyl) which were suggested by both Catherine and Dr Chong. Catherine can get Durogesic patches from the hospital with a prescription from Dr Chong, so we will be getting the prescription for Manja tomorrow at the vet and Catherine will sponsor her patches. Tramadol was ruled out because the human doses available in the medical industry are unsuitable for cats (too large even at its smallest) and Tramadol has side-effects which are quite alarming.

We talk about pain management for Manja, but eventually even pain-relief medication will not help her any more. That will be the time we will let her cross over the rainbow bridge and put her to sleep unless she lets go first.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Knowing about Cat Care - your repsonsibility as an owner

Do you constantly find out more about cat care as a cat owner? We do. And we learn something new about caring for cats every day.

There is a plethora of information relating to cat care on the internet, books you can read, and vets to ask. Hence, keeping yourself up to date on cat care is an accessible task you as a cat owner can easily attain.

Even for us who are constantly in the forefront of battling feline illnesses, we still feel we need to know more and keep on learning new things. Some of you may think: ask Love Kuching folks, they would know about (insert cat care query). We are humbled that you should ask us, because we are still learning about cat care every day. For example, things we only just recently learned:
  • Syringe-feeding or using droppers to feed orphaned newborn kittens is far less preferable to bottle feeding.
  • Vitamins A, C and E have antioxidant properties.
  • Cats that are new to the indoor home will benefit from having some soil added to their litter to encourage them to use the box. 
  • A very small dismal percentage of pet cats lost are returned to their owners. Hence ID tagging is essential.
  • You only need to care for a cats' teeth via brushing on the outside - the abrasive action the cat's tongue has on the teeth on the interior is usually sufficient.
Even us who are supposed 'hardcore' cat people learn new things about cat care every day. There really is so much to learn! So do a Google search, read cat care blogs and websites often, ask your veterinarian questions. A cat owner who knows more, is able to care for cats better, giving cats everywhere a better life. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

update on Manja

Manja has been vehemently rejecting canned food. We were thinking of mixing supplements in her canned food and tried that, but she decided she would rather not eat at all. She far prefers kibbles. So far we have only been able to supplement her with vitamin Bs in tablet form.

Unfortunately now she is beginning to reject pilling too. So we have decided to syringe her liquid vitamins instead - Lysinium Max - and mix with colostrum (for immunity) and fish oil (anti-inflammatory), both useful for living easier with cancer, as well as probiotics for her digestive system. Will flavour the syringed supplements, and the appetite stimulant Periactin, with some fish-flavoured water or baby food so that she will not spit it out, as she is beginning to do with her tablets which probably taste bitter.

She has already gotten used to using the litter box but does not enjoy being out of the pen we set up for her. When taken out, she scrambles back in, even though the cage is not very big. We reckon she is more comfortable inside for now, so we won't force her.

Hydration wise she is drinking water often enough, without coercion.

However lately she has been developing conjunctivitis - teary eyes - which when I checked with Dr Chong may be an infection of some kind. But we both agree antibiotics is out of the question with Manja's compromised immunity and sensitive digestive system.

Right, going to try syringing Manja now! Hope it works.

犬と猫と 人間と (DOGS, CATS AND HUMANS) Documentary Screening by @CatWelfareSG

Documentary Screening & Panel Discussion

Dogs, Cats and Humans: Working Together Against Pet Abandonment
Co-Presented By : Cat Welfare Society and The Arts House
Saturday 30 October 2010
3pm and 8pm
The Arts House
Tickets at $20 each

Dr Lou Ek Hee, AVA's Assistant Director, Animal Welfare will be joining our esteemed panel, including
Ms Fareena Omar, President of CWS
Mr Ricky Yeo, President of ASD
Mr Jaipal Gill, Assistant Manager Operations of SPCA
Ms Betty Tan, Education Officer of HRSS and
Ms Lynda Goh, Founder of Zeus Comunications.

Tickets are selling fast. Get them soon over the counter, by phone, fax, email or online via The Arts House or http://www.bytes.sg/EventDetails.aspx?EventID=149

Directed by Motoharu Iida
2009 | Japan | 118 min | Documentary | In Japanese with English subtitles

"Over 300,000 cats and dogs are put to sleep each year in Japan, a shocking figure that director Iida Motoharu discovered when he began to make 犬と猫と 人間と (Dogs, Cats, and Humans). The documentary started when the director received a request from an elderly woman to make a film that would save the lives of abandoned dogs and cats on the streets of Japan, and the resulting product is both alarming and heartwarming.

Filmed over the course of four years, the film took Iida to several facilities where abandoned animals are euthanised, filming interviews with the employees about their unglamorous work. Iida also shows the more positive side of things by visiting a facility where healthy abandoned pets are kept and cared for until they are adopted."

This important film presents a rare and eye-opening look into what happens to unwanted animals. Singapore is not immune to the same cycle of ignorance, abandonment, and euthanasia. The premier screening of film director Iida Motoharu's 犬と猫と 人間と (Dogs, Cats, and Humans) is a platform for us to take a closer look at the pet phenomenon in our own country and the fall-out from it."

Join our panel discussion and let's work together against pet abandonment. We thank the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Action for Singapore Dogs, House Rabbit Society of Singapore and Zeus Communications for participating as our esteemed panellists.

Monday, October 25, 2010

#MeowMonday - another TNRM & kitten-rescue - at Blk 15 Upper Boon Keng

CWS Logo-Link to us!

It was a great night! The weather was clear, breezy, haze-free. The feeder Lia did not feed the cats till after the trapping, as instructed, and the cats were all nice and hungry and loitering out of the bushes when we arrived. We managed to trap 9 cats for sterilisation, bringing the total tipped-ear cat population here to 25!

Damy and Wendy hard at work transferring the cats from the humane traps into the carriers for transport.

After doing a quick tipped-ear cat-count tonight - we sterilised 8 last week, and 8 in March - we determined there are at least 10 more cats left to neuter. Which means we have to schedule another round. We are now trying to raise funds for our Sterilisation Fund to conduct another round early November. (See how to give to our Sterilisation Fund here.) If we manage to trap the remaining 10, that will bring the total number of cats sterilised at this colony to 35!

We also managed to trap the outdoor-access British Shorthair male cat, which we had to without the owners' knowledge because they are uncooperative about neutering the cat and keeping him at home. He has officially become a stray cat; the owners had communicated to the feeder Lia that they can't keep him at home anymore.

Here are the mug-shots of the 9 cats we trapped tonight, who will be neutered tomorrow and released back on Wednesday.

Unexpectedly, we also rescued 2 kittens. One of them, Blinky, a black kitten (too young to sex but suspected female) who was abandoned by the mother cat for two days already, and was hypothermic when we found her. She is now warm and able to eat Natural Balance Chicken canned food, estimated to be 3 weeks old. Extremely vocal. Does not want to drink from the bottle much, but suckled a bit of kitten milk with Lysinium Max and colostrum. All her siblings have died. We hope she pulls through; Andy and I both feel that if we were to not rescue her, she definitely won't have a chance, but if we tried to rehabilitate her, she might survive.

The other one, Sealy, is about 6 weeks old and of the litter of 4 we only have space to house 1 more, so we rescued the one most likely to get re-homed (concept of triage, since we have limited space). Sealy is a male seal-point British Shorthair kitten, likely borne of a Burmese mother and the British Shorthair male cat we trapped tonight.

Blinky, now able to eat canned food

Sealy, just had a defleaing shower

We just fed the kittens, de-fleaed them, and dewormed Sealy. For now we have housed them together in a large carrier with a litter box, which Sealy already knows how to use. They will be ready for adoption once Dusky, Sapporo, Orion and Kirin get re-homed or neutered-and-released.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's #Caturday - Let's find Kirin a forever home!

Kirin is one of four kittens rescued from a pest-control company in Ubi that trapped him and other kittens, housing them in a cage together in their pesticides storage room. He had cat flu' when he first came to us but after a course of antibiotics and medication is now totally recovered and looking for a forever home.

Kirin is a classic tabby male kitten, 16 weeks old with a mid-length tail.

He is a super-affectionate cat that loves to cover humans with kisses, groom and knead on us. He purrs like crazy, loves tummy rubs, hugs and being kissed back. He always has an innocent face whenever we scold him for something as if he really didn't mean to jump on the tabletops etc. when we house-train him. He bonds well with humans and cats alike.Apart from nose-kissing, his second favourite activity is running around with the other cats. He is not that much of a climber or jumper but he is full of kitten energy nonetheless! He is very handsome and extremely photogenic - if you can get him to stop kissing the camera!

Kirin is dewormed, litter-trained and on Taste of the Wild.

If you are keen on adopting Kirin, do see right side bar on adoption information and contact details.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Adopt Orion!

Orion is one of four kittens rescued from a pest-control company in Ubi. He is a white with black male kitten with a long black tail, now about 16 weeks old.

He is the smartest of his brothers! During his house-training, he responds to discipline well and obeys the house-rules, knowing what 'No' means. He is a mega purring machine, very affectionate but not overly needy - is totally cool if left on his own. He enjoys playing both alone and with other cats, and is quite close to Dusky who is also an obedient cat. We love him for being so smart and knowing what things in the house are not supposed to be toys like wires and stove tops. He is the most independent of the litter and will do well even in a single-cat household.

Dewormed, litter trained and eating Taste of the Wild.

If you are keen on adopting Orion, do see right side bar on adoption information and contact details.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tonight's TNRM at Blk 15 Upper Boon Keng

CWS Logo-Link to us!

We managed to trap 8 cats. The cats will go for their sterilisation tomorrow at Clinic for Pets in the day and be released back at their territory on Saturday.

There are still plenty more. We are scheduling another round next week either Monday or Tuesday evening depending on Damy's availability. If necessary, we may need to conduct a third round early next month if there are more cats that we can manage to trap next week. However, our Sterilisation Fund is only sufficient for 2 rounds at the moment. Will update on whether we will need to do a third round in the first week of November, after we do TNRM again next week. Meanwhile, here are the mug shots of the 8 cats.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Taste of the Wild donation from @thewaterdish !

This month the foster cats are eating yummi-licious Taste of the Wild! Every month The Water Dish sponsors food or boarding supplies for the foster cats and this month we got 15 pounds of Taste of the Wild kibbles!

Thank you The Water Dish!

Manja's visit to the vet today

We brought Manja to see Dr Dawn Chong today for a follow-up visit from her hospitalisation when Iva first rescued her. 

Dr Chong felt Manja's cancerous lumps in her intestines - they really are huge. I felt them myself - they are almost about the size of ping pong balls. Surgery is not a good option because Manja may not survive it. Neither is chemotherapy because it will merely worsen her quality of life and not prolong it much further or push the cancer into remission. So the plan is to give Manja the best till she goes. If she deteriorates to a point where she is in pain and suffering, we will euthanise her to let her go peacefully. Dr Chong advises this is the best course of action in caring for Manja and we are in agreement with her.

So far Manja has been eating but hasn't been drinking that much. Dr Chong advises that if Manja is dehydrated we can give her sub-cutaneous fluids at home or syringe her rehydration fluids. Manja hasn't pooed yet so we don't know if her digestive system is stable but she hasn't vomitted either.

I did mention to Dr Chong that the vet that Manja was diagnosed at, Joyous Vets, suggested doing an ultrasound because an x-ray showed that there was a mass of fluid around Manja's abdomen. Dr Chong suggested that this may not be necessary, as it will merely confirm our diagnosis of Manja's cancer. Hence we did not send her for the ultrasound.

Manja does not need any medication at the moment nor a special diet. Since she eats rather little, a high calorie diet will be suitable and we are currently feeding her Taste of the Wild donated by The Water Dish for this month. We will also be supplementing her diet with canned food so she stays hydrated especially since she drinks rather little - a habit that most stray adult cats tend to have.

Emotionally she is still getting used to being an indoor cat. She scrabbles at the main door sometimes as if she wants to go out, and does not know how to use a litter tray - she peed on our sofa twice. So for now we have placed her in a pen with a litter tray so she gets used to the idea of going to a box. She seems less stressed when in a pen, with food and water that she doesn't have to share with any other cat, and seems to eat and drink more inside the pen. We will eventually still let her free roam as we do not wish to cage her for long and also we actually do not have enough free space in the foster lounge for this additional pen we got for her. She is otherwise quite happy living with us, most of the time relaxing. We are playing the Music Cats Love CD on loop for her too, so she can hear birds chirping and the sound of nature.

She does not need to go to the vet again for a follow up unless she falls very ill.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

TNRM recce at Blk 15 Upper Boon Keng

CWS Logo-Link to us!

This Thursday 21 October at 8pm we will be conducting another round of TNRM at this site. We went there to check out the situation with this colony tonight, as we had heard that the old cat auntie is no longer feeding there.

When we went tonight, we managed to touch base with the new feeder. She had been present at our last TNRM there and took over the feeding after the old auntie was hospitalised and confined to bed-rest at home. Apparently the old auntie went to hospital because she got scratched by one of the cats there - a free-roaming British Shorthair house cat which the owners refuse to keep indoors and neuter - and the wound got so badly infected it needed surgery. Hence Lia has taken over the feeding of the Block 15 cats, feeding a mix of dry and canned food. She is a really responsible feeder who clears up immediately after feeding nightly.

So far the Town Council has not culled any of the cats in this site and reproduction has slowed down significantly after the TNRM we did in March. We will be neutering as many cats as our Sterilisation Fund can afford to which will probably take 2 rounds at least. The cat population is still innumerable, quite hard to do an exact cat-count. We will also try to neuter the British Shorthair cat, as seen in the first picture below.

We told Lia to feed less food tomorrow night, and she will be joining us on Thursday for the TNRM round.