A Problematic Piece of Panther

Panther Hartz says hello.

We adopted Panther in December of 2017. She was a shelter cat who was housed at a PetsMart as they sometimes do. I remember the PetsMart employee who was in charge of the adoption center cried when we were doing the paperwork to adopt Panther. She said when they got kittens, they were usually there under 5 days before finding a home. Panther had been there for 3 weeks. Naturally, in that time she had gotten attached to her, but she assured us the tears were happy tears because Panther was getting a home, and she was such a great cat. I guess it’s true that black cats are harder to get adopted. Crazy, but true.

She is a great cat. We love and adore her.

She started growing a lump in her cheek. It was tiny, maybe a smallish pea size. Her doctor said it was likely a cyst and to just watch it and report if it changed. About a month later it was closer to a gumball size. That sort of rapid growth was concerning and it was time to surgically remove it.

In surgery the doctor could tell it was not a cyst, but he didn’t know what it was so he advised sending it to the lab for analysis so we did. That’s where it is now, waiting for yet a third pathologist to look at it. The first two have some ideas of what it might be, but not with as much certainty as they would like, so it’s going to a more specialized doctor now.

None of the possibilities to the identification of the problematic piece of Panther are good sounding. While we are still waiting for a finial word on the matter it sounding like some kind of cancer, just trying to decide what kind.

Panther is 2 1/2 years old. I know cancer happens even to the young (but it shouldn’t, that’s the most f’ed up thing there is), but it’s so hard to wrap my mind around. She looks great. She’s 11 days post surgery now, her incision is healed great, her coat shines her eyes glow her appetite and playfulness levels are all normal. It doesn’t seem possible something serious could be wrong.

The picture was taken when her lump was still tiny. You might be able to notice a slight bulge-y-ness on her right cheek (left side of the photo). I’m not sure where I’m going with this. It’s just on my mind, and Panther is adorable, so I wanted to share her picture. Send her good thoughts, I guess.

And give your kitties a head rub from me.


Meeko gets the Cone

Awhile back, Meeko developed abscess on his rear. This isn’t a crazy unusual thing for a cat; we figured Panther bit him a little too rough during a wrestling match one day, even though they look like they’re being really gentle with each other. So we cleaned him up, got him on antibiotics and everything healed up well.

Poor Meeko kitty recovering from abscess surgery

Then about a month later, I noticed Meeko licking his rear again and acting uncomfortable. A wound had opened up in the exact same spot where his previous abscess had been. This time we had to sedate him to get a better look. The doctor probed, looking for any foreign material that could explain why the healed wound had reopened. Nothing interesting in there, but it was a big pocket of space under the small opening.

I thought maybe the infection had been resistant to the first antibiotic, but the doc wasn’t so sure. There was no sign of infection this time. No discharge or anything like that. Spider bite? Maybe, but it didn’t look like the classic spider bite wound. There was really no way to know what had gone wrong, but it was strange. Doc sewed him up for me, and this time, he had to wear the cone. Even thought I hadn’t noticed him bothering the wound as it healed the first time, we were not taking chances since it was now a recurring problem.

I know pets hate the cone, and I thought I was sympathetic to them, but man-o-man, is is rough living with a depressed pet who is stuck in one of those things. He had to wear it for two weeks and a couple days. Two weeks for the sutures to come out and the doc wanted it on a couple extra days for good measure.

You have never seen so happy a cat as Meeko the day he got his cone off. There was frolicking. I think he groomed his face for an hour straight. He played with Panther (who had been afraid of him in the cone and kept her distance for the past two weeks). He rolled over for belly rubs.

Meeko and Panther snuggled again!

And the best – the cone has been off for a week now and his healed wound continues to be healed. I’m watching it closely, but I hope it’s done now. None of us want to do that again.


As Promised – the New Kitten

Panther the kitten. photo by Kara Hartz

Her name is Panther. She was about 4 – 4 1/2 months old when we adopted her from the pound. She is perfect and delightful. Playful, silly, yet well behaved and cuddly. I thought I’ve give her and Meeko 2 weeks to start getting along before I worried about them. They were playing and sleeping together on day 3, and I’m not sure day 2 even counted since she wasn’t home all day. (She was with me at work getting her check up from the doctor).

She is everything I said I didn’t want in a new kitten. She was bottle raised, and she’s a girl, and still, I don’t think we could have found a more perfect fit for our hose than this fun cutie.

Meeko and Panther. photo by Kara Hartz

On a personal note, I may not have been actually ready for a new cat so soon after Bob. I thought, since we had discussed and wanted a kitten for awhile now, we were just holding off since Bob wasn’t doing well and we didn’t want to add additional stress to his life, that it wasn’t as though she were replacing him. We had plans for a kitten anyway, and Meeko seemed lonely. Only when I found myself constantly worrying about her, thinking something was wrong, or I should be doing more to care for her did I realize I was transferring all my unused worry and care taking time for Bob and placing it on poor little Panther, who didn’t need it.

Kara and Panther selfie

I’m far from being done mourning Bob. I think I’m leaving denial, and maybe moving into guilt and/or depression, but I’m coping. I may not be ready to bond again, but she is cute to watch and play with, and I keep reminding myself she’s fine. She doesn’t need medicine or trips to the vet. She needs playtime and cuddles, and we’ll both be okay eventually. The kids love her and she loves them. We are going to do all right here.


Sickbed Friends

Bob and Meeko. photo by Kara Hartz

I was in bed sick over the weekend, and I woke up covered in cats. Bob may have gotten thin in his old age, but Meeko is a solid chunk of cat and he had me pretty pinned down. I like to think they were there to snuggle me out of affection – but it’s possible I was just in their napping spot and they made do.


Almost, but Not Quite Cuddled

Bob and Meeko. Photo by Kara Hartz 2017

This is about as snuggled as these two ever manage. It’s funny because they both – Bob the most – cuddle with me all the time. I have caught them allowing their feet to touch sometimes. They have also been known to groom each other – but that’s where the line is drawn I guess. Notice there is no actual physical contact here.


Letting Cats Outside Safely

I just have to plug this thing for a moment. . .

I wish we’d discovered it years ago. We have two cats with litter box issues. Bob – who has a broken spine, so he can’t really help his problem, but it still causes messes for us to deal with, and Sheeba – who has some misfiring brain wires or something. She doesn’t act like any other cat I’ve met, and she likes to pee all over the house.

We’ve arranged our lives around the problems of these cats. Litter boxes everywhere that are cleaned out all the time. We don’t have a sofa or soft chairs anyplace because Bob would ruin them. All bedroom doors stay shut at all times to prevent furry intruders doing their thing on our beds.

We’ve seen cat behaviorists, we keep the laboratories in business with how often we send in urine samples, an acupuncturist (for Bob) etc. But I don’t believe an elimination issue should equal a death sentence, and so we have lived with it (and cleaned up after it) – for years.

Our other problem was that we don’t live in a safe area for the cats to go outside. We live in a townhouse with a parking lot out front, and another one behind it. These cats have been indoor cats their whole lives, I don’t think they’d stand a chance out there. I know the neighborhood cats pretty well (better than I know our neighbors, my husband would say) and few of them stay around for long. It just isn’t a cat-friendly environment.

After we lost Magic, we also kinda lost the heart to keep dealing with these other two troublemakers. I’m sad to admit it, but we loved Magic, and tolerated the others. Well, I love Bob too – and my husband tolerates him for my sake.

So we made the decision to start letting them outside, and I was torn up about it. I couldn’t emotionally handle them anymore either, but was frightened for them. So I began to research if there were any safe ways to teach older cats some street smarts, with the goal of making a safer transition to being outdoor cats.

I found the Cat Fence-In System.

I’ve worked with animals for about 13 years now, longer if you count my earlier SPCA volunteer time, and I’d never heard of such a thing. It’s great!! It’s a netting system that goes around the top of your fence, and keeps the cats from being able to climb out. They stay safely in the yard. They still have the elements to deal with (but for now we’re only putting them out on nice days) but no cars, no dogs, no cat-hating people who mean them harm. They get to sleep in the grass, chase bugs, and lay in the sun without dying.

It also keeps other cats out of the yard too – for anyone who has a problem with that. We’ve had our system up for about a month now, and it really works.

I have my house back.

Bob loves playing outside during the day. Sheeba doesn’t love it, but, like I said before, I’m sure she has mental problems. No matter what she thinks, it’s better than being locked in the bathroom the rest of her life, and that’s her other option at this point.

I just had to share, because I would have loved to have known about this earlier.