Monday, October 31, 2011

My Puppy: Organizing for Pet Emergencies

orange cat name Puppy

I have a cat named Puppy. When I first met him, he was a very skittish semi-feral cat — too scared to approach anyone. But as my neighbor and I walked around our neighborhood, he followed us up and down the streets — like a little puppy dog, I said. The name stuck.

Puppy obviously wanted to find himself a person, and he picked me. Over the years, he became much more socialized. While he was still primarily an outdoor cat, he'd come inside sometimes and cuddle with me. He hung around the yard a lot, especially as I made it cat-friendly; I even had custom-built cat houses to protect him from the elements.

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know he wasn't eating well recently — and he just got diagnosed with feline large-cell gastrointestinal lymphoma, a particularly nasty type of kitty cancer. My vet removed the problem area, and it doesn't appear to have metastasized. Today he started chemo — but he's home now, curled up in my bed, eating OK and purring whenever I come and cuddle him. Please send good thoughts his way.

So how do you get organized for such a situation — a suddenly very sick pet? Here are the things that helped me:

1. Instant access to Puppy's medical history.
I scan all my cats' vet records and put them in Dropbox, so I have their history at my fingertips at all times.

2. A wonderful support network.
Besides my vets, who have been superb, I have:

- A fantastic neighbor who I could call to pick Puppy up at the vet when I got stuck in traffic and wasn't sure I'd get home in time.

- A friend who's a great dog trainer and also has lots of animal skills, who came over and helped me coax Puppy out from behind the bed when he was huddled there, out of reach.

- Lots of friends who support me with their kind messages, hugs (both in-person and virtual), little tidbits of practical advice, stories of other pets that did well with chemo, and introductions to other people who might be helpful. And they also just listen when I need to vent. And offer to help however they can.

And then there are all the folks who've posted helpful information on the Internet. I don't know those people, but I sure am grateful to everyone who took the time to share words of wisdom.

3. The right supplies.

Once I had to bring Puppy inside and keep him separate from the other two cats (so he doesn't get scared), I needed things like an extra litter box; I was really glad I already had one on hand. What I didn't have was an array of different foods to tempt Puppy to eat, but that was an easy thing to get.

4. The ability to say no.

Tonight is Halloween, which I usually look forward to; I really like seeing the kids in their costumes. But tonight I put my box of books — the treats I give instead of candy — on the front porch with a note saying I had a sick cat who needed peace and quiet, and to please just take a book or two. It seems to have worked just fine.

And I'm backing out of some evening engagements until things settle down a bit. I know that now, even more than normally, I need to protect my time and focus on the most important things: taking care of my cats; being there for my clients, family and friends; and taking care of myself. (And why is that last one always the hardest thing to do?)


JustGail said...

Sending hugs to Puppy and you. He's such a handsome kitty. And thanks for the reminder that our pets need their medical information easily accessable too.

Books instead of candy? Thats a new one to me. How many kids do you usually get at Halloween, and where do you get the books?

Ellen Joseph said...

Great post, Jeri. Sounds like you're doing all the right things in caring for Puppy and even yourself in the last item. I send you both lots of healing thoughts. oxo

Jeri Dansky said...

Thanks for the good thoughts and the hugs, JustGail and Ellen.

I read about the books a few years ago; this is my third year giving them out. For the past five years or so (predating the book-giving) my neighborhood has gotten very few children - maybe a dozen, maybe less. I got the books at a used bookstore where I already had a credit from selling books, and from cleaning out my own bookshelves.

Louise said...

I'm glad to hear the chemo is working and that you've narrowed your focus down to what is truly important right now.

Great post on organizing these resources in advance!

Claire Josefine said...

My love to both you and Puppy, too, Jeri! He's such a handsome hunk. And maybe it's hardest to care for yourself because you have such a giving heart that you automatically think of others first? Blessings all around, dear.

Jeri Dansky said...

A further suggestion, which came in an e-mail to me:

People who live in the country might want to keep things like extra litter, "tasty" food, Pedialyte (home treatment for dehydration), etc., in stock, because it isn't always easy to get to the store, especially in the winter when the weather can make travel difficult.

Cynthia Friedlob said...

So sorry to hear that Puppy has been ill. I hope for a very speedy recovery. Of course you're right that it's important to take care of yourself, too, so I hope you'll listen to your own good advice!

Jeri Dansky said...

Louise, Claire, Cynthia - thank you all so very much.

Oana said...

Puppy, get well soon! My 2 kitties (Cosette and Minouche) are purr-wishing you all the best!

Jeri Dansky said...

Thank you, Oana - and thank you to Cosette and Minouche.

Kristine said...

I've read your blog for the better part of the last year, but never commented. However I had pop out of lurkdom when I read your cat's name. I too once had a cat named Puppy. She was the best cat ever, loved to play with dogs. I hope yours recovers quickly.

I love to books instead of candy idea. I have many books that I'm decluttering, sadly though none are age-appropriate for those trick-or-treaters.

Jeri Dansky said...

Kristine, thank you for de-lurking! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who ever named a cat Puppy. Mine has been doing well the last couple days, which makes me VERY happy.

And congratulations on the book decluttering! There are lots of ways to give books new homes.