Friday, May 31, 2013

Norman and Naming Update

Things are still a bit upside-down for Norm. He's having good days and bad days, but we're a little more hopeful with more information filtering in.

Bovine pancreas for raw feeding has been impossible to source locally, although I can't say that I was looking forward to handling it anyway. My local butcher tells me that he can only sell what has been approved by the USDA for human consumption through his shop and that I would have to find a farmer or perhaps a wholesaler, but they probably wouldn't know what they are looking for and it would be time consuming and costly. There are raw food retailers online for pets and I have located the elusive pancreas, but it would take 2-3 weeks to acquire it for him.

In the meantime, I've ordered a sample size of the EPI-Pro 6x  enzyme powder to add to Norm's current food. A good friend of my father's is a retired veterinarian. Turns out he had an EPI cat himself. He says the best course of action is this enzyme powder, but that most cats won't eat it because they don't like the taste. Luckily, Norman is not known to turn down much of anything. Interestingly enough, I thought the powder was a medication to help Norman process the food. Instead, it works to break down the proteins in the food before he even eats it. It gets mixed into the food 15-20 minutes before serving to allow the powder to work it's magic. Apparently, it helps Norm process the food in a way that allows the nutrients to be absorbed into his system.

Gail sent me a fabulous recipe that I am starting Norman on this week. Supposed to be a real weight gain marvel for picky eaters and sick kitties. I'll mix the powder in with that.

Still working on sourcing injectable B-12 for him. It works ever so much better than oral (at least as far as remaining in his system) so I'm hoping to move to that soon.

Many, many thanks for your support, advice, and words of encouragement. I thank you. Norm thanks you too.


Let the Kitten Names Begin!

We're adjusting the naming scheme slightly with this group of midgets. Beginning with this next litter, I am leaving the presidential theme behind (at least for a while). I think I mentioned that my maiden name is Monroe, which happens to be the next name on the list of presidents. It's always made me a bit uncomfortable, for some reason whether it's rational or not, to think about naming kittens after the family. Not sure why, just I'm not ready to use it. Additionally, the next several names are rather common place... and a litter of bouncy kittens are anything but common place!

I'm playing around with new ideas for last names, but don't have one decided upon yet. I'm thinking after those videos from the other day, these guys need a sporty, spunky last name. Perhaps one from the world of professional wrestling. Perhaps one from the circus. Maybe, just maybe, we have some teeny tiny Flying Wallendas moving in with us.

Feel free to make your suggestions in the comments. I can't wait to hear them :)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mama Madison... Where Is Your Family?????

We still have a mama who is looking for a home. Mama Clarice has raised her brood, put in her time in foster, and not only needs a family of her very own but she totally deserves it too. Her babies were adopted over two months ago and, while I love Mama Clarice and are content to have her here, part of me wonders where on earth her forever family could be.

I refuse to believe that a simply treated, non-life threatening diagnosis is enough to keep the right family away. Today's blog employs the old tactic of showing off our beautiful Mama and asking for help and shares. But we need a new plan, too. If you have ideas on where to share, how to share, and who to contact in order to get our Mama Clarice on the way to her new home, I would gratefully accept them in the comment section or in my e-mail box (teenytinytabbies AT gmail DOT com).

Let's get Mama home!


A Home for Mama

WANTED: A loving forever home for the sweetest, most gentle, patient and kind mama cat that has ever walked the earth where she will be loved, cherished, spoiled, and treasured for the rest of her life.

Mama Madison came to our southeast Michigan rescue in January along with her 4 bouncing baby kittens. After raising some of the most fantastically friendly, outgoing, brave, loving, and brilliant kittens that I have ever met, Mama said goodbye to her babies as they all left for their forever homes over the past week. Her work done, it is now Mama's turn to find a spectacular home of her very own.

Mama Clarice is an incredibly beautiful long-haired silver tabby. Her tabby markings are more pronounced on her face, where she has white tabby stripes that frame her eyes.

Her tremendous tail plume and fluffy pants are a gorgeous addition to her muted stripes on her body and legs. And Mama's extra-long white whiskers are wild, crazy, and curly... a distinctive accessory for this special lady cat.

Mama Clarice is immensely beautiful and intensely kissable from the tip of her nose to...

The bottom of her tippy toes :)

And just in case you missed those amazing toes the first time...

Don't you want to reach out and touch that toe fluff through your computer screen? If Mama Clarice lived in YOUR house, she'd let you touch them almost any time you want.

Beyond her obvious beauty, Mama Clarice has an amazing personality and beautifully gentle soul.

Three-year-old Mama is quiet and patient. She lived in my house for more than two weeks before I ever heard her voice. The only time she uses it is to express a gentle reminder that her bowl might be empty. I have never seen or felt one of her claws. She has yet to hiss, growl, or spit... even with a menagerie of permanent residents outside the glass French doors to her room watching her every move with her four precious babies. She shows mild interest in playtime and adventuring outside her foster room door, but truthfully... she really only wants you for your love.

Good photos of Mama are somewhat difficult to get because she is truly only concerned with two things... getting enough to eat and loving you (but mostly the second one). She greets me immediately at the door looking for love and affection. Mama performs the most complicated of figure 8 maneuvers by rubbing my legs as  I walk. She purrs unreservedly and showers every visitor with attention.

It doesn't take much more than a chin rub to make our Mama as happy as can be.

She is quite simply...


Can't you tell?

She loves you already and is waiting for you to bring her home.

And if your home should happen to already have other pets? Mama is good friends with The Roo (our resident 9-month-old kitten). They hang out together throughout the day and happily play wrestle games. She peacefully co-exists with Norman (our resident geriatric kitty) and tolerates the big goofball dog Charlie. The only issue she has is with Simba (our jerkopotamus alpha cat who is more yowl than bite, but she isn't too sure about that). And the problem is coming from him. Because she fears him, Mama Clarice tends to stay upstairs but she is allowed to free roam the house without restrictions.


A Special Home for Our Mama Cat

Our Mama has tested positive for FIV antibodies and will require a special home, one that takes the time to understand her diagnosis and is willing to provide the proper environment for her.

FIV is not easily spread from one cat to another. It is usually spread either through biting, some other violent act, or through birth. There is much anecdotal evidence that FIV+ cats can live for years with other cats without spreading the virus. FIV+ cats, though, because of the suppression of their natural immune systems are more susceptible to the germs and illnesses of other cats... meaning they catch colds and other diseases more easily than others and, once caught, they have a much more difficult time fighting off the infection and returning to health. 

Our mama has already successfully, and rather easily and quickly, fought off an upper respiratory infection while in our care. She is exceptionally healthy and strong. FIV+ cats, when living in their own little protected bubble, can conceivably live a normal lifespan... well over ten years. The key is protection, a clean environment, and good nutrition. There is no reason to believe that she cannot live happily and without health crises for many years to come.

It should be noted that cats who have been vaccinated for FIV will test positive for the FIV antibodies afterward. Given the fact that we know nothing about her history prior to being dumped at the shelter with her babies, it is entirely possible that Mama is simply a vaccinated kitty. But we must be careful in her placement regardless.

For more information about FIV in cats, please consult the following resources:

Crash's Landing & Big Sid's Sanctuary, a rescue in Grand Rapids, Michigan dedicated to rescuing and placing FIV and Feline Leukemia cats

Veterinary Partner, an online pet health library

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine


If you have room for a deserving Mama cat in your life, if you can provide the kind of home we're looking for, if you are willing to give our girl the life of pampered luxury that she so richly deserves, please contact me for more information. You can reach me through several avenues... 

1. Stop by the Whiskers in the Window Facebook page and leave me a private message (using the button directly below the cover photo). 

2. Send me an e-mail to teenytinytabbies (at) gmail (dot) com.

3. Leave me a message in the comments below and let me know how to contact you.

If you don't have a spot in your own home for Mama Clarice, you can still help. Please share her. Not only does she deserve it, but I will keep bugging you about it until she goes to her forever home.

We are in the suburban Detroit area, but that doesn't mean that Mama's home is restricted to Detroiters or even Michiganders. Transport can be arranged for the right family. All we ask is for a home where she will be loved and cared for in the manner she deserves. Everything else is negotiable. So what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Sneak Peek

Are you ready? Would you like a sneak peek at who is moving into the front room in a few more days? 

Guess who's coming to dinner!

And they move too!! I'm having trouble uploading the videos for some reason, so you can find them here at this YouTube link and this link too. The videos were taken through a window and a window screen to keep from spooking the midgets (remember, they're feral!). We appear to have one orange boy and two torbie girls. This is the first look I've had at them, but it appears that we have not one but TWO Ruby Juniors! Ruby Junior #1 has an orange splotch on her head, while Ruby Junior #2 has the wide orange shading stripe down her side. GAH!

Aren't they incredible? They will be with us soon, very soon. We'll  talk more about babies and names tomorrow. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ruby Roo, Where ARE You??

A Song That Frequently Runs Through My Head...

Ruby Ruby Roo, Where are you?
We've got some work to do now.

Ruby Ruby Roo, Where are you?
We need some help from you now.


Come on Ruby Roo, I see you...

Pretending you've got a sliver.

But you're not fooling me, 'cause I can see the way you shake and shiver.


You know we've got a mystery to solve,

So Ruby Roo be ready for your act.

Don't hold back!

And Ruby Roo if you come through you're gonna have yourself a Ruby Snack!

That's a fact!


Ruby Ruby Roo, here are you.

You're ready and you're willing.

If we can count on you, Ruby Roo...

I know we'll catch that villain.


"Hey... Did someone say 'snack'? Where's the snack?"


Getting Ready for Kittens...

My son and my husband built a new climber for the foster room over the weekend. My 14-year-old boy is very nearly an Eagle Scout and he has been tasked to take on projects around the house to help his family while pursuing the most recent merit badge. 

The recurrent bouts of ringworm forced me to clear the entire foster room, including the climber (which is not completely gone but rather relocated upstairs with the older animals that appear to be immune or more resistant to whatever might still be lingering). After pricing new climbers, which are ridiculously expensive, my son offered that he might be able to build one. Yay!

Being thrifty and budget-challenged, he found the old puppet theater in the basement and re-purposed it for us. The original theater was built by his dad and painted by his mom as a Christmas present a million years ago and has been unused forever now. With the addition of a few pieces of lumber from Home Depot and carpet donations from a local flooring shop, he put this together in a couple of days and for under $30. 

I can't wait to see kittens bouncing around on it. Hopefully, they'll give us a show on that stage too.

They'll be here soon! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Song of Norm

Apologies for the delay to our early morning readers. Thanks to thunderstorms and the cable company, we here at Teeny Tiny Tabby Town were left without phone/cable/internet for 10+ hours. We all survived the experience (mostly because the two children most likely to have been driven crazy by the deprivation were at sleepovers) and lived to tell the tale. Which I am about to do...


(I realized as I wrote today's post that the introductory paragraphs make things sound scarier than they actually are. Rest assured that everyone is still with us and improvement is hopefully right around the corner.)

Life is a piece of music, beautiful on its own but amazing if played in harmony with family and friends. But when the instrument of someone you love goes out of tune, it sours the entire performance of everyone around. This is the situation we've found ourselves in for the past several months here in Teeny Tiny Tabby Town.

You may have noticed that I'm a little out of tune lately. Several of you have wondered if something is wrong.  It's a question that's hard to answer truthfully without being willing to play the entire operatic score. Without a resolution to share, it was difficult to introduce and explain the worrying crescendo that has invaded my life. It's an independent little melody that I refer to as "The Song of Norm".

Most of you know that Norman's health is delicate. Our little old man is battling a not-quite-explained intestinal illness. The only thing we know for certain is that he does not feel well. He can’t process his food correctly or keep it down in a way that supplies proper nutritional value. He’s turned the litter box into a wasteland… and Norm himself is wasting away.  He’s skin and bones, haggard and tired, quieter than I have ever known him. The stress on his body has created a murmur in his heart and bald spots on his ears. My heart hurts to watch as his body gives up on him.

Living with Norman is like riding the proverbial roller coaster. We have days that we’re flying high and days where we’re careening uncontrollably downhill, screaming for it to stop. Most days we hover somewhere between “not feeling well” and “imminent doom”.  Many vet visits, numerous expensive tests, and several hundreds of dollars worth of treatments have provided little in the way of answers and little more than a temporary fix to Norman’s system. The only thing we knew was that his pancreas wasn't quite right, but even that test failed to provide the answers we needed. We all were stumped.

We have watched the strain take its toll on Norm and wondered how much his body can withstand. Truthfully, there are times that I’m amazed he’s still here with us. We painfully made the decision for “no more”… no more tests, no more drama, no more extra stress or huge financial outlays. We decided that the quality of his remaining life trumped the length of his remaining life. And then, as if to answer that he wasn't quite done yet, Norman had a good day on Tuesday. He had a great day on Wednesday. He came down with a crash on Thursday.

A gust of wind blew a door closed and trapped him inside my bedroom, away from help and away from the litter box when the next attack struck. When I found him, Norman was a tragic mess (and so was my bedroom). After bathing the cat, stripping the bedding that he had soaked with rivers of diarrhea, starting hours of laundry, scrubbing the floor, and having a good cry, I sat down and started to tap out words that I have typed into a Google search before. I started to ask the internet how to be strong enough to say goodbye. Norm wandered in, sat beside me, began a halting purr and my search engine questions began to change from those of resignation to those of avocation. I’m not even certain what question produced a screen that I had never before seen in months of searching for answers. But there it was…

Hidden away in the back of the internet, a page contained Norman’s symptoms. Not just one, or two, or three… ALL of them. Nothing missing, nothing extra, just a tidy list of Norm’s greatest hits: diarrhea which is often pale and voluminous and malodorous; flatulence; greasy coat appearance; weight loss; increased appetite. It’s that last one that screamed to me that we had hit the Holy Grail. Every other suggested malady came with the symptom of decreasing appetite or refusing to eat. You guys know that’s not our Norm.

EPI, or Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, is so rare in felines that most vets are unaware that cats can even get the disease. It’s thought of as a rare dog malady. EPI is caused by the inability of the pancreas to produce the enzymes necessary to digest food properly and it wreaks utter chaos and devastation on the animal it affects. As I read the anecdotes of families with an EPI cat, I heard Norman’s song. I recognized him (and us) in the stories and, for the first time in a long time, I felt hopeful because a diagnosis also comes along with a treatment.

The treatment for EPI includes bolstering Norm’s immune system and providing him with the enzymes that his pancreas can no longer create on its own. The diet changes we introduced a few months ago are part of a proper treatment, so we’re off to a good start. Many EPI families swear by vitamin B-12. So I took a drive down to the pharmacy last night, picked up a bottle of B-12 drops, and gave Norm his first cat-sized dose last night. Providing the pancreatic enzymes proves to be slightly more challenging. It can be done in one of two ways; adding a powder to his food or providing him with food that contains pancreas… bovine pancreas to be exact. 

I contacted our raw feeding expert Miss Connie and asked her where one might acquire the pancreas of a cow. Being slightly squeamish by nature, the last thing I wanted to do was walk into a local butcher shop and request a pancreas for me to take home and process on my own. She pointed me to a website for a company in Indiana. Said company not only sells processed bovine pancreas to ship to my door, but it also provides a monthly delivery service. A truck leaves their store one Monday every month to make deliveries in Michigan and Indiana. They have recently added a new stop to their route… a mere 12 miles from my house.  I missed getting Norm a shipment on the May delivery truck by a matter of hours, as it was already on the road by the time I found the answers. So this month’s pancreas is coming packed in dry ice and through UPS. I have ordered the powder supplement to make-do in the meantime.

True to our family agreement, I will not be paying the big bucks needed to run the test which would conclusively diagnose him. The name of the disease matters little, only the efficacy of the treatment counts. The treatment for EPI is nothing that the vet can provide anyway… it’s diet and vitamins. The vet comes in case of crisis (and we’re still not sure at what level we will intervene if Norman reaches true crisis mode).

I can’t be sure if we actually found an answer for Norman, but for the first time in forever it feels as if I know what I’m doing next for him. That in itself is both a relief and a blessing. He’s curled up beside me and purring as I type this (which is a change in Norm’s recently melody). Maybe he feels the hope too.

I’m putting all of my drama, fears, and worry on the internet today because there just is not enough information out there for pet families. There's a million adorable pictures with captions. I could probably find an equal number of sites dedicated to inspiring worry in pet owners about food, vaccines, and disease. But in the whole wide world of the world wide web, there’s very little to be learned about a cat pancreas. Reading the few stories that others have provided, it became clear that the one thing I can do is share. If one person hears Norman’s song and recognizes their cat in it, if just one person can feel hope instead of despair, if one cat receives improved care because I wrote about it… I have to put it out there.  

I owe it to you as well. My song has been off-key lately. The blog hasn't been my song during the time that I've hidden Norm’s true condition. The truth is that I’m only in tune when I’m telling it like it is. I’ll have regular Norman updates, Norman weights, and Norman eating habits as the experiment progresses. I’m certain the tune won’t always be happy, but it will be ours.  I’m grateful that you’re willing to listen.


I'm taking Monday off to celebrate the Memorial holiday. I'll be back on Tuesday with a musical rendition of Ruby Tuesday (No kidding... I was already planning a post set to music when today's theme barged itself into my head). Rest assured that if our kittens arrive between now and then I will sound the alarm on Facebook and post photos here just as quickly as I can.

Oh... and there might be a teeny tiny surprise or three when it comes to the kittens too. Don't worry. It's a good one.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Houston, We Have A Problem

He doesn't look like a problem, does he?
How could such a relaxed, roly-poly surfer dude cat be a problem?
He is a big fat jerk. That's what's he is.

Mama Clarice thinks Simba is an unprintable name. She whispered it in my ear because she's too much of a lady to say it out loud.

Our sweet Mama has made friends (or at least created a workable relationship) with Ruby, Norman, and even the dog who gobbles up her food whenever he gets the chance.

Simba has decided to be an "in her face" jerkapotamus.

I'm thinking he's behind the decapitated dragon head that I found in my bed yesterday morning.

Mama's family is out there somewhere. I hope they find her soon. As much as we love her, this cannot be her forever stop. She needs to feel free to roam the entire house (and she doesn't show any signs of standing up to big bad Simba). 

This isn't to say that she will not do well with other animals in the house. She accepts Ruby and doesn't run from Norm or the Chucklehead. She just has no patience for j-e-r-k-s. If you have an intense Alpha Cat, Mama might not mix well but otherwise I think she'd be willing to give it a try.


The Munchkin Report

Babies!! The babies are getting ever closer. They have been sighted in my friend's yard and are getting braver and more independent by the day. We're pretty sure (at least as sure as we can be without getting our hands on them to physically check) that we will have one boy and two girls in this litter. There's a fluffy orange boy who is already eating on his own. He appears to have two tortie sisters. And are you ready for this??? One of his sisters has an orange splotch on her head. 

Do you think the world is ready for a Ruby Junior? 
From what I hear, she's a handful for her Mama too... I CAN'T WAIT!!!!

The babies are 6 weeks old right now. Their Mama is being a bit protective with them at the moment so it might be another week before we have them in our grasp. But we're getting closer... almost there! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wuby Woo Wednesday

Thank you for your patience as we took the day off yesterday. Since Ruby Tuesday is the most important day of the week, we will pick up where we left off and call it "Wuby Woo Wednesday" instead.


There has been very little to see of a stressed out Ruby since company arrived on Friday. She's been under the bed for the past 4 days. I came back from dropping our houseguest off at the airport yesterday to find this...

Feeling better now, Roo?

"It has been a very stressful weekend, Lady. The Roo isn't as brave as she looks in pictures."

"Now, go away. The Roo has roughly 48 hours worth of sleep to catch up on."

Oh dear gracious, the teeny tiny teeth and the itty bitty nose just might have made me squeal... but just a little bit.

"Why are you still here, Lady? The Roo is SLEEPING."

And so The Roo did sleep... all day long, with only a visit or two to Mama's room to break up the nap schedule. Didn't help matters that the temperature has been in the upper 80s this week... not insanely hot for many of you, but this is Michigan and it doesn't get much hotter. Since Roo was born in September, this is the first of the really hot weather she has ever experienced. It made her sleepy. I'm sure she'll be back to her bounce-a-roo self tomorrow.


Charlie enjoyed the Grandpa-man's visit tremendously.

Turns out that Grandpa provides an excellent tug-of-war match-up for him.

Not sure how, but the dragon keeps on smiling through all of the abuse.


Not long now before teeny tiny tabbies make their entrance into the front room. Stay tuned!