Friday Funny

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I love pet photos. Here’s Nimitz on my chest in the early morning. What did we do before we could pick up our phones and snap unsuspecting photos of people and pets? My phone is filled with cat pictures. What’s on yours?

Sad

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That about sums it up. Miss my girl. There will probably be a few posts where I lament her loss, but my understanding of grief — even pet grief, in case you’re wondering — is that this is normal. Feel free to share your own pet losses in the comments.

Here, she’s helping me write. Don’t know how I’ll get the next book done without her!

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Kitties and heart disease

I’m supposed to be working, but not doing the best job of that today. If you follow me on Facebook, then you already know that we lost our sweet kitty, Miss Pitty Pat. It’s been hard, because she was not quite 6 years old — and you don’t expect a young cat to die of heart disease.

If you have kitties, and you’ve never heard of saddle thrombus, I urge you to look it up. (Or go here.) And then I urge you to ask your vet to give your kitty’s heart a good listen the next time you take your baby in for a check up. That’s not fool proof, but it’s possible the vet will hear a murmur. If your cat has a murmur, push for more info.

MPP never showed any signs of heart disease, and we had no clue until she had the first clot nearly eight months ago. Turns out that she had very advanced heart disease, an enlarged heart, and thickened walls. We had NO idea. The only possible clue was that she tended to throw up her food a lot, and she would go off her food for a day or two — but then she’d eat again, no problem, and wouldn’t regurgitate for days. I never suspected heart disease, and my vet never heard a murmur.

The other thing you can do, if you really just want to know and you’re willing to spend the money, is get your cat a heart work up. I would have done this had I known it was something to look out for. But I didn’t. I had no idea these things could happen to a young cat. My previous cats lived to very ripe old ages, and I assumed we were on the same track with MPP. It’ll cost you around $500, which is why most vets don’t recommend it as a matter of routine when most cats won’t ever have a problem.

Heart disease in cats, especially the kind where they throw clots, is rare — but apparently it’s not THAT rare because it happens quite often if you do an internet search of saddle thrombus. The chances your cat has a bad heart are slim. But if, like me, you would rather know, then ask for that heart work up. You may have to go to a specialist for the echo-cardiogram. Many vets don’t keep that kind of equipment on hand and it takes a specialist — either a cardiologist or an internist — to read it.

You can be sure that I’ll ask for these tests as a matter of routine for Nimitz — and for any future cats we get. I would have rather spent that money up front, and got MPP onto heart meds much earlier. She might have had more time with us if we’d caught it early. This truly is a silent killer. One minute she was fine, the next she was not. Literally. And the same thing happened on Friday morning, only this time we couldn’t save her like we did last June.

She was on the bed with us, happy and bouncy and loving — and then she jumped onto the floor and started to throw up. When the heaving didn’t stop, we knew. Almost immediately, her remaining back leg went weak and she couldn’t walk. We got her to the vet in record time, but this was the third clot she’d thrown, the second in as many weeks, and it was just too much. Her heart was done.

We are bereft, but I wanted to share this with you because I know many of you have cats you love as much as I love MPP. If you can prevent this from happening to your baby, I want you to be able to do that. Again, most cats are fine. But some are ticking time bombs. Some cats die in the first few months of life from this. Some die when they are young, as MPP did. Some make it to their teens first. Only you can decide what you need to do for peace of mind, but that’s why I want you to know about this.

Google heart disease in cats. Make yourself aware, and get your babies checked for that murmur at the very least. Doesn’t mean they will throw clots if they have one, but it might be the impetus for more tests if you know they do.

Best wishes to you and your fur babies. We’re hurting badly in Chez Harris, but we will be okay with time.

Life & Love & Writing

This is bound to be a messy, all over the board kind of post. Life, in all its wonderfulness, can also be damn hard. I know friends who have family members battling health problems, friends who’ve recently lost parents, and friends who are enduring financial hardships. Life is messy, and sometimes it hurts.

Right now, for me, it hurts. And all because of a sweet little cat. My pets are family members. I adore them. I had a cat for 19.5 years, and losing her was really hard. Devastating. Another cat died at 16.5. Long lives, but not long enough when compared with ours.

Last summer, my beloved Miss Pitty Pat suffered a thrombosis, otherwise known as a saddle thrombus. She wasn’t supposed to live, but she did. She lost a leg, but she regained strength and went on to be her old self again — running, playing, jumping up to her favorite window seat, sleeping with me, sitting on my lap at the computer and my legs on the couch.

But the vets warned us her time was limited. Yesterday, we were jolted by the reality of that. She’s survived seven months beyond her initial episode, but yesterday she suffered another blood clot. This time it’s to a front leg, much less painful, but she can’t use the leg much. As I write this, she’s at the emergency vet. We don’t know if she’ll survive, but of course we hope she will.

I am devastated and furious — because we can’t control life, can we? We can’t prevent innocent children, beloved friends and family members, furry or otherwise, from getting sick and leaving us behind. Life is amazing, but life hurts.

It’s love that does this to us. Love gives and loves takes. I adore love, I write about love, but I know love makes us so vulnerable. What’s the choice though? Not to love? How empty would that be?

This gets me to writing. Yes, it’s damn hard to even think about that at the moment, but I’m in the middle of a book and my characters are in such pain — and I know how they feel. I know that pain always comes from me, even if I can’t understand the precise incidents that caused it for my characters. The truth is that I draw on that well deep inside, that place where I try to stuff all that hurt and anger down, when I write.

I think all writers do. Life and love have given us gifts, and they have taken those gifts away, and we don’t forget. I’ve written about the character, usually male, who refuses to love because he doesn’t want to hurt. Some readers and reviewers might call that cliche. I call it reality. If we could protect ourselves this way, mightn’t we try? Some of us would, and some of my characters do.

Naturally it doesn’t work out for them. The hero usually finds out he can’t stop love, and he becomes so terribly vulnerable when he realizes how he feels about the heroine. That’s got to be scary.

I saw a photo this week of a woman holding her husband’s hand while he lay in his casket. And I thought how sad that was. How awful that she would never see him again in this life. That all those years together ended and she was alone.

Pain. It’s what we write about. It’s what we try to overcome and control, at least in fiction. If you’re a writer, you have to put it all out there. You have to put your feelings on the table, or your fiction will be flat. You want to feel and you want the reader to feel.

That doesn’t happen if you leave your own sorrows untapped. I know it’s hard, but tap them. Mine them. Does it help? Hell if I know. I do it anyway, and maybe I feel better somewhere down the road.

Right now, I feel like hell. I ache and I’m frustrated because I can’t fix this. But I have a book to write and characters to torture and I know part of that is me working out my own feelings on paper. It’s how I cope. I couldn’t imagine not writing for a living, because I think I’d burst otherwise.

I put my heart on the table every time. I give it my all.

And now I’m going to bed and pray my kitty girl gets to come home again. It’s borrowed time, I know it, but I want more of it. Don’t we all?

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EDITED TO ADD: There is good news for now — the clot resolved and MPP can come home. I am relieved, and still scared because I know I’m going to lose her to this awful disease. But hopefully not just yet.

Revisions, Miss Pitty Pat style

Miss Pitty Pat

I’m revising my latest book for Harlequin. I have help. Here, she’s sitting on my lap while I’m at the computer, looking up at me. Makes it hard to type, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We almost lost her this past summer, and her days are numbered because she has chronic heart failure, so I’m all about enjoying her while I have her. Isn’t she cute? 😉

The Life

If you follow me on Twitter, you may think I tweet a lot of cat photos. And it’s true, I do. My furry children are adorable. And they do adorable things. And I must share them.

This is Nimitz at his best. At his best means when he’s sleeping. When he’s awake, all bets are off. He is the most destructive cat I’ve ever had in my life. He once knocked an oil painting off the wall. A big one. He stood on the piano and pulled it until the (admittedly old) wire broke. Crazy cat.

I’ve discovered the most fabulous product, thanks to him. Quake Putty. If you live in an earthquake zone, you know what I’m talking about. This is not something we need here in the South. Unless you have a Nimitz, that is. Quake Putty looks like silly putty. Except that it holds things (like vases of flowers, for example) down on the furniture so your fuzzy wrecking ball can’t destroy them. It doesn’t harm wood, either, which is great. I have two packs of the stuff. Came in really handy at Christmas with the extra decorations I set out, I can tell you.

Am I the only person with a destructive pet?