Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Time

The Mora clock is ticking the hours away. Not long now before it's Christmas. It's going to be another White Christmas this year, same as last year. Very unusual as we've had only 7 times a White Christmas in the last 100 years. Aren't we the lucky ones to have 2 in a row?
If there's one who's extatic about the snow it's the Ickle Pup Tara. Tara? Tara! Get your widdle face out of the snow!

 We had snow this month and then some more snow. All in all we've had 30 cm so far. And it's been cold too.
So cold in fact that we've had some unusual sightings chez Bliss.
Some highly unusual sightings......
Polar Bears, whatever next?
Russian Blue Angels?
 A miffed Christmas Coon?
A Christmas Puppy Faerie? This is getting ridiculous. Better stop while I'm still ahead.

Merry Christmas/ Heavenly Holidays/Knisperende Kerstkransjes!
Peace on earth

From the united species of Bliss

Copyright 2010 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hanging With Merlin

 Tara and Merlin (R)

 This year I had to face two of my worst fears concerning my cats. You've read about one of them here but in March of this year another of my worst nightmares came true: Merlin was diagnosed with Diabetes. I have friends with diabetic cats and known for years that that's not a picnic.

My vet was making rather light of the whole thing but I've known for a long time that diabetes can be a killer as cats are notoriously difficult to regulate. Of all the diabetic cats I know quite a few of them were never feeling that well while on insulin and some of them, after struggling for months, even died. So I was not a happy bunny to put it mildly as Merlin was only 7 at the time.

The vet gave me Caninsulin, a bunch of syringes, instructions and a bag of low-carb catfood and that was it. I was not happy with Caninsulin because of all the diabetic cats I know who are on it and although alive, not exactly thriving. The risk with quick working insulins like Caninsulin is overdosage resulting into death if you are not quick to administer sugar (dextrose) and rushing your cat to the vet's. Because of this risk you are advised to keep the glucose levels higher rather than low-ish, within normal range. Unfortunately too high glucose levels over a long period results into organ and other damage.

As soon as I got home I made Merlin comfortable and went off to search the internet for information about diabetes in cats. I researched for almost a week but then I knew pretty much everything there is to know about diabetic cats and how to take care of them.
Merlin, shortly after we came home from the vet. As you can see they shaved his neck in order to draw some blood for testing his glucose levels.

I found a fab site with a wealth of information at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, of all places, where a lot of scientific research on diabetic cats (and dogs) has been done by Dr Jacquie S. Rand et all. I learned that the best insulin to give was Lantus (glargine/levemir) as that had the highest incidence of remission in cats and because it keeps your cat extremely well regulated and thus healthy & happy.
Although humans and dogs can become diabetic as well, it's only cats that can have remission which means that they do not require insulin shots any longer. Also with Lantus you can regulate your cat quite well and keep him/her in the safe zone. With Caninsulin you do not check glucose levels and actually administer insulin without really knowing how much your cat requires. That is soooo not me as I am an INTJ (Rationalist Mastermind) and want to know what the heck I'm doing and, almost even more importantly, why!

With diabetes you're between a rock and a hard place, a very hard place: too much insulin results in very low glucose levels, brain damage and then coma and death, not enough insulin and thus far too high glucose levels also leads to coma and death. So it's a fine balancing act you have to perform.
Twice a day I check Merlin's glucose levels; at 8.30 in the morning and 8.30 at night. I just prick the vein in his ear with that little blue lancet you see above. Then I put a testing strip in my glucose meter, dab the end in a pinprick of blood and hey presto, within a few seconds I get the result. According to how high his glucose level is I calculate the dosage of insulin he needs.  Merlin needs to be between 2.8 to 5.6 on my glucose meter ( made for humane blood). If he scores higher than 11.0 his kidneys will get damaged  if it continues over a longer period. Other organs can get damaged as well. I can keep Merlin pretty stable with Lantus, so stable in fact that he is very happy, perky and unaware of his serious illness.
After measuring his glucose level I give him his insulin shot, also twice daily. Another good thing about Lantus is that it is very difficult to overdose it as it is a slow working insulin and works over a long period of time. Many a cat has died from hypoglycemia; an overdose of insulin/too low glucose levels, when treated with other kinds of insulin.

As I said I was not keen on Caninsulin and I was right. One week after treatment with Caninsulin Merlin got very ill with ketoacidosis, a too high level of ketones in his blood caused by a far too high glucose level. It looks like he hardly responded to treatment with Caninsulin. We had to rush him to the vet where we spent hours and hours while he received emergency treatment to lower his ketones and glucose level. Fortunately the Lantus pens I had ordered the day before had arrived and he was started on it straight away. We got him home at 2 in the afternoon and at 11 at night he perked up and started to eat. And he's never been ill since. The first few weeks I checked the ketones level in his urine on a daily basis but as he got regulated on Lantus very soon I was able to stop checking.
 Surprise and Merlin, in a head to head

Checking glucose levels and giving insulin shots are now part of our daily routine. It is not difficult to do, nor very time consuming. Merlin is a very sweet and gentle boy and doesn't struggle when I treat him. But treating your cat for diabetes twice daily does put the kibosh on your social life a bit as you always have to be home at certain times.
 United species and breeds of Bliss

This year I learned a lot of new skills courtesy of Vita and Merlin. Vita taught me how to become a detective and to persevere and Merlin has taught me a lot of nursing skills. He also taught me much about catfood and why most commercially available catfood is NOT good for your cats at all. More about that in my next post.
 Mummy Delia (l) with son Merlin

If you have a cat or even cats, please bookmark this site. You'll never know, you might need it one day.

Here is a list of websites that contain valuable information about diabetic cats and how to treat them:

In Dutch:

Copyright 2010 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Welcome to the Enchanted Garden

In a land far, far away, there is a garden where magical creatures live. Somtimes, if you are very lucky, doubting Thomas, you'll find a sign that those magical creatures truly do exist, like this:
And from time to time they even leave more tangible evidence of their existence in this enchanted garden.
 Of course the garden is enchanted, where else do you suppose magical creatures live? The garden, which is called Bliss for obvious reasons, sometimes changes during the night into a mystical, magical winter world.
Showered with pearls and dusted with diamonds it stands patiently waiting with bated breath for the magical creatures to appear.
Oooh look, there goes one of them. Isn't she gorgeous, this winter prinses all decked out in soft blue and silvery fur?
And have you noticed the transformation of what was once an ordinary marigold into this glorious diamanté jewel? It is amazing, isn't it, gentle reader? Come let's explore some more.

Isn't it wonderful, this magical mystery tour in this enchanted garden? Have you noticed that everything in the Bliss garden is connected? You haven't? Well, look closer, closer still. See?

Those silvery threads look so fragile but in reality are very, very strong indeed and are everywhere in the Bliss garden. They connect every part of the garden with everything else; shrubs with trees, flowers with the earth, the potager with the long border, the gardener with the garden, the garden with the magical creatures and if you pay really, really close attention, gentle reader, you will find that those silvery threads also connect Bliss to you.

 copyright 2010 Y.E.W. Heuzen

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Autumnal Bliss

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ..... Don't worry Christmas isn't upon us. Yet! Just trying to capture that image that says Autumn like nothing else. Roasted chestnuts is one of those images and so is this
and this.
Autumn is such a cliché, isn't it? One hoary old err chestnut after another, but fun though and pretty spectacular colourwise.
And fun was had by all. Recently yours truly went on a much deserved break and took the Ickle Pup and the odd kittycat or two with her. We stayed in the former coach house of a friend of mine, as we've done many times before. It's situated smack in the middle of a huge forest.

This time Autumn was a rather magnificent affair as there had been hardly any wind to speak of so the trees were in full regalia. Magenta, gold, copper, purple, green, silver, burgundy, orange all vied for our attention. The Ickle Pup aka Tara went beserk with it all and ran around like a demented chestnut.
Wish I had a huge forest in my back garden so that widdle Tara could run around to her heart's content. Unfortunately she has to make do with this, a back garden of more modest proportions and with just the odd tree here and there.
A garden she has to share with others as well. On the garden path are Macavity (red&white) and Jeeves (black&white) enjoying a balmy autumn afternoon. Lately we've been enjoying days of 15 C which is rather warm for the time of year. Since last weekend we are back to our usual schedule of temperatures around 6 to 8 C. Brrr, high time to bung the wooly hats and gloves on.
But before I do just that, I have a few bulbs to plant, a mere 1600 of them. Yes, I'll wait until you've recovered from the shock. Don't know what this hullabaloo is all about, a piffling 1600 bulbs is nothing to get worked up about. You really should go out more and visit the Keukenhof in Dutchland were they plant millions of bulbs every year.
I, on the other hand, had much much less to plant so I simply rolled up the grass carpet, scattered the bulbs and planted them were they fell. Then I rolled back the carpet and that was pretty much that. Can't wait to see them in flower though!

I leave you with this new addition of scroungers chez Bliss. After feeding pretty much every stray kittycat within 10 miles of Bliss for years and years, and a vast amount of the bird population as well, now I have another hungry widdle mouth to feed.

Speaking of food, excuse me while I burn my fingers trying to peel the roasted chestnuts. Ouch,  mmm yummy! Autumn is Bliss!

copyright 2010 Y.E.W. Heuzen