Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Caturday supplemental: it's almost time.

As you may know, my wonderful kitty Birch has been diagnosed with FIV (like HIV, but for cats) and also needs expensive dental work.  And what with me having no day job and living on my savings and all*, the expense represents a substantial chunk of what I have left.  I've been kind of freaking out.

A friend of mine reminded me that animal-related charities often have ways of helping people in situations like mine.  I contacted the rescue place where I originally got Birch and they kindly hooked me up with one of their veterinarians, who will do the dental stuff for me at a discount.  Instead of the $800+ that my regular vet quoted me, this one will do the job for $300-$500.  I booked Birch in for tomorrow morning and will continue selling $5 digital pet sketches to try to offset the cost.

In the meantime, I'm supposed to be giving Birch 1/4 teaspoon of yellow vitamin goo (to boost his immune system) plus an antibiotic pill (to help fight his painful gum infection) every 12 hours.  The vet said that both medicines have a pleasant taste and the pills are chewable, so there's a chance Birch might swallow it all straight-up without me having to trick or force him.  


And then...

So then I started smushing his pill up and mixing that and the goo into some wet food (which he usually only gets on his birthday Birchday).  I called this dish Ackbar Surprise, after Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars.  

Sadly, after a few days Birch got wise to my shenanigans and his Ackbar Surprise would just sit there all day getting crusty.

If Birch could detect trace amounts of powdered medicine stirred into stanky meat byproducts, there's no way he'd be fooled by pill pockets.  The Boy and I were just going to have to shove each pill directly into his mouth.  If I'd known it would come to that, I'd've asked the vet if the antibiotics came in suppository form instead.  Birch's back door isn't ringed with needle-sharp teeth (as far as I know).  Oh well, too late now.

For a while I thought I'd come up with the perfect solution: putting a pill between my lips and blowing it directly into Birch's mouth.  I'm always kissing him on the face so I figured he'd feel pretty comfortable with this.  As comfortable as could be expected, anyway.

The first time I tried it, it worked perfectly.  It was over in five seconds and Birch had no idea wtf had just happened.  I felt like a ninja.  Unfortunately, he's a pretty bright kitty with a decent memory, so the mouth-ninja technique never worked again.  I won't immortalize what happened next with cutesy pictures.  It was horrible.  The Boy and I could barely manage to get a pill into the damn cat even with both of us holding him down - and even when we got one in his mouth, he'd repeatedly spit it out again.  Also, it turns out Birch drools when he's really stressed out.  Like, copiously.  Strings hanging down.  Choking sounds.  The pill went in and out of his saliva-flooded mouth so many times that it began to dissolve and we had to unwrap another one.  His fur was soaked with spit from his chin down to his chest.

When it was finally over, Birch hid under the bed.  After a couple of hours, I went into the bedroom to check on him.  The bed has stuff stored underneath it, so you can't just look under the edge and see him; you have to lift a corner of the mattress and peer through the slats to see which crevice he's hiding in.  I was peering around the foot of the bed, calling Birch's name, and suddenly heard him making those spit-choking sounds from up near the head of the bed.  He must have thought I was coming in to do something else horrible to him, and started fear-drooling.  I lifted that end of the mattress and found him huddled in a ball with his fur all soaked again.  He looked tiny and miserable and refused to make eye contact.  He's never, ever acted like that before; never been afraid of me, never hid from me, never held a grudge against me.

I curled up on the bed and cried for a pretty long time.  Eventually, The Boy convinced me to come out to the living room and let Birch chill by himself for a while.  It took til 5am for Birch to forgive me - I woke to find him climbing up onto the bed to spoon with me (usually he assumes his place as The Littlest Spoon right when we're going to bed).  By the time I got up for the day, he seemed pretty much back to normal.

I freely admit that today I said "fuck it" and didn't even try to give him his meds.  Apparently the vet has a $50 injection Birch can take instead (one needle and it's the equivalent of him taking his pills for a week or something), and can I just say, it is more than worth it not to have to go through a trauma like last night again.  Also, I wanted Birch to have a nice final-day-before-surgery** with me...just in case.  It's not common for a cat (or dog or human) to have a bad reaction to general anaesthetic and die, but it does happen, and this has been weighing on my mind.  So I gave Birch wet food with no medicine hidden in it, and I've been hugging and petting him a lot and telling him how much I love him.

So yeah.  Tomorrow Birch gets his teeth cleaned, and probably at least one tooth extracted.  After he recovers from that, his mouth will finally be un-sore for the first time in at least a year.  So that's happy news!

I just have to hold myself together until I pick him up at 6pm.

*I'm not really making a profit on the art yet.  Soon, I think.  But not yet.

**I count this dental work as "surgery" because he'll have to be put completely under while they do it.  And they'll very likely be pulling at least one tooth, so he's gonna be sore afterward.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Very Special Caturday Post - $5 Pet Sketches!

I just took Birch to the vet for his annual check-up.  He tested positive for FIV - feline immunodeficiency virus.  Basically, he has cat-AIDS.

At last year's check-up, they told me Birch had tartar buildup on his teeth and that his gums were all swollen and red.  They recommended I get Birch's teeth cleaned  (a veterinary procedure that requires them to knock him right out with anaesthetic) but said I might be able to avoid the expense by giving him special crunchy cat food designed to bust off all that tartar.  So I've been sprinkling a handful of "crunchies" on his food every day for the past year.

Unfortunately, this time around the vet said his gums were still inflamed...and that this might indicate an immune system issue keeping him from fighting off the infection.  She recommended I get him tested for FIV and feline leukemia.  She also said that I need to get his teeth cleaned, and that this will cost a minimum of $800.  If they find a lot of damage once they get in there, they might have to pull some or all of his teeth(!) and that will cost more.

The next day, the results of the blood test came in: Birch is FIV+ (but no leukemia, thank god!).  The vet prescribed a two-week course of antibiotics to help him fight the gum infection, and also a tube of this weird vitamin supplement gel he's supposed to take twice a day to boost his immune system.  I think she said I should give him the gel stuff every day for the rest of his life, but it's possible I misheard her due to being shaken up by the bad news.  I was in a bit of a haze that morning.

So, to recap: Birch's mouth has been hurting for the past year or more(!) and he can't get better without expensive medicine and dental treatment.  Also, although he otherwise seems totally healthy and normal right now, he has an immune deficiency: just like a human with AIDS, he's at risk of getting really, really sick if he so much as catches the sniffles. Luckily, Birch is an indoor kitty so he's not likely to be exposed to cat-colds or cat-flus - but I'm still anticipating that in the future he'll need medicine more often than a cat without immune issues.

I'm feeling sad.  And freaked out.  And I'm still jobless and living off my savings, so all of this is a big financial strain, too - which is why I am now offering custom digital pet sketches in my Artfire store for just $5 each.  You send me a good clear pet photo, I "cartoonify" that sweet li'l face and email you the result. Here are some examples:


You could use your custom sketch as a Facebook profile pic or a user icon on your blog!  You could print it out and put it in a frame!  You could use a site like Zazzle.com to put your custom sketch on a t-shirt, coffee mug, greeting card, etc.!  As long as you're not making money off the image, I invite you to do whatever you want with it.  IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES SRSLY.

I've gotten about 14 orders within the first two days of this project, thanks to some wonderful people sharing the link on Facebook and Twitter.  Let's keep that momentum going!  Please share this link with all the pet lovers in your life: http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/4958676 or submit it to Reddit or other, um, big...information-sharing...thingies (I'm kind of clueless about that stuff, as you can probably tell).

Here's some of the feedback I've gotten from my pet sketch customers:

-Two thumbs up from me! I sent two photos and quickly received two very nicely drawn pieces of art (which I will now affix to various household items such as mugs and coasters).

-Wow, that was fast! LOVE them!

-My cat picture turned out amazing!  I'm gonna print it on a tote bag so I can take him with me everywhere I go. :)

Needless to say, any purchase from my Artfire store will help my financial situation, so if you're not into pets but you like something else I'm selling, now would be an excellent time to buy.  Just sayin'.

I'm gonna go hug my cat now.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I bet Da Vinci wanted to bang the Mona Lisa.

I've been feeling kinda draggy and fatigued for a while - like to the point where I'm wondering if my thyroid's gone wonky and I'm planning on seeing a doctor - but today I managed to power through my draggy feelings and my whole fear-of-failure thing and paint a new sexy merman.  Here are a couple of "progress shots" for those of you who are into that sort of thing:

...and here's the finished painting...

...and here's a close-up view of his face and torso 'cause I'm pleased with how they turned out.  Do you like his tattoo sleeve with the koi on it?  Kind of thematically appropriate, yes?

I find myself really, really wishing this merman was real so he could lounge around in my bathtub giving me this exact come-hither look.  And then I'd climb in with him and hijinks would ensue.  I think these thoughts might mean I'm either into bestiality, intensely egocentric, or both...but I don't care.  The painting is hot.

Stay tuned 'cause with any luck I'll have more hot mermen to show you soon!