Saturday, March 29, 2014

Coq a Vin & The Broody Hen

On Thursday we culled our two Speckled Sussex roosters. Esa and two of our friends did the deed while I waited inside ready to scald and pluck. One friend was able to share some useful tips with Esa, who'd only helped me with the one rooster previous to this, while the other friend was learning the whole process fresh. We got a late start but things went well.
I improved my scalding and plucking techniques this time, scalding hotter and getting the hot water into all the feathers by dunking the bird repeatedly, then only quickly dipping into the ice bath before plucking. I did half of one bird, taught our two friends how to pluck and then finally ate my dinner and went to bed. I giggled in bed, listening to my friends talk while getting sleepier and sleepier over their plucking work.

So, now that her two boyfriends are gone, we've found our Speckled Sussex hen, Ora (short for The Oracle), sitting on a clutch of eggs. Well, Esa found her actually. Last night after putting the hens away for the night, he brought in a bucket of 25 eggs!! I got my flashlight and did some rough candling. 5 looked like newer eggs or just yolks, 13 looked like truly half-baked chicks, and the rest I wasn't sure about. We put the 5 newer ones in the fridge and fretted over what to do with the rest. I looked up ideas on Backyard Chickens, but it was 1am and I had limited options. We put the 20 eggs in my wool hat and went out to put them back under the mama hen. Since she had them hidden in the yard and we don't want the rats to take them, we moved her & the eggs into a separate box in the coop to basically force her to sit on them again and keep the other three hens from bugging her.
This morning when I went out to let the hens out and feed them, Ora had rearranged the eggs, half of them across the box from the others. She was fussing with them even as I opened the lid to give her food. I decided to prop the box open to let her out for a bit.
I am a little worried she won't sit on all the eggs now that things have been moved. So, since the stores are open now that it's day time, I am going to grab a few supplies and make a nesting hen simulator type of incubator. (Thank you Backyard Chickens).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Vet Check Up Day

Today we took Kuro and Sparkle back to the vet to check on Sparkle's eye and to get Kuro's pain meds patch removed. Just before we got the cats in their boxes, Kuro got the cone off of herself. She used the time in the car to thoroughly bathe.

Inside the vet office, we took each cat out to be weighed (they've both lost weight, understandably). Afterwards, Sparkle was still on the table when she noticed the painting of a cat hanging on the wall. She hid behind her carrier, wide eyed, before slowly peeking up over the top. Then she slowly crept around the side of the carrier, watching that cat on the wall very closely. Well, as closely as she could, considering she probably can only see clearly out of one eye. Her right eye has been full of blood intermittently, and today she actually had it open fully so we could see how bad the rest of it still looked. The doctor gave us more pain meds for her as well as a round of antibiotic eye ointment.

Kuro, in the short time she'd had her cone off, managed to pull a couple stitches open, but not too bad. The clinic staff got the cone back on her. We got more pain meds for her as well. She has 9 days left till stitches are removed.

Our vet bill has now passed $1500 total.

Today I finally got the chance to talk to the Oakland PD sergeant who handles animal violence investigations, so progress is being made on that front now too. Right now I have paperwork to file an official report, as I guess the vet clinic didn't do that part.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Operation: Inside Cat Enticements

Now that things are slowing down and we have a better idea of all of this will play out for our kitties, it's time to focus on keeping them inside and happy. Sparkle and Twitch have been inside cats since they came to live with us last summer, but Inari and Kuro are used to having lots of outside time and are both rather cranky with the new arrangement.

Our long term plan is to build an outside cat enclosure, or catuary, that they can access through a window. But, until then, we needed something. So we found some really great windowsill cat perches. First we just bought one and put it up today. Inari and Kuro both tested it out and completely approved. So, then, we went back and got two more. They attach to the windowsill with a velcro strip that you stick onto the sill. They also have removable washable covers. (Bonus points!) They were also cheaper than the carpet covered window perches that require putting holes in the walls. Then we bought them more treats, catnip, and those cardboard scratchers. Twitch loves the scratchers!

I know it's going to be hard for Inari and Kuro to adjust, but I think they'll be happy with the catuary.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pictures - One Week Later

Twitch perched on the kitchen window sill, enjoying the fresh air.

Sparkle is recovering quite well.

Kuro says "no pictures, please."

Here's Inari, who feels left out of all the excitement.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

On The Mend

I took a small break from updating here because I got a little overwhelmed when the week caught up with me and all I could do Friday was cry and cry and cry even more.

Kuro had urgent eye surgery on Friday because the swelling had gotten worse and there was a high risk of infection. She's now home and resting in her box (the cat carrier). She mostly sleeps, but is also eating and drinking water. She purrs when she's touched and really just wants peace and quiet. She will be our one-eyed cat. Perhaps we will call her Captain Kuro...

Sparkle is still doing a lot of sleeping but she is looking so much better. When she looks at me now, I see two clear eyes peering out, though she seems to still be working on focusing. She walks around the house, insists on eating in the bathroom and talks and enjoys the love we give her. We still have her on pain meds & anti-inflammatories but I suspect she won't need them much longer. I am wondering if this incident might have mellowed out her high and mighty diva personality just a bit.

Twitch is beginning to be up to her old tricks. She knocks things off the kitchen counter and tries to jump into the cat food bin. She cuddles up with me and has her incredibly adorable whisper-meow back! We almost have our crazy, chip-fiending, lunatic kitten again! She hasn't wanted to play with Nutmeg, her bunny friend, and he seems a bit put off by her absence, but I suspect she'll be ready to play again soon. She's off the pain meds and definitely out of the shock state where she spent most of the week.

On Friday when we picked up Kuro, the nurse told us she had sent a picture of the bullet taken out of Sparkle's face to a friend of hers in forensics (and animal services maybe?). Her friend said it was from a .22 rifle with a scope, shot from long range. I've done a little research online and had confirmation from a friend that this seems to be true. Our house happens to sit on a hill that goes down towards Peralta Creek. On the other side of the creek is a shady neighborhood that gives me the creeps. The way that everything sits, parts of our house and backyard (and our neighbors' houses and yards) are in view of the apartments across the creek. The rest is blocked by trees. I am wondering if the shots came from over there. That brings the creepy neighborhood a bit closer.

It's getting too close. We need to move.

The nurse also congratulated me on my blog. The clinic is proud of us for finding a way to pay for our cat's care. This wouldn't have been so successful without all of you. My gratitude is abundant.

Friday night we finally headed out to get some dinner away from the house and do our laundry. We had our first nice dinner date out in months, which unfortunately ended with getting in a fight with a gas station attendant who seemingly enjoys picking on disabled people. The laundry didn't get done. But bit by bit everything is getting better. I can't wait to get entirely past this horrid episode, take with me the lessons, and have more years with our sweet feline companions. I shudder to think what we would have had to do without your help.

I will update with pictures soon. Maybe not of Kuro yet, even though she is looking better.

Blessings & love to all of you...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Bit About Love

Some horrible disturbed person or people hurt my family's beloved kitties. The rage you and I both feel over this comes from a place of love. That love is why you are helping us pay for the kitties' care and recovery. The love we feel for our kitties will guide them through the healing process. They all came home knowing they were safe here in our love. Whoever is responsible for their pain and injuries isn't getting this kind of love and community support that we have.

Imagine what could transform if we all turned our rage to love and sent that energy to their attacker(s).

I've always done my best to lead a life guided by love and compassion. Not as a weakness, but as a strength. As others offered violence as resolution, I struggled inside to come to terms with everything. Yes, my fur-babies are hurting. Yes, whoever did this needs serious help. But the most effective help won't be an eye for an eye. It will be the flower placed in the barrel of the gun. It will be love.

Thursday Morning Update

Blog Post Recap:
Our Sad Kitty Story
Sparkle & Twitch
Wednesday Morning
Waiting For Sparkle

We picked up Sparkle (mama cat) from the vet last night and I didn't get a chance to post a full update on how that went.

They gave her fluids since she hasn't been drinking water. The bloodwork all looked good and the only abnormalities were in line with her being dehydrated. The nurses said she was "feisty" and fought with them, but would relax when she got pets. (We warned them that she prefers to be called "fabulous" and "beautiful" - not "pretty" - and loves to be admired.)

They sedated her for the x-ray. The x-ray showed a metal pellet just under the skin in her right cheek, so they made a small incision to remove it. The doctor showed it to us and said they'd hold onto it for the report to OPD's animal services. The dr explained that the pellet went in the top of her head, through the bone, around her eyeball and landed in the cheek. There's blood actually inside her eyeball, so we have to wait and see how that heals to know if she'll need it removed or not and if she'll be able to see ok or not. They've got her on antibiotics, pain meds, and anti-inflammatory meds.

We'll find out Wednesday next week what the long term prognosis is for Sparkle, but we're definitely out of the waters of whether or not she's going to live through this (huge sigh of relief). It also doesn't appear that she's significantly brain damaged, but she obviously can't see well and is still confused and not eating.

As we said goodbye to the vet, she said to Sparkle "Congratulations, you just survived a gunshot to the head."

On our way out we made the appointment for Kuro's eye surgery for next Tuesday. The estimate for the surgery is $650-800. Until then we need to watch Kuro for any signs of infection.

I just did the round of pain meds for the morning. Sparkle can tell when I'm approaching but doesn't seem to have a clear view of what is coming at her. She sniffs at food and relaxes when I pet her, but still no eating. I'm going to try some syringe feeding with her today. Kuro is staying solidly put in her carrier but received pets and meds graciously. Twitch has been wandering around the house like she's just checking where everything is, but prefers her spot on my suitcase under our bed. She fought as Esa & I teamed up to give her pain meds and the fresh scratches she put on my arm still sting.

The donations made directly to Esa & I or directly to the vet clinic have totaled $2300. Kuro's previous daddies have raised an additional $485 on their gofundme page. Some of you have told us to go ahead and use the money as we see fit, so here's our plan: All vet costs will be paid, easy to eat/ premade foods on busy days, gas to and from the clinic, a couple trips to the laundromat since our dryer broke right before all this happened and kitties need clean towels, and whatever the kitties will need for long term comfort and care as a result of this incident. We plan to donate the excess funds back to the SPCA or put them towards any other neighborhood cats that are targeted by whoever did this. (If anyone else's cats are victimized, we will add them to our fundraiser and updates.)

Much love and gratitude to all of you.

(Sparkle enjoying a bellyrub from Esa this morning.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Here's Twitch's x-ray. While the wound is on her right thigh, the pellet is on the other side of her left knee. Weird, isn't it? The dr was baffled.

Here's Sparkle's x-rays. She was shot from the top of her head towards her right cheek. The pellet went around her eyeball but her eyeball is full of blood. This also explains the blood in her nose and mouth.

Here's Kuro's x-rays. You can see the metal pellet in her head. It's directly behind her eye. The vet thinks it's possibly lodged in bone. They'll know more after Kur
o's surgery.

The Waiting Can Be So Painful...

I'm sitting here at home waiting for the call about Sparkle. She's been at the vet clinic since we left her there at 8am this morning...

So far we have received $2,135.54 for vet costs, food and gas. Kuro's former daddies, Mark & Marcin, have made a page as well that has raised $30 so far. My initial blog post about this has 354 views and I've received donations from several people I have never met, including employees of Pixar Studios in Emeryville after our story was posted to an internal email list.

We feel blessed.

We are able to eat and stay functional, with no worries about gas money to get to and from the vet clinic.

We are asking the vet to do whatever is needed to give our kitties the best of care. Yet, still, the fate of the fabulous diva kitty, Sparkle, is still a question lingering heavily in the air...

Wednesday Morning Update

This morning we got up early and, after all 3 cats got another dose of pain meds, rounded up Sparkle for her 2nd vet visit. Sparkle is the one the vet is most worried about. She is showing signs of possible brain damage, as she was shot in the head possibly more than once. But she was looking around and checking things out when we were waiting there this morning, definitely seeming more aware of her surroundings. Today she gets x-rays, fluids, and blood work. So, we'll know more after all that. Now it's time to go on with our normal day's routine, take care of Kuro and Twitch, and not fret too much over Sparkle until the vet calls.

We've gotten more donations since I posted last night. You all have given our kitties a total of $1,095.54. Plus the $200 we've put in, that meets the starting vet bill estimate. We're expecting the estimate to go up today after Sparkle's thorough check, so I will update about that when I hear more. It means so much to us to feel like we can help her rather than just have her put to sleep.

Really, truly, you all are amazing. The money, the love, it all helps.

Something that we realized last night is that we're giving all of our energy to the cats right now. We haven't been sleeping well since Sunday, and we have been having a hard time cooking, eating and cleaning. With both of our disabilities, we already have a hard time keeping up with things. The dogs aren't getting the attention they need and Terran is kind of bored (though incredibly helpful!). We splurged last night on take out, not something we can usually afford to do. We may be doing this for a while as Esa and I both deal daily with the extreme fatigue of fibromyalgia. We sincerely hope you all don't mind if we use some of the funds for easy food as well as gas to get to the vet clinic. (I'm talking taco truck cheap easy food, not fancy restaurants.) But we're also open to help with meals, gift certificates to local restaurants, or offers to help us clean the house and take care of the dogs. I do have someone I've hired to clean a few hours a week, though, too. (So looking forward to her being here this week!)

Meanwhile, Maia is away taking care of a best friend whose family just had to put their dog down due to advanced cancer. They were, strangely, at the vet clinic at the same time as us yesterday. So much animal companion pain going on right now.

Good morning Sparkle. Time to go back to the vet...

Twitch has found a comfy place to rest under our bed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Kuro is Esa's cat who supposedly doesn't like females. Thankfully I have enough masculine energy to get sweet Kuro cuddles.

Meet Kuro:

Kuro likes to lick Esa's face obsessively...

Unfortunately, Kuro's injuries are far too graphic for me to post a current pic of her.

Sparkle & Twitch

Mama & baby came to me from a lady in San Jose who had found them but couldn't keep them...

Twitch has become such a sweetheart and loves to stretch out on the bed with me...

Twitch even loves our bunny boy Nutmeg...

Twitch on her way to the vet today...

Sparkle, ready to head home from our first vet visit. She can give a death stare with only one good eye...

Sparkle at home again. All she does now is sit and stare blankly...

Our Sad Kitty Story

On Sunday we were leaving the house, running late, and Sparkle and Twitch got out and we couldn't catch them to put them back inside. We'd also noticed the Kuro, Esa's fluffy black cat, had been missing for a few days. She used to disappear occasionally when she lived in West Oakland before Esa moved her to my house, so it wasn't terribly weird, but it was still concerning.

Sparkle and Twitch are the fluffy black & white mama and baby cats who were found in a field, sick and malnourished, and brought to me last summer. I intended to get them fixed, vaxed and rehomed, but time went on and none of that had happened yet. I still had the vax and spay planned and was working on getting them appointments. They have been much healthier and Twitch has really stolen everyone's heart, including our bunny Nutmeg who loves to hang out and play with Twitch. Sparkle, the mama cat, seemed put off by sharing a home with other cats and I was hoping to find her a good home where she could be a well-loved solitary indoor cat. I was keeping them inside but they'd found several escape routes out of the house.

So, Esa and Terran got home Sunday afternoon and Sparkle showed up at the front door crying to be let in, blood in her mouth, nose, right eye and on her head. Esa thought maybe she'd been hit by a car and sent me a text. They got her set up and comfy in Terran's room before coming to pick me up. We returned home around 4pm and then Esa found Kuro in the back yard, her right eye swollen and looking horrible with crusted blood and such. She was dirty and covered with feces. (Kuro is normally a tidy cat who hates dirty litter boxes.) This is when we started to suspect foul play...

I called Oakland Animal Services. They said I needed proof that someone had intentionally hurt the cats. I called around looking for financial assistance for the vet and got found the SPCA Humane Advocate program.

Twitch was still missed. My heart sunk. By Monday night the pain of not knowing where Twitch was got to be too much and I had a crying breakdown. Shortly after that, Maia spotted Twitch out in the yard and ran out and pulled her from underneath a bush. At first we couldn't see any damage, but she was obviously in a state of shock. After a while we realized that there was a puncture wound on her right thigh. She was acting as if she had a concussion and having trouble getting to the litter box.

Today we finally got through to the SPCA and told them our story. They said they could only help with a portion of the bill, but they would do what they could with whatever money we showed up with this afternoon. We posted on Facebook, and talked to everyone we could, including the neighbors. (I've already posted to the neighborhood website that there is someone targeting cats in the neighborhood and some of the neighbors had come by to talk to me on Monday.)

As of right now, 9pm on Tuesday, our family, friends, and even friends-of-friends have donated $787.55. We have $200 of our own that we can put towards the bill. The SPCA is able to give us a couple hundred and they are shaving costs for us wherever possible.

We went to the SPCA vet clinic this afternoon. Kuro and Twitch got x-rays. Everyone got antibiotics and pain meds. Tomorrow we take Sparkle back for blood tests and x-rays. The total estimate for everything in the plan, including the surgery to remove Kuro's eye, is approximately $1200. So the prognosis so far is, yes, this is foul play. The x-rays so far show metal pellets. Twitch has a pellet lodged in her left leg. Since the wound is on her right thigh, the pellet must have passed through her bladder, which explains her peeing and sitting issues. Kuro has a metal pellet behind her eyeball, possibly lodged in her skull. They will try to remove it when her eye is removed. Other than the loss of an eye, these two are expected to pull through ok. Sparkle, however, has a few head wounds and very possibly major brain damage. The vet isn't sure she will make it.

Someone was trying to maim and kill our babies.

How do you even start to comprehend that?? I feel so sick...

We're home now and the kitties are home too. Everyone has had their pain meds and is resting (including Esa and I). I'm going to eat some dinner now, finally, and then I will post some pictures of the kitties. I'll keep posting updates both here and on Facebook. Feel free to share all of these blog posts.

Btw, I love you all. Thank you for showing so much love to our fur-babies.