Friday, December 30, 2016

Because Harris. Again.

I hope you had a merry Christmas. Mine continues to be merry because a few things I ordered on sale before Christmas are arriving now.

We have so far seen no signs of our late partridge tree ornament, which Harris mistook for a real bird and consumed the other day. As posted last week, here are its remains:

I guess Harris mistook its plastic body for delicious bones. Harris is among a small percentage of cats who love to eat plastic. Sigh.

On Christmas Day we stuffed ourselves and many packages into our little car to make our usual trip to my family in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, aka the "Christmas City of the USA." The whole time we were away, we speculated as to What Harris Might Be Doing Now. We have a great cat sitter who comes twice a day but there's not much she or anyone can do to keep Harris out of trouble.

It turns out he was busy. And not just in Possum's new apartment, a duplex that sleeps two:

As soon as we were back home in Boston on Tuesday, my husband discovered that his [airline] sleep mask was on the floor and missing about four inches of elastic. He is supposed to store these in a bag when he's not using them, but they often get lost in the night and end up on the floor. We're almost positive it was Harris who ate it. 

I called our vet, who answered saying, "Hi! What foreign object did someone ingest now?" We held our traditional holiday feline-forensic-pathology discussion and concluded that the elastic was probably not long enough to cause an intestinal blockage . . .  although it could. But it seemed more likely it would come back out from one end of Harris or the other in time. 

So we watched and waited for vomiting or other symptoms, and continue to do so. Harris and Toffee had their annual checkups yesterday; of course, the vet didn't find anything out of the ordinary as she examined Harris — except that he kept sending death-rays and hissing at all three of us.

If looks could kill, his probably will.

We told him he was the Greatest Cat Ever and that we had a lot of respect for him, and our vet even bowed down to him a couple of times, but it was too little, too late. He was furious. Harris hates the indignity of being transported in a carrier and handled by a strange lady as we look on. Toffee is a more reasonable fellow, although he complains loudly in the car. Harris is too busy plotting our murders to make a lot of racket in the car.

Neither of them liked their rabies shot. They have to have them every year in Massachusetts, although it's risky, expensive, and unnecessary to do it so often. Our vet is willing to inject it in the tail,  figuring that amputating a tail is less traumatic than a limb if vaccine-related sarcoma develops. But injecting the tail is slow going.

Both cats are going to be mad at us again fairly soon. It turns out they both have tooth resorption, an auto-immune condition where the teeth are reabsorbed into the gums. Both cats need to have two lower teeth extracted. I can't believe I didn't see the awful signs of this as I brushed their teeth every night. I know I don't do a great job although most of their teeth have very little tartar, at least. 

I felt a little better after our vet explained that even very good dental hygiene can't prevent tooth resorption; no one knows what causes it but brushing does nothing. Our vet's first available surgical appointments are in early March, and the estimate for each cat's surgery is $825, good heavens. After thinking about it, I've decided I need to call other practices to see if we can schedule them sooner, since tooth resorption is probably painful.

We went home armed with the Feliway-sprayed paper towel that our vet always makes for us. We are are supposed to rub it all over every cat and ourselves, which annoys everyone no end, so we all smell like one big happy cat family. Even so, Harris hisses at us for a few hours. But if we don't do it, his hissing lasts for days.

That was yesterday; today, he is his usual bad, adorable, little self. We figure he is waiting until close to midnight on New Year's Eve to have some sort of spectacular reaction to all the plastic and elastic he's been eating lately. 

I will keep you posted.


  1. Does your vet give the Merial PureVax rabies vaccine? That is the one without the adjuvant that can potentially cause sarcomas. There's a one year vaccine and a three year vaccine. Merial recommends the one year vaccine be given first and then the following year you can do either the one year again or start the three year vaccine.

    February is Pet Dental Health month and some vets offer discounts. You should call around to different vets to see if a discount is offered. One of my cats recently had a dental done at Angell and the final bill wasn't much higher than the estimate, a little under $700. The dental included removal of three teeth due to FORLs despite daily toothbrushing. I highly recommend the dental vets at Angell.

    1. Hi there! Thank you for writing! Yes, my vet uses the Merial PureVax; the tail injection is just an added precaution. I actually talked them switching to Merial when we adopted Harris; his Kitten Associates adoption agreement states it's the only rabies vaccine he can have. But the owner of our three-vet practice decided they won't offer the three-year version due to the expense and because it may encourage people to stop scheduling annual checkups. Tomorrow I will email Angell with a copy of our estimate and ask for theirs. We esteem our vet but she is the only one doing surgeries these days and I feel we can't wait for two months to deal with this if the cats are uncomfortable. And they must be. Thanks so much for the info and for reading my blog!

  2. technically it is required in Maine too, but the vet is not a law enforcement official and saying no is an option. Look into what the legal ramifications are if it ever becomes an issue (aka someone is bitten and drags the authorities into it screaming rabies) In most cases it is a fine..

  3. As a a Back Bay cat owner who will be traveling to California for a week or two this summer, I'm hoping that you could provide me with the contact information for your favorite cat sitter. Many thanks for your feline inspired blogging too!

    1. Hi there, thanks for your kind words! Our cat sitter is Just4Cats, and you'll find her at or on Facebook. We highly recommend her. She covers Back Bay, the South End, and the Fenway, and she is a treasure.

  4. Thanks for your prompt reply! That's extremely helpful.


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