Tag Archives: Health

Old Cats, New Cat

Mali and Malta joined our family in July 2006 when they were just five weeks old;

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They were sisters and best friends and together adapted quickly to living in a busy childcare home.  They usually loved all the attention they got from the children but also knew they had quiet spaces to escape to when they had enough.  I often commented on their ‘synchronized sleeping’;

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Over the years they got bigger – too big actually – Malta carried a little extra weight but Mali was very overweight;

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They were put on a vet recommended diet and dropped down to a healthier weight.  They still sometimes beg for food from the children so ‘Don’t feed people food to the cats’ has been an important lesson for the children.  It has also resulted in many wonderful conversations about healthy diets for both children and cats.  Through it all Mali and Malta remained best friends and still enjoy playing with the children and having alone time too.

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Last winter when we first introduced a new cat into our family I was slightly concerned that the two bigger, bonded cats may pick on the little newbie.  Sure, Mali & Malta considered children, and even our old dog to be acceptable housemates but they had never lived with another cat.  I wasn’t certain how the ‘old’ cats would feel about another cat in the house but I optimistically envisioned that the old cats would teach the new cat all the house rules and everyone would live happily ever after.  I was wrong.

Although ‘Button’ was the name given to the tiny little cat at the humane society and is her official name on her license and other papers, she was soon renamed.  We call her ‘Monkey’ most of the time – sometimes ‘Monkey-Butt’ because she is a very mischievous, naughty, sometimes ornery little cat with a big attitude.

She taunts and torments the older cats.  She pushes boundaries – growling in protest when removed from places she shouldn’t be and then immediately returning – sitting there glaring as if to say ‘I go where I please, when I please and you can’t do anything about it’.  She opens doors and cupboards and has stolen whole sandwiches left unattended for just two seconds.  Her early life as a stray allowed her to perfect her hunting techniques and stealth mode – for the old cats there is no escape.

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Malta seems very afraid of Monkey – running/hiding from her and refusing to enter a room Monkey is in.  I wouldn’t say Monkey is mean – just more like a toddler who keeps poking you trying to get a reaction and then laughing.  Mali has become grumpy – like the angry old woman who yells ‘Get off my lawn!’ when the neighbourhhood children play there – Mali hisses and snarls and chases Monkey off counters and other places she thinks she shouldn’t be.  Places that include my lap – I have battle wounds from cat fights that have occurred on my lap.

Monkey is not longer the scrawny little stray she once was – she has become a little ‘chunky’.  Mali & Malta however have lost more weight than they ever did on their diet. I started giving them regular food instead of ‘light’ food and when they threw that up I gave them food for sensitive digestion.  They still had difficulty holding that down and were getting so thin that I was concerned about their health.

I took them to the vet and after a thorough exam and blood tests he ruled out any illnesses.  They are however very stressed and have developed stomach ulcers.  I now have to give them medication twice a day and they have prescription cat food.  I also have a plug-in diffuser that spreads peace & joy & love (cat pheromones) throughout my house.

Fingers crossed, so far there have been no more cat fights or vomit to clean up.  Mali & Malta seem more relaxed – we’ll return to the vet next month to see if they’ve managed to regain some of their lost weight.  Monkey (finishes licking all the dishes in the sink and leaves a trail of wet footprints on paperwork as she walks across my desk) hasn’t lost any attitude yet though.

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Fitness

I am certain that at no point in my life anyone has ever considered me to be a fitness fanatic.  In fact, as a child I was considered ‘The Princess’ and my sister was ‘The Tomboy’ (I abhorred the princess label and everything it embodied but that is another post).  I loved school but loathed gym class.  I have never been able to understand the allure of sports of any kind – neither as a spectator nor a participant.  Equestrian sports were an exception but only because – OMG, horses! 

I took swimming lessons – hated them – still avoid going in to pools, lakes, rivers etc.  As a child I had a bike – begged my dad not to buy it for me but he insisted – my only memories of ‘riding’ it involve falls and collisions.  I have always loved hiking, if time was not a factor I would always, always, choose walking over any other form of transportation – but I don’t run, ever, for any reason.

I have one particularly vivid memory from junior high Math class when we were learning to collect and graph data.  For data collection the teacher chose to test everyone’s grip strength (here you can learn more about why you’d want that info and how to test it).  I stood at the front of the class for what felt like an eternity while the teacher kept insisting that I ‘try again’ and muttering about lowering the class average.  Seriously, 16 pounds was my maximum.

So, even though I’ve never been ‘athletic’, I have also never been sedentary.  In fact, I have trouble sitting for very long at all.  I’ve only been to a movie theater twice in the past 35 years – not because I dislike movies – but because they don’t have movement breaks and they disapprove of me standing, stretching and pacing during the show (like I do at home when I watch TV).

As I *sigh* get older I’m finding winter to be more and more difficult each year.  Yes, I do some yoga, shovel snow and go for occasional short walks but it is nothing compared to my spring/summer/fall activity level when I spend the majority of the day playing and working outdoors.  This winter my husband suggested maybe we should get a treadmill ‘because I like walking’… Ummm, NO!  I won’t like walking on a treadmill with no birds and trees and other things to enjoy.  He has always wanted a treadmill so he didn’t have to go hiking outside – not me!

Still, I was interested in checking out some other types of workout equipment beyond the basic stuff I had at home.  We went to look at some exercise equipment.  Of course he liked the treadmills – I did not.  He also liked the exercise cycles – I wouldn’t likely fall or crash if it was stationary but I doubted I would be motivated to use it.  I did find the elliptical machines interesting but hubby’s doctor wouldn’t recommend he use an elliptical.

We live in an old house with limited floor space and a very low basement ceiling height – we definitely don’t have room for good quality exercise equipment nor can we afford multiple machines to satisfy both our interests.  I began to think maybe we should consider something more than what we could do at home.  So, I suggested maybe we should join a gym… I know, I laughed too when I said it.  We did some research and decided Snap Fitness was our best option.

We’ve been going to the gym four times a week for two months now.  I’ve completed my first fitness score test (since high school).  I’ve learned some things like;

  • I look forward to going to the gym – even feel a little disappointed when it’s not a gym day.  If there was a gym closer to my home I’d walk there every day – driving there is the only deterrent.
  • Working out regularly makes me sleep so soundly every night – it is amazing.
  •  My  heart health and muscle endurance are better than I would have expected but my flexibility is surprisingly poor.
  • For the first time in my life I am intrinsically motivated and stubbornly optimistic that I will improve my physical strength.

Childcare is a physically demanding job and I believe physical fitness is important not only as so I can do the required work but also so I can be a good role model.

 

A New Perspective

This post may seem a little off my normal theme but there is a family childcare connection.  First though, a little history:

I went to a family physician regularly for 15 years.  He saw me through several of my pregnancies and delivered two of my children.  His office was nearby and even after I opened my family childcare home I could make late day appointments that didn’t require me to close the daycare or hire a substitute.  It was perfect – until suddenly he closed his practice.

I felt somewhat abandoned.  Apparently there had been a notice in the classified section of the newspaper but I hadn’t seen it.  I didn’t find out until I called to make an appointment and got the automated message.  I was supposed to schedule a follow-up appointment to get test results and instead I was left scrambling to find a new doctor and discovered that few were accepting new patients.

When I did finally find a new physician there were issues with both his office location and his hours.  His last appointment of the day was 4pm which would mean I would have to leave before 3:30 – earlier than any of my potential subs could arrive.  His ‘early’ appointments were 10am and the one time I tried this he ran late and I had to leave before I got to see him – my sub could not stay any longer.

So, for the last seven years I have only seen my physician for annual checkups in July during my vacation.  Every year he reports that I am his favourite type of patient – healthy.  Still, although I was not actively looking, I did often think that it would be nice to have a physician that I could visit more than once a year – just in case…

Recently I heard of a clinic that had extended hours and they were accepting new patients.  Their location was convenient too so I booked an appointment – on a Saturday!  I went for my first visit and was very impressed. Then they called me back for a ‘follow up’.  Hmmm, that’s different.  I went back and sat in the doctor’s office as he matter-of-factly stated “Your cholesterol level is too high.  You need to improve your diet, exercise, lose weight and we’ll check your levels again in a few months.”

What?!?  I left the office feeling somewhat stunned.  I’m all about healthy foods and an active lifestyle.  I read the nutrition information for everything I buy. This doesn’t make sense.  Maybe there was something I was missing?

I went home and did some research.  I read lists of the ‘best foods to lower cholesterol’ – many of my favorite foods were there.  Our entire menu revolves around whole grains, fruits and veggies.  Nuts, they are not allowed on the childcare menu but I eat them.  Fish – OK, this one is a bit of a problem for me.  I manage to choke down fish occasionally but I find it difficult so I take an Omega 3 supplement daily.

I changed my search to look for the ‘worst’ foods.  There were a few of my favourite ‘treats’ there –  things like french fries and cheese. Yes, I love them but I also limit them.  I don’t like red meat.  There was nothing on the bad lists that I eat regularly.

Then I thought…does the season make a difference?  Turns out that season can have an impact on cholesterol levels.  I normally have my blood tests done in the summer when we spend all our time outdoors.  We are indoors more in the winter – this year’s extreme weather has made it even harder to get outside to play.  I’ve done a lot more snow shoveling this winter but it is still far less physical activity than what I normally get in the summer.

Maybe my cholesterol levels have been higher in the winter before and I just didn’t know.  A visit to the doctor in the winter has given me a new perspective.  Seems I’m going to have to make some adjustments.