Two More Canaries

(Image by Win Wallace)

Since the gas station opened in July 2018, I have dealt with five acutely ill cats, three of whom became so sick they needed to be euthanized. They had prompt, aggressive and thorough veterinary treatment. In the 30 years that I have had cats, fostered cats, helped stray cats I have never had to euthanize three cats within 10 months.

None of these cats were related to each other. None of these cats had a contagious disease. None of these cats were sickened as a result of a nutritionally incomplete or tainted diet. None of these cats had previously been ill with the conditions that led to their humane death. None of these cats were frail or super geriatric.

I can’t prove that the continous gas vapour infiltrations are the culprit. However, I think anyone in my situation would tend to wonder what WAS sickening the cats in my household. I believe what is happening is the cumulative effects of this exposure, that is affecting their immune system. If the exposure to the gasoline vapours were concentrated enough, the cats would all be in the same acute respiratory distress. During an infiltration they all act pretty normal. However – chronic exposure to benzene has been proven to induce a certain type of leukaemia in humans. Children are especially vulnerable to this exposure. There are cardiovascular, and neurologic effects that are well documented, too. Gasoline has many chemical additives. There used to be lead, until that was proven without a doubt to be heinous, and removed from the market. Who knows (except a petroleum industry chemist or researcher) what the myriad of additives to a particular brand of gasoline are ? What are the effects on humans and animals ? Has anyone connected the research dots yet ? Or is this information being suppressed ?

Tonight ( Jan. 4, 2020) there was another gasoline vapour infiltration. I photographed the tanker refuelling and it appeared the driver was not even using the vapour recovery system as required BY LAW. There was a WNW wind blowing. I started smelling gas at 5:30 p.m.. By 5:40 p.m. the entire house STUNK like gasoline. By 7:30 p.m. – I could still smell gas. My eyes burn and my head aches. Of course I reported this. The person who answered my call at the Ministry of the Environment Spill Reporting Hotline was a voice I have previously spoken to numerous times. I have to report the same details each time, then I get an ID number. I write this down. Then…nothing happens. The Ministry of the Environment has never issued a written document or report with regards to my numerous complaints. The TSSA has never given me a single report in writing either. Neither entity is responsible for even taking air or soil samples to prove what is coming out of the vent pipes is safe at this proximity !

Next Canary :

Grey Guy was a cat that appeared on my doorstep in the early winter of 2011. I had been getting local strays spayed/neutered/vaccinated through a new program in cooperation with the Toronto Humane Society (Toronto Street Cats). If a cat was friendly enough, it was placed for adoption through a local rescue organization. I had begun making connections with other people involved in rescue. At this time there were zero options for low cost spay/neuter. I lived close to a large social housing complex, and several rooming houses. Many of my neighbours on the street had a couple of pets, who were fixed, and for the most part responsibly cared for. The cat explosions were coming from the rooming houses and City housing complex nearby. More well off neighbours seemed to believe that giving the “irresponsible” (true but also untrue for people with no options) owners lectures about pet ownership would somehow create cat birth control. I knew the only solution was humane and kind action. Eventually a free s/n program was created for this area which fixed HUNDREDS of cats. This didn’t happen for at least a year or so though. Anyhow.

I had a box type shelter on my doorstep for local strays, and neglected owned cats. If the cat seemed like it had a sort of home, I would feed it and keep an eye out for it, and “Oops !” if I accidentally got that cat fixed.

One day there was a new cat sleeping in the shelter. I could see out my bay window onto the front step where the box was. This cat was a long haired grey one I thought I had seen before, one that was avoidant and shy. I brought out a plate with some food and water and the cat bolted out of the shelter. It was a long haired cat, covered in giant matts. It stunk like a dumpster. I quickly went back inside and hoped the cat would return. It looked very pathetic, with a runny nose and eyes, too.

I was relieved when the cat came back and ate the food I put out. It settled back into the shelter. I could see that it was pretty sick. I made a point of putting out warm, liquefied canned food when it appeared. It started to stay close by and would come running when I opened the door. Cautiously, the cat let me touch it. One day I saw the cat curled up on my next door neighbour’s porch furniture, just getting snowed on as it slept. This seemed horribly sad. I was able to line up a neuter appointment. I brought the cat inside and hoped for the best. Some cats are very relieved to finally be inside again, while others panic about the confinement. I could tell this cat was shy, but liked to be touched and pet. I kept him in the bathroom, with food and water and a soft bed. He seemed happy to get brushed and get the giant matts carefully trimmed off. He got fixed, with an ear tip. The rescue group that said they could take him suddenly couldn’t for some reason so he stayed with me.

He was always only ever called Grey Guy. He blossomed into an affectionate cat, with a sweet personality who liked other cats. His only deficit was that he was extremely shy about meeting new people. He was adopted by a nice woman who loved him and called him the perfect cat. However, her cat hated him and made his life miserable. She was in tears when she called me a month later and asked me to take him back. She visited him a couple of times afterwards, and even though she lived in low income housing on disability also brought me food donations for the local strays. She still loved him.

Grey Guy had always been easy going and healthy. He had a couple of bad teeth that caused him pain, that were extracted. This spring I suspected another tooth was flaring up. I noticed he was a little slower about coming for lunch, and didn’t want to eat dry food – only canned food. Over the weekend in early May I noticed he seemed to be breathing faster. He wasn’t hiding, or showing other signs of discomfort or sickness. I thought the increased breathing might be a sign of dental pain. At the back of my mind was the fear that he had congestive heart failure. There was a family of cats from my old street that had this gene, and all had succumbed to their bad hearts by the age of 8. All these cats looked very similar, though, with big heads, short hair, short bodies and big feet. They were black and white or orange and white. I didn’t think Grey Guy was related – and he was at least 10 years old. I watched his breathing anxiously for a couple of days. I previously had a cat with congestive heart failure, who threw a clot after his heart condition was overlooked by the vet. This was a traumatic and terrible outcome. I had also cared for a neighbour’s cat who suddenly went into acute heart failure, and had to euthanize a friend’s cat with known heart issues, while I was cat sitting. I decided to go the veterinary ER clinic, as I knew they had better diagnostic imaging than my regular vet. I was sort of resigned that if this wasn’t a bad tooth, that Grey Guy probably had Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart, usually the left ventricle). This condition could be managed for awhile with medication, though it was not a “good” diagnosis. Nothing about Grey Guy appeared acute. That afternoon he spent laying in the spring sun, in the window, and seemed fine except for the mild breathing thing. A cat in congestive heart failure is typically struggling to breathe – and as they breathe their entire abdomen flares in and out with the effort. As it worsens they are open mouthed breathing and panting in distress. This was not what was going on, at all.

At the ER clinic they take a verbal history from the person, and do a visual once over of the animal. Grey Guy was very scared about being at the clinic, but he looked otherwise in good condition. I explained my experiences, and my concern, and they did an immediate triage after I signed the consent form. About 20 minutes later the vet called me into an exam room. She asked a few questions – like had he experienced any physical trauma like possibly being hit by a car (no). The X-rays were devastating. They revealed that Grey Guy had very extensive plueral effusion. This is where fluids collect in the pluera – the membrane around the lungs. This can happen after trauma, or as a result of cancer or heart disease. They could tell more by draining the fluid and analyzing it – but this was not without serious risks including infection or lung collapse, and the fluids ALWAYS come back quickly until the underlying issue is treated, IF it can be treated. This was a lot of information to process. I felt like I had been hit by a truck.

Grey Guy was in the back in an oxygen tent. They took me to a different room with an oxygen connection, and brought him to me. Initially I thought that I would attempt to treat this. Grey Guy was in my lap with the oxygen hose just sort of wrapped around me, pointed at him. He still looked exactly like Grey Guy. For a cat as compromised as he was he looked great. It slowly dawned on me what the treatment would mean for HIM : being in a cage in a busy clinic, with injured and ill animals in cages all around him. Intrusions by many unfamiliar people, including large needles being poked into his chest. More Xrays and exams.

One of the worst things that can happen to a cat with heart issues in when they “throw a clot” (aka a saddle thrombus). This is where a clot forms in a chamber in the heart, and breaks free. This typically lodges in the junction of a major vein(or artery ?) that is shaped like wishbone that goes to each of a cat’s back legs. This is excruciating, and causes paralysis, loss of circulation and often tissue death. Diagnostic imaging can sort of see the clot forming (it’s described as looking like “smoke”) but that is not super precise. I had to decide whether to do nothing (unconscionable), begin treatment that had no guarantees of a positive outcome, though it might help for as little as 24 hours – or could give him days, weeks or months (but probably not a year or years). The only other option was euthanasia. I sat with him for a long time, asking him what I should do to help him. He was stressed out enough that even though we were in the room alone together, with direct oxygen, he was panting. He’d had an okay day. He had been hiding this major trouble from me so well. Some cats are very confident and brave fighters. He wasn’t. I didn’t want Grey Guy to have to suffer through days of painful treatments that might not help much at all. If it wasn’t heart disease but cancer, it had surely aggressively metasisized already. I told the vet that I had decided to euthanize him instead. She checked in a couple of times. I could tell she was holding the needle in her hand in the pocket of her lab coat. This felt like a horrible exam where there was no right answer.

I walked home with dead Grey Guy in his carrier after midnight. Spring trees were blooming with their beautiful fragrance. I felt like a murderer.

Did he just get the bad gene ? Lots of cats that don’t live next to gas stations develop heart problems. But Grey Guy did live next door to a gas station that is chronically poisoning the air in a house next door. Chronic benzene exposure induces cardiovascular damage in humans.

Grey Guy (euthanized May 6, 2019):

GreyGuyHappy.JPG

Canary After That:

Rumpy lived at a feral colony in an industrial area of Toronto. A woman and her mother had discovered this colony by accident, and felt compelled to try to help the cats there. Even though they were pretty poor, and had to take two buses to get to the area where the cats lived, they fed the cats for years. Some other cat people heard about this colony and reached out to help with things like transportation, trapping and getting the cats fixed. The caregiver said Rumpy had been at this colony for years but was in rough shape. He had some sort of accident or bad fight and disappeared for months during the winter. When he showed up in spring he was thin and looked awful. She felt he wouldn’t survive another winter there.

Rumpy first stayed with a very experienced cat rescue woman, while he recovered from being neutered. Several weeks later, she still hadn’t made any progress with him. He was hissy and stayed stuffed behind the toilet when she tried to visit with him. He was transferred to a different foster home and given a nice bedroom. This woman was pretty elderly, and also couldn’t seem to make any progress with him, as he just hid when she came in the room. She was going to have out of town guests who needed the room, and she wasn’t confident he wouldn’t make a break for it if the door was accidentally left open. I said that I could foster him while she had company.

It took another very experienced cat rescue woman and I almost an hour to get him into a carrier. He ran away from us and stuffed himself into impossible locations in the small 10 x 10′ room. At one point both of us were laying on the floor under the bed, on different sides, reaching out to him, both unable to grab or direct him. I could brush him with my finger tips. While we were talking to him in a soft voice, trying to make a plan, I was able to stroke his neck with my fingers and it felt like he leaned into this, just a little ! Finally we got him, amid disbelief at his wiley ways.

I had a small room I used for foster cats. They had a window they could look out of, a small bench they could sort of hide under, a bed, a dishes and litter. There was no escape, except out the door, and no heavy or large furniture that was inaccessible.

The caregiver had described Rumpy as “friendly” but so far none of the fosters had seen this. When I went in the room with his lunch, he hissed at me. When I went in to observe him and talk to him he hissed at me. He was eating lunch and using the catbox, but ignoring catnip. It was summer so I had the victorian sash window open about 2″ for some fresh air. Rumpy sat on the window ledge, with one front leg and one back leg stuffed under the window, as though he could escape this way. I thought that there was no way that this cat was not feral.

Despite this, I kept visiting him, and he kept himself on the windowsill, with a large plant between us. At some point I reached out to him, and hesitantly touched him. He hissed at me, but didn’t move away. I started petting him. More hissing but he stayed in one place. I kept petting him and his bum went up in the air – like cats do when they like a certain kind of touch. I said “Rumpy !” (Previously he had been called Greydon that didn’t fit at all). I just kept petting him, he kept tolerating this. Periodically he would hiss at me. At some point I could feel him silently purring. This went on for a couple of weeks. It seemed pointless to transfer him again since I was getting somewhere. Gradually he let his guard down. At some point he decided that I was okay then that was it. He was not a feral cat anymore !

With Rumpy, it was like a light switch that was either off or ON. He was feral then NOT feral. I was an enemy then he FULL ON loved me. We got to know each other a little more every day. Rumpy had to unlearn some industrial parking lot ways – like he got really scared when a light switch or a tv set got turned on in a dark room as in his brain this meant “Truck !” Rumpy decided he liked to be in my lap but growled when I typed at a keyboard. He decided that if he was on a table and I was close by that he would stand up and hug me. Unlike most cats, Rumpy flapped his tail when he felt emotional – especially positive emotions – which was most of the time. If another cat was already in my lap Rumpy would jump up and just sit on top of that cat ! He was really bossy for such a small guy. And he LOVED catnip – he had just been acting like he didn’t to trick me.

When he was on my lap his fur would part to reveal old scars. He had damage to one of his eye’s inner lids, and most of the teeth were missing from that side of his face, like from a major impact. Rumpy had survived some rough stuff.

Rumpy fit in well with other cats. Much to my surprise, he became a cat who was very confident meeting new people and even liked little kids. For the first year with me he wouldn’t even look out the window and showed zero interest in going into my small backyard. He definitely did not want to give the impression that he ever wanted to be “out there” again. After a year or so with me he relaxed about this, then definitely enjoyed some yard time.

Rumpy was always a super healthy guy, despite his hard and unknown past. He had some bad teeth out in 2018 but that was it. His bloodwork then was excellent. His actual age was unknown. He was an adult when he entered my household in 2011. I am guessing he was at least 5 years old but he might have been older or younger. He had some prolonged snuffles that cleared up with antibiotics this winter.

When I moved to this house, he seemed extra excited about the factory parking lot next door. It was like “Home !” in that part of his brain. He was also excited to come inside and eat lunch, too. I was very cautious about traffic and other dangers, so I didn’t like to let the cats roam freely if I wasn’t around, and I always rounded them up to come inside.

In the middle of this August, I noticed that it was taking Rumpy longer to finish his supper, which was new. This went on for a few days, so I took him to the vet. He had also been doing some reverse sneezing – the same as when he had the cold this winter. I assumed he might have a recurring upper respiratory thing going on. I decided to get some bloodwork done, just to be on the safe side. He was his usual bossy self at the clinic and seemed great for a cat his age. We were sent home with some antibiotics for the suspected URI. The vet that I saw wasn’t working on Saturday so a different vet called with his bloodwork results. This was SHOCKING. Rumpy was in end stage renal failure ! His creatinine was 633 (normal reference range 80m-221 mol/L), his urea(BUN) was 60.6 (5.7 – 13.2 mmol/L), his phosphorus was 4.8 ( 0.9 – 2.0 mmol/L), and a bunch of other results were either crazy sky high or dangerously low. This was all extra strange in contrast to the physical condition of Rumpy. He was about 93% normal. His blood tests put him past stage 4 of IRIS staging.

Click to access 3_staging-of-ckd.pdf

I had three geriatric cats with kidney failure between 2005 – 2008. Kidney failure (or “renal insufficiency”) is common in geriatric cats. Typically they start to show symptoms in stages – like drinking a lot, losing weight, new barfiness or inappropriate peeing. As their numbers creep up they might become wobbly, or weak, dehydrated, and have a lot of other symptoms. With Rumpy’s awful bloodwork, he should have been barely able to stand, very stinky from the accumulated toxins and dehydration, twitchy and almost comatose. But the only symptom he was showing was slight inappetance ?! Since he had been at the vet on Thursday, he had taken several doses of the antibiotic and seemed to be now feeling about 97%. This made NO SENSE. I rushed to the vet on Saturday before they closed to purchase supplies for subcutaneous fluids, prescription kidney diet and probably some other things I don’t remember in my panic. The mantra I remembered from the cats with kidney failure online groups was “treat the cat not the numbers”. I was very confused. I posted to these groups with Rumpy’s information, and the replies I got were almost skeptical, as this as a picture made NO SENSE. I didn’t know if Rumpy was just going to die, like immediately or what to expect. He had Xrays to check for kidney stones, ureter blockages or visible tumours but there was nothing unusual.

I did some reading about Acute Kidney Injury – like when a cat has ingested poison or a toxin which causes kidney damage. While Rumpy’s bloodwork certainly suggested this was what was going on – Rumpy seemed pretty okay. It was all super weird. I did hours of research on Bromadiolone – the horrible anticoagulant that is used in rodent bait stations – the one the gas station has but three feet from the property line. Had Rumpy eaten a rodent and was now being poisoned from this ? Rumpy doesn’t have any teeth left, and was never a big rodent hunter or eater. He also wasn’t a cat that would eat anything for kicks. IF it was AKI – why wasn’t he extremely sick ?

http://felinecrf.org/acute_kidney_injury.htm

I admitted him first thing on Monday for a day of IV fluids. The staff was surprised by his good condition, his now great appetite. The vet who saw him was also shocked by his bloodwork vs Rumpy in the flesh. She made a bunch of calls to specialists, pursued information about different conditions that “might” be causing this. Nothing made sense. It seemed that there was some sort of infection that was responding to antibiotics – but what ? He was switched to a different antibiotic that was effective against things like hemobartonella and leptospirosis. Even those diagnosis were not a comfortable fit. It was all very, very odd. Was he just some kind of super tough cat ? I guess so.

I started all the things you do with a cat in kidney failure – sub Q fluids, diet, phosphorus binders, B12 supplementation. I had no idea if Rumpy was just going to fall over dead or what was going to happen.

He did a month’s course of antibiotics. His bloodwork was checked a couple of weeks after the first crisis/non-crisis – and his body was responding to treatment. His numbers were still terrible – but they were steadily dropping towards normal. What was going on ?

After he completed his antibiotics he seemed fine, then as every day went by he seemed less fine. Cats with kidney failure often have deep seated urinary tract or kidney infections. A urinalysis was run which showed no signs of infection. It seemed like some kind of infection was making him sick and affecting his kidneys – but what ? He was started on a broad spectrum antibiotic that is used to treat kidney infections – in case he truly had a “silent” infection. He bounced back within a couple of doses and seemed fine again. What on earth was going on ?

During this time I tried to give Rumpy everything he wanted. He got lots of time in a sunny spot in the yard, he got to be jungle Rumpy sleeping in some tall weeds, he got to go in the front yard after midnight, and got carried around to see whatever sights he was interested in. He was 97% the Rumpy I had always known. I had no clue what to expect.

On Sunday Rumpy had a good day. That evening he seemed suspicious of his meal (which did have medication type things added to it, like all meals since this began) and wanted to eat another cat’s food. He barfed up his supper a couple of hours later and from that point seemed very unwell. I hoped it was maybe a GI bug. He wouldn’t eat that night or the next day. He still wanted to be held and was affectionate. Then he started hiding so deeply I had to look for him with a flashlight. He seemed wary and disoriented. This was really unusual.

Because he wasn’t in crisis, and everything about his situation was so complicated and weird, I didn’t think there was any point in taking him to the ER vet. The best they could offer was IV and some bloodwork, while I tried to describe all the things that didn’t make sense. If he had cancer of some kind – it wouldn’t respond to antibiotics. If he had an infection – where was it ?

I hardly slept and called the clinic the next a.m. Through tears I said that I hoped for the best but expected the worst. I said that I wanted some bloodwork done, and then we would go from there as to a plan of action.

Rumpy seemed like he felt obviously horrible – which I had never seen before. Despite this he made a fuss in the cab to the clinic, and made a fuss when his blood was taken.

His bloodwork was devastating. His creatine level was now 1200, and he was dangerously anemic. There were no realistic treatment options for him – since he had already been on the antibiotic of last resort (Marbofloaxin) for over a month. Aggressive IV might lower his creatinine levels to what – 1000 ? For a couple of days spent in a cage at a clinic ? I didn’t know what was killing him. I felt that euthanasia was the only kind choice as there was really no hope left.

I held him like I always did and he flapped his tail. They injected the sedative and he slumped a little, then the next shot was done. When his tail stopped flapping I knew he was gone.

What happened to Rumpy ? What made him so sick in such a very strange way ? Was he poisoned ? If so what poisoned him and how ? What infection devastated his body ? What infection can devastate an otherwise healthy cat’s body this way ?

Rumpy (euthanized Oct. 22, 2019):

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The first three canaries: https://blackpicketfence.org/2019/02/26/canaries/

Unsafe In My Own Backyard

The winter of 2018 held on into 2019 far later and longer than it usually did. It was damp, chilly and miserable throughout April and into May. Even my perennials were at least two weeks behind schedule. When the weather improved I was happy to spend some time in the yard again.

I repainted my vintage patio set and hung up some leftover canvas drop cloths. The area beside the terrible fence still had 42″ chainlink.

patio.jpg

This had the gas station’s gas meter, and had become a dumping ground for whatever debris was abandoned – old tires, torn cloth flyers, partial boards and whatever else got dumped there. There was no gate to contain this, and the mess was visible in my yard, right next to my patio area.

dumpingground.jpg

At some point I noticed a black box on the ground, pushed right up against the fence towards my side. It was unmarked. At first I thought it had something to do with cable or internet. When I walked home from the library I noticed another one in the factory’s parking lot, pushed right up against the chainlink fence at the back of the lot. This one WAS marked, and I realized they were rodent bait traps. But this wasn’t even on the gas station’s property !

I did some googling, to find out what the laws were about these things, but could not find much information. I contacted Health Canada, and after a somewhat protracted inquiry process learned that the use of these horrible things was legal, even adjacent to a residence. I also learned what was in the bait stations: Bromadiolone.

http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/bromadgen.html

As I have cats, I have never had a rodent problem. I am also very careful with food storage, and have most of my loose food staples in jars or tins with tight lids. I never have dry cat food left out, either. The cats are fed at mealtimes and the empty dishes picked up.

While I compost, I also compost the cat’s wood based litter. The poop is scooped and flushed, the peed on pellets turn to sawdust. Cat urine is said to be a powerful mouse DETERRENT: https://www.hunker.com/13422387/how-to-get-rid-of-mice-with-cat-urine

The gas station has ongoing issues with staff not using the dumpster properly. I’ve complained about it before:

https://blackpicketfence.org/2019/03/09/garbage-exasperation/

I’ll bet gas station customers dump all kinds of horrible trash in the cans by the pumps – rancid drive through food containers, junk food wrappers and anything else that might be floating around in a car or truck. As far as I can tell the convenience store does not sell any kind of fresh food. Many bottles, cans and wrappers end up in my yard.

This summer there were several small bags of wretched smelling garbage dumped by the tire compressor. I could sure smell them on my side. At the same time, the mountain of garbage built up beside the dumpster and stayed that way for close to a week, in the sweltering sun. Here’s a photo from the beginning of July, 2019:

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Here’s a photo from the end of July, 2019, featuring the horror garbage by the compressor:

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Now if there was a rodent issue at the convenience store – which only sells pre-packaged foods in sealed containers – then the issue seems to be with SANITATION. Stinking bags of food related garbage, like leftovers and wrappers, that were not emptied daily into the locked dumpster seem much more likely to attract rodents than my compost, yard or garden. There were no rodent bait stations next to the dumpster or receptacles by the front door or pumps.

The menial retail jobs I’ve had always had rules about making sure the shop was tidy before it was opened, and before it was closed. I have a hard time understanding that a 24 hr store does not have rules about staff ensuring that the store and yard were tidy. If people dumped their trash on the gas station’s property – it was still the gas station’s responsibility to ensure the garbage was properly contained. Of course an enclosure around the dumpster would help with that a lot. Why isn’t there one ?

About the Bromadiolone: This is a powerful anticoagulant. Rodents who visit the bait station ingest the Bromadiolone, but it takes them close to five days to die. They bleed to death internally. This is much crueller than a snap trap.

http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/bromadgen.html

Many animals die from secondary exposure to Bromadiolone. A cat, or hawk or owl eats the poisoned (but still alive mouse), then dies from the anticoagulant the mouse consumed. Given that the station is approximately two blocks from wild parkland next to the river, this is unconscionable. This explains what happens:

https://www.audubon.org/magazine/january-february-2013/poisons-used-kill-rodents-have-safer

I have cats, including a couple who are mousers, that eat their prey. The presence of these bait stations has meant that I cannot even safely let these cats into their own yard !

Here’s a terrible account of what happened to one cat, from a cat rescue group in NYC (Little Wanderers, July 5, 2019, Facebook). Even the veterinarian could not save this cat, who was otherwise being treated for a minor wound:

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As far as I know, there are at least 11 cats that live on this street, and 6 dogs. Right across the street from the station are two sketchy rental houses with at least 2 dogs. As any pet owner knows, it can be impossible to see what your pet has in their mouth, if you’ve turned your head for even a moment. If your pet has suddenly become unwell, the ER Vet Clinic can do what they can to diagnose and treat your pet – IF you can afford it. Critical care for a pet can quickly cost thousands of dollars. If they can save your pet, they will – but there are no guarantees. They will do what they can. Despite this your pet may still die, and you have to pay that bill for services rendered.

You can call the Animal Poison Control Center, but even that phone call will cost $ 59.00 USD for someone to try to help you: https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com

I’ve been careful to not have toxic plants in my yard, I don’t use pesticides or herbicides and I am still not able to keep my pets safe on my own property due to someone else’s actions.

There’s many things a household or business can do to PREVENT a rodent infestation – most of them are common sense. Poisoning is such a hateful and lazy solution.

http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/2014/09/cruelty-free-pest-control-rats-and-mice/

https://www.jcehrlich.com/mice/why-are-there-mice-in-my-house/

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/pest-control-tips/rats-mice.html

 

 

 

Canaries

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/story-real-canary-coal-mine-180961570/

Honky (Sick -July 2018 – Jan.2019):

HonkyJan19.jpeg

Not long after the gas station opened at the beginning of July, 2018, I noticed something was wrong with my big white cat, Honky. His eyes were often puffy and red, and he had gotten increasingly picky about food. During one mealtime Honky began running all over the house, growling and hissing. I didn’t know if he was being bothered by one of the other cats or if he had been stung by an insect or what. It was very odd.

This happened again a few days later. Then it started happening almost daily. He was really upset and panicked. His reaction was like getting zapped with an electric shock. I figured he must have a bad tooth that needed to come out, so we went to the vet.  Honky had an abscess over his upper fang. He was given an antibiotic, which helped him to feel a little better, and some pain meds. The pain medication was supposed to be given orally. It was a small amount of liquid that is applied to the inner cheek. However – getting ANYTHING in the mouth of a cat with severe oral pain is nearly impossible. Honky obviously felt terrible.

After he had the extraction(s) I hoped he would be on the mend. I had been through dental stuff with several other cats and usually they start to feel so much better in a few days, when their mouth isn’t tender any more, with the bad tooth or teeth gone. Honky seemed like he felt a little bit better, though not as much as I expected.

The puffy red eyes were still coming and going. I wondered what was causing this ? The vet didn’t know. It wasn’t mechanical – like when a cat has entropian eyelids (the eyelids turn in and the hair irritates the eyes).

After the first gasoline infiltration I wondered if this was causing it ? The puffy eyes were not directly coinciding with the day of a refuelling, though ?  Sometimes he was weepy and squinting. His eyes were never pus-y – like with a bacterial infection. He seemed like he felt unspecifically rotten, but I had no idea what was going on. His pre-surgical bloodwork had been perfectly normal, with only a couple of values slightly elevated due to the abscess.

In November the terrible mouth things began again. He acted like he had been given an electric shock when he was eating. Sometimes this would even happen when he wasn’t eating. He would be normal then suddenly he would be snarling and screeching in pain, running all over the house. Was there a retained root or a bad tooth that had been overlooked ?

Back to the vet, booked in for more probable extractions. It’s very hard to get a good look in a healthy cat’s mouth at the best of times, but a cat in acute mouth pain is not going to volunteer. The vet would get a better look while he was under. He suspected it was a condition called Stomatitis. The body launches an immune response against plaque. The gums get very raw, and in the worst cases the lining of the throat gets very inflamed and turns bright lipstick red. There can also be oral ulcers. There is no cure for Stomatitis. A full mouth extraction is a last resort, but can help some cats.  I previously dealt with Stomatitis in a couple of cats – and their issues and symptoms were similar to each others. Whatever was going on with Honky was odd, especially with the eye symptoms. A few more teeth came out. His gums looked bad but not the worst, and there were a few small ulcerated areas.

By this time Honky had become frightened about eating, and would only eat one type of pureed food, only in one type of dish. At mealtimes he would hide, and I would have to search for him. He would only eat after I pet him and soothed him and held the dish while he slowly ate, in a room with the door shut. Several weeks after the last round of extractions the horrible electric shock reaction returned again. I woke up with Honky snarling on the bed – not eating anything. It was very upsetting and awful. There were  more trips back to the vet. His mouth was healing fine, the stitches were dissolving properly, and the ulcerated areas seemed like they had started to heal. But the pain wasn’t leaving.

I wondered if euthanasia was the only kind solution ? Not only did he feel physically terrible, he was withdrawn and fearful about something as basic as eating. I felt awful having put him through two dental surgeries that didn’t seem to help at all.

I was reluctant to allow a steroid injection – if what was going on was stomatitis. Most cats have worse flare ups when the steroids wear off. Steroids are not without risk. A friend’s cat had a steroid shot for a flea allergy and died suddenly of heart failure the next day. Steroid use can also induce diabetes in some cats.

I read as much as I could about possible diagnoses, and treatment options. Different conditions can cause mouth ulcers. Chemical exposure can cause mouth ulcers and eye irritation. Lupus can cause mouth ulcers, but he didn’t have any other symptoms. Cats in late stage kidney failure can get mouth ulcers – but his bloodwork showed he was NOT in kidney failure, not even at stage 1. Stomatitis can cause mouth ulcers but not puffy eyes. Some research suggested that Bartonella (a blood borne parasite transmitted by fleas) caused stomatitis, and could also cause eye problems. Other research hotly disputed this theory, with many citations. Most cats in areas with fleas have been exposed to Bartonella, and will test positive and few get sick from it. Even testing for it is useless due to how widespread this is.

A Bartonella infection seemed to sort of fit what was going on with Honky. Even the treatment plans are widely different, with many different approaches. Honky was given a steroid injection. After about a week his mouth seemed to finally be healing, and he was now eating cautiously, but normally. The plan was, if his mouth was healing, that he would start a long course of an oral antibiotic thought to resolve a Bartonella infection. He’s responded to treatment, so far, so good.

The bigger question is what made this infection overtake his body like this, if this is what the problem was ? Honky has always been a healthy guy, aside from some genetically bad teeth. What turned on his immune response like this ?

Birdy (Sick then euthanized Dec./2018)

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Birdy was a petite odd eyed white cat who had been with me since 2005. She got her name from being abandoned on the doorstep of a former vet, in a birdcage.

Birdy was a lone wolf type, stuck in a household of several to many cats. I volunteered with a cat rescue and had many foster cats come and go. Birdy probably would have been happiest being an only cat, but I didn’t know that when I adopted her. Her solution was to live by herself in the bedroom, as much as possible. She had her special food, and water, and her solitary litterbox in there, and this suited her fine. She could come out of the bedroom when she felt like it – which she did sometimes. She just had no interest in making cat friends.

Since she became an older gal, she developed hyperthyroidism. This is a benign growth on the thyroid gland. No one knows why so many older cats are developing this, but it is very common. Birdy took twice a day medication to control the condition, and it had been well managed. She had been on this medication since 2015.

At the end of November I got really sick with food poisoning. The culprit turned out to be some new cheese I had just purchased, as I accidentally repoisoned myself with it to extend my misery. The cats seemed unnerved by my malaise and odd hours of sleeping and waking during that wretched week.

I noticed Birdy was being a little picky about her food, but seemed otherwise her normal self during the days and nights of nausea. I wondered if she was just sympathetic ? She got even pickier and was struggling with constipation and dehydration. Constipation had been a constant issue for her, for years, as she was very stubborn and would only eat one type of dry food. She was given a stool softener on all her meals, but the dose sometimes had to be adjusted. Too much would make her barf, and not quite enough would not offer relief.

Once I was well enough to leave the house for more than a few minutes I bought groceries. Birdy seemed excited about the roast chicken I offered her, but would only eat a few tiny bites. This was not right.

I took her to the vet the next day (Tuesday). She was looked over and seemed thin, and okayish – except for her dehydration. At this point she was still jumping into my arms. I took home supplies for subcutaneous fluids, and hoped this could help her over a rough patch. She didn’t seem to be responding to the fluids, so I admitted her to the clinic on Weds. for a day of IV fluids. She seemed slightly improved when I picked her up, but even with an appetite stimulant wasn’t interested in eating much. She went back for more IV fluids on Thursday. Her color was starting to become worrisome, she was begining to look yellowish. Cats that suddenly stop eating can develop a condition called Hepatic Lipidosis – Fatty Liver Syndrome. The cats that develop this are usually overweight cats who stop eating who suddenly lose a large portion of their body weight. I had been assist feeding her a high calorie food called A/D since she became worrisomely fussy, starting Monday. It didn’t seem like Hepatic Lipidosis was what was going on. I kept hoping that she would turn a corner. She spent Thursday on IV fluids, but seemed about the same. At home she wasn’t interested in being close to me which was unusual. I took her back on Friday for more IV and had bloodwork run. The vet called me around noon to discuss the results. it was very, very grave. She had severe kidney failure, anemia and liver failure. She was not responding to IV fluids at all.  The dumb part of my brain was still hopeful, while the rest of my brain that knew that responding to IV hydration was the bare minimum of survival and recovery. The vet was very kind and patiently asked me questions. It was obvious that Birdy wasn’t recovering, and felt progressively worse. Euthanasia was the only kind and realistic option.

If you have never had to make this decision you have no idea how tough it is, and how terrible it is to schedule this event. I had a couple of hours to prepare myself, and they were horrible hours. When I got to the clinic (weeping the whole way) the staff whisked me to the special room they had in the back, with dim lights and soft furniture. I had been through euthanasias before. I understood that if I didn’t feel that it was the right time yet, that I could say so, and that until the point that the euthanasia drug is administered the procedure does not have to occur.

Animals are often sedated prior to euthanasia. The Birdy they brought me was limp, nearly comatose. I asked if she had already been sedated. She hadn’t. Her body temperature was dropping and her breathing was starting to slow. She was starting to die, on her own. Natural death can be a protracted and painful process that can take a long time. I just wanted to release her. She died instantly with the injection. I saw how the pink color of her toes turned ghastly pale when her heart stopped beating. My heart broke.

Here’s the thing about Birdy : she spent most of her time in the north bedroom, my bedroom. This is the bedroom that is closest to the gas station vents. The window was always open a crack, and the door usually shut. She would have had the most exposure to the gasoline vapours.

There was a passing reference in a paper about human health and exposure to gasoline vapours, regarding animals: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp72.pdf

Right. Liver and Kidney tumours. Page 5. Published June 1995.

“Some animals that breathed high concentrations of unleaded gasoline vapours continuously for 2 years developed liver and kidney tumours.”

Birdy had bloodwork done in June and there were no signs of early renal failure at that time. She never had liver issues or even slight anemia.

Brutus (Sick -Feb. 2019)

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Brutus looks like a tough guy but has special needs. He has a condition called megacolon. The nerves in his gut don’t work properly, which can result in severe constipation or obstipation (poop that is too big to pass). He gets fed watered down canned food only, with a stool softener added to 100% of his meals, which he eats in a separate room with the door shut. Brutus’ greatest love is other cat’s dry food – which he will gorge himself on until he is completely plugged up and feels like his belly is full of painful gravel. The cats are only fed at mealtimes, no bowls of kibble for 24/7 free feeding.  He is also a chronic carrier of Hemobartonella (not the same as Bartonella, but also a flea borne blood parasite) aka Feline Infectious Anemia. He’s had a couple of flare ups of this in the 10 years he’s been with me. It can be fatal if untreated, but the symptoms are pretty obvious to me now. So far it has responded to a course of doxycycline. Other than that he is just a normal cat.

He was rescued from the euthansia list from Hamilton Animal Control. They used to have a policy that cats at the city shelter had three days to be found by their owner or euthanized. Something like 95% of the cats at that shelter were euthanized, as many as Toronto which is a much, much bigger city. They’ve changed some policies and I’ve heard Hamilton is much better now in this regard. Anyhow – I said I would foster Brutus, then realized that his issues made him unadoptable. I had also gotten too attached between all the worry and drama of Brutus and his problems – which were of course completely unknown as a sad cat in a cage with a big X on his chart.

On Feb. 9, 2019 I had another gas infiltration. You don’t have to go back very far here to read about it. It was the second infiltration in 10 days. This had never happened before. The most terrifying thing is that there is NOTHING I can do to get rid of the gas fumes. Even if I opened all my doors and windows – the fumes are coming from OUT THERE. Doing this would just let more gasoline vapours IN.

The next day, Feb.10, 2019, Brutus seemed a little off his food. He barfed up his breakfast shortly after he ate. He ate some of his supper but seemed like he wasn’t feeling great. The next day he ate about half his normal meals, and seemed dehydrated.

On Monday night (Feb. 11) I was giving him a once over and discovered his lips looked yellowish. This was really not good.

He went to the vet the next morning.  I was feeling especially fearful as this is exactly how Birdy’s troubles started out, too. The vet was nervous but she didn’t say so. In vet speak: “A yellow cat is a dead cat.” Jaundice is a symptom of very serious liver issues that are difficult to properly diagnose and treat. Brutus’ bloodwork was very alarming. His liver values were crazy sky high. For a cat with these results, you would expect a severely nauseated, weak cat with a tender belly that can barely stand. Yet while Brutus was under the weather he seemed sort of okay ?

In contrast to Birdy’s bloodwork, Brutus was not anemic, did not have kidney failure and was responding to IV fluids. Getting an accurate diagnosis for cat liver problems is a challenge, that usually involves an ultrasound, needle biopsy and possibly a surgical biopsy. This gets expensive, and invasive, particularly for a cat in potentially frail condition. The possible reasons for Brutus’ liver problems were Hepatic Lipidosis (he had been eating every day, so unlikely), a blockage in his liver or gallbladder ducts, a cyst or tumour, possibly cancerous, or an infection.

The biopsy process is not without risks, particularly as cats with liver problems can develop blood clotting problems.

It seemed that since he was responding to IV fluids, that he was probably not blocked, and that it was probably not a tumour. The best guess was that he had an infection. He was started on antibiotics and retested the next week. While his liver values were still above normal, they had come down considerably, so he was responding to the treatment. Brutus’ condition was confusing. He seems like he will be okay (I say this cautiously). Even during other health crises, Brutus never had liver issues.

I am extremely concerned that this sudden, apparently acute decline happened the very next day after another infiltration. What would any reasonable person think, in this situation ?

Gasoline vapours are heavier than air so they sink. The cats would breathe a more concentrated amount of vapours, for a longer period of time, when the house was infiltrated, as the fumes settle on the floor at ground level.

I hate this so much.

Will the rest of my cats start to fall like dominoes, too ? This is already too many.

https://www.ewg.org/research/polluted-pets/chemical-exposures-and-pets-health

 

Sad Cat Troubles

My semi-feral cat, Marm, moved outside in late spring of 2017. Marm was affectionate with me on her terms. I could not pick her up. When I moved I needed an experienced cat rescue friend’s help to wrangle her into a carrier, and this took awhile, with frightening hissing. Marm was fixed and vaccinated, so I wouldn’t have to deal with kittens or worse. Once Marm moved outside she absolutely refused to ever come inside. She would put her head inside the door, but she was not going to be tricked inside ever again.

Marm stayed close to home, and was usually found sleeping under one of the cars next door, or in the Cosmo flowers at the front. I put fresh water out for her every day, and fed her at predictable times, which she always showed up for.

One day I was surprised to see a new cat sitting in the yard, near Marm. This cat looked young, and had wild terrified eyes. I guessed she was feral. I strongly believe that cats communicate with each other about where to get food, and what locations are safe. I came out with a dish of dry food and shook it so the cat would hear the sound, but it ran off.

A few days later the cat was around again, and looked just as scared. Marm didn’t react to this cat at all. I brought out food again, and put it at a safe distance closer to the cat. The cat ran over and ate voraciously. I got a good look at it. This cat was painfully emaciated. After it ate, it drank and drank. Later it settled in shady part of the yard, but ran when I approached it.

This cat looked like it really needed some help. It began to stay close to the yard, but no matter how much it ate it didn’t gain any weight. Then I noticed that almost immediately after it ate that it had diarrhea. This was not good.

I called and emailed local cat rescues about this cat. The ones that responded told me to take the cat to London Animal Care. I looked at LAC’s site, and was reassured that it was a low kill shelter. The shelter statistics were posted, and they were euthanizing about 10% of the cats that entered the shelter. This was good – but would this cat be euthanized v.s. treated ?

I posted this cat as found on Kijiji, and London Lost Pets. I looked for any posts about missing cats that matched this cat’s description. There were none. I had a few replies, and they were all about how tragic this cat looked.

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Gradually the cat began to trust me. I realized it was a female. It was a tabby/tortie mix. She began to get closer and closer to me, and let me pet her. I could feel every bone. Her poor bum was very swollen, and she just dripped diarrhea. Despite this, she was a nice cat, who liked affection, and would silently purr. She eventually approached me when I was sitting on the ground, and rested her front legs and chest on me, while keeping her dripping bottom on the earth. This made me feel even worse, as she knew how awful her problem was.

I called my vet to see if they could give me some sort of reduced rate for this stray, They couldn’t. I really felt like if I took her to the shelter that she would have no chance. When I was previously involved with cat rescue, anyone with an obviously sick cat was strongly discouraged from bringing a cat with any symptoms to the spay/neuter clinic, or as a surrender, as as contagious cat could potentially infect MANY cats.

Eventually I couldn’t stand it any more. I had enough savings to cover some veterinary care. I couldn’t surrender her in good conscience, in her current condition. I took her to my vet, and the reception staff was able to offer some sort of kitten package that included flea treatment, and fecal tests for parasites, and a SNAP test I think.

I had been nervously watching Marm, as it was impossible to isolate a food or water dish. Marm wasn’t showing any similar symptoms, so I crossed my fingers that this stray did not have something grave like feline leukaemia.

The vet was nice about this skinny, stinky girl. Her fecal smear came back positive for tapeworms, and Giardia, both of which are simple and inexpensive to treat. She also had flea anemia.

I isolated her in the bathroom, and carefully washed my hands after I touched her. The medication started working almost immediately, and she was soon pooping poop. She started filling out, and as her anemia recovered she became fiesty. I didn’t need another cat – and I felt like she wouldn’t be a great fit in a household with my special needs cats. She was now looking and acting like a normal, healthy, bratty young cat, and escaped from the bathroom constantly to create mayhem.

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I felt like she would at least have a chance at the shelter now.

I don’t have a car, and the bus doesn’t allow pets, so I took a cab. I brought the found ads I had posted, and the receipt from the clinic, which had the test results, diagnosis and treatment. Her name on this invoice was “Stray”. LAC was a $ 25.00 cab ride. I spoke with whoever was doing the intake, some guy. I told him what I knew about her, and said that I had treated her at my vet, and showed him the ad and the invoice. He asked me why I couldn’t keep her. I said I had two elderly special needs cats, and that she wouldn’t be a good fit because she was so young. Then this guy asked me how long I had been feeding her ? I said she had been around since the beginning of September. This guy then told me that if I had been feeding her for three days, then she was considered my cat, and they did not accept owner surrenders.

What ?

I suggested he call the clinic, who could certainly verify that I had special needs cats, and that this cat was a sick stray when I brought her in. He refused.

I asked to speak with his manager. He left the room then came back and said the manager wouldn’t speak with me. (I don’t think he spoke with any manager.)

What ?

I could not believe the turn this was taking. No good deed goes unpunished.

I had looked up London Humane Society, while I was searching for a solution for this cat. Their site stated that they would not accept surrenders without an appointment, and did not accept strays. This was at the other end of the city ! I asked him to call the Humane Society for me, as I didn’t have a cel. He called a couple of times, but the number he was calling wouldn’t pick up. Fuck !

I was really exasperated, but tried to keep my cool. I took this dude’s card. What was his problem with me ?

The cab I had taken was still sitting in the parking lot. I asked the driver to take me to the Humane Society. I didn’t have the exact address, but I knew approximately where it was (north of Dundas on Clarke), and told him several times.

The ride seemed to take forever. I started to get nervous by the time we were in the middle of the country somewhere on Crumlin sideroad. I worried that I was going to be assaulted and left in the middle of nowhere, with a cat in carrier. The cab fare was now over $55.00. I finally got through to the driver that he was not taking me to the right place. In his head there was some deeply rural animal shelter – not the one I described. He called the cab company and got an estimate for the fare from LAC to the Humane Society, then turned off the meter. At the Humane Society I gave him the $ 35.00 fare, and asked him to wait, in case they also refused her.

The woman I dealt with there was decent. Even though I didn’t have a surrender  appointment she looked over the information I brought, and was willing to accept this cat into the shelter. I had to pay the $ 45.00 surrender fee, though. I felt sad hearing the little cat’s deep meows as they took her away, then brought me the empty carrier. I knew that I had done what I could for her, and wished her well.

I was sure glad to not have to get back in that guy’s cab again.

I looked over all the information from the City of London regarding animal bylaws, and there is nothing about this alleged 3 day feeding policy. There was also nothing about on the LAC’s site. I recently spoke with someone who has been dealing with ferals and she has never heard of this, either.

WTF, dude ?

Click to access animal-control-PH3.pdf

 

 

 

Trying to Leave Toronto

Even before my former house had closed, I was looking at Realtor.ca.

Staying in Toronto was not a reasonable economic option. If I went to back to school for a 4 year program and graduated with a new lucrative career, that would be least $ 72,000 in rent alone –  if I stayed put and the new owner didn’t raise the rent, or evict me so the unit could be renovated. A modest condo in a so-so location would cost more than I had to spend – before the condo fees.

I had also grown to sort of loathe the city. I couldn’t find the space to be away from people. I could hear them upstairs, I could hear the salon music downstairs, I could hear their cars and wretched music through the windows. Even when I went to the laundromat at 10:00 p.m. (it was open until 1:00 a.m. — and just across the street) there was always someone around. There was a high school across the street. I blamed all the teenage germs and viruses on the local streetcar for making me sick all the time in that apartment.

I saw a few great prospective houses and buildings come and go, while I was waiting for my funds. A friend drove me all over Hamilton, to look around. It seemed like a possibility.

One of the houses was a run down house from the 1850’s that needed so much work. It sounded like the last family member that lived there had some hoarding issues. Because I was waiting on my funds, I didn’t go to look at it. This liar bought it, and claimed a family member would be living in it. This person had a little pressure from the local heritage group. I was appalled when it reappeared on the market, with the exterior somewhat preserved, less than a year later. Inside it looked like a Home Depot showroom. All traces of the house it had been were gone, thanks to this shoddy flipper.

My realtor was the daughter of the realtor that sold my ex and I the house. She was supremely patient about showing me the worst dumps.

In the time between the house was sold, and I received my proceeds, house sales in Hamilton had gone crazy. Everyone who had been pushed out of Toronto was now feasting on Hamilton. What could have been bought for $ 125,000 in late 2015 was now over $ 200,000, with bidding wars. I looked at Realtor.ca twice a day.  I saw listings go up at 10:00 p.m. and by the time my realtor contacted the agent the next morning to schedule a viewing the property was sold.

We did make a couple of Hamilton expeditions and it was traumatic. One of the houses said it needed work in the description, but when we got there discovered that there had been a major fire and it was gutted to the studs inside. One had a crazy seller who wouldn’t let prospective buyers inside for viewings, and also had fire damage. One had a couple of tenants who both resembled Jabba the Hut, sitting in two dark rooms, side by side, on their independent computers, with messy chaos all around. Viewings were much more uncomfortable with the residents there. One had a missing lockbox so we couldn’t get inside. Next door these two little tough kids were sizing up up. They were just standing around in their yard in their bathing suits, with no parents around, asking strangers questions.

One house that looked promising had a realtor that told all prospective viewers to bring a dust mask, and advised that there were still cats living in the house. An elderly woman had been living there until she couldn’t anymore, and the family was selling the estate. The house had been cleaned up the best they could, which wasn’t very clean. I brought a can of cat food and some cat treats with me. I imagined the cats were probably pretty stressed out in there alone, with strangers coming through. I also brought extra shoes, in case the house was Hoarders level bad.

The house smelt like neglected cat boxes, old blankets, dust and despair. The cats were shy for a moment, but when they realized I was friendly stayed close by us. One of the cats was a love starved dilute calico, who was so happy to get pet. She had a funny, bony bump on her jaw, and I guessed she had bone cancer there. I noticed she was walking oddly, so I picked her up to look at her feet. All the claws on her front feet had grown so long they were embedded in her footpads, which would be so incredibly painful.

The kitchen was still filthy. Even the cat dishes were half empty with cloudy water that hadn’t been changed for days, and layers of old, old food. I washed their dishes and gave them clean water and a can of food. My realtor had a Swiss army knife, so I used the little scissors to trim the terrible claws and pull them out of her footpads. Her feet would be tender for a couple of days, but not as sore as they had been for MONTHS.

The house had many of the things I was looking for. It was an early 20th century house that still retained the original mouldings, plaster ceiling medallions, original windows and exterior details. Almost every room had a gruesomely overflowing cat box, that had not been cleaned for months, which one or all of the cats had been peeing beside. The house needed a new roof, new wiring, new plumbing, exterior repairs, new kitchen, new bathroom, new furnace, new flooring and extensive work to seal in all the bad pee smells, before any occupancy could begin. It did have a mature tree – exceptional for Hamilton.

I turned myself in knots trying to make this house situation reasonable. Maybe the seller would be willing to sell it to me at a lower price if I agreed to adopt and care for the three cats that were there ? I knew the family had removed other cats from the house, and there was a very panicked feral tortie in the backyard. I estimated that basic thorough repairs would cost at least $ 100,000. It was listed for $ 199,000. I chose to walk away and not jump into the frey. It sold for $ 370,000. I’ll bet some Toronto buyer felt incredibly lucky to get this semi, after having their dreams utterly crushed in the Toronto real estate market. To get a house like this in Toronto, even in this condition, would have cost at least $ 750,000 at that point in time.

I contacted a couple of Hamilton cat rescues and gave them the house address. I suppose the family was probably just dumping the cats at the local shelter. The elderly lovebug would have no chance, and would probably just be euthanized upon intake, due to her condition. I don’t know what happened with those cats and it bothers me to this day.

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Postscript

My ex and his lawyer finally ran out of antagonistic legal strategies, so I received my share of the proceeds from the sale of the mutually owned house nine and a half MONTHS after its closing date. His own lawyer described him as “insane” in conversations with my lawyer, and was ready to fire him.

Oddly, a piece of mail arrived for a woman who had adopted one of my foster cats a couple of years before. I contacted her – and it turned out she needed a cat sitter while she did some art stuff in Germany. She had lived in the upstairs apartment, before the building was sold. The building had belonged to an older man who had it for a long time, and was very frugal. He didn’t do many repairs, but he stayed out of his tenants hair. Their rent had been $ 950.00, all included (c. 2013 or 2014). I paid $ 1500.00 plus hydro, two years later, while the upstairs tenants paid $ 1900.00 for her former apartment, furnished with the finest low range Ikea.

Roller (the cat) had developed a very serious congenital heart condition – Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. He had gone into congestive failure a couple of months before and almost died. I was nervous to look after him. He needed three pills twice a day – or else.

Roller had been a tough guy street cat from the Regent Park (notorious social housing) area. He was confused and upset for a couple of days, then became the lovable cat jerk I had previously known. He ate my geriatric cat’s special high calorie food and got pretty fat. He had a good time at my summer camp and did not die, though I worried about this possibility every day.

When she came to pick him up he didn’t want to leave, and hid under the sink. The last I heard he was doing okay. I sure hope this is still true.

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