Category Archives: cats

Cats and Stress


So, JJ the 19-year-old cat started throwing up pink foamy mucus on Monday. We researched it and it’s a symptom of a lot of things, including gastritis (stomach ache). I took him into the ER vet Tuesday morning, they did a full blood workup and exam, and said everything is normal, he just has an upset stomach. They gave him something for nausea and an appetite stimulant and sent him home.

Except he wouldn’t eat. Drank water just fine, would get up and walk around, but would not eat. We tried all his favorite foods: tuna water, Gerber’s baby food in chicken flavor, the works. He licked at a little baby food Wednesday night, and yesterday I got a half ounce of adult cat formula down him via kitten bottle, but we were getting worried.

Luckily we have the best damn cat vet in Texas (Dr. Dana Crigger, Collin County Cat Hospital, cannot recommend her enough), so when I called this morning and explained what was going on she said bring him in, we’ll work him up between appointments. She ran some other tests to check his heart (which is fine), then called me and said that he’s not concentrating urine but his kidneys are good. She then posited that he might be hyperthyroid. “But cats who are hyperthyroid usually eat ferociously,” she added.

I laughed hollowly and explained that before Monday JJ ate like a teenage linebacker, begging for food every time we went into the kitchen. “Ah, okay. I’ll send his bloodwork off to be tested for that,” she said. “How well does he take pills?”

“Like a trouper.”


She then administered another anti-nausea med, an appetite stimulant, and some Pepcid to reduce his stomach acid, and I took him home. The moment he got out of the carrier he went straight to the food bowls and nommed down. He’s been back to eat twice more, and is now curled up in one of his favorite spots digesting and snoozing. I feel like I’ve unclenched for the first time since Monday morning.

Also, older cats slowly lose weight and turn into skin and bones. JJ? Weighed 11 pounds at his checkup in December and 10 pounds today. I swear to God, the world could end and the only survivors will be Keith Richards, Betty White, and JJ wandering across the blasted landscape.

King of Blades, Day 2

Okay, the word count on King yesterday was 4,186, bringing total word count up to 12,355. I’ve introduced the second of the Four Elements (the leaders of the Aqua, Aeris, Terra, and Ignis magical chapterhouses), Grand High Magister Aeris Petyr Epilonious, who has arrived in Hellas unannounced to evaluate little Luna’s Aeris skills (and flirt with everyone in earshot — think Captain Jack Harkness as a mage). Matthias has just asked Danaë if if would be okay if he skipped day two of the celebratory games and took his old university friend Princess Helene Debare to examine his son Lukas (she’s a healer and apothecary). Danaë is not thrilled about this for a number of reasons, but can’t really say no. And the first of a series of strange events involving Danaë’s twin brother Darius is about to occur.

That being said, I’m grateful for the dictation function in Scrivener because this little gray poppet has decided that she needs to sprawl on my left arm right now, and will not be dissuaded from this belief. So be it.

Friday in the Life of a Writer

Just in case you think my life is all eating bon-bons while I lounge around on my chaise, tapping out deliciously hot romances while Ramón massages my feet…

Yeah, no.

I didn’t get to bed until 2 AM last night so I woke up at 10 AM. After taking a bio-break, I scrubbed the upstairs toilet, scooped the litter box in there and swept up stray litter, took my supplements, and did other grooming things to make myself presentable.

Came downstairs to make sure that Cheetolini didn’t try to sell Florida or hawk drinkable bleach while I was asleep, then got started on Week Three of a Indie Publishing 101 course I’m taking to improve my publishing game. This required watching about 20 minutes of video, then completing an assignment (taking pictures of a title page, chapter header, and body page) that I liked, inserting them into a Word document, and sending it off to the instructor.

That done, I got up and swept the kitchen, dining room, and library (Ramón empties the litter boxes down here but litter gets everywhere), then scrubbed the downstairs toilet and swept the bathroom. At that point I remembered that I needed to send a chapter of Shadow of the Swan in to my writers group for critique as promised, so I spent about a half hour cleaning that up, popping it into a Word document and sending it off.

Immediately after that, the 18-year-old cat demanded a cuddle so I provided one, stroking his head and telling him he was a good boy (he’s now at the point where I will drop what I’m doing and cuddle him when he asks for it, since I don’t know for how much longer I’ll have him). After he got tired of being cuddled and wandered off to his spot, Ramón came down with his passport and asked me to take a picture of it so that he would have a record of it before he sends it back to England for renewal.

You may notice in all of this that the consumption of food has not been mentioned once. I realized after taking the picture that, hmm, food might be a good idea, so I put together a plate of leftover green beans and sweet potato fries, slices of smoked kielbasa and cheddar cheese, and a dollop of mayo for flavor. Scarfed that, drank a glass of Metamucil (because being regular is important), then loaded and started the dishwasher.

Which brings me to 3:10 PM, when I’m actually about to get started on writing. I’ve gotten to the first love scene of the book, FINALLY, and I can only hope that the cats leave me alone long enough to finish this with at least a dollop of sensuality and erotic tension.

Running around like the proverbial decapitated avian

Sorry about not posting anything entertaining and/or useful yesterday, but I have been one very, very busy writer for the last day and a half. Unfortunately, my busyness has nothing to do with writing and everything to do with paying bills, filing all my receipts and paid bills (I know how anal that sounds, but it helps when I have to prep the tax paperwork for the accountant), packaging stuff up and mailing it out to people, doing a big food stock-up for humans and J Crew which requires hitting three different stores, attending my writers’ group meeting over Zoom last night and critiquing some chapters from a member, plus all of the usual cooking/cleaning/household chores on top of that.

Phoo. I’m tired just reading that.

And yes, I know, minions would help. One time someone very kindly offered to act as my PA and I had to pass on it because I simply couldn’t afford them. Well, also because the actual writing business doesn’t take up a huge chunk of my time just yet — it’s everything else that has me running around and swearing under my breath. I swear, if the cats had opposable thumbs they would be VERY surprised at the chores they’d be assigned (I already know damn well that they understand English to a certain degree).

Speaking of the little darlings, Ramón and I have agreed that it’s time to address the weight problem that Jessie (above) and Jemma (at left) (and to a lesser degree Jeremy) are having. The two ladies are now 9 and 8 years old, respectively, and they’re putting weight on to the point where Jessie lumbers down the stairs (although she was still able to jump up to the stove top, then to the top of the refrigerator, and onto the top of the cabinets a couple of days ago) and Jemma, bless her heart, looks like a brown bowling ball. Our problem is our 18-year-old gentleman who wants to nibble constantly (and needs to, to be honest) and yowls at a genuinely shocking volume if he can see the bottom of a food bowl. We need to keep him fed and his weight up, but that turns into a buffet for the other cats and isn’t good for them. So we’re addressing this with weight management kibble and additional playtime for the younger cats (I wish I could get Jemma and Jasmine to eat wet food, but they simply won’t do it. Jems will sometimes eat tuna, but Jaz won’t touch anything but kibble). I’ll keep feeding JJ extra food and treats as necessary, but I’ll have to do it where the other cats can’t see.

And with that, it’s now time to get back to work on Shadow of the Swan, tra la.

Oh, my little darlings

As you know, Bob, I have five cats collectively known as the J Crew. Since I like to write in the living room, they have what I can only describe as a rota system where they take turns sitting on me while I’m in here. I have accepted this as my lot in life and use it as a break to comb them (best way of getting rid of excess undercoat, I’ve found).

Two of my little darlings, however, have lost lap privileges for awhile. Last night, Jessie (the dilute grey tabby at right) climbed up for a cuddle. Not a problem, I was just doomscrolling through Twitter, so I had an arm free. And then Jasmine, the striped tabby below, climbed up because by GOD, if Jessie was sitting on Mom she was going to get in on that action, too.

Now, Ramón refers to Jessie and Jaz as the Tabby Twins of Terror because 1) they’re both grey tabbies and 2) they did not like each other for a long time. Jessie is very much the alpha of the J Crew, and I think Jaz is a wannabe alpha. When Jaz and her sister Jemma arrived back in 2013, we spent a year with plastic picnic tablecloths covering all our furniture because Jessie used to pee on it as a way of marking her territory and warning off the interloper. So much fun.

Things have gotten better over the years, and the girls are now at the point where they’ll sit a foot apart on the bed or lick each other’s heads. Sometimes they’ll even climb up and sit with me at the same time. I have always been aware, however, that Jessie still gets annoyed with Jaz at times and will take a swipe at her, so I’ve always been cautious when they’ve decided to camp out on me.

Well, my luck ran out yesterday. Jaz jumped up and immediately tried to worm into her favorite position, which is sprawled across my boobs. Since that would have put her far too close to Jessie (and I also wanted to be able to scroll), I gently pushed her onto the other side of the lap desk. She did her grumbling growl and tried again, at which point Jessie lost patience with her and took a swipe.

Bless her heart, Jessie is neither the most graceful nor the most precise of cats, and her swipe promptly landed on my chin and lip, laying open the lip and creating two divots in the skin directly under my mouth. I started yelling, unsurprisingly, and both cats promptly scrambled off the lap desk, which promptly sent laptop, lap desk, and cooling deck sliding to the carpet. Because getting clawed in the mouth wasn’t bad enough.

Luckily the hardware is all right — if it hadn’t been, trust me, you would have heard the cursing from wherever you are. We always keep triple antibiotic ointment in the house as both Ramón and I are klutzes, so I cleaned up the wounds and liberally coated them with the stuff. Everything seems to be healing well today (although I can’t eat anything salty, as I learned to my dismay at lunch). As for the cats, Jessie has been slinking around apologetically, while Jaz clearly doesn’t remember anything and is her usual ditzy self.

So while I love them both very much, they’re not coming up on the Chesterfield for awhile because ow.

Writing With Cats

One of the many, many ways COVID-19 has impacted my writing schedule is my inability to go out and write at a coffee shop. Yes, I know, I have an office, but the furry little darlings consider it their bedroom when our bedroom door is closed, and the ruckus they raise when I try to close the door is ridiculous so I usually give up and let them in. When I write downstairs (as I’m doing now), they work on what I can only assume is a rota whereby one of them jumps up on my lap desk and insists on being petted/cuddled/combed. And as you can see below, it’s a little difficult to get any work done when you have a huge Orange Beast on you demanding chin scritches. Once that cat is done, I get to go back to writing for a bit … until the next cat jumps up.

We have five cats. You do the math.

If I was on deadline and simply didn’t have time to cater to the J Crew, I used to go to a little coffee shop that is, ironically, right next to my vet. It has a great conference table with big comfy chairs and lots of electrical outlets, and they make some amazing Thai bubble tea. I’d go there, buy some bubble tea, water, and snacks, and sit there for a productive afternoon tapping away.

Unfortunately, that’s not an option at the moment so I’m trying to find a happy medium with the cats where they can sit on me for a defined period of time (five minutes), after which they have to go down and let me work. A spray bottle full of water has come in handy for this. Granted, I have gotten a number of glowers and pathetic looks, and they’ve started sprawling in various pathways around the house so that I have to pay attention to them (even if it’s only stepping over them very carefully).

Have you ever had cats (or any pets) that did that? If so, leave a comment and tell me how you managed it … or didn’t, as the case may be.

My cat has turned into Grandpa Simpson

So JJ, the 16-year-old black cat with kidney insufficiency, has gotten more and more cranky over the past year, to the point where he yells at me if his food bowl isn’t filled to the brim, yells at me if the other cats’ food bowls aren’t likewise filled, yells at me, when he wants to be petted, yells at me when he wants to be let down, and generally yells at me.

But since I know his kidneys are slowly failing I don’t want to ignore his yelling because I don’t know if it’s because he’s in pain or he’s just being grumpy. So, yeah, I’ve pretty much become his body servant. Cut to a few minutes ago, when he was yelling loudly from the living room. Like the good servant I am, I dropped what I was doing and went in there to see what was up.

Some background: JJ likes sleeping on the futon in the living room. I will occasionally bring him his wet food or water there so that he can have dinner in bed, so to speak. I’d left the spare water bowl on the end table, and because our orange tabby Jeremy is a huge resource hog who will shoulder JJ out of the way to get at any food or water I’d put another bowl of water next to it so that Jer-bear could drink out of that one while JJ drank out of the other bowl.

I go into the living room and see JJ staring at the now-empty water bowls. He then gives me an accusing look as if to say, “How dare you let these run dry?” Please note that we have two bowls of water with the regular food bowls and a big bowl of water on the breakfast nook table, all of which are washed and refreshed multiple times a day. But no, Grandpa wanted his water bowl on the end table, and he wanted it now.

I sighed and refilled them both. After a few minutes he yelled for cuddles, and has just now demanded to be let down. Once I did that he strolled off to the living room again, most likely to snooze until he decides to start yelling about something yet again.

My life, you know you want it.