Galaxy Eyes

Galaxy Eyes

Firefly's eyes (with Tonks)

January 2020 began a long, crazy, EXPENSIVE journey for the family. I had noticed an odd cloudiness in Firefly’s left eye in December. He sometimes had flares of upper respiratory infections, and I thought this might be one of those times. But by January, it was still sticking around – and getting worse. He needed some lab work to recheck his thyroid, so I figured I’d mention it.

Cue the dramatic crescendo.

Uncertain WHAT the cloudiness was (other than not anything typical), the vet recommended a referral to an ophthalmologist. We trooped him out the same day – and got more confusion. It LOOKED like a sequestrum – a malady more common in dogs. Cats can certainly get them (spontaneously for no damn good reason – of course), but it was rare. And there was ulceration on the cornea due to an underlying dry eye problem. Surgery was an option, but with his dry eye, it wasn’t recommended.

Firefly's eyes with the worst of the sequestrum

Over the next six months, the poor kid proceeded to suffer through eye drop after eye drop after eye drop. At one point, he was on SIX drops – half of them THREE times a day. (Good thing both of us work from home!) And then, just for fun, he developed an ulcer on the right eye. His beautiful eyes started to resemble galaxies. NOT a good look for a cat. We were regular visitors to the ophthalmologists. They knew our car on sight, and everyone knew him. (Luckily, he’s a star patient) His dry eye improved – a little…at least it wasn’t ZERO anymore. He started resenting the eye drops and began running and hiding when he heard us open the bottles. We were hitting a brick wall.

Firefly post-double keratectomy

Out of options, we decided we’d hit rock bottom. The ophthalmologist agreed, and we went forward with surgery: a DOUBLE keratectomy. They removed part of the cornea on both eyes and place grafts. With his dry eye history, we were warned the grafts may not heal – not to mention that his eyes were going to look…well, not the best. And for those first few weeks, he looked rough. We held our breath and watched the blood vessels form attachments to the grafts. Fingers crossed, sacrifices made, and star charts consulted; he’d been through SO MUCH. When we hit that four-week recheck, I don’t think either one of us were breathing.

The grafts held, though! Healthy tissue and vessel attachment showed. And at the two rechecks since, the report’s been the same. He’s been able to drop down to just three eye drops (one’s even an over-the-counter drop!) twice a day. He’d prefer if we left his eyes alone, so he takes off now and then, but it’s not as bad as he used to be. And while his eyes aren’t the beautiful stunners they used to be, they don’t resemble cloudy galaxies anymore, either. It’s a compromise we’re willing to take. And not having to see the ophthalmologist for six months? That’s a freaking miracle!

Firefly's eyes now

We can actually see his pupils again. They’re larger than normal, but they’re in there. You also get a little of the prominent blood vessels on the left, where they’re gripping the corneal graft, but it’s more subtle than before. And since the left eye was worse, it’s kind of expected. We’re just amazed to SEE his eyes again. We spent so much of last year NOT seeing them. And wondering how much of his vision was obstructed. It was heartbreaking. Older, dapper gentleman or not.

We know he lost some of his depth perception. He’s a little more careful with his jumps. However, he didn’t lose his sight, which was a major concern of ours (especially since removal of his EYES was another possibility we discussed). And for a handsome boy approaching thirteen-years-old that isn’t too shabby.

The Great Couch Battle

The Great Couch Battle

Juniper on the Couch - FINALLY

We’ve always known Juniper was a strange Greyhound. While still a lazy, cat-like dog, she avoided the couch and bed. We chalked it up to her refusal to use her back legs. Planting her front legs on things presented no problem, but getting those back two up? Nope. It’s made for comical scenes every time we have to haul her into the car.

Especially when you consider she’s a retired racer.

Greyhounds have to jump in and out of trucks and vans as part of their routine. It’s a natural part of their training. No one wants to lift THAT many heavy dogs all day. (We’re not huge fans of the times we have to) But from day one, she’s just looked backwards over her shoulder at us as if she has a sudden paralysis. And while getting into the car isn’t optional, the couch certainly was. So she was left to her beds scattered in just about every room of the house. (A situation that worked for the cats)

And then came the fly.

For whatever reason, flies are where our weird dog draws the line. She’ll trample bees in the yard, attempt to snap up cicadas, and ignore mosquitoes. Flies, though – every fly is out to steal her soul. If a fly enters the house, she goes into full-blown panic mode and hightails it for her crate. We then have to go through an insane process of getting her to come back out. (After Tonks disposes of the offending insect)

It was comical and tragic at the same time. Especially the night THREE flies made it through the door. Tonks wore herself out trying to catch them (poor thing was sprawled on the floor in exhaustion), and Juniper refused to enter the kitchen to eat dinner. She was THAT petrified. We decided it was time to draw the line.

So we implemented the no-crate policy.

The next time a fly came in, we put the baby gate up. Deprived of her hidey-hole, Juniper miraculously figured out how to jump onto the couch. We were stunned. (We shouldn’t have been – flies were the only thing that got her to JUMP the baby gate in the first place) For whatever reason, the couch made her feel comfortable while our resident exterminator went to work. Since we’d long-since agreed the couch wasn’t off-limits, we left her there.

Didn’t take long for Juniper to realize the couch is a comfortable sleeping spot. She could curl up or sprawl out, with room to spare. There was just one problem: Squeak had made his migration to the couch, and he wasn’t impressed with the jostling motion. He also didn’t appreciate sharing the space with a gassy dog.

Thus began the great couch battle of 2020.

Squeak’s brain may work differently than other cats, but he’s still a cat. It didn’t take him long to figure out that if he shuffled further down the couch, Juniper wouldn’t jump into her “new spot.” We’d hear her whining and find her standing beisde it, staring at him. It got worse when Firefly decided to take up a spot, too. (Never mind that there’s a second couch in the den – she wanted the first one) We had to sigh and direct her back to her beds.

Squeak and Juniper sharing the couch

Morning’s became an epic battle over who could reach the couch first. Who got to the “prime” spot before the other. And who was willing to slide over and share. It’s amusing – almost as funny as watching Juniper slide into my fiance’s spot when he gets up!

Juniper finally discovered the other couch, but she gets grumbly when she has to shuffle out there. She whines when Firefly chooses to sit out there, even if he chooses to sit on the back instead of the couch, itself. The battle promises to continue into the future (and I’ve put my foot down on buying any more couches).

And she still refuses to get into the car without assistance. We point out the car is the same height as the couch, but she continues that pathetic paralysis stare. Logic doesn’t apply to Greyhounds, apparently.

Meet Firefly: The Perfect Gentleman

Meet Firefly: The Perfect Gentleman

Firefly - the very handsome

Firefly is pretty much the polar opposite of Tonks: the oldest, refined, well-behaved at all times, and while we guessed at her birth date, I know his almost down to the hour. This dapper gentleman has been a part of my life since before he was born (true story!), through terrible boyfriends, through less-than-stellar dates, right through my engagement and current wedding plans. And if he prefers to sprawl across my fiance’s chest to snuggling beside me, I try not to take it personally (he still sleeps next to me – that’s all I’m going to say).

My handsome little man was born under my bed – literally. His mother was a tiny little foster, and he and his brother, Smoke (who lives with my parents) came into the world in the wee hours of the morning on July 10, 2008. Contrary to what EVERYONE thinks, he wasn’t named for the TV show (sorry to disappoint). He got his name for the white tip at the end of his tail. There was no plan for either of the tykes to stay – they were fosters, after all – but Firefly’s journey down the road of lemon-hood started early (it’s so easy to justify not wanting to foist a kitten with medical issues off on someone, isn’t it?). Almost twelve years later, I regret nothing.

(My bank account does not get an opinion)

Regal though our boy may be, his list of problems seems to compound on a yearly basis. Things were slow to start, though, and he easily out-stripped his tiny mom in size: both he and smoke topped 17 pounds – and they were just plain BIG cats! He could (and still can) stretch from one end of a queen-sized bed to the other! Courtesy of that size (and Firefly’s good temperament) both boys were blood donors, saving the lives of other cats on numerous occasions (in fact, Firefly saved Squeak’s life – but that’s a tale for another post). Which was when karma decided she wasn’t in the mood to return the favor.

The Universe has a sick sense of humor.

In 2014, Firefly was diagnosed with diabetes mellatus. That put an end to his donation career, and it set him up for a lifetime of insulin injections. He tolerates them very well, I have to admit, though I curse the pharmaceutical company on a regular basis. I would have been content to juggle that problem, but Firefly wasn’t quite done yet.

In 2018, my then-boyfriend (now fiance’) noticed he was missing a canine tooth. A trip to the dentist revealed feline oral resorptive lesions (FORL) AND, just for fun, his lab work showed hyperthyroidism. Now he needed another medication. Once his T4 returned to normal levels, he was able to undergo anesthesia for dental radiographs…which showed FORL on EVERY SINGLE TOOTH IN HIS LITTLE HEAD. The poor thing ended up having full-mouth extractions. It cured the problem, and he eats fine – he just looks funny when he hisses at you (think of a snake).

Good enough, right? WRONG!

His blood pressure started climbing, requiring not one but TWO more medications to get things under control. (Not having any teeth DOES make pilling him a breeze)

Apparently, the Universe was still bored.

Remember the hyperthyroidism? Well, his thyroid decided that the twice daily pills just weren’t cutting it…and upping the dose didn’t do the trick, either. Nope, it was time to break out the radioactive isotope. I-131 is an injection that targets the abnormal cells in the thyroid and destroys them, effectively curing hyperthyroidism. The end of October 2019, he received the therapy, and his T4 is now normal – one problem solved!

The Universe hates answered problems.

Through all this – I would like to point out – Firefly has been the best patient in the world. He is sweet as pie, and everyone who works with him loves him. So when we noticed the weird spot on his right eye, I wasn’t too worried. Well, turns out he has a sequestrum…and an ulcer on the left…and low tear production which is inhibiting healing in both. Fast forward five months, and we’re still battling all three.

**mindless sobbing goes here**

Firefly cuddling with his ostrich toy

Our poor little guy has a giant list of problems – no one questions that – but he also has a heart of gold. He snuggles with his sister (his brother, not so much), he loves his new Daddy, and he always comes up to me when he wants something. He is my favorite child, and I don’t care who knows that. Everyone who meets him falls in love with right away, and he thrives on the attention.

You couldn’t ask for more of a trooper. He’s been through a lot, but he continues to behave as good as gold. How Tonks has failed to learn from him, I’ll never know. He’s my darling little man, and I was never luckier than when I heard those tiny mews under my bed.