Times When I Cannot.

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Fluffy kitten all clean and snuggly and . . . clean. Really clean. So clean–Oh gods those were happier times.

Mortimer Kitten woke me at 6:15 this fine (or so I thought) Sunday morning. That’s practically late, and so I was not particularly perturbed as I threw on a sweater and headed downstairs to breakfast the cats.

As I made the switchback on the stairs, my peace was–well, we’ll just say it was wobbled, but not broken. I smelled cat poop. If you’ve read this blog more than twice, you’ll know that poop whiff is a thing that happens with alarming frequency and so is not, in and of itself, cause for much more than a groan and the unpleasant anticipation of having to clean something. And that’s exactly what I did: I groaned, and felt momentarily irritated.

And then I hit the first floor.

It dawned on me then that the poop whiff was strong. Much stronger than usual. And my irritation turned into trepidation which then quickly gave way to absolute dumbstruck horror as I made the corner into the dining room to discover the floors absolutely painted (in an unexpectedly symmetrical–dare I say rhythmic–pattern) with cat diarrhea.

And then Nigel walked past, his llama pants caked from asshole to . . . knees? . . . in said cat diarrhea.

And he led me into the kitchen, which had also been turned into a midnight poop canvas.

And more poop in the living room.

And everywhere I walked, Nigel followed, looking like a semi-melted Hershey Kiss that had been rolled in orange fur. And he kept sitting. Everywhere, poop and sitting and deposition of more poop and poop and poop and poop.

I had two immediate thoughts:

1. Call Tim, the real estate agent and tell him to list the house because there is nothing to be done and moving is the only viable option.

2. This is not a thing I deal with alone.

I quickly dismissed option 1 because we’d obviously have to burn the house down, which seemed imprudent, and hiked the stairs to fetch Schmoop, whom I roused from slumber by flicking on the lights and announcing that Nigel had painted the house in cat shit and the B team was required.

I told him what had happened. It wasn’t enough–words aren’t enough. He wasn’t prepared when he finally saw. You can’t prepare for something like that. You just can’t.

After a pregnant pause for hand-wringing and gaping and me wandering around with antibacterial spray and paper towels trying to figure out a starting point that didn’t involve arson, we decided to tackle Nigel first.

Literally. We tackled him. Schmoop held him down and I soaked his ass end as he angrily flopped his tail around in a puddle of poop water, flinging it everywhere. Once he was reasonably clean, we moved on to the rest of the house, hitting it first with antibac, and then going over it with the Swiffer.

As I was putting away the cleaning supplies, I heard a series of thumps from the second floor, followed soon after by the telltale whine of the steam cleaner that I purchased at 7am several years ago after Nigel turned the living room into a vomitorium.

There was stair poop.

And also puke. You know. For good measure.

At this point, dear reader, I am sure you are concerned for the welfare of the kitten that produced such copious and creatively-delivered emesis.

Nigel, grumpy and very soggy and still sitting all over the place was in the kitchen. Begging for breakfast. Which is to say, he’s totally fine and probably feeling a hell of a lot better than he was about 30 seconds before all the carnage started.

And so, merry fracking Christmas: the lovely smell of our tree has been displaced by the reek of cat poo, and in addition to the immediate trauma of discovering and then cleaning up after The Incident I have what I can only assume to be a permanent paranoia about hidden poop streaks on furniture, presents, unspotted floor areas, dog beds, cat beds–ALL THE THINGS COULD HAVE POOP ON THEM. NOTHING IS SAFE.

Cards and well wishes can be sent to me, care of whatever sanitarium this lands me in. I’ll update as I can.

Tis the Season!

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Swatting ornaments is tiring work

Time to get a tree from the outside, with outdoor (and possibly squirrel) smells still clinging to it, bring it into the house, make a loud production of getting it into a stand and moving the stand into place, festoon it with lights and dangling things–many of which are fragile, old, of extreme sentimental value, and/or glass–held in place by sharp, bite-sized pieces of pointy metal.

Time to drape the mantle in curiously-scented faux-pine garland of unknown substance, wrap it with lights and hang sparkly balls from it.

Time to suspend knit, human foot-shaped objects above the fireplace so that they can gently sway in the breeze created as you run past them to prevent a dog from eating one of the ornaments you naively handmade out of cinnamon and applesauce many years ago and which retain no discernible fragrance for human noses, but apparently still smell like snack time to canines.

Time for critterless friends and family to absently wonder why you’ve only hung ornaments on the top 2/3 of your tree before they are bowled over by Karmann on her way to employ her Tail of Doom as a tree clearing cudgel.

You know. Tis the season for the longest chapter in The House Critter’s Guide to Total Anarchy.

Tis the Holidays!

Since we celebrate secular Christmas, this season continues through the Ceremonial Attacking of Paper and All Things on December 25th, past the Symbolic Burial of the Kittens’ Numerous Indignities under mountains of wrapping paper, and right on through the Hoarding of All New Things by Karmann. Speaking of, she got an early start this year, having spent last evening lying on Calvin’s antler while she chewed happily on her own, much larger, antler. Calvin was too busy looking fearfully at the tree to much care.

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teetering precariously on the verge of another Anarchical Season, centering his strength through nap

These are hard times for critters. Sandwiched between the cheer and goodwill of festive, treat-dispensing humans, and the tiring work of putting up trees and lights and garlands are many, many naps. Why, the critters were so exhausted from watching Schmoopie and I wrestle with indoor nature, swear, thrash about on the floor in puddles of sap and needles, and dash from the house on an emergency trip to spend $80 on a new marriage-saving tree stand, that they have barely moved since Saturday. Poor dears.

The promise of new treats and toys to gobble, steal, and fight over looms large and oppressive over their innocent, slumbering heads.

***

Ed. Note: There have been no running for critters updates because there has been no running. Not for critters or otherwise. I tweaked (not to be confused with twerked) my knee while running the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving and have been banned from running until I have an MRI this week or next. Hopefully I will have an update that consists of, “I am back to running and it still sucks! Yay!” by the end of the month. As of now, Running for Critters is still on, and will remain A Thing, though I may have to ratchet my goals back down to the half, depending on the outcome of the MRI.

No, Seriously, I Really Mean it This Time.

Teetering precariously on the edge of the step. Just like me. Except replace "step" with "sanity."

Tiger teetering precariously on the edge of the step. Just like me. Except replace “step” with “sanity.”

It’s been almost two months. My goodness. I actually feel slightly awkward about this because if you did get any kind of kick out of my blog then you know that two months could not possibly have elapsed without incident.

Nay.

The past two months have included the following (just to catch you up):

  • A Calvin/Karmann near escape on Halloween, which resulted in me unleashing a torrent of questionable language while trying to shove bouncing puppies back into the house as legions of six year olds and their horrified parents gawped. I gave them extra candy.
  • A Karmann poopstrike.
  • Suggestions that Karmann may be developing Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.
  • Denial.
  • Barking. A lot of barking.
  • Running for Critters hustle.
  • Extreme Nighttime Naughtiness.
  • PLAGUE OH MY GOD.
  • Knee injury.
  • Mort parachuting from the kitchen counter onto Karmann’s back, in the middle of a dog snit that started because Calvin had the gumption to smell a smell that should have been her smell ENTIRELY.
  • Nigel being pretty benign.

Continue reading

Slow Day at the Crazy Critter Castle

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Karmann waiting patiently for activity on the Squirrel Superhighway

I am icing a recently afflicted Achilles’ tendon that’s threatening to derail my running for critters plans, while binge watching Dawson’s Creek. I’m on the second episode, where Jen goes to the dance with Noel from Felicity and unfortunately forgets to wear pants. So embarrassed for her.

The critters, meanwhile, are mostly lounging in interspecies, sun-seeking nap groups.

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Save Karmann, who seems to be practicing her telepathy as she stands willing squirrels to run across her field of vision so that she can lose her mind and alert the household to their frolicsome presence.

Just another really tough day to be a critter.

Schmoopie’s Critterful Moment

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So, not infrequently, my critters get up to shit. And by shit I literally mean they usually do so in some inappropriate place, at some particularly inconvenient time, and the household devolves into madness as humans scramble for cleaning products/cats/dog/etc. Mercifully, this usually happens when we are both around, though I think I can claim without a martyr’s complex that when it happens with one person present that person is usually me. It’s just statistics: I’m with the critters all day, so I’m more likely to be the lucky one. This should not be a surprise, since I basically started this blog to record all the daily and apupcalyptic weirdness in which the critters are perpetually ensconced.

Yesterday, I went for a run while Schmoop hung with critters. The general mood, at the point I left, was increasingly bizarre, so I skipped out the door (and into the rain) gleefully, knowing that I would have a bit of a reprieve. Tra la la!

When I returned, a scant half hour later, the smoke alarm was blaring, a beagle was tearing through the house, and Schmoop was in the kitchen yelling at Karmann to move. From the strained timbre of his directive, she was noncompliant. I froze, wondering if my entrance had been heard above all the excitement, and calculating the likelihood that I could slip back out silently for “another run” by which I mean a trip up to the bar for “a beer” by which I mean many beers.

Just as I was slowly backing away, Schmoop came dashing out of the kitchen and up the stairs, grumbling as he passed that Cal had shat on the stoop and he’d just come in from a doggy potty break wherein Karmann had pooped and then, upon returning to the warm, dry indoors, parked herself right at the top of the basement stairs, indicating that she, you know, needed to go out, and could I deal with at least one situation. Apparently this all went down while he was in the middle of making me dinner.

I took the dogs out while Schmoop dealt with the smoke detector, which had no good reason for going off save that Calvin had pooped right beneath it. So either our smoke detector is a poop alarm, a sentient and malevolent device that seized upon a moment of human frailty, or the batteries died. WE MAY NEVER KNOW.

This episode came at the end of a very nutty few days of twice-daily prednisone for Karmann’s Addison’s. Said therapy clearly helped her, with the super added bonus of turning her into a kinetic pee machine, and thus the household hominids were especially delicate.

Nutter is feeling boatloads better on the once-daily dose, and is finally capable of doing something other than staring at us, pacing, and peeing–she can now rest comfortably AND ALSO be frisky when the situation demands it. And she’s convinced that most situations demand it. Going to the kitchen? PLAY! Going to the bathroom? PLAY! Going upstairs? PLAY! Brushing teeth? PLAYPLAYPLAY! Which leaves me to wonder about how long she’s been feeling under the weather. Because the dog I have now is the Karmann of two years ago: high energy, insanely affectionate, ready to go in .005 seconds. For those of you who have only spent time with Karmann in the past year, and are inevitably thinking, “but that describes the Karmann I know, so what could have changed . . . ?” I can say only that you have seen nothing. NOTHING. This Karmann–2 years ago Karmann–is nuttier than you could possibly imagine. She is indefatigable. She actually bounces. She is made of such raw energy that you can almost see her molecules vibrating. Come see her now. Better yet, come take her for a weekend. I’m exhausted.

Her improvement has also had a, um, wonderful (?) effect on Cal, who was so stupendously happy last weekend that he spent Sunday leaping for kisses and wagging his butt and dancing for grandma before all the amazing excitement made its way to his colon, where it was transformed into another round of frantic liquishitting. Even bouncing, kissing happiness causes systemic skepticism in the beagle. I have no idea how to maintain a perfectly unexciting yet casually pleasant household, which seems to be the only state in which he can function normally.

This past week we also (finally) managed to feed whole, bone-in pieces without initiating doggie world war. Usually, feeding whole chicken wings or thighs–the pieces we’ve previously tried–results in World’s Sweetest Puppy Karmann turning into a crazed and evil hellhound who resource guards THE WHOLE ENTIRE HOUSE from Calvin. So we stopped trying. Goddess knows we have plenty of inherent crazy in this house without having to bring it in from outside. And then, this week, we found the answer: duck necks. Karmann likes duck well enough to eat it, but not well enough to commit beaglecide. Score! The only downside is that Mort patently refuses to eat duck in any form, and we have to cut them into large chunks for Karmann, lest she redecorate the living room with duck necks. I will roll with these challenges if it means I have a non-murderous form of zoobie cleaning available to the puppies.

In Running for Critters news, I ran 9 miles last Sunday and I ran in the rain yesterday–and probably will have to do so again today. I don’t want to brag but that pretty much makes me a super heroine.

Kitten Curtain Deathmatch and Other Pleasantries

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The kittens have the sort of relationship that would make Dr. Phil raise an eyebrow. One minute they love each other and are snuggling adorably,the next minute they sound like a small herd of rabid elephants stampeding through the house on a murderquest. Rabid, quacking, yowling, screaming elephants.

Occasionally, they use props. Mortimer really liked it when we were painting the dining room, and a plastic tarp thrown over a kitchen island-turned-buffet created an amenable murderers cave. He would hide beneath the buffet–behind the tarp–and wait for an unsuspecting Puppy, Nigel, or human to walk past, greeting all with the ninja paw, or sometimes even a full kitten lunge-and-retreat. By the time painting was complete, the tarp was shredded. In times without painting projects, though, a bed, human, or piece of furniture will provide suitable cover for whichever kitten is on the offensive. They take turns being the aggressor.

Yesterday, they used the delightfully old timey window treatments left by the previous homeowners, which we have been reluctant to replace because critters destroy everything, as staging for their battle royale. For ten or so minutes they alternated hiding behind the curtain, and deathmauling the curtain hider, while I watched and giggled and calculated the survival rate of whichever kitten crashed through the window and onto the driveway.

As usual with kitten shenanigans, it’s all fun and games until someone gets a claw stuck on some fabric. In this case that someone was Mortie, at which point Nigel became bored and left the striped cat to sort his dilemma alone. Brute force prevailed, and I now understand where the mystery tear on one of the other panels came from.

To the neighbors wondering if this is some sort of crack house with the torn and lopsided window panels: not my fault! *points frantically at nearest kitten*

To the commissioners who want to raise my property assessment: this is totally some sort of crack house!

To any police who might have read the above and are now planning a SWAT infiltration and DEA bust: just kidding! (Unless a commissioner happens to be reading over your shoulder.)

***

In Karmann news, the vet confirmed Addison’s based on cortisol tests, and then did a full blood work up only to discover some things which supported Addison’s, and others that were exactly the opposite of what they generally expect. Given that she is my puppy and I have been informed by two physicians, independently, that various anatomical bits are “not exactly where the anatomy books suggest they should be” this is not particularly surprising. I grow ever more convinced that we somehow share DNA, or are swapping places. I have not personally had any interaction with a Zoltar machine lately, but who knows what Karmann gets up to when she isn’t busy pooping every 20 minutes.

Since “supportive” outweighed the “huh?!?” We are treating her with a short course of a low dose of prednisone and observing her closely. If she improves, we will take that as confirmation. If she doesn’t, I suppose there will be a considerable amount of head scratching. Either way, she’ll have another blood test at the two week mark.

So far, on day two of the prednisone, I can’t see any improvement. I can, however, see a lot of pee–increased urination being a known side effect of prednisone, albeit one I don’t recall her having during treatments in the past. And she doesn’t seem to get much warning, either.

KARMANN: *sleeping*
(15 seconds pass)
KARMANN: ohmygodtakemeoutNOWWWWWWWWW!!!
*pees on stoop*

I assume she’s just trying to not pee until the next regularly scheduled pee, but then realizes late in the game that that isn’t going to work. And unfortunately, when it happens in the middle of the night or at the ass crack of dawn she is thwarted by humans, who require things like pants (and the half asleep, blind, bumbling location thereof) to go outside. Natch.

She still seems off, to me–like she’s agitated not in the sense that she’s cranky, more like she just doesn’t know what to do with herself. Which makes me sad. Because I tell her we are going to get her better but it’s taking a really freaking long time and she just keeps feeling weird in the meantime. But then I suppose I need to give the prednisone more than 36 hours.

I hate being patient.

***

I also hate port-a-potties.

Which is why, if you are reading this and thinking, “Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh maybe I’ll donate to this broad’s fundraiser for the Animal Rescue League . . . Or maybe not. I mean, she’s kind of funny-ish. At times. I’m getting, like $.50 worth of entertainment out of this. Can I donate $.50?” I am here to tell you I’m sorry, I’m off my game, and YES YOU CAN! You can certainly donate $.50. And if 70 of you donate $.50 (that’s a total of $35 for my fellow MFA’s out there) between now and April 1 I will be entered into a drawing to win one of seven VIP passes for the marathon and a VIP pass means NO PORT-A-POTTIES!

It also means private changing rooms. Very swanky.

Granted. If I do not raise $35 by April Fools Day–which is also Calvin’s birthday, no pressure–I will still run, and I will pee in a wee plastic hut, and I will change in a giant room with hundreds of other sweaty females while averting my eyes.

I WILL DO THAT FOR THE CRITTERS. I will publicly undress for them. I will do that.

All you have to do is give $.50.

Sometimes it’s Really Hard to Be a Puppy.

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It’s hard to be a puppy when kittens steal your bed, for example.

And it’s really hard to be Karmann lately, as something in her gut just ain’t right. She’s been on meds for her intestinal irritation while the vet makes it through a drop-down menu of tests to find out what is happening to make her intestines intermittently fill up with gas. The latest was a fecal exam for parasites, which was negative.

We spent a chunk of last night’s witching hours at the emergency vet due to another episode of gastric distress. Same as last time, except no traffic, and no Paczki for me as it was 4am when we returned and also I think they are extinct due to Lent. I am once again sitting on the couch putting off the cleaning of vomit from my car’s driver’s side back seat latch. Say what you will about Karmann, the girl is consistent and her aim is spot on–what didn’t make it into the seat latch she rather kindly deposited in the back seat storage pocket. I stuffed both with Clorox wipes last night before dragging my be-Benadryl’ed butt to bed. Are those things absorbent at all? That would be nice if they were.

Her regular vet is now lining up an ultrasound. Hopefully quite soon. The emergency vet last night said it could be any number of things, from IBD to Addison’s Disease to parasites that don’t show up in fecal exams (whipworm, anyone? Mmmmmmm!) to cancer.

This will bring our household Critters With Ultrasounds percentage up to 50% and my sleep quotient down to None Of The Sleeps.

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Sad panda Snugglepuss is finally resting comfortably–if a bit dejectedly.

Squishable Sunday (on Monday)

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At least 50 times a day I look at a critter or two and am overcome with the desire to gather them all unto my bosom and and just squeeze. Because they are so freaking adorable they make my eyeballs pulse.

In Running for Critters news, I have only the following dramatic interpretation of my week in running:

“Oh yaaaaaaaaaaay! I’m finally back on track and actually excited about this 7 miler that I have on Fri–OH MY GOD PLANTAR FASCIITIS.”

Eff.

Rather than sidelining myself, I bought new shoes for my long runs (racing flats which, for all those who know my affinity for minimalist shoes, essentially feel like footshmallows to me) and have been stretching and massaging. Hoping some TLC will help.

But what I really need is a nap.

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I’ma Do What Now?

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It’s currently in the 40s and pouring rain. This evening, there will be snow. Again. Tomorrow it will be 7F when I wake up. Yesterday it was almost 70 and gloriously sunny. Last week the temp was in the single digits. Schmoopie salted the driveway after an ice storm, which is more than most people do with their sidewalks around here.

And through it all, I have been running.

I’ve also been bitching a lot. About running.

Three runs ago, on a damp, warmish day, I believe I may have elevated chub rub to its zenith. I also had an asthma attack. And I dropped my new phone in the middle of the street.

But I finished the run. Admittedly, I finished it walking, wheezing, and bitching about my phone, but I did finish. I did not stop at the park and have a rest and call Schmoopie for an emergency extraction, even though I really, really wanted to.

Why? Why am I doing this?

Because: critters.

In far, far too few days (54) I will be running my first half marathon to benefit The Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center, because critters are awesome and they deserve to be cared for and they deserve homes and the Animal Rescue League does all that, and more, for them. So I figured that I would put my otherwise very futile and first-world toil to some good use and attempt to raise money for a great organization.

All of my critters are rescues:

Mort was a born into a litter of barn kittens taken in by a cat rescue in Connecticut.

"I have no idea what any of this has to do with me."

“I have no idea what any of this has to do with me.”

Nigel belonged to someone at some point, but found himself on the streets of Ledyard, CT with nobody to claim him.

"13.1 miles? Is that further than the distance between the nibbly bowl and the couch. Because: exhausting"

“13.1 miles? Is that further than the distance between the nibbly bowl and the couch? Because: exhausting.”

Karmann was kept in a kennel in the puppy and kitten room of the saddest shelter I’d ever seen in Liberty County, GA. She’d been there for months.

"I love my zoomies, but I think you're getting a little carried away, mom."

“I love my zoomies, but I think you’re getting a little carried away, mom.”

Calvin showed up in our Augusta, GA exurb with dozens of his closest tick friends, a stomach full of twigs, and a bullet hole in his chest.

"This whole thing makes me nervous."

“This whole thing makes me nervous.”

Mortimer and Karmann both benefitted from the care and protection of animal shelters. Nigel and Cal could have used those services. I can only do so much without inviting divorce, which is why I am so thankful for the work done by places like the Animal Rescue League. They make it possible for people to help and care for animals without having to open up a private kennel in their backyard, or foster every injured, sad critter that turns up at their doorstep. The Animal Rescue League provides care and food and protection; they unite critters in need of homes with people in need of critters. They stay open 24 hours at a time during frigid winter spells so that no creature needs to freeze to death in the street. They rehabilitate wildlife.

They are awesome; I am one person who really doesn’t like running all that much but digs a challenge. Let’s make this weird partnership work out for the Animal Rescue League, shall we?

If you’re interested in donating, my Crowdrise fundraising page is HERE

If you can, please give.

If you can’t give money . . . Give me ALL THE MENTAL SUPPORT. On May 4, from wake-up until about noon, just send a steady stream of mental “KELLEY DO NOT DIE. DO NOT DIE.” vibes in my general direction. That will cost you nothing and may save my life. Karma points!

Every Sunday, I will post a brief update here, about how awful that week’s running has been. I will try to make it entertaining, if anyone would like to keep up with the progress of the person they may be funding and/or mentally willing not to perish.

I give unto you each All of the Thank Yous!