treelights

living things

A list of who/what I seem to be caring for at the moment and what they need.

Inner Household:

Our Household of Cats—

Ash: (had her for the last 17+ yrs) needs food and water, on a weird schedule bc she has dementia. She also has to have a separate litterbox on the main floor that needs to be cleaned a lot bc she has become easily confused. She *also* daily cries out when she gets confused and sometimes btwn Tony and I we can only get her to be calm if we actively hold her. As a last resort we give her pain meds if she’s been acting inconsolable for extended periods without snapping out of it. She also must be led actively to a bowl of cheap dry food or she will not eat.

Blindie Joe: (had him for about 8+ yrs) needs food and water left for him and an upstairs litterbox as well as a bed he can hide under. Camps upstairs with forays into the backyard when no one is watching. Has chronic eye issues, and is about 3 months away from needing another sedated vet appt to keep his eye, ear, and teeth situation cared for. He was utterly feral originally, and needs to have another cat around for complete confidence. He follows dementia Ash around even though she barely tolerates him. He misses Ken & Will who have both passed, and I hope he will befriend the kitten boys, he loves having other boy cats in the household. He also needs his coat groomed regularly by me as he has a hard time reaching properly and I’m the only one who he lets touch him regularly.

Lela: (had her maybe 6 yrs now) needs a food and water station but doesn’t come to be fed. Needs access regularly to outdoors. Lost her twin brother Will so has no close bonds in household now. Since MamaG’s pregnancy, will not come upstairs and hisses at her indoors so Lela sleeps alone on the cat structure in the living room. Hoping she will befriend the kittens when they get older so she has friends again. She needs to be approached on her turf for attention, she is lonely but sort of feral too. Afraid of ppl. She needs her ears cleaned bc she gets acne around the base of them but I have not had time to do it in two months now.

Mama/GG/Luna: (have had her coming up on 2 yrs) needs food both free feed and whenever she calls for fresh wet food. Her food is mixed with supplement for nursing cats. She has always been a picky eater. She sometimes will meow until I soak the dry kitten food in warm water for her to eat/drink. She has litterboxes everywhere, but she is very picky about that too. This morning she led me to a particular box all the way out in the hall, and then looked at me and wouldn’t use it until I scooped out the ONE lump of debris that was in the box first. She also calls to me to move straggler kittens when she wants them nursing but is already laying down with kittens on her teats. She also is very territorial of the backyard and waits for me to walk her out to go on the attack of any strays she finds inside the fence line. She recently is trilling and meowing night and day. The kittens mainly ignore her, but it keeps me up trying to figure out what she wants to get her to calm down and go to bed. Sometimes she wants the window open. Sometimes I can’t tell any reason why she is agitated, she just is. I make sure none of her teats look blocked up, and that she is eating enough to support all this nursing, and that she doesn’t go outside unsupervised and get hurt somehow.

The 4 Kittens: (have been here 4 weeks) need their area regularly cleaned for accidents as they potty train. Need litter trays with fresh dirt. Have a shallow water dish for them and will be needing slurried wet kitten food available this time next week. Need to be extricated from any weird places they hole up when exploring and mama gets distracted. Need to be kept in an ambient temp that does not dip below 70. Need to gain adequate weight each day from nursing enough and if not, the kitten needs to be set down with extra time to nurse with mama. Need to be very careful and walk slowly barefoot in any area they might have taken to exploring and hiding. Need their babycam recharged daily to keep track of them in the ‘nursery’ area. Need specialty foods ready for when they are eating and for mama to eat now. Need the light to be dim and they need a nest that has a top on it or they are not happy. We’re right at the stage where Joe and Ash are in the main bedroom in the daytime now, and Im waiting for mama to decide to bring her kittens out to meet these two cats.


The Outdoor Creatures Living in the Yard—

Long-haired Gray/Gomez: This cat is weighing the heaviest on my mind because he(she?) is clearly dependent on us to live. He came here starving and is frightened of every single other cat. He is very small and underweight. He has no place else to go, and he is super affectionate. He needs feeding 3 times a day, he gets ‘affection time’ in the early evenings on the back porch (bc we have to wash up afterward due to worry of him carrying a disease to our cats), and Tony is letting him come in through the window and sleep in his office at night, but shutting him out of the yard area in the daytime. He has an appt wiht a vet but it’s 3 weeks away. He needs to be scanned, tested for everything, fed, and either rehomed or somehow integrated inside if not bc this is not an outside cat imo. Also need to be careful to put freshwater in different places bc we’ve got fencing we’re erecting and so I don’t want to inadvertently cut anybody off from water who is squatting in the yard or passing through.

Squirrels: I do have a feeder and water for them, but unlike everybody else, they aren’t dependent on me to do that. It’s just that they are spoiled so they run up and mess with the windows if their feeder is empty. However, they live just fine off the filberts and raspberries out there. They also have a seat cushion they are systematically pulling stuffing from for their nests.

3 Crows: We have Mobry (“mouth breather”) his mate and now his one offspring. They are territorial and smart. They perch on the two frog statutes right at my eye level in the sun room and they crow at me until I come out to give them food. Also spoiled and also not dependent on me, they get fed birdfood, but they come to the door to beg for cat food. When raccoons or unfamiliar cats are in the yard, the crows will create a loud ruckus cawing back there. These are a concern with kittens as crows can carry a kitten off and kill it. They are fine with the adult cats. They shit on the chair tops though so those have to be cleaned and they throw birdseed everywhere looking for the pieces they want.

The Outdoor Creatures Passing Through Daily—

Raccoon/s: There are one or two raccoons that have been showing up the past month at night. In the morning, they’ve tipped over the birdbath and water dishes, eaten the leftover food and parts of the paper trays, and they do clumsy things like knocking over all sorts of different things in the yard. A few times one has come during the day but the crows pitch a fit and when I come out the raccoon will lumber away. If they are dependent on me, I am not making any special allowance for them save that they are welcome to what the strays/roaming neighborhood cats don’t finish off.

Blue jays/bushtits/hummingbirds/etc: These guys all get fed here and have a birdbath. I just have to keep the feeders stocked and the birdbath water fresh.

Big Kitty: Owned by someone else. Not fixed. The father of 3 of the kittens very definitely. He gets along with all our cats, and is the sweetest. Sometimes he sneaks in through the cat door to have leftovers in the kitchen. Comes by monthly probably when he thinks MamaG might be in heat. not my responsibility but he is darn adorable and persistent about begging for a meal so I give it to him on the porch so he won’t come in the house.

Crazy Gray: Owned by someone (originally at least) bc of the frayed collar on his neck. All our cats HATE him and he has several times tried to sneak upstairs to the kittens, passing food to do so, which seems suspect of a real threat to their lives. He doesn’t care what we do, he won’t stop coming here. Sometimes we feed him just so he will quit coming by hourly scrounging around. Hosing him chasing him, nothing deters him at all. He’s very long and jumps over babygates and fences in a single bound like a deer. Formidable enemy to our household of cats. If he continues, will need to get a live animal trap and catch him to see about contacting his owner.

The Plants—

Backyard: Filled with stuff that has to be watered, the things that I can’t miss a single day watering on back there are the hydrangeas, the clematis, the butterfly bush start, the potted plants, and Will’s grave plant.

Side Yard: Also filled with stuff to be watered including a damn garden, this house is too big for me. Things that can’t miss a day there are the weeping pine start I love so much, the artichoke, the pumpkin, and the four front bushes that were planted this Spring.

Front Yard: There is an effing rockery in the front along with the major plantings we put in on the top part of the front yard. Things that can’t miss a day of watering here are the ferns on the mossy walls, the trees we planted, and all the plants in the crescent we made out there. The grape. Technically all the grass should be watered in the property but I’ve given up and it’s slowly dying from lack of attention.

The Indoor Plants: I’ve got the starts from the umbrella plant, the vines, the herbs, and the spider plant. If only I kept them all in the same room. These need plant food every month or two as well as water.

Then there’s Tony and I. We need stuff too. Like I’m supposed to go to the store and get veggies to cook as well as something for our dinner so we can quit ordering crap delivered. No wonder i am feeling utterly behind every single day nowadays. This is just a list of the living things. The house itself needs care and cleaning daily too, God help me.
treelights

some energy came through

Maybe I was pmsing a lot more than I realized. I just feel better* today than I have in a week. Even though my shoulder is more sore, and other normal markers for having a shit day are still hovering in the picture, somehow I just have a better attitude. I have a lot to do, and I am traipsing up and down the floors of the house with a cheery determination to just make whatever dent I can in the mounting list of things to feed, clean up, put away, sort, repair, and water. I see I can (and am) spending all day working on this stuff only to not be able to get it done, and somehow, for a change I still feel good about myself for trying, not inadequate bc of it.


* Better meaning not horrible, but not up to actually great. I still have some anxiety and nagging feelings of overwhelm or fear cresting over me here and there, but it’s not as bad as it was, and there are times where it seems like there is hope and I’m clear on what I should do next.
treelights

kittens update

So much stuff! I am not getting very much sleep bc of it, but still it’s so cool!

Yesterday, I was over brushing my teeth in the bathroom which is on the far side of the upstairs from the closet the kittens are living in. I look over through the doorway and in the foyer a little gray alien being wobbles into view on his tiny legs and stared right at me with his little bug eyes! He looked very proud of himself, and a second later, giant (in comparison) Mama cat hastens to come stand with her forelegs right against his side, supporting and encouraging him to keep at it. They both looked so happy and adventurous! Gray really does look like a tiny alien rather than a kitten. The other three look like kittens but Gray’s build is different and I swear he has the piercing-est little eyes!! He has also proven to be the most advanced, ahead of his siblings at every “first” for the litter.

So it’s on! The kittens are starting to emerge!!

I have put up a row of boxes across the foyer exit to downstairs. They are tall enough that Mama has to jump over them, and no kitten would be able to get over. It’s building up my higher leg strength trying to routinely step over them a hundred times a day.

Late last night, Mama started a specific trilling note that I now know is her call to the babies willing to explore outside the nest. This time around, the three boys came wobbling out after her. She was trilling and encouraging her head off, and also swift-checking every few seconds to keep track of what trouble her three different staggering kittens were headed to get into in three different directions at once!

I went to check on little Girl, and who knows, maybe she was “told” to stay behind bc she seemed curious and unafraid, but also not moving toward her mom’s trilling outside the closet area. I picked her up and set her at the entrance to the closet in sight of her mom and brothers, just to see if she wanted to join them. She did not.

Then, early this morning, I hear the trilling and I see little Girl and Spot wobble out of the closet entrance with mom directing the other two kittens to the dirt litterbox *inside* the closet area. Mama cat skillfully introduced Firstborn and Gray to the 2nd litterbox area and then rushed over to patrol the two that took off into the bedroom.

It is so interesting how Mama cat is training the kittens to heed her. She takes a couple at a time out of the area, apparently distracting the ones she leaves behind with something else. Then, she trills for the exploring kittens to follow her. She will put her entire mouth around the head/neck of a kitten and hold it, while then patting their rear gently with her paw until they sit down when she wants then to stop walking and just stay there. Today, she managed to force her body underneath a low shoe rack table in order to guide the kittens underneath. It was obvious to me that she was telling them that this was a great place to hide if predators show up in the room. They did what appeared to me to be drills where she had them practice crawling under and sitting and then coming back out. At the end, as with Gray, the ones who went out on the adventure are rewarded for following her back into the closet again with immediate nursing just for them!

One oddity I don’t quite get is that she is less careful with little Girl. She left her behind out in the bedroom and didn’t closely patrol her back into the closet. She paid a lot more attention to Spot’s welfare and she almost seemed to have looked at me like, “you watch that one”. I did so, and I wound up having to fish Girl out from under the shoe rack table and carry her in to nurse with mom afterward. Maybe Mama knows Girl is pretty self-sufficient... or the boys are just more likely to get into trouble? I find it all fascinating.

Today the kittens are four weeks old. The kittens basically hit their weight goals for today. Two were a little bit under, but I am not feeling concerned. They are all progressing.
treelights

kittens update

Troubling things keep happening. My nerves!!

So, this morning the firstborn kitten inexplicably lost 2 grams. He went from 432g yesterday morning to 430g today. I was concerned. I re-weighed to make sure the scale was right. Today, I made a point of getting him and the other babies nursing a couple different times today.

To be on the cautious side, but confident it would be fine now, I re-weighed him this evening at 10 hours later. He has lost another 4 grams!!

I double checked again. That was indeed his weight at 426g. I coaxed mama cat into a nursing position and then repeatedly set him beside her to nurse by the other kittens. I'd have to leave or she'd spook from my interfering. I go back to check 5 minutes later, and everyone is eating or sleeping by her except firstborn who is just sitting at her back legs.

So, meanwhile mama cat, fed up with my fussing, jumps up to lay on the piano bench by the kitten box. I grabbed firstborn and tried to get him to latch onto mama. No one is a fan of this, and I have to hold him right there so he doesn't just slide off the bench and hit the floor. Mama is just about to bite my arm and then he starts sucking on a nipple finally. Having my hand under his back feet so they don't slide on the smooth piano bench inspires him to settle and suckle-- for about 3 minutes, until mama gets fed up with all this and jumps back into the box.

I quickly move firstborn down to nurse on her more, but he just wanders off. Whenever I try to replace him, mama cat just licks at him, grooming aggressively so even if he had been after a nipple he would've been knocked off.

I am beside myself once again, worrying. Because if he doesn't gain weight tomorrow, the recommendation is vet visit. No vet is available so it means an emergency room vet visit and they are all backed up by hours. PLUS the mother and all the kittens have to go together so it's a huge stressor on the whole litter. PLUS, none of the close places are open or available anymore so it's tualatin or vancouver vet hospitals... which are farther to travel with a panicked mom cat and disoriented kittens.

I REALLY got to hope and pray that tomorrow the kitten is heavier. Oh, and Tony has to work and I can't drive that far, so the kitten still has to wait until after 4 pm to be taken anywhere. Worst traffic, worst lines, and even longer before he gets any attention if he is indeed having some sort of medical emergency that a vet can even detect. I've read a few stories online where the vets say the kitten is fine and then it goes back home and dies a few days later anyway cuz they dont know much about newborn cat medicine.
treelights

Injured

I went to shut one of the windows, and the pulleys inside must have just snapped. It slammed down and shut on BOTH my hands. It was like getting BOTH my hands slammed in a car door— a thing I vowed never to experience again decades ago when it last happened to me. I am VERY careful around car doors.

The tips of my 3 longest fingers on each hand are hurt. Both my middle fingers are red and purple and black at the tips. I am going to lose the nail on my right middle finger. As you can imagine, trying to type this is slow and agonizing but I am addicted to being able to share and write out my daily experiences.

I was half naked bc I have an ADD mind, and it occurred to me it would be hot today as i was in the middle of getting dressed, so I dashed over to shut the windows with just my shirt on. After the window came down like a guillotine, I was crying like a banshee. I tried cold water and I almost passed out that made it so much worse.

I don’t handle physical pain well. Tony was training a new pharmacist via the internet and he had to stop the training and come upstairs to see what happened. I’m calm now but damn damn damn it still hurts. It feels like the tips of my fingers on both hands are caught in mousetraps.
treelights

kittens update

Had a heart attack coming to check on kittens.

I had not been into see them since this morning bc Tony and I were working on projects the last several hours downstairs. I finally go to take a peek at them, and Luna is almost tripping me to race up the stairs just ahead of me. Then she darts in front of me a second time at the closet. She is calling the kittens and I am looking at the birth nest, and they are gone.

As I start searching around, I realize I ran up over a bunch of blankeys and I become appalled at the fear that they were hiding and I stepped on them.

I was tearing the closet apart carefully, and then I turn around and see four kittens wedged into a crevice between a box and a wall!! I put food out for Luna in the other room and then I proceeded to move all four of the kittens over to the cardboard larger bedding area I’d originally made for them. There is no way they could’ve stayed wedged into the wall area... they were piled on top of each other and Luna couldnt have even reached them! She must have dropped them off the top of the box, and they were all stuffed in the very back corner.

I was incredibly relieved to see that all kittens were apparently unharmed by this move. Luna came running back in just as I relocated the last kitten, and she seemed to take the rejection of her new spot in stride. She lay down on the bedding and began nursing the kittens right where I’d put them down.

I hope she is satisfied with the way the cardboard “sandbox” sized area contains the kittens and has a dirt area in the far corner. I know it’s not much for being a hiding place, but it’s certainly more livable!!

I keep telling myself i need to LEAVE HER ALONE now in the hopes that she will get comfortable with the slightly more private position of her new nest. I can never tell whether to pet and approve of her or whether to leave her be and quit interfering. She looked a bit like she wanted my approval when i was coming up the stairs, but now I dont know.
treelights

Anxiety

Woke up at 6am shaking. I couldn’t get back to sleep.

I blamed myself bitterly for mishandling things yesterday in a way that would lead me to have insomnia this morning. I’ve had about 4 hours of sleep and I guess that’s all I’m getting.

Anxiety started to increase higher and higher as I realized I could not find a comfortable headspace to fall back asleep. I tried praying, I tried everything my jacked out mind could think up. I felt deep torment— a feeling I’m starting to see myself go through nearly every day.

Something came over me, and I went to a basket in the corner where I keep a worn blanket that was on my bed while I was growing up. Following some desperate impulse, I lay down on the floor at the foot of my bed with that blanket wrapped around my head. I found myself crying, staring at the blurred blanket pattern hanging over the base of the bed with old eyes that don’t work without glasses anymore. I cried to Cecily, and I felt like such a loser to have to do this, but I felt like I had nothing else left to me in that moment.

I felt something calm in me, I don’t know what or how. I would’ve stayed there longer but the cat was meowing in the closet so I got back up. When I got up I was severely light-headed. I left the closet again just in case I passed out and fell onto the kittens. I attributed the persistent lightheadedness to not taking care of my need to stay on the floor longer. Maybe I was supposed to fall asleep there.

I am laying down on the bed again. I still am not sleeping but now I don’t feel anxious. Tears helped me. Maybe Cecily helped me. I just wish I could hold onto this surcease of anxiety. It’s odd because I still fear for myself and my prospects at this point, but fear is so very different than pervasive anxiety.

“Anxiety” feels like it’s more of a sensory perception/interpretation of Something Wrong & Threatening happening to you right now, whereas “fear” seems to be more like a feeling based on a judgement about a situation as having a component you don’t want, to whatever degree or intensity. I can fear the worst and still function with difficulty, but anxiety of the worst order is like being dropped off a cliff and asked to perform calculus on the way down. I can’t live with that.
treelights

kittens update

I tried to figure out the kittens’ genders this morning. What that consisted of was me trying to maneuver each kitten (after weighing it) into a position where I could try to take a short look. It made me so nervous to have them cry or start pitching a fit, that I quickly returned each one to their nest feeling like a flustered giant ogre for manhandling them.

I watched a couple videos yesterday on how to plainly tell the genders of 3 week old kittens. I even passed an online test for successfully identifying genders! When I went to look at my kittens, every single one looked like a girl to me. Even though some didn’t look like others, I interpreted each one as being a girl. Clearly, something has been lost in translation on me.

My original belief that we have 3 boys and a girl seems like it may be wrong. If I was going to guess right now, I’d lay odds on there being 2 girls and 2 boys, although which ones are which, I have no idea. Even the one I’ve been calling “Little Girl” this whole time may be a boy for all I can tell. Which might make sense seeing as how “Little Girl” outweighs every single other kitten in the litter by a substantial margin now.

The cute new things going on are:

-definitely hear someone in the group purring briefly here and there, at least the second day in a row. Just one is doing it, but it’s like finding fairies it’s so cute when I hear it happen.

-The kittens have started to tussle with each other more. Regularly, I see little baby faces trying to bite other little baby kitty faces.

-Their little front and back limbs and paws are looking much more cute and cattish, and much less like useless appendages on half-drowned rats. Watching them throwing their little paws up and out at each other now seems like tiny cats much more than it did before.

-This morning for the first time I saw two different kittens absentmindedly use their back leg/paw to scratch an ear, the way you see dogs do. Until I saw it happen, I realized I’d never seen them do anything like that until today. Limb development seems most obvious to me currently.

-Mama is hugely hungry. Not only does she eat wet food and dry food, but now I’ve set in place a system where I soak the kitten dry food in hot water, and then she is able to shovel it in in huge bites because it gets soft like a bowl of cereal. She had to chew individual kibble pieces before so this gets nutrition in her belly much faster.

I forgot to note that yesterday, Tony and I saw Luna Mama take down a bushtit and eat it WHOLE. She ate the beak, the feet, the head, the bones, the wings, the feathers. Every single part of it was swallowed down whole. She was never one to actually catch anything before. That’s part of why I instituted the moist dry food. She’s clearly hungering for something that the free dry feeding and 4 cans of wet food a day wasn’t giving her. I was sad for the bushtit, they’re one of my very favorite birds, but at least it died fast and not in vain. Luna def will benefit from all the calcium and protein she ingested that way.
treelights

Very Anxious

My body is very anxious. I am exhausted. This is where my anxiety begins to feel like a spasmodic tic. I’m too tired to care what is happening to me much intellectually, but my body seems to believe it must fight against something by shuddering and jerking and flooding with adrenaline every little while or so.

I wish I could be so much stronger than this. Strong enough to be able to truly and utterly convince my body it is not in danger. Like how Luna grabbed Gray Kitten by the face and throat and gnawed at him persistently when he was panicking when he first got his eyes open. He calmed down because she overrode whatever concerns in processing the visual world he was having by her immediacy and her certainty— she chewed at his exposed throat and pinned him down on his back, dominating him easily with her paws and face, and she communicated to him “This is just how things are, and you’re a part of it now. Accept it.”

It’s kind of ironic that being held down, completely defenseless, by a giant creature free to bite at you and pin you in a way you can’t move— can result in calmness, acceptance, and acquiescence to however things are going to be. Maybe I need to stop struggling against the biting, pinioning forces in my life. I want to know how to let a process like that happen to me, so I can relax and accept the reality in front of me on every level.
treelights

Missed my mouth

I was starting to feel calmer, and then, I missed when I squirted the syringe into my mouth, and some unknown amount of my liquid valium dose went in my mouth, on my hands, on the front of my shirt, and on the floor.

I tried my best to imagine how much to give myself to make up for it, but it was random at best.

I have told myself that, hey, you don’t feel the withdrawal effects from underdosing/overdosing until the next day or two later, so quit having anxiety jerking attacks tonight. My body doesn’t care that it’s too soon to have intense anxiety. It just knows it doesn’t trust me to keep it safe and I screwed up with one of the things i feel powerless and easily harmed by... the tapering/withdrawal sensitivity to valium.

This led me to wish i was dead once again.

Now, I am at a place where I am trying to see that I can’t control this life or place too many expectations on it. The best I can do is notice what I still can do with what I have available, until I have nothing left.

For instance, I just fed the cats. I took comfort in knowing I am in this moment taking care of them no matter what happens tomorrow. Tony gave me back rubs and he cares about me and gives good things to me

Instead of noticing my mounting anxiety symptoms, I need to watch for nausea and motion sickness. Those are the two big symptoms of actual withdrawal and if I feel those tomorrow night or the next, I can hypothetically up dose slightly to see if i can improve it.

I cried tonight and said it feels like God is no longer my friend. I guess I need to find acceptance of how far off I feel from teh Good with everythign that’s bene going on lately. I have no resilience, no cushion inside left to bounce through the ups and downs—

But the alternative is to use up even *more* spoons with panicking and flipping out because I don’t have anymore composure left to give.

I hope that nice lady at the intake appt wasn’t just telling me I didnt qualify for the outpatient as a smooth way for her superiors to circumvent rejecting me for medicare and complaints. I really hope I wasn’t being fed a line when she told me I was too stable for outpatient. I don’t feel stable tonight.