Monday, August 31, 2009

Flying With a Cat

Recently I had to transport a cat via airline. I've never flown with a pet before, and I was a bit apprehensive. First, it was a challenge to figure out the airline requirements and get a soft sided carrier that would easily fit under the seat and meet all the requirements for ventilation, size, etc. This took visits to several local pet stores. In the end I had a choice between a $70 carrier and a $45 carrier, and I went with the cheaper one figuring it was a one time use deal, and I'd just use the carrier for regular vet visits after that until it wore out. Although I would have preferred not to spend the money, none of my hard or soft sided carriers met size requirements.

Second, although the airline claimed a health certificate was not required, the vet told me I could be prevented from flying without one. I decided to err on the side of caution and obtain one, since I was at the vet for some sedation medicine anyway. I found it interesting that it was $20 for the health exam and $40 for the health certificate - twice as much to write down the findings as to make them apparently. Bummer.

Third, I obtained sedation meds because I figured that this cat - who cries all the way to the vet and all the way home - would not appreciate an 8 hour trip and would probably register some vocal complaints. I thought it would be easier on him to be dozing - and easier on me. Unfortunately, the vet told me that the meds do not work on all cats. "The side effects vary hugely," she said. Apparently, the cat could remain awake, go to sleep, get hyper, throw up, or the meds could have no effect. Awesome. That really provides me with a lot of variety and not a lot of certainty. She also recommended starting with a half dose and giving as little as possible. I could give 1/2 pill and see what happened and then give another 1/2 if need be, but no more than one whole pill per 8 hours. The whole trip would be 8 hours so if the 2nd dose did nothing I would be SOL.

This particular cat, Rocky (pictured above), is 14 pounds and is really laid back and mellow. At the vet he is not nervous, he gets out and walks around and looks out the window. He likes dogs, kids and other cats. He does not like riding in the car. I suspected he would not like riding in planes either. But he had no choice. His current owners were no longer in a position to keep him, having decided that allergies meant he needed to live outside. He is declawed, and winter is coming, two reasons I was not comfortable leaving him in that arrangement. All local rescue groups and shelters were full with 6-9 month waiting lists. Craigslist did not work. All friends and friends of friends in the area turned down the offer to adopt him. The cat did not ask for this set of circumstances and I was determined to get him a good home. I have a friend who was willing to adopt him so it was just a matter of transport.

I pulled his food and water the night before travel to avoid having him need to relieve himself on the journey.

The sedatives did not really work - two doses and he was still registering complaints. He complained for an hour while I was driving to the airport. He was quiet on the bus that I had to take after returning the car. Then the really embarrassing part: airport security. You have to take the cat out of the bag - literally - and walk it through the metal detector. There is just NO WAY that you can pull that off without appearing to be the crazy cat lady!!!!

He meowed off and on - but was usually drowned out by screaming babies (never thought there would be a plus for those!) He would scratch against the bag and even bite me through it, then give up so completely I would fear he was dead. Once during a plane change I took him out of the bag in the restroom. He looked at the four grey walls and got back in the bag.

In the end we arrived safely - and Rocky has settled into his new home without complaint. I hope I don't have to fly with pets again, but I am glad it did not go worse.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dexter Cow Update

Four months have passed (almost) since Bernadette and Zena came to the ranchette and joined the family. It has been a learning curve, as when we get any new species. I always wanted cows though and I enjoy these minis very much. I have gotten used to the mooing and the low sounds they make to each other. They have gotten used to me, and I can make some physical contact.

I had to find a hoof trimmer, and that was an ordeal in many ways. No one wants to come to Boise to trim one small cow. But eventually someone did - and it was traumatic for the cow and for me. She gets flipped on her side, she is scared, and it is not extra gentle. I did all I could for her and next year I will know more what's going on. It's annual, thank goodness. It is much harder than goat or horse hoof trimming. And those who told me cows don't need trimmed were lying.

We also accomplished annual vaccines, though it took two tries. Turns out a big animal with horns who does not want a shot and is still afraid of people is kind of hard to work with. I did eventually get them calm and keep them safe but I also elected not to get a shot that requires an ear tattoo. It's needed if they travel but I don't see the cows going anywhere unless they live into my retirement. I think that is not going to happen but we can cross that bridge when we come to it. Again, far more work to vaccinate the cows than the other animals.

Zena is almost as big as her mom now, and still nursing in addition to eating hay. I'd think she'd get a crook in her neck but she hasn't. I'm going to let mom wean her when ready - I am in no rush and it makes no different to me so let nature take it's course.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Giant Egg and Chicken Misc.

Having our own chickens we get a nice egg color variety. When we only had 4 chickens I could tell which one laid each egg because the colors were slightly different. Now that there are 5 chickens that lay brown/tan eggs it is harder to tell. Above is a photo of some of the color variety in a recent dozen. Gwen lays blue green, Athena lays olive green, the darkest brown is Hannah, and the tan/brown are Sylvie (small ones), Rosa, Sarah and Samantha - though Samantha is not laying yet after her recent illness.

Recently Gwen, who lays blue green eggs, laid a GIANT egg. It's the biggest chicken egg I've ever seen! It ended up having a double yolk. Above is a photo of it compared to some of the others.

Tonight I dewormed the chickens, which involves a pill given to them. That is a bit tricky as I have to catch them all and administer the pill, which they are not keen on, but I have gotten the hang of it. It makes giving pills to cats look way easy! I have to do it again in two weeks, but it is an annual thing - 2 pills twice a year I can handle.

Hope, the chick who came at Christmas and went missing June 20, has never been located nor any remains of her, thought I searched all three acres several times. Something must have taken her off the property. I hope her death was quick with a minimum of pain and suffering. I was glad to know her and provide her with a good life and I'll always miss her.

Samantha appears to have made a full recovery from her recent illness. It took two antibiotics, no small amount in vet bills, and two dewormer pills but she began to eat, drink, play and gain weight again. I am optimistic it is all behind her - good because I want her strong before the weather turns cold.

Supposedly there is an increase in urban chickens in the recession. I think that is probably a plus. I have really enjoyed having chickens and although I am still on the learning curve about 18 months into it, I love them!