Fury’s Journey (Summer 2022)

It has been a while since I have posted about Fury our four and a half year old feline fur family member. She has been a gem for the last few years. Our daily days are full of cuddles, naps, zoomies and the “could care less” sass and attitude cats are known for. After the first 1-2 years we were not quite sure what quality of life lay ahead for this sweet gal we adopted from the local shelter.

It has been a while since I have posted about Fury our four and a half year old feline fur family member. She has been a gem for the last few years. Our daily days are full of cuddles, naps, zoomies and the “could care less” sass and attitude cats are known for. After the first 1-2 years we were not quite sure what quality of life lay ahead for this sweet gal we adopted from the local shelter.

Since our earlier updates from 2018 and 2019, her feline Ehlers Danlos condition has been a severity that we can manage well: She still has very stretchy skin and more of it than is typical for her frame. Fortunately she is not as bad as some other cases where there is noticeable sagging around the face or eyes, and for this we are grateful. Given the other conditions, I would venture this one is the least impactful and you cannot even tell she has extra skin when seeing her from a distance. You can see the difference when we have grooming time and she tries to lick her chest or arms; she struggles to release the fur from her tongue because extra amount of skin allows it to stretch outwards.

Booping the DVD tray when it slides in and out of the player.

With the feline hyperesthesia (or “twitchy back syndrome”), she occasionally still has spontaneous moments that neurological triggers will cause her back muscles to twitch, giving her momentary discomfort and a desire to scratch at herself. There is still no cure for this condition shared by many types of animals, but we are thankful these moments pass in seconds or minutes. We have learned to best soothe her in these occurrences by letting her curl into a ball and by wrapping our arms around her for warmth and security and she tends to relax right away, helping to make the twitches disappear more quickly.

My office manager overseeing desktop operations.

Fury still has vasculitis that has resulted in diminished pain and bleeding when she does experience self injuries. This means that just because there is not a lot of blood does not mean it is not serious and we look twice to be sure. We learned from the past that she will often scratch at a wound over and over having no idea she is causing herself further damage (and thus the cone and safety shirt is critical for the rest of her life). Some people ask if we have tried inflatable doughnut cones: Yes and they are adorable and offer some comfort in ways, but she can still reach around them with her back claws and nick her ears, so this cone is the best fit to offer her max safety and comfort.

We know it’s always sad to see any animal in a cone. But Fury has grown up in hers and regularly has it removed several times a day for snuggle time and monitored grooming.

Lounging on a heating pad on a cold day (very lowest setting).

We never did solve the question around if Fury has an officially confirmed allergy that may contribute to her propensity to watch to scratch her head and neck to the point of self injury. Two or three years ago, we did run a full blood work up to check everything possible. While we did get several likely suspects, we stopped the lab work at that time since she had been through a lot and it was not as medically-necessary as the other issues we were dealing with. We keep her away from the suspected allergy causes just in case (certain grasses, trees, etc.) If our vets ever decide it is worth it to re-visit, we would, but we are all about only exposing Fury to procedures that are necessary for the near future.

Morning post-treat playtime antics.

All Fury knows is that twice a day, she gets wet food that is very tasty for accepting two small squirts of medication. That mix of medication keeps her in a place of balance that allows her to experience less awareness of the conditions that she has. The prior idiopathic seizures she began to have in years 1-2 have also gone away and are managed by her medication as well.

We still get woken up every morning without fail to ensure no one forgets breakfast time. There is also zero confusion when her furry highness wishes to go outside for a walk (the entire house is informed). She has her pick of cat trees, a bucket of cat toys, window beds and the best food and treats. Basically it’s her home, we just pay the mortgage.

Humor aside, Fury gives us unconditional love and loyalty every single day. It humbles us that this small creature was given the short end of the stick in so many ways yet still loves these lumbering caregivers despite all that has happened to her. We owe her so much in return and we will keep trying to give her our best every day. We look forward to sharing more photos and stories in the future!

Fury’s Journey (Fall-Winter 2018)

Continued from our last post about Fury the cat

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If you’re working on a task with an open lap (like in your arm-chair filing bills), Fury often sees this as a prime opportunity for a snuggle. I’ll take her cone off for these moments and let her snooze.

During the fall and winter months, we continued to follow veterinary guidance to explore the realm of diets that can hopefully either point to an allergen or exclude food-related allergies as one of our culprits. (Fury has come to love her diet food of rabbit and pea Royal Canin even better than what we were buying in the pet stores, so that’s a bonus since it was a must-eat prescription food for many months.) The end result we came to was that the occasional itching/scratching below and behind Fury’s ears were not due to a food-related allergy.

We learned though as pet owners that allergies are a long test to understand. While some cats need 2 months or so to determine if an allergy is present in food, with the risks related to Fury and being sure of an outcome, we took 4 months to be certain.

Our goal continues to be to have her not having to wear a cone at all, but so far, we do have to rely on it most of the time to ensure the risk for self-injury is prevented.

Continue reading “Fury’s Journey (Fall-Winter 2018)”

Fury’s Journey (Summer 2018)

Continued from our last post about Fury, our adorable cat…

As we returned to the vet for check-ups at both our local vet’s office and CSU in Colorado, we began to notice her hair falling out where her skin was scabbed from injuries. We still hadn’t gotten a look at the healing injury on her back, as it was re-wrapped weekly by the vets we saw. But the entire back of her neck lost all of it’s hair after we observed what we’d call dark red irritation bruising that crept up her skin after the horrible back injury. She also developed 2-3 thick, crusty “scabs” near her shoulder blades that ultimately could be peeled off, gently, only to leave a powdery white space that became gray and speckled in coloration and never grew hair back. It was surprising that the vet could peel these scabs off and Fury would barely feel a thing.

Several weeks later, the local vet determined that her skin wasn’t going to be able to heal the entire way on its own and after nearly 2 months of healing and body bandage re-wraps, they would have to debride this area and leave the wound open to heal on it’s own. This wasn’t a pleasant thing to see or look after, but our vet was right; it did ultimately heal after several more weeks.

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We next moved into the phases of medication investigation. We started with explorations of steroids, anti-seizure meds and other regimens that our vets have experience with in certain situations. I’d caveat this though to clarify that our vet team was great at finding doses that were tolerable without adverse reactions. The progress was obvious after several weeks: Fury was no longer having those frantic states of sprinting out of the room, looking like she was hallucinating or attacking herself. For several weeks at this point, we really felt like we were heading in a better direction (granted we wished we could snap our fingers and make it instant, but still, we were hopeful). Continue reading

Fury’s Journey (Spring 2018)

After making an introductory post about our cat Fury, I wanted to start documenting several medical challenges with her that we are working through. There is little  information out there (for pet owners or veterinarians) for animals like Fury and hopefully, by maintaining her story online, it can be one more source for cat owners (and other animal owners) that struggle with these conditions:

Early Spring 2018

Earlier this spring, we noticed that as Fury grew, she often scratched aggressively behind and below her ears with her back feet. It was just, a bit much. Minor injuries began to occur as slices or tears of the skin below where her ears met her neck. These were usually enough to require a small number of stitches or glue to close back up again.  Our local vet was very investigative when it came to these injuries. Yet without any presenting symptom other than itching, we didn’t really have any clear diagnosis other than to begin assessing skin allergies.

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We began to notice other odd behaviors as well over the weeks. Randomly, Fury would be in the room with us, and out of nowhere, she would enter a moment of frantic agitation. One second she’s fine, the next her pupils were dilated, she postured as if she was ready to enter fight or flight mode and she would sometimes dash out of the room for no reason at all. In fact, it almost seemed as though she was hallucinating. And just a moment later, she’d flip an invisible switch and be entirely back to normal again.

We started searching online for any guidance of what we could be dealing with and we started seeing feline hyperesthesia syndrome (or “Twitchy Back” syndrome). It seemed to perfectly align with most of her behavior but didn’t account for other behavior. We also noted from reading and in discussion with our local vet that this was a diagnosis only arrived at after ruling out many, many other diagnoses first, so this was put to the side until we could confirm more. Continue reading

Fury the Wonder Cat

In December, my husband’s early Christmas gift to me was the opportunity to adopt a cat from a local shelter. Being an animal lover, I’d missed having a furry companion for a while and was looking forward to it.

The original agreement was to select a cat after our family vacations at Christmas as we didn’t want to bring a new animal into our home 1-2 weeks before and then leave it alone. However, as he informed me nearly a month in advance this would be my present, Yours Truly was not waiting that long.

About a week later after this announcement, it seemed only prudent that we should go ahead to the local Petco to purchase some basic elements that would keep (food, food / water dispenser, litter, litter box). You know, just on the off-chance we found our new family member early and didn’t want to be caught unprepared!

I’m pretty sure my antics were transparent, but on arriving at the pet store that also just happened to showcase local shelter animals up for adoption, I zeroed in on a particular kitten who was just adorable. See, my husband is not swayed by anything. Anything. And my pleas and cajoling were getting me nowhere to want to move up brining a cat home earlier than agreed. It might have finally been having his nearly 40-year-old wife pleading in the public store, but after many walks through the aisles, the hubby relented and said we could choose a cat early but only if we went to the local shelter itself to see all the possible cats.

Now here’s the thing you need to understand about me. I will find something wonderful, precious and uniquely endearing about every animal I meet. So I knew that I would find some deserving pet this day who I could give a good home to. The puzzle factor was, finding one my husband would warm to. 

We looked at every cat there. I asked my husband, “See any that really speak to you or you like?”. I was met with, “Eh, maybe.” This gave me pause as I certainly didn’t want to take off for home with my version of the perfect cat that he’d not appreciate or find endearing going forward. We made a second circle of the circuit of the walls of cat crates. When I asked again, he nodded to a crate where a tiny black kitten was snuggled next to a sibling kitten who was creamy and equally cute.

When I prodded further if this was one he wanted to possibly see, I got a “We can.” So we were ushered to the meet and greet room and awaited the introduction. 

Now here’s where the plot turns.

I am the animal lover. I am the person stray animals always find their way to. I am the soft heart that picks up the injured or lost. I adopt everything that breathes and needs a home. When I introduced my older sister to my husband when we were dating, she even raised this for his awareness that it was only a matter of time until we had an animal menagerie. So I just knew I had better go ahead and take a seat on the concrete floor because the cat was for me. The cat would sense my adoration for all creatures and just gravitate to me. Not my stoic husband.

And as you guessed, when the volunteer arrived with the little black dollop of fur, we waited patiently and quietly for her to get comfortable walking around the room without being bothered. Only then did we begin to talk to her and move around a bit. And totally ignoring me on the floor, my Christmas present eyed my other half who was sitting in a chair in the corner, made a beeline to him and jumped directly into his lap where she turned 2 times, sat down and purred. Claimed. (When I told this story to my family later that night by text, the irony was not lost on them and it was met with a number of emojis laughing hysterically).

And so we went home with a 4 month old kitten.

The charade went on once we got home. She wouldn’t let me pick her up, wouldn’t come near me. Only my husband. I was heartbroken thinking how could this be? I’m the animal person. I loved her to pieces. She was my Christmas present. And how would this cat-relationship work now? My husband assured me over and over it would all be fine.

We struggled for days as to what to name her. Obvious options were Ebony, Midnight and other black-fur-themed names. However what she reminded us of most was the Dreamworks movie, “How to Train Your Dragon” where one of the main characters is an animated black dragon with striking eyes named Toothless. And Toothless was a type of special dragon called a Night Fury who over the course of the story, came into his own special powers through overcoming obstacles. So we named her Fury – it seemed odd at first, but there was something endearing that such a contrast in name fit the same type of lovable personality as the animated tiny black dragon in the movie.

Within a few days, roles had totally reversed. I’m not sure to this day if he had a special kitty conversation, or what happened, but ever since, she has preferred my lap to his. She looks for me in every room and sees me as her provider of all things. Granted she still has a special relationship with my husband. Any project he begins work on, she is right there to help: Sitting at attention next to him just waiting to be tagged in to help be part of the situation. But since my husband is in law enforcement and works night shift, and I’m home-based, we’ve become the pals I’d hoped we’d be.

Fast forwarding to present, we’ve had a lot of adventures in the last 5 months. Most of them medical that will be an ongoing journey, but some of them are the expected comedies any new pet family goes through with a new kitten. Our girl continues to be a furry force of love and fun so I’ll share some of those adventures with pictures as we go along. 

Because really, who’s day isn’t made better by a picture of Fury the wonder cat?

2017-012-04 Welcome Fury

First arrival home taken 2Dec2017.