Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Movies for Cat Lovers

When I was a little girl, I fell in love with a movie about a cat. It was called The Three Lives of Thomasina. The title character is a cat who wanders around a small town to three different homes. I haven't seen the movie in years, but I still remember loving it when I was little.

I was a little older when a silly and fun science fiction film called The Cat from Outer Space came out. I read the book, and it was one of the few movies I saw in a theatre when I was growing up. I saw it again a few years ago, and it's by no means a great film. I still enjoyed it, though.

A few days ago, I saw the original That Darn Cat, with Hayley Mills on a rack of discounted Disney DVDs. I passed it by, but I might have to buy it. As I recall, Hayley's character says that her dad is the reason the cat is called D.C. It stands for "darn cat," except that dad didn't say "darn." It's a charming movie with a bit of a mystery to it.

A couple of films with cats in minor roles are Star Trek: Generations and Alien. Interestingly, both cats are orange tabbies.

In the former, Data's cat Spot is featured prominently early on. During an intense segment in which the ship is about the crash and everyone must evacuate into the saucer section, Spot disappears. We don't find out until the very end what has happened to Spot, and it really irritated me because I, of course, was worried.

Alien takes place on a spaceship, and Jones is the ship's cat. When the crew decides to evacuate due to the dangerous alien on board, crewman Brett is sent to find Jones. As he approaches, Jones starts hissing, but it turns out, he's not mad at Brett, he's warning off the alien that's right behind him. Jones and Ripley are the only survivers of the doomed flight. I tell you the outcome, because if you haven't seen this 1979 classic film by now, this blog probably won't make you rush to view it.

Finally, I'll just mention Mr. Bigglesworth from the Austin Powers series. Initially played by a Persian cat, Dr. Evil's pet loses all its hair after being cryogenically frozen, and henceforth Mr. Bigglesworth is played by a hairless Sphynx.

Are there any good, positive cat movies that I haven't mentioned here? I may have forgotten about it, or maybe I haven't seen it. I don't like to watch movies where cats are portrayed as evil or where they are the victims of cruel humor, but I would love to hear about movies featuring our feline friends.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Your cat has diabetes."

Years ago, when I first heard that cats could have diabetes and could be required to have insulin injections, I hoped it would never happen to any of my cats, because I didn't think I could handle giving them a shot. Now, I can give an injection easily.

Indy was a skinny kitten when he and his mother and sister found their way to our rural home. Unable to turn away a hungry nursing mother, we began putting food out for them. Indy was the bravest, or maybe he just liked eating too much to be scared.

We kept a close eye on him because we knew that his weight put him at risk of diabetes. When we noticed him losing weight around his hips, drinking a lot of water, and making very large puddles in the litter box, we had him tested and confirmed that he had diabetes.

The vet showed us how to gently shake the bottle of insulin to insure it was well mixed, how to load the needle, how to create a little tent with the skin on his upper back to give the injection. My husband tried it at the vet's office, but I didn't want to jab Indy unnecessarily. That night at home it was my turn, and I botched it.

I forgot to brush the hair forward a little so that I could see Indy's skin a little as I inserted the needle. Tim had said I'd barely be able to feel it entering his skin, because the needle is so small. I tried to gently insert the needle, and I asked if he thought I had it in place, and he did, so I hit the plunger.  And squirted insulin all over his back, because the needle had not, in fact, entered his skin. Tim was a little mad, and I was upset, and we were both kind of nervous that maybe some of it had been injected but not all of it. We wiped his back dry with a paper towel and did not try again that night.

The next time, I was more careful about the procedure, and the needle went in just fine. We give the shot while he's eating a little Hill's W/D Prescription Diet canned food, and Indy usually doesn't seem to even notice the shot. Once in a great while it'll seem like there's a little problem with the needle or something and he'll flinch a bit, but he really doesn't seem to mind, and that makes the whole process easier.

We started with a very small dose twice a day, and we took him to the vet once a month to have his glucose checked. The levels were going down but were still high. Eventually, he was up to nine units twice daily. After just two or three days of that, we had trouble.

Shortly after Indy had his dinner and his shot, he began acting strange. He acted afraid of everything, hissed at Tim, then started stumbling around like he couldn't see.

The vet had not discussed what to expect from a hypoglycemic episode. That's where the body gets too much insulin and the blood sugar level dips dangerously low. Fortunately, right after Indy was diagnosed, I'd come home and read up on feline diabetes online. The site had described the situation perfectly. I didn't trust my memory entirely, though. I was pretty sure that we needed to feed him, though. When we put the food in front of him, he started trying to wolf it down, but he kept hitting the side of the bowl, whether because he couldn't see or was uncoordinated, I'm not sure. It might have been a combination of both.

I jumped online and quickly found the information on the site. I was right -- the site suggested offering maple syrup or Karo syrup, so I ran and got a tablespoon of it, and he lapped it up. As the sugar and food got into his system, he began to behave more normally, and we were able to relax.

As a precaution, we took him to the all-night emergency vet who confirmed that his blood sugar was extremely low. She said we'd done all the right things and to give him food every couple of hours throughout the night, then take him to our regular vet in the morning.

We ended up skipping a couple of doses of insulin, and with each successive glucose test over the next few months, his doses were reduced until he was able to go off insulin completely. Our vet had told us that in some cases, cats did recover from diabetes. Unfortunately, a few weeks later we noticed that Indy was losing weight again, and he's been on insulin ever since. His doses have remained fairly low, though, and he seems to be pretty well regulated.

  • Always keep an eye on how much your cat is drinking and going to the bathroom. Excessive thirst can indicate diabetes or kidney problems. 
  • Compare the prices of diabetes supplies from your vet and from other suppliers, such as American Diabetes Wholesale. We were paying 50 cents per needle from the vet, and it's about half that from ADW. Be sure to get the right needles; we use U40 veterinary syringes and were able to match the exact specs, such as the length and gauge of the needle against what the vet had sold us. When we received the shipment, we took one by the vet's office and had him look at it to make sure it was right and wouldn't affect his dosage. The vet has since started carrying the same brand, but ADW's prices are still a little better, and they ship very quickly.
  • Whenever your cat is diagnosed with any condition, it's a good idea to research it online. You can find very good information on websites, some of which have been created by veterinarians or universities and others by cat parents who have been through what you're going through now. 
  • Most important of all: keep loving and playing with your cat. Even though it's sometimes frustrating to have to set your schedule around the insulin shots, it's worth it to protect the life and health of your trusted companion.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hey Sly, zoom out!

Today, we went to see The Expendables, the new action flick starring a bunch of the old action heroes from the '80s. I was interested in seeing the film, but probably we wouldn't have seen it at the theater if I hadn't won a free code for Fandango.

It was a good movie, and for the most part we enjoyed it. Our biggest problem came during the intense action sequences. One of the first fight scenes came when Barney (Sylvester Stallone) and Lee (Jason Statham) are scoping out the situation on Vilena, an island run by a corrupt dictator and an American mercenary. The fight seemed like it was well choreographed and performed, but it was shot too tight, mostly handheld, and with that stroboscopic "heightened reality" effect made popular by Saving Private Ryan and Gladiator. It not only makes it frustratingly hard to follow what's going on, but it kind of makes me a little motion sick trying to watch it.

Later fight scenes and a major vehicle chase and battle back in the U.S. all have the same problem because the camera is zoomed in, it's shaky from being handheld without a Steadicam, and the stroboscopic effect is used. I would have preferred more standard shooting, so I could tell what was happening.

The story is fairly simple, but that's fine for an action pic. Barney and his gang are hired by the U.S. government to go to Vilena and take care of the dictator. Barney and Lee go check it out and meet the
general's daughter Sandra (Giselle Itié), who's determined to fight him and free her people from tyranney. Barney and Lee fight some bad guys and blow up some things and leave. If I understood correctly from one throwaway line, they decided not to take the job, but I was never clear if they called the government guy and told him that or returned any of the money.

Barney, however, is haunted by thoughts of Sandra, who could have left with them but chose to stay. He decides to go back on his own to help her. Of course, his guys want to go with him. Meanwhile, Dolph Lundgren's character has a bone to pick with Barney and cuts a deal with Vilena's leaders to take him out.

After that chase and fight, Barney and gang leave for Vilena, fight some guys, blow things up, and rescue Sandra. Barney and Sandra have a poignent exchange in which he tells her to keep something, maybe some money she was trying to offer him, but I'm not sure what exactly, and then the plane takes off. I'm not left with the impression that he'll ever go back to see her, unless she calls on him for help.

It's definitely set up to be a "franchise" if it does well at the box office, and so far it is making a lot of money. The Expendables features the same kind of story and characters as a lot of the '80s action blockbusters, though it is a little more graphic in showing heads hacked off and such.

People, if you want to talk go to your house or a restaurant!
To anyone in the industry who wonders why people aren't going to the movies much and are watching films at home, I simply suggest that you walk into any movie theatre and try to watch something without someone carrying on a conversation. We moved once because the people behind us were talking in a normal tone of voice. Then a couple of people sat down in the same row as us, and they started talking and looked surprised when we shushed them.

Anyway, if you like action movies, I recommend The Expendables, but if you're prone to motion sickness, get some dramamine on the way to the theater.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Great cat toy found at Home Depot.

Our cats love to chase the red bug of a laser pointer. The first pointers we had used watch batteries, which would only last for one or two play sessions. Later, we found a combination laser pointer and LED flashlight at American Science and Surplus for about $7.00. This one uses AAA batteries and will last a long time. It's also handy for finding mousie toys and balls behind or under heavy furniture.

Today at Home Depot, while Cat Daddy was checking out, I spotted a similar laser pointer-flashlight with the impulse buys. It's just $2.88 and comes in several colors. I didn't check what kind of batteries it takes, but surely not the old watch batteries. It's the best deal I've ever seen for a laser pointer cat toy.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Opening Soon

The Crazy Kitty Chick will be posting product reviews, information, and discussion about cats and other aspects of life.