Saturday, January 10, 2015

About Graby, and How He Got His Name

Graby has many names, and he has earned every single one of them.

Our family started with our two elderly cats that had lived with us forever, since they were kittens.  Sisters they were, littermates.


First, one passed from brain cancer and then the second sister passed of old age, and it was a sad time for us all, but before our beloved Ginger had passed we had filled the gap with a new cat from Bend, Oregon, our Banjo.<click to read about Banjo, she also has her viral video.

Then, Keiki  came to live with Banjo, and my darling Hubby started to make good natured comments about being the only male in the house..... < click "Keiki" for the blog post

Well, I enjoy reading Petfinders online.  Petfinders is a site that shows pets needing homes, sorted by locale, and this is how we found Banjo and how I learned more about Keiki after seeing her at Petsmart while shopping for catfood.  It was 2012, Monday of Thanksgiving week, on Nov 26th and I was relaxing at home, scanning the cats to see what our area had in the way of kitties to adopt.  The page loaded and I was scrolling down when I saw this little black kitten with a short tail. Hmm another ‘short tail' I thought to myself...

first view

I showed the pic to my hubby, mentioning that the kitty was a male. Even though he responded in a positive way, he made the mistake of mentioning that "we don’t need a 3rd cat." I know, I know, but it IS a male cat (and he has wild yellow eyes).  This kitten was about to be going to Petsmart (he was still in the foster home with his brothers and sisters; the whole litter about to be placed for adoption within several days).   
 This was his ad:

  • DINGWALL (named for a character in the animated movie “Brave”) is an adorable, affectionate, long-haired male kitten about 9 weeks old. He has the cutest little stubby tail, and is the big boy of his litter! He is a super sweet little guy who loves to cuddle with you and will purr the instant you pick him up. He is very outgoing and playful, and enjoys romping with his siblings. Dingwall and his siblings and momma cat were taken care of by a woman who surrendered the kittens to WCDC after they were weaned. They are now living in a loving, bustling foster home where they are around other cats, dogs, and young children—so they are used to just about anything! Dingwall will be ready for adoption the week of December 3. Our kitten adoption fee is----------, which is strictly to help cover our costs: he will be tested for feline leukemia and FIV, neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, deflead and dewormed—plus you get a free vet visit. If you’d like to meet Dingwall in his foster home, please call Amy at --------.

I called Amy and talked to her the next day and asked about Dingwall’s toileting habits and she reported that he was fine, there were absolutely no issues at all. She reported that they (her family) called him “Dinger,” because he was very lively, and that he certainly was a “Dinger” of a kitten.
She promised to call when she placed him at Petsmart.  I had the paper work ready and on Dec 1st Dinger came to live with us!  Dinger was to be my husband’s Christmas present.  

A new home

I had adopted a new kitten that I had never even touched, sight unseen!  When we went to Petsmart to pick him up, I found that his stub tail was actually a completely misshapen and rigid tail (probably about 6” long base to tip) which has a full “Z” shape to it.  

 Because he is a fluffy cat the “Z” shape isn’t seen through all the hair, so his tail looks like a thick bobcat’s flap of a tail, standing straight upward and almost forward leaning, due to the malformation. Even though the tail is rigid he has full mobility at the base and the ability to move it wildly, and it flicks and twitches just like a bobcat’s tail-flap and when he’s watching birds it goes crazy, much more that any cat I have ever lived with.  He trots and prances around, he holds his tail straight up with the long hairs flowing back as he goes along... he  prances around looking like a yearling horse at times. So proud, so happy, I often wonder what cats are thinking, considering the way they act at times.

Now, just after 2 years, looking back, I realize that the name Dinger was a perfect name after all!   However, we had chosen a different name, a name that had come to be a special name to our family. 

First night, next to Dad on the sofa.

Our daughter has autism and her pronunciations of the words she uses are sometimes quite hard to discern so we really have to think with "her" mind to understand what she is saying. One of her newer words was the word “gravy.”  

 For several months she had been using the word when talking about food, and it just so happened that being Thanksgiving season, the word gravy was heavily used at the time.  We loved the way our daughter said the word gravy, because she pronounced the word gravy with a “B” instead of a “V."

She had just feasted on turkey and mashed potatoes with "graby."  Since she had struggled for words for so long we decided that her word for gravy would be Dinger’s new name:  Graby.


Graby's black shade is not as dark as Keiki's since he has fluffy hair. It's not as satiny smooth as Keiki's, and now that he has grown he is actually a dark “Smoke” shade.

They don't call him Arrowhead for nothing....
Graby grew and grew and grew and GREW, and he’s a huge cat with a huge wedge head that has soft bendy ears (unlike Banjo and Keiki’s firm upright ears). When Graby tips his head down with his ears bent back he is the true version of an Arrowhead, one of his "nicknames" he has earned over the past year.  

Some say he is a Tiffany cat, others say he is part Manx and Maine coon, which is a distinct possibility.  He stands taller than both of the other cats and has much longer legs and bigger feet and is slim like a noodle, but that doesn’t show until a person sees him without hair.

Graby has also earned the name PigPen because his fur has a tendency to attract dust and it swirls in the air around him just like PigPen from the Charlie Brown Peanuts comic strip.

PigPen attracts dust

Everything went well until Aug of 2013.

Big hair
Graby was about 10 months old, when he started acting sick, and when we took him to the vet we found that his bowel was not working properly. He was x-rayed and found to be blocked, he couldn’t poop. This is probably related to the Manx gene-thing since his spine is obviously involved, his tail leaning the wrong direction with the “Z” malformation.  Everything in that location was wrong. 

So he was given some meds that softened him up, and after a couple of enemas he was good to go.  The spring is his step had immediately returned, he was back to his wacky self, and his new meds worked well, however, one of the things we needed to address was his hair and the fact that his grooming puts a lot of it into his system; a system that was no longer working correctly. His Dr. didn’t want anything in him that might hinder the meds from doing their job, nor did he want Graby to co-groom Banjo as the two often did.  So Graby had to lose his beautiful luxuriously fluffy pelt.  And so did Banjo.

Graby's Haircut and new Uggs
Banjo's Haircut
It was at this time that we realized that Graby is actually a Cog (cat that thinks he’s a dog), a Bishon-Kitteh, to be exact.  

This was an eye opener for us; never having had our cats groomed, cut, or styled before this. But it was also new for Graby, and for Banjo, too. 

Banjo had been abandoned and was a street cat before she got busted and thrown in jail over in Bend, Oregon, and has always had issues with being touched. She also has a triple thick coat and it gets a lot of static, so it is uncomfortable for her, even though it is short hair. With Banjo’s asperger’s, she spends an inordinate amount of time staring at our fence knotholes, sticking her paw though the holes whenever she sees movement on the other side.

Once she had her Lion Cut, she became touchable and wow, what a change for her. She has probably benefited the most (emotionally and psychologically) from her haircut, aside from the medical benefits that Graby gets from his lion cuts.  

The lion cuts worked very well, and Graby got his haircuts every 6 weeks. His Spa Day costs more than my hair cuts(!),  but it is well worth it.  Banjo only got her cuts from March through October since she likes to go outside every day.  

Graby watching the world go by, from inside the slider.

Once again we had our kitty back to his nutty, springy self.  Graby started retrieving thrown items, especially his hedgehog and has become one of the world’s greatest Cogs, and all went well for another year and then almost to the day, Graby got sick again, so off to the vet once more.   

He had been on his meds for a year now, with no issues whatsoever, and now this…..  He had another x-ray which showed that he was once again impacted (even while being on meds), so this issue became worrisome.  Another couple of enemas and he was sent home once again with the spring in his step, for about 2 days, when it returned with a vengeance. We were heartbroken over this, and the third time when it returned I called the vet (who had already contacted the referral surgeon in the valley for consultation) and Graby was sent to the hospital immediately, at 8:00 in the morning. 

They were waiting for him when I got there, and we went into the consult room and I was told that (after a new set of xrays), that our vet had called the diagnosis correctly when he had contacted them.  Graby had a double perianal hernia. His butthole had blown out.  ugh.  

So he was immediately admitted and went ‘under the knife’ later that day then spent night at the hospital. I got called by their vet and given instructions for Graby's return home, after his surgery.

Off to Petsmart I went, picking up a kennel that was large enough for him to live in, 24/7 for  2 weeks after his surgery because he was not allowed to run or jump.  He would need to wear an Elizabethan collar (the collar of shame) the whole time.  I had to get a kennel that was large enough to allow a litter box and food and still enough room for some movement.

Not a happy cat
Really not a happy cat!

Our cat Graby has had the run of the house (and utilizes more of the house than the other 2 cats ever have ), and now he would need to be relegated to a 3ft x 2ft kennel. Graby is more social than the other 2 cats combined, so this was going to be a huge alteration in his lifestyle.  But it had to be done.  He had problems eating and was hardly able to get any water with the cone on so he got one of his Christmas presents early.  

Keiki uses an elevated food dish because of her amputated leg. The elevated bowl helps to keep the strain off her spine from having to bend over when she eats, since she only has one front leg. We had planned on getting two more elevated bowls for Christmas so that they could all have elevated bowls.  So Graby got his elevated bowl early. Once his food was in an elevated bowl he was able to be guided over the bowl, the collar completely covering the outside circumference so he could finally eat and drink without having the e-collar be a hindrance to him.

Poor Graby was so depressed.  Even though I had the kennel underneath the kitchen table so that he could be around the main portion of the house with the ability to see in every direction and still have access to Banjo and Keiki during the day and night including mealtime, he was still down in spirit and lacked his normal pizazz.  One of us always sat on the floor with him while he ate each and every meal, then we would wash his entire face and e-collar with a wet washcloth which he absolutely loved. 

Graby loves having his face washed.

"loving time."

Every night my hubby or I would take him out and hold him on our laps until he fell asleep, which was not an easy thing to do since he wanted to run and jump more and more each day.   

We also have two netted 6 foot tubes with zippered doors that are made for inside cats to go outside when desired, and these tubes came in very handy for exercise and play, since they aren’t long enough for a cat to run or jump in, and they turned out to be invaluable for us.  It was a very long two weeks for Graby. Graby did learn how to move those tubes around the house by continually ramming the end in the direction he wanted to go, and sooner or later he could "walk" each tube across the room.

Graby lounges in front of the sliding glass door to watch birds outside, while Keiki looks on.

One of Graby's games - knock the catnip ducky off the tube.

There is goes!
After two weeks Graby had his stitches removed at the hospital and after a quick trip back to his vet, he was given the go ahead to become a regular high jumping, high flying cat (I mean Cog) once again. I pity the day the other 2 cats realized that Graby was back to normal, since they both had taken advantage of him in his kennel and sometimes appeared to taunt him….earning future kitty karma, I'm sure.

I'm baaaack...

Then it happened again, within a couple of weeks of his surgery.  He got sick, and when the vet x-rayed him they found that his colon was backed up, again. Looked like megacolon! Not good. It was a somber day for all, literally. 

The surgeon was not too happy about Graby needing an enema over the fresh sutures, but something had to be done, so after the two consulted, Graby had another enema and was brought back once again, only this time a new med called Cisapride was introduced.  It appears that his colon doesn’t push stuff through it, probably related to the Manx gene and his spine, tail and back end issues.

Cisapride causes his colon to clench which imitates what his body should be doing and facilitates his business in the litter box, and it’s working!  If it stops working, we’ll be facing colectomy, which will forever be life changing after that.  Our fingers are crossed that we will never see that day much less being faced with the decisions that come regarding the need for further surgical intervention.

Ahhh, back home again.

Today, at just over 2.5 yrs of age, Graby is our Cog, our 6ft high-jumping cat/dog that retrieves his hedgehog toy, harasses the other cats with ‘well earned’ Karma from his kennel days, and sleeps under the covers in the wintertime.  At this time he no longer requires his haircuts, but because Banjo does so well with the haircuts, and because Graby is so easily handled, we may just continue with the lion cuts every summer anyway.   Graby will be going in for his yearly exam next week so we’ll see how he’s doing when the Vet checks him out.

Graby loves Dad, he's a dude's dude.

We have our Graby back, he is living the high life doing whatever he likes to do as long as he gets his meds on schedule; he’s a “Dinger,” that’s for sure.  He loves to jump on Banjo’s back whenever she comes in from outside, which earns him the nickname of “Peckerhead” at times.

Banjo is happy and still spends most of her days staring at the fence and poking her paw through the knotholes and actually jumps up on our bed to wake us up in the morning sometimes, a feat she rarely did before her haircuts (and I am not saying it’s because of the haircuts), but she is feeling happy and has her deep growling very well developed whenever she wants Graby to back off; which happens every day.

Banjo and her Knotholes

Keiki spends her days sitting in front of the sliding glass doors watching the birds and squirrels outside, while preening and acting as though she is saying “Am I not the prettiest kitty you have ever seen? Isn’t my hair beautiful, I am so beautiful…..”

"Beautiful" Keiki

For Christmas this past year, Graby got a new tag with an apropos name on the front. No one else but Graby can wear his name as easily as he can. 

 Banjo and Keiki got theirs, too.

Thank you for reading our little blog.

Kitty seal of purr-fection.