Bring on the Sun!

Aloha! I’ve been hanging out here in Meowi since my last post in November. I leave now and then for food and water and to use the facilities but, other than that, you’ll find me here, soaking up the fake sun.

Just hangin’ on the beach.

If you’ve ever been around cats, you know that we love warmth. We lie in sunny spots, curl up next to heaters and fireplaces, stretch out on human laps, and hang out just about anywhere else that provides heat. My heat comes in the form of an infrared bulb inside an old fireplace. It might not sound very fancy, but for a guy who used to live outdoors, it’s my own private tropical beach. And, bonus, it’s healthy! They actually use it as a treatment for cats with kidney disease, something we’re prone to.

Barn life is pretty fine.

It’s generally accepted that domestic cats descended from African wildcats. Africa = warm. Where it’s not warm is Canada in winter, especially out here on the prairies. Cats are not designed for Canadian winter, especially this cat. Overall, it’s been a pretty mild season, but mild in Alberta is still cold, especially at night.

Cold weather perk – the humans feel sorry for us and bring us canned food. So good.

Back in mid-February, it got very cold, to the point where I debated how long I could go without eating and drinking and the obvious consequences of eating and drinking. Sadly, not long. I was forced to climb the stairs to our food bowl in the loft, to the water bowl that plugs in not too far from Meowi, and the bathroom located at the back of the barn. Forty feet might not sound like a long way, but when your paws are travelling on cold concrete, it feels like forty miles!

Still not entirely comfortable with being held, but it does feel good to have my feet off the cold floor.

In the past few days, the afternoons have been warming up to spring-like, snow-melting temperatures, which makes this warmth-loving feline very happy. As much as I appreciate Meowi, it does get a bit old as winter goes on and I miss spending time outdoors and exploring inside and around the perimeter of the barn. On a nice day, I just love to sit in the open barn door and watch the goings-on in the yard. I’ll wander as far as a third of the distance to the house, but only when there are humans around. I have zero interest in becoming some coyote’s lunch.

Staying to the snow-free bits.

We’ve had another squatter in the barn this winter. T gave him Fran’s old renovated cooler and he spent his nights in there when it got cold. The humans don’t normally visit the barn after dark, but one night T came out to check on the horses because they’d been dewormed earlier that day, and when the barn door slid open, our poor wildie cousin, who was tucked into his cooler cabin for the night, nearly had a heart attack. He hit the cat door so hard it’s a wonder he didn’t cold-cock himself in the process! Silly guy. I’ve told him the humans are frightening-looking but harmless.

The cat cabin.

So, here’s hoping this weather continues and I’ll be out lying on warm, dry earth very soon.

Until next time, this is Hank, signing off from Meowi. Aloha!

Last Horse Standing

Well, not really. We’re all still standing. But I’m the only one in our herd of four to not suffer some kind of injury or lameness this summer. Although, come to think of it, I did have that choking episode last month. More about that later.

First on the injured list was Nevada with his previously-written-about, skewered-by-a-stump wound in June. That was a doozy, and definitely the most impressive effort at equine self-injury we’ve had on the farm since I’ve been here, and I’ve been here from the beginning, less one year.

Since I blogged about Nevada’s wound in “A Hole in One”, he’s continued to heal nicely with no further complications. All that’s left is what you see below, a fingernail-sized scab surrounded by a rather cool looking scar. Trust old Spot to add another interesting feature to his collection of spots, brands, and scars.

All that’s left of the “hole in one”.

The next to run into trouble was Gidget with a sore, swollen knee. T and Judy thought it was the result of some kind of impact at first, possibly even a kick. But I swear it wasn’t me. I’m just not the kicking type. Gidge and Rosa sometimes get into what I like to call “mare matches”, where they back up to one another and go to town with the hind hooves, but that wouldn’t impact a joint on the front leg.

Turns out the most likely culprit is old age and the arthritis that often comes with it. She’s been on a supplement called OsteoAid for the past couple of months and that really seems to be helping. She’s still a little stiff on that front left but still able to keep up with the herd just fine.

Gidget’s lumpy left knee still works quite well.

Our most recent invalid is the lovely Rosa. Back in May when I wrote about Rosa in my “Shesa Lil Ichi” post, I said “we’ve all got hooves crossed that she won’t have to be locked up in a dirt pen and fed hay for the spring and summer.” Well, she made it through the spring okay, but in late July she came up lame and has been in her grass-free, private accommodations since the 25th.

It’s not terrible. She has free-choice hay in the net feeders, a third of the shelter, and an area where she can roll. But she misses being out with the rest of us and, most of all, she misses grass. She loves her grass … which is a big part of the problem. After two weeks in the pen she was looking so much better and when they started exercising her she held up just fine.

Rosa enjoying her private buffet.

Tuesday we went on a trail ride and she trucked along in her Renegade hoof boots for the two-hour ride without issue. With everything looking so positive, she went out on grass early Wednesday morning for a short while. Whether it was the trail or the grass, or a combination of the two we’re not sure, but she sure is sore again. Poor Rosa. Just when we all thought her life was going to return to normal. For now, it’s back to a hay diet, some pain meds and supplements, and a few days rest to see if it will settle down again.

Dipping our toes (and nose) in Bragg Creek.

If you’re not familiar with this problem that afflicts some horses, it’s called laminitis, and is an inflammation in the feet often caused by too much rich food, like green grass. Having a sensitivity to what would seem like your most natural food source is a cruel trick of nature. I admit to having an enthusiastic attitude toward food and an easy time putting on pounds, especially during the grass season, but never has it made my feet hurt.

My own little health incident resulted from my aforementioned enthusiasm for food. With everyone else in the herd getting one supplement or another for one issue or another added to their feed—probiotics for Nevada’s digestive system, SimmirDown for Rosa’s metabolism, OsteoAid for Gidget’s arthritis—lucky me gets a little something too. I’d like to think it’s because I’m such a great guy and deserve it, but the truth is that it keeps me away from Rosa’s and Gidget’s food without T having to manage everyone.

Nevada’s is the deep, pink bin with more than the rest of us combined. Age has its benefits.

So, anyway, T bought this new kibble from K&K Livestock that’s extra low in sugar for Rosa and decided it was the best thing for me too. In my excitement over this new feed, I more inhaled than chewed and suddenly had a great wad of the stuff in my throat. I lay down. I stood up. I lay down again. I stood up. I coughed. I coughed some more. That was when T started to get worried. Although choking isn’t as immediately serious in horses as in humans since it doesn’t block our airway, it can result in serious complications if it doesn’t resolve quickly.

I’m learning to be patient and settled or T makes me wait longer.

The best thing, according to Google, is to keep the horse quiet and give the obstruction time to pass. I didn’t need Google. While T was browsing the internet, I went to the shelter and stood quietly in the shade until all was well. She’s put me back on my old feed now, which has bigger chunks and isn’t quite as dry.

Back to my original, less-inhalable feed.

Perhaps I should have called the blog “We’re Still Standing” since that’s closer to the truth. In a summer filled with bumps and hitches, we’re all hanging in there, looking forward to a long fall season filled with warm weather but no bugs (thanks to an early frost). I guy can dream, right?