Friday, December 21, 2012

Gertie the Cat

Many of you have been asking after Gertie, the last remaining vestige of the feline persuasion on Drift Away.   She'd been going steadily downhill for quite some time.  She had difficulty breathing, struggling for each breath she took, her sides heaving in and out as she labored for each breath.  Pam  took her to Chatham Animal Hospital where she worked.  Dr. Gall examined her thoroughly, including opening her up and examining each of her organs.  Everything looked normal.  Dr. Gall was stumped, saying we'd find out what it was after an autopsy.

We moved to Brunswick, and we took her to Cheek to Cheek Animal Hospital, hoping that a new pair of eyes might find something.  Dr. Cheek also examined Gertie thoroughly, even consulting with Dr. Gall, and found nothing out of the ordinary.

Gertie was at the point where we thought we might have to put her down.  Everything she ate came back up.  She was malnourished, all skin and bones and obviously in distress.  When we went north for my daughter's wedding, we dropped Gertie off with Dr. Gall again in desperation.  Dr. Gall said he was would be looking for a zebra, vet lingo for something extremely obscure and rare.  She was there for about two weeks.

He found it.

Gertie has a congenital birth defect called Myasthenia Gravis.  Among other things, It affects muscle tone.  In Gertie's case, the muscle that allow her to swallow.  She also doesn't have the sphincter the closes at the base of her throat.  Basically, she has a pipe that runs from her mouth to her stomach.  The only food that got down there did so by gravity.

The good news is that it can be treated with an anticholinesterase drug.  Whatever that is.  Well, what it is, is magic.  Gertie is no longer struggling to breathe, she can eat, and she looks much better.  She'll have to take the drug for the rest of her life, which might be a problem because Myasthenia Gravis is incredibly rare, and almost non-existent in cats.  Dr. Gall said this was like looking for a horned zebra.

The bad news is that the drug to treat her is also incredibly rare.  The supplier has stopped making it.  I'm not sure what that means, such as if there is a replacement drug we can get.

After two  weeks of living in a crate, Gertie was happy to be home, and the dogs were happy to see her.  You know how excited our dogs can get, right?  The happy, dancing, jump up and down happy dog dance like Snoopy does?  Gertie dove under the saloon table to hide, and then to her cat tree.

Gertie thought she'd sharpen her dog slashing claws of death, as a warning to the dogs and as a practical thing in case needed.

The dogs finally left her alone, and Gertie was quite content to get some much needed rest in the bright Georgia sun.  It's always good to be home.

Oh... and happy Mayan New Year.  We've survived yet another apocalypse.

One more note.  For those of you who enjoy reading about my troubles and misadventures, fear not.  While this blog will no longer be updated once we move off it, my new blog about building an off grid homestead on Bleecker Mountain will take it's place.  You can read it, and follow it, at Seriously, if you thought this blog was a trip, wait until this next one.  I love thinking outside the box, and I've even been reading about rocket stove mass heaters, and Pam's been studying about apple trees and chickens.

Life is about to get very weird.


  1. I am already reading it Dave, good luck to you and Pam.

    Bill Kelleher

  2. So glad to hear about Gertie. My wife and I are both confirmed "cat nuts" (3 females, 2 males) and I know what it means to have a pet suffer. Good luck in your new adventure, and please do keep up the new blog. I really enjoy your writing style.

  3. It's great to see Gertie enjoying the GA sun.
    Cats indeed seem to have nine lives; enjoy this one, Gertie.

  4. I think Ernie is smoke'n Something.... I will miss Drift Away blog-- What a hoot will be though.... What a long ride you have take'n all Drift Aways followers through-- Thanks Pam & Dave.... Yes Pam's name is first-- Sorry Dave....

    1. Well, first, we haven't sold the boat yet, so you never know.

      And second, building an off grid cabin in the mountains should be even more of a hoot, especially because I don't know what I'm doing. But as you know, lack of knowledge and skill hasn't stopped me yet.

      This is what we're considering- but I think I'd stick build it, not use logs.

  5. Rock Stove I would use-- I still say... Erik/Ernie is smoke'n Something..... Hay-- I might be be smoke'n too... Really I'm not though.... DON'T DOWNLOAD WINDOWS 8....