Sunday, January 31, 2010

New to Twitter

Well, I'm finally on Twitter. You can follow me at or check out my feed on the right sidebar!

I've been meaning to sign up for a while, but only just did it tonight. We'll see if I can keep up with something else!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

NEW Gnomes for Kids!

I am so happy to announce the arrival of Garden Gnomes made especially for kids! These Gnomes are made just like my collectible Gnomes, but they don't have any beads (that give Gnomes some weight and help them stand up) or hard plastic safety eyes. They are made from kid-safe acrylic yarn and stuffed only with kid-safe polyester fiber. Even their eyes are yarn!

With this line come the redesigned female Gnomes! I've made female Gnomes before, but I've long felt they could be even better. These more youthful girl Gnomes are adorable with their little braids and bright red lips!

My two little godsons (14 and 18 months) have been testing Gnomes for Kids for durability. Their moms report that the youngest loves to carry his Gnome around, and sometimes throw it at the eldest. I will always recommend parents supervise their children while playing, but the moms do say the soft Gnomes don't appear to hurt when thrown. At this time, only spot cleaning is recommended. Sending it through the washing machine may destroy the doll. (We do plan to test this in the near future.)

I've been working hard on Gnomes for Kids. Check out the newest Garden Gnomes in the shop today! I hope you and your little ones love them as much as I do!

The awesome mushroom pitcher came from the very talented Vicki of StellasFinds! Check out her shop for other fabulous vintage discoveries!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Japa Malas Are Here

Hand-knotted Prayer Beads are finally in the shop! There are currently one half length and two full length malas available. Check them out here!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Ongoing Saga

Miss Luna has her cardiologist appointment on Thursday. I'll be gone tomorrow because of a dentist appointment (my dentist is still near where my parents' live, I didn't bother to find a new one when I moved). I think she knew I would be away for the day as she was acting very down when I left this morning.

I did finally get a chance to explain to my roommate why I need to get Miss Luna tested for bartonellosis (or, rather, that I will ask a doctor about it) even when her doctor said it wasn't necessary to test the other cats. Simply stating, if I ever want the diabetic cat that I had to leave with my parents in my home again, I need to know exactly what she may be exposed to. My roommate seemed a bit more understanding about it.

They both got the impression that I was in a pissed-off mood when we talked last week. I kind of was, but not at them or the kitten who was the start of the whole mess - just the mess in general. Particularly since the ordeal cost me far more money for one cat than it cost them for three, and Miss Luna far more stress (to include a night in the ER) than their cats had to endure. How can I not be upset about it? But, it is out of my control, and that's why I'm not bitter or blaming.

Just paying my bills and scheduling follow-ups as needed.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Holiday Gnomes

Attention! All Holiday Gnome designs will be in the shop until the current listings expire! The Halloween Gnomes are going first, starting in February, and then they'll be gone until next season. If you want one and can't wait, now is the time to get it!

Of course, you can always contact me if a Holiday Gnome expires before you get to it.

They're all currently $10 off! It's never too late for a Spider Gnome!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Follow This Logic

All three of the adult cats in the household have experienced a fever above 105 and have gone to the doctor in the past 2 and a half months. Two of them did not have elevated white blood cells and were only experiencing fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. One of them, my cat, had impaired motor functions and labored breathing as well as an elevated white blood cell count. Her trip to the doctor was more expensive than the other cats combined (even including the kitten's trip to the vet when we first got her) by thousands of dollars, and she still has at least two more appointments to go.

Miss Luna's doctors found evidence of exposure to Toxoplasma gondii. In a nutshell, it's incredibly common for a cat to be infected with this parasite yet rare for them to show symptoms. However, the symptoms of toxoplasmosis can account for everything that we've been seeing in all cats, including the kitten's blindness (which we thought was caused by feline herpesvirus).

The last cat to go to the vet was Roscoe a few days ago, and Roscoe does not have an exposure to toxoplasmosis. This doctor is certain that the problem is bartonellosis. This is a bacterial infection that can cause fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. It does not account for the additional symptoms I saw in Miss Luna, nor Aura's blindness. This (different) doctor decided on bartonellosis because a household epidemic of toxoplasmosis is improbable because the parasite is so common and cats rarely show symptoms.

But, and here's the fun part, bartonellosis is just as common and showing symptoms of it is just as rare as toxoplasmosis. How does this doctor account for two cats getting bartonellosis and one getting toxoplasmosis and all three showing symptoms of their respective infections when both infections rarely produce symptoms at all? And everyone in the household trusts their own doctors about what is being found.

Needless to say, I'm unbelievably frustrated. Nothing is conclusive, no conclusions add up, and after all the costs, stress, antibiotics, tests, and hassles, we may never know what's really going on.

Truth be told, I just want Miss Luna to be well, to be herself again. And she is improving greatly. She's waking me up in the morning, begging for food, trying to get my roommate's steak, and has started jumping on the kitchen counter to lick the fish juice off the Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine. But, the other side of that is that it's also a really good idea to know what was wrong. I need to know if it is contagious, not just for the other cats in the home, but if I ever need to cat-sit my parents' diabetic cat where I would normally bring Miss Luna with me, I can't. I can't risk Callie, the diabetic cat, getting sick. I need answers. And it looks like the whole thing is going to be nothing but speculation.

Miss Luna goes to the cardiologist next week and the following week she is to have another blood test to check the toxo levels. I'm going to talk with a doctor then. I'm going to have all my records and notes and a timeline. I need to know if there is further concern.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Some Results

The ER doctor called last night to say one of the tests showed an exposure to Toxoplasma gondii (not a confirmed toxoplasmosis infection, just exposure, but the test is somewhat inconclusive in that regard).

Here is what I know of the parasite. It is common. Many humans are carriers. The risk of toxoplasmosis is the reason pregnant women should not change a cat's litter box, though people are far more likely to become infected from tainted meat than from their cats. Many cats already have it and may never show symptoms. However, once they have it, they develop antibodies and should never show symptoms after the initial infection. They also only shed eggs after the initial infection.

Toxoplasmosis can cause fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, pneumonia, blindness, loss of coordination, or seizures. Miss Luna had fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, respiratory issues, and loss of coordination. And, get this; it's possible that toxoplasmosis, not Feline Herpesvirus, caused Aura's blindness. Actually, with this news, it's highly likely.

That also means it's highly likely that Aura brought the parasite into an environment that should have been, for all intents and purposes, free from it. Symptoms, if they appear at all, are usually after initial infection, which means it wasn't dormant in Miss Luna and just choosing to come out now. It means exposure was recent. It also means that, once it runs through the cats of the house, they will all have the proper antibodies and any eggs still in the environment won't harm them. It further means that, once it has run through and the period of egg-shedding is over, there is no reason why I can't take Miss Luna with me when I visit my parents if I want. There's a bit of a bright side. This is assuming my information from the doctor and my research is correct.

Now, Dreá had the fever/loss of appetite/lethargy bit, but they didn't test for toxoplasmosis. Roscoe had a slight fever and some lethargy, but my roommate did not take him to a doctor. It is possible that Roscoe has a stronger immune system than the other two cats, so symptoms didn't hit him as hard. I wonder if the anemia or enlarged heart is what made the symptoms so awful for Miss Luna.

There are still mysteries, and it's still frustrating. But, if my conclusions are correct, that actually makes things a little easier because, once we get this under control, our animals shouldn't have any more problems and shouldn't be a danger to other animals. Miss Luna has a follow-up today to check her red blood cell count, and I'll be sure to bring my questions. And I'll be coming home with yet another antibiotic. They also want to re-test her levels in a few weeks and she still needs to see a cardiologist.

My poor baby. She had to spend a weekend with the evil (but helpful) doctors, and she has to go back at least thrice more (and, if we're both lucky, that's all she'll need). She has to take this awful antibiotic and another will be added (hopefully in a pill form). The good side is that she is doing worlds better. She's talking to me like she used to, begging for her food, and prodding me to wake up. She's all over the house, climbing on things, jumping on things. That little part of her arm where they had to shave her for the catheter looks funny, doesn't it? Poor girl!

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Cat's Tale

While my intent was to get my newest line of Gnomes photographed and listed this weekend, that didn't happen all because of my love for a cat.

Let me tell you about this cat. Her name is Miss Luna. The year was 2004, and I was living in my parents' house in Maryland. This wasn't a particularly cold December but, as all Decembers seem to go in Maryland, it had its cold days and nights.

Early in the month, we had started to see a little black kitten around the house. It was short-haired and all black, except for a little white chin and tiny white paws. And it was a tiny kitten. I felt bad for it and so started to leave food on the porch for it. We already had a cat, a large calico named Callie, so leaving food wasn't too hard. They were forecasting snow on the second weekend, and I was concerned for the kitten. I opened the garage door a few inches and set it so I could hit the button and close the door. I moved the food into the garage, and gradually moved it farther and farther in. During the week, I saw the cat in there, but it ran out before I hit the button. Another time, I hit the button, but the door bounced back open and the cat escaped. It was the evening of Thursday, the 9th, when my mother called while I was driving home from work to say she had successfully caught the kitten! I went into the garage to check on her, and she climbed up the door and sat on the track to get away from me. This was not the same kitten I had seen! This one was long-haired, and had a white crescent shape on her nose.

We caught her and caged her and took her to the doctor on Saturday morning. She was so little; at a glance she appeared to be six weeks old. Judging by her teeth, the doctor announced that she was really at least six months old! My main concern was if she had any kind of disease that she would pass on to Callie if we kept her. The doctor gave her a clean bill of health.

Over the next months, I worked with her. She was feral through and through. She hissed and bit and scratched. While she did meow, the sound that came out of her throat was a kind of whispered "ack." I held her with thick leather gloves as mom cleaned her litter box. We kept her in an unused closet for a couple weeks. I held her and played with her several times a day. Next, we let her out into the unused bedroom for a few weeks, and I still held her and played with her every day. Many experts say there comes a point where you simply cannot tame a wild cat, and most of them say Miss Luna was past that point in age. But I worked with her daily, several times a day. I worked up to the point where I didn't need gloves. She found her meow and her purr. Eventually, we let her into the house, where she was perfectly content to stay, to play with Callie (much to Callie's annoyance) and to get into all sorts of mischief.

I could talk for quite some time about Miss Luna's life in the house and the unbelievably cute things she did. She grew into a very sweet cat. She was still very small, the most petite cat I've ever owned, and her tail had a little crook in it, probably from a break in her youth, the doctor said. As for the black cat with the white chin that I had first seen? He lived as a neighborhood stray for a couple years, but met his untimely end in a battle with a car on the main neighborhood road. I must remind myself that I can't save them all.

Fast forward to 2008. That March, our regular veterinarian retired shortly after diagnosing Callie with diabetes. Callie was in a dreadful state; she had lost much of her energy and was no longer using the litter box. For that reason, I couldn't take her with me when I moved into a condo at the end of May. I could, however, make her life a little easier by taking Miss Luna with me. I needed one of my girls, after all. It was a couple weeks after moving in that I brought Miss Luna over. My roommate had two cats already and I wanted all of us to get settled before putting Miss Luna in a new environment. She adjusted fairly well, but the other cats (who are much bigger than my little gal) tormented her frequently.

After a time, she started sleeping on the bed with me at night. This was something she never did at the house, mostly because Callie claimed my bed. Miss Luna spends her time near me. If I'm working at my desk, she's snoozing on the bed behind me. If I'm in the living room, she's on one of the chairs nearby. If I get up to get some water or hunt for a certain color of yarn and take too long, she'll come looking for me. I've gotten rather used to this.

This past November, my roommates brought a kitten into our home. She was eight weeks old, mostly blind, and had fleas. There is a story about this kitten all its own, but the short of it is that the cause of her blindness is Feline Herpesvirus, which is incurable and, while there is a vaccine, it will not prevent the other cats from getting it if they are exposed. I did not know of this kitten's condition when I agreed to my roommates taking her in. I told them to be sure she didn't have anything that she could pass to the other cats, they assured me she didn't. They were wrong, but by the time we all realized that, the damage had been done. My roommate now thinks taking Aura in was a mistake, not Aura's fault of course, nor mine.

Three weeks ago or so, Dréa (one of my roommate's cats) developed a fever. Blood tests did not show she was fighting an infection. The doctor could not explain the fever at all. Dréa got some antibiotics and the fever cleared up in 24 hours.

On January 3rd, I came home from an extended weekend with my parents (I had also spent the previous weekend with them). Miss Luna was not begging for food as she normally did. I put it down for her anyway, and she ate maybe half of it. I asked my roommates if they noticed anything wrong, and they said they had not. That told me she was mad at me for being away. If you've ever owned cats, you'd know this was highly likely. In truth, I wanted to take her with me for the weekend but, since we don't know what adopting Aura may have exposed her too, I couldn't risk spreading that further by exposing Callie (who has enough problems with her diabetes).

As the week progressed, Miss Luna was still not quite acting herself, but she seemed to be improving. And then she seemed to not be improving. I'm used to her begging for every meal and waking me up if I sleep too late (I feed her at the same time every morning, even on weekends when I don't have to go to work). On Saturday, I slept right through my 5:30 alarm and didn't wake up until 10 or so. Miss Luna did not attempt to wake me, which she usually does around 6:30 or 7 if I oversleep. I put food in her bowl and she ate about half of it, which she normally inhales every last kibble, and climbed back on my bed for more sleep. I went about my day. I didn't feed her lunch, because she still had half of breakfast in the bowl. When I came home around 7 in the evening, about half of that was gone. But, there was still food from breakfast!

It's hard to describe what I noticed here. She had flopped onto the floor and was breathing loudly. Her right hind leg seemed to have been causing her pain, as she didn't put any weight on it after I picked her up and set her down. I carried her into the living room so she would be nearby as I worked on something. She rolled onto her side and covered her eyes with her paw, like the light was hurting her, and it was shaking. She then stood up, arched her back like she was stretching, jumped off the chair, and sprawled onto the floor. She picked herself up and, still with the arched back with her back feet turned inward, walked gingerly across the floor to the carpet. That was enough for me. I called the emergency clinic and they told me to bring her in.

My roommate came with me, after giving her completely non-professional assessment that she didn't think my cat needed a doctor. They admitted Miss Luna right away. They found she was moving fine, but took some x-rays and discovered she had an enlarged heart. This makes giving antibiotics and fluids via IV difficult. They drew some blood and started some tests to try to find out what was wrong. They reported that she had a fever of 105.1 and started an antibiotic. We went home around 10:30. Without my cat, who needed to stay for treatment and tests.

They ordered tests for bacteria and parasites, and found through blood work that she was anemic and needed a different antibiotic. Some time in the night, she was showing difficulty breathing and they stopped the IV. It was a very very hard night spent without her.

In the morning, I discussed with the doctor the possibility of taking her home. He wanted to consult with the day-time doctor and give her a chance to further stabilize. At 5:00 in the evening, they let me come and get her. She has a suspension antibiotic (that really must taste awful to a cat), as she still had a slight fever. I have to follow-up with the regular vet to check her red blood cell level and the progress of the anemia. I have to follow-up with a cardiologist to check for heart disease. I am still waiting to hear about the tests that were sent out to the lab.

After all of this, they don't know what caused the problem, and it seems like everything that they found may have contributed in some way to the symptoms she was experiencing, all independent of each other. Was it exposure to Feline Herpesvirus? Something that Aura may have had that was transmitted through fleas? A fluke that an indoor-only cat would catch something infectious at all? A virus that has to work its way through all our cats before we're rid of it? Hopefully the tests will yield some answers.

Now, I am faced with a high vet bill that I have no idea how I'm going to pay off, and it's not over yet. I still have two follow-ups of more tests at least. My dreams of moving out of this rented condo into a purchased house when our lease is up in May are gone. My boyfriend and I were planning a trip to Miami in the spring, which I had to cancel.

On the bright side, Miss Luna is doing better. She was begging for her meals again. She was a little jumpy, and I'm still trying to keep her quiet and calm. It has only been one night since I brought her home, but she is doing better.

Now and for the foreseeable future, all purchases in my Etsy shop will go towards paying for Miss Luna's hospital care. We would be so grateful if you could please find it in your heart to help a cat by buying a Gnome. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Watch for new Gnomes, coming very very soon! We're very excited about what is on the way!