Sunday morning musings

Happy Sunday, everyone – I hope you all are safe, well, and having a joyful day.

My coffee mug next to me, ABBA songs on the background, my sourdough loaf in the oven, and my foster cat Mona on the floor, I am all good 🙂

Life has been good, though I know I can attribute it to both Mona and the antidepressant. In any case, I will take this feeling and cherish it.

I cannot believe I have been feeling like shit for almost half a decade…. Such a long misery to endure, especially when we have medication or pets to help overcome it. I am glad that finally life was too much, or I was too tired to try ways to feel good, think positive, and so on. Sometimes, the remedy is what you refrained from. Irony.. Nevertheless, I am proud of myself for trying relentlessly to feel good for a long time, and then eventually quitting this endeavor and try medication (of note, I also tried therapy – it was great but not affordable..).

I feel like I must say more about my experience with the anti-depressants for folks who may be looking for perspectives of patients.

I was depressed and experience anxiety quite frequently. Thoughts would run around my mind, and lately my sleep was affected and I was sleeping maybe 4 hours a day. I was extremely functional, however, working, doing things, and doing well. Of course, with depression and anxiety comes self-questioning and loss of sell-esteem, in addition to the attempts to feel better. These attempts included a variety of coping mechanisms, from junk food consumption to reading self-help books.

It was simply a continuous struggle. But I have never lost the interest to feel good, My only mistake was that I thought I could handle it. Over time, finally, it became apparent that whatever coping mechanisms I was applying – while they worked in the short term – were not permanent solutions.

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There is only that much one can endure. Eventually, this fall, I decided to talk to my family doctor. Surprisingly, they were VERY supportive and prescribed me cipralex. The first dose did not make much difference, but I was thinking all the time that there was hope that this feeling of being and feeling like shit would eventually come to end. It was therapeutic in a way. I was feeling great about finally asking for help.

Here, I must also mention that this was not the first time I asked for help. A decade ago, I asked my then different family doctor for antidepressants, and they were like – try a vacation. Oh, goodness. I did that and back to square 1, of course.

Then, when it became so much, especially the anxiety, I tried counselling. Found a great therapist. The only think is that my current health insurance plan covers like maybe 3 sessions a year. So, where do we go from here??

So, in a way I am grateful for my current family doctor. They said “life is too short to suffer”… Imagine how I felt when I heard these words from them… What a great physician, for whom I will be always grateful. I am now on an increased dosage, which works phenomenally. I experienced no side effects, and sleep and feel much better. I can handle stress better and I find myself enjoying life better.

My doctor is about to reduce the dose and then stop it. I was scared of this at first, but when I accidentally forgot taking the pill for a couple of days and feeling no side effects, I have some sort of naive hope that I will manage the withdrawal symptoms, if ever. But this part of the story will have to come later, when I reduce and stop the medication.

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Please go ahead and volunteer at or donate to an animal shelter. Adopt or foster. Animals are simply fantastic and we owe them a lot. More than we can think of…

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Happy Sunday

Folks, I hope you all are having a great Sunday.

We have an incredibly sunny and warm day that makes me feel so grateful. I may not realize deep down, but summer is here and it is time to enjoy it (I am advising to myself right now 🙂 ..).

Last year, 2020, was interesting in so many ways. Being at home due to lock-down, I was able to walk every day, sometimes multiple times, feel the breeze on my face, enjoy the scenery, sweat and feel all good. This year, I have not done this much and I think that is a mistake. With walking and fresh air comes the serenity, dopamine, and feel good thoughts.

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These being said, in rare occasions that I found myself walking out, I noticed a lot more dandelions than before. They are everywhere and I think this year we are not so much into getting rid of this beautiful plant. I know, I know.. It is too invasive and if you let it grow and pollinate, we get more. But I kinda think that leaving a good portion of dandelions in the yards just makes them look great.

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I am enjoying my morning coffee. What would we do without this little treat that is mostly affordable and available?

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My foster cat Mona is well and we are doing just fine. My beautiful girl. I am still okay with cleaning her litter box and occasional drops on the floor without dislike, disgust, or annoyance. Somebody here said that she was sent to me to learn about love. I kinda think now that this is true. Is this how parents feel towards their kids? Unconditional love and care?

Of course, I cannot one-to-one compare parenthood to being a foster carer of pets, but honestly this is the closest I can get. If I can do this, anybody can do it too. Friends, please foster a pet in need or donate/volunteer at an animal shelter. They need our support, and most importantly, we owe their comfort, safety, and wellness to them. We shamelessly occupied their environment and manipulate them and their living conditions based on our needs or wants. Time to fix things a little bit. Please support animals and shelters/rescue organizations. THANK YOU 🙂

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I have no plans and pressing work timelines today, so I am looking at a day that I can do whatever I want to and enjoy. Perhaps a walk, light cleaning, cooking a nice meal, and reading a book. Aaaaah.. How long has it been that I actually sit down and read a book? Maybe a year or so. Time to fix that too 🙂

Enjoy your day. I wish you all a great day and week ahead.

having a foster cat – V

I bought some interactive toys for Mona today. She still prefers to play with me, though 🙂

I think playing to break boredom, and interacting and bonding with your companion are not the same things for cats. They definitely enjoy socializing and being with you. They also like to play and explore themselves – that is for sure. But thinking that some toys will be enough for them to entertain themselves may not necessarily be correct for these magical creatures.

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Cats are social creatures

They may be independent and selective, but they do need some time with you. Some cats need more than others. Traumatized and scared cats will not let you touch for sometime. Others will just come to your right away. Mona was quite friendly with me from the beginning on. She loves me scratching her head and grooming her fur. But I held her only twice – both to put her in a carrier, and she ended up in my lap only once. I do not force her to come to me and be too close. After 3 months together, yesterday night she slept 30 cm away from me. That was the closest. I was thrilled 🙂

So while she likes petting and playing with me, she does not like to be handled.

I respect her wishes and do not force her in any way. If she wants, I welcome her. I also like this, to be honest. I am not a person who would like to have a clingy cat around. My free space and freedom are also respected by Mona. We are good together.

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While fostering, we do not know which kind of cat we will end up with.

When I had visited the shelter/organization (consisting of a large office space with maybe 9 cats leaving there and tons of supplies for fosters) I was lucky to see and pet two other friendly cats cared for by the organization. I loved them right away. They are obviously very comfortable with humans. I felt great love towards these felines – shamelessly I thought maybe after Mona I will get these two to shelter..

Sometimes the organization is looking for emergency fosters to look after cats who were just rescued from the streets, or have had a surgery. Those who have had a surgery needs an comfortable place to heal. Those who just got our of street need to adopt to indoor life. Nothing is impossible, but some patience or experience may be needed.

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So, if you are new to cat care and fostering, what tips can I give?

  • When I decided to foster a cat, one of my friends asked whether I asked that the cat is litter-trained. Never crossed my mind!! If you do not have time, experience, or interest to go through this training, please feel free to ask (luckily, Mona was trained)
  • Kittens, I heard, are more energetic and have health vulnerabilities different than adult cats, so consider learning more about their care if you decide to foster kittens
  • Whether neutered (for male cats) or spayed (for females) may be another thing you may want to ask – Mona was spayed and I did not have to go through the heat season, but I heard that it may be annoying to some people. Un-neutered makes may mark the house/furniture with their secretions (there is a name for this that I cannot remember now), that – I heard – may be quite annoying to some people. So feel free to ask their status
  • Diseases can be something you can ask about as well. I had not. I am not sure whether there are diseases that pass from cats to human, but I would not be surprised if there are. Also if you have little kids or other animals, or are pregnant, I think there are certain conditions that need to be considered. These all should be talked prior to fostering agreement
  • You can ask whether the vet and medication expenses, as well as litter and food are supplied. In my case, our organization provides them (with I making some contributions voluntarily). Ask just in case to prevent unexpected expenses. The first shelter I contacted required us to bring the fostered animals to vet ourselves. Our organization send volunteers and for someone like me who does not have a car, this is a significant advantage
  • You may also ask for how long the fostering period is. Sometimes it is for short time (a couple of weeks to recuperate from stress or sickness), and sometimes it is until a forever home is found.
  • Age or health of the cat may be something you may consider. There is a difference in care, time, and effort needed for a cat with a condition, and a cat that is just healthy or young.
  • Be prepared to do more cleaning, especially if the cat is shedding. Mona is shedding lightly and grooming her controls it to a degree. But I do more vacuuming and cleaning, especially her litter room (aka my extra bathroom). I often have an extra laundry load as well, for Mona’s blanket and other items

I have not thought, or asked about any of these, except the expense part prior to agreeing to foster Mona, I did not care whether it was a young, healthy, or sick cat.

I just wanted to help.

I am glad I have.

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having a foster cat – II

Some of you may not know the difference between adopting and fostering an animal. I did not know the difference for a very long time.

Simply put, fostering is a temporary care of an animal, in this case, until my foster cat Mona finds a home.

Fostering does not have to cost you anything. The organization that rescued Mona is supplying or covering all vet, medication, food, and litter and other expenses. Supplies are delivered to my home – imagine!.. All other things, including the litter box, scoop, and scratch post as well as blankets or a toy were also provided. Since I am free to donate to the cause, I buy litter sometimes and wet food. I buy toys, catnip, and cat grass kits myself. Since it is my decision to replace the litter box and scoop every two weeks, I supply these myself as well. And, believe me, it is just joyful.

So, if you are interested in, think about this cost-free and highly meaningful experience.

As a foster mom (dad, person, and so on), you have moral and legal obligations. For example, I signed an agreement that I cannot arrange for adoption myself – this needs to go through the organization. If there is any emergency or any unusual health situation, I must give a call to the organization immediately, day or night. Morally, I must take good care of the fostered animal and provide a safe space. I should give the organization a couple of days to bring me supplies and so on. Nothing too much or too demanding. Just making sure that the animal will be cared for.

My relationships with the director of the organization/shelter and the volunteers who take her to vet and bring in supplies are very good. I increasingly become grateful and inspired by their volunteer activities and serving for such a great cause. We also made friends – this is an extra bonus 🙂 Whenever I have a question, I contact them. Together we make sure that Mona is well. It is a great team.

For someone who is meticulous, have a high sense of responsibility, and is kind of naive and un-knowledgeable about cats, their care, or health issues, I had to do a lot of google searches (only reliable resources – I have no time for vegan diet for cats who are natural carnivores and need high levels of protein, or herbal treatments for FIP kind of serious diseases). Many of my virtual friends here and in social media are also great help. My family also provided many useful tips. It is doable, friends – do not be afraid to foster and help an animal.

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Many people are appreciative of fosters, and shower you with gifts and supplies. Do not be surprised by these lovely gestures. I was surprised myself – it is so good to know that there are many individuals out there who share the same interests with you.

It took me maybe 2 months to establish the most practical and easy approach to litter situation. Eventually, I learnt the difference between a litter mat and a regular mat; importance of having a separate litter garbage box in the room (to temporarily store the poop and pees in poop bags); having yet another garbage can (to dispose unconsumed food and food cans); dumping soiled litter every day to keep the room fresh; importance of small, poop bags that are life-savers; the different types of bowls (porcelain is the best in my opinion); not letting Mona eat a wet food after 3 hours of serving (it is cold here but nevertheless the food not only may get spoiled, but also chemically react); mixing water with wet food to increase liquid intake (Mona is not a fan of water); watching the litter box usage to get a sense of her regular bowel movements (constipation is a real issue and can be quite serious after 24 hours), and so on. Now I feel like we have a good system that works for both of us.

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Giving a medication to a cat is a real art. I learnt that some medication can be crushed and mixed with the wet food, but not all of them. Some medications seem to have a protective coat, which, if disrupted, release the medication too fast. Keep this in your mind. Always consult a vet. Some liquid medication can be mixed with the meal, but in my experience if it smells or tastes differently, cat may not be well receptive. If you can, orally administer the medication using a syringe (which I could not, but you should try). Some pills also need to be orally administered. We had difficulty with one pill. I could not do it myself, so I had to find a way to trick Mona. So you can use pill pockets, or if they do not work, you can hide the pill in something soft that your cat likes. For Mona, that was cheese. Some other cats, it may be something else. Get ready for the experimentation 🙂

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Many house plants and human food are toxic or poisonous for cats. Do your search and comply with the recommendations. Mona ate a plant at home, and got sick. It turns out I mis-labelled the plant even though I had checked its toxicity status. It is good to be on the safe side. Interestingly, Mona is okay with drinking milk and eating yogurt – so I take this as she is not lactose intolerant. Moral of the story – you never know what cats can eat or not, and whey eat, what might be the consequences 🙂

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Our shelter/organization does not recommend treats. The way I see there is a lot of information out there for their potential mis-use/over-use, and health effects. Treats, as their name implies, is supposed to be given only every once a while, and they are not necessary. I used it to suppress the smell of a pill. Otherwise we are good with no treat.

The wet food is more expensive than the kibbles (hard or dry food), yet for cats they seem great – their water contents is high and they have generally less carbs than kibbles. Carbs are not so good for cats and can lead to obesity. Too many health problems are associated with obesity/over-weight in cats. Mona has become overweight under my watch, so now she is served less food than before. For her health.

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To be continued

weekly budget check

I have done well this week and stayed within my weekly allowance:

total expenses (within the allowance): $98

fun funds savings this week: $120 – $98: $22

total fun funds accumulated today: – $50 (sadly I spent more than I saved in this fund. Gotta be better soon….)

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses that I was tempted to, but did not do, savings from discounts etc.): $145 (always feel good…)

Other expenses: $146; mostly a dinner with a friend of mine (well deserved) and cleaning products

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Starting this month, I am increasing my mortgage payments a little bit. I am feeling great about this 🙂 This is mostly because I have got a little salary increase and decided to use it to pay off my mortgage earlier 🙂 Welcome September 🙂

Money risen for the animal shelter by selling stuff on kijiji: $40 so far. Even a little bit helps these innocent and beautiful animals.

Honestly, there has not been any day that I have not thought about re-adopting Jamie the cat…My little boy.. if only I had a little bit more courage and relaxed…

brought Jamie the cat back to the shelter :(

I put Jamie in his carrier using his favorite toy as a bait (after 30 min of trial and error), called a cab, and brought him back to the shelter. The person at the shelter was not happy when she learnt that I was returning a newly adopted animal.. I kind of deserved the somehow unhappy and disapproving face….

I know that if he is not adopted in a certain period of time, he can be euthanized…. This is breaking my heart big time, in addition to all bunch of other things. He was happy here, he wanted to be with me, he was smart, very well mannered (except occasional aggression/frustration that scared me). This last part of course is my own deficiency; I was not ready fully to understand the nature of cats and then handling them better. I did try my best, though.

There were a couple of people at the shelter looking for cats to adopt, or came to take their newly adopted cats home. I really hope, I really want to believe, that he can be adopted and be happy. So, please, if you are reading this, please join me in sending the best wishes for Jamie; let’s all hope that he will find a suitable home right away…. Thank you a bunch… 

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The whole morning, I cried at the office…..

I cried when I returned back from the shelter and started cleaning his room……

I cried when I picked up his scratch post (which I forgot to bring with me to the shelter to donate) and when I heard the bell on it chiming…..

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That cat changed my life in 5 days.

Just 5 days….

I remember many things about him and I: The moment I opened his cage and  the way he looked vulnerable and innocent, sniffed around, and approached me while I was pretending to not show interest in him; the way he accepted my hand and let me scratch his head; the way he ate his first wet food, which he loved; the way we connected and did head-butts; the way I missed him in the mornings; the way he scared me with his runs at nights; the way I lied on the couch with him in the afternoons to let him have a nap next to me; the way he got frustrated when I took him off the keyboard; the way he started to bite whatever I was showing interest on (like my computer or notepads) rather than him; the way he meowed when I came back home from outside; the way he loved to play with his favorite toy and jumped high to get it; the way he looked scary the majority of time except those times  when he was curious about the water dripping from the faucet. This last one I will always remember and cherish – he was so innocent….

I am still surprised that I could take him to the shelter myself. My friend was supposed to help me do this, yet she could not make it today. I sat down and thought again – do I really want to do this?

Emotionally, no. But logically the answer was yes; because it was the best solution not only for me but also for him.

I thought about how he would not get the love/attention he wanted; the way he would get frustrated when I do not let him sleep on my bed; the annoyance and stress he would get when I would leave him behind at a boarding facility for my long trips, at least twice a year and sometimes for 4-5 weeks…. Could he really be happy? Was what I was offering good for him?

No.

So, this was not a solely selfish decision after all.

I was selfish, though. I adopted him when I was very well aware that I would be away from his life for extended periods of time and that would make him unhappy and stressed. Where was my mind then????? If I was not selfish then, I would have not adopted Jamie at the first place.

That is a hard-learnt lesson – never make decisions mostly under the influence of emotions. Assess thoroughly first.

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Jamie in some ways made me learn about myself, too.

What were my borders?  What were my limits? Wishes for myself and others? Unconditional love? Thinking about myself and at the same time for others that I love? How to make difficult decisions? How to cry like a baby for something that entered my life only recently…..

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I am grateful for Jamie the cat for many things, but one particular thing stands out. He was the only living being I said “good morning” in my house that I live now. What an honour, what a beautiful experience to have had him in my house and in my life.

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Before I finish this ordeal, please join me again to wish the best family to adopt him and be happy with him.

Thank you so much.

 

 

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