New pasture, new ‘tude

Isis Bint Sirdar

The first week Isis had her grazing muzzle on, she discovered how to take it off by rolling. A few minutes after she was turned out, she would roll and rub her head back and forth against the ground. The strap behind her ears slipped off, and she dropped the muzzle on the ground. She did this four out of the six days I turned her out at lunch. The one time she kept it on was only because she had taken it off and I put it immediately back on her.

She was incredibly pleased with herself. Turned out, eating grass, gaining weight… life was good. And we couldn’t have her gaining weight when it threatened her legs and a laminitis flare-up. The muzzle became even more important when Isis and her herd were to be moved to a new pasture — a lush, prime pasture where she would easily gorge herself silly.

Saturday she was turned out for a half-day and came back without her muzzle. Sunday, when she was turned out in the new pasture, I talked to her about the muzzle.

Some times horses really understand what you are saying. Some part of the message is conveyed. Maybe it was the worry in my voice when I asked her to please keep the muzzle on because otherwise she could become seriously lame. The alternative was to put her by herself in the drylot paddock, where she would be miserable.

It’s been more than a week since she was turned out into the new pasture with her muzzle on full time — and every day she comes in with it on.

Unhappy Horse

Isis Bint Sirdar

Isis is thoroughly pissed at me. I’ve purchased a grazing muzzle for her to wear in hopes that it will reduce the amount of grass she is eating.

Isis Bint Sirdar

She had it on for the first time on Saturday. She was not a happy camper. The grass in her diet paddock (dry lot) was so low that she couldn’t get any grass through the hole in the bottom of the muzzle. She walked around, tossing her head, glaring at me. For 30 minutes, she tried to rub the muzzle off on trees, fences, posts, her legs… anything that might free her from the annoying contraption.

She figured out how to get it off, alright. The next day when I was out and turned her out with her buddies with the muzzle on. She tossed her head a few times, took out her frustrations on her herd-mates, then went down to roll. Gracefully rolled side to side, got up, and the grazing muzzle was on the ground.

I’ve seen her do this several times now. Usually within 10 minute of being put out, she rolls and gets the muzzle off, even after it’s been readjusted to be tighter and fight well. If the muzzle is much tighter it won’t fit properly.

If she doesn’t keep it on, she really won’t be happy. She will be sequestered in her diet paddock instead of out with her buddies. I pity the horse that ends up in with her… is live!

My coauthor and I have been researching the Gallo-Roman horse-goddess Epona for the past few years. We were both interested in researching her history and were frustrated by the lack of information available in English. There is plenty of material in French and German, but very little in English.

We’re starting to change this. Yesterday our Web site,, a scholarly resource, went live. This site contains a synopsis of our research to date, including summaries of artifact distributions, inscriptions, depictions, worship, timeline, and an annotated bibliography.

Comments and criticism are welcome.

Doin’ the Basette Boogie 2


Some times miracles never cease to amaze! This might be overly optimistic, but Basette’s glucose was much lower today. She is actually responding to the insulin at long last. This morning when I took her into the vet’s, her glucose level was 444. This afternoon, her glucose was 290. Finally below 300! Party on, Garth!

Unfortunately, a second exam of her retinas confirms that they are detached, and one eye has had a little bleeding.

When I came to the clinic to pick “Basetters” up, several of the vet techs were quite excited about the Little Black Wonder Cat(tm)’s glucose levels. They all said their good-byes while Basette purred her content with the attention.

Basette’s eyes are also responding to light now. When she is in bright sunlight, her pupils respond to the light and shrink. Maybe this is good news for her retinas? Maybe they will heal?

Bubble bubble toil and trouble…


Basette’s eyes still look like saucers. It is obvious that her vision is much diminished. I’ve watched her stop just an inch or so before walking into a wall. Poor kitten followed me into my office and instead of leaving back through the doorway, tried to go through the closet.

She seems to be happy to be home. She isn’t in any pain, nor is she distressed. She sits and purrs. Such a sweet kitten. Why do things like this happen to the gentlest cats?

Super trooper kitty


Some good news, and some bad news.

Good news: Basette’s insulin dose is having some effects and appears to be helping her. She is feeling better and has been up and around more.

Bad news: She has lost more of her vision.

This morning I sat and watched her before going in to work. For 30 minutes, I sat and talked to her watching how she reacts to my voice. How she turns her head in my direction without looking at me. Every time I said her name, she mrowed in her half-purr, half-hoarse meow. She headed towards me, turned once too early and stopped just before walking into a cabinet. She continued out of the kitchen to where I sat, and sat in front of me, facing away from me, purring like an out-board motor.


I’ve situated things in the kitchen carefully so she can have everything where she needs it, and it won’t be rearranged any time soon. She seems to be adapting to using her other senses very quickly.

Every time I walk into the kitchen she purrs and mrows at me. She can’t see me clearly but she hears my voice and tells me to pet her. She is an amazing little kitty.

Retinas and diabetes


I waited anxiously at work all day after dropping Basette off at the vet’s this morning. Her eyes hadn’t improved any from the night before. She still seemed to be able to see where I was. She came over and sniffed my feet, purring loudly. She even followed me into the office the night before.

However, she seemed confused. Patient, purring, and not sure what was going on. With her eyes like that, I assumed she had trouble focusing. The once-vicious now having trouble seeing her prey…

The vet called in the afternoon with not-so-good news: Basette has retinal damage, maybe detached retinas, maybe diabetic retinopathy (less likely). Either way, the condition was probably caused by high blood pressure related to her diabetes and reduces vision, sometimes causing blindness.

There is basically no viable treatment to help the Little Black Wonder Cat(tm). The best we can do right now it try and get her glucose levels under control.

We have to wait and see what happens with her vision. She’s already had trouble focusing, the question now is will it keep deteriorating, or will it stabilize?

The one good point? Her glucose in the evening was 290, so the insulin dose is at least having some effects.

Brave kitten

Basette, Thursday night

Something strange is happening with Basette’s eyes. This evening her pupils looked completely dilated. Even when I picked her up and looked at her eyes in bright light, the pupils didn’t respond. She isn’t looking directly at me. She looks in my direction, but never meets my gaze, unlike my other kitties.

This isn’t right. Click on the picture to see what I mean. Take a close look at her eyes.

I called the vet at her house — the only time I’ve ever done that — and she said to bring Basette back to the clinic if her eyes hadn’t improved by morning.

Black cat boogie, part 2

Basette, the little black wonder cat

The Little Black Wonder Cat(tm) is home at last, after a few days with the vet.

For the past six or more years, Basette has been a proud client of Oak Ridge Veterinary Clinic. During her stays, she enjoys fine Southern hospitality and gourmet prescription diabetic food. She has her own little kitty condo, complete with deluxe bed (courtesy of Mom), clean towels to cover the bed, more litter box changes then a window washer with only one window to clean, and lots of love and attention. You know you are at a good clinic when it takes longer to pick up the kitty then to drop her off because everyone has to say their good-byes.

I called this afternoon to check on the “Basetters” (her knick-name at the clinic). Basette’s glucose levels didn’t respond as well today as they had yesterday. However, they still went down while she was on the glucose. It’s still positive news, it’s just not quite as dramatic as it had been yesterday.

Basette has an unusually calm disposition for a cat, so she does get some special treatment. (Me? Spoil my kitties? Oh never!) She rides in the front seat on her kitty condo bed, is carried inside with the bed, and placed into her ‘condo’ without having moved from the bed. Much of the time, when we’re in transit, Basette insists upon sitting in my lap and purring. Unlike some cats who whine or scratch for attention, Basette inches her way onto my lap and then simply places her head against my hand. And leaves it there until she is petted to her satisfaction.

She does seem to be feeling better. She tried to climb onto the dash at one point to watch the cars pass. I had to retrieve her onto my lap several times. She didn’t want to sit still on the pillow or on my lap. It was exploring time and I was cramping her style! Very different behavior from her first few weeks visiting the clinic when she just sat, quietly, on her bed in the front seat.

Her sense of exploration is something small, but it’s another step forward. Another bit of hope.

Doin’ the Basette boogie

Basette, the little black wonder cat

It is certainly possible that Basette’s responsiveness last night was from a cleared up infection that didn’t show up on the UTI tests. I hope so!

Basette’s glucose was above 500 again this morning, so she’s going to try her on the bovine insulin (PZI) again.

Another update! Vet just called and said that Basette responded today to an insulin dose of 5 units — down from 15 units (which is a WHOPPING dose) before the clavamox and glipizide three weeks ago.

With any luck, she’ll be back up home in a day or so and regulated!

Tentative good news

Basette, the little black wonder cat

Here is some good news, at least! Basette went back to the vet’s this morning. Her glucose levels were still high this morning and afternoon. However, after she recieved her insulin, her glucose levels plummeted from over 500 down to almost half that!!

Woohoo! If Basette was here, I’d party. The vet was esctatic. I was delighted. We’re not jinxing anything, though, and hoping that it wasn’t a fluke.

In all of her prior glucose tests, Basette has never responded with that much of a significant drop in glucose levels.

It is a real start, and hopefully some progress for the Little Black Wonder Cat(tm).

Birds in the house vents

This has definitely been an interesting week. Roller-coaster ride, frustrations, and more. Yeehaw.

First, my mare was lame on Sunday (bad). On Tuesday, my diabetic kitty was more active and alert (good). Wednesday I cleaned the house, had everything looking nice, and then discovered two bird families had made nests in the house (bad). Last year, one nest of birds spread these nasty bird mites through the house. (shudder) They don’t transmit disease, they just make your skin crawl. My skin has felt invisible creepy-crawlies since Wednesday.

Thursday afternoon, I installed Word Press (VERY good). Thursday evening, the vet came out and diagnosed Isis with laminitis. (MAJOR bad).

So it’s been a topsy-turvey ride.

At least there aren’t mites (knock on wood).

My mare, my kid

How to start things off?

Isis Bint Sirdar

My mare came up lame last week on Sunday morning: stiffness, no apparent swelling, ouchy on both front feet. Add that to spring grass coming in and her tendency to put on weight faster then a cheetah bringing down an antelope, and you get the idea.

Yesterday, the vet confirmed my worst fears: laminitis, a serious disease which causes the laminae (interior parts of the hoof) to break down. Basically, in bad cases, part of the inside bone (the very tip of the horse’s leg) sinks because the ties that hold it in place (laminae) deteriorate.

Isis’ case is mild, luckily. With a little rest and weight loss, she should be back to normal. Except what will normal be after this?