Tabby’s Place is far enough from the border that we’re safe from Montezuma’s revenge.
We don’t feed the cats purple yam ice cream or pangolin brains.
And there’s no need to get immunized against dysentery before visiting Ringoes, NJ.
Despite all of this, our newcomers are still prone to the bane of travelers everywhere: tummy troubles.
If you take a cursory glance at our cats’ medical histories, you’ll find a common, um, streak: early days of anxious diarrhea. It seems no matter how gentle we are, and no matter how happy our newest sweeties are to be at Tabby’s Place, the transition is a lot to deal with when your stomach is the size of a tangerine.
It’s perplexing when a nervous belly is matched by a decidedly not-nervous cat. Some of our kitties seem downright delighted to be at the sanctuary, as if they know they’ve dodged death and made their way into love.
Consider the giddy trio of Hughley, Jester and Greta. These three zesty middle-aged marvels came from an especially crowded shelter, and all three were bursting with excitement to be at Tabby’s Place. Greta is so excited about attention that she’ll gamely smack her companions out of the way so she can get all the human bean love for herself. Hughley may not yet be quite as confident as his comedian namesake, but he’s a happy lovey who will give you his happy belly for some rubs and kisses once he’s known you for twelve seconds.
And then there’s tabby Jester, whose big round head, painting-perfect strips and colossal eyes put him in the running for Cutest Cat In America. Even cuter than that baby face is Jester’s spirit. This gregarious guy loves to be loved as much as Peachy loves to be admired (ok, almost that much). Not for a moment did Jester seem stressed to be switching from his sad shelter to Tabby’s Place.
But Jester’s belly? Another story altogether. Along with snuggly, bashful Hughley and beautiful, brassy, “me-first” Greta, Jester was rocked with a bout of diarrhea that just wouldn’t quit. These woes lingered all the way through the trio’s quarantine period, impervious to the medications that usually soothe newcomers’ “travelers’ tummies.” We’ve taken to proactively treating all new babies with probiotics, to prevent the inevitable GI woes, but even these good bacteria weren’t enough to keep Jester, Hughley and Greta in check.
And so, the triumvirate with the stellar personalities and angelic faces became the newest residents of our Special Needs Suite. Once there, Greta, Jester and Hughley dug into a hypoallergenic diet designed for cranky GI systems. At any given time, we have cats on 10-15 different prescription diets at Tabby’s Place, so when we can house special-eaters together, it makes life easier for everyone and everykitty involved. And, so, the Special Needs Suite has become the unofficial Kingdom of the Anxious Tummy.
Apparently, living in such a realm does not make a kitty feel cool. Just over a month into their Tabby’s Place sojourn, Jester and his buddies have decided it’s time for some normal poop. Pardon my candor, but we are rather excited about normal poop at Tabby’s Place. When a cat who’s been dogged by diarrhea for weeks or months is healed, it’s all we can do not to take photos and have a veritable poop party.
I’ll spare you photos of Jester’s perfect poop, but suffice to say that our tabby guy is on the road to a regular suite – and from there, I predict, swiftly onto adoption. Hughley and Greta are in the poop-normalization process too, and I suspect they won’t be here long at all.
So why do even happy, happy-to-be-at-Tabby’s-Place cats get anxious inside? I think of the classic Holmes & Rahe Stress Scale, which ranks life’s most stressful events. Remarkably, some of the highest-stress happenings are grand things, like marriage or pregnancy. Still, when you have enough stress, good or bad, you’re at risk for illness. And so it is that even the grand stress of a new life at Tabby’s Place can lead to tummy troubles.
That’s okay. Tummy troubles don’t last forever – but loving homes do. Here’s to poop parties and ever-better news for Jester, Hughley, Greta and every newcomer to follow.