Sick kitty

I took Amelia, our 12 year old Himalayan cat, to the vet today for her annual checkup. This is her:

Her inner ears are normally this healthy pink-tinged color:

Today that skin was yellow. This apparently means her liver is not filtering normal red blood cell breakdown products.

She also lost 2 lbs since her last checkup.

The vet said there’s a 50% chance this can be fixed. The problem could range from a treatable infection to terminal illnesses like FIV.

Shortly after the vet found the problem, he whisked her to get a blood sample and put her on an IV.

Alec is a little upset that we had to leave Amelia at the vet’s office. She’s the only kitty that gets along with him.

I should find out more on Friday.

Irving’s new pet tax

The Dallas Morning News reports that Irving, Texas just enacted a pet tax. When you pay the tax, your animal gets a record in a database maintained by a private firm. Residents with untaxed pets risk a class C misdemeanor, a real offense that goes on criminal records.

Irving’s stated rationale is “to reunite more lost pets with their owners and continue driving down the rate of animals the Irving Animal Shelter euthanizes.”

Irving has already succeeded with the euthanization problem: they plummeted 70% in the past 3 years. Now 80% of Irving’s pet shelter pets get to live. Way to go!

But the other goal, reuniting pets with their owners, is silly.

Here’s how it works: owners of fixed and microchipped pets pay the least tax, $5. Owners get taxed $10 if the pet is missing a microchip and $15 if the pet is not fixed. These sound low, but how many taxes never rise? Trust me, these are introductory period prices. It won’t be long before that $15 tax rises to Dallas’s $30 tax.

Don’t get me wrong; I’d love to reunite all lost pets with their owners. But why should a city force owners to take a specific measure to help reunification? Are pet owners incapable of managing their property?

I’ll bet a couple of dollars that 1. the vast majority of pet owners are responsible people, and 2. their pets either never get lost or, if lost, are found before they end up in a shelter.

Instead of recognizing that any problems are likely isolated to a very small percentage of pet owners, Irving has done what governments do best: harass and annoy everyone.

Pets who are not reunited are a personal problem, not a societal problem. There is no legitimate rationale for Irving to force this on its citizens. A pet tax is another piece of nanny state interference into the private matters of citizens.

Dallas Morning News article: Irving dog and cat owners must register their pets

Ceiling collapse update

More updates on the ceiling collapse.


The ceiling collapse culprit may be more complicated than the short nails.

The house’s attic gable vents are above the den and the master bedroom. Coincidentally, the den’s ceiling collapsed, and the master bedroom has a slight ceiling sag. The insurance estimator theorized that some wind-driven high attic pressure plus the weight of the insulation plus improper nails may have caused the collapse. [EDIT: This is also the working theory behind a ceiling failure in a separate room in 2019!]

The insurance estimator noticed a master bedroom ceiling sag, so he recommended that the insurance fix this by driving drywall screws into it and scraping and retexturing.


Today is the 7th day we’ve had no den and dining room. We are lucky since our house is still livable and functional.

The biggest inconvenience is losing 400 square feet.

The second biggest inconvenience is my skittishness about the plastic sheeting closing off the disaster area.

The closed room has three vents. Even though I shut them off, enough air leaks through to increase pressure in that room, causing the plastic sheeting to balloon out when the heater runs.

I have the sheeting held in place by 3″-4″ of that blue paint-safe tape, but I’m constantly afraid it will stop adhering and open up. If the heat turns on while it opens up, it will blow the insulation-laden air into the rest of the house.

In an abundance of caution, I turn the heat off when we leave and at night. My wife just loves those freezing cold mornings! :-)

The nice thing is if I open a window while the heater runs, the pressure differential sucks fresh air into the house. That’s a nice way to inject fresh air into this place!

No TV!

Our TV is sitting in the hallway–the ceiling collapsed while I rescued it–but the only cable connectors are in the den. (Shortly after moving in, I removed the cable connections from the other bedrooms–I feel very strongly against having TVs in bedrooms). Therefore, we’ve had no TV for a whole week. I love it! Can we have no TV forever? Please?

Some day I’ll write why I hate many TV programs.


I hope to hear some kind of dollar amount from the adjuster early this week. The estimator made a mistake–ordered different resurfacing treatments for different parts of the wood floor of the closed off room–so that plus some other issues have been holding up the adjuster’s offer.

New Furniture

The inspector said our couch, love seat, dining room table set, and some less significant items are total losses. Apparently, it’s impossible to get the fine Rockwool particles out of the couches, and the cost of resurfacing the dining room table and its chairs exceeds the cost of a new set.

I am so glad I opted for the personal property replacement value coverage. The insurance company will cut me a check for these items’ depreciated values (i.e., garage sale values). Because of this extended coverage, we can buy new equivalents of these items and get reimbursed for the difference.


Since the entire ceiling is out, I’m seriously thinking of installing recessed lighting in the den. I’ll probably do it myself and ask the contractor to wait a day between demolition/cleanup and nailing up the new drywall.

The question is what kind of lighting to do? I only have 9′ ceilings in that main room, so I’m afraid traditional 6″ recessed lighting may look huge. Plus I don’t like how hot incandescents run; that room is already too warm in the summer.

I like the look of halogen recessed lighting, but some sites say these may be best for directional lighting. I may also look into dimmable compact fluorescent-based lights.

Mean Kitty

My younger cat Olivia, nicknamed “Mean Kitty” by my son, recently discovered how to shred furniture. Furniture shredding is unacceptable with new furniture, so I have a hard decision: get her declawed or give her away.

Even though anti-declaw arguments are exaggerated and full of holes (link), I am still uncomfortable with the procedure.

But even if I do it, I will have spent money on a kitty with a terribly defective personality. She is already reclusive, skittish, and dislikes my wife and son. She comes out only for me and only when I am in seated or lying down, and only when nobody else is around.

When she was a kitten, she was nice to everybody, and she wanted to sleep on me at night. I don’t know why she changed so dramatically!

Would she do better in a one person, no child household?

I hate giving up a pet, but I have a cat with a terribly defective personality occupying one of my two cat “slots.”

I don’t know what to do. If it has to come down to risking her being put down, I’ll probably keep her. But I may investigate placing her somewhere else.

Enormous variance in heartworm treatment costs

My dog recently got heartworms. I counted my pills and realized I missed two doses over the past two years. Apparently, that’s all it takes!

The treatment costs varied enormously. The most expensive place was 226% higher than the cheapest one. These prices were quoted to me in April 2007:

Vet Price Services
Hillside Veterinary Clinic
  • x-rays
  • bloodwork
  • medication
  • hospital time
Lakewood Animal Hospital
  • x-rays
  • bloodwork
  • medication
  • hospital time
  • fecal exam
Casa Linda Animal Clinic
  • 4 days hospitalization
  • 2 injections
  • exam, bloodwork, x-ray
  • weekly checkup for 6 weeks
  • 6 weeks of treatment
  • 7 week heartworm test
White Rock Animal Hospital
$450.00 – $550.00 (I didn’t write down the services they quoted.)
A&B Animal Clinic
  • 2 days hospitalization
  • 2 injections
  • exam, bloodwork
  • 2 week follow up appointment

I chose A&B Animal Clinic. Why pay extra for the same result: no heartworms.

New Kitty

UPDATE (years later): Regrettably, this cat ended up threatening to attack my toddler son several times, unprovoked. The safety of my family is important, so we had to surrender her back to the SPCA about two months after we got her.

After four years of hemming and hawing, we got a new cat on Saturday:

We got her from a Petsmart store in Dallas. Petsmart carries cats from local animal charities like the SPCA. Our cat was part of a litter voluntarily given up by its owner. The SPCA claimed she may have some Maine Coon Cat in her, but we’ll see. I think she is probably just a plain, medium hair mutt cat.

I like her personality. When I have her in my lap, she’ll constantly rub and walk back and forth, up and down, showing a great deal of affection. If any of you knew the little calico cat I had while growing up, the affectionate personality is similar, minus the calico’s nutty skittishness.

Later that day, we went to Target to pick up groceries and kitten food. On the way there, I said “alea iacta est.” This Latin phrase literally translates as “the die is cast,” meaning that you just entered a game you cannot get out of by casting a die (dice is plural of die). This is phrase is attributed to Julius Caesar.

After saying that, I wondered if alea is a feminine noun. We could not remember; our Latin is rusty. The next day, we checked many sites but could not figure it out.

So I called my high school Latin teacher, Mrs. Mary Lacy. After introducing myself, she paused a bit before she recalled me. I wasn’t surprised; it had been 10 years since I last took a Latin class. But she recognized me and asked about my brothers. And yes, alea is a feminine noun.

We haven’t finalized on a name yet. Alea is nice, but it’s really close to Alec, our son’s name. Even though they are pronounced very differently, do we want our son’s and cat’s names to be that close?

Amelia hates her, but that’s normal. Sugar thinks she is a play toy. I am keeping this cat away from that dog for now.