“I’m feeling something I don’t like.”
These aren’t words you want to hear when one of your cats is being examined.
It was Harriet on the stainless steel examination table late yesterday afternoon as our primary vet at the VCA Kaneohe Animal Hospital, Dr. Ann Sakamoto, carefully felt her abdomen, using both hands to squeeze and probe.
“It’s a large mass, free floating, not attached to the liver or kidneys,” she said, concentrating on what her hands were telling her.
The look on her face told me the whole story.
My face must have shown that I understood.
Harriet, the cat also known as Ms. Harry, is dying in slow motion, and there’s not much we can do. We’ve been dreading this moment, with a house full of geriatric cats, but didn’t think that Harriet would be the first to hit this point.
I had taken three cats to VCA for a 5:30 appointment. Toby and Kili were primarily there because each had several thick, gnarly, and almost ingrown old-cat claws that I was unable to trim, and needed to be cut by someone with more expertise, experience, and it turns out, better tools. Toby, who yowls and fights whenever I try to put clipper to paw, didn’t go down without a fight. He had to be wrapped in a towel and held in place to accomplish the claw clipping. Harriet, while unhappy, yielded to medical authority was far less feisty.
I took Harriet along just on the chance that this time around, unlike several earlier rounds at the vet, we might find the cause of the light appetite and fussiness that she’s shown for the last year or so. Back in July, she was licking the fur off her stomach and the backs of her legs. And those earlier rounds of exams and tests hadn’t beend able to pinpoint a diagnosis or a cause.
From her behavior–appearing hungry but often backing away from offered food–I thought perhaps she might have a dental issue that we could deal with. And it turned out that she does have a sore spot on her gums, way in the back of her mouth.
But Dr. Sakamoto pointed out the obvious. Yes, there’s a small dental issue. “But that’s not what has caused her lack of appetite and weight loss,” she said.
Harriet is nearly 15 years old. Surgery is, in our view, not really a realistic option for an elderly cat.
I don’t know how much time she has. The newly found “mass” couldn’t be felt in July but is now large and obvious to the educated probe. That sounds to me like it’s growing rapidly.
Dr. Sakamoto cancelled Harriet’s blood test that we had planned on doing. No more diagnostics needed in light of the latest diagnosis.
As we were leaving, three cats back in their carriers, she offered to make a home visit, if we choose, “when the time comes.”
So we now consider Harry in hospice care. We’ll try to find food that she will eat, and will respond with attention when she starts her routine of digging into piles of mail or other papers, or knocking over selected items found on counters.
I had described this behavior to Dr. Sakamoto before she started her exam, saying that it was as if Harriet were trying to communicate something, and we just didn’t understand what it was. It was frustrating for her and aggravating to us. Now, when she does this kind of thing, we’ll respond with lots of positive attention. Maybe at some point we’ll add some pain relief. We’ll just have to play it by ear.
Harriet was one of four kittens we found in Kaaawa back in September 2000 while walking with friends in the morning. They took two of the kittens. We adopted the other two, Harriet and Lizzie.
Lizzie disappeared when she was just a few years old. It was a very painful episode for us. Harriet managed to survive.
Now we’ll dredge up our happy memories of her while we enjoy her remaining time with us.
Here’s one of the memory aids, a bit of video taken soon after Lizzie and Harry joined our household.
Tags: Cats · video
Here we go with another Throwback Thursday.
During the 1970s, there were widespread protests around the world against the nuclear testing program of the French government, which was conducting weapon tests in French Polynesia.
There were several groups that conducted protests in Honolulu against the French tests, including the Honolulu Friends Meeting (Quakers) and the affiliated American Friends Service Committee. The Quaker protests against nuclear weapons had roots back in to the 1950s, when Honolulu Friends had supported attempts to sail the yacht, Golden Rule, into the American nuclear test zone in Micronesia.
This picture of me was taken before or after one of those protests in downtown Honolulu. I’m guessing this was in the 1973-75 time frame. “The Bomb” shows there was a sense of humor behind the protests.
Tags: Health · Politics
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The “Kaaawa Cats 2015″ calendar features photos of the felines you enjoy every Feline Friday. And the “Good Morning, Kaaawa” calendar features view of our beautiful, windward Oahu community.
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Tags: Cats · Kaaawa
December 17th, 2014 · 9 Comments
Yesterday’s extraordinary events in Honolulu’s Federal District Court, and the response of the chairman of the Honolulu Police Commission, demonstrated again that “police accountability” is a contradiction in terms here in our fair city.
It’s time for the commission chairman to step down, and for new leadership to shake up the commission and its approach to its duties. The City Council and the mayor also have to be held to account about the sad state of affairs.
Yesterday’s major shock was the decision by federal prosecutors to throw out charges against Gerard Puana, uncle of the wife of Police Chief Louis Kealoha. Puana had been accused of stealing the mailbox from the chief’s former house in Kahala, following an investigation by HPD.
The move, according to news reports, was taken after prosecutors reviewed evidence collected by Puana’s attorney, Alexander Silvert, who has publicly alleged police misconduct in the case.
According to the Star-Advertiser:
Silvert said he met with prosecutors following the mistrial because he and Puana decided to put their faith and trust in the integrity of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “We presented our entire case, from top to bottom, to the prosecutors,” Silvert said. He said that included evidence he and investigators from his office uncovered during their own investigation.
Silvert said he also told federal prosecutors what eight of the jurors told him after Kobayashi had discharged them.
“All eight had said to us that after they saw the videotape (of the theft), they had already decided (Puana) was not guilty,” Silvert said.
Here’s the top of the title page from the docket of Puana’s federal court case, stamped simply, “Closed”.
But the story isn’t that simple.
The dismissal is a big deal on its own. But prosecutors went further, dismissing the case “with prejudice,” meaning that charges cannot be refiled, and asking the FBI to review the evidence, presumably to consider whether crimes were committed by police.
According to Hawaii News Now:
“This is the first time I’ve ever seen this happen,” says legal expert Ken Lawson, a University of Hawaii law professor, “The prosecution… not just dismissed it, but dismissed it with prejudice. And ‘with prejudice’ means not only are we dismissing your case, but we’re never bringing it back.”
Lawson is not involved with this federal trial, but has worked many federal cases in various states.
“There’s cause for great concern,” he says, “If I’m the chief of police, I’ve got a lawyer now.”
Prior to yesterday’s dismissal, there was a flurry of communications between prosecutors and attorneys, all of which were sealed and unavailable for public inspection. Click here for a list of documents filed with the court under seal since the December 4, 2014 mistrial, which was caused by Kealoha’s unsolicited disclosure of information about Puana’s history during his trial testimony. Observers say it was a rookie error, and unusual for an experienced police officer.
Instead of expressing concern about the unusual turn of events, which puts HPD in a very bad light, Police Commission Chairman Ron Taketa came out sounding like a spokesman for Chief Kealoha rather than the head of a panel which is supposed to provide independent oversight of the police on behalf of the public.
Without seeing any of the evidence that prompted the about-face by federal prosecutors and another federal investigation of HPD, Taketa used the opportunity to vouch for the chief.
The Star-Advertiser reported:
Police Commission Chairman Taketa said he believes the commission’s hands are tied in making public statements about the mistrial because a federal investigation is underway and because the department has rules about releasing personal information about police employees, including the chief.
And if the chief were found guilty of any wrongdoing, any discipline would likely be confidential because the case is considered a personnel matter.
Taketa added, however, that the commission holds the chief to a higher standard than other city employees and that he has been forthcoming with the commission, alerting it to his family dispute.
“He was honestly sincere about apologizing for what he said,” Taketa said. “He just admitted that it was error and it was spur of the moment and he regretted it.”
He continued: “The mistrial was the furthest thing from his mind as to what he wanted coming out of that trial. There’s actually in my opinion no reason to believe that he would have benefited from a mistrial.”
At minimum, I would have expected someone in Taketa’s position to express serious concern about the extraordinary circumstances and pledge to take action if the evidence, or the FBI probe, reveals departmental misconduct.
Instead, we had the chairman singing the chief’s praises, as if none of the other events of the day had taken place.
Taketa, the financial secretary and business representative for the Hawaii Carpenters Union, was first appointed to the police commission back in about 1990, and served for at least 15 years, and was appointed again in 2011. It would appear that his relationship is far too cozy with HPD to exert any real oversight.
Tags: Court · Crime · Labor · Politics
December 16th, 2014 · 1 Comment
Four views of Hilo at dawn, from our early walk during the brief stay in Hilo over this past weekend.
Click on any photo to see a larger version.