Friday, January 20, 2012

In-Sync Exotics' "Other" Residents!

Just when you thought you've met all the In-Sync Exotics wild ones, Cat Tales presents a few more residents for you to meet!

First off, we have Twiggy!  Twiggy is about 12 years old and she joined the In-Sync Exotics family in 2009 under some rather unusual circumstances. 

Prior to her arrival, Twiggy was diagnosed as having cancer on her face.  Her previous owner no longer wanted to be emotionally attached to an animal with cancer, so she decided to place the horse on Craig's List. 

An In-Sync Exotics volunteer saw the ad and purchased Twiggy for $500.  Wanting to make sure this horse had a good, safe home, she asked us if we could accept her.  After looking into this horse's beautiful eyes, we knew we had to say "yes!"

Today, Twiggy keeps Missy, Vicky's private horse, company.  In the video below, you can see 34-year old Missy rolling around on the ground while Twiggy watches her companion's antics!

We not only has exotic wild cats, but we also have 13 adorable domestic cats.  Here are just a few adorable pictures of cats you might see when you visit us:

Somehow Sox and bills simply do not mix well together
Sox is quite the character and is probably the most affectionate, people-oriented cat than any  of our domestic cats!

Franklin spying on Sailor across the soon-to-be new home for the cheetahs!
Franklin actually belongs to Vicky and you'll often seen him accompanying his owner around the property.  Sailor, seen in the background, is rather shy and is often seen strolling solo around the grounds. 

Reebok is affectionately known as the office's paper weight!

"My paw is faster than your hands--stay away from the keys!"
Spirit, our oldest cat at about 16-years of age, can often be found relaxing in the office.  Spirit is also known as the "keeper of the keys" and will swat unwelcome hands away from them!

Meet Obi (foreground) and Patty (background) -- both cats
are often seen patrolling the grounds.
And finally, let us introduce you to Shoes!  As you can see, Shoes likes to snooze...

Shoes' doing what Shoes does best!
When not snoozing, Shoe can be found chasing butterflies, crickets, and grasshoppers--he is such a versatile animal!  Shoe is our youngest domestic cat at 1 1/2 years old.

So next time you visit In-Sync Exotics, take a look around and see if you can spot our little domestic ones and our horse, Twiggy, too!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Special Alert! We Have Been Nominated for the...

Green Source DFW Environmental Awards

The Green Source DFW Environmental Leadership Awards are presented by the Memnosyne Foundation to recognize people and groups in the Dallas - Fort Worth area for their exceptional leadership in the enhancement and protection of the environment. There are four categories: Grass Roots Non-Profit Group or Organization, For Profit/Business Individual, Volunteer, and Entrepreneur.

The winning grass roots organization will receive $500 and the winners in other categories will receive $250 towards the green cause of their choice. The nomination period ran through January 6. Voting began January 16th and runs until February 13th.

Please vote for one in each category. You can vote once a day.

So remember to set your "tickler" to remind you to vote every day up till February 13th!  Remember, every grant dollar that goes towards our green projects truly helps us all!

Thank you Kim for nominating us!!


Our First Who Am I for 2012!

It's our first Who Am I of the year!  Can you guess name of the animal pictured (the tiger silly, not the monkey!)? 

First person to identify and answer two questions about me wins bragging rights.  Simply send your response via the comment box and if you are the first person to respond to the challenge, you win!  So, are you ready to figure out who I am? 

Now for the Questions:

Question #1:  How much did I weigh when rescued?
Question #2:  Am I a male or female tiger?

Good luck everyone!
And remember, I am incomplete without you -- won't you adopt me?


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Working With Big Cats - An Intern's Dream

Being an intern at In-Sync Exotics has been one of the most rewarding and interesting experiences of my life.  No other internship program I’ve participated in or researched offers the sort of hands-on, intense experience that In-Sync offers.  You make such a fast connection with the animals and people that it doesn’t take long to feel like you’ve always been here. 
Aramis sticking out his tongue at me!
I completed my first internship at In-sync this past summer (one of the hottest on record I hear) where I had the privilege of being part of the Poetry rescue.  As heartbreaking as it was to see the animals in such poor conditions, it was uplifting to see how hard everyone worked to better their temporary situation.  There was such a feel of accomplishment every time another stall was clean and ready for rehabbing.   The best memory I have of Poetry was once we got Layla, Eve, Aurora, and Aramis back to In-Sync and the girls got their first taste of toys. 
Eve and her toy duck!

Eve went after that decoy duck like it was the Christmas present she’d always been waiting for and most of us discovered Aurora had a “slight” ball obsession.  Of course none of us can forget the look on the Poetry cougar’s faces when they touched grass for the first time.

Now in the winter months I’m gaining new experiences, like cleaning out the winter dens (oh the joy) and of course I’m learning more and more about exotic cats from everyone here.  As part of the internship program we participate in animal behavioral training. 
Alysia training Stryker to stand-up
and stay still for a full-body examination
Currently I’m training Stryker and Aasha, two very different cats when it comes to temperament, on how to enter the vet chute and to come to me on cue so I can conduct full body exams of the cats for potential health issues.  Aasha is your excitable cub with a short attention span and Stryker wants to know the source of every noise around him (not that it cuts into their progress; they’re both very smart cats). 

Alysia teaching Stryker how to lay down
and remain still while being examined

I would recommend the In-Sync Internship Program to anyone out there who is looking for experience in this field.  It’s a lot of hard work and long hours, but it is by far worth all of the effort to have a true experience working with exotic cats (and one coatimundi J).

Blog Posting Written By:  Alysia Lavender, In-Sync Exotics Intern 


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Keenan's Heart

As many of you know, we have several geriatric cougars living at In-Sync Exotics.  One particular cougar, Keenan, who will be 17 years old in May, is one of our older special needs cats.

Keenan has a unique history because he is our only exotic wild cat that died on an examination table during a procedure performed by a veterinarian.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s start from the beginning…

In September 2010, we noticed that Keenan was behaving oddly.  He appeared lethargic, refusing to eat all his food, and play with the other cats—so we called his vet.  Dr. Kerin examined Keenan without anesthesia and visually found nothing physically wrong with him, so he recommended a trip to Texas A&M, so he could be anesthetized and thoroughly examined.

A couple of days later, we took a road trip to College Station so Keenan could be examined by the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine veterinarians.  Keenan was sedate so the vets could perform a sonogram.

During the sonogram, the vets observed Keenan’s heart stop beating, so they immediately initiated emergency resuscitation procedures.   After about 60 very long seconds later,  Keenan’s heart finally started again.  Technically, Keenan died on the exam table for a very short time.

During the time Keenan’s heart stopped, his body started to shut down non-essential organs, and so when Keenan’s heart resumed beating, we discovered our cougar was blind.

Thankfully this condition was only temporary for while Keenan was recuperating at A&M, the vets were happy to report his vision returned about 36 hours later.  Keenan, stayed at A&M for three days, while the vets tried to get him to eat and take his medicine because they wanted to perform one more sonogram, this time without anesthesia.  Needless to say, we were very anxious about repeating this procedure after what happened the last time.

Keenan came through the second sonogram procedure without incident and the test did reveal our cougar has a heart problem known as Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)?  Well, our cougar’s heart has four chambers: two chambers at the top, the right and left aorta; and two chambers on the bottom, the right and left ventricles.  DCM is a heart disease that affects the ventricular muscle and is characterized by dilated, or enlarged heart chambers, and reduced contraction ability. That means his heart has a diminished ability to push blood out of the respective ventricle.  Unfortunately, DCM causes the heart to become overloaded, and may lead to congestive heart failure.   When the A&M vets made this diagnosis, they gave Keenan only six months to live.

We were determined not to give up on Keenan, so our cougar was placed on a whole host of medicines (almost including the kitchen sink) to try and correct or at least alleviate some of his recent symptoms.

We return home with our cougar with a plan to give him round the clock attention to make sure he resumed eating and took all his prescribed meds.  Unfortunately, Keenan still had trouble eating, so we called his vet, once again, for a consultation. 

Dr. Kerin recommended we take Keenan off most of his meds as they were causing Keenan to lose his appetite as they undoubted upset his stomach.  He did continue to take two medications necessary to aid our boy, enalapril and furosemide.  Enalapril is commonly given in conjuction with a diurectic, like furosemide.  Because of the medications’ side effects, we monitored Keenan’s kidney parameters (BUN and Creatinine) levels periodically to make sure there were no changes to his kidney functions.

Nine days after his trip to A&M, Keenan still refused to eat his regular food, so we administered subcutaneous fluids and he was given a valium shot by his vet.  As soon as the valium shot “kicked in,” Keenan resumed eating his meals once more.

For the next several weeks, Keenan’s vet visited with our cougar to check on his heart rate to make sure he heart was beating normally.  During one such visit, Dr.  Kerin thought he heard an irregular heartbeat. 

A call to a heart specialist was made and Keenan went to his vet’s office for another sonogram and an EKG—all without anesthesia.  As expected, Keenan remained calm, cool, and collected through the entire procedure—he was such a trooper!  The heart specialist confirmed our vet’s diagnosis—Keenan has Cardiac Dysrhythmia (also known as arrhythmia).  Our cougar was prescribed another medication called diltiavem, which is used to relax blood vessels so the heart doesn’t have to pump as hard.  It also increases the supply of blood and oxygen to his heart.

Keenan playing on the playground
two months after his 1st A&M procedure
Keenan, until recently, was doing great!  He ate well, he played well, he was a very  happy and social cougar…until about three months ago when we noticed Keenan started turning away his food on and off.  He’d eat one day, skip a day, eat 2-3 days, skip a day, and so forth.  

So last Tuesday, we drew blood and our vet ran the usual blood tests.  The results were not encouraging.  Our geriatric cougar has renal failure.  Whether it’s chronic or acute, we do not know at this time, but we are monitoring him very closely. 

In the meantime, we are administering subcutaneous fluids and keeping him on his medications.  Keenan’s next blood draw will be on Tuesday of next week, so we will keep you posted of his condition.  We hope you will keep Keenan in your prayers.