Friday, May 11, 2012

Another Week Comes to a Close!

Whew!  Another busy, busy week at In-Sync Exotics!!

We started the week with a posting about Spike's Day at the Vet.  Spike, our former Poetry cougar, traveled to the vet because we were concerned with how he was walking. At first, his gait did not concern us, since Spike is almost 17 years old, and we thought he might be having some age-related issues. However, once Spike started to walk around like he had inebriated hind legs, we knew something was wrong. While Spike had no difficulty running and playing, we noticed he did have issues walking around at a normal pace.

So Spike, Vicky, and Paul made the trip to Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine, located in College Station.  Is was a long day for all, but we discovered what was ailing our cougar.  Click HERE to read more about Spike's trip to the vet!

On Tuesday, we shared with our readers what Jasper, our new bobcat, likes to eat a night.  For several days, Jasper refused to eat the raw meat, bones, and treats we provide all our bobcats.  Thankfully, Vicky was able to solve the mystery of our finicky feline's favorite food.  Click HERE to read more on this story!

Okemo, a tiger from the now closed Wild Animal Orphanage, is loved by many volunteers and staff.  Just look into his soft eyes and listen to him gruff as he greets people and you'll know why is has a lot of supporters! 

As many of you may know, our beautiful Okemo is battling a serious health condition.  Okemo was diagnosed as having squamous cell carcinoma that spread to his jaw bone--it is literally eating away most of his jaw bone. In this posting, we provided our readers with an update on Okemo's medical condition.  Click HERE to read more about Okemo and his latest health challenge.

Yesterday we sent out a public P-A-R-T-Y invitation to our blog readers (that includes you and yours, of course!) announcing our Big Birthday Bash scheduled for June 16th from 11am - 4pm.  This is a great event for the entire family, so be sure to mark your calendar and make plans to attend this special birthday party with the cats!

Since we still had a few items  left on our Easter Celebration Wish List, we thought the "b-day bash" would be extra special if the cats received some birthday presents from the same list now retitled "Birthday Bash!"  We have updated the wish list link with just the items our animals would love to play with during the Birthday Bash.  Click HERE for the list!  So far, a few gifts have already been purchased -- THANK YOU!! Yea!!!   We would love to see every animal receive a special  "b-day present" this year, so  please consider gifting an egg, ball, big chew toy, or X-large Kong for our wild ones!  They simply loved their Easter presents and we'd love to see their faces when they first see their birthday presents too! Thank you!

We would also like to say THANK YOU to the individuals who donated towards Spike's medical care!  We truly have the best supporters!  If you would like to contribute towards Spike's medical care, please click HERE.  Spike says "thank you" for helping him during his time of need!

Thank you everyone for helping us keep our animals fed, watered, housed, enriched, treated, and loved!  Your donations and gifts makes a difference in the lives of animals who truly needed a second change at loving life again!

Just a "few" pipes for the
"Fast Track Cheetah Habitat!"
If you have been following us on Twitter and Facebook, then you know we have received the construction materials for our cheetah's "Fast Track Habitat" and we are ready to build Sam and Kodi's new home!  If you would like to be a part of this momentous occasion, we would love to have you come out and help us begin construction of their new home this weekend!  Work begins at 10:00am, weather permitting, and will continue until we close for the day.  Many thanks!

Well, this concludes this week's blog postings!  We hope you have a safe and wonderful weekend and remember to treat MOM to lots of good food and fun!  We are open this weekend, so bring MOM out to see the cats -- the visit should certainly bring a smile to her face!  When MOM is happy, everyone is happy, right?

Be safe everyone!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

It's Time to Have Some Fun!!

We are having a P-A-R-T-Y and you are invited!

Every year we celebrate In-Sync Exotics' birthday in June because we want to honor Ranger, who was born in June; Kenya, Vicky's first tiger was brought home in June; and  to celebrate the conception of establishing a non-profit organization dedicated to caring for rescued exotic felines in, you guessed it, the month of June!  

If you missed our Easter Celebration, then here is your chance to come out to In-Sync Exotics and party with the cats!!

We want like to make this birthday extra special this year, but in order to do so, we need your help!  We still have a few items left on our gift wish list that our animals would love to play with during the party!  If you would like to give our animals birthday presents this year, please click here or on the wish list icon found on the upper left side of this blog page!

Gifts like...



... will make our animals very, very happy!  You can either have the gifts shipped directly to us or you can have them shipped to your own home. Either way, we will put out all the toys received during the Birthday Bash Party so you can see your birthday gifts in play!

If you make purchases from our Amazon Birthday Wish List, we will receive a 4-7% referral fee!  A win-win for the animals and In-Sync Exotics!

So be sure to spread the word--we are having a P-A-R-T-Y and everyone is invited!  Come out for the free ice cream and cupcakes, stay for the fun, but most importantly, wish our cats a very,happy birthday as they have much to celebrate this year!!

If you would like to help us with this special event, we could really use your help--no experience necessary! We need volunteers to help us with the craft tables, game attendants, and we really need several talented individuals willing to paint faces!  To volunteer your services, please contact Vicky via email.

Oh, and don't forget to let us know what your reaction to this announcement by clicking on one of the reaction buttons below.  We'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment and don't forget to share this exciting invitation to your friends and family!  Thank you!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Update on Okemo, Our Handsome Tiger

As many of you may know, our beautiful Okemo is battling a serious health condition.  Earlier this year, Okemo was seen by our veterinarian because of a swollen jaw.  We cleaned and shaved  it so our vet could see the swollen sac found on the right side of his chin. Since the sac was filled with fluid, our vet lanced the sac allowing the accumulated blood, pus, and bone shavings to drain from his wound. Once the wound stopped draining, our vet thorough cleaned the area and took x-rays of Okemo’s jaw. We also drew blood from Okemo and both his blood and culture samples were sent off to be tested for any abnormalities.

Early March, we received Okemo's culture results, and sadly, our beautiful Okemo, who has been through so much already, was diagnosed as having squamous cell carcinoma that spread to his jaw bone--it is literally eating away most of his jaw bone.

Normally, tigers with this type of condition may have up to six months to live. Unfortunately, we don't know when Okemo became ill. Our vet believes he may have been sick for quite awhile prior to his arrival at our sanctuary, so we have no idea how much "time" he might have with us.  Our greatest concern was that his jaw bone would eventually dissolve, making it almost impossible for our tiger to live a normal life.

So, you can imagine our concern when we noticed a dark spot on the inside of Okemo's jaw.  Once again, we asked our vet to come out and examine Okemo.   After close observation, our vet told us some really bad news--he believes Okemo's jaw may be broken. 

The break is not noticeable and unless you were familiar with Okemo's eating habits, you would probably never know he was having problems with his jaw.

As horrible as this news sounds, Okemo seems to be taking life in stride.  He does not appear to be in pain.  He still loves to eat, albeit we offer him softer meat so that he does not aggravate his condition by chewing or tearing at his meals.  He loves chuffing and occasionally "marking" people as they walk past his quarters or the playground--both activities seems to give Okemo pleasure!  He enjoys relaxing on the playground and is often seen sunbathing and grooming himself.

Our vet said  that so as long as Okemo continues to enjoy life, we will not intervene.  However, if the carcinoma metastasizes to his lungs, impairing his ability to breath, we will have no choice but to reassess our options at that time.

Please say a special prayer for Okemo--he is such a special tiger who has won the hearts of our volunteers and staff.

Comments are welcome and please share this posting with friends and family.  Thank you!

O-kemo, O-kemo 
How beautiful your whiskers
O-kemo, O-kemo 
How wonderful your stripes!

I love you soo very much,
You fill my heart with joy.

O-kemo, O-kemo 
How beautiful your whiskers
O-kemo, O-kemo
How wonderful your stripes!

~ As sung by Vicky to Okemo each night!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What Does Jasper Like to Eat?

We were concerned when our new little bobcat, Jasper (formerly known as “Faith”) refused to eat the raw meat, treats, and bones we provide all our bobcats.  Each time he was presented meat or bones, he would turn his head away. 

Is that a lizard in the side of his mouth?
We tried all kinds of meats in the hopes that the boy would like something, anything at this point.  We noticed he caught a lizard, but we didn’t know if he actually ate the reptile.  

Even though bobcats are able to go for long periods without food, we just couldn’t allow this situation to continue.  A solution to this problem had yet to surface until… 

…Vicky thought of trying to feed Jasper regular canned cat food made for domestic cats.  Vicky popped the top, placed the cat food in his dish, and wouldn’t you know it, Jasper immediately began to eat!  Hallelujah! 

There’s no doubt about it—Jasper was raised as a pet in someone’s home (as if his collar didn’t give that fact away already)! 

Jasper will be visiting the vet soon and we will be working on a dietary plan to slowly transition him from wet canned cat food to a raw meat diet.   Our first step will be to offer Jasper a canned meat formula made especially for exotic cats.   Once he accepts the change in his diet, then we will transition from the formulated canned food to raw meat.

Our goal?  A healthy, happy Jasper!
Exotic cats require a special diet to maintain optimal health.  Their diet should consist of raw meat only because commercial wet and dry foods are made for domestic cats and may not necessarily be a healthy choice for a wild exotic animal. Domestic cat food, for the most part, is loaded of chemicals, fillers, and processed meats and may not meet the exotic cat’s vitamin and mineral needs. 

For instance, if the cat food provided contains phosphorus and not enough calcium, then the result may be brittle bones and other health problems for the animal.  Exotic cats need the correct ratio of the two minerals to be able to utilize the calcium for proper bone growth. 

Once Jasper transitions from wet cat food to a raw meat diet, enriched with vitamins and minerals, we believe his dietary needs will finally be met.  Hopefully by then, Jasper will enjoy treats and bones—but for now, it looks like he’ll be dining on a big old can of Friskies cat food tonight!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Spike's Day at the Vet

On Thursday at 11:00pm, Team In-Sync loaded Spike into a transporter and placed him the In-Sync Exotics' vehicle so they could make the 200+ mile trip to Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine.   Traveling at night allows Spike to sleep during the trip, keeping him relaxed and stress-free as opposed to rousing him up early in the morning to make a rushed trip to Texas A&M.  Unfortunately, on this particular trip, Spike decided to stay wide awake for the duration of the trip.  Spike traveled to College Station because the veterinarians who specialize in exotic wild animals have the necessary MRI and sonogram equipment needed to do a full body scan on our boy.

We arrived at our destination around 3:00am, ready to take a quick cat nap until it was time for Spike's medical appointment.  Our cougar, suspicious of his new surroundings, didn't sleep a wink.

We traveled to Texas A&M because we noticed Spike was having troubling walking normally.  At first, his gait did not concern us greatly, since Spike is almost 17 years old, and we thought he might be having some age-related issues.  However, once Spike started to walk around like he had inebriated hind legs, we knew something was wrong.  While Spike had no difficulty running and playing, we noticed he did have issues walking around at a normal pace.

Before our trip to College Station, our local vet checked Spike out and he could not find anything wrong with him.  His ears and eyes were clear, he did not appear to be suffering from a virus or bacterial infection, so our vet recommended a MRI and sonogram exams to find out what was happening to our cougar from the inside out.

At 8:30am that Friday morning, we were anxious to learn what was ailing our cougar.  As you can imagine, preparing our cougar for the sonogram and MRI was a slow process.  Once he was sedated and safe to handle, the vets were able to take internal pictures of Spike, starting with his core body.  First bit of good news we received from the vets was that his heart and kidneys were okay!  Slowly, the vets moved on to his spine and brain where they found the answer to our question.

Spike has two ruptured discs, one found on his neck and the other on his upper spine.

So what is a ruptured disc?  Well, the spine is made up of many bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are held together by ligaments, muscles, and intervertebral discs. The discs act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae.

Intervertebral discs consists of a fibrous outer rings and an inner part that is soft and jelly-like (imagine a jelly doughnut) called the nucleus pulposus.

When a disc becomes diseased, either through gradual degeneration or injury, the thinner top portion of the outer ring tears and disc material displaces into the spinal canal located directly above the disc.

As mentioned above, the spinal cord is located in the spinal canal. A bulging or ruptured disc causes irritation, pressure, or damage to the spinal cord. This causes inflammation which results in irritation, pressure, or damage to the spinal cord.

The resulting inflammation causes back pain, weakness, incoordination, and frequently paralysis. The damage to the spinal cord impairs the transmission of "messages" down the  spinal cord, thus the loss of use of the limbs occurs.

Now that we knew why our cougar was walking uncoordinated in his hind legs, it was time to discuss treatment options with the vets.

There are a couple of options:  bed rest and recovery or surgical treatment.

Spike is being real good today--
he's following the vets' orders
(Monday, May 7, 2012)
Our vet ordered Spike to solitary confined "bed rest" for 4-6 weeks.  He will have no other cougars to play with nor any toys to keep him amused.  He is expected to remain quiet and relaxed in the hopes that the discs will repair themselves.

During his imposed "bed rest," Spike's vet asked us to observe him very closely for signs of Spike's progress or lack thereof.  For now, Spike must take Prednisone, to reduce inflammation and swelling, and pain medication.  Spike will be returning back to Texas A&M in seven weeks so we will be able to give you an update on his progress at that time.

For our new readers, Spike was one of the former Poetry cougars rescued from dire conditions in Poetry, Texas last year.  Out of the four cougars we rescued (Howard, Kane, Chloe, and Spike) only Spike and Chloe are with us today.  Sadly, Howard and Kane passed away because their health condition deteriorated so fast, there was nothing we could do to save them.  

Here is a video of one of the rescued cougar's living quarters prior to his relocation to Popcorn Park Zoo in New Jersey.  This is an example of what Spike's living conditions looked like (after it was cleaned) when he resided at Poetry, Texas:

Additional videos of the Poetry cats' living conditions can be found on our Youtube Channel.

We are anticipating the cost of the Spike's recent visit to Texas A&M will be around $1800. If you would like to make a gift towards Spike's vet bill, we would truly be grateful.  You can make a donation in Spike's name by either check or by making an on-line donation.  Be sure to indicate in the comment  box that the contribution is for Spike's medical care.  Click here to make an on-line donation or for check instructions.  Any donated amount would truly be a blessing at this time--thank you!

And as always, please pray for the improved health of our cougar.  After all he has been through, we hope that he will not have to undergo surgery to correct his health issues.