The ugly: we spent the entire weekend obsessing over fleas. In 8.67 years of living with multiple cats, they have never had fleas. Admittedly, our cats have been outside (on leashes) more lately than ever but I also think the flea population must be larger this year, probably due to the heat.

Anyway, we’d “treated” the cats with some over-the-counter Hartz crap a few weeks ago, but it obviously didn’t do a thing. Meanwhile, the problem was getting worse. I’ve been busy with work so I couldn’t do much about it myself and had been trying to be patient since I knew Karsten was already dealing with the rat problem in our back yard and I didn’t want to overwhelm him. Besides, he seemed confident that the Hartz stuff would work and that the fleas were minimal anyway. On the contrary, it seemed to me that if you spot one, you can assume there are dozens/hundreds/howeverthehellmany you can’t see. I regularly noticed fleas on the cats, so I printed out web pages with tips on killing fleas and left them on his keyboard. I suggested he just call an exterminator and get it over with but when he did, he only asked about the rats. He just didn’t seem to feel as much urgency as I did about having to coexist with the fleas. It was all starting to freak me out a little. Last week, when I stood in the cat room and could see the fleas jumping around, I had a major meltdown. Karsten felt bad for not realizing how upset I’d been getting about it, but I assured him that everything would be fine it we could just rid the house of fleas. So he picked up the Advantage flea treatment from the vet on Friday and we started treating the cats first thing Saturday morning.

Each cat had to be isolated so they wouldn’t lick the stuff off of each other, which meant that we could only treat three cats at a time: two of them were stuck in cages while a third got to be loose, but stuck inside a closed-off room. Meanwhile, we vacuumed the house, sprinkled boric acid powder on all the carpets and fabric surfaces and used a broom to push it down into the fibers, and washed the curtains and bedclothes in the hottest water and dried them in the hottest drier they could withstand.

By mid-day Saturday, there were dead and dying fleas all over the house. So I went around and vacuumed everything again yesterday, but they’re still dropping off. It’s gross, but it means the treatment is working, so I’ll take it.

The bad: it was miserably hot outside. I mean it. Hot. It was 104 yesterday. It makes me feel like I’m melting. And since we wanted to escape the house once we got through each day’s flea treatment, we were limited in our options.

Though actually, that didn’t go too badly: we ended up going to see a movie (“Becoming Jane”; it was OK), eating out for every meal (all the food was great), thrift shopping (I found some cute stuff), and hanging out with some Sam and Alyssa Cornett, two songwriting friends who were visiting from Chicago (which was fun).

So I guess the bad was really just that every time we stepped outside, we felt like we were about to melt into flesh puddles.

The good: even in my jangled state of mind, I wrote a few songs. Hanging around songwriters last night got me all fired up. When we got home, I dashed off two songs in fifteen minutes along with a few other ideas I’ll come back to eventually. One of the reasons I was so inspired was that, although the songs our friends were playing last night were written well and were enjoyable, they were so consistently about relationships ending badly that I felt double-dog-dared to write a heartfelt song that wasn’t about that. So I did.

Good, Bad, Ugly: weekend recap edition

14 thoughts on “Good, Bad, Ugly: weekend recap edition

  • August 13, 2007 at 10:54 am
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    Just fyi, hartz-crap and sargent-crap are, if I recall correctly, the brands that have lead to seizures in animals, and frontline and advanage/advantix are available OTC in California (in locked cases, as they’re expensive). They’re not, in Tennessee?

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  • August 13, 2007 at 11:01 am
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    Ugh, great. I never encountered that news. Yeesh.

    And no, I don’t think they are available OTC in TN, but I may be wrong. Again, we’ve never had to deal with this before, so we’re total dummies about it.

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  • August 13, 2007 at 11:09 am
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    DJ seems to be utterly flea-resistant, but Zoe picks them up sometimes in the summer, when we play with other dogs at the park, and we have deer ticks here from about March through July, so we treat the dogs with Frontline (which gets both, like Advantix — Advantage is good for fleas alone) from March through June, not year-round. It’s available at all the local pet suppliers and feed stores, but because it’s expensive, in a small package, and easy to swipe, it’s usually in a locked case. Just ask the staff to come get it for you. Your cats will likely be okay, most are. Adverse reactions for Hartz and Sargent flea products aren’t something like 50%, but big enough that my vet says to avoid them, and if you google “sargent” with “flea” and “seizure,” you’ll see some of the warnings. If there *is* unusual behavior, it’s probably a good idea to contact your vet, but it’s not especially likely. But for future fleas, and let’s hope this gets them all, go for the Advantage. It’s got a good safety record.

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  • August 13, 2007 at 11:31 am
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    I’ve lived through the horror of having dead insects all over my house (had a carpenter ant infestation last year). Poor you and poor cats! I hope it is all over and done with soon.

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  • August 13, 2007 at 11:40 am
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    Fleas are downright maddening. I went through the same thing with Eddie when he was a kitten. Sprinkle, vacuum, bathe cat, repeat. But it only took a couple of weeks and I wasn’t even all that diligent.

    Did you write a song about your flea and rat problem? Because that sounds like a country hit if I’ve ever heard one. You can sell that Toby Keith, I bet!

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  • August 13, 2007 at 11:41 am
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    I was just about to post the same message.. Hartz flea treatments should be pulled off the market (and there’s a major campaign underway to do so), just because of the problems that the particular brand has caused. I don’t know if you remember us adopting our kitty Tortellini from the Cat Shoppe, but her previous owner gave her a hartz treatment that caused brain damage. She’s gotten better than when we first adopted her (she drooled and was extremely shaky on her feet), but she still has many issues with muscle coordination..

    We were able to buy Advantage just by going to the vet’s office, we didn’t have to have a meeting with him. They just sold it to us at the front desk! Good luck with the fleas. They are icky + infinity.

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  • August 13, 2007 at 11:44 am
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    ps: there’s a link if you’re interested in reading more: http://www.hartzvictims.org .. I think that, if adverse effects are going to happen, you would have already noticed, so it’s probably nothing to worry about, but tell everyone! Hartz should be pulled off the market.

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  • August 13, 2007 at 12:57 pm
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    That stuff almost did our tiny cat in. As for Frontline, you can buy it over the counter in town. There’s a place on 100 that sells it, but they’re expensive. If it were me, I’d order it from Amazon or 1-800-petmeds.

    Aunt b.

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  • August 13, 2007 at 1:21 pm
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    That stuff almost did our tiny cat in.

    Wow – how have I missed all this? I was completely unaware of any problems with Hartz brands, but after reading some of the stories on Hartzvictims.org I’m truly stunned that I haven’t heard about any of this before. And I read several animal-related blogs and the ASPCA newsletter and all that kind of stuff. Weird.

    I’m incredibly relieved to know in retrospect how very fortunate we were to have applied that stuff to six cats and have seen no problems.

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  • August 13, 2007 at 6:51 pm
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    I felt double-dog-dared to write a heartfelt song that wasn’t about that. So I did.

    EXcellent. Question: does the word “baby” appear anywhere therein?

    If my frakking raise had kicked in, I’d have sent y’all to a lovely cool hotel for the night.

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  • August 14, 2007 at 9:25 am
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    It doesn’t! But I confess to using “baby” not infrequently in my lyrics. I do call Karsten that sometimes, and he does call me that sometimes, so it doesn’t seem the least bit weird to me. But yeah, as soon as I write it, I tend to be very self-conscious about it. So I try not to use it when it doesn’t feel really right. 🙂

    Sweet thought on the hotel, thanks, but what’s more important is: RAISE! Woot!

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  • August 19, 2007 at 7:46 am
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    Valid point on the “baby”. As soon as I’d written that comment I realized it was stupid and snarky in about equal measures. Feh.

    Raise is happy-making, very definitely. It’s entirely un-merit-based (long story very short: we got extra $$ and our entire board decided it should all go towards attorney salaries, in hopes of maybe keeping a few attorneys beyond their/our initial couple-of-year commitments), but that don’t matta a bunch to me :-). As to the hotel: what could be more fun than spending money on friends? (Especially friends who, this past winter when I was very very thin on resources, spent money on me.)

    Reply
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