Giardiasis

Well, phooey! Last week we finally found out that our two new kittens have giardiasis, which is an intestinal infection caused by a parasite–giardia (see photo below…it looks like a harmless balloon with a scary face, but it’s actually a microscope image of this nasty little intestinal parasite)–which can be transmitted to humans, too, especially, eek, those with an immunodeficiency.

Eh. I have to be super careful. And I have been…

How we found out about the giardiasis is a long messy (and smelly!!!) story that I’ll spare you.  Luckily, the kittens have responded well to the anti-giardia drug and are in excellent shape now, gaining weight and so on. They are even more adorable and vivacious and funny, now that they are (obviously) feeling better.

Many thanks to the lovely vet who, after others failed (no comment!), finally figured out what was wrong…and carried out the correct test, the giardia test…GRAZIE!!!

So all is well and relatively calm in our feline household. I say “calm,” because Pandora and Pixie have not yet been released from their quarantine area (i.e., the guest bedroom, which, stuffed with all the presents that friends and neighbors have brought over, now looks even more like a kittens’ Disneyworld…Indeed, I’ll have to donate some toys to the cat shelter at some point…).

Unfortunately, we will probably have to keep the two kitties under lock and key for another couple of weeks or so, until we’re sure that the giardia beasties are all gone for good…Bummer, eh! But, better be safe than sorry! 

As you can imagine, taking care of the kittens in this period…doing laundry, disinfecting their room, disinfecting ourselves, making sure they are happy and playing a lot, doing more laundry (!), and so on and so forth, has REALLY cut into my free time, so I haven’t finished my almost-ancient-by-now post about the EBV-MM link. That annoys me because it’s a very interesting post, to boot, so I will try to finish it in the next couple of days.

That is…if nothing else comes up! Aaaaghhhh!  🙂 

Take care, everyone! Ciao! 

Pandora and Pixie-Panacea

For the past seven days I’ve been dividing my free time between our two new kittens and our resident adult cats.

The two “groups” haven’t officially met yet, because the kittens have loose stools (not caused by parasites, luckily…so it’s probably just because of the dietary change…still, quite gross…and smelly, yuckaroni!!). We have to get rid of the kittens’ intestinal problems before letting them,er, loose in the house. I mean, it’s one thing to have TWO cats with intestinal issues, quite another to have SEVEN cats with issues. Ouch!  So they are in quarantine in the guest bedroom.

Of course, my adult cats KNOW that something fishy is going on behind that closed door. They can certainly smell and hear the kittens, especially when the tiny critters run around the room, chasing each other and making quite a bit of noise.

But they haven’t actually SEEN them yet.

I’ve transformed the guest bedroom into a kitten wonderland. It’s packed with our cats’ old toys and stuffed animals, and with NEW toys, too! Most of our friends and neighbors who have come to see the new kittens have been bringing them NEW toys…so we have some new kitty tunnels and kitty wands. I’ll have to donate some to the cat shelter at some point!

Anyway, these two little sisters are the friendliest kitties we’ve ever had, with the possible exception of Pinga, our 8-year-old, who also made herself at home immediately. But Pinga isn’t always super friendly with strangers, whereas these kittens absolutely love and climb all over everyone who comes to visit. They are super kittens, simply bursting with joy. You can’t help but smile and laugh at their antics. 🙂

They have made such a difference in our lives…in just one week! Yes, sure, right now they’re a lot of extra work, keeping the litter box clean, cleaning the floor (little creatures are very messy!)…

Plus, Stefano and I aren’t sleeping together, which is hard for both of us. He sleeps with the kittens, I sleep with the adult cats. It has to be that way until we let the kittens out of that room. But it won’t be for long. As soon as there is no more diarrhea, we will slowly and carefully introduce the adults to the babies.

Now for their names: Pandora is the mostly-white kitten. She is VERY energetic, playful, mischievous and, well, all over the place. We have named the multi-colored kitten Pixie-Panacea (Pixie, for short; Panacea, the goddess of healing, was suggested to me by a few blog readers…thank you!). Pixie is much calmer and cuddlier. She’s also slightly smaller than Pandora, and not as tough.

I’m still finding it difficult to get decent photos of them, because when they play, they play hard and fast, especially Pandora, and all my photos come out fuzzy. Terrible. And yes, I should have “lightened up” a few of these photos, but I don’t like altering photos. Anyway, I’ll see what I can do with the next photos I take (I take heaps every day, actually)…

These are the most adorable kittens I have EVER seen! And they’re OURS! Such happiness…after so much sadness…Life is good…again! 🙂

“Gut bacteria ‘boost’ cancer therapy”

That’s the title of a very interesting BBC News article I read this morning, thanks to my friend Paul: goo.gl/pkXS1J It’s about two recent studies that examined patients with cancer (1. lung or kidney; 2. melanoma), discovering that those who had a lot of “friendly” gut bacteria responded better to immunotherapy.

Excerpt: Dr Jennifer Wargo, from Texas, told the BBC: “If you disrupt a patient’s microbiome you may impair their ability to respond to cancer treatment.”

Okay, so the patients in the two studies didn’t have myeloma. But I would bet anything that those three types of cancer aren’t the only ones that are strongly impacted by our gut bacteria. I would bet anything that myeloma is on that list, too. Anything! 

Besides, I then read (while cuddling my black kitty, Prezzemolo, in my arms) that the gut microbiome really changes after a stem cell transplant. See this 2015 Italian study published in “Blood,” e.g.: goo.gl/Xn12JC

Changes in the gut bacteria of SCT patients can cause severe infections and inflammatory bowel conditions…and also the scary and horrible GvHD (graft versus host disease).

A 2015 U.S. study focuses on the role of Clostridium difficile (a really nasty sort of bacteria, as the word “difficile” implies!) during SCTs: goo.gl/AK5yQp. It concludes that C. difficile is one of the main causes of lower gastrointestinal distress in patients undergoing autologous SCTs. Yep, myeloma patients, too. 

In sum, if you have too much bad bacteria, you can get into serious trouble…even if you’re healthy!

C. difficile, incidentally, really proliferates in the colon after we use antibiotics…So whenever you’re on antibiotics, make sure you also take probiotics (not at the same time, eh!). Of course, always ask your doctor first…

I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again today: we really need to pay attention to our microbiome.

Even if we aren’t on antibiotics…

Our body needs probiotics.