Weekend Cat Blogging with Sam Sam: Sick Days and Stormy Weather

It happens almost every year. After returning home from NAMM, a few days later I fall ill with what we affectionately call the “NAMMthrax”. I suppose it’s not surprising, being in close quarters with thousands of musicians and others over four days and compromised immune systems from all our drinking and debauchery. This year’s hit hard around Wednesday, and has lingered into the weekend. But fortunately Sam Sam is here, and being both a great companion and a great nurse.

When I lie down to rest, she is usually by my side. Of course, being a cat, she takes frequent naps herself.

There is something so peaceful and calming about her curled up and resting. And it seems to fit well visually and spiritually with the stormy weather that has settled in this weekend. Since December, we have been hit with a series of really nasty winter storms with high winds and flooding. It is not pleasant, and sometimes even stressful, but I know I shouldn’t complain as much of the country is in a deep freeze.

I like this portrait of Sam Sam sitting down in “loaf” pose on the ledge. And if you want to see a bit of action, here she is in our most recent Instagram.

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Morning routine #catsofinstagram

A post shared by CatSynth / Amanda C (@catsynth) on

We hope you all have a warm, dry, and safe weekend. More post-NAMM coverage on the way soon.

Sick Days, Sam Sam, Studio, and Superb Owl

It’s been a slow recovery from our latest bout of this year’s influenza and “NAMMthrax,” but we are getting there slowly.   Indeed, I have been well enough to spend more time working in the studio again.  Of course, if I am in the studio there is a good chance Sam Sam will be there, too.

Sam Sam in the studio

It’s always a delight to have her around.  I think she is getting used to all the weird electronic sounds just as Luna did.  As a more social cat, I think she mostly just enjoys being near the action.  I do sometimes feel guilty when she gets comfy under the main console and I want to use the Nord.  It’s a studio musician’s version of the cat-in-lap dilemma.

We are going to move forward with some video and music work today, as body and energy permit.   We are also doing our part for today’s mass ritual here in the United States with our Superb Owl.

We hope you all have an enjoyable day, however you chose to fill it!

Weekend Cat Blogging with Sam Sam: Sick Days and Introspection

The new year has brought plague and pestilence to CatSynth HQ, as I succumbed to the current vaccine-resistant strain of the flu.  It’s been mostly bed rest since Wednesday, but fortunately, I have Sam Sam nearby.

She has been affectionate and attentive, more so than usual.  I suspect that is also due to my having started working in an office again after being home with her for most of December.  That’s a story for another time.  In the meantime, we are enjoying one another’s company, even if I am low on energy and sometimes a bit delirious.  Here is a closeup of her.

In a way, the illness and rest have extended the period of solitude and introspection from the last weeks of 2017, which I do not mind at all.  It’s given me more time to think about the vague ideas and plans that I have for this year, though it postpones getting started on any execution.  On the negative side, I had to cancel a gig today in Sacramento, extending what I call the “Sacramento Curse” where every planned show in that city since the beginning of 2014 has been missed for one reason or another (the first and most dramatic being one that was canceled due to a massive fire near the venue – fortunately, no one was hurt and the venue was fine afterwards).  It has also slowed down activity that requires looking at screens for prolonged periods.  I made an exception to get this post out.

Lying down and letting one’s mind wander with a slight fever does lead to interesting thoughts.  A different experience from The Disintegration of Thought during periods of health, but interesting nonetheless.  Some are complete nonsense, but others are consistent with introspection and what it takes to try and be happy and healthy in these challenging times.  The roles of fear and caution are part of that internal dialog, as well as creativity in general.   Perhaps I will have more to say about them as I return to health, perhaps not.

Fevered dreams

After a relaxed and healthy Saturday (including a 4-mile walk through SF), I found myself all-of-a-sudden quite sick for the second time this month early on Sunday morning, including a fever. It dissipated by midday, but not before some interesting fever-induced dreams. Here is one of them:

It took place in Western New York, but the landscape had been replaced with a relatively flat desert environment. At the south end was a transplanted version of Yale – there was still the New Haven town green, but the university had different architecture, more columns and arches. A large numbered highway (I don’t remember the number) snaked its way north from the university into the desert along the southern edge of a large shallow lake. The road then split into two that were labeled “Masculine Dr.” and “Feminine Dr.” on Google Maps (yes, Google Maps appeared in the dream). Zooming out, the lake was shaped exactly like the entirety of all five Great Lakes in miniature – probably about the size of one of the Finger Lakes.

Dreams aside, I recommend to readers in the U.S. that they get a flu shot this year.

Latest on the Pet Food Recall

Well, there's more disturbing news on the pet food recall.

First, from MedicineNet:

The massive recall of pet foods expanded again Thursday with the recall of products containing rice protein concentrate imported from China.

Blue Buffalo, of Wilton, Conn., said it was recalling all of its Spa Select Kitten dry food labeled “Best Used By Mar. 07 08 B.” … On Wednesday, Natural Balance Pet Foods, of Pacoima, Calif., recalled all its venison dog products and dry venison cat food after discovering they were contaminated with melamine…

So now it's not just wheat gluten, but rice protein as well, again from China. And also in dry food for kittens. But things get worse:

Meanwhile in South Africa, melamine has been found in Royal Canin pet food company's Vets Choice and Royal Canin dry dog and cat food sold exclusively in South Africa and Namibia. The source of the melamine appears to be from corn gluten imported from China, according to published reports.

Corn gluten is exceptionally scary for us because it's a major ingredient in Luna's food. So far, the contaminated corn gluten has not been found here in the United States, and I can't understand why as the largest corn producer in the world we would get any corn products from China. But it's enough of a scare that I have contacted the manufacturer or Luna's main dry food (which is not one of the main brands in the news) for additional information. I will share whatever information I find on this forum.

For more detailed information on individual brands, I recommend checking in with Pet Connection.

So we have three major food products from China. From the Associated Press:

“Melamine was found in all three of those ? it would certainly lend credibility to the theory that it may be intentional. That will be one of the theories we will pursue when we get into the plants in China,” Stephen Sundlof, the FDA's chief veterinarian, told reporters…FDA investigators were awaiting visas that would allow them to visit the Chinese plants where the vegetable protein ingredients were produced.

Good luck to the FDA getting any honest information on a visit to China if it ever happens. But there are questions about the FDA in this whole issue. On one hand, they are now floating the theory that melamine was introduced to purposely increase measured protein content. From David Goldstein at the Huffington Post:

One would expect the FDA to test this theory by directly measuring protein levels in melamine-contaminated samples to see if they otherwise fall below grade. One would also expect the FDA to release the names of all importers, distributors and manufacturers who are suspected of handling contaminated product. But then, one would expect a lot of things from the FDA that they have thus far failed to deliver.

Why are the FDA so slow to name names, particularly when it comes to the Chinese manufacturers and the US distributors that do business with them? Indeed, why don't we simply stop all Chinese imports of these ingredients?

Given the facts, it is now reasonable to assume either massive, industry-wide negligence, or intentional contamination, and that all Chinese produced high-protein food additives are now suspect.

China is becoming the Pakistan of food quality, and the danger is spreading to the human food supply (for those who are unmoved by the suffering of our companion animals). You have to wonder if there is politcal pressure not to go after China for this, as they are such an important partner for the big business interests in the U.S.

To date, 4,346 deceased pets reported by Pet Connection. We at CatSynth do not want to see this number continue to grow…

Latest on the Pet Food Recall

The pet-food recall story continues to unfold. It has been almost a month since the original recall by Menu Foods. We've seen rat poisen and later melamine from Chinese wheat gluten as the potential root cause, and more and more brands being recalled.

OK, I just have to interject here, why are we getting pet food ingredients from China? It's one thing to import plastic trinkets, and even electronics (we've certainly done business with China at my work). But food products is another thing entirely. China is not known for their strong quality control, or aversion to cutting corners in production. That's not something to fool around when it comes to food for either humans or animals. Plus, pet food ingredients from a country that considers our pets (e.g., cats and dogs) to be dinner??

A great source of information has been Pet Connection, which includes the latest updates on recalled brands. I also like this summary from CNN, both for its being concise and the sweet but sad photo of a cat who recently became ill. Among the scarier developments were the recent recalls of one brand of dry cat food (Hill's Perscription Diet), and cat treats from Del Monte, including Pounce. All the recent recalls are products that contained wheat gluten from China. Luna's brand of dry cat food remains off the list, thankfully, and long ago we tried Pounce and Luna decided it was better as a toy than a cat treat (great for kicking around the floor). Neither her food nor her treats contain wheat gluten of any sort. But we're continuing to follow this, and encourage all our friends to as well…

Perhaps the saddest development is that the “16 or so cats and dogs that have died from poisoning” appears to be a gross underestimate.

PetConnection readers can report sick or deceased pets, and as of this writing they have 3240 deceased pets, of which 1729 are cats and 1511 are dogs. When you include both sick and deceased pets, the number they have is 9378.

Counting “sick and deceased pets” sounds really clinical in a lot of ways, kinda like casualty reports from the Iraq war, including the official undercounting. Putting a more personal face on the tragedy is a column by Christie Keith (who also contributes to PetConnection), the story “is bigger and more tragic” than many of the early official government and company reports suggest. It certainly is for those who have lost a precious member of their family.

There is going to be a nationwide (USA) day of rememberances and marches on April 28.

Rat poison found in recalled pet food

There's a bit of a shadow over our WCB fun this weekend, as the pet food recall story continues to unfold. From today's Toronto Star:

Rat poison has been found in pet food that sparked a massive recall and sent a scare through tens of thousands of pet owners across North America, but scientists said Friday they still don't know how it got there.

The pet food is produced by Mississauga, Ont.-based Menu Foods and is blamed for the deaths of at least 16 cats and dogs.

Four-month-old Tosa, pictured above, is being treated for kidney problems. Her vet “suspects may have been caused by pet foods.” She seems like a sweet baby, we hope she gets better.

We also hope all our feline friends, including those who participate in WCB, remain safe and healthy.