Monday, July 21, 2014

From Litterbox to Laboratory

My blogs seem to be stuck in the genre of "potty humor" (or some would say, crappy humor!), but don't kill the messenger. I just report the news; I don't make it. So follow me here as I transition from smelling farts (read my blog Pull My Finger ... Save a Life) to scooping cat poop, all in the name of cancer research.

Last week was a busy news week that had our attention riveted on the heavier, horrific news of wars and plane crashes ... and my thoughts and prayers go out to all who were touched personally by these events. However, some rather bizarre medical news came out of Dartmouth that shouldn't go unnoticed, and thanks to my fellow blogger Black Is the New Pink for calling it to my attention.

For this blog, you must imagine the song "What's New Pussy Cat?" playing in the background. Why? ...  because researchers are studying feline feces as a way to cure cancer, especially melanoma (or as my son Tim suggested for this blog, meow-anoma) and ovarian cancer. An article, Cat Poop Parasite Shows Promise in Treating Cancer, says that a parasite in the intestines of cats might find its way from a clump in the kitty litter to a cancer vaccine. Now that is recycling at its finest!

I admit that I'm a cat lover, and our family has always had cats (even before we knew that cat poop was so valuable). Over a span of 40 years, we have been allowed to share our home with many, including a shy black kitty who was very sweet, even if scared of his own shadow; an orange tabby who loved to cause trouble and eat cantaloupe and Ben-Gay; and an orange-and-white long-haired sweetheart who played fetch and was a mama's girl who never left my side after Jaime died. We seriously would have had tons of cat poop to donate to cancer research over the years!

Which brings me to some "catty" questions ... does one breed or type of cat produce parasites more worthy of a cancer cure than others? Does a cat with a diet of mice and birds have a more valuable end-product than one fed Friskies?  Does a cat who prefers dry kibble over wet canned food pack more power into its parasites? I'm thinking that more research needs to be done here before we have a melanoma vaccine that is the cat's meow.

My daughter Jaime was owned by two cats before her death from melanoma at age 29. The first (Stoney) adopted Jaime when we were at a no-kill animal shelter looking for a kitten for me (well, actually as a new companion for our cat Bubba, who had recently lost the love of his life Missy and wouldn't stop moaning and crying out for her for over a month). He desperately needed a diversion.

Jaime and I were sitting on the floor of the kitten room to watch how they interacted in an attempt to get an idea of their personalities. A tiny gray tabby kept crawling up onto Jaime's shoulder and loudly purring in her ear. The die had been cast. What a salesperson that kitten was ... and what suckers we were! Needless to say we ended up taking two kittens home with us (one to our house and one to Jaime's apartment) instead of just the one we came for. Well played, Stoney ... well played!

It didn't take long for Jaime's sweet little gray kitten to show her true stripes! Stoney grew into an arrogant, independent, snobby, anti-social cat ... but Jaime's brothers always thought that living at Jaime's apartment, she had probably inhaled too much second-hand smoke from an illegal substance. Perhaps she really had grown into her name?? The stories that cat could tell if she could have talked are probably beyond what a mother wants to know!

Jaime thought perhaps if Stoney had a furry friend, she would be happier. After all, that had worked for our Bubba, right? So a tiny, timid black and white tuxedo kitten named Toby was added to Jaime's little family. Except Toby, once he got to his new home, showed his true character, displaying his Attention Deficient Disorder. There was nothing timid about him! Of course, Stoney wanted nothing to do with this strange fur ball bouncing off the walls.

After many months of Stoney becoming more depressed and crabby, Jaime then decided that Stoney would be happier in her "retirement home" (our house instead of Jaime's), and that bad-attitude cat came to live with us and immediately attached herself to my husband. They were best buds for years. Stoney refused to acknowledge Jaime's presence (or anyone else's for that matter) from then on.

Tiny Toby liked to eat, and he thought his mouth was a front-end loader! He grew ... and grew ... and grew, until he was about 30 pounds. Jaime called him "Bear," and for good reason! To take Toby (Tubby?) to the vet, we didn't carry him in ... we wore him. Belly to belly, with his back legs wrapped around our waist and his front legs wrapped around our neck, we must have looked a tad bit strange, but it worked. Toby adored Jaime and was happy ... until Jaime started adding dogs to her menagerie!

The dogs did, however, keep her litterbox clean because they saw the mounds of cat poop as tasty treats! Perhaps dogs have always known what a treasure these little poop piles are?

NOTE: If you are being treated for cancer, don't stop your current treatment and resort instead to eating cat poop. Ewwww! Actually the parasites can be very harmful until the researchers work their magic. But whether you are healthy or a cancer warrior, the rescue of a furry friend from a shelter and its unconditional love would be good for your heart and your health!

 And lastly, why are we limiting our thinking here, in the search for the purr-fect cancer vaccine, to little balls of fluff? "In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight ..." Here kitty, kitty, kitty ...

 Melanoma Mama (Jaime's mom, Donna) (Remember Jaime) (Jjem Creations) (Jjem Creations)

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