Watertrough Childrens Alliance-
help us protect our children

Such an important read from someone who used to live here, will we all have to move to protect ourselves?

For a year we lived on 1/2 acre of land in Northern California wine country. We moved away from that area four months ago, in part due to this incident….

March 8, 2008

So I had to take a few days before writing this to calm down and write rationally. I’m rational now (as rational as I’ll ever be), and I’m going to to three things here: tell you a personal story about pesticides, tell you some of the other problems with herbicides and pesticides, and give you some alternatives for your garden. So please bear with me – don’t go away – this is important!

A Little Backstory…We moved here back in May, to a beautiful little area next to a vineyard. As we settled in, we found that there was a cat living beneath our porch. Chatting with the neighbors one day, I learned that she’d been abandoned four years earlier by some bad tenants (they also left a dog that the neighbors took in).

First we gave her a name: Raisin, as she came out of the vines in the heat of the summer. Then we started feeding her, and spending time with her, slowing gaining her trust. After a few months of fairly hard work at it, she was happily snuggling next to us in our bed every night, right beside our dog Ellis.

We made a little opening in one of the windows, so Raisin could go in and out to do all her business. In other words, no litter box necessary. Raisin has been a happy indoor/outdoor cat ever since.

She was a dream cat, very low maintenance but full of love.

What Happened Wednesday Afternoon.Normally Matt and I carpool on Wednesdays: I drive him to work and then go read until my Master Gardener class, then I pick up Matt and we drive home together. On a whim, I decided I just wanted to go home in between – basically I was sick, and I wanted to be home for a while. So I suppressed my guilt for spending extra CO2, gas, and money, and went home for a few hours of down time.

After an hour at home, I heard Raisin scratching at the door. Usually she pushes it open, so it was a bit strange. I went to open the door and she fell into my office convulsing, with little control over her muscles. Her face was ticking and twitching wildly, she was licking her mouth very strangely… it was scary, to say the least. I ran through a list in my head of all the things it could be: scared by a hawk or truck, bit by a snake or scorpion, or she ate something bad. But I didn’t ponder for long – I wrapped her in a blanket and dashed to the vet.

On the way to the vet, Raisin became worse. I brought her and the blanket into my lap, and she crawled into the smallest possible ball. Her body was hot hot hot. She was terrified. When I pet her, lots of fur fell out. She was becoming increasingly limp. I stepped on the gas a little harder.

I pulled up to the Humane Society and rushed her in, then I waited in the waiting area for about 10 minutes, my heart pounding as I spoke sweet words to our kitty. Finally the technician came in and took her vitals. She was running a high fever, breathing rapidly, and her whole body was now shaking out of control.

Not two minutes later the vet dashed in, did a quick check over, and scooped her up. She quickly said, “I’m taking her in the back. She has all the signs of being exposed to pesticides.” “Ah,” I said with a quivering voice, remembering I’d taken the above photo when I first got home, “they were spraying in the fields today.” With that confirmation, off she went with Raisin, saying behind her, “I’ll call you in 45 minutes. We’re going to give her an iv, medicine to calm her down, and a thorough bath. I’ll let you know if it doesn’t work.” And she was gone.

I left the office in a panic, called my husband who left work a little early, and we waited. And waited. An hour later the vet called, saying she’d been able to lower Raisin’s temperature, slow the convulsions, and she was no longer worried. She’d give her a break for a while, then try a very thorough bath to remove the pesticides. We could come get her between 4 and 5pm. Sigh of relief times ten.

Here’s what the veterinarian told me: The pesticide was working on Raisin exactly the way it is designed to work on insects. It makes the muscles twitch so that the body continues to heat up to the point of death. It happens to dogs and cats. And, I assume, it happens to the birds, frogs, toads, jack rabbits, coyotes, wild turkeys, and beneficial insects – all found outside our home and in the vineyard. I feel anger creeping into my soul now.

Raisin is doing well. She came home wet and mad as hell, she can’t go outside anymore, and we have to keep drugging her with muscle relaxants (to stave off the pesticide mechanisms)… But she is alive!

Boy am I glad I went home Wednesday. It saved this cat’s life, most definitely. Below, is one drugged-out kitty.

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