Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Few Wonderful Updates for National Feral Cat Day 2012

October 16 is National Feral Cat Day...what better occasion on which to post a few pieces of wonderful news here?

First, I'll get right to the most super-excellent news of all: Bella's kittens have been ADOPTED! Not only that, but they were adopted together! Aki, their new human, sent me a lovely email a few weeks back inquiring about them. She had obviously read the kittens' bios, which I took to be a very good sign, as I only wanted the kittens being adopted by someone who had an interest in them as individuals. Needless to say, I sent a response, a few more messages were exchanged, and by that evening we'd set up a meeting for the following day at Matt's parents' house.

I had no idea what to expect, as this was the first time I'd ever been so directly involved in an "adoption interview" of any kind, but I could not have been happier with how things went. Aki and her grown-up son came over and spent about an hour getting acquainted with the kittens while discussing cat-matters with me and Matt and his parents. She explained that she had lost her two senior cats over the past few years and had just recently gotten to where she was ready to re-establish a feline presence in the home. She had no other animals, no small children, plenty of space, and generally just seemed to have everything nicely lined up to accommodate taking on a pair of kittens. Things were looking very promising!

Moreover, in watching her and her son interact with the little cats it became quickly evident that there was a tremendous amount of respect there...both for cats in general and these two in particular. E.g., I had been a bit concerned that potential adopters would be charmed by Bruce's gregarious, easygoing nature but would find Ella's independent-mindedness difficult to understand or deal with.

(Ella is not feral, mind you -- the siblings basically had identical early socialization experiences and lived indoors together starting at two days old -- but from the start Ella was less inclined to cuddle at random and more inclined to insist on her own way when it came to pretty much everything.

This is, of course, a perfectly normal feline personality variant, and it's the sort of thing that (in my experience) does not in any way preclude such a kitten growing up into an incredibly affectionate (but still strong-willed) adult cat. My ex-feral girl Coraline is very, very much like this and I wouldn't trade her for anything. But still...I was pleasantly surprised when Aki and son both in so many words commented (regarding Ella): "well, she's a CAT!" Because she is. And they understood as well that it would be a wonderful thing for the siblings to grow up together.By the end of that first meeting everyone present was in agreement that there was no need to look any further: Bella's kittens had found their humans.)

[OH, and it probably bears mention at this point that the siblings' first vet trip yielded the news that rather than brother and sister..."Bruce" and Ella are in fact sister and sister.

"Bruce" has been re-named Blue (which makes sense, given it sounds enough like Bruce such that she likely still recognizes it), and while I told Aki she was of course welcome to choose whatever names seemed best, it looks as if Ella will remain Ella. Which also makes sense, and which I still keep finding myself mentally appending "Enchanted" to...this is one kitten who definitely has a mind of her own, after all.]

Anyway, to make a long story slightly less long...logistics were discussed, important matters like spay/neuter were worked out, and the kittens went home with their new humans within short order. Aki has been sending me pictures (like the one below) and updates, and as they actually live fairly close by, I've even been to visit them once.

As for how they're doing, overall, all signs point to "great"! Blue took the move totally in stride and settled in almost immediately. Ella, meanwhile, being more of the "look before leaping" persuasion (versus her sister's "jump in headfirst!" approach to life) spent a few days peering out suspiciously from underneath a towel shelf and only really playing/eating when the humans were asleep. Aki was a bit concerned by the contrast between Ella's and Blue's reactions to moving, so she and I exchanged some emails brainstorming ideas on how to help Ella feel more comfortable and confident. Then, when I visited I demonstrated some of Ella's favorite types of interactive play (many of which involved vigorous feather-catching, like this...

...and like this!)

She apparently stayed out of hiding the rest of the day after I left, and when I did see her, she definitely seemed to be right on the edge of "I am SUSPICIOUS of this situation!" and "oh hey this is super fun and awesome here!" Anyhow, though, whether due to these efforts or the simple passage of time, Ella seems to be getting bolder by the day, and we are all sure she'll do fine.

Now, on to the next bit of news. It seemed very quiet in Matt's parents' house right when Ella and Blue went home with their new humans...but that lasted all of about a day, as the following week entailed 2 nights of trapping. In the end we successfully managed to get 3 more colony cats spayed/neutered, hooray!

Two of them were "teenage" kittens just about large enough to be fixed (meaning they were fairly naive and easy to trap), but one of them was this enormous beautiful grey tabby tom who looked a fair bit like Ella about the eyes. All three trap-ees had uncomplicated surgeries and bounced back quickly after returning home to the colony grounds. The little black boy kitten we had neutered on Tuesday morning even managed to re-trap himself on Wednesday night (which was hilarious in that he seemed totally unfazed by this -- he didn't fight to get out, he just sat there and calmly finished all the tuna I'd baited the trap with!).

We've still got a few "stragglers" out there in need of TNR-ing, and I'm guessing it's going to be tricky to get them (as they're mainly the older, much warier colony members) but as with many things, persistence is key. Matt's dad already has the next round of appointments set up at the Humane Society in November...here's hoping we manage to make use of all of them.

...and after all that, I am not sure how to gracefully conclude this post, other than to encourage any readers who haven't already to visit the link above to Alley Cat Allies' page describing National Feral Cat Day. Thanks for reading! Mew!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Two Awesome Foster Kittens in Santa Clara...now officially adoptable ADOPTED!

EDIT: 10/16/2012 -- The kittens have found their forever home! Read the update here.

Ella and Bruce are now nearly 16 weeks old, fully weaned, fully litterbox-trained, socialized, and are overall growing up into delightful, self-respecting young cats. As such, I'm stepping up efforts to help their foster humans (my SO's parents) find them the best possible forever home.

I am really hoping someone will be willing and able to adopt them together. I mean, just LOOK at them:

Their personalities are also really starting to emerge, and as often seems to be the case with littermates, they've got a lot of "complementary" traits. Bruce is a bit bolder about approaching humans, whereas Ella is more motivated to explore (and experiment with) her physical surroundings. Bruce likes being scooped up for cuddles pretty much whenever, while Ella is more protective of her own personal agenda; she still likes to snuggle, but only when she's done with everything else on her (extensive) activity list. And so on.

In other words, they're both shaping up to be uniquely awesome individual felines who nonetheless get along great. So if at all possible, I'd prefer them to go to the same home, but of course I wouldn't say "no" to any two households wanting to adopt them separately as long as they met other basic criteria relevant to being able to provide a good home. Really, I suspect I'll be able to tell based on a few emails whether someone sounds like a good match for either or both kittens.

Anyhow, though, I am pleased to announce that both Ella and Bruce now have their own courtesy listings with 13th Street Cats!

13th Street Cats are an awesome Bay Area no-kill cat rescue group. Upon inquiring I received a lovely and helpful email from one of their staff offering to put up the kittens' pictures and biographical information on their website in order to help get the word out. I should note that the kittens are still at Matt's parents' house (their foster home), not in a shelter, so anyone wanting to meet them will have to email me so we can arrange something. Listings are linked below:

Bruce's web page, via 13th Street Cats

Ella's web page, via 13th Street Cats

The listings have been up since Monday, September 10, 2012, and at the time of this posting, I've yet to receive any inquiries. That's a little disappointing, but I am happy that now at least they're getting some exposure beyond my obscure little blog here and my minimally-utilized Facebook page. I really went into this having no idea how to find homes for kittens, and it's definitely turning out to be far more difficult than I expected.

I am not sure what other avenues I can try but I am open to suggestions here and it would also be awesome if any readers who might know someone in California's South Bay Area (San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Campbell, etc.) looking to adopt a kitten or two could forward Ella's and Bruce's information to them.

I (Anne Corwin) can be reached by email regarding their adoption at sparkle_robot@yahoo.com. Please do not contact 13th Street Cats directly, as the kittens are not in their "custody" and they will just refer you back to me (such is the nature of a courtesy listing).

Potential adopters should include the following information in their inquiry:

- Name of person inquiring

(1) City of residence

(2) Number and type(s) of other companion animals already in the household

(3) Number and age(s) of human children in the household

(4) Whether you are interested in adopting both kittens, Ella only, or Bruce only

(5) Whether you have ever lived with a cat before

(6) What, other than cuteness, appeals to you about the particular kitten or kittens you're inquiring about?

...and once we've got all that squared away, we'll discuss some additional details and hopefully set up a "meet the kittens" appointment. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nikki's Kidneys, Redux

I talked to the vet this morning in order to get a better sense of what is actually going on with Nikki's kidney values. It was a very instructive conversation, actually, and I'm glad she (this vet) is willing to actually go over technical details with me.

As for the nature of those details...apparently there IS actually some concern about her creatinine, even though it's technically within the normal range (2.1). The reason for this is the fact that her urinary specific gravity is lower than it should be.

The important lesson I'm taking from this is the fact that lab values can be kind of misleading if you just look at absolutes. Often you have to check and see how certain values relate to certain other values. Brodie's creatinine is actually higher than Nikki's (2.3) but since his urine was much more highly concentrated, this isn't indicative of a problem. The ability to concentrate urine is, it seems, a really significant function of feline biology and even an apparently small loss of this ability shouldn't be ignored.

...but all that said, the vet stopped short of actually officially diagnosing Nikki with chronic renal failure (CRF), though it certainly sounds to me like that's what we're looking at long-term. Which doesn't freak me out nearly as much as one would think it might, probably because I've known some cats-of-friends with the condition who've nonetheless gone on to live to ripe old ages. It's not a death sentence, nor is it the sort of thing that means the cat is going to be living for years in constant pain.

Moreover, there's no way to know how fast it will progress...the vet said she used to see a 23-year-old cat who had numbers very similar to Nikki's (and who'd had those same results for something like six years in a row). Of course I'm going to watch Nikki more carefully now for signs of discomfort and pay more attention to things like making sure she stays well-hydrated, but I don't see any reason to treat her with pity or what-have-you. She'd hate that, and it just doesn't seem logical besides.

As far as treatment goes...the vet did end up recommending I try offering Nikki some prescription food. There are different "levels" of RX for kidney trouble, apparently, and not all of them are extremely low in protein. She's going to leave me a can of Purina kidney diet this afternoon when I go and pick up the Panacur (giardia medication) for the younger kitties. Nikki is the pickiest eater I've ever met, so even if she's not at the stage yet where she absolutely needs a prescription diet I figure it's worth seeing how she reacts to it. And I was relieved to learn that there are other options if she refuses the RX food, e.g., mixing in a phosphorous-binding powder with her regular food.

She's not yet at the medication-needing stage, mind you, but when and if she gets to that point they will probably try an ACE inhibitor first. Either way, I'm just...really glad that veterinary care even exists, and that nobody is trying to pressure me to just "put her down". Nikki is a tough kitty and while she's never been much of a happy-go-lucky sort (except in case of copious sunbeams) I am absolutely certain that she has a whole slew of very important reasons for living all her own.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Beaver Fever, Dead Rats, and A Kidney Or Two

Note: the faint of stomach may not want to proceed with reading this post, which makes copious mention of fecal parasites and includes a cameo appearance by a dead rat.

So, one of my cats (either Shadow or Brodie, as I can tell their poop from the girls', but not from each other's) just tested positive for giardia, otherwise known as "beaver fever" (I remember being warned not to drink from streams in the woods as a kid because of this very same entity). The vet sent the results today and I'm supposed to talk to her tomorrow about treatment options, which will likely include medicating all the cats here just to be on the safe side.

Mind you, nobody has any symptoms at present -- the positive test was due to the appearance of a very tiny number of cysts in the fecal sample -- but now I'm actually beginning to wonder if giardia could be the root cause of Brodie's twitchy stomach. Mainly it manifests these days in the form of "gets the runs and exudes gas that could knock out a rhino if any amount of corn is consumed", so it could just be a wholly separate thing, but who knows.

(Cats can harbor the parasite for years and my guys will be 3 next month. Giardia also apparently can be tricky to diagnose as it is not consistently shed in the poo; all the kitties here have had poo tests in the past and all were negative, but that doesn't necessarily mean there wasn't something there.)

...but all that said, while kind of gross, I'm not figuring this to be worth panicking over. Again, nobody is currently symptomatic, and it's not like giardia is super rare in cats. If Brodie didn't pick it up as a kitten I'm guessing Shadow managed to roll in something out in the back yard. He likes to flop on the ground and cover himself in dirt and we do sometimes get neighbour cats visiting the garden who could be leaving, er, "presents".

OH and Shadow did actually catch a RAT recently during one of his (supervised) evening yard-frolics. Thankfully he didn't eat it -- I mean, I'm all for raw feeding, but NOT when the "food" might have been poisoned. It was kind of weird, as he didn't even "play" with it -- he just ran straight at it, did the neck-bitey thing, and then proceeded to bring it to me and drop it in front of the kitchen door. I guess he figured he'd done his job (and he did look SO pleased with himself!). Given the life cycle of giardia and the fact that I'm pretty sure it's not actually transmitted from rodents to cats this probably wasn't the root of the beaver-fever, but I was definitely VERY glad Shadow was up to date on both shots and flea/tick/worm-prevention meds when he displayed his hunting prowess.

Needless to say, though, I really want to get this treatment over with. I'll happily treat all the kitties if that's what it'll take, though I'm a bit concerned over what I've read thus far about giardia sometimes being really hard to effectively get rid of in kitties.

...and on another subject entirely, I'm also going to be discussing the matter of Nikki's kidneys with the vet. She's not officially in chronic renal failure at this point, though given her age (nearly 11) and breed (Siamese) it actually wouldn't be excessively surprising if she ended up with that diagnosis in a few years. I've done enough reading to know that this wouldn't be the end of the world, and since her numbers mostly look really good (her BUN/creatinine are perfect) I am not figuring much is due to be done in the short term other than step up efforts to keep her hydrated.

The vet's concern is due to a slightly low urinary specific gravity (which can indicate a diminished ability to concentrate urine) and a slightly elevated amylase reading. I'll of course take her recommendations into consideration, whatever they may be, but I am really hoping she doesn't try to insist on a low-protein diet right now. I know that used to be the go-to solution for feline kidney issues, but really it doesn't make sense to restrict protein in an obligate carnivore unless there is clear evidence that this will actually prolong health and life. And I'm pretty sure that unless a cat's kidneys are in extremely bad shape, protein restriction generally does more harm than good. (Though if anyone can point me at some good literature -- as in, NOT articles on some sort of "alternative new age happy health" site -- indicating either way, that'd be awesome).

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Litter Box Is Not A Poop Storage Device. It Is Merely A Waystation.

The litter box is not a storage container for poop (or anything else that comes out of a cat).

The litter box is, rather, a place for cats to deposit their, er, business. After which said business should be removed in a timely manner. NOT allowed to accumulate until it becomes disgusting.

The fact of the matter is that a properly maintained litter box will not smell any more than a regularly flushed human toilet will. Which means it's best to scoop at least twice a day, and that if you have multiple cats, you should have multiple litter boxes.

I admit I've become a bit of a zealot about this, but only because I know how many cats are given up to shelters and subsequently killed due to "litter box issues". When in reality, I'm sure that many of those "issues" were probably either medical problems (undiagnosed UTIs, etc.) or matters of protest due to improper box maintenance.

That said, I realize sometimes people have problems cleaning the box due to illness, disability, etc. And if the box isn't getting cleaned in that sort of a situation, it's due to the cat's human not receiving adequate support. Which of course is a problem in and of itself. This post is NOT meant to denigrate anyone who cannot scoop litter themselves -- again, if you can't scoop, you should absolutely be getting assistance from someone who can -- but rather, to note a few things that might help whoever is supposed to be cleaning the box do it more often.

And it just occurred to me tonight that perhaps part of the reason litterboxen often get neglected far longer than is right or healthy is because too many people think of the box as a kind of....poop reservoir, or something, where basically you only clean it out when it fills up completely.

I've also met a number of people who believe that catboxes "just smell" and that this is normal/acceptable/okay. Even when their cats are suffering from ear ulcers due to having to enter a covered box reeking of ammonia fumes I've seen people baffled that I think something is wrong. And so I figured something like this post was in order.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should acknowledge that I am myself a reformed catbox-neglecter. When I was younger, I would basically wait until my parents nagged me to clean the box -- the consequence of which was that my poor cat Tim ended up with a box so nasty he eventually got fed up and decided to use my acid-washed-denim-look-neon-paint-splattered beanbag chair instead (seriously, I was all about to sit down and play Zelda one day when I was around thirteen, and very nearly sat in the middle of a tidy pile of feline feces!).

After that I got a little better about scooping, but it wasn't until I was an adult, with 4 cats of my own, that I figured out the actual meaning of litterbox cleanliness. And I am so glad I did figure it out because, well, my house doesn't stink, and my cats are so happy with their bathroom facilities that they use them regularly and perfectly. And I would never dream of going back to my preteen method of "wait until something bad happens, then clean the box". It's much, much more pleasant for everyone when the box is treated as a temporary waystation for waste as opposed to an accumulatorium (if that's even a real word) for same.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Brief update and kitten status!

Gah, I was posting more for a while there but these past few weeks have been ridiculously busy. That said, Bella's kittens are seven weeks old as of today! They are doing wonderfully, and Bella has an appointment to be spayed next week.

...but technical details aside, no post about kittens is complete without pictures! Observe below:

Above, the siblings snuggle-wrestling on a round cardboard scratcher toy thing. This here is a huge part of why I really REALLY hope someone can adopt them both together.

Here they are in play mode. Ella is checking out a feather, while Bruce is trying to climb me (these are very bold kitties!).

Bruce is a big fan of all things food-related. Here he is trying a bit of raw beef.

...and here is Bella (mom-cat!) watching the feather toy. She's a very energetic jumper but was taking a rest here to just watch. She's getting more comfortable having humans in the room with her but is still untouchable. Which is fine...I don't want strange humans petting me, either! I am just glad she's not panicking at this point from being cooped up. OH and see her ears? She has some *really* neat wild-looking ear markings. They almost resemble ocelli.

...and finally, at least for this picture set, here is tiny Ella sneaking around near the door. (The brown fuzzy thing next to her is a stuffed toy, not another cat!). 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bella's kittens at 3 weeks: open eyes and exploration!

Bella's kittens were three weeks old this past Saturday!

Their eyes are open now, and they're getting very curious about their surroundings. When I visited this past weekend, they got to explore the bathroom a bit:

They seem to want to be together all the time, even when exploring. They stuck close together as they wobble-walked across the vinyl tile. We're really hoping to find a forever-home with someone who can adopt them as a pair. 

They're getting a lot more wiggly and active, but they're still babies and thus they get tired pretty quickly. Here above they are after a vigorous round of nursing (Bella was off taking a break when I snapped this picture -- I don't blame her!).

Above, Matt's mom (that's her hand) is holding the larger, darker grey kitten, as she was checking for sticky eyes. Both babies are breathing just fine and not sneezing or anything, thank goodness -- just a bit of the crusty-eyes thing, which has been getting steadily better since their eyes opened up.

...and here we have the other/smaller kitten, who seems to be following in Cora's pawprints as far as a sense of adventure goes. The kittens were moved to a much larger, nicer crate shortly after this photo was taken -- one with openings that should be narrow enough to avoid anyone's head fitting through. This actually scared the crap out of me when it was happening...I was worried she was going to get stuck, or worse, injure her neck somehow. Thankfully she was fine but still.

...and finally, one picture showing 2/3 of the family. The larger kitten is barely visible nursing at left. You can see one grey paw but not much more than that. Bella, meanwhile, is sniffing at some treats I put in for her, and the smaller kitten is looking at the whole affair with considerable interest (ears forward and everything!).

Oh and while of course whoever adopts them may well re-name them, we're sort of tentatively trying out the names Ella (for the probable-girl kitten) and Bruce (for the probable-boy). I think it's good to be able to refer to kittens to something other than their fur color and/or size. Matt's niece actually suggested Ella because it rhymes with Bella. Personally I think that could get confusing, but at the same time...it does seem to fit! And it reminds me of Ella Enchanted, which would work with this kitten's personality. As for Bruce, I have no clue where Matt got that one but, again, it weirdly fits.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cora and Shadow Get A Blood Test

Heh, the title of this post, now that I look at it, makes me think of the titles of the Berenstein Bears books I used to like as a kid (this being before the annoyingly fundamentalist offspring of the original authors took over the series, but I digress).

Ahem. Getting back to the all-important realm of cats, I am posting this both because I find medical-statistical values extremely interesting, and because (while I am NOT a vet and this should in NO way construe the proffering of medical advice) I figure I can't be the only one inclined to be searching around for comparison blood-test values for raw-fed cats. Which Cora and Shadow and Brodie have been for the better part of 2 years now. 

So since Cora and Shadow went to the vet this past Saturday (Nikki and Brodie will go in for their shots and checkups next; it's just easier for Matt and I to wrangle two cats at a time as opposed to all four!) and the vet was kind enough to email me their blood test results, I thought I'd go ahead and post the data here (copied and pasted from the PDFs I received; I wasn't able to get the little "low-normal-high" bar things to render but you can tell well enough from the values what was what. Results appear below; note that reference ranges are in parentheses ( ).

Pet Name: Shadow
Species: Feline
Breed: Domestic Short Hair 
Age: 2Y
Sex: CM

Wellness Chemistries

Total Protein: 7.6 (5.2-8.8 g/dL)
Albumin: 4.2 (2.5-3.9 g/dL)
Globulin: 3.4 (2.3-5.3 g/dL)
A/G Ratio: 1.2 (0.35-1.5)
ALT (SGPT): 39 (10-100 IU/L)
Alk Phosphatase: 14 (6-102 IU/L)
BUN: 29 (14-36 mg/dL)
Creatinine: 2.5 (0.6-2.4 mg/dL)
BUN/Creatinine Ratio: 12 (4-33)
Glucose: 112 (64-170 mg/dL)
Potassium: 3.9 (3.4-5.6 mEq/L)


WBC: 8.4 (3.5-16.0 103/μL)

RBC: 9.5 (5.92-9.93 106/μL)
HGB: 14.8 (9.3-15.9 g/dL)
HCT: 49 (29-48 %)
MCV: 51 (37-61 fL)
MCH: 15.6 (11-21 pg)
MCHC: 31 (30-38 g/dL)
Platelet Count: 214 (200-500 103/μL)
Platelet Est: Adequate

               Differential         Absolute
Neutrophils:   4368          52%    2500-8500 /μL
Lymphocytes:   3192          38%    1200-8000 /μL
Monocytes:     168           2%     0-600 /μL
Eosinophils:   672           8%     0-1000 /μL
Basophils:     0             0%     0-150 /μL

Heartworm Antibody: Negative
Ova & Parasite: None Seen
Giardia (ELISA): Negative

Pet Name: Coraline
Species: Feline
Breed: Domestic Short Hair 
Age: 2Y
Sex: SF

Wellness Chemistries

Total Protein: 7.2 (5.2-8.8 g/dL)
Albumin: 3.9 (2.5-3.9 g/dL)
Globulin: 3.3 (2.3-5.3 g/dL)
A/G Ratio: 1.2 (0.35-1.5)
ALT (SGPT): 35 (10-100 IU/L)
Alk Phosphatase: 11 (6-102 IU/L)
BUN: 30 (14-36 mg/dL)
Creatinine: 2.4 (0.6-2.4 mg/dL)
BUN/Creatinine Ratio: 13 (4-33)
Glucose: 111 (64-170 mg/dL)
Potassium: 4.5 (3.4-5.6 mEq/L)


WBC: 9.0 (3.5-16.0 103/μL)
RBC: 9.2 (5.92-9.93 106/μL)
HGB: 14.8 (9.3-15.9 g/dL)
HCT: 49 (29-48%)
MCV: 53 (37-61 fL)
MCH: 16.2 (11-21 pg)
MCHC: 30 (30-38 g/dL)
Platelet Count 127 (200-500 103/μL)
Platelet Est: Adequate

            Differential      Absolute 
Neutrophils: 4230         47% 2500-8500 /μL
Lymphocytes: 3870         43% 1200-8000 /μL
Monocytes:   180           2% 0-600 /μL
Eosinophils: 720           8% 0-1000 /μL
Basophils:   0             0% 0-150 /μL

Heartworm Antibody: Negative
Ova & Parasite: None Seen
Giardia (ELISA): Negative


...so, overall, everything looked great! Both kitties were within reference ranges for almost everything, and the only values where they were "on the edge" were things that, due to their diet, would be expected to appear slightly high (creatinine, albumin). Protein-related values on a raw diet can be higher because raw-fed cats aren't generally consuming as many (if any) carbohydrates. Thus, it's important to factor in what's on a cat's regular menu when looking at his or her blood results, as the reference ranges have basically all been obtained from cats on a steady diet of commercial cat food, as that's what most people feed these days.

HCT (hematocrit) was also borderliney, but the vet said this probably wasn't a concern other than possibly indicating mild dehydration, which I wouldn't be surprised to see given it's been warm lately and my guys aren't big drinkers. They're accustomed to getting the vast majority of fluids IN their food, and since cats often don't feel thirst strongly, my guess is that they've not increased their liquid intake in light of the weather, meaning I should supplement their meat with some extra water during the summer months especially. 

[Which I tried doing tonight and it was a total success...apparently if the water is meat-flavored they lap it right up (I know, amazing!).]

Oh and regarding Cora's platelets: initially I was confused as to why the number was on the low side, and why the vet had no concerns at all about this. But apparently the important part of the platelet value is actually the little comment that says "Platelet est:  Adequate". Because they get the initial value using a machine, only the machine can't necessarily get the most accurate number, because platelets clump together and the machine is just taking an average from a limited volume of sample. So what the test lab people do then is smear some of the blood on a slide and then determine based on how that looks whether the platelet count is okay. And it was apparently fine for both cats. 

Finally, I was also of course happy to see there was no evidence of parasites in their poop (they did a fecal analysis too). Shadow had tapeworms as a kitten and I could barely look at sesame seeds for months afterward (believe me, if you've ever dealt with tapeworms, you'll understand why!).