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Update about the Coronavirus Pandemic – Austria, March 23

It still took me until now to finish this post. Sigh… sorry about that. The weird tiredness still wasn’t letting up at all and it was impossible to think clearly enough to write in such a state. This post is simply an update about the pandemic and the current situation in Austria.

Like I’ve said, I publish these updates to document the historic circumstances we all are finding ourselves in, to have a record of it for myself and for whoever else is interested in reading about it again later on.

Here is the link to my 2nd post, about us and the cats: https://catladynatascha.com/2020/03/23/we-are-staying-at-home-for-another-month-march-23/

One of my huge worries is now gone! I will not lose access to my pain medication at any point. Everything has been sorted out wonderfully, for everyone.

It would be a long boring description of how everything works and was worked out right now, but basically: The health department and the national health care made sure everyone would be able to get their medications in the most uncomplicated way. People are able to call their doctors and order their script over the phone. The doctors office then sends the prescription electronically to the pharmacy. Narcotic long term prescriptions are sent to the health department office, as an original paper document. That office then approves and scans them into their computer system, and afterwards, they are sent to the pharmacy.

So basically, people don’t have to go anywhere, except to their pharmacy, to pick up their medications. Also, depending on the medication, people are able to fill up to 3 months worth of medications at once.

That electronic system was not even ready to be fully rolled out, but since the technology and computer systems for it had already been installed in doctors offices and pharmacies, they simply activated it, due to the circumstances. It was due to be slowly implemented all over, but they’ve now done it within a few days. It’s working too! No problems at all.

The goverment is doing whatever they can to reduce the number of people that have to leave their homes.

For patients like me, this meant that I was able to pick up 4 weeks worth of medication at once, instead of going to the pharmacy numerous times every week.

Coronavirus infections are still increasing faster and faster

With the Coronavirus infections still rising unbelievably fast, it is now a huge relief that I won’t have to leave our home for the next 4 weeks. Any risk of catching the Virus and passing on to Ralph is too high of a risk to take.

As had been expected, the cases of Coronavirus infections are still increasing unbelievably fast. People were still getting infected at a high rate before the lock-downs took effect on March 16. By the time two weeks will have passed after that date, 1000s more will have fallen ill with Covid-19.

The restrictions I talked about in my other post (LINK) are still in place and will stay in place at least until April 12. Of course, there could be additional measures put in place, or existing ones adapted, depending on the situation.

4097 Coronavirus Infections, March 23 at 5pm

The governments update from today at 5pm. Of the 4097 patients with COVID-19, 132 have to be treated in the hospital and 15 very severe cases are currently in the ICU

The increase over the last few days has been enormous. Two weeks ago, we went from over 100 on Monday, March 9, to over a 1000 by last Sunday, March 15. Then within this week, the increase was to over 3000. I’m sure we will have another huge increase in infections over the coming week. After that, it will hopefully flatten out and then decrease.

I used the public government data to create a slideshow, showing the increase of infections in Austria over time. The screenshots are from the data graphs published by the Austrian government at: https://info.gesundheitsministerium.at/

Because a further large increase in COVID-19 patients is expected, temporary hospitals are being prepared in huge halls which are normally used for large conferences, concerts, exhibitions and other events. One of these large halls that are being prepared, is just a few blocks away from our home. It will have beds for up to 1000 people. Additionally, hospitals which had been closed not too long ago, are being prepared for COVID-19 patients as well.

Staying home, toilet paper craziness and panic buying

We are staying at home! As does about 95% of the Austrian population. 5% don’t really care though and do whatever they want and behave as if it’s all just a big holiday season everyone. The problem is that these 5% tend to crowd the same places, (partying, large groups in parks and at other typical hangout spots throughout the city). There is hardly any distance between these people and anyone who has to walk past and through these crowds. But that happens in many other countries, despite curfews and lockdowns. They’re getting fined big time though.

Toilet paper is still being bought like crazy. Shop keepers say it’s gone within a short time right after they open in the morning. I wonder if we will ever find out what that is all about?

Despite the fact that grocery stores are still being stocked up normally, people are still panic buying long-lasting food and the stores can’t keep up with it. It would be more than enough for everyone if it wouldn’t be for panic buyers. The panic buying seems to happen right when the stores open. For the rest of the day, there are only very few customers in the stores.

Break-ins

The emptiness in the streets during the night is now increasingly used by criminals to break into stores and to rob the few people that are out. Thankfully it’s not rampant here, but it definitely happens a lot more now.

Even my old pharmacy has been broken into and robbed on the first night of the lockdown last week. I am glad my current pharmacy is in a really public place with police CCTV. My old one was in an area that is always quiet and empty overnight, but especially now.

The best and the worst in people

People are helping each other. In many apartment buildings, young and healthy people are offering to go out and buy groceries, or pick up medications for older people and people who are especially vulnerable to complications from COVID-19.

I have a lot of respect and gratitude for everyone who is now working right now. The pharmacists and people at the cash registers in grocery stores have no face masks, due to a massive shortage of protective gear. They have to deal with some awful customers during the best of times, but I’ve heard stories from all over the world, about how absolutely rotten some people are behaving at the moment. It’s true that emergencies bring out the best and the worst in people.

I’m thankful for every single one who keeps our country and all the other countries running and functioning. Every single one of them, from the people who keep picking up the rubbish bins from our apartment buildings, to the people who deliver our mail and parcels, to the doctors, nurses, and police and to the people who keep the infrastructure running, so we all have power, gas, water, phone and internet. I’m also grateful that our government is simply doing what’s necessary without worrying about bureaucracy.

Stay safe

The official number of people infected by the Coronavirus is most likely not everyone. The number of people who are asymptomatic, or who are not even seeking help and dealing with it themselves, is thought to be very high as well.

So please stay safe by keeping your distance. Stay home as much as you possibly can, be mindful not to touch your face while outside and before you were able to wash your hands properly.

I know there are hardly any hand sanitizers available anymore, but you can use alcohol like Vodka and Schnapps to disinfect your hands while you’re out, if you fill it into a small bottle to carry with you. I know it smells, but at least it works to kill the Virus.

I’ll keep updating as much as I can, about life and the cats and everything else going on. Should anyone ever feel worried about us, or simply just feel the need to contact us, you can always email me directly at:

catlady-natascha@protonmail.com

Everything · Pictures · Places · Ralph and I · Society and News · The Cats

Austria shuts down anything that is not important and people have to mostly stay home – Corona Pandemic Update March 15

Things continue to move faster than I can keep up with. Measures and restrictions that were planned on Friday, kept changing throughout the weekend, because the infection rate keeps going up faster and faster.

As of 3pm this afternoon, we have 860 confirmed Coronavirus Infections. In our state of Styria, they doubled over the weekend. We have 111 here.

Restaurants and cafés were supposed to stay open until 3pm starting Monday, so that people would be able to get lunch there. But since the number of new Coronavirus Patients is multiplying at increasing speed, with 100s more every day over the weekend, the government decided to have all restaurants, cafés, pubs etc close completely. But not just them, all stores are staying closed, except for supermarkets, pet supply stores, pharmacies and gas stations.

Basically, anything that is not needed for daily life, like food for humans and pets, and medications is being closed down. Government offices, that are not needed, will shut down for the public, but they will continue to work behind closed doors, and things can be worked out through phone, email, fax and letterboxes.

The military reserve is being called up

Although I don’t know what they’re going to be doing yet. But I think they will help to ensure the protection of supermarkets, pharmacies and help to keep the peace in the city.

Only 3 reasons to leave the house (enforced)

The government said that there are now only 3 reasons to leave our homes:

  • To get anything that is needed for life, like groceries, medication, pet food. Of course to go to the doctor for medication and treatment that can’t be postponed.
  • To go to work, but this means jobs that are needed to keep the country running. Doctors, Nurses, Firefighters, Police, Military, people working in jobs that are important for the infrastructure (power, gas, water, public transport, delivery of goods, parcels and mail, jobs in the communications industry like phone and internet etc). Anyone that can work from home, has to work from home.
  • The 3rd reasons to go out is to help others. For example, to help disabled or elderly and supply them with food and medications, so that they don’t have to go out to the store, doctor or pharmacy themselves.

This will be enforced by police. So when I go out to the pharmacy as always, I will have the copy of my current prescription with me, as well as the receipt that shows that I paid for it, just because it proves which pharmacy I’m going to.

There are high fines if groups of people are found to hang out outside and walk about for no good reason. People are supposed to go out by themselves for important things.

No going for runs, no going for walks, no hanging around outside, except to go straight from A to B. People are allowed to walk their dogs though.

Parks and playgrounds are closed, as well as anything else that isn’t necessary.

At first, people were asked to adhere to it on their own. But as I expected, there were still way too many people who are not taking it seriously. Especially in Vienna, people went out to parks in large numbers, sitting together in groups, walking in groups and hanging around in groups. Even parents went to the playgrounds with their kids. Basically these people were doing everything they were begged not to do.

Many of the groups that were hanging around in parks and the city for no reason were the usual troublemakers.

In Graz, the 2nd largest city of Austria (Vienna is Nr. 1), the streets were pretty much empty. But there were people who ignored the pleas from the government to stay home, just not as many as in Vienna. Most groups were hanging around in the bad areas of Graz, like always.

So within just a day, it became clear that the lock-down and the restrictions would have to be enforced.

For now, people walking alone will not be stopped or asked where they are going, only groups. But depending on how people behave, this might change. I’m expecting many more restrictions and the lock-down of cities and areas, to stop the movement of people and stop the spread of the Virus.

Since it can take up to two weeks for people to actually become ill from the Virus, and many will still have become infected before the restrictions, and they’ll also infect their families most likely, the peak of the outbreak will most likely be in about 3 weeks. I’m no expert and have no idea, but maybe that’s about how it will be.

One thing is for sure, the drastic measures are now going to stop more people from becoming infected. So hopefully, after 3 weeks, we will see the effect of it in decreasing numbers of new confirmed cases, while the number of people who recovered will have increased.

More news: Germany is closing it’s borders with Austria

Germany will partially close its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Denmark as it steps up efforts to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

What Saturday night looked like from the main square webcam

The main square in Graz, which is normally a very busy place on a Saturday evening, was very empty, except for a few people. The main square is usually always busy, especially during the weekend, since it’s right next to an area with a lot of pubs and clubs. But at 7:41pm, only a few people were out that evening. Nothing would have been open anyway.

How we’re doing

Neither Ralph, nor I are surprised by the measures the Austrian government is taking. Seeing how things are going, it was to be expected. I am actually glad that they’re putting these restrictions in place, because then hopefully, the outbreak can be stopped.

I feel very tense and anxious, just like countless others, but I hope we can get through this alright.

Our street was again extremely quiet. The building itself is quiet as well, you hardly hear anything. Only for our sweet cats the world is like always, at least for the most part. I’m certain they can sense how tense I feel.

It’s rather cold, unfortunately, but the sun was shining. So the babies were able to enjoy the sun for a little on the balcony. Samantha enjoyed the sun at the window and Sonic on the bed.

Lisa and Hero
Samantha at the bedroom window

My anxiety treatment

That’s what the bed is like every day and every night. I’m able to cuddle myself between all the cats, and then I feel a whole lot more calm. Ralph usually goes to sleep later than myself, but he is able to get in as well. Sonic, Hero and Lisa usually pile up around me and on me, while Samantha cuddles up to Ralph’s legs. Once everyone is in bed, I feel relaxed enough to sleep well for a few hours.

It’s now 11:40pm, and I’ll go to bed after publishing this post.

I’m sure tomorrow will bring many changes again, as well as sadly another huge increase in confirmed cases. But maybe soon, there will be good news again. Until then, stay safe, stay home if you can and keep in touch. I’m thinking about everyone, and send out lots of love and hugs.

Love, Natascha & the cats 💕

Everything · Pictures · Ralph and I · Society and News · The Cats

Life during the Corona Pandemic – March 11 Update

It’s now officially a Pandemic. But that was apparent for a while now anyway.

I really wasn’t sure if I should write regular updates about how things are going here in Austria and in general, since I didn’t want to add to the constant Corona Presence in every headline, posting and new article. As people are hearing about nothing else anymore almost.

But then I thought it’s going to be a record of our life, that I can look back on years later, and in this way I can let everyone know how we’re doing and that we’re ok.

Case update for Austria, March 11, 2020 at 3pm

246 cases so far in all of Austria.
Cases for each state: Lower Austria (45), Vienna (50), Styria, our state (25), Tyrol (57), Upper Austria (35), Salzburg (14), Burgenland (4), Vorarlberg (13) and Carinthia (3).

New temporary emergency laws and recommendations during the Corona Pandemic in Austria

  • Anything with gatherings of more than 100 people indoors (which also includes any staff) is temporarily forbidden.
  • Outdoor gatherings with more than 500 people, including staff, is temporarily forbidden
  • Universities and any schools for higher education are being closed
  • No entry into Austria from Italy, except with an up to date document that proves the person is not infected with the Coronavirus
  • Austrian citizens still in the now locked down Italy will be brought home by the government, but they have to stay in quarantine for two weeks in Austria
  • People should avoid private contacts and gatherings and stay home as much as possible
  • Older people and people with compromised immune system should not receive visitors if it can be avoided

Life seems as it always is, in the city and of course at home

While case counts are multiplying extremely fast now, and there is panic and fear among people in many countries, it’s very calm and normal here in Graz and Austria in general. Austrian people usually don’t panic quickly. It has to get really bad before there would be widespread panic.

The late afternoon sun, seen from the balcony with the cat safety net

Today was a wonderfully warm and sunny spring day, with temperatures over 20°C / 68°F. As I went out this this afternoon around 4pm, people were out in the usual numbers. The large park in our neighbourhood was filled with people sitting on the grass and taking walks, enjoying the warm sun. The outside seating area of every Cafe I saw in the city was quite full and the streets were just as busy as always around that time.

Just like last year, the spring flowers are everywhere, the birds are building their nests in the garden, the neighbourhood kitties are walking around in the garden. Hero and Lisa saw two of the neighbourhood kitties yesterday and got all excited. Unfortunately it was past sunset and too dark to take pictures of them.

It was a mostly sunny afternoon yesterday, and you can feel that the sun is getting warmer and warmer now, as the northern hemisphere is getting closer to the summer. Especially this year, we can hardly wait.

The kitties are crowding in every sun puddle, especially on the bed.

Hero, Lisa and Sonic. Lisa is giving Sonic a friendly nose greeting and a few licks on his head.
Lovely warm sun! Samantha is hardly visible, but she is in the top left area of the picture, in the shadow, lying on a white mat under the side table. The sun had been there a while ago, but was now gone.
So Samantha decided she would try to get into the sun puddle on the bed.

Our life is still normal in Graz

While the Corona cases are multiplying every day, things are still as always pretty much. Thankfully, we do not have a huge number of cases in our state and city yet. 18 for the whole of Styria, our state. They aren’t mentioning where those cases are, or if they’re spread out over the state or concentrated in an area, I don’t know why. But in the way it began and the few cases they mentioned, the cases were in the east of our state, and just one in our city of Graz. But it was about 10 days ago when they mentioned that patient from Graz, so I’m sure there are more by now, and probably people who were in contact with that person.

Thankfully, my doctors office, the pharmacy and the health department are all working as usual. I haven’t heard of any more closed doctors offices for Austria and haven’t heard of any pharmacy or other larger health care provider closing down. And there is no atmosphere of panic among people. I hope it’s going to stay that way.

I can still go out without worry as of now, but I do take all the precautions I can possibly take. I keep away from people and I’m always using my bicycle to go where I need to go even more.

There are just as many people around as always, from what I can tell. People are still sitting in Cafe’s, stroll through the city and stores, people are still doing they’re daily runs along the Mur and the parks, and you don’t really see any panic buying going on in the stores. But the sanitizers, disinfectants, and tinned food are still sold out for the most part, although they’re being restocked.

We still have enough toilet paper in stores.

Even in the smaller stores, like the one I took this photo in, there is no toilet paper missing.

There was more toilet paper stored at the top of the shelf and even more around the corner.

Plans for next week

Since the risk to become ill myself is still very low for Graz, especially with the precautions I take, I still go out to pick up a few necessities, but I go during times when hardly anyone else goes shopping. Though seeing how fast the cases multiply, I will stop any shopping in stores by next week possibly.

Also, I will try to talk to my, doctor on Monday, to use all my vacation allowance and pick up all my months medication at once to take home with me. Not only would I not have to keep worrying to suddenly stand in front of closed doors at my pharmacy, if they have to shut down because of a case, and I won’t have to keep going out so much, and put Ralph at risk with it.

My immune system is really good and strong, I never become sick, my health problems are pain related, but organically I’m perfectly fine. Though since everyone above the age of 60 is at a higher risk to develop severe problems if infected with the Virus, I really don’t want to risk anything, even if the chances to catch it, as of right now in our area, are rather low.

That’s why I don’t like people getting dismissed with their worries, as it keeps happening at the moment. People here are so used to nothing bad ever happening, that they can’t seem to grasp the possibility that it could be different this time.

I much rather take precautions as much as possible and not need it, than risk the health of my most beloved husband and the well-being of our little family.

Lets hope I’ll be able to get this done, so I can stay home for the next 4 weeks. Of course it might not be over by then, but it might start to get better by then. Also, it might be foreseeable in which direction the pandemic is going by then.

Please stay safe my friends, especially in all those areas with a high number of cases. Also be careful, as people are unpredictable when panicked. Stay home as much as you can, until this “storm” has passed.

Lots of love from us all <3

Everything · Pictures · Places · Ralph and I · Society and News · The Cats

The Coronavirus and how it affects us

I’m sure most people are sick of hearing about that Virus all the time constantly, but I wanted to let you all know about our current situation and about what I know about everything so far. I thought that some of you might want to know and even feel worried.

I’ve been writing on this post since Monday, but due to constant changes in information and situations, I kept updating my draft, trying to write with the little time I had during the week. This is going to be a really long text post.

You can look at a live map, showing all confirmed cases for every place in the world. You can zoom in and click on the red dots, which will tell you the cumulative case count, the deaths, the cases who recovered and currently active cases. Though not every country has the dots as detailed as in China or the US, where every affected area gets its own dot. For most other European countries, there is just one dot that represents all cases in that country.
arcgis.com – Map created by the Johns Hopkins University

Although by now, they can’t keep up with updating the count for every place constantly, so the case count can be behind. Also, not all countries have recovered patients listed yet. Austria, for example, has 2 patients that have recovered and are free of the Virus, but they’re not listed in the dot for Austria.

Italy, one of our southern neighbour countries, is one of the worst affected countries

Italy was Nr 3, after China (Nr 1) and South Korea (Nr 2), of the worst affected countries. But now that Iran’s outbreak is growing massively, it moved to the 3rd place and Italy is now the 4th worst affected country. Iran has 4747 cases and Italy 4636 cases according to today’s case count on the live map from the Johns Hopkins University. But like I mentioned, the count is most likely behind.

The spread of the virus in Italy started when 2 Tourists from China, were diagnosed and confirmed on January 28, 2020 in Rome. By February 20, 2020 Italy had become one of the worst affected countries after China. At that time, Austria had no cases and many other European countries had none yet either. But by February 25, 2020, we started getting the first cases with people arriving from Italy. (More info in this Wikipedia article)

The first cases in Austria

February 25, 2020
Innsbruck, Tyrol, 2 Cases

Austria had it’s first confirmed cases in Innsbruck, Tyrol, the state that directly borders Italy. 2 People, a young Italian couple, who came from one of the worst affected areas in Italy.

February 27, 2020
Vienna, 2 Cases

A married couple in their 70s, were confirmed to be infected with the Coronavirus, after they came home from their vacation in Northern Italy.

February 28, 2020
Vienna, 1 Case

The son of the older couple from Vienna, was confirmed to be infected with the Virus as well.

February 29, 2020 –
Korneuburg, Lower Austria, 2 Cases

A man and woman in their 50s, from Lower Austria (the state around Vienna) who also came back from northern Italy, were confirmed to be infected with the Virus.

Eastern Styria (Our state), 1 Case
A 50 year old woman, who also came back from northern Italy, was confirmed to have the Virus. She’s now being treated in a hospital in our city, Graz.

Salzburg, Upper Austria, 1 Case
A 36 year old woman, who came back from Northern Italy as well, has been confirmed to have the Virus.

March 1, 2020
Vienna, 4 Cases

  • A German couple coming to Vienna, after visiting a carnival event in Germany.
  • A woman from Vienna, who came back from Italy, was confirmed to have the Virus.
  • Another man was confirmed to have the virus, but I did not have any information as to where he came from, or any other information.

March 2, 2020 –
Salzburg, Upper Austria, 1 Case

1 case confirmed in Salzburg. No other details are known to the public yet.

Vienna, 1 Case
1 case confirmed in Vienna. No other details are known to the public yet.

March 3, 2020 –
Salzburg, Upper Austria, 1 Case

1 case confirmed in Salzburg. No other details are known to the public yet

Graz, Styria, 1 Case
1 case confirmed in Graz. He knew and had contact with the 50 year old woman from eastern Styria and got infected through her.

In the evening of March 3, we had 18 confirmed cases in Austria.

On March 5, 2020, the case count went up to 29. There are no more details mentioned for any of the new cases. Only the state or the city is mentioned anymore. But by now the number has gone up again most likely.

On March 6, 2020, Austria has 55 confirmed cases: Vienna (23), Lower Austria (15), our state Styria (5), Salzburg (5), Tyrol (4), Vorarlberg (1), Upper Austria (1) and Carinthia (1). In all 4000 people have been tested for the Virus.

This morning, March 7, 2020, Austria has 74 confirmed cases: Vienna (23), Lower Austria (23), Tyrol (7), our state Styria (6), Salzburg (5), Upper Austria (4), Burgenland (4), Vorarlberg (1) and Carinthia (1).

In all 4308 people have been tested for the Virus in Austria as of today.

Many of the new cases are people who were already in Quarantine, because they were friends, family and had in some way contact with one of the earlier confirmed cases. Other’s are people coming from other countries.

I’m certain the number is going to go up quite steeply for a while.

First 2 patients are healthy again

On the other hand, the first two patients that came in from Italy and then became ill in Innsbruck, Tyrol have now officially recovered. They’ve been kept in the hospital until the repeated tests showed that they were free of the Virus. Even after someone is already feeling fine again, the Virus can still be detected in the tests.

Most of the people who have been infected, are not getting severely ill thankfully. They feel better within about 10 days.

Patients that recovered from the Virus are immune against becoming sick from it again, at least for a few years. They don’t really know yet how many years, as it can also vary between people, but with other Corona-viruses people still had antibodies and therefore immunity against it up to 5 years later, others up to 3 years. But even if it’s only a year, it would be enough to ensure that the Virus will at some point have run its course and the infection rate will go down, and the Virus will, for the most part, die out.

The warmer temperatures coming with spring will help to slow down the spread of the Virus. Apparently, the Virus does not like warm temperatures when it’s outside of a body. The warmer it is, the sooner the Virus dies on surfaces. The sun will also fry it on outside surfaces.

There will be a vaccine against it

They already found a probable vaccine against it and it’s already being trialed on the first patients in the US, who volunteered to be part of the trial. Like back when Ebola was sprading in Africa, they sped up the bureaucracy and approval process. A few weeks ago they said they will be ready to start the trial in April, but apparently a vaccine is already being trialed.

They are also pretty good at isolating any new strains of the Virus quickly, as it mutates throughout the outbreak. That’s what those Viruses do unfortunately, which is why there are sometimes more than one Flu vaccine for a year. But once they have a vaccine for one strain, they are able to create more vaccines for other strains more easily.

At least that is why I found out so far.

No evidence throughout the whole outbreak that cats and dogs are able to contract the Virus!

One of my first massive worries were the cats. All cats and dogs. Our furkids. But thankfully, the ECDC and many other health organisations have found no evidence that pets can become ill or even spread the Virus. During the whole outbreak, there has been no sign of it. Most Viruses mutate to fit only cells of a certain animal family or only humans. They have the right fittings basically, to fit just the right receptors in bodies. And if it’s human cells that it has fittings for, then it will not affect a cat or dog. These fittings are made to exactly fit the receptors of certain cells, where they attach and invade. If such a Virus enters a cat, it simply can’t invade through any of their cells, since the receptors aren’t fitting together.

Now they started testing pets of Corona Patients in China and they have detected the Virus in some of the pets, who are then put in an Vet Clinic for Quarantine. But it seems the pets don’t become ill themselves. So unless the Virus mutates to be able to infect the cells of dogs, cats and other animals, the animals won’t become ill. But I guess they are worried that pets can spread the Virus.

Since it seems that cats and dogs won’t become sick themselves is a huge relief. Because I was so worried that Samantha and Sonic especially, would not be able to survive an infection, due to their age. And with Lisa and Hero, I was not sure if they are too young to survive it, or if they would be strong enough by now. But that worry is now off the table.

What I’m trying to protect us

Ralph won’t go out for as long as that outbreak is growing. I do everything I can to not bring any Viruses home, including the common flu that is also going around. I’ve been doing many of the things listed all the time already anyway.

  • I carry hand sanitizer with me when I go out and disinfect my hands after I touched doors and door handles outside, after I touched shopping carts, any time basically after I touched anything that other people touch.
  • I take off my shoes before I step into our apartment and then carry the shoes in and put them in the shoe storage
  • Then I go straight in to wash my hands and then I wash my hands again after I took off my winter coat
  • I was already used to not touching my face when I’m outside and generally not touching it much to avoid skin problems
  • I keep a distance to people as much as possible and I’m not using public transport. I generally always ride my bicycle everywhere, even in the rain, but at the moment I would not get onto a bus, tram or train
  • At the moment, I only go out when it can’t be avoided, like to pick up medication or prescriptions from my doctor, and I will probably still go to a few stores to buy some necessities for us and the cats, at least as long as it’s as normal as it is now. Should we be really unlucky and it gets bad, I’ll only go out for medical reasons.

People here already started small scale panic buying

Last Saturday, I went to the nearby grocery store, a rather large store. Ralph and I had planned for us to get some shopping done over the next days, to stock up for a while, so that we don’t have to go into the stores again for some time. Mostly because of the flu going around rather quite badly.

First I headed off to get powdered milk and long lasting UHT Milk. Normally that big store has a big stock of it all the time. This time though, it was ALL gone. All of it. I saw the last of the UHT milk being carried off by a few blokes who belonged together. They had 3 full shopping carts, filled to the top with nothing but UHT milk.

Even the coffee creamer powders were gone, as well as the condensed milk.

The tinned food I had planned on buying was gone as well. Just like noodles and rice. Otherwise most of the stock was still there like always. It was just the stuff that can be stocked for a while that was gone. Oh and hand sanitizers and disinfectant cleaning products were decimated pretty bad too. There are also a bunch of random empty shelves that don’t really make sense. Like just one type of produce that’s been bought up by somebody. At least in the last few days, this has been the case for all the stores I’ve been to.

I could hardly believe it. Only when I read the online newspapers for Austria, did I find out that before the weekend, some officials had recommended that people stock up on food, water, sanitising products and other necessities, to last them for about two weeks. So that was most likely the reason behind that.

Now it seems all sorts of sanitizers and disinfection products are absolutely sold out everywhere here. In all the stores I’ve been to, these things are completely gone. But, thankfully, this Virus can be killed on surfaces and on the skin rather easily. Alcohol with a high percentage should be just as good. I do have disinfection products at home, but I’m out of hand sanitizer. Therefore, I’ll get some strong Alcohol, like some typical Austrian Schnaps, which usually have a ridiculously high alcohol percentage. Then I’ll fill some of it in a small bottle and carry that with me to disinfect my hands when I’m out and about.

Stocking up to be prepared

Since people have already been panic buying, in a rather small scale compared to full-blown panic buying, while the Virus is not even widespread here, I thought I better make sure we have a good amount of everything that’s important. So I guess I’ve been panic buying then as well? But at least I didn’t empty out shelves in the stores. I ordered online and I am buying additional things for our stock, little by little.

First I placed a number of orders last Saturday for food with a long shelf live, which arrived on Tuesday. I also bought more than enough milk that won’t spoil, as well as sugar, rice and noodles, and a whole bunch of high-calorie food that lasts long and where you don’t need to eat much of it to get all the nutrients. There is a whole bunch more for us that I stocked up on, so that we could last for quite a while without having to go to the store.

I also thought that those slim fast type drinks, that are supposed to be food replacement, can be a great emergency food source. I have some of it, because I had phases where I had no appetite at all and could not get anything down, but I was at least able to drink those.

Also stocking up for the cats

I already have quite a bit of food stocked for the cats anyway, but I also ordered some more on Saturday. Mainly I ordered dry food, since that lasts long and you get a whole lot of it. I wanted to have that covered first. But I will also try and stock up on wet cat food now as much as possible.

Even today as it was raining hard, I rode to the closets pet supply store to buy some more supplies for the cats.

Ideas for the cats

Then I realised that baby kitten formula can be a great emergency food supply for the cats, at least in the worst case. Since it will give them all the nutrients and energy.

Also, there is formula for cats in recovery, which is very similar to the baby kitten formula. I’ve got both at home for Samantha to help her gain some weight.

Then I thought about the kitty litter and how I could have enough of that at home. It seems the silicate type, which I have never used before, could be a great idea for an emergency kitty litter supply. Since it is lightweight and supposed to last quite a while.

Maybe those ideas can help someone. Also, if you have any helpful suggestions for the cats and us, let me know in the comments or in an email: catlady-natascha@protonmail.com

My worry was/is not so much about the getting sick myself, but about the access to my pain medication

Due to the emergency epidemic laws, any establishment, office, store, building etc., has to be closed right away, if there is just one person that frequented said place even just once, and then turns out to have the virus.

Also, everyone who works at one of these places and anyone who was present in these places at the same time, has to be tested multiple times and stay home in quarantine for 2 weeks, or until they recovered and the Virus isn’t detected anymore in their blood tests.

It just takes one person, in any of the places I depend on for my pain medication, and it has to shut down instantly.

I depend on…

  • my doctor’s office, to write my pain med prescription once a month.
  • the health department’s office for narcotic medications, who’s head doctor stamps and signs the prescription to make it valid. Without that, you can’t get anything at the pharmacy.
  • my pharmacy, who has the physical prescription as well as all my medicine for the month, to be picked up by me in the intervals it says on the script. So I never actually have all of it at home.

So even if just a person, who simply worries they could have contracted the Virus, comes into my doctor’s office, the doctor’s office is shut down right away by the health department head doctor and it’s going to stay closed until that person is cleared to be free of the Virus.

There has been a case just like that, a few days ago, in Lower Austria. A woman who ran into her GP’s office, worried about being infected with the Virus, the GP then had to close down the office in an instant, call the health department, who will then officially close down the office. Even though that woman turned out to be free of the Virus, the Doctor’s office is still closed and not even the Doctor himself knows when he’ll be able to open up again. He’s not even receiving any information about it upon request either.

Even though the way this case was handled by that counties health department is being widely criticised, (ie. not informing the Doctor about anything about to when he will be able to go back to helping his patients), it is certain that any doctors office will stay closed for many days. They don’t test a person just once, they do it repeatedly over the course of a couple days and up to the whole 14 days, just to make sure, since it can take a while before the Virus has reproduced enough times within a persons body to reach a detectable amount.

Government and media has been trying to get it into people’s heads to simply stay home and call the special hotline, that’s just there to send health care professionals to people who think they could have contracted the Virus. That phone number is under every new article about the outbreak, on every information provided about the Virus in Austria online and there are signs on the doors of doctors’ offices and hospitals, imploring people to NOT walk in if they think they could be infected with the Virus, explaining the consequences for the place if they do. Along with that, the sings list the number they need to call to get help.

But yet, this woman walked into that doctors office anyway.

All this worried me sick over the last 2 weeks.

The prospect of losing access to that treatment from one day to the next is extremely frightening, especially when you don’t know if there would be any help at all. Lot’s of uncertainty.

As of now, most, including the staff at my doctor’s office and most other people, don’t think the chance is very high that it’s going to be so bad.

Thankfully, I already have the next prescription all sorted out. My current one still goes till the end of next week. My pharmacy also already has the next prescription, which starts after next week and goes until almost mid-April. To have the actual valid prescription sorted out is the most important thing. Because I do think that the likelihood to get help since I can prove I have a valid prescription, is rather high. Especially since it’s not my fault if the pharmacy has to shut down. There are also many many many more patients like me in the exact same situation all over Graz and the Metro area.

But I have quite a bit of hope that it will get better soon

Knowing Austria and most of central Europe and how things are done here, it’s unlikely that whole cities or districts would be closed down. It’s even unlikely that any border would be closed.

But they finally stopped all direct flights from the worst affected countries. In addition, people who are coming from affected countries have to get themselves tested before they leave for Austria. Upon entry into Austria, they have to provide a doctors letter for the airports customs/immigration officers, confirming that they have been tested and are negative for the Virus.

They are now also starting to have random health checks (temperature measuring and interviews) on the border to Italy for anyone arriving by car. The governement said they know that isn’t eliminating the full risks, but it should help to reduce the number of people traveling to Austria, which will then hopefully slow down the outbreak.

Just like I was saying to Ralph before we even had a case in Austria, that by the time they do something, it will always be a bit too late. Those measures would have been great for the beginning, right when it got so bad in China.

The most helpful thing would have been to simply close ALL borders and private travel to Austria, and let only goods and mail/parcels go in and out. Then even on the motorways, it would only be the truck drivers who enter Austria with their trucks full of goods. Of course in the beginning, this would have caused a lot of traffic jams and challenges, but by now it would have been sorted out. Had they done this right in the by mid-January, all over Europe, we would be far better off now. Because I think the economy is going to suffer a lot more now than it would have if only goods were able to freely travel in and out. Within the countries, life and shopping would have gone on as usual.

But thankfully, people are avoiding travel more and more out of their own accord. Businesses in the Tourism industry are now complaining that they have not enough tourists now, but except for them, people are happy about that.

I’ve seen the empty streets in many cities in Europe on the news. Here in Graz life still seems to go on like always. The number of people wasn’t any lower in the city from what I saw all week. The city centre is usually packed full of people on Friday afternoon and Saturday, with people going shopping in all the stores and people sitting in the Cafés, laughing and having fun. The city centre, is a typical shopping area, with one store after the other, as well as lots of Cafés.

Apparently, in the UK toilet paper, kitchen rolls and all sorts of things are running out in stores because people are panic buying in lots of places. I’m now only going to Aldi’s and Spar and they still had enough of everything, even the long-lasting milk is still plentiful. Except for tinned food and all disinfection cleaning products and hand sanitisers. These products are completely gone everywhere. But as long as you can buy strong alcohol, like Schnapps and Vodka, for example, that’s perfectly enough to clean surfaces and kill the Virus. Even just washing your hands with soap should be enough, as long as you wash them really well.

Ralph, the cats and I right now

We’re all fine, as are the cats! We’ve got lots of kibbles stocked up for the cats and we have food and drink stocked up for us as well. So on that end, we’re not going to have any problems.

At the moment, I’m still feeling the migraine I had come on earlier in the evening. It was gone, but then came back when I was doing household chores… It was the second migraine today, the first one I got in the morning. Me worrying about losing access to my pain medicine, would help to prevent some of the migraines I’m getting right now. It would also be nice for poor Ralph, who’s been listening to me worry for two weeks now…

Otherwise, spring is coming, there are beautiful little spring flowers everywhere in the garden and bushes and trees are starting to sprout. Soon, the cats will be able to lie in the sun on the balcony and open windows (with cat safety nets of course).

The birds are also feeding happily and collecting little sticks for their new nests. We’re looking forward to the late spring and early summer, as by then, hopefully, this crisis will be over.

Stay safe with your sweet furkids everyone. I’m worried about all of you who live in an area that has a large scale outbreak. Thinking of you all and sending lots of love from Ralph, the cats and myself <3

Everything · Kitty Knowledge · Pictures · The Cats

What a week! Constipated Sonic emergency.

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Sonic

First the most important thing: He’s been fine since after the Vet visit. He’s a happy Sonic again, flopping all over the apartment as always.

Originally, I started to write a post for Tuesday, which I never got to finish because Sonic became unwell due to sudden acute obstipation.

2019-08-30 10_54_15-veterinary-FelineConstipation-ClientHandout.pdf
Source: http://veterinaryteam.dvm360.com/constipated-kitty-offer-veterinary-clients-handout

It started during the night from Monday to Tuesday. I woke up to Sonic being very restless. He was up and down from the bed, going to the toilet and back up on the bed again. He did it repeatedly, so I got up with him and noticed he was straining to have a bowel movement. He was really trying hard, but nothing would happen. This went on for a while, but eventually Sonic curled up beside me and we all fell asleep.

As I got up the next morning, I came into the living room to Sonic happily playing with one of the strings they have hanging around the place. He also ate and drank properly and because I had put more of his medicine in his food that morning, I was hoping it would resolve itself.

Later that same Tuesday morning we also had a Lady come by who had a look at our bathroom tiles, so she can prepare the right ones for us when they come to change the tap in the shower.

It was all very busy that morning and into the afternoon. But at around 2pm I tried to have a little nap, and Sonic was with me on the bed as well. We slept for a little while, but then I woke up to him straining to have a bowel movement again. The periods of rest between him trying became much shorter, until he was basically straining the whole time, even while being on the bed. I think he was becoming really exhausted. His back legs were moving and kicking and he was unable to relax at all anymore.

He also started feeling hot to the touch and he was now complaining when trying to press out a bowel movement, without anything happening. He was glowing hot and seemed to get weak. He got worse quickly suddenly.

I knew I have to get him to the Vet instantly. I called our Vet office, which was closing at that time of day, to ask which Vet would be on call for emergencies right now. But instead, the Vet told us to come over right away and he’ll wait for us. Our Vet office has two Vets. The Lady Vet is doing the mornings and the male Vet is doing the late afternoons. I know both of them, and he is just as great and kind.

My hands were shaking, my heart pounding in my head, I was so worried about our sweet boy. I picked Sonic up from the bed and put him into the carrier and called a Taxi, which thankfully came within just a minute.

Sonic was complaining loudly all the way to the Vet about being in the carrier. Since he can’t hear me talking to him, I just put my hand into the carrier and laid it on him, which helped. Traffic was thankfully not bad anymore, since it was more than half an hour after the evening rush hour. We arrived in maybe 6 minutes.

At the Vet

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Sonic in the carrier, just as I got in the door at the Vet office and put him down on a little chair. The carrier is the wrong way around… There are windows with netting on both ends and on the other side of it, as well as on the top

Just after I got in and put the carrier down, the Vet already came to us to take us into the examination room. Sonic was put on the examination table and checked out, while I was right there, next to him. The Vet hooked Sonic up to a drip for rehydration and then a bit later, two tiny cat size appropriate enemas were given.

Sonic was just lying on his side with his head in my hand, which he always likes to do, while we had to wait for the medicine to do its work inside his digestive tract. He was obviously totally exhausted. But even if he weren’t exhausted, Sonic is always relaxed and patient at the Vet. He never complains or struggles. He’s the most patient cat.

After the medicine had enough time to work, the Vet started massaging Sonics tummy. It took a bit of effort for Sonic, but eventually, the whole problem was resolved and that poor boy was relieved of his blockage. The Vet even gave Sonic a big clean up with warm running water, cat shampoo and then dried him off. Even with that, he remained as calm as anything.

Then as the carrier got put on the table, Sonic just went in by himself right away. He’s had enough at that point, I’m sure. Though he must have felt so much better already.

The Vet gave us some more medicine that helps with Peristalsis in the digestive tract. I have to put 0.3ml in his mouth with a little syringe three times a day.

In  addition, I’ll give him the fibre-rich dry food again. I had stopped giving it because Sonic kept throwing up from it. But the Vet explained to me why that was likely happening… The fibre-rich food was being digested in his stomach quite quickly and easily, but then could not move on fast enough out of his stomach into his intestines, because it was working too slow, which then caused him to throw it back up.

Now with the medicine and smaller portions, he seems to keep it down just fine! Which is a good sign that his intestines are now working better.

How Sonic is doing now

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Sonic the next morning, after the Vet. He was still tired, but obviously feeling well and comfy now.

Sonic was already feeling so much better right after we got home from the Vet at about 8pm. His temperature had already dropped down to almost normal again and he was flopping down on the floor, as he always likes to do. Then he just went to sleep and slept all the way through to the next morning.

The next day he was already up for playing again, feeling hungry and drinking properly. He was fine and a happy little kitty boy again!

He’s been going to the toilet without a problem since and is all back to normal.

So how did it come to this?

Sonic needs a bit of medicine on his dry food that helps his digestion work properly. Unfortunately, he refuses to eat wet food. I tried and tried, he does not want to know anything about it. So dry food it is, although it’s high-quality dry food. He drinks plenty of water, so he’s well hydrated normally.

Now I am sure I know what happened that it came to this… Samantha must have eaten his medicated dry food. The medicine is a syrup that gets put right on top of his food, and normally he’s already waiting to have his food when I put it down. But he was not feeling that hungry I guess, so I just put it down for him. Samantha must have gotten to that food before Sonic did, without me noticing… I put Sonic’s dry food WAY OUT of Samantha’s path. His food is right next to our bed, on my side of it and normally it works out like that.

Samantha must have eaten Sonic’s medicated food on Sunday and Monday, because she had a light case of the runs on Monday morning and Tuesday morning.

The next problem was that Sonic did not drink like he usually does. In fact, I think none of the cats drank normally Sunday to Tuesday. I have a feeling that the extremely high humidity we have right now made them less thirsty. They might have felt like their throats aren’t feeling dry ever and did not feel the need to drink as much.

This combined must have Sonic caused to get severely blocked up.

Now I learned more and will make sure that nothing like this happens again. We already have two cat fountains that they all love to drink out of. But I think I’ll add another small one, which I will move around.

I found that putting a water bowl somewhere on a new spot will make the cats curious about it and then drink out of it, just because it’s suddenly right there. Having more water bowls around generally always helps. With Sonic, Samantha and Murli I found that their water intake increased by a lot after we got the water fountains.

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Playful Sonic – He was watching the lens cap of the camera, which was dangling from it on a string…

It’s so wonderful to see him feel happy and well again. We have a beautiful sunny summer day today! Murli is out on the balcony and Samantha at the window in the living room, enjoying the sun. Sonic is wandering around the apartment after he having a little play fight with Samantha.

Have a lovely Caturday! Love from me and the cats!