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

Spring has fully arrived and the lockdown is ending

Time flies as always, even during the lockdown and while we’ve all been under lockdown, spring has fully arrived here. The trees have blossomed, the first spring flowers have come and gone and now everything is turning green and lush.

And more flowers and blossoms from the garden in the following slideshow

The weather has been lovely and warm for the most part during the last couple of weeks. Of course, the cats love it!

Now that the sun is rising higher every day and it’s getting quite warm, I need shade for our balcony. I fenced in the balcony on all sides with netting that adds about 1 1/2 meters on top of the railing. Therefore, I can’t use my parasols like I did in previous years, as they’re too big to fit into the fenced-in area.

The safety net around our balcony

I was thinking about all kinds of things you can do, but the easiest way was to get a shade sail, which I’ve ordered yesterday. I’m really looking forward to having shade again on our balcony.

Before Hero and Lisa, we didn’t need to fence in our balcony so high, because the older cats didn’t care to jump onto the railing or do anything silly. With young cats like Hero and Lisa however, I knew I have to make sure they are safe and can’t do anything to get themselves hurt or lost, if they were to jump off the balcony.

Pollen everywhere!

While the cats have been enjoying their time on the balcony, I noticed that the amount of pollen increased over the days. It’s gotten so bad, that the balcony and everything else is covered in yellow pollen. Heaps of it even on the sidewalks and on cars. Even though I kept wiping the balcony floor down every two hours, it was no use. The air was absolutely saturated with mostly Birch pollen, as well as some Ash tree pollen.

Lisa after rolling around on the floor. It didn’t help that it was windy and all sorts of plant material was being added to the mess.
Hero and Lisa

I gave them all a good long brush a couple times a day and tried damp towels to get them cleaned up. It was really difficult to get it out, as the pollen mess went deep into their fur and stuck to it.

Thankfully after a couple days with heavy rain, it seems a lot better. The kitties fur is also clean by now.

Coronavirus Pandemic update

Now with the temperatures rising, we would normally leave the street-facing front window fully open, with the cat safety net on it, or at least leave it slightly open like in the following photos with Samantha:

But due to Covid-19 worries, we rather keep this one closed. I only open the front window to get some fresh air in for a few minutes, when the street is not busy every day, but that’s it.

The cats always love to sit there and watch the street, especially with the window open. Hero and Lisa didn’t even get to experience this yet, since they came to us in November and it’s just now getting warm enough.

That window is a little more than 2 meters up from the ground. So people could be a source of infection, possibly, when they walk by and happen to cough right underneath our window. The rest of our apartment faces out the back, towards the garden and there are no people hanging around or passing by in the back.

I see that other people with windows even lower than ours, who don’t seem to worry at all and leave their windows open.

The lockdown is ending now, but people started to act like it was over back during Easter

After Easter, our government announced that by the beginning of May, the lockdown will be lifted gradually. Ever since then, people started ignoring the lockdown measures more and more. Well, the majority of people still adhered to it, but the number of people who don’t was increasing steadily.

Every week since, I saw more and more people on the street and I noticed people were starting to have visitors over again increasingly. Some neighbours in our hours, for example, have been doing so for weeks now, even having parties with multiple people over at least twice a week.

Last week, as I went to pick up Samantha’s medicine from the Vet, I saw that the streets were full of people again. It looked just like before the pandemic.

Thanks to the full lockdown though, the number of infections has gone down and the curve has been flattened most definitely.

Our state of Styria is by now the 2nd worst affected with 382 active cases, after Vienna, which still has 567 cases in Austria. The numbers are of course lower than what they had been and we only get a few new cases every day.

But now with a bunch of stores opening again, as well as restaurants, pubs and cafes and the end of the stay at home order, I can’t help but feel it’s too soon for all of that. The schools and universities are probably going to open again before the summer break, which makes even less sense, since they would close by the beginning of July anyway.

There is, of course, the requirement for everyone to wear face masks in closed spaces and now there are many who simply always keep their masks on when out and about. The majority of people, however, remove them as soon as they get out of a store, despite meeting up and talking with other people outside of the stores.

It was pretty obvious that the chancellor and health minister would have rather kept the lockdown going for longer, as they have been warned and are still being warned by many doctors that this is too soon and a 2nd wave is being risked. But the pressure from business owners has been increasing and they are worried about the economy. I just think that the economy is going to take an even bigger impact if we get hit by a 2nd wave.

Social distancing is still being enforced as much as possible, but people are now allowed to visit each other again.

Ralph and I are still going to stay at home and I will be the only one going out to get what we need from the store every week or less. I’ve only been visiting one single store close to us, which is never overrun by people and they are disinfecting every shopping cart in front of your eyes and then they squirt a bunch of hand sanitiser into your hands. Everyone wears a mask, which is given out for free at the store entrance. People are also very good at keeping their distance in there. I still carry my own bottle of hand sanitiser or sanitising alcohol with me anytime I go out and I use it a lot.

Ralph, the cats and I are all well thankfully. We will keep doing everything the same way, until the Pandemic is actually over for good, or until there is a vaccination available. I am so thankful that we didn’t get sick when the virus was spreading like wildfire through our country.

But so many other countries are still experiencing the worst of it.

How are you all doing? How are things where you are?

Lots of love from us! Big hugs and purrs!

Everything · Pictures · Ralph and I · Society and News

The mood has completely changed – Corona Update March 13

While people and daily life still seemed very normal at the beginning of this week, this has now changed, almost overnight.

Yesterday, everything started changing throughout the day. The Coronavirus Infection rate was rising at an unbelievable speed, and it’s still accelerating.

While we only had about 5 cases about two weeks ago, there were a 100 cases on March 8. Two and a half days later we reached 200. Yesterday in the morning, we had about 300, by the evening we had 361. This morning, we had over 400 and by now, 3pm on March 13, the case count has already reached 504.

The separate case counts for each of Austria’s states is as follows:

Lower Austria (63), Vienna (82), Styria, which is our state (52), Tyrol (167), Upper Austria (84), Salzburg (23 – davon 3 Personen nicht in Salzburg aufhältig), Burgenland (7), Vorarlberg (22) und Carinthia (4).

Yesterday, Styria had 28 and the day before that 18, and the day before that around 11.

While more new measures were planned by our government yesterday, rumours started spreading.

It started yesterday morning. Rumours that were saying that absolutely everything, including supermarkets, pharmacies and all government offices (including social welfare, national health, health department etc) will close down next week. I knew right away it wasn’t true and I tried my best to keep telling people it’s not true.

The government was simply working out the next important steps to help contain the outbreak, and the first couple of these measures were presented in a press conference yesterday in the afternoon. In that press conference, the government also said that more measures are being planned and to be announced the next day (today). At the same time, they were also stressing that these rumours floating around are false.

Supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, government offices, post/mail and basically everything that is important for the country, daily life, the infrastructure and it’s people will remain open no matter what. They said that potential closures and restrictions will only be implemented on branches and services that people can easily live without for a few weeks. They also again begged people to stay home as much as possible if they can in their free time or if they’re retired or at home for other reasons anyway. For other companies, they said that companies should try to have as many people as possible work from their home.

The point is basically to try to stop as much unnecessary movement of people as possible for a while.

Yesterday, a pharmacy in the city was already limiting the amount of people who were able to enter at the same time. Only 3 people were allowed in the pharmacy at once.

Today, that same pharmacy was serving people only through the hatch in the door.

Then this morning, more rumours were spreading which caused widespread panic buying

Early this morning, some more rumours were floating around and spreading like wildfire. Some rumours were still the same and others were new. Today the rumours said that absolutely all stores, pharmacies, gas stations and banks will close down by midday today and that a curfew will be implemented for the nighttime starting Monday.

These rumours, paired with the shocking rise in coronavirus infections over the last 24 hours, caused people to actually panic today.

People started panic buying in such numbers, that there were massively long lines in front of the supermarkets. It kept getting progressively worse all day. The shelves are now empty pretty much. Even shortly after the supermarkets had opened for the day, shelves were emptied within a short time. Some stores were hit worse than others, depending on their location.

Long lines of people waiting to get into one of the larger grocery stores in a mall not far away from us. It was like that at most supermarkets. (Source: KronenZeitung krone.at/2116507)

I heard from my friend, who lives just a block away from us, that she saw people ripping food out of each others hands at the store. Then we heard that one Aldi (called Hofer in Austria), located in a rather bad area, had been pretty much wrecked by people ripping open packages and simply being rowdy and selfish.

Mostly it was long long lines in front of grocery stores. People were running into banks and building lines in front of ATMs. In turn, many ATMs were out of order by the early afternoon.

What also did not help was that nothing was being done about people taking way too much at once for themselves in the grocery stores (for example one person/family buying up all the milk).

The media and government kept repeating on TV, radio and on the internet, that the supermarkets will not close and that the supply of goods will keep going. Yet, people were panic buying all day.

My Dad said that all of the bread was gone within a short time after the stores opened in the morning. I hope the panic buying will calm down again over the course of next week, when people see that the supermarkets will not close down and that they also continue to be restocked regularly. , starting yesterday morning and still, new false rumours are spreading. There were rumours that everything will be closed down, and a curfew will be implemented. None of it is true though.

The actual new measures that were announced by the government today

  • All schools, including high schools, elementary schools and kindergartens, as well as universities and any education facilities will close by Wednesday. Universities and higher education will be closed on Monday already. But students can stay home already if they can.
  • Restaurants, pubs, cafés etc, have to close by 3pm in the afternoon. So nightclubs and anything else that would be open all night, will stay closed completely. They want to avoid all those many people coming together every night, especially during the weekends, while going out.
  • All sports events are cancelled
  • Some areas in Tyrol, which is especially badly hit by the outbreak in Austria, will be put under quarantine.
  • Supermarkets, banks, pet supply stores, pharmacies, tobacconists, public transport, post and mail services and other essential parts of society, like all facilities and companies that are important for all the infrastructure in Austria (including Telephone and Internet), will not be closed at any point
  • Public transport: Trams and Busses will automatically open the doors for entry and exit at every stop, so people won’t have to use the buttons to open them. Only the trams and busses will be used that have a separate cabin for the drivers to protect them
  • People are asked to stay home, unless it is absolutely necessary and can’t be avoided. People should gather with friends and family for now and instead use other means (internet, phone) to stay in contact.

Some news regarding my medication supply

I had put in a request to get my pain medication supply home with me for the next 3 1/2 weeks, so that I would not have to go out anymore at all within that time, to protect Ralph more.

Though I got a call this morning from my doctors office, informing me that the health department has said, that nobody is getting their medicine home for a longer period of time, even if they have plenty of their time allowance left, which I did. No exceptions. I’m sure the reason for that is that this measure stops people from moving and leaving the city and their areas. Since everyone is tied to their medicine, by having to go to the pharmacy all the time, nobody can leave, which stops even more movement from and to different places.

On the other hand, I also got some reassuring news. Apparently, my pharmacy will not close down, even if it gets worse. The way it will work is that all customers are basically outside the pharmacy, while the staff is behind the door, which has a little hatch, through which everyone is being served. Those hatches exist for the night shifts, where people are being served through those hatches as well.

Either way, the government does not seem to implement things in a chaotic manner. Therefore, no matter what, if the health department has to think of something else to make sure that all patients continue to receive their medications, then they most likely will. Everything now is being implemented as things are happening. I’m feeling better regarding that and not as worried as I had been before.

Our plan for the next month (or beyond if it’s neccessary)

Ralph and I will stay home for the next weeks, or for how long it’s going to be necessary. Our supplies last for about two months, including the supplies for the cats. But we are still able to order things online as well for now, which I am doing too.

That means I will only go out to the pharmacy, on my bicycle, on a street where I don’t really come across many people and where I am not close to other people anyway. Also, the pharmacy is only 4 minutes from us if I use my bicycle. Additionally, the pharmacy itself is quite spacey and you don’t really come too close to people in there, especially now, as people are avoiding the pharmacies as much as possible, which is good for me.

The risk is still not extremely high that I could catch the virus while in the pharmacy, or outside of it. I also try to keep as much distance between me and anyone, and I keep disinfecting my hands constantly. When I get home, I take off my shoes outside the apartment and then I walk straight in to wash myself, before I put my clothes away and wash myself again.

No matter how crazy this might sound, I rather do everything I possibly can to lower the risk to Ralph and myself.

It’s now eerily quiet and empty in the streets

I was out at about 4pm, which is normally very busy on Friday. But even the busiest street was very empty. Hardly any cars. Hardly any people. And now at night, nobody is out. It’s totally quiet and empty in the street as far as I can see.

One supermarket I passed by was dark for some reason. Looked like they had to close down for some reason. I also saw people with loads of boxes of groceries, and big bags full of the same, entering their apartment buildings, or carrying the shopping home. I also saw long lines in front of Tobacconists in the city centre. Our area wasn’t like that thankfully.

It was already very weird and quiet everywhere. Even our building is quiet. Normally you would hear people getting ready to go out on a Friday night, but there is no one going now. There is no music being heard from anywhere, no friends coming over. People are just in their homes, possibly a bit in a state of shock.

I would not be surprised if some rather bad people will try to use the emptiness of city streets for bad things. We are thankfully in a safe area anyway, but I still closed down the shutters in front of our street facing window. I’m always rather safe.

There will be more restrictions coming, but I prefer that to not doing anything. The more people are stopped from moving, the faster the numbers will stop climbing, while the number of people who have recovered, will increase. Everyone who can needs to stay where they are, all over Europe. Just for a while, so that this nightmare can come to an end sooner, rather than later.

Lets please get through this ok and then celebrate once it’s over.

Be careful and keep in touch. I’ll keep you all updated anyway. Ralph, the cats and I are still perfectly fine ❤ I’m now off to bed, as it’s way past midnight and I’m tired.

Love from us and the cats to all of you!

Good night from Sonic and Lisa in our fluffy comfy bed
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 ❤

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 ❤

Everything · Pictures · Ralph and I · The Cats · Videos

A Cute Surprise! We adopted 2 rescue kittens, Hero and Lisa!

Hello everyone! Where should I even start? Well, in short, we adopted 2 more cats into our little family… The nearly 6 months old kittens, Lisa and Hero!

The exact date of their birth is not known. It was Ralph who came up with the name Hero for the sweet little boy. They already had temporary names, Nero and Lisa. Ralph had no idea at first that they had these names already, and came up with Hero for the little boy. When you read their story below, and what he had to endure, you understand the name. He’s our little Hero, for surviving it all with Lisa. I’ll keep Nero in his full name, but we’ll call him Hero for short, so it’s Nero the little Hero and Lisa.

The whole story…

2019 11 02 Lisa and Hero at the Foster home
This was the picture I saw first when hearing about them. It’s Lisa and Hero when they were still at their Foster home.

On Saturday, November 2, 2019, I read about the two kitten siblings, who had it very rough until they were found and nursed back to health. Like it happens all the time, and every time is one time to many, everywhere, someone “got rid” of their kittens by simply setting them out by the street. They had to fend for themselves for who knows how long.

About two months ago, they were found in the midst of the rubbish of a construction site. In all, there were 4 kittens, each of them in a very bad state. Dehydrated, starving and the little boy Hero was extremely close to death. He was found with his right back leg severely injured. He was probably hit by a car, or some other horrible thing happened while they’ve been out there by themselves. Hero must have been in so much pain from that badly injured leg, and that for who knows how many days. Thank God these sweet kittens were found in time, as they surely would not have been able to stay alive, in the state they were in, for much longer.

It was Helga, who owns her own rescue and does it all by herself with the help of donations and foster homes, who brought the kittens to the first available Vet right away. That Vet then wanted to put sweet Hero down right away! But Helga wasn’t going to allow that and wanted him saved. So, Hero’s back right leg was amputated and everything else was done to treat all the kittens medically. Then they all were nursed back to full health in a foster home. They cared for them wonderfully, as all the kittens are now perfectly healthy and full of life. Hero’s amputation site healed without an issue and the fur has almost completely grown back by now as well.

Two of the four kittens have found a home already, but Lisa and Hero were still waiting for a loving home. Helga expected that little Lisa would have maybe found a home after a while, but Hero would have likely been left behind. Not one person was even interested in Hero, or both of them in the two months since they were rescued. Even when she mentioned the two kittens to people that were looking to take cats, declined. I ended up being the first and only person to be interested and sweet Hero and Lisa.

When I read about Hero and Lisa on November 2nd, I didn’t even have to think twice. In an instant, I knew deep in my heart that I wanted both of them to have a forever home with us. On that same day, Helga and I had a phone call and agreed that she would visit us the next day (Sunday, November 3rd) to get to know Ralph and myself and see our home, to make sure that the kittens would have a good home with us.

While we were waiting to hear if we would be approved to take in the kittens, I was all over the place. I messed up that Sunday’s dinner and 3 of Ralph’s coffees. Ralph has his coffee black with two sugar cubes. I put milk in one coffee, put 6 sugar cubes in another, and no sugar in the 3rd and had it go cold as well. It was funny.

Soon after we knew, we would be able to take Hero and Lisa. The big day was on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 the kittens were brought to us at around 6pm by the awesome Helga!

That whole day I was so excited, messed up coffee, and did some shopping for the kittens and Murli, Samantha and Sonic. It was awfully rainy that day, so when I went back home from the shop with two cat toilets and a big bag of food, toys and kitty litter, I had no arm free from an umbrella. Even though I only had to walk from the tram stop to our home, I was soaking wet when I got home…

I just put everything down in the hallway. These are the two new kitty toilets I bought that day.

Murli knew something was up anyway…

2019 11 05 midday Murli after I came home from shopping
Murli in the hallway

I got everything ready for the new family members and then, finally, Helga came with Hero in Lisa in a carrier. We had them come out in our living room, where I had prepared an area where they would find everything they need close to them. We knew from Helga that Hero and Lisa were still very shy and afraid of humans. I knew that they would just hide and feel scared, not knowing what’s going on. But at least they would be able to see/smell the food right there, see a kitty toilet nearby and have places to hide and toys to play with, should they feel like it.

2019 11 05 6-15pm babies hiding after arriving
The area where Hero and Lisa were let out of their carrier.

You can faintly see the little tabby boy Hero in that photo. Lisa was near Hero, but underneath that footstool. They stayed like that well into the night, and we left them, not wanting to bother them.

Ralph stayed up until about 3am, while I had gone to bed at midnight, feeling really tired. Of course, I could hardly sleep anyway, always listening for what the cats are up to, all of them. So in the early morning, about 5am, I got up to see what the kittens have been up to.

How Samantha, Murli and Sonic are reacting to Hero and Lisa

2019 11 06 5am Samantha seeing Lisa the first time
Lisa on the cat tree by the window. Samantha had just come in too and saw Lisa for the first time.

Lisa is hardly visible, but she’s on the kitty tree, at the second level from the top. Samantha had previously smelled them already, but that morning was the first time she saw one of the kittens. Lisa wasn’t really worried over there. Samantha was stunned, like she could not believe what she saw and wondered about what these kittens were doing in her home all of a sudden.

Samantha was very curious about them though, and she wasn’t too upset, behaving normally and doing everything she always does. She’s still coming to terms with new cats being in her home and getting used to it. It’s very similar to how it was when Murli and Samantha came together in this apartment the first time. Back then it took a few weeks for everything to become normal for her and Murli.

Murli is also very curious about the kittens, but she’s not upset one bit. She’s behaving exactly as she always does. She leaves them alone, and only watches them from, and sneaks after them, to peek around the corner at them.

Sonic is the way he is, a boy who doesn’t get upset easily. He also LOVES other cats and is always friendly to them, even if they hiss. So Sonic made friends with Hero right away, the first time they met nose to nose, they became brothers. He’s trying to get closer to Lisa as well, but she’s still a bit worried, but it’s getting much less every day. By now Sonic, Hero and Lisa hang out together on the bed with me in it!

In all, there haven’t been any big problems with Murli, Samantha and Sonic accepting the new family members. It’s all pretty like I expected it to be, knowing them.

Very late on the evening Hero and Lisa arrived, I decided I feel better with the balcony door secured. So in the dark, cold and pouring rain, I started putting a cat safety net onto the frame of the balcony door. I can easily put it up and remove it, but it’s safe, not even a kitten can squeeze past it. I just became too worried about the little ones suddenly running on the balcony and trying to climb the fencing and falling off the balcony. I will soon secure the whole balcony with a cat safety net, so that they can go out on the balcony safely. Up until now, the fencing I put on the balcony railing was enough, as we didn’t have to worry about Murli, Samantha and Sonic jumping onto the railing.

The first morning after their arrival, we hear them running around and playing in the living room for a while, before hiding under the footstool again for most of the day. But the next evening, about 24 hours after their arrival, they were starting to explore the apartment and played with all the cat toys along their way.

So I sat down on the floor in the hallway, and got them curious with a toy. They came closer and I was able to play with them for the first time!

2019 11 07 6-46pm Playing with Lisa nd Hero 1st time
Playing with Hero (left) and Lisa (right) for the first time!

Otherwise, the kittens were very shy and very afraid of humans. But we’re able to gain their trust slowly, every day a little bit more. During the first 4 days, they would run away as soon as we walked nearby. But that distance before they would run was getting shorter and shorter. Hero and Lisa were also starting to follow us, peeking around the corner to watch what we were doing.

Sonic started joining in when I was playing with the kittens, which is so awesome. The picture on the left is Hero and Lisa. The one on the right is Sonic and Hero.

And so the days went by, until it’s now more than a week since their arrival! These last two nights, Hero and Lisa even came up on our bed for a while. Last night, after going to bed, Hero and Lisa both cuddled up against my legs, which were under the blanket. It was so cute. Sonic was there as well, to the right of me, as he usually is. The following photos in the slideshow are from Tuesday, in the late evening. I was playing with them before going to sleep.

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Samantha and Murli usually prefer their baskets, so it’s perfectly normal for them not to be on the bed anyway.

Hero and Lisa had lost their frightened expressions after the first two days pretty much. By now they are feeling so much more at home and enjoy watching Kitty-TV from the bedroom window. We’ve had constant rain, so the window looks mucky again even though I cleaned it about two weeks ago.

2019 11 10 11-29am Falling asleep after kitty TV 01
Lisa and Hero on the bedroom window sill

2019 11 10 11-29am Sweet little Hero
Hero, with Lisa on the bedroom window sill

2019 11 10 11-29am Sweet little Lisa
Lisa, on the bedroom window sill

Hero is running just as fast as Lisa, despite having only 3 legs. He’s getting around so well! But I tried to help him out and make it a bit easier for him to get up on things, by putting in-between steps to higher up places, with chairs, cat ladders and footstools etc.

I also have a video of them playing around the kitty tree on Monday morning. It is a bit dark, as it was another awful dark day and I had only opened one side of the curtain, because the babies were sitting behind the other half, watching the street from the living room window. Later I sat down at my desk and these two started playing. So I just got the camera out and started filming anyway.

There is still more that I could write and post, but I will just put it in my next post. Every day is exciting now, with something new happening!

Like Hero and Lisa coming up to our hands most of the time now and sniffing. I’m really looking forward to them trusting us enough to give them a nice brush and cuddle.

Murli, Samantha and Sonic are getting just as much love as they always do. I love all of them so much! I’m now spoiling 5 cats and loving it! Ralph adores Hero and Lisa so much as well!

Love to all of you! Thank you so much for reading!