POP Cats here we come!

Will we see you at POP Cats in Austin, Texas May 4&5?

In a few weeks we are going to Austin, Texas to attend the awesome cat festival POP Cats! We went last year and had a blast!

We can’t wait to meet all you amazing people and this year we are not only spreading Monty Happiness but also Molly Happiness and we have a fun surprise in our booth!

Have you gotten your ticket yet? If not, hurry up and get yours right here: https://popcats.org

Two of our best friends live in Texas so we will stay for a week instead of just a weekend! That means 7 days with vegan donuts from Woodoo! No just kidding, maybe 5 days! 😛

Our amazing friend (who is also the kids’ auntie) Martha will be staying at our house with Monty and Molly. She is the best and both Monty and Molly loves her!

 

New kitchen!

When we moved into the house in 2017 there was the oldest kitchen we have ever seen!

It was pretty clear that we had to get a new kitchen since the sink was so tiny, the counter around the sink was so old and worn down and all the cabinets didn’t have drawers so it was difficult to organise.

We love our new kitchen and now we are expanding it a little. There are two doors into the livingroom so now we are closing one of them and Michael’s friend is building a wall and then we can make the kitchen a little bigger.

Here is the before and after.

Danish:
Da vi flyttede ind i vores hus i 2017, var der et æld gammelt køkken, hvor håndvasken var så lille, at man ikke kunne vaske op uden at spilde ud på bordet, som så sugede alt vandet og rådnede, fordi den var så slidt.

Så vi havde virkelig brug for et nyt køkken!

Der var to indgange til stuen og køkkenet fra gangen og nu er vi gået i gang med at lukke en af de indgange. Derefter skal vi udvide køkkenet med et højskab, hvor en ny ovn skal ind og i stedet for den gamle ovn, kommer der et skab og bordplade med kogeplade.

Her er før og efter billeder.

The old kitchen
The old kitchen
New kitchen
New kitchen
Closing the hole so we can expand the kitchen

To be continued…

Monty and epilepsy

March 20, 2019, was #worldhappinessday and it was a double happiness day for us because it was also the day Monty got to celebrate being seizure-free from epilepsy for one year!

Reaching one whole year since Monty last experienced a seizure is a huge milestone and such a relief. It was a nightmare to see our little boy going through this and not knowing how we could help him!

We are getting daily questions about Monty’s epilepsy medication, his seizures, what we did, and much more, so now I want to sit down and tell you all everything that happened and what we did.

In March, 2018, Monty was diagnosed with epilepsy.

Here is the story with all his symptoms, his treatment, and everything else I can think of about this whole nightmare experience!

In the summer of 2017, we moved into a house with a big backyard for Monty. We moved from an apartment where Monty had always been an indoor cat. A couple of months after we moved in, we finished fencing the entire backyard and Monty got to run in his garden for the first time. He was so happy, and very curious as always.

All was well until about three months later, when we noticed that Monty was acting strange. One evening we found him lying in a corner, looking completely stoned! He was frozen in a weird position, sitting on his bum with a faraway look in his eyes. We ran to him and talked to him while stroking his head until he came back again. The episode lasted about 1-2 minutes and afterwards he was completely normal again, like nothing had ever happened. We didn’t know what to think because he had been playing with catnip right before it happened, so our conclusion was that he must have been very high on catnip.

We didn’t experience anything unusual again until March, 2018, when he had another weird episode. He had been sitting in the window in the living room and looking at birds that we were feeding. Suddenly he was spacing out and looking very stoned, with blank eyes and his whiskers sticking straight out from his face. We got very scared and called the vet. This episode lasted about one minute and like the last time, he was completely normal again afterwards. We scheduled an appointment for Monty the very next day. Sadly, he had another episode again that day and this time he seemed not only stoned but disoriented. He simply couldn’t figure out where to place one of his paws. He stuck one of his front paws out like he was trying to figure out where the ground was. This episode lasted around two minutes, and again he acted totally normal once it was over.

For the next week, Monty’s seizures got more intense and happened up to three times a day. The vet wasn’t sure what was happening to our boy but even though it didn’t look like typical epilepsy, she thought he might be having epileptic seizures. Monty needed a team of specialists, so we went to a big animal hospital that has the only MRI scanner for animals in Denmark.
They did all kinds of tests on him—an ultrasound on his heart, blood samples to look for poisoning and organ failure, tests of his nervous system, and an MRI scan. They also tried doing a spinal tap to check for meningitis but the test failed. He went through so much and as it often is with epilepsy, it is diagnosed when there is no other explanation.
We are so grateful and feel very lucky that they didn’t find anything wrong in his brain. It could have been a tumor and that is why this MRI scan was so important. We remember sitting and waiting at a café nearby for Monty to be done with the MRI and to wake from anesthesia. We were so terrified and we tried to watch a movie on our laptop but we couldn’t even follow the movie because the only thing we could think about was our little boy. I actually can’t even remember what movie it was, but I can remember all my feelings and how everything looked at the hospital and things like that.

When we picked Monty up, the vet asked if we had ever considered whether Monty was deaf! We thought it was the weirdest question she could ask us and we asked why. She said she asked because Monty had been crying so much before the anesthesia when they were about to get ready and when they stroked him and talked to him to calm him down, he acted like he was deaf and ignored them completely. He just kept on crying loudly and since Monty is always reacting to our voices, we imagined that he was just so scared that he was simply doing his best to cry for us to come. That was hard to hear but at least it was time to bring him home.

Monty’s tests all came back negative and he was put on a medication called Keppra (Levetiracetam in Danish) but it didn’t work! He kept having seizures, so he was put on phenobarbital as well but that takes about two weeks to have full effect. Keppra was supposed to work right away but it didn’t. When the phenobarbital started to work after about a week or two, he didn’t have any more seizures. Unfortunately, the medication made him so drunk, wobbly, and tired! After about two weeks, Monty had lost some weight because he was sleeping so much that he just wasn’t eating enough. The vet took a blood sample and saw that he had enough of the medication in his blood so we were able to lower the dose a little. Monty started to wake up, we gave him some medication for nausea, and then he started eating again. We slowly got our happy boy back and he started to play too. Sadly, he hurt his knee when he was still a little “drunk” so we had to force him to rest but that is a whole other story, and his knee is fine again. He is indeed a miracle boy and now a year has passed without any seizures and we cannot even express how relieved and grateful we are! <3

So that was the entire story of this nightmare we went through with our boy and we have some advice for you if you have a cat that suddenly experiences seizures.

  1. If you can, and your cat is not in danger, take your phone and record the seizure so you can show your vet exactly how it looks. It is very difficult to explain and if you are two people, one can record while the other person is taking care of the cat.
  2. Call the vet right away! If the vet is closed, call your animal hospital! Don’t wait! Seizures can be fatal, so it is extremely important to react right away.
  3. Epilepsy normally shows up in young cats up to seven years old and most of the time it appears as shaking symptoms. If your cat is shaking, we highly recommend you follow these steps right here:
    https://www.petmd.com/cat/emergency/common-emergencies/e_ct_seizures_and_convulsions
  4. Always remain calm! Please don’t panic! It is easier said than done but you need to be strong for your furbaby and therefore you need to remember to breathe and think! Stop and think “what should I do?”

Are we sure that Monty has epilepsy?

Well, to be honest, no. We are not sure that he has epilepsy because of many reasons.

It is not normal for cats to get epilepsy at his age. Monty was eight when he started having seizures and normally, symptoms begin earlier than that.

His seizures didn’t look like typical epilepsy seizures with shaking, peeing, and screaming. His seizures were very slow movements like he was disoriented and stoned.

Monty’s seizures started when he got access to our garden. He was exposed to a whole new world and that could trigger epilepsy, but it could also trigger overstimulation and anxiety. So maybe it was some kind of overstimulation and anxiety we saw in him.

No matter what it is, epilepsy or not, the phenobarbital is working and we are very grateful that he is doing so well! We were so scared of losing our boy!

Things to think about when dealing with epilepsy:

Overstimulation and stress can trigger a seizure, but that doesn’t mean the animal with epilepsy should be bored. We removed the bird feeding station in front of the window because looking back at it, it was too much for us to feed birds right in front of the window in the living room. We didn’t knew that he could get overstimulated but of course he did! He was chasing birds in the garden and when he got inside he saw birds eating in front of his window! He was obsessed with the birds and he didn’t rest a lot like he does now when he is inside. He was constantly looking at the birds!

One last thing I want to say. Please call your vet or 24-hour animal hospital if you are in doubt of anything concerning your cat’s (or any other animal’s) health. Don’t google or ask in a group. Call right away and ask a professional. <3

 

Tips For Keeping Your Pets Safe On New Year’s Eve

Fireworks are a part of many people’s New Year’s Eve celebrations and while they are fun for us, they can cause a great deal of stress for our pets. Here are some tips from us to help your furry friends get through the noisy celebrations.

  • Execise your furry friend to a calm state during the afternoon on the big day. That way they will be tired at night time and might be a little less scared of all the noise.
  • Make lots of snuggle places in the quietest room with food, water and a litter box.
  • Keep your furry family members indoors, even if your cat is used to going out. You have their best interests at heart, and keeping them indoors until the fireworks are over will keep them from endangering themselves in a moment of panic.
  • Ensure that they are wearing collars with ID tags in case they become lost or run away and make sure you have updated your phone number and address with the vet or relevant service if they are chipped or earmarked.
  • If your pet has a history of anxiety it can be helpful to contact your vet in advance to see if medication is suitable during all the noise from fireworks.

We are giving Monty a product called Zylkene which is calming, and does not cause sleepiness. It can be administered with other natural products like rescue remedy and pheromones, as well as with prescription medications.
We are also using Feliway Diffuser. The Feliway diffuser offers constant comfort and calming at home. When a cat feels comfortable in their environment, they rub their cheeks against objects leaving a facial pheromone. Feliway is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure.
We are also using Bach Rescue Remedy whenever we take Monty to the vet since he tends to get carsick, and Rescue Remedy really helps him. It also helps with his anxiety over the New Year holidays, and we are very glad to have it to hand.

If you are having guests over:

Watch the Door! Make sure to watch the door as your guests come in and out of your home so that your furry family members don’t get out.

A Room of Their Own! Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to, complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the party.

Be Mindful of Noise! Chatty guests, fireworks, noisemakers, and popping champagne all make a party great, but the noise can also cause anxiety for your pet. Keep your pet in a room away from the party.

Be Careful With Decorations! Decorations like confetti can be a fun addition to your party, but your pet might think they’re a snack. Keep decorations away from your pets to avoid a potential trip to the veterinary clinic.

Pet-Friendly Foods Only! If you are having a party avoid feeding your pet too many table scraps, and avoid foods that can be poisonous like alcohol, chocolate or xylitol (a sweetener) and many more.

Most importantly show your love and understanding. If your furry friend wants to hide just let her/him hide.
Remember that they don’t understand what’s going on and for them it maybe sounds like the world is coming to an end.

We wish everybody reading this a PAWsome New Year!

Love & Happiness, Monty and his humans

 

Does Monty really pee in his sleep?

Some of the most frequent questions we get asked is how we handle Monty peeing in his sleep all the time and why he does it. So, we have gathered all the questions related to this topic and we’re going to answer them in this blog post! Here we go!

Why does Monty pee in his sleep?

We actually don’t know why Monty pees in his sleep! After two ultrasounds of his bladder, we still have no definite answer! Between us and the vets, we think that he must have a loose bladder. He always uses the litterbox when he’s awake and never leaks anywhere. When he finds his own urine on a blanket, he seems very confused and doesn’t realize the pee is from him!

How and when did you find out that Monty had a peeing problem?

This question seems like it would have an obvious answer, but it doesn’t! When we first adopted Monty, we had no idea that this was an issue because not even the animal shelter we got him from knew about it. When Monty was at the shelter, the blankets he slept on were washed every day and they never noticed any pee on them. We also did not notice anything when Monty came to live with us. It’s actually not even noticeable on white or dark fabric, especially when you’re not looking for it. Also, since Monty is neutered, his pee doesn’t have any strong smell. 😉

So how did we find out? It was actually Monty that discovered it first! A couple of weeks after adopting Monty, we saw him sniffing our duvet with great interest. It was only then that we saw that he had peed on it. From there, we called the vet to ask what to do since it kept happening again and again.

Urine samples from the vet came back clear and an ultrasound of his bladder showed that he might have a loose bladder. The vets suggested some medicine for incontinence, but since Monty only peed when he was in a deep sleep, dreaming, and didn’t even notice it, we decided to keep him off any medications for this. He didn’t seem unhappy from it, it wasn’t hurting him, and maybe he would outgrow the problem over time. If it became a problem in the future where it was harming Monty in some way, then we would consider medicine.

It’s been 5 years now and Monty is still peeing in his sleep. What was once peeing once in a while is now all the time when he is sleeping. We don’t mind though because Monty is still happy and unphased by it. It is so cute to us because when he’s dreaming and about to pee, his whiskers and feet twitch!

On a daily basis, how do you handle all the peeing?

We have pee pads all over the house! 😉

In the beginning, we washed the duvets and the duvet covers every day, but it was just so much work putting the duvet covers back on all the time! So, we found some very soft duvets that don’t require a cover. That helped a lot in terms of saving time and water during laundry days. After the duvets went through the washing machine, you would never even know there was a little bit of Monty’s pee on it! And, we have seven duvets, so we always have extras if we don’t do laundry for a day or two.

We also have soft baby blankets placed all over the house where Monty loves to nap. They’re folded and strategically placed in his snuggle cave, his basket, and all the other places he loves to sleep. Then when it’s laundry time, it’s super easy to just remove the blanket, wash it, and put it back!

How often does Monty have pee accidents?

This is actually a tricky question to answer since we are not watching Monty all the time. For the first year after we adopted Monty, we could go weeks before we would find any pee on anything. But now, it usually happens every day and night when he is dreaming. We were hoping that it would get better over time, but it happens much more frequently now and we don’t know why! We also have no idea what he is dreaming about, but he just loses all control! Sometimes it’s only a few drops and sometimes it’s a full pee.

Monty must snuggle with us in bed every night, so we also have a pee sheet on the bed and lots of blankets and duvets. He doesn’t like to sleep on us without a soft blanket or duvet anyways, so it works out! We are just sure to start off our day by throwing all the bedding into the laundry every morning. 😉

What about bladder infections?

Monty has struggled a lot in the past with bladder infections, caused by a high pH value in his urine. Thankfully, he’s been free of bladder infections for 3 years now. We still monitor his pee, though, which means keeping a close eye on the presence of blood and measuring the pH value.

Has Monty ever peed on you?

Yes! A couple of times when Monty has fallen in a deep sleep in Michael’s arms during a movie, Michael suddenly felt something warm dribbling down him. And sure enough, Monty peed on Michael while he was sleeping! Do we think it’s disgusting? Well, it’s pee. But honestly, it’s just from our baby boy! So, we just laugh and think it’s so adorable! Pee is easily washed off and Monty can’t help it. It’s just one of his special, sweet qualities and we love him unconditionally!

Q&A with Monty

We get a lot of the same questions about Monty.
We have put them all together in this Q&A blog post!

How old is Monty and when is his birthday?

Monty is seven and his birthday is December 1st.

What’s up with Monty’s nose? Can he breathe through it?

Monty has a sunken nasal bridge. He has a nose bone—otherwise his nose would have no nostrils—but the partition in one of his nostrils is warped and makes it have a tinier hole. He can breathe through his nose but sometimes he needs to have a sneeze attack to clean out the one tiny nostril. The other nostril is fine.

Is Monty a special breed?

No, Monty is born with a chromosomal abnormality and that’s why he looks a bit different. We adopted Monty from our local PAWsome cat shelter called “Kattens Værn” ( meaning “the cats shelter at Danish”).

Does Monty have any problems due to his chromosomal abnormality?

Monty is born with a small defect on his bladder. It is really rare but luckily nothing he can’t live with. His ureter leads to his urethra instead of his bladder. This causes him to sometimes leak in his sleep. He can’t help it and luckily it’s just a few drops. It doesn’t happen every day and Monty doesn’t even notice it since it only happens when he is sleeping in a certain position and is in really deep sleep. Whenever we notice a little pee on the blankets we just wash them right away.

What is Monty’s personality like? Is he different from other cats because of his chromosomal abnormality?

Monty is a very gentle cat and his personality reflects that of course. He will share his love with every human being, and dogs as well, but over the years he has become so close with especially me (Michael, his dad) and if he sees me cuddle another cat, he will hiss at it and tell me who I belong to. In the rare cases that Monty gets nervous (if, for instance, someone in my family picks him up and it’s a month since he has seen the person), he’ll let us know with a simple meow and never his claws. Even though he’s gentle, Monty has a really strong personality! If he wants something he will scream until we get it and do what he wants. He gets those weird ideas sometimes… Suddenly he wants to get up on the closet. There is nothing there, but he just wants to and it has to be NOW! Then he will meow until I lift him up. It can also be a shelf in a closet or something else really high up. A few minutes later, he will meow really loudly because he wants down and then I help him down. He will come to my hand so I can reach him and he trusts completely that I will not drop him.
And then there’s the cuddling. When Monty wants to cuddle he will start purring like any other cat, but he will also get a really big puffy tail and then start the screaming/meowing until we cuddle with him. He will also show us where he wants to cuddle. Most likely the bed! Then he will meow a lot until we give up what we are doing and follow him. He will then show us the bed and we have to lay in it. We can’t just sit, otherwise he will continue the loud meowing because maybe he knows that we are on our way up again. If we lay down we will probably stay a little longer. He’s a clever boy!
We often descibe Monty as a “forever kitten”. He’s always happy, has no fear, and he is extremely closely bonded with us.

The story about our little Monty Boy

On August 30th, 2013 we adopted little three-year-old Monty Boy from an animal shelter. The previous owner had too many cats and were forced to put some of them up for adoption, one of them being Monty.

The first time we met Monty, there were no doubts in our minds that he was going to come live with us. His special appearance makes him look so incredibly cute, but his personality, which he showed from the very beginning, is rare as a diamond! Monty shared a room with some of the other cats from the animal shelter and even though a few of them acted a little aggressive and lashed out at him, Monty continued to lie calmly and quietly, uneager to pick a fight.

Monty for the first time in Michael’s arms
Monty at the shelter

Monty’s been living with us for almost three years now and we have to admit that it hasn’t always been easy.

We have been through a lot with the little guy due to some problems caused by his innate chromosome abnormalities. Monty was born with a sunken nasal bridge (the bone in the nose) which affects him now and then and makes him sneeze a bit. His breathing is just fine like a normal cat. Due to his chromosome abnormalities his bladder something leaks a bit in his sleep. It is not a problem to us though—Monty is born this way; he can’t help it and luckily it’s just a few drops and it’s not every day. Whenever we notice a little pee on the blankets we just wash them right away.

As said before, Monty is a very gentle cat and his personality reflects that of course. He will share his love with every human being, and dogs as well, but over the years he has become so close with especially me (Michael, his dad) and if he sees me cuddle another cat, he will hiss at it and tell me who I belong to. If Monty in rare cases gets nervous (if, for instance, someone in my family picks him up and it’s a month since he has seen the person), he’ll let us know with a simple meow and never his claws. Monty has a really strong personality! If he wants something he will scream until we get it and do what he wants. He gets those weird ideas sometimes… Suddenly he wants to get up on the closet. There is nothing there, but he just wants to and it has to be NOW! Then he will meow until I lift him up. It can also be a shelves in a closet or something else really high up. A few minutes later, he will meow really loudly because he wants down and then I lift him down. He will come to my hand so I can reach him and he trusts me completely that I will not drop him. And then there’s the cuddling. When Monty wants to cuddle he will start purring like any other cat, but he will also get a really big puffy tail and then start the screaming/meowing until we cuddle with him. He will also show us where he wants to cuddle. Most likely the bed! Then he will meow a lot until we give up what we are doing and follow him. He will then show us the bed and we have to lay in it. We can’t just sit, otherwise he will continue the loud meowing because maybe he knows that we are on our way up again. If we lay down we will probably stay a little longer. He’s a clever boy!

At night he’ll keep us company, not leaving our side until we wake up. He always lays between my legs on top of my blanket. That’s just the way things have to be according to Monty. If it’s really hot in the summertime and I want to sleep without the blanket or with a really thin one, he will not accept it and that means; no sleep until he has his blanket to lay on and I’m sweating like crazy but I’ll do everthing for my boy. Mikala gets a real kick out of it because she can sleep however she wants.

We wish for Monty to be an ambassador for special needs animals that may not look perfect in everyone’s eyes! We also want to raise attention to the fact that looking different doesn’t mean you can’t be fantastic. And we believe that our sweet little Monty Boy is a perfect example to just that and in every way is FANTASTIC!

Forever loved

When will we get human kids?

“Will Monty have a human sibling?”

I cannot count how many times Michael and I (Mikala) have been asked that question, so I thought it was time to make a blog post about it, to address the issue once and for all.

I know that we are not obligated to answer every question, but because we feel that we are a part of this amazing supportive community, we would like to be honest and answer the best we can.

Let me start by saying; I am not pregnant! 😉

Michael and I met each other when we were 22 and 28. Guess who’s the oldest… me, Mikala! Back then, many of our friends started to have human babies. We had the “baby conversation” really early in our relationship and we both felt the same way: we were not interested in having any human kids, at least not in the next 5 years!
Six years have passed and here we are today with the same feelings, we don’t really have this burning desire to have a human baby. Of course it has something to do with Monty giving us the chance to be parents, pouring our love out on him every single day, from washing the blankets when he has peed in his sleep (due to his chromosomal abnormality), to giving him his epilepsy medicine, to caring for him in general. But for me, it also has something to do with my ongoing struggle with anxiety, which is most difficult when I’m stressed and under pressure. I can handle it right now by being mindful of my emotions and feeling them and not hiding them, but I know from seeing the changes in my friends’ lives after having babies, that it is not just easy-peasy-pampers-commercially-cute. It is hard work being a parent to a human baby and I don’t want to struggle even more with anxiety while having a baby I don’t really have a burning desire to have in the first place. I hope you understand that I’m not saying that you can’t have human kids when you have anxiety, but we are all different and for me it’s just one of the many reasons why I don’t want to have human kids.
Then there is the fact that Michael and I are working all the time! We love what we do every day in the Monty company but we already wish we had more hours in the day—or that we could just skip sleeping! 😉 Adding a human baby to the Monty family would just be too much for us. Our passion is really with animals and especially helping cats in need and changing the way many people look at special needs cats. Our dream is to travel the world and tell everyone about Monty and how he has changed our lives and spread the message that you don’t have to look perfect to be amazing—and that goes for cats and humans!

Maybe someday we will feel different, but honestly we don’t really have that much time to change our minds. I am now 34 and Michael is 28, and it won’t get any easier to get pregnant with age, but it seems like we will be happy without having a human baby. However, we would love to adopt a non-human sibling for Monty! But that is a whole other blog post right there! 😉

Mikala: “My life with Anxiety”

Hi, I am Mikala and I am Monty’s mom.
As the other half of Monty’s happy universe, I’m usually the one behind the camera filming Michael and Monty doing what they do best!

As some of you may know, I suffer from anxiety. While writing this it strikes me that the word “suffer” may not be the appropriate word for me to use, because there are so many people in the world suffering from hunger and not even knowing when their next meal will be, but when I am having a panic attack it feels in my body and my mind, like I am suffering. I cannot even begin to tell you how grateful I am for the life I have. I get to eat every day, I have a home, I am going to school, I have a family and I have good friends both online and IRL.
But even though I have what I would call a good life from the outside, in my head I am often surrounded by chaos and these annoying thoughts that is my anxiety. I have what is called OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and general anxiety. I am terrified of many things such as getting seriously sick, my loved ones getting sick, and then there are all these annoying anxiety thoughts in my head telling me what to do to avoid fear. I feel relief when I wash my hands and I feel the anxiety build in my body and mind when I can’t wash my hands when I feel like it. I don’t mind saying hello to people and giving them a handshake, I don’t mind kissing and stroking Monty or any other animal, but I am very afraid of touching something that will cause an allergic reaction in me.
My anxiety about getting seriously sick probably started when I lost my dad to cancer when I was 10 years old. He had been declared cancer free three times but each time the cancer had actually spread, and the doctors were wrong. He was in and out of the hospital for two years and even though I can’t remember that much from that time, I can remember visiting him at the hospital, eating chocolate, and being terrified without telling anyone.
My little brother was born with autism and when my dad passed away, my mom was alone with me and my brother who needed extra care.
I can’t remember when my OCD started but I can remember when my dad passed away I was terrified that my mom would get cancer too. That was when my anxiety about my loved ones getting sick started. I have a strong perfume allergy and because of this I have had some outbreaks of allergic reactions from time to time. The worst was when I discovered that I am also highly allergic to aloe vera. I got a terrible reaction in my eyes when I was 24 years old, and I was so terrified of going blind. I was of course nowhere near going blind, but anxiety doesn’t listen to reason. I had so many panic attacks and that’s really when it hit me, I couldn’t live this way anymore. I was constantly afraid of touching things that could give me allergic reactions and I was avoiding everything in my life! The only place I felt safe was in my bed with my beloved cat Mickey.

Why am I telling you all this?
Well, because it is very important for me to tell you, that if you are battling with anxiety you are NOT alone! You are NOT the only one and you are NOT weird! You are a human being and so many people have the same feelings as you have right now! I have spent so many (too many, really) of my years trying to hide how I felt instead of acknowledging my feelings and that it was okay to feel this way and also that it is more than okay to want help!

I got help in therapy and when I met Michael six years ago I was in a good place. I am still battling (sometimes daily) with these annoying feelings of panic, but I am trying to work against them and do the things I am terrified of! I found it very helpful for me to acknowledge my feelings when I feel anxiety and then try to do what my anxiety tells me not to do… unless it’s something that I actually should be afraid of like bungee jumping ‘cause I would never not be scared of that anyway! 😉 But this way I try to challenge my anxiety and when I have success and manage to do the things I am afraid of, I feel that I have won! The more I do it, the less afraid I will be, and in time that specific thing does not give me anxiety or panic anymore. This sounds way easier than it actually is. It takes time but for me it has worked very well!

I just turned 34 and because I have spent many years battling with anxiety I have not managed to get higher education. I still sometimes feel embarrassed when I tell people that I am finishing general studies this summer as a 34 year old. That is typically something you do when you are 24! But you know what? I shouldn’t care about what other people think! I should be proud of myself just like YOU should be proud of yourself! I know that it’s easier said than done! I have days where I feel embarrassed and just weird and like I’m the only one feeling this way and thinking these weird and stupid anxiety thoughts! Do you know that feeling of being the only one feeling this way? But what we all really should do is try and focus on the good things in ourselves! If you are battling with something in your life and you also sometimes feel weird, alone with your thoughts, and you feel like you don’t belong anywhere and that you haven’t reached your goals you set for yourself when you were young, STOP THAT! Just take a moment and try to STOP these thoughts right this second you are reading this! And tell ME what you are proud of about yourself! What do you love about yourself?
It can be everything from you have a smile that lightens up the room, you have nice hands, to that you are a good friend, you are the best mom or dad in the world for your kids (with or without fur).

I will start telling you what I am proud of about myself and then I need you to tell me what you are proud of about yourself in the comments, okay?
I am proud of my big smile, and even my big teeth! I am proud of how I have overcome some very difficult obstacles in my life. I am proud of how I am as a mom to Monty and how I do everything I can to make him happy. And then I am proud of being a part of this wonderful Monty Happiness community that we have all created together. I’m proud that every day we do what we can to make people smile and help cats in need.

Now it is your turn! Tell me what you are proud of about yourself. I will read each one of your comments and if you have made it this far in the text; thank you so much! This means the world to me, that you wanted to listen to me.

All the best to you from me, Mikala

What to do if your Instagram account gets hacked and hijacked!

The story of what happened to us and how we got our account back:

November 23rd, 2017, our Instagram account got hijacked! We couldn’t get access to the account because the hijackers had changed the email, password, and everything!

We found out about the hack while we were live on Monty’s Facebook early that morning in the garden. We suddenly got logged off Facebook and I (Mikala) got a message saying that someone logged into my account and Facebook was asking if it was me. I panicked and pressed “No this wasn’t me” and then I had control again. I rushed to my computer to see if the admins for Monty’s Facebook page had changed, and they had! Someone we didn’t know was suddenly an admin but I was also still admin, so I took the person off right away and banned him! I rushed to log in to our Instagram and my heart sank. I literally screamed! The only thing that was there was an empty account that said in the bio “This account has been wiped”! It had NOTHING! No pics, no friends, no NOTHING! We panicked and Michael started to check our email addresses. Because we were super fast finding out about the hack (since we were live at the time), Michael managed to gain control over one of the hacked email accounts they had used to make a new Instagram account that they had been smart enough to call our original Instagram name. They wanted us to believe that our account had been wiped and we believed them!

How did we get our account back?

We tried EVERYTHING we could possibly think of and find on google! That one email address Michael managed to get control over was the reason we got back in!
After two days of searching everywhere for 48 hours straight with not much food or any sleep, we thought we had tried everything. Suddenly, out of the blue, Michael found an email that contained a link to undo the changes the hackers had made when they changed email. We literally froze because this was just too good to be true! He pressed that button and a window from Instagram popped up saying that the old email was changed back and asking if we wanted to change the password! I have never seen Michael shake like he did when he typed in a new password and BANG we were back in!
We put the two-way security on and sat for a long time just looked at each other like we couldn’t believe it! But that was it! We were back in and Monty’s happy universe with all our friends was back!

That was the good news, but sadly all of our happy content was deleted by the hackers and all the people we had followed were unfollowed. Then a crazy thing happened again! The hackers had also hijacked our website and PayPal and it was the day before Black Friday so their plan was to harvest the income from that day on Monty’s website. So while we tried to get back into Monty’s Instagram account we also tried everything we could to get our website back and YOU folks did that for us! It was a holiday and our domain host was on vacation but you amazing people spammed their Facebook with so many messages and comments about us needing help that we suddenly got a call all the way from Israel asking if we were the owners of the website and then we got it back easily and they kindly asked us to tell our fans to stop spamming them! 😛
PayPal gave us control again and the income that had been stolen. It was not much because we had told all you NOT to buy anything and luckily we had an Etsy page so we referred to that. All the orders were shipped out and everyone got their packages and we managed to collect a great portion of money for shelter cats.

With that whole crazy story in mind, here is our advice to everyone that has been hacked on Instagram and/or Facebook:

First step is to:

  1. Check if you have access to the email that is connected to your hacked account.
  2. If so, look for an email stating that you have changed email and if you haven’t you can click a link to revert (but hurry because the hackers get an email the second you change it back and if you aren’t fast enough typing in your new password they can get it back again! And remember to type a password that you have NEVER used before and write it down FAST so you can remember!)
  3. If you can’t access your email, hurry and call your email provider to report the hack and regain control as soon as possible.
  4. File a report to Instagram/Facebook! For that you need to know which email address you made your hacked account with. Then you can file a report and you should be able to get it back. You need to know if the hackers wiped your account completely, or—most likely—hijacked and wiped it for your content but not followers.
  5. Check if your account is still on Instagram/Facebook by asking a friend to look at it with their own profile. Ask someone who followed your account if they can see an account they follow that they don’t know. If that account has no pictures but the number of followers you had or your pictures are still there, IT’S YOURS!

Next you need to do whatever you can to find EVERY email address you can to Instagram and Facebook (Instagram is owned by Facebook).

We also contacted “Teneo Blue Rubicon” who got the message to Instagram from us.

When you have filed the report to Instagram/Facebook, don’t just sit and wait! Do all the other steps and contact a company like Teneo Blue Rubicon and ask them for help. Use your network and don’t give up!

If you got your Instagram account back, remember to set the two-factor authentication on and remember that you can only have ONE phone number connected to one account! If you use your phone number to secure another Instagram account your first account is not safe anymore because the two-factor authentication will automaticly be off.

This may sound weird that we freaked out about almost losing our Instagram account but for us it’s a big part of our life! We have met most of our best friends from Instagram and we are using Monty’s Happy universe on Instagram to spread happiness and awareness and that means a lot to us.

If you have other advice on what to do if someone gets their account hacked or hijacked, please write it in the comments and we will update the list!