I meant to check in sooner but have immersed myself in an endeavor which will keep me busy through the weekend.  Earlier tonight I returned home, sat at desk with bowl of Cheerios, saw my cat Santoro gallop through the air like winged cavalry. He seemed to be chasing a bug. A moment later I turned to see him on my bed foaming at the mouth. copious amounts of white liquid pouring over his chin and chest. I ran to him, he ran under the bed. Finally I reached him, grabbed a towel to mop fluid off face and body. He smelled like peppermint. Terrified by surreal episode I found name of 24 hour emergency clinic whose receptionist immediately suggested that I bring him in. Too scared to cry I prayed in the car, holding one hand on steering wheel and other on top of Santoro’s carrying case. Even his distressed meows sounded weak and unrecognizable. Then he went silent. Staring out windshield I used right hand to unzip carrier, stroked soft fur til Santoro popped out like Houdini and tried to escape. Relieved by his resilience I wrestled him back into case.

To make long story short emergency vet thinks Santoro ingested something, possibly a bug, which made him temporarily ill. All his vital signs looked good. Vet gave him subcutaneous fluids, anti-nausea medication, and suggested that I feed him a small amount of food at 1am to see how he handled it. She had no explanation for the peppermint smell of substance which had emitted from Santoro’s mouth. As we motored home I noticed a neon shamrock winking in the distance. Upon approach Irish tavern looked half empty. I felt like sitting down at the bar and putting Santoro on the stool next to me but we kept driving. Several hours after arriving home Santoro hungrily ate some food and now seems perfectly fine. So grateful.

Btw.. whilst waiting for 1am I took the opportunity to Google “insect that smells like peppermint”. Before you decide I’m crazy check this out. Too tired to think more about it now  but I will return in 2 hours to ponder issue, move car out of 4am street cleaning zone, and answer post comments which have accumulated in past week. Hope everyone is well. Good night!


XO Tanya



10 thoughts on “Peppermint??”

  1. Hi Tanya!
    So sorry to hear about Santoro’s episode. You’ve certainly had your fair share of tense filled moments lately. I’m glad to hear that he seems to be doing better.

    I recall from my entomology classes that a type insect generally known as a stink bug or assassin bug could be a potential culprit. I believe California has a conifer seed bug that is common. They generally stink, hence the label, but they can have other smells as well. Possibly depending on diet, but i’m not sure.

    Is there any chance he coincidently came in contact with peppermint essential oil somehow? Your story peaked my interest and found this note that sounds a little similar

    My old friend Mr Bojangles was a catnip fiend and was very partial to other mints as well. The only time he would go close to the kitchen waste bin would be after I threw out a mint tea bag, or even mint leaves from a Mojito. Fortunately he never had a reaction like Santoro, which was very scary. This article also highlights the mint sensitivity of our feline friends

    Not sure if any of this blather helps. I’m just glad you’re both Ok 🙂

    Hope the rest of your week goes well,

    1. Thanks so much for links, Don. I scoured my place and found no evidence of mint anything after returning from vet. Interestingly, bed still smelled strongly of mint where episode occurred. My friend is dating a wildlife biologist who confirmed that a peppermint stick insect could have caused Santo to start foaming mint. Evidently these insects are native to Australia but some people (mostly kids?) keep them as pets here in the US so they are around. According to Wikipedia peppermint stick insect (AKA Megacrania Batesii) “emits a fine spray of a milky substance with a smell resembling peppermint” to ward off predators. Lol.. this has all the makings of a superheroine series, even the name “Megacrania” sounds like a dangerously intelligent protagonist. Who has the power to spray her enemies with temporarily debilitating peppermint mist 😉 XOXO

  2. Dear Tanya

    As usual, your telling of the tale is a delight in its own right, irrespective of the calamity befalling.
    I hope your gato is all alright.
    The event made me think of this song by my friends Kev and Jimmy and their band from Austin: The Gourds.
    A bit of a dark narrative, but perhaps putting Santoro’s thoughts to music…

    All my best to the two of you.


    1. Hi Mingori,

      Santoro is doing great. Thank you for the well wishes. My friend is dating a wildlife biologist who confirmed that Santo could very well have captured a peppermint stick insect. They are native to Australia, I believe, but some people keep them in the US as pets.

      Love “Peppermint City” and The Gourds!! So awesome. How long has the band been together?


      1. Dear Tanya

        Glad you could get diggity with the Gourds. An eclectic pleasure for sure. I met Kev and Jimmy shortly after I moved to Austin in the, uh, mid ’90s. Remember those days?

        I thought then that they were some of the best writers in the country, and still do. And you know I am a sucker for good writing….yours for instance.

        “Music for the unwashed and well-read” is what they called it. They are on to independent things now but maybe were together for 15+ years. An eternity in terms of creative collaborations, I think. Like you and Francesca and Goldie, maybe?

        I still see those guys now and then. We’re all more well-washed, though (and hopefully still reading!)

        Peppermint Stick insect pets? You know me as a gullible guy, right?


        1. Hi Mingori,

          Thanks again for turning me on to the Gourds. Music is indeed awesome, especially the lyrics. And thank you also for your sweet compliment. People really do keep peppermint stick insects as pets (evidence on YouTube) but I don’t want to link to any regular civilian’s YouTube channel from an adult site 😉


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