Sick Cat Blues

So at the weekend we had to take our cat Maya to the vets.

She’s classed as a regular ‘domestic short hair’, or DSH, as the vets like their shorthand, but is properly fluffy when her fur has fully grown in over the winter, so the whole short-haired thing is a bit of a stretch at times. Consequently she suffers a lot with furballs, despite our best efforts to feed her furball preventatives and brush her at the times of the year where she’s shedding. The upshot of all this is that we didn’t think too much of it when we threw up a couple of times over the past week – both times she produced a good wad of fur and evidently felt better afterwards.

However, in the early hours of Saturday morning she woke us up by vomiting almost constantly – and this time there were no furballs. She cried for her breakfast in the usual way once we got up, so we fed her – only for her to upchuck it in particularly spectacular fashion. By this time she was visibly not herself, so finally we decided to take her to the vets. We loaded her into her cat carrier – never a straightforward task, she’s hated the vet ever since they stuck a thermometer up her bum a while back (can’t say as I blame her, to be fair) – and were down at the vet’s in no time.

We saw the senior vet who gave her a good once over, squeezing her underside as gently as he could in order to see if there was an obvious blockage or suchlike that could be causing the problem. Finding nothing obvious, he thought it might be a good idea to take her in overnight, for a closer examination, a blood test to eliminate any more serious issues and possibly an X-ray. Maya has not stayed away from our flat overnight since she was speyed nearly 11 years ago, so it was with mixed feelings that we left her there: relieved that she was being taken good care of, but sad that it was necessary, knowing that she would be scared, being away from home.

Saturday passed very slowly, and we found it very difficult to focus on anything. Maya’s been part of our lives since 2006, a constant fixture at Hippy Towers to the delight and occasional consternation of all our friends and visitors. It’s incredible just how much you can miss the presence of your four-legged friend when you’re used to seeing them wherever you turn. Sunday morning was similarly difficult, so we were relieved when the vets rang just before mid-day with an update, and a request to come and collect her.

An hour later, she was handed over to us. Apparently she had been completely withdrawn whilst she was at the vets, retreating into her carrier and hiding from everyone, refusing to eat or drink – the vet felt that she could only do better at home. A diagnosis of likely pancreatitis was given – inflammation of the digestive system that led to pain, nausea and problems with digestion. No blockage was discovered, which was a relief – given her history of furballs, I was pleased to have this discounted – but she did seem swollen and tender around the area where her digestive organs were located. The blood test they had given her turned up nothing sinister, so pancreatitis – a common problem, especially for indoor cats like Maya, it seems – seemed a logical conclusion. The vet gave us an antacid treatment to give her every 8 hours or so and booked an appointment for this coming Wednesday, to bring her back in and give him an update. We were also told to feed her small amounts of mostly moist food (as opposed to biscuits), as it is gentler on the digestive system.

It was incredible how much she perked up when she realized she was home. As we took her carrier out of the car she moved to the front so she could see out more easily, and her eyes widened as she took everything in. She was out of the carrier like a shot once we were inside, and within minutes was gobbling down a few lumps of chicken that the vet had put into her carrier but she had steadfastly refused to eat whilst away from home. However, the extended period hiding in her carrier and the pain from the pancreatitis meant that she was moving very stiffly and couldn’t walk very far without flopping over and lying still, clearly very uncomfortable. To say we were worried and dismayed is an understatement. More so after Steen had researched the medicine the vet had given us and discovered that it frequently made cats foam at the mouth for a few minutes after it had been administered. Sure enough, when we gave her her first dose a few hours later, she foamed mightily at the mouth, and were torn between horror and laughter as we pursued her so we could wipe her down. She ate very little for the remainder of the day, eating a tiny amount of moist food at bedtime.

Today when we woke up and started to get ready for work, Maya still seemed stiff in her movements despite spending most of the night in her large cat bed, and didn’t seem to have any interest in food. We gave her morning dose of medicine (foam, foam, foam) and somewhat reluctantly, left for work – after leaving her a few thin slices of chicken and some moist food for breakfast/lunch.

When Steen got home today, the chicken and most of the moist food had vanished, and Maya seemed more herself, and it does seem like there is some improvement. She’s moving less stiffly, although she still finds it difficult to lie down or curl up for any length of time without fidgeting – she’s clearly having trouble getting comfortable. But a small amount of moist food disappeared at dinner time, and she’s currently splitting her time between lying on my computer desk next to me, and on the back of the sofa under the front window – not sleeping, but definitely at least resting. So whilst she’s not out of the woods yet or back to normal, we’re somewhat relieved to see some improvement. Hopefully this trend will continue over the next few days – even if she does hate that damn medicine.

What a time, though. We’ve both been beside ourselves with worry; unable to focus on anything and generally just not functioning properly. The kind of people who come out with things like “oh, don’t be melodramatic, it’s just a cat” just Don’t Get It at all. She’s our best girl.

Man, I really hope things are on the upswing for her now. Poor love.

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