Coming up on the second anniversary of this blog, I have been in absentia for about a month, posting only occasionally during a time of great political turmoil between current events around the world, and in our domestic affairs, such as the grand juries refusing to indict the police who shot dead Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, as well as this most recent passage of a $1 Trillion Budget by both Houses of Congress during a lame duck session, authorizing the funding of the government until September 2015, thereby tying the hands of the incoming Republicans who become majorities in both Houses of Congress. So, where have I been?
Ah… Many of you know that my brother took his own life September 1, 2014 and I was his Executrix, so I was busy with his affairs. He was laid to rest in Hawaii by his own wish and we held a Memorial for him in November. When I got home, I just sort of crashed and burned, exhausted by not just my brother, but an incredibly eventful and stressful year. Have you ever been so busy with stressful stuff that it isn’t until it is over that you realize just how exhausted you are? That’s my modus operandi. Get it all done and then you can collapse. I ate and slept and watched TV, hours and hours of silliness and suspense and, of course, the news.
Saturday, just when I thought, “Okay, enough. Time to pay bills and write a post or two,” Elby, That Cat! started behaving oddly.
Friday/Saturday at 1:30 a.m., he was in his litter box for at least 10 minutes, very odd behavior. By Saturday a.m., he was all over the house, trying to pee here, there, anywhere he came to a rest, his tail raised. Anyone who has a cat understands this is bizarre behavior. I called his vet and they were back-to-back in appointments. The earliest was 7:00 p.m. and his usual vet was off for the weekend. By the afternoon, Elby, That Cat!’s behavior had worsened. He would moan deep in his throat, laying on his side and groaning. Worse, he went under the king-sized bed and was hiding. I called the vet and said I was bringing Elby in. He’d come out and I wasn’t taking any chances he’d go back under. …. I snagged Elby, who was not pleased, and drove him to the Vet’s. Elby climbed onto my lap and huddled, trembling under my hand. On the drive to the vet, all I could think was, “Please, God, not another death.” We went in and I handed him over, thinking I’d be back to pick him up shortly. They were slammed, so I was surprised to get a call as I walked into my house, before I could even get my jacket off.
The vet stated that Elby was in serious condition, his urethra (ability to pee) was blocked. Elby was unable to pee. Turns out this is very common in tomcats. I’ve always had female cats until Elby. The good news was I had caught it early, but he needed a procedure immediately that could run from $700-$1,500…. If we didn’t do it, Elby would die. I was so thankful that I had the credit available on my credit cards to authorize the procedure. The vet wanted to send Elby to a facility that had 24 hour care, but I didn’t know them and he thought Elby would be okay once he’d had the procedure to spend the night there, even though there would be no one supervising him. However, it turned out it was more difficult than anticipated, taking 40 minutes vs. the 20 minutes he’d thought and he felt Elby would be better off under observation. I asked if it would be okay if I brought him home and observed him myself. “You’d have to be able to handle any problem with his catheter.” “What is the worst that would happen if Elby was to stay overnight without anyone observing him?” “He could die. He could knock out his catheter. He could block again and (implode? explode?).” “Oh.” Elby was transferred to the 24 hour emergency vet facility. He stayed there until Monday early evening. The total bill for Elby between the two facilities was $1,600. He is to be on a prescription cat food for the rest of his life.
Here’s the deal. While having a high success rate, it was also made very clear that Elby could become blocked again and multiple times. The fallback is to replumb Elby, turning Elby into a girl, as one male vet put it. After that, he would be prone to urinary tract infections, but those are easier to cure and far less expensive. The vet had asked what I wanted if Elby became blocked during the night. Did I want to receive a phone call or would I like to authorize a repeat of his procedure? “I will authorize turning Elby into a girl and only authorize that. There is just enough credit left on the card for one more time and then it is “Bye-bye Elby.”
They brought Elby out in this gigantic crate on loan from my vets. The vet’s assistant explained that Elby had had an “accident” and had needed a bath, which is why it had taken so long to bring him out. I stooped down and looked in on Elby, who was as far back in the crate as he could get. His normal bright blue eyes were huge pools of dark pupils, his back fur and legs all wet and spiky. He hadn’t eaten in three days. He was pitiful. I crooned softly to him. He looked as though he thought he was hallucinating. After years passed with me softly talking to him, Elby finally emitted a soft cry, which loosely translated to: “Get me the hell out of here, Mama!”
Elby barely spoke on the way home. I made him wait a moment in the car so that I could get the front door open and feed Ella, trotting back to the car and opening the back car door. I tinkered with the door, figuring the latch out. Elby came up to the door, urging me on. I got it open and scooped him into my arms. He was lighter than three days before, poor little 14 lb. guy. We came through the front door and Ella was right there. Elby wanted down immediately. He sort of leapt and tumbled out of my arms and Ella was right there to check him out, following Elby as he trod through his domain, reestablishing his presence, checking that all was as he remembered it, stopping to bathe every few minutes to return his fur to its usual elegance. Touchingly, what he wanted most was love and affection from me, weaving around my ankles, butting my legs, needing my strokes and voice to tell him he was home, safe and sound.
I opened up a can of the new food – it would be Elby’s first wet food ever. I divided it into quarters and started him with about a third, so he wouldn’t gorge – making this up as I went along. Elby leapt up on the table – we have to keep his food up high because Ella can reach just about anywhere she wants to explore – and, after cautiously sniffing it, he put out a careful tongue and took a taste, much like a kid with vegetables. He rolled it around on his tongue, swallowed, and then he dive-bombed it, burying his head into the small dish, wolfing the food down. Over the course of the evening, I gave him small amounts and he became wholly enthusiastic, appearing in the kitchen at the sound of the refrigerator door opening, planting his front paws on the breadboard, standing on his back paws to watch me put some in his dish.
I’d come home with five medications for Elby – three plunger “shot-like” liquids and two pills, all of which was to be given twice a day, every 12 hours. At midnight, I suddenly remembered his meds. They’d suggested the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., but noted I could adjust to my schedule. I was instructed to put the plunger-style-shot inside Elby’s mouth, between cheek and tongue and empty the contents …. Yeah, right. Do that three times and chase it by giving him two pills. Uh-huh. Elby refused to cooperate – strongly.
I sat on the floor with him and tried a new tactic. “Elby, honey, you have medication that you need.” I shook the bag, rattling the five meds. Elby wanted to look inside, so we examined each bottle, laying ’em all out like toy soldiers. I took the first one and squirted a bit of the contents into my hand, holding it out to Elby, who was watching me carefully. He sniffed it and lapped my palm delicately. Hmmmm. I squirted the rest in my palm and he again lapped and finished the med. We went through the liquids and he sipped them all down from my palm. I took the two pills into the kitchen and opened them, mixing them into another small portion of his wet food. Like a trooper, Elby chomped it all down.
The next day, I gave him a small amount of his wet food at our usual time and then at noon, I put all his meds at once onto his wet food portion, mixed it up and put it on the table. Elby, who insists on having his kibble fed to him by hand, jumped up and instantly started chomping down without any assistance from me. Y.E.S.
He’s been home for three evenings – Monday, Tuesday and today, Wednesday. So far, so good. He seems to be doing well. He’s up on his Penthouse, cozily and sleepily escounced, eyes half-closed.