I Love Our Vet

Two weeks ago, while my parents were in town, our cat Zora got terribly sick. She stopped eating, and - more distressing - she stopped drinking. She also commenced puking all over the place, at least four or five times a day.

We noticed the puke on a Friday, but it took us a little while to figure out which cat it was - all we saw was the puke, not the actual, er, process of its production. Since our cats also don't have a set dinner time, but just graze from their food bowls whenever they're hungry, we didn't initially realize she'd stopped eating and drinking. On Saturday, though, I saw her retch, and she didn't seem her usual self. We'd attributed her odd behavior to my parents' presence in the house, but when she didn't even want to eat her favorite canned food (Sliced! With Beef! which always distresses me, as it isn't "sliced beef," it's "sliced, with beef") we knew we needed to be worried.

That was Sunday. Monday morning I had a meeting I couldn't reschedule, and then had to teach class, but the vet gave us an afternoon appointment. I must've called the vet three times after I scheduled it, because I was getting progressively more and more worried and wanted to bring her in as soon as possible.

Tista, on the other hand, loves when there are new people in the house...

The poor girl didn't even struggle when we put her in the carrier. Usually she hates it and you have to stuff her in. It was really depressing.

The vet examined her, poked and prodded and took fluids, and decided that he needed to keep her for observation. We might be able to take her home later, but he couldn't immediately identify what was wrong, and she clearly needed fluids administered, so I had to leave her there.

I suddenly appreciated how parents feel when their kid goes to a sleepover for the first time. I'd never spent a night in the house without Zora there, and even if she didn't sleep with us every night, I knew she was there. Lately, she'd gotten in the habit of going to bed with me, sometimes sitting on a box at the head of the bed, keeping watch over me as I slept. (She's always taken her role as the family protector very seriously!) Not having her there just felt so wrong. The neighborhood cats could just walk up to our house and no one was going to hiss at them or bonk her head on the window trying to get at them.

This is how our neighborhood cats usually see Zora - behind the screen, ever watchful.

Later that evening the vet called to let us know how she was. She'd taken fluids, and they'd run some tests, and it looked like pancreatitis - which he'd suspected. He'd given her some shots, and he wanted to let us know that she was a real good girl about it. "She's a real sweet girl," he said. "Oh, she'll cuss you out good, but she's a real sweet girl." Moments like that, I love living in Texas. And I really love our vet. He told me every single result from every single test he gave her, even though most of them meant nothing to me, and because they meant nothing to me, he explained all the results, too. I spent about twenty minutes on the phone with him, when really all he was calling to say was, "She's probably got pancreatitis, and we're worried about her glucose levels too." (He's the kind of vet who can give cats shots without them noticing, so I loved him before this, too.)

The next day, I paced the house and tried really hard not to call the vet to see how she was. I finally broke down around 11:30, and talked to the vet again. She was doing much better, we'd need to give her medication, but she could go home that afternoon.

When she came home, she'd had her little ruff under her chin shaved, and was wobbly on her feet; but she was so happy to be home. She sat on my lap, she purred at the hairbrush, she sat in her favorite spot and looked out at the world.

Here she is, with her shaved neck.

She also tried to say hello to her brother Tista. Her brother, unfortunately, smelled vet all over her, and hissed at her for her troubles. Every time he came close to her he was pretty confused, because she looked like his sister, and walked like his sister, and sounded like his sister, but she smelled like a whole slew of strange cats, and probably dogs too. So he'd sniff her, and then hiss and look aggressive. She was confused, too, because, well, what the hell? (We found the solution here, and it worked well.)

Zora kept on getting better - we could tell because as she improved, she'd fight back more and more when we tried to give her the medication. She finished her antibiotics last week (pediatric-formula, bubblegum flavored penicillin…) and her vitamins (cat-formula, thus beef-flavored!) this week, and has gone back to eating solid food, although she tries to insist that really, she can only handle Sliced right now.

She goes back in a few weeks for a checkup and a follow-up on those glucose levels, and the one thing that Tista's behavior ensured is that he'll be coming right along to the vet with her, so he smells just as funny as she does when they get home.

Today I was reading on the couch, and Tista came up to sit on my lap, and then Zora came up and sat on Tista, and he just stretched and yawned and went back to sleeping. We all three sat there, piled on the couch, and if it hadn't been a weekend, I probably would've called our vet and told him that I love him. But it was a Saturday, so instead, I wrote this.

There she is, much happier now, and probably dreaming of Sliced.

Yeah, I know. It's not the most exciting entry I've ever written. But that's ok, because Zora's ok, and that's what really counts.

16. May 2004


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