Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hissy Fit

Sunday morning we noticed something was missing.  It was the sound of claws pattering across linoleum and insistent squeaks as I poured myself my first cup of joe.  The cat was not following routine.  Her food from yesterday sat in her dish, uneaten. 

I left for my run, driven by denial but taking my phone along, as I feared what husband and daughters would find while I was gone.  Though she doesn't look it, Koshka is old.  Almost fourteen. 

Armed with flashlights, bait, and determination, my search-and-rescue team found our angry hunger-striking feline under the wardrobe in our bedroom.  When I got home and peered beneath the armoire, she hissed at me.  She's not the friendliest cat, but something wasn't right. 

I eschewed analysis and went straight to action, sensing that our little family needed to err on the side of caution as it relates to mortality of loved ones right now.  I borrowed a cat carrier from a friend, managed to wrestle the cat inside, and headed off to the money pit emergency vet. 

"Make sure she doesn't die," admonished Big Sis as I drove away. 

The vets were kind and knowledgeable. Koshka was probably dehydrated.  She might have pancreatitis.  She could have heart failure.  Perhaps she was constipated.  They would check her, both inside and out.  For an extra $300 I could get blood work results back in an hour.  I went for immediate IV fluids and slow lab analysis.  The vet promised to return shortly with an estimate. 

Alone in the exam room adorned with photo tributes to passed pets, I prepared myself.  A thousand bucks, I thought.  I'll plan on a thousand, so the $500 they come back with won't sound bad.  I gulped, and waited.

Thirteen hundred dollars would be the known amount, I was informed, with an upper end of four hundred smacks more, depending, you know, on possible other stuff*.  I signed on the line, doing the math in my head that our up-till-now healthy cat was really only costing us a hundred dollars per year of her life.  Worth it, I sighed, and headed home, trying not to equate that amount with mortgage payments, plane tickets, and the cost of replacing our broken clothes dryer. 

But you can't quantify how badly you want your pets to live forever. 

We missed our cat all day.  So we went back for a visit in the afternoon, as we were invited to do.  "Ahh, yes, Koshka..." The woman at the front desk raised her eyebrows.  "She's not being very nice to us."

They took us to "the back," where the vet pointed out our wide-eyed and wrathful cat, outfitted with an IV and cone around her head.  She crouched in her cage, which was emblazoned with orange stickers warning "Caution:  Will Bite."  A quick look around the room suggested she was an outlier on the aggression spectrum.  She allowed us to pet her and scratch her behind the ears, but she wouldn't look at us.  We left her to stay overnight for more fluids and observation. 

"That's mean, Mom," Big Sis frowned as we walked to the car.  "'Caution:  Will Bite'," she scoffed.  "It's Koshka!"

"Yeah," chimed in Little Sis.  "She didn't bite us!"

"Hmm, let's think about this for a moment.  I wonder what the doctors write on your charts about how you behave when you're getting shots?"  I nodded at Little Sis, recalling one harrowing well-child visit when she turned five. 

"Caution:  Will Scream," offered Big Sis ruefully. 

"Yeah, and that's before we even went into the exam room!"  We laughed.

The vet called that evening to say that one of her electrolytes was off; they were supplementing it. Final word yesterday morning was that they couldn't find anything wrong with her; husband could pick her up.  He waited an extra hour and invested a supplemental *$55 for sedation because our 6-lb. hellcat wouldn't let the vets take her IV out.  I think they told her not to let the door hit her in her perfectly unconstipated rear as we escorted her out. 

Guess who bounded up the couch, purring, to greet me at the door when I came home from work? 

That Darn Cat. 


Kate said...

Oh Koshka...however, based on some of my own experiences with her, I can't say the Caution: Will Bite notice surprises me.

Heather said...

So glad Koshka is doing well! She's very pretty. One of our many cats had a similar event this summer; we found him hiding in the hall closet.

fer said...

Heather, what happened with your cat? Just hiding out or truly sick? How much did it cost to find out? ;)

Heather said...

Mithrandir had some sort of kidney infection/UTI...very common in male cats. A shot of antibiotics and IV fluids later, he was also much too perky the next day. Like Koshka, the vet needed to sedate Randi because he wasn't cooperative. They also cut his nails! Only, it cost us 350 and not 1400! When our dog had all that jaw trouble (also this summer!), we took her to Pet Emergency Specialist Center on Jackson; they were great and we like them a lot for ER services.

Kris said...

We have had so many trips to the ER with Deke (many non-starts) that we finally bought insurance. 300$ a year and he has a 150$ deductible. So far he isn't complaining about 'the state of healthcare' these days....

aitchpea said...

Last year Marlowe went on a fast for two weeks; for a fat cat that doesn't go two hours without pestering someone for food, this was alarming. He had all sorts of tests and x-rays and blood work done, had two teeth pulled (they didn't look good, apparently, and might be causing pain when he ate), and spent a day and a half in the vet. The end result? $1500 and no answers. I feel your pain. But you did the right thing. It could have been something more; luckily, it wasn't. Yay, Koshka! Glad you're still kickin' (and bitin')!