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
"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.