Friday, April 15, 2005 Well, here I am, as promised, to bring you up to date on cat stuff at the cathouse.
My last entry, last month, spoke of Handsome’s URI. Well, it didn’t get better quickly. He ended up spending almost every minute in the bedroom, with the door closed, windows shut and the humidifier on. He was in there until for well over a week. We’d sleep in there at night. It was nice without all of the cats on the bed, but it was uncomfortable because it was muggy. And Handsome was very noisy, with his nasty cold.
I was so scared because his breathing looked like it hurt. He had a hard time getting comfortable on the bed, turning this way and that, finally able to rest a little. It was obvious that he was having problems just laying his head down. When he did get so tired that he laid on his side, every once in a while he’d stiffen his front legs up, almost like a hiccup. I didn’t want to rush him to the vet, because I was hoping his body would be able to fight this off on its own. I know that his immune system is depressed, but there was no obvious bacterial infection (no thick green snot from his nose or any kind of thick discharge from his eyes). He wasn’t at all interested in eating and he didn’t drink all that much. I filled an old crockpot crock with fresh water and I’d try to tempt him with different flavors of Fancy Feast. He just wasn’t interested.
He gradually did start lapping a little more water and he did start to show interest in a little bit of Hill’s A/D. I’d let him eat as much as he wanted. He’d eat, drink, then get back up on the bed and sleep some more. His urine still stunk. Brian almost gagged when Handsome would use the litterbox in the middle of the night. He’d get up and spray the room with deoderizer to offset the odor. I still wondered about Handsome’s testicles. I was more and more sure that he really wasn’t neutered.
By the beginning of the first week of April, he had started to feel better. I let him out of the room and once he got his sea legs back, he started the stalking behavior again. Brian had opened a bag of spray bottles and filled them each with water earlier, placing at least one in each room. The family room had two, one for each of us. The living room one on my little table. The bedroom one hanging from the back of the bed and there was one in the hallway, hanging from the closet doors. The last one went in the office. Things had gotten so bad with his aggression, that I didn’t go anywhere in the house without a spray bottle.
The girls seemed to fare better than the boys. Jackson and Oliver went out of their way to antagonize Handsome. And he always took the bait. On one occasion, Jackie and Handsome started outside. I broke it up with the water bottle and they split up. Jackie went in the cat door, Handsome went in the sliding door off of the living room. They met up again in the dining room, where they continued the battle. I had two water bottles that time, one in each hand and did a considerable amount of shooting each cat continously until they split up from one another. Neither was happy with me. And I wasn’t very happy myself. I was so fed up with this and the thoughts kept going through my head “what if Handsome really is neutered? What if his testicles did descend and they were removed? What am I going to do? I can’t live like this. I just can’t. The other cats can’t live like this, it’s not fair to them. Would it be possible to find him a home where there were no other cats? Where the humans understood how important it was to keep him indoors? The possible health problems he could have?” And I’m not exaggerating when I say these thoughts were almost constant. I was very concerned for the well being of all of the cats and I knew that there was a possibility that Handsome might have to be put down. I never voiced it. I never wrote it down. But it was there. Like an elephant in the living room that you don’t want to think about. But it was there. I didn’t want to think that this might very well be a battle I wasn’t going to win. I kept trying to shove it out of my head, but it would creep back in when he’d go after an innocent cat like Potter or Benny. And if Handsome even glanced in a direction where either of them was in his line of vision, he’d take off like a bat out of hell after them.
And there I’d be, water bottle in hand, in hot pursuit.
This was no way to live.
Have you ever seen the movie “Blazing Saddles”? If so, do you remember Alex Karras’ character, “Mongo”? And how everybody in town would run and hide when they saw Mongo? Well, that’s how it’s been here. I did call the vet’s office on Wednesday morning, the 6th, asking if there was a test for testosterone. I still had the nagging suspicion that Handsome was intact. Although his testicle sacks were empty, I knew from the experience with Bart, that it was possible his body was still producing. Yes, I was told, there was a test for it, but their lab didn’t do it, I’d have to take him elsewhere. I explained why I asked. Well, there was ultrasound, the vet could do that. She put me on hold and spoke with the doctor. When she came back on, she told me the vet would just feel for them. In the meantime, I asked if there was anything, pill form, that would help. I explained that Oliver was a big problem and that Handsome was a big problem. (There was nothing I could do about Jackson. If I could pill Jackson, I’d also be able to get him into a carrier and get his little wicked self fixed.) The vet prescribed Buspar, a fifteen day supply (30 pills, one a day for both Handsome and Ollie), with three refills. Within the hour I’d picked up the script at the vet’s office, then driven down to the local Rite Aid, where I had it filled.
A couple of days later, things were a little teeny tiny bit better, but we still had problems. I called the vet figuring I might as well make the dental appointment. I mentioned my fear of undescended testicles, would he please check for those. The appointment was made for Wednesday, the 13th of April.
Things did seem to lighten up as the medications kicked in. The water bottles were still in their places, but there wasn’t as much fighting and posturing once the cats were indoors. Outside was a different story, but inside seemed to be a little bit calmer. It wasn’t fun having the doors closed, trying to keep the cats apart. Handsome would want out and I’d go with him, water bottle at the ready. Sunday morning, he was on one of the dining room chairs and I was petting him when Ciara decided to sit where he could see her and she made eye contact. Bad Ciara. Bad. He got upset and he bit ME. Where he bit still hurts, but the swelling was down by Wednesday morning. I soaked it for long periods of time in epsom salts and warm water, trying to draw out the infection. Brian had some echinacea ointment he had gotten from the chiropractor and I used that. It was quite a relief to see it getting better, believe me. I sure wasn’t looking forward to waiting to see a doctor for it.
Then Monday night when I was getting the cats in, Handsome turned around and stood on his back paws and did a scary bear move on me. What the f…. Uh, no, guy, that’s not acceptable. I quickly went into the house, came back out with the dreaded water bottle and got him inside. Later, I recounted this adventure with Brian. He just shook his head. I knew then that he’d been having the same thoughts I’d been having. Verging on hopeless.
So, do cats know what we’re saying? I think so. This was taken after Brian and I had our earlier conversation. This was the first time that Handsome laid on Brian. He had been laying on the coffee table. He jumped down, got up on the sofa by my arm, and jumped over to Brian. First he checked out Brian’s face, laying on his chest, then moved down to his legs. “Look, dad, I’m not such a bad cat, really, I’m not, give me a chance, please?”
And I started thinking, hoping, praying, wishing on stars, doing all of that lucky/superstitious/magical stuff that he was cryptorchid. I knew from the bottom of my being that this would be the answer I was looking for, the answer that would go a long way towards helping get past his problems. If he was cryptorchid, the vet could remove the offending testicles and the production of testosterone would stop and the hormone would leave his body and he’d be able to relax and finally, be a great house cat.
The night before his dental was scheduled, I asked Brian what he thought about changing Handsome’s name.
“To what?” he asked me.
“No. We’re not going to name him Mongo.”
So, I pull up all of the food Tuesday night since he can’t eat after midnight. He’s a cranky cat anyway, but I’ve discovered hunger makes him nastier. I’m worried about getting him into the carrier. I tried shoving him in, but he was all legs and claws. I scruffed him and tried dropping him in backwards, but he was extremely resistent to this idea. I ended up pulling the towel out of the carrier and tossing a little deli roast beef inside. He, being very hungry, went in after it. I shut the door and locked it.
Then we went to the vet’s office, where I dropped him off. He stayed in the carrier, which was really the best way to go, they left him in it for the day. I signed the sheet for the dental ($174.50 + 38.75 for the day’s hospitalization). I ask that they trim his claws. Way back. Then I brought up the testicle thing. I said “have him look for testicles. I really think he still has them. I don’t think this cat has ever been to a vet, not until he came to live with us. I think he’s still intact. His urine stinks and he’s mean to the other cats. I think he has testicles. I hope he has testicles. I pray he has testicles. I don’t care how much it costs. Don’t call me to okay their removal once they’re found, just get rid of them.”
I think I was pretty clear on what I thought and what I wanted, you know? I left without an updated estimate. Like I said, I didn’t care. It didn’t matter. I’m living in a kitty war zone and I’ve had enough. It can’t continue. It just can’t. I can’t handle this much longer. I don’t want to handle this much longer. I want my life, pathetic as it was, back.
So, Wednesday was not a good day. I was nervous all morning and then when the clock struck noon, it got worse. Because the vet does surgeries between noon and three. I had three hours of pins and needles to deal with. I prayed that the phone not ring during that time. If it was someone else, I’d be annoyed. If it was the vet, I’d be devastated. Because he only calls at that time if there’s a problem. The time dragged. I caught up on paperwork, which I had let fall behind. I did laundry. I cleaned the bathroom. About a quarter after three, I called the vet’s office to see how it had gone. “Fine, he’s doing well, you should be able to take him home after four this afternoon.” I ask about the testicles. “Yes, he had them, the vet neutered him.” I started to tear up from relief. I was shaking. I was so thankful. Because I knew he now had a chance at a good life. Now that those pesky testes were gone.
I picked him up about four thirty and brought him home. He went outside and rolled around in the grass. I saw a few bright pink stitches on his lower abdomen, where the testicles had been found, then removed. I had some amoxidrops for him, but decided I’d wait to give him any. As it turned out, I can also give him pills (there’s $17.00 down the drain, but he’s much easier to pill than to give liquid meds). When the vet called yesterday with the followup, the antibiotics were for his throat. He told me that FIV+ cats often have this problem with their throats. He rattled off some long name, but it boils down to the tissues are often inflammed, which might interfere with his eating. So, he’s on antibiotics to clear that up. If he ever does have a problem with his throat that amoxi doesn’t help, he might have to have steroids, which will be the same problem that Ciara has. The immune system already doesn’t work properly and steroids will make it worse, so we have to be very careful about administering them.
Thursday, yesterday, was the best day I’ve had since Handsome moved in. He slept most of the day. The landscapers weren’t here (doing some extensive work in the backyard; Brian lost his motivation for the backyard when he got the property and I don’t do yardwork, it’s never been one of my big pleasures) and the cats could come and go as they pleased. Cats didn’t run and hide when they saw Handsome, they walked by him. He showed little or no interest.
Today, it’s a little different, I think he’s feeling a little stronger. It will take a few weeks, maybe more for the hormone to be completely gone from his body. I can deal with that. As long as I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, I can deal with that.
Sadly, all the goings on here have taken their toll on the other cats. Annie started peeing blood again two days ago. I had to refill her elavil prescription because what I had was no longer good. She is doing a little better now. I hate to see them in pain.
And DeeJay is also having some problems, he’s back on amoxicillan for his problem. Other than that, he’s still going strong. I took this picture when Brian was reattaching one of the solar lights by the pool. He squatted down and DeeJay took advantage of this.
And with all of the hoopla, surprisingly Autumn is becoming more visible. When I saw her in laying down on this ledge on the steps to the rafters in the garage, she didn’t leave when I ran to get the camera. And she didn’t leave when I snapped off multiple shots of her. This one was the best. I hope she comes inside someday.
I have to stop thinking of Handsome as Mongo, though. Twice now, I’ve called him that when Brian could hear me. He wasn’t amused.