December 30, 2016

The cat that keeps getting in trouble

Life has an oft underrated propensity for throwing curveballs. In theory, we're aware of this; in practice, the next one usually catches us by surprise. The hard drive that malfunctions in the middle of an important assignment, just when you've neglected to back up three days' worth of work; the car that breaks down during a trip abroad; the sudden illness you never saw coming. Or an ailing pet.

One of my cats, a three-year-old adorable tabby male named Sammet, has had astoundingly bad luck this year. In July, he broke his femur (we don't know how or where - one day he simply came limping home on three legs, crying loudly), had to have wires inserted and spent over six weeks in a cast. I won't go into the details of caring for a cat with a broken leg, but trust me - it's no fun. (The most difficult part? He had a lot of trouble using the cat toilet and whenever he defecated, I had to be there and catch his poo into paper bags so he wouldn't get his cast dirty!) The thick dressing rubbed his leg and parts of his belly raw, and when it was finally removed in September, the fur underneath was coming out in clumps. Sammet began licking his leg like crazy and swallowed so much fur over the next two days that he developed a partial intestinal obstruction. After being X-rayed twice, and force-fed lots of malt paste and liquid paraffin (risky, since paraffin droplets can land in a cat's lungs and cause life-threatening pneumonia, but it lubricated his intestines), he managed to pass several large hairballs and recovered. 

October and November passed uneventfully, but in December Sammet came down with an eye infection, and just when it had finally resolved (we had to apply a topical antibiotic and this guy HATES any kind of medication being put in his eyes), trouble hit again. Three days ago he came home limping, and was diagnosed with an abscess in one of his forepaws. The vet said that a thorn, a piece of glass or some other small sharp object had probably pierced his toe, and pus must have accumulated under the claw for quite a while before his paw swelled up so badly that he began to limp.

He couldn't be operated immediately because anesthetics have to be administered on an empty stomach, so the poor boy spent the evening lying on the bathroom rug (probably because he was unable to jump onto a chair or sofa), then came to my bed for the night. It's not too hygienic to have a cat with an abscessed paw sleep on your comforter, but I didn't have the heart to turn him away. He was really listless and kept licking his toe because it hurt so much.

The abscess was lanced yesterday afternoon under general anesthesia. We took Sammet home with a thickly bandaged paw, and I had a mostly sleepless night because after the sedatives wore off, he became very agitated and started prancing around like crazy, trying to get rid of his Cone of Shame... He was also extremely hungry after being kept without food all day long. I was told not to feed him until 8 A.M. the next day because of the possible after-effects of anesthesia, but broke down at 6:20 A.M. because I couldn't stand another minute of his crying and pleading. He devoured a large portion of cat food and FINALLY went to sleep, and so did I.

In the early evening, the vet removed the dressing and unfortunately the wound still looks ugly and oozes a bit. We were told to keep it exposed to the air and wash the paw now and then with potassium permanganate solution. After coming back from the clinic, I've fed the poor guy and imprisoned him temporarily in the toilet (a small, safe space with no clutter, easy to clean up later) with some old towels as bedding and a litter box full of dust-free silicone crystals. He's on pain medication and two different antibiotics, still wearing the Cone of Shame, his shaved toe is red and swollen, and I'm really hoping the wound will look better tomorrow! 

Update on January 3, 2017:

As of today, Sammet is no longer on antibiotics and his paw is looking MUCH better. The swelling has gone down and he's free to roam around the house now, as the wound is no longer oozing. We'll probably remove his Cone of Shame today, but the vet told us he'll have to be kept under house arrest for the rest of the week. 

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