For those of you who don’t know, we have four cats here at L.A.N. Tracey works in a animal hospital and a couple of years ago we found ourselves taking in needy cats. The first was Fly or Flyers as we call her, whose name is from the maggot infested paw that was amputated when she was just two weeks old. Fly was found abandoned in tall grass by a man just before going over her on his riding mower. Tracey volunteered to nurse her here at home and she just stayed.
Sabre came next. Tracey found him at the SPCA purring in his cage. At her request I made a special trip to check him out and an hour later he was purring all over our living room. He hasn’t stopped purring since. Sabre is a 14lb Tabby that looks like an Ocicat as his stripes are more dots than stripes. We think he is both.
Rudi was our third cat; another kitten that was found with her sister abandoned. The hospital tried hopelessly to find a home for her but I think Tracey maneuvered for ownership as she volunteered to nurse her to health too. Rudi is our bulimic cat. Every so often she gorges herself then brings it right back up. We just are thankful that this act occurs on the kitchen floor so it cleans up easily.
Our three year-old Stitch rounds out the group. “Poor Stitchers,” we often say to him. Stitch has a history of asthma and Tracey rescued him after his previous owner wanted to put him to sleep because she was tired of caring for him. Turns out, or at least the theory is, that Stitch’s asthma was caused by the old lady’s moth ball infused home. Every time he was brought into the hospital near death and recovered, his symptoms disappeared.
Stitch hasn’t shown any signs of respiratory illness since living with us but he does have seizures. Since I’ve been at home since August we’ve noted at least four. All occurred with me here and the first nearly scared me to death. It’s hard to describe a cat flailing around on the floor then coming to with no sense. Literally when Stitch comes out of it he can’t see, hear, or anything.
Slowly the senses come back, hearing is first. Stitch responds to your voice with agonizing bellows, almost constant sound. The cat awakens terrified. The only thing to calm him is the sound of your voice reassuring him that he’s in a safe environment. You can tell when his sight is coming around as he will look in your direction, the direction of a calming voice and shadow in the light. As his sight sharpens, he begins to explore his surroundings to ensure he’s in a familiar place. One episode can last thirty minutes or more and like I said it’s frightful.
Our fears came to a head two weeks ago. Poor Stitchers came down with a fever. Testing was negative. His fever rose to over 106 as we raced towards a critical care clinic in Richmond. We thought we were about to lose him. We were all in tears as we left him at the hospital not sure if we would see him alive again (we actually had to sign a “do not resuscitate” order). Miraculously Stitch came out of it and the best explanation was that his anti-seizure medication was the cause.
Armed with new medication to control his seizures as well as an antibiotic as insurance we brought Stitch home from Richmond and he was relieved to be here. He was absolutely drained from his ordeal and slept for almost two days straight. When awake he was probed for temperature readings and the occasional blood test. Things seemed to be going good until the fourth day back from the hospital. The blood went south once again and the fever started to return.
This time Stitch was referred to Virginia Tech. What could be causing these symptoms? Stitch’s doctors were perplexed and so were the doctors at Tech. For reasons no one can explain, our two week heartache went away as fast as it came. When being released from his carrier at Tech, the ole Stitch came back. Tracey said he pranced around the examination room as nothing had even been wrong. He stayed overnight for a bombardment of testing. All tests came back negative.
Stitch returned home with another round of antibiotic early last week. He slept. Tracey and I fully expected to make more trips to the hospital. Our next steps were either an MRI of Stitch’s brain or tapping into his femur to check bone marrow; two procedures that from a cost standpoint would be hard to manage after the previous two emergencies. Needless to say we were concerned.
Steadily Stitch has improved from his lethargic state. Today he was back to his old tricks of playing under rugs, flipping pencils through the air (his favorite toy is a pencil), and rolling around like a bear. “Stitchers is back!” I proclaimed to Tracey when she got up this morning. We sat around watching him like it was his first day in our home. We are overjoyed to see him feeling better.
It’s interesting what pets can do. I still have emotional flash backs of my childhood buddy, a black Labrador named Dapper Doo. He had to be put down because of a liver ailment. I didn’t intend to become close to these cats but I have to admit these friends of mine have become extended family carrying me at times through this job transition. The mere thought of losing Stitch, the only family member that watches football with me (when he’s not snoozing), was a little more than I bargained for.
Hopefully the healthy trends will continue.