Sometimes a pet becomes ill and you don’t really notice. You are just so busy hussling and bustling getting things ready for Holy Week and Easter that you don’t really notice that a little kitten is not behaving quite as she used to. You might put it down to the fact that she was spayed six weeks ago. You might put it down to cats merely behaving oddly because let’s face it, they are a law unto themselves. And the fact that Rita kitten has the look of a consumptive doesn’t really help. She has the most doleful eyes and hang-dog (?) expression that she has never really looked full of beans.
But eventually it did register that we were not bounding about the place with quite as much energy, not demanding strokes and cuddles, and going back to sleep in the ironing basket all day long didn’t quite seem normal for an 8-month old kitten. Perhaps she has been worn down by Lucy Pussy’s cynicism I wondered. And I asked a visitor if they thought she looked normal. “She has the look of a cat with flu,” he said. Time to phone the vet. The vet suggested I bring her straight in and that was last Thursday. Oh what a lot has happened since then!
First of all the vet noticed a weepy eye which has escaped my attention. Oh neglectful mummy! So that required drops and antibiotics jag and pills to take home. What a lark. She was looking a pathetic wee soul just lying on the steel table so he got out his stethoscope and it was then he found the heart murmur. “Have we noticed this before?” he asked. “No,” said I. “Oh well, it is quite bad.” A bad heart murmur! How could I have overlooked such an illness? And of course, I remembered going to check on her just a few days before and she was lying spreadeagled on the spare room floor panting quite fast. I had put it down to the sun.
“Bring her in tomorrow and we’ll do an ECG and chest x-ray,” says he. “You’ll need to leave her in all day incase we need to sedate her.” And home I went, feeling guilty that I hadn’t noticed sooner and brought her for treatment. She got lots of attention that night, I can tell you. She dismissed it all in a guilt-inducing way.
Dear Reader, it has been almost a week now and Rita kitten is still int he Vet hospital. She was indeed sedated but an ECG couldn’t be taken. A heart specialist was consulted and we were told we should perhaps take her back in Holy Week to see him. However, in the meantime blood had revealed that she was terribly anaemic so extra blood had to be sent off to a specialist in blood disorders. What was causing the anaemia? Where was she losing blood? (I have cream carpets and I’m sure I’d have noticed pools of blood around the place.) Was it regenerative anaemia or non-regenerative? (I know, I haven’t a clue either.) More tests were required. But to do those tests she would need to receive a blood transfusion.
Call in the Maine coon cats. It would appear that Maine coon cats are good at giving blood. They are quite placid, quite large and don’t seem to mind. How charitable of them. So a local breeder was going to bring in her Maine coons so they could be type-matched with Rita kitten. The vet phoned me throughout the weekend to keep me up to date with her condition. “She’s not eating in front of anyone so we’ve had to put a blanket up so she can eat in private.” “She’s taken to sleeping in her litter tray.” Oh the shame of it! I felt as if I hadn’t brought her up properly. Imagine sleeping in your litter tray. How could she?
On Monday she had the blood transfusion and she seemed to perk up after that. In fact she got a bit tetchy we were told, which they said was a good sign. Maine coon blood must be good stuff. On Tuesday she had bone marrow biopsies and we now await the results of that. It is a bit nerve-wracking this waiting lark. Especially in the lead up to Holy Week. For a while over the weekend it was looking as if she might not pull through. Now it looks like it might be some long-term chronic disease which will require much care, attention and money thrown at it. Thank goodness for pet insurance. (And let us pause to pray that this is all indeed covered by said pet insurance.)
It is quieter without Rita kitten at home. Lucy Pussy is looking decidedly smug and has reverted to being Queen of the Rectory. I am getting morning roll-overs once more and had forgotten how adorable they indeed are. She has reduced the amount she eats, not having to eat the kitten’s food as well as her own. Greedy minx. She has gone back to hiding up the back stairs and racing me to the kitchen (an old game but a favourite). Clearly she is enjoying life without the little one pestering her.
The vet assures me that they will get to the bottom of this but that it is beyond the capabilities of a normal vet. This is speciality stuff. No ordinary disease for my little baby.
I haven’t been in to visit her. Should I? Nor have I sent flowers or fluffy toys. I’m not sure what the protocol is when a pussy cat is in Vet hospital. Is someone holding her paw all through the night or is she lying in a cold little tray in a cage all on her own?
Lucy Pussy cares not a jot.