Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The shit hit the wall rather than the fan

JoJo is one of those good natured tabbies who take things as they come along. She still allows Phoebe to be top cat, even though with the swipe of her paw, she could knock Phoebe into next week, and believe you me, there are times where I want to knock Phoebe into next week, so I tip my hat to Jo on that.

She was born feral most likely, and found in a bale of hay when the truck driver who was pulling the bale off at one of his delivery stops, noticed a litter of kittens in the one bale. All were dead except one grey one, and he took the kitten over to his mother who worked at the same place I did. He told his mother she needed to do something, they couldn't just let this kitten die, and he had to get back to work. He had stopped at several farms to pick up the hay bales and had help loading them on at each place, so he wasn't sure which farm this particular hay bale had come from. Even if he did finding the mother cat was likely impossible, as the litter was most likely feral.

So, when I first saw her, she could fit in may hand and weighed about 4 ounces/120 g. Something pulled at my heart immediately, and I was in love with her.

Six weeks later, after we had found a foster for her who said she'd take care of her for six weeks, no longer, she came home with me. The old woman who fostered her had an older dog, and they lived with her son and his family who had a younger dog. I don't know what they made of this kitten who stayed with them for a while, but when Jo came to us, she didn't meow. She barked. Grace and Phoebe were none too pleased with the newest addition, and in time, Jo learned to meow and fell in love with Grace.

JoJo can be very sweet, but she is also very headstrong. We found this out, when at four months old, she jumped through the screen so she could be outside with Grace and Phoebe. She is not a fan of the word no.

Phoebe has always been a diva, and with her recent kidney disease diagnosis, I've been catering to her a bit more than usual. Yet, I still wanted to give time to JoJo and let her know that I loved her, too. And so, the day before yesterday was like many that have gone before: after I put the kettle on, Jo jumped on my lap, and I sat on the stool in the kitchen petting her, combing her, and talking to her. She was loathe to get off my lap when the water had boiled, so I waited a few more minutes. She went outside to have a sniff round and relieve herself, again like always. She uses a litter box only when it's late at night or if there's lots and lots of snow on the ground.

I settled down to work, she came in the house and it wasn't until supper time that I realized she hadn't moved from the bed in the guest room. I took her supper in to her, and she didn't show much interest. She also didn't look right, as if she didn't feel well. I decided to see how she was in the morning before taking any action.

I awoke before the alarm went off this morning and made my way downstairs. Phoebe was glad to see that I was up at my usual time, as she's still not reconciled to our being back on standard time and meowed for breakfast.

I went into the guest room and saw Jo hadn't moved. She looked miserable, and she smelled different. She smelled sick. After doing my usual morning routine, I called the vet's office to let them know I was bringing JoJo in. They open at 8:00 a.m., and I was there just after they  had unlocked the doors.

They took Jo in, telling me they would do what they could as soon as possible. The vets were booked for early appointments, although there was one at 9:00. They might be able to take a quick look before the first appointments or at least take vitals.

I know some people get hysterical over trifling things, and that I've done that once or twice myself. I thought about the time I had brought Jo in and ended up having to wait nearly an hour past my appointment time because they'd had an emergency. While I wasn't happy about the wait, I understood that bringing my healthy cat to get a vaccine was not an emergency. And maybe this didn't qualify as a capital E Emergency, but a cat who doesn't eat or drink and stays lethargic for 18 hours does need to be looked at, and in my book preferably sooner rather than later.

At my last location, the cats' vet had a farm. Dr. D was very laid back and usually gave our cats 3-year rabies shots. This worked well for us, as our cats rarely saw the vet for any other reason, and it's always hard to catch them. The vets at the office here don't like to give 3-year rabies shots, they prefer the 1-year because they don't like the mercury load the 3-year shots carry. I did ask if I could get them at least for Jo, as I have a much harder time wrangling her. No, they were adamantly opposed to the 3-year shots.

I thought on this as I waited. I heard JoJo's loud meow of protestation through the closed doors. So did everyone else in the waiting room. I wasn't happy Jo wasn't happy, but that loud meow was music to my ears. She had a lot of fight left. Dr. L came out to the waiting room to talk to me. They determined that Jo had a fever, they couldn't find an abscess, they didn't see bite marks anywhere, and he went on to explain that it could be a "fever of unknown origin." In those cases, they usually give a broad antibiotic and see if that fixes things. He also wanted to know what I could tell him. I couldn't tell him much, the day before she was fine in the morning, although this morning, she didn't smell right. He looked at me quizzically. I explained that she didn't smell like herself, she smelled sick. I then returned to the recent history: I didn't see or hear any animal fights, felt no abscesses when she sat on my lap, felt no wounds. I did ask that since she was here could she at least get her rabies shot, as she was overdue. I felt guilty about that because she does spend a lot of time outside, and I do want to keep her as safe as I can. There's been a fox snooping around, as I told the vet, and he looked a bit mangy. I saw some scat by the clothesline that I think was his, and the two days ago, I saw stools that look like Jo's but they were on the path to the back door, and that isn't a usual place for her to leave anything. So I don't know if she was marking territory or if something else was.

He said he doesn't normally give vaccines when animals are unwell, but if the fever came down enough, he'd consider it. I said I know he's not a fan of the 3-year rabies shots, but it would make things easier for me if he'd consider it in her case.

And then he asked about bowel movements. I said I didn't think she had moved at all from the bed until I tried to put her in the carrier, and that took me several tries. When I was finally successful I looked at the wall to see wet diarrhoea stuck to it. So the shit had hit the wall rather than the fan.

He said that she'd released a large puddle of urine when she was being examined, so they were able to get a good urine sample. They were testing now, and it would be best if I could leave her there for the day. They hoped her fever would break, and I could pick her up at the end of the day.

I thanked him, they confirmed my phone number, and I came home.

He called an hour later to confirm everything was normal. He talked about giving her injections of antibiotics as that seemed a better course than oral antibiotics, so with two injections---
and here I cut him off.

"Wait--i'll have to give her injections?"

"No. We'll do it here. My original thought was to give her oral antibiotics twice a day, but I see that's not going to work, so we went with the injections. I think giving her oral antibiotics twice a day would be nearly impossible."

Was this his way of realizing when I said she was headstrong, I wasn't exaggerating?

"I haven't had to do it often, but the few times I've had to do it, it's been quite challenging."

"If her temperature drops enough, I can give her a 3-year rabies shot. We don't normally do 3-year shots..."
"Yes, I know, and you explained why you don't like to do them. I appreciate that you are thinking of considering it in this case. She was born feral, and while she's domesticated and can be quite sweet and loving, there's a part of her that's always stayed wild." I didn't want to belabor the point, so I changed the subject a bit. "So, if the fever breaks, I can pick her up this afternoon. What if it doesn't break? Does she need to stay overnight?"

That could be an option, yes. Or I could take her home and bring her back for more observation as needed. And before he could quite finish his sentence he said, "I'm guessing she'll be hard to catch."

"And you'd be guessing right. This was the easiest time I've ever had catching her, and even so it took four tries."

"Then overnight would be best. We are set up for that and can do it if need be."

I told him I know Jo's a hard patient, and i'm sorry about that. And again I so much appreciated all he and his staff were doing for her.

I arrived promptly at 4:00 p.m. to collect her. Her fever had gone down a couple degrees, and if they were successful in measuring her temperature once more, they might be able to give her a rabies shot. He looked harried. She's not an easy patient, and my guess was that as her temperature went down, she was more adamant about expressing her disdain. He explained she refused to eat, which didn't surprise me. At her last visit to the vet, she was good and angry afterwards. I had opened the carrier to let her out in the yard, and she refused to come in the house for a while. She sulked and stormed off, to return within the hour, killing two mice and a rat. That's my girl.

I was to monitor her, to see if she ate or drank anything. Also, probably best to keep her inside until tomorrow morning if at all possible. I nodded thinking that might be possible.

She was quiet in her carrier. Her eyes looked brighter and she looked to be in less pain. She was quiet on the ride home, and slowly emerged from the carrier when I opened it inside the house.

Phoebe was curious, caught the vet office smell, and smelled the carrier. She gave Jo space.

It had been much quieter without Jo in the house. I was glad she was back home, and she looked to be, too. She sat and groomed herself in the dining room. She wasn't interested in supper, but it was so soon after our return. She made her way slowly to the rocking chair in the living room and jumped up on it. I gave her a pat on the head, told her I was glad she was home, and she didn't seem to bear me any ill will. She's now sleeping comfortably, and I think I shall soon be there myself.


  1. God bless you and your kitty. I hope all is well soon. I hate it when the shit hits the wall. I used to have a Persian cat. She had very thick, long hair. She'd get poop caught in the fur around her tail. As she walked down the stairs, she wiped her butt on the wall! I don't miss that cat very much.


    1. I was surprised once I saw it, and then I looked around to see where else it may have been flung. One spot on the lino, and that was it. Carpet and bedding was spared, so I feel quite lucky.

      She's still quiet so far today, but looks more like herself, so I'm thinking she's on the mend.

  2. I hope everything is better in the morning. Sleep well!

    1. Thanks. I did sleep well, and it seems all of us did. Jo is still quiet but rallying, which makes my heart glad.

  3. My Tabby has been sitting on my lap as I read the above. Ours has had a remarkably illness free life so far; I think he's 10. Hope Jo is feeling better and back to her mouse catching duties before too long. It's very worrying having a sick animal in the house.

    1. Jo is 11, so a year older than Freddie. I was thinking back and realized there were two other times where I had to give her antibiotics, once when she was quite small and Phoebe bit her tail hard, and once when she got in a fight with another animal, and there was a wound that abscessed.

      Her eyes are brighter this morning, she ate some breakfast, and has settled quite comfortably on the living room floor. Phoebe is still giving her wide berth; once the hissing starts back up, i'll know recovery is complete.

  4. I hope it goes well w/Jo. Am rqising a ferral myself. Not the same as a domestic.

    1. Good luck with your feral kitty, Joanne. Jo is back to her old self. You'd never know there was anything wrong a week ago.

  5. We had lots of feral cats on the farm when I was a girl and I can't imagine trying to catch them! But, you know...they seemed to lead very long healthy lives. Must be that feral spirit. They are fighters.

    1. Indeed they are, Maria! The woman who fostered Jo said that she must have taken strength from her dead littermates and was going to live her life with as much energy as possible. As if she'd have to live life for them, too.

      Jo is back to being her usual self and bears me no ill will, which makes my heart glad.