As with humans, the problem with an elderly cat is that any minor health problem could be fatal. A bad fall, a broken bone, a viral infection, any one of those things would be a trivial matter to a young healthy cat or human. But an elderly cat or person would have difficulty recovering.
Botchok is 15 years old. So you can imagine my worry every time she seems listless, or when she has no appetite, or when I hear her wheeze in her sleep.
For the longest time I resisted taking her to the vet because I was afraid of what they would say. I feared they would order a multitude of tests or confinement, that she would be poked and prodded and made uncomfortable. I didn’t want her to go to a clinic and then never come home. I’m sure my fear was partly due to Bunny, who had a liver or kidney infection of some sort, and died in the veterinary clinic in 2011. It didn’t help that less than a year ago, we also lost Socks after a week-long confinement. To be honest, trips to vet probably scared me more than they scared the cats.
Unfortunately, I had no choice. On Sunday, September 27, when we went to the cattery to feed the cats, we noticed that Botchok wasn’t interested in her food. It was odd, since she had special soft food, and she usually ran straight to her cage at feeding time. But that morning, she just sat by the door, uninterested in anything. I even tried putting fer food dish right in front of her, and waited to see if she would eat. I sat beside her, waving away the other cats who would try to eat her food. But she wouldn’t eat.
I started crying. I thought Botchok was depressed and just waiting to die. Oneal asked if I wanted to take her to the vet, but I resisted. I was so upset all day. We checked on her throughout the day, and she barely moved from her spot. I called her name, and she looked at me, so I knew she wasn’t deaf or catatonic.
That evening, we tried feeding Botchok again. We put her in the cage with her food. She took a bite, and then sat down and ignored the rest of her food. We left her alone for about an hour, and when we checked again, her food was still untouched. Again Oneal asked if I wanted to take her to the vet. “What if they can make her better?” So I relented.
Looking for help
It was past 8:00 PM when we left the house. I knew the Cassandra Care veterinary clinic in BF Homes had emergency services, so we went there. But when we arrived, they had no vet. So they advised us to go to St. Joseph nearby.
In a hurry we drove away, eyes peeled for St. Joseph. It had started raining.
We found it, and frantically I ran out of the car. It’s a miracle I didn’t start banging on the gate before I found the doorbell. A guy came to the gate, and I asked for the vet. “There’s a fee for after hours consultation,” he said grumpily. “Fine!” I said. So he opened the gate and let us in.
The grumpy guy took Botchok’s carrier into the examination room, and I looked around for the vet. I found a young man who looked a little startled to have a patient so late, and a frantic woman rushing towards him.
St. Joseph is our savior
“Are you the vet?” I asked. I don’t remember now at which point I started crying, but I could barely get the words out as I explained the problem. The poor vet looked so alarmed as I sobbed and stammered while describing Botchok’s condition.
In retrospect, I think the vet had incredible composure. He took me seriously, and was completely calm the whole time I was bawling my eyes out! if I were him I might have burst out laughing with nervous energy.
The vet led me to the examination room, where Botchok was being weighed and held down by the grumpy assistant. Tears were still streaming down my face as I scratched Botchok’s back and stroked her fur, all the while telling the vet that she was alert and she seemed to have no other problems, except why in the world wasn’t she eating??
The vet–whose name I later learned was Archie–checked Botchok’s ears, and found lots of mites. He cleaned her ears, which were filthy! She was not happy with the ear cleaning. Then he took some blood, which was a challenge because she kept trying to jerk away. Despite not having eaten all day, it still took me, Oneal and the grumpy assistant to hold her down. Then Dr. Archie inserted an IV drip, because she was dehydrated.
Dr. Archie advised at least an overnight stay, so that the IV drip would take care of the dehydration.They started her on antibiotics and tried to feed her. He told me I could visit her anytime.
By the time we left St. Joseph, I had calmed down. I cried a bit more when we got home, but I slept better knowing my cat was being taken care of.
Read Part 2 here!