First off, I should note that as I type this the fur is flying as all 3 of our cats are chasing each other through the entire apartment. I used to think “zoomies” was just a pit bull term. Nope.
Anyways, as I said in our introductory post, I’m a volunteer at our local humane society (though not currently active with vertigo) and have veterinary hospital experience. I’ve seen companion animals at their worst and cleaning up bodily fluids doesn’t phase me in the least. I’ve witnessed and assisted on surgeries and procedures most of you could never imagine.
I don’t remember the first time Steve’s GI troubles manifested I assume, because things eventually got so much worse. I remember having to kick her out of the bedroom, and I remember seeing the “butt prints,” as we so lovingly call them. I remember picking up anything she could ruin in the bathroom and closing her in there with a litter box and some food and water to let her do her thing. That was the first time Steve painted the bathroom brown. I thought about taking a picture of it, but then I realized that no one else would find it funny. I cleaned it up, bathed her back end, and sent her on her way.
This happened a few more times and we started to catch on to it earlier and earlier. We started to realize exactly what was happening. Steve would go to the litter box, struggle to produce a stool, then get out and make a “butt print.” That’s when she’d get closed in the bathroom. After anywhere from 6-12 hours, the bathroom floor would be painted brown and some where in the middle of it would be a wet but solid stool. Sometimes she’d vomit in the middle of all of it, but as soon as it was all over and she was dried and groomed from the bath, her appetite was ravenous and everything went back to normal. That changed in early February.
It might be odd to an average person that I can tell the difference between my cats’ stools. Steve’s stools stand out. She’s our smallest cat and her stools are the biggest by a long shot. One week in February, as I scooped the boxes every day, I noticed those giant stools were missing. Steve also has a habit, or perhaps ritual, of using the litter box as soon as I’ve scooped it. Each of those days, she’d run into one of those freshly scooped boxes, and strain. I felt her belly – something I hadn’t done much in the past, but something I’d seen enough to know what to do and what to feel for. I felt what was like a rock in her belly. I panicked. I don’t know why…panicking would get me nowhere. I went to my fiance and, between tears, explained what was wrong. He told me to call the vet and that we’d figure things out if money became an issue. Thankfully, the vet I got scheduled with was one of the vets who assisted with Steve’s amputation surgery at the humane society.
At the appointment, Dr Sarah was not only familiar with Steve, she was also familiar with my condition and the fact that money was tight with us. Best of all, she was familiar with my animal handling abilities. One feel of Steve’s belly and Dr Sarah said that my diagnosis was right. Steve was constipated. Instead of going with expensive and unnecessary options to clear Steve’s colon, Dr Sarah gave Steve a quick pain injection and brought a warm water enema into the room where I could assist. Dr Sarah saved me hundreds of dollars that day, and saved Steve hours of discomfort in an unfamiliar setting with unfamiliar people. It was Dr Sarah’s assumption that Steve’s pelvis was deformed, possibly related to her deformed leg. Her stools were getting caught behind it. To remedy it, we were told to feed Steve wet food at least once a day to soften her stools. Steve didn’t mind the diet change at all.
Sadly, in March, Steve got worse. I felt another rock-like stool in her belly and tried to remedy it with extra wet food. After three days of no improvement, a quick trip to the vet and a “pet enema” resulted in a night of diarrhea. The rock remained. The vet had given us the dosage of a couple of laxatives we could try, so I added one to Steve’s food hoping to help. Instead, Steve stopped eating and developed an upper respiratory infection. I syringe fed her and gave her subcutaneous fluids for a couple of days until my fiance was free to bring us back to the vet, this time for another appointment with Dr Sarah.
The appointment was a bit more traumatic for Steve (who was a trooper the whole time), but in the end, Steve’s colon was cleared. Dr Sarah recommended only wet food with a laxative added twice a day. I think the worst part for Steve was that she got a full whisker to tail bath after she got home, then two more butt baths in the following days. A week of recovery from her upper respiratory infection led into a week of Steve having almost no control over her bowels. She was leaving little poo nuggets all over the house. I was happy to pick these up instead of worrying about the next time my cat would be constipated, but then one day they stopped. That night, I scooped the litter box and found three different types of stool. I’d never been so happy to find cat poop in a litter box!
After seeing what Steve went through with her constipation issues and subsequent trips to the vet for enemas, I felt guilty. I wondered what would have happened if someone else had adopted her. What if her new family had more money and at the first sign of distress took her to the vet? They could afford any and all treatment, no questions asked.
Dr Sarah made me feel a whole lot better about all of this. She told me that almost any other family would have either returned Steve to the shelter or would have euthanized her. Both Dr Sarah and my fiance said that because of my animal care experience, Steve is in the best possible home. I was able to syringe feed and administer fluids to Steve on my own both before and after her last appointment. Medicating her will never be a problem and I’ll never be intimidated by her health.
The three amigos are sleeping now. Zoomies do take their toll.