Seriously now, Swiffur almost bit the big one and it would have been an accidental killing. Here’s the story. In thinking that Swiffur needed a friend, I got a kitten for him to play with. (Go to "What is The Definition of Insanity" to read about it.) At first they didn’t exactly get along. I had to separate the two of them because I thought he was going to kill her. But then after about a week, he started to take to her. Maybe a little too much actually. He became very maternal (remember the Petco vet tech said she was 90% sure he was a male cat? I’m having my doubts right now. Or maybe he’s just in touch with his 10% feminine side. Matter of fact, I have noticed he’s not afraid to wear pink.) Anyway, he started grooming her, pinning her down on the ground and licking her all the time. And in turn, she would lick him back. It is all very cute to watch. A little lick fest of who can lick the other the longest without coughing up a fur ball. (Or as Rachel calls it, a trichobezoar, the technical name for the hair and mucus that forms in cat’s stomachs.) This was all a good sign. We were happy that they were finally getting along.
(She-it won, by the way. Swiffur left us a neat little package of fur and intestinal juices on the carpet. Rachel’s first experience cleaning it up. Poor kid. But that’s not what almost killed him. Although killing him did cross my mind when stepping in the cat throw up while half asleep. You know that icky wet feeling of getting it in between your toes and it takes a second for it to sink in? Yuck!)
Anyway, the day I went to look at the kitty at the Crazy Cat lady’s house, the kitten was somehow between the front door when the wind came along and slammed it shut, crushing her in between the door and the door jam. This caused the kitten to, well, crap herself. Hey, you would too if you got slammed in between two doors that were 100 times taller than you. Anyway, the poor little thing was covered in poo. The Crazy Cat lady said she would give her a bath. The next day, we picked up the kitten and she was all clean of excrement, but she smelled like the Crazy Cat Lady’s house. So upon bringing her home, I gave her another bath using flea and tick shampoo that I had for Swiffur. (How can one forget the picture of that bath! Oh, what the heck, here is another picture of her after the bath. Just because it cracks me up.)
Swiffur watched in amazement as we gave the kitten a bath in the kitchen sink. “They better not think they’re doing that to me!” Then he realized he should run for cover.
Ok, so what does this have to do with Swiffur’s near demise? I’m getting to it. (Man, you’ve become so impatient with me. Simmah! You know I get to the point eventually.) I came home for lunch one day and Swiffur was sleeping. I watched him as he lie there dreaming, his little paws involuntarily moving, probably dreaming of running away from home to get away from the madness that had become Kittyland. “Run, Swiffur, Run!”
Although watching his little paws run was cute, I hate when I’m home and he just lays there as if I mean nothing to his existence. That’s the one thing about dogs is they are always so happy to see you when you come through the door. They get right up and come running to you. Cats, not so much. Swiffur only comes around when it’s good for him. (I have friends like that!) So I did what any other neglected pet owner would do. I woke him up.
“Get up and play with me, dammit!” He lifted his head off the floor and gazed up at me. “Leave me alone. Can’t you see I’m trying to sleep here?” He laid his head back down on the floor. I heard him mutter, “Stupid human.” I was about to teach him a lesson or two when I noticed that while awake, his little paws were still moving. Clearly the dream of frolicking in a land where there is nothing but fish to catch was over. But he had forgotten to tell his paws. Odd, I thought. I gave it a few minutes just in case it was one of those dreams like I’ve had, where the dream is so good that even when I wake up, I’m still in a state of being in it in my mind, and mostly wishing I hadn’t woke up, clinging to the dream, hoping to make it reality somehow. But that only last seconds.
I picked him up and he was shaking and trembling. He looked like he had Parkinson’s. No lie, I got nervous. I instantly got online (because that’s what you do when it’s an emergency) and looked up pet tremors. Everything I read sounded horrible. Nervous system defects, wherein which I would have to take him to a neurologist. Ch-Ching! Spinal injuries that can cause paralysis. Traumatic events that cause tremors in cats. Oh…my…God. The new kitten has traumatized Swiffur! Maybe I shouldn’t have let him watch while we gave her a bath. Or maybe he was suffering from Only Cat Syndrome. He was an Only cat before SHE came along.
"…We must attend to her needs,
She's so much younger than you.
Well, he ran down the hall and he cried.
Oh, how could his parents have lied?
When they said he was an only son,
He thought he was the only one.
Oh, oh, what a lonely boy. – Andrew Gold, Lonely Boy
Now he has to share the affection and attention with another. He’s going to need pet therapy. (I wonder if my therapist takes pets. Hmm?)
Good Lord, what did I do?
It was the weekend and my regular vet was closed. I called the vet hospital that had emergency services and explained the problem. I asked if I should bring him in, if they thought it was an emergency situation. They said they needed to ask me some questions first. They asked me if he had a temperature. How the hell would I know that? I put my lips to his forehead like I do to the kids, but he felt the same as he always does. Furry. They asked if he had diarrhea. I didn’t know because Rachel cleans his litter box. (What? It’s HER cat!) They asked me a few more questions that I couldn’t answer. I told them that I just got a new kitten and that I had read that he could be traumatized from it. I also mentioned that he has fallen off the second story landing a few times and asked if he could have some nerve damage from that. They, of course, couldn’t tell me without looking at him. The deciding factor came down to this. If I wanted to become a patient of the hospital, it would cost me $40 to bring him in. But if the vet determined that it was an emergency visit, it would cost me $175. I love the cat, but not $175’s worth. Ha! Or they told me I could wait and bring him to my regular vet on Monday. To keep giving him water because maybe he was dehydrated, which I did.
I kept on eye on him and it seemed to come and go for a few days. One minute he’d be fine, playing with the kitty, the next minute, he’d be lying there shivering. They had asked me if he had been sneezing a lot. He had sneezed once that I could remember. So maybe he just had a cold. I turned the air conditioners off and thought maybe he had a fever and was catching a chill from them. It was that type of shivering. I put him in bed with me under the covers, but unfortunately, the shivering didn’t go away.
I came home for lunch one day and he was shaking very badly. I decided that was enough. I called the vet and made an appointment for that day to bring him in. Having thought the worst, I rallied the troops: Rachel and Dianne were going with me. If I had to decide whether to put him down because he had a rare neurological condition, I wanted them there for support. And to teach Rachel that this is what happens when you have pets. Stupid, lovable pets.
At the vet’s office, the vet was quite surprised to see us. When I told her of his symptoms, she kept saying, he’s too young to have these issues. I concurred. She weighed him and he had lost 4 pounds. To a cat that’s a lot! When I brought him in for his nut removal, he weighed over 12 pounds. On this day, he weighed 9 pounds. He didn’t feel any lighter to me. Matter of fact, he felt heavier to me. But that might have been because I was now picking up a 1 pound kitten and, in comparison, he weighed a ton. Or, the more likely reason, is the scale was not recalibrated the first time I brought him in. Which means that he didn’t weigh 12 pounds to begin with. They probably overdosed him based on that weight when he had his surgery. They’re lucky they didn’t kill him then. (Another one of his nine lives down the drain I suppose.)
Anyway, the vet decided that she should do some blood work on him. They took him into another room. When he came back, we was a different animal. Hissing. Growling. I asked what did they do to him? He was bleeding around the neck. And his private area was all wet. The vet tech said they did a stool sample and took a urine sample as well. That would explain the wetness. I asked why they take blood from the neck and not a leg. The vet said that the vein in a cat’s neck is bigger and it is less likely to collapse when drawing blood. So while Swiffur was away from us for a few minutes, he was stabbed in the neck, stabbed in the belly to get urine, and sodomized by the vet tech. If he wasn’t traumatized before, he surely was NOW!
The vet said that he likely had some type of phosphorous poisoning. She asked me if he had gotten into anything that he shouldn’t have, like poison. How the hell would I know? He’s home everyday by himself. He has free reign over the house. I didn’t kitty-proof the house after Santa delivered him. I didn’t think about him eating something poisonous. But even when I thought about it, I couldn’t think of what he could have ingested that would be poisonous. It’s not like I have poinsettias out this time of year.
And then it hit me. What was different these last two weeks that he didn’t have before? What had changed? Ah, yes. HER! The new kitten. And she had had two flea and tick baths and he was licking her to death. Literally!
The vet agreed that his could be the cause. She said they would give him a charcoal treatment there in the office and I was to do it again that night. This was to get the poison out of his system, if indeed this was the problem. So here’s how that went down. In the vet office, Dianne and I watched as the vet tech wrapped Swiffur in a towel to contain him. While the vet tech held him securely, the doctor slowly squirted this jet black liquid that looked like black ink into his mouth by way of a huge syringe. Swiffur showed little resistance and just lapped up the blackness up with each squirt. They gave us some useful tips like don’t wear good clothes because the charcoal can be hard to get out of material. No problem. Piece of cake.
That night, we were to give him his second dose of charcoal. They sent me home with a syringe full that we were to administer as late in the night as we could. We were all exhausted. Dianne fell asleep on the couch; I fell asleep in bed, simultaneously. At midnight, I woke up and remembered that we were supposed to give Swiffur his treatment. I went downstairs and woke Dianne up to help me. We got a towel and tried to wrap Swiffur up like they did in the vet’s office. Similar to how you watch the nurses in the hospital swaddle your baby for the first time and it’s all nice and tight, then you try it and it’s not quite the same? Like that. He would have none of it. He wiggled, wrangled and clawed his way out every time we thought we had a grip on him. I was in charge of the charcoal and Dianne was in control of containment. She was still recovering from her surgery and maybe this was not the best plan. He kept kicking her in the gut trying to get away. Both of us, half asleep, didn’t figure out until it was all done that maybe our roles should have been reversed. Anyway, she held him the best she could, while I attempted to squirt the black liquid into his mouth. He wasn’t staying still and lapping it up like in the vet’s office. Oh no. He was moving everywhere; black liquid was all over his face and his paws; charcoal all over my breakfast bar and us! It was like a Lucy and Ethel episode yet we were both too tired to find the humor in it. Me yelling at her to hold him; her yelling at me to squirt it in now! It was a mess, as I knew it would be. He swallowed maybe half of it. The other half was everywhere for me to clean up.
Swiffur at the vet's office:
My Kaneclusion: After all was said and done, Swiffur is doing fine now. No more shaking, shivering, or tremors. We gave She-it a bath in Dawn dishwashing liquid to remove what was obviously killing poor Swiffur, per the doctor’s orders. God help us if one or both of them get fleas! Now that they are both fine, it is ME who is now shaking from the traumatic experience of:
1) The fear of having to put him down at 9 months old, and how would I have explained that to all of you. My blog would read: ”I had Swiffur put to sleep. I told you all I didn’t want a cat! The end.”
2) Having to give him that charcoal treatment after he had been through so much that day at the vet’s office. Both Dianne and I were shaking when we got done. Her from pain in her stomach from him kicking her; me, from jamming black stuff down his choking throat.
3) The expense of the vet’s office visit was $275 which made me quiver in and of itself!
4) Most seriously, the thought that I had almost killed the boy unknowingly.
All of it makes us very aware of just how quickly we become attached to these animals in our lives. I looked at him shivering on the floor and thought, what a beautiful specimen. I couldn’t imagine having to dig a grave for him this soon. I‘ve heard about people spending ungodly amounts of money on their pets to keep them alive and have thought that they are insane for doing so. But watching my Swiffur trembling and losing his will to play and be a cat, I understood. Had the vet told me he needed surgery, I would have gotten out my charge card with no questions asked.
And to think, I just doubled up on that fun!