When a pet is sick

LLMy much-loved cat nearly died this week , and I’ve been beside myself with worry. I’m happy to say she has suddenly started to improve, but for a while there, I feared the worst.

My husband explained best how we felt when I heard him speaking on the phone to a friend: “We’ve had her nine years; she’s part of our family,” he said. (She, being a cat, would maintain that she is in fact the head of our family, I’m sure).

I’ve always been a ‘cat person’. My parents had a cat before I was born; for all my childhood and whenever possible in my adult life, I’ve had cats. When I don’t have a cat, I feel like something’s missing.

My husband and I have both had bad luck with beloved cats being run over, and when he bought a tiny, fluffy tortoiseshell kitten for me just over nine years ago, we decided she would be an indoor cat, allowed outside only as far as our courtyard.

Lucy Locket has been a great indoor cat. She’s naturally lazy, timid, averse to strangers and likes her home comforts. She probably could jump the fence if she wanted, but she doesn’t.

That was the way, we thought, we could have our pet for a long time.

But that was in doubt this week when she came down with a serious mystery illness: she was barely able to walk, was not drinking or eating and had a very high temperature.

The vet admitted her to the hospital in his clinic, and there she stayed for three days on a drip and medication.

They couldn’t get her to eat, and it’s very dangerous for a cat to go beyond three days not eating, because of possible liver complications.

But she was so traumatised by the hospital experience, that she had lost all interest in food.

So we had to bring her home to try to coax her to eat. I found some great information on line about how to get a sick cat to eat (here’s a link). It was just tiny bits at a time, but at least it was something. Each minuscule amount she ate seemed like an enormous breakthrough.

Then this morning, she was much better. She is eating again (about half her normal amount, but enjoying it), meowing for a brush, and sitting in the sun. She’s still weak, but I can tell she’s improving, because her weird little habits are back, such as scritch-scratching under a bag if it is placed on the floor.

We still don’t know what the illness is. Blood analysis was inconclusive (and two of the three samples clotted), but seemed to point to a virus. It’s not one of the serious viruses such as feline aids or leukemia, as she has no contact with other cats. It could have been an infection “somewhere”, so she’s also had a long-term antibiotic shot.

The worst thing about an animal being sick is that they can’t tell you their symptoms or where it hurts. She’s much better, though, at letting me know she is getting better: from the trot back in her gait, to the demand for a brush, to the quickly turning head when a bird flies overhead.

Let’s hope the mystery illness doesn’t return.

15 thoughts on “When a pet is sick

  1. What a horrible week you’ve had , Carol! I’m so sorry to hear that Lucy’s been so sick! It’s good to hear she’s getting better, though, and I’m sending all sorts of good wishes for all of you.

  2. So glad she’s on the mend. How bizarre, especially as she doesn’t go out. Could she have eaten a plant or flowers that are poisonous for cats or licked up somebspilled cleaning product or something?

    I also love cats. I have 2, had 3 but one passed. And mine are indoor as well. They seem quite happy lounging on pillows.

    I hope Lucy Locket continues to improve.

    • Thank you, Fransi. Yes, we have thought and thought about it, asked the vet various things, but he seems to think it isn’t a poisonous plant or any spray. We checked all the ingredients in the products we use, and they are all OK for cats. Also, he said she would probably be fitting and/or vomiting if that were the case. We just don’t know! I’m worried that whatever it is/was could recur. But then again, people tell me I’m a worrier, a “what if…” person!

      • Well if it’s any comfort I’d be reacting the same way. Do you have a veterinary college close by? We do and vets here often refer challenging cases to them. Maybe they could figure it out. Here’s hoping it’s an isolated thing and she’ll be fine though!

        • I do hope so. We don’t have a vet college close by. We could go back and do further tests etc on her, but that’s so traumatic for her, that I will leave her be at home. But if she does show signs of getting sick again, I will be right on to it. The vet also thought it could be blood parasites that cats are born with and which usually cause them no trouble. But in January, we had to put her in a cattery for a week while we were away, and he thinks her anxiety could have put her system out of balance. Then again, it could be something she picked up at the cattery and which lay dormant for 6 weeks. She did seem unusually skittish and more reclusive than normal when we brought her home.

  3. How horrible for you and her. I think a book should be written on getting cats to eat. I have memories of trying to hide pills in the middle of juicy prawns. Of course the prawn would be eaten and the pill elegantly spat out at the end. I hope her recovery continues.

    • Thank you, Vicky. That made me laugh, about trying to feed pills to cats. I once bought an expensive pill dispenser that promised to be an easy way to get a cat to swallow a pill. It was hopeless! I just looked on YouTube and there are hundreds of videos about how to do it. But the assume the cat will not realise something is about to happen: our cat gets wind of anything out of the ordinary and hides under the bed, right in the middle where we can’t possibly get her.

  4. Oh, Caron. I am so sorry! I hope Lucy is doing much better. I am such a bleeding heart for animals and she looks like a sweet thing. I don’t know what would I would do if I lost my Bailey (my dog). Am going to keep her in my prayers!

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