Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Six Hundred Dollar Cat.

Actually over seven hundred dollars at the end of the day, but the title didn't work.

Because the Universe has decreed that I must unexpectedly hemorrhage money at random intervals, Boris has stepped up to do his part - he has an infected, abscessed tooth. This has caused an infection all the way into his sinuses, and the resulting snotfest has in turn triggered the random Exorcist-like barfing. He's a solid 18 pounds of good-natured purring, this misery hasn't slowed him down, but still. I feel guilty about not taking him to the vet sooner, he's been like this for months (minus the throwing up, and actually he isn't sneezing as much lately) but that whole unemployment and then very sick mother thing distracted me from proper feline dental care. I don't have time to go to the dentist myself, nor dental insurance at the moment, so the vet tech's attempt to make me feel guilty about my cat's plight was only slightly successful. On the scale of priorities, he is far above the dead UV filter in the pond, but below the human who needs me right now.

I wish we all hadn't gotten into the fix we got into, but I am going to get his dental woes fixed. He is on a course of antibiotics for a week, and on July 1 he will have dental surgery. I am being philosophical about this - Boris is 12, and this is the first time he's really cost me serious vet money, so, amortized over the life of the cat, it's not that bad. Right? It's not that bad. It's not like I have time to have FUN with seven hundred bucks anyway. Savings are for sissies. This is WHY I have an emergency fund - which is dropping like somebody pulled the drain plug.

I'm in the middle of a Boris-like allergy attack, so I told him that I am feeling his pain. Actually I'm feeling mine - but he's a cat, I think it's okay to bullshit him as long as I wrap his antibiotic pills in turkey.

I will share my secret cat pill delivery technique - how I wish I'd been this smart 30 years and a few cats ago.

Take a piece of turkey lunch meat. I recommend good quality deli meat, not that cheap stuff with preservatives - cats aren't stupid. Then - and this is the magic - take a dab of soft, spreadable cheese - a bit of one of those Laughing Cow cheese wedges is perfect for this. Take a 1 inch by 2 inch bit of turkey, glue the pill inside with just a dab of the cheese, roll or fold, offer to cat. We are talking a piece of turkey the size of a large postage stamp, and a bit of cheese you just wipe off the wedge with your finger, not a big ol' wad of either. Boris has been haunting me all evening, he feels he needs antibiotics every hour. One slice of turkey lunch meat and one wedge of Laughing Cow will deliver a hell of a lot of pills, so it's also economical and beats every other "how to get a pill into a cat" technique I've ever used. I am going to use it for everything - Murphy's monthly heartworm pill (supposed to be tasty beef flavored, dogs love 'em, so of course mine has to be tricked into ingesting something meant for a dog. I mean, really, he isn't stupid.) The Laughing Cow (you could use cream cheese, anything bland and soft, it's just there to hold the pill to the meat) was the magic touch. I've tried cheese without meat, and meat without cheese, and both work to a point, but the combination makes it effortless. How did I not think of this decades ago?

If y'all have been doing this forever and I just discovered it, please don't tell me, I am feeling smugly good right now.

I visited my mother this afternoon, and she is much better than a day ago. God Bless a small dose of Ativan/Lorazepam, and God Bless her sweet, quiet, cheerful roommate, who is helping her have a good attitude toward her new, hopefully temporary, home. She's still weak, she's frighteningly skinny, I promised her a Starbucks White Mocha with whipped cream tomorrow. Her attitude was better, though - she was calm and mellow, totally alert, totally able to focus and be there.(Ativan, how I love thee....) She says she's eating - I will talk to her weekday nurse to confirm this, the weekend staff was running their ass off so I didn't take the time for a long chat. We did take a tour - she was sitting up in her wheelchair in the hall when I got there, so we wandered. It's a big facility, immaculately clean, the staff is always in motion, working their asses off. There's a nice outside garden area and when it's not threatening rain we will have to sit out. I was there for an hour and that was enough to wear her out. I brought her new shoes, and she was so glad to have them I had to put them on her right away. I do think that they will help her feel more secure on her feet, but dear God, her legs are so skinny. She has lost so much muscle, it's hard to imagine those legs holding her up, but her attitude is so much better, and that is a good thing.

When I walk through a nursing home I have a strong sense of "There, but for the grace of God...." There's a man in a wheelchair, I don't think he can speak, but as I passed him I smiled and said hi, and he winked. So every time I saw him I said something, and he winked. He still has a warm twinkle in his eye, and he's not ancient - maybe 60-something. He should be on a damn golf course, not there. If we met in another setting, I'm sure he'd be a flirt. Many of the residents are like that - they are "there," making the best of the cards they've been dealt. I can too easily see myself in such a setting, trying to make the best of it, and I am so grateful and amazed that I was lucky enough to survive the Brain Thang without significant damage.

Oh, and I'm pushing my mother around the hall and we ran into her favorite aide - she's so nice - and my mother introduced me with "This is my daughter. Can you believe she's so big?" I cracked up - "Yeah, I'm turning 50, I'm all grown up!" She showed off her shoes - she wanted me to bring the shoes we'd bought 5 minutes before she fell. She loves those shoes - let's hope they have some talismanic power to help her work hard in PT. Keep sending those good vibes and energy.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip - I have used things like that for DOGS, but never had any success with cats. Liverwurst was always particularly successful with the canine tribe.

The 'tasty' heartworm things - I gave up on 'em years ago, just bung the 'ordinary' HW tablet in the l'wurst.
Too often I have one dog who will accept the 'tasty' blocks, and one who won't, and who needs THAT.?

I am hoping that I will not need to medicate the Ancient Cat, she is still bright and alert (when awake) but getting thinner and thinner, despite eating many, many tiny meals a day. Dogs have masters, cats have staff, but since she is twenty one and a half years old (and I am not kidding) I think she is entitled. If she develops something seriously nasty, she will be sent gently home - she has been with us for half our married life. And that will leave a huge hole in our lives. 'Only a cat' forsooth!

Good vibes coming as fast as I can manage them,

Gae in Callala Bay

jee said...

Good thoughts and hope coming your way...for both of you. Bravery, your name is Catherine.

Peace to your and yours.

ChelleC said...

Good healing thoughts and prayers for the best outcome for your Mom - and some peace and GOOD, happy events for you.

zippiknits said...

Lorazapam is a great anxiety medicine. The pills are very tiny but they are wonderfully affective. Good news for you, then despite the expense of the tooth in Boris' mouth.

Thank you for posting this because you just may have solved a mystery for my sister cat, who is going through these same symptoms. I hope your kitty feels much better very soon. Our last vet bill was $500, because J needs so much done diagnostically every six months. Vets can now do amazing things but it costs and awful lot. Sorry this is all just piling up on you like a train wreck. May you get a break very soon.

Janet said...

That is a great tip for getting a cat to take a pill. I will certainly try it, although I have a feeling my cat will figure out how to get around even that.

I'm so glad they're giving your mother something that is helping. And yeah for new shoes. And yeah for white mochas--I've gotten try one of those.

Anonymous said...

Dear Catherine: I decided to check your blog 'cause I haven't seen you in KR Forums! 'Sorry to hear about your Mom in a nursing home, but I suspect you may get some peace of mind. My friend (that we spoke about once) is in a nursing home now, and having a tough time with it (blaming everyone else for putting her there!) and she sounds a lot like your Mom (especially the "bowels thing"!) It seems that a lot of people that age are obessed with going to the bathroom. 'Hope you get a rest now! And by the way: "Happy 50th Birthday"! I'll be 70 on July 15th, and I still can't believe it! It's not easy getting old, but at least I'm still here! lol