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July 19, 2002: Cold dose

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Wednesday night was the night set aside for the yearly gathering and inspecting of the cats. We are lucky enough to have a veterinarian in the area who not only specializes in cats, but also does house calls. Trying to bring seven cats *to* a veterinarian is a task too painful and daunting to attempt otherwise.

The cats were, for the most part, resigned to the exam, either huddling in my armpit or else trying to flee from the vet. Allegra expressed her displeasure quite vocally, much to everyone’s amusement. Zuchinni – as expected – peed all over the floor in terror. And overall everyone seems to be doing just fine. Well, almost everyone.

Because this veterinarian only does house calls, she does not actually have an office. This means that any cat that requires a procedure more complicated than can be attempted on our dining room table must be driven the 20 miles to see another veterinarian. This one also specializes in cats, but who prefers to have the cats come to him instead of the other way around. This meant that the one-day veterinary experience turned into a three-day bonanza, and by this afternoon the credit card was groaning under the unexpected charges that resulted.

Four of the cats have already had most (if not all) of their teeth removed as a result of chronic gingivitis. Of the remaining three, luckily only Azzie seems to have any dental problems, and those are fairly minor. But still, this meant he had to go to the vet to get his teeth cleaned. I drove him in this morning and begged them to take advantage of the anesthesia (and his consequent inability to fight about it!) and groom him. This cat has fur that mats if you just look at it, and of course he is also the only one who hates the comb.

Thursday’s visit to the veterinary office was for something a bit less mundane than simply a tooth cleaning (and extraction). Rebecca – my grumpy old lady tortoiseshell – has lost weight. She was always a tiny cat, a bit on the thin side, but she has dropped an entire pound since last year, and in the past few months I’d begun to notice that she was looking scruffier than usual. I know that at 12 years of age she is susceptible to all the ailments that typically plague older cats, but still, I’ve been holding on to the fact that she’s always been so healthy.

She has a heart murmur – something that has developed in the past few years. He drew blood and ran tests, so at least we have ruled out the usual – thyroid, kidney, and liver. But there is no apparent explanation for the weight loss, and short of doing far more extensive (and expensive) tests that may or may not tell us anything, there is no way to find out until more symptoms appear.

For now I am to try to encourage her to eat more food (and of course this would only happen to the pickiest eater in my little furry horde), above and beyond what she normally eats. I haven’t been too successful the past few days and I am not holding out much hope that I will be able to convince her that she really does need to pack in a few more calories, but I will try. I know that things can happen; I know that we have been far too lucky with her health for a cat her age; I know that it is only a matter of time before things start to go wrong. But I simply was not ready to face that that time might be sooner rather than later.

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