It's hard to believe it was back in October when we learned my mom's cat Cubby had gone blind. Since then, regular visits to the vet for shots and prednisone in pill form had kept his condition from otherwise deteriorating. He'd still occasionally walk in circles, but his appetite was good, and we'd even find him sitting on the kitchen table sometimes. He had adjusted to the handicap and was getting around just fine.

It's hard to believe it was 14 years ago that my mom heard a small, high-pitched cry from a window well near the office of one of my dad's doctors, and I came home to find a hamster-sized gray kitten. My mom nursed him to health, and his name became ironic as he grew bigger than most of the cats we'd ever owned. I think that, while 14 is considered old for felines, it's hard to see him as anything other than that little kitten. Most of our cats live from 16 to 18 years. My mom takes good care of them.

Last week, on Thursday or Friday, we noticed he was favoring his back right leg and limping a little bit. We didn't notice the limp as much as a low growl of pain every time he put weight on it. This only got worse over the weekend, to the point that he was falling over and my mom once found him lying in his litter pan. I was taking a vacation day on Monday anyway, so it didn't take much prodding for me to get her to take him in to the vet while I was around to help her carry him.

My own research seemed to point toward some kind of muscle problem, since a broken or fractured bone would be accompanied by swelling and other symptoms. He was feisty as the vet's assistant, wearing thick protective gloves, pulled him out of his carrier. He actually bit the carrier. The vet examined his back legs, moving them less gingerly than I had, knowing what he was doing, and determined that the problem seemed to be in his hip. The legs were of even length, so he ruled out a dislocation, and leaned toward it being some kind of soft tissue injury, in conjunction with my own independent research. He did something to make the cat empty his bladder, which was full after a day or so. The infection he detected with a simple litmus test was of more concern, and antibiotics were prescribed. The cat was already on 1.5 prednisone a day, one in the morning and half at night, so the vet recommended we up that to a full 2 pills. He had us set up another appointment on Friday to see if Cubby was responding to the antibiotics or increased anti-inflammatory.

Over the last few days he seems to have gotten worse. He doesn't cry when he walks, but he keeps the right leg pulled all the way up and the left one is starting to bow inward. He collapses a lot, and on Wednesday had no appetite. My mom had to put food on her finger and rub it around his mouth to get him to eat anything. Other than one accident, he hasn't been going to the bathroom either, which definitely doesn't help the infection or his appetite. A few times I thought he was dead the way he was lying stiff on his side, but he'd occasionally perk up and look around, sometimes try to walk. He keeps trying to crawl into corners, which is never good, and a behavior we've observed in dying animals before. He's like a child to my mom who raised him, and I can tell she's taking it hard. I was never as close to him as she was, but I've been pretty bummed out too.

I did find one article about his bladder problem, but we weren't as successful as the vet was. After 24 hours, that kind of retention can be deadly. I hope he makes it to Friday. I remember two years ago when I thought our other cat Chirp was done for, but after a few days of having a respiratory infection his appetite finally returned. Now he's perky as ever. He's been looking on at everything going on, keeping his distance but still observing, because animals sense when something is wrong with each other. That Cubby did as well as he did after a mini-stroke in October is excellent, but it doesn't seem like he's been disabled for that long already. And the fourteen years he's been with us simply flew. Miracles do happen. My dad came back to us twice in as many years, first from a bad shoulder infection and then from a heart bypass. Now he's ready to march in a parade and play his horn on Sunday. So I don't want to give up hope. But I've seen cats like this before, and I know time is usually short. All we can do is keep giving him his medication as long as we can get it in to him, and see what the vet says on Friday, and pray. Mostly, my mom is just keeping him comfortable, petting him, and telling him what a good boy he is. Somehow, when we weren't looking, this healthy young kitten became a broken old man. Soon, my mom's heart may be broken again, and for that mine breaks as well.


Blogger Spockgirl said...

For the unemotional person that I am, I could feel tears welling up in my eyes as I read your blog tonight. In short, I can relate to both you and your cat, having lost my eyesight, my cat and subsequently my mom, in a two year span. (I did however get one of them back.) Brevity leaves many things unsaid.
I hope your cat isn't suffering or in too much discomfort.

5/27/2010 1:30 AM  
Blogger b13 said...

For all the good things that our animals give to us, the hardest part is letting them go. :(

5/27/2010 9:20 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

My mom took him to the vet today; definitely the infection and possibly kidney stones and not relieving himself that's causing the problem. The vet expressed his bladder, and he seems a lot perkier tonight. He's on some other medications so we'll see how he responds. He's eating again, but still not going to the bathroom on his own. I guess it could go either way right now...

Thank you for the comments and empathy.

5/27/2010 9:23 PM  

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