We really lucked out with Pancake. She’s beautiful, fluffy, the right amount of cuddly, and we’ve had her for 2 years so far without a single vet incident. Until now. (Granted, this means she hasn’t seen vet for shots since we’ve had her, but she’s an indoor cat who is wormed monthly and who doesn’t come into contact with any other animals so maybe we aren’t the worst people in the world).
Last month, I came home from work, dog tired from the week (and PMS yay), and collapsed on the bed. Per usual, Pancake jumped up to take a nap with me. But as soon as she jumped on me, she turned around, and I was face to face with her cat ass. Lovely. I started to shoo her away and that’s when I saw a giant red sore/abscess on a hairless patch beside her exit shoot. I thought “Well, that’s not normal,” so I turned to Dr Google, who assured me that it meant her anal glands were either inflamed or infected, and the patch was raw from her licking at it trying to relieve the discomfort. Oh, and inflamed/infected anal glands can rupture and kill an animal. OF COURSE THEY CAN.
I messaged Joel at work, and we both agreed to find a vet, because whatever was happening had the potential to get infected – or more infected. I found a mostly 5-star vet 15 mins away in Surry Hills, and booked an appointment. Joel wasn’t going to make home in time from work, so I took a bullet for the team and took her by myself – thereby making Joel the forever “good guy” who didn’t take her to the vet.
I wasn’t sure how she’d react to the crate, or the taxi, or being in a crate in a taxi, or being at the vet, and worse, having her ass poked and prodded at the vet. I’ve had cats who could care less about transport, who sleep in the crate, and glad hand everyone they see. I’ve also had cats who start getting stressed the moment they see the crate, lose half their hair, grow hoarse from yowling, and spend the entire appointment trying to claw/bite their way to freedom. Actually, Bill Purray was both of those cats.
Anywho, I took her crate down from the top of the wardrobe to dust it off (like I said, we haven’t used it in 2 years), and put her blanket inside. Once it was cleaned and ready to go, I left it on the bed, just to let her warm up to it. We had 40 minutes until we had to go, and if she was freaked out about the crate, it would take me about 40 minutes to get her out from under the bed (her preferred hiding spot). But, to my surprise, she immediately, and of her own volition, jumped into the crate and made herself at home. Easy!
And she was absolutely fine until the moment we stepped out of our lift.
She started the typical cat HELLO I’M UNHAPPY meow, while we waited for the taxi. When the taxi pulled up, the driver asked me if I wanted to put the cage in the boot, and he was met with a resounding and shrill HELLO I’M IN HERE yowl. “I guess that’s a no,” I said, and began one of about 600 apologies, as the quickly unravelling mew monster didn’t stop screeching until we got inside the exam room and I let her out. She spent the entire exam trying to hide, run up my chest, and keep the vet from touching her at all costs. Surprisingly, she didn’t try to bite or scratch anyone, but she had the most worried face I’ve ever seen. Oh my god it was heart breaking. I kept telling her, “this is what happens when you skin your own ass raw, cat.” She didn’t seem to appreciate it.
The vet ruled out infected anal glands of death, and instead suggested that she had a small cut that she must have over-cleaned until it became an angry sore. He gave her shots of antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory, gave me various lectures on getting her regular vaccines and cleaning her ears and preventing tartar and brushing her out more than once a month (“It’s for her own good and quality of life, so you know.” says the man who doesn’t have scars on his stomach from a cat defending her treasured matted fur from the dreaded brush and scissors), and then… then came the worst part:
The cone of shame.
Oh, she was pissed. I thought I’d seen her look of death before, but hoooo boy. The vet and the tech fashioned the cone around her neck and tied a soft string through it so she wouldn’t be able to kick it off, and assured Pancake up and down that if we washed it with betadine every day, she’d heal within a week and we could remove the cone. But she wasn’t having it. She shook her head violently and refused to move forward. I had to almost shove her into the crate. The tech gave me a similar speech to the one the little kid gave Billy’s dad in Gremlins when he secretly handed over the Mogwai(“No matter how much she pleads, no matter how much she begs, no matter how much she refuses to eat, don’t
feed her after midnight take off her cone until she’s fully healed.”), I paid the $220 bill (no Medicare for kitties) and we were on our way home. One of us with less dignity than the other.
She looked so defeated and pathetic, the poor thing. She didn’t make a peep during the ride home, and when we got upstairs and Joel opened the crate door, she took one step out and face planted. She spent the next 4 hours hiding under the bed, bonking into walls, tripping on herself, and staring at us with the hatred of a thousand Trump supporters.
Just like the vet said, it only took a few days for her to get hungry enough to eat. And whilst in the cone, she was so itchy and sad that she became extra clingy in the hopes that we would scratch her neck. Yeah it was sad to see her sad, but she was also 800% more cuddly and needy and so much more of a lap cat that I only a couple hundred times considered keeping her in the cone 24/7 (can Munchausen syndrome by extend to cat moms? asking for a friend.)
Except for the 4 hours of freedom she had once when we prematurely thought she was fully healed (only to clean herself so vigorously that she tore herself open again), Pancake has spent the last 23 days trapped in the cone. We’ve had an angry lamp cat, a miserable fur martini, and an inconsolable bean lump. She lost all depth perception, and every few minutes we’d hear her shaking her head because her ears were bent in the cone. A few times she shook her head so hard she fell over. We had to pile her food to one side of the bowl so she could reach it, and she could never figure out how not to get kitty litter stuck to the cone. So miserable, but so dumb and cute.
But, all’s well that ends well, and on Sunday she was healed up enough to go sans-cone. I thought the unleashing would be more dramatic, but all she did was lay in my lap cleaning her face for 20 minutes, then wandered off to demolish her food bowl. Freed her from her plastic prison, she was back to being a surly, don’t touch me unless you’re feeding me treats, I’ll hang out with you only when I feel like it, fill my feed bowl and leave me alone typical cat beast in no time at all. (in other words, she’s still me in cat form).
But I bet she’ll think twice next time about jumping into her crate.