Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Wednesday July 10th 2019
Oh, Daisy, Daisy. You’ll be the end of me.
Daisy is not well. She has had diarrhoea on and off for two weeks. She has gradually eaten less and less. Now she refuses to eat more than a mouthful or two in a day. She isn’t joining me at night as she usually does, but spends all her time lying beneath the wardrobe where a drawer is missing. (It came apart about a year ago, and I’ve not got round to repairing it yet.)
I have to bite the bullet: I must take her to the vet. She was nineteen last April. I am a pessimist. I convince myself the vet will take one look at her and tell me that the kindest thing would be ……………………………..
The evening before, the car key jams in the lock and, try as I might, I can’t get it out. If I call the breakdown service, and they can’t free it, or they break it in the lock, my garage will have closed for the night and I’ll not get Daisy to the vet. I could, of course, leave it in the lock overnight, drive to the vet’s and then take the car in tomorrow.
I can turn the ignition on and drive. That’s not a problem. Ah, yes. I’ll put something over the wheel so no-one will notice that the key is in the ignition, lock the car and hope for the best. What a sensible idea. But, of course, modern technology doesn’t work like that. The car won’t lock while there’s a key in the ignition. Yes, very sensible.
But it doesn’t help me. Spending the night in the car is not an attractive proposition.
I am anxious enough about taking poor Daisy to the vet. Now I’m winding myself up more and more tightly by the minute.
Fortunately, sanity returns and I phone my garage. The owner, C. is not only very skillful, but helpful and kind too. He will call in on his way home.
He does. After many turns and much oil squirting, he is able to release the key.
I don’t sleep well.
Isis plays in the garden while I gather together all the accoutrements which past experience has taught me may well be necessary when transporting a cat. Check. Yes, they’re all there: spare cat carrier, rubber gloves, baby wipes, puppy training pads, toilet roll and bin bag.
Wise precautions. About three quarters of the way there, we pull off the road for a clean up.
The vet does not suggest the immediate purchase of a small kitty coffin, and my gut slowly returns to its normal position.
Kitty definitely has problems. As I feared, she has lost weight. But it isn’t possible to determine what is causing the diarrhoea and the food refusal. A very thorough examination ascertains that there are no obvious signs of swellings or lumps, her heart is functioning normally, her chest is clear and she hasn’t a temperature. She is taken to the next room for blood samples.
We wait for the thyroid result. No significant change, so we can continue with the current medication for that condition.
The vet will ring tomorrow with the rest of the results. Daisy could have an infection, of course, and the diarrhoea must be treated. We leave with antibiotics and a syringe full of a probiotic paste, which I am advised, tastes yeasty, and is liked by most cats who lick it eagerly from their dishes. That’ll be easy then.
Next day the vet tells me that the blood tests have not come up with any answers. The kidney values have not deteriorated since the last tests. She has idiopathic high calcium levels which can be caused by diarrhoea, by thyroid problems, or can be an unexplained one off. There is a possibility that her symptoms may have a secondary cause. This needs to be investigated.
We agree that if the diarrhoea persists for more that two weeks, Daisy will return for further blood tests. If it clears up, we’ll give her a break and do the tests in a month’s time.
For days there has been no change. Daisy remains beneath the wardrobe, nibbles at the most two mouthfuls of one the vast array of delectable offerings put before her, and it feels like I’m spending most of my time changing cat trays.
There are brief distractions. Unlike all the other cats in Britain, Daisy finds even the thought of the probiotic paste offensive, and won’t touch the antibiotic whatever delightful, strong smelling morsel it’s concealed in. She knows that I’m trying to poison her.
In vain do I rush off to Azda on Saturday afternoon to buy fresh fish, exotic Sheba and Lick-E-Lix. The latter, Bev tells me, her cat scoffs so fast that he doesn’t notice the crushed tablet she’s mixed into it. Daisy is not tempted by any of the treats I buy. She loves the splodge of Lick-E-Lix I give her, but when I pulverise the antibiotic and cunningly mix in even a third of it, she turns her head away.
For three days Human and Human’s bed are decorated with probiotic paste while mere specks of it land in Daisy’s mouth. Every treat which I use to get her to consume her medicines, becomes repugnant to her. For months, she has happily lapped up her thyroid pill wrapped in sardine. Now she is repulsed by sardine.
I dread medication time. I can’t believe that such a tiny, old, sick cat can fight like she does. I’ve always prided myself on how efficiently I can deal with medicating cats, but this Daisy is something else. She scrabbles and squirms and flails. As I struggle to hold her down, force her mouth open and insert pill or paste, it feels like she has grown a dozen extra paws. Bam! Swipe! Slash.
On Sunday we reach breaking point. Outraged and desperate, she slides off my lap and hangs in space by one claw. Literally. I have to lift her up onto the bed before I can unhook the deeply embedded claw. As, unfortunately, it’s my arm in which the claw is embedded, this process is breathtakingly painful.
So now, four times a day I don my high-necked, long-sleeved, sailcloth fisherman’s smock, haul Daisy from her hideout, wrap her tightly in an old towel, prise open her clenched teeth, shove in a pill before she closes them on my finger, hold her little snout and tickle her throat until she gulps.
During this nerve-wracking process, it is necessary to return to the towel numerous erupting paws, retrieve any spitty bits she has managed to eject, and hoik her back towards me each time she attempts to slither off the end of the bed.
If you can imagine the slipperiness of an eel, the ferocity of an enraged crocodile,and the agility of a leopard, you’re close to the reality.
The house smells like a dead whale. Human is tired, irritable, bad-tempered and miserable. She despairs of kitty. Kitty hates her guts.
Then, on Tuesday, I cook a different kind of fish. I mix in a little of her wet renal food.
I hold it under her nose for a few seconds before taking it over to her eating space. She shoots out from under the wardrobe. She runs so fast that I’m still holding the dish when she reaches it.
She eats it all.
That night I can’t see her in her hideaway. There she is on the bed. When I slide under the duvet, she follows me as she did before she was ill, and presses herself against my side. As I stroke her head, she purrs and purrs.
Oh Daisy, Daisy.
It’s all too much.
*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact email@example.com or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk
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