Thursday, October 19, 2006

Katherine: So?

Mike: what?

Katherine: You know what.

Mike: I'm afraid I don't.

Katherine: You were gone for something like two weeks straight!

Mike: Uh..

Katherine: Two weeks in which I endured all kinds of suffering and worry!

Mike: Suffering?

Katherine: Some strange woman entered the house every couple days or so. She was so foreign! I'd never seen her before!

Mike: What did you do?

Katherine: I did what any self-respecting feline would do: I hid in terror under the bed!

Mike: Well if you never saw her then how did...

Katherine: See this, Mike? It's called a nose. Mine works. I could smell her a mile away.

Mike: Ok.

Calypso: She was nice!

Mike: That's wonderful. She was there to keep an eye on you.

Calypso: Where did you go?

Mike: Oh, I went away for awhile.

Katherine: Where?! You went with...with....HER, didn't you?!?

Mike: Oh Katherine, you really have to stop with the jealousy.

Katherine: I never said I was jealous. Of her?! Harumph!

Mike: Harumph?

Katherine: Had to clear a hairball. Anyway, you never answered the question. Where SPECIFICALLY did you go?

Mike: Well, let's just say I took a little trip east.

Calypso: The woman who watched us said you went to Italy.

Katherine: What!? Italy?! How did you know that?

Calypso: That's what you get for spending all your time cowering under the bed!

Katherine: Watch it, Calypso.

Calypso: You should bring her over more often.

Mike: Why is that, Calypso?

Calypso: She played with us a lot, gave us fresh water every couple days, cleaned our litterbox...much more often than you do!

Mike: (cough) Uhh, well...

Calypso: Don't get me wrong...I know you get around to it eventually. She even brought over a few of her friends.

Mike: Beg your pardon?

Calypso: Yeah! They played with me, too. It was fun!

Mike: Hmm.

Calypso: Well, see ya! I need to go tear up your couch.

Katherine: You're dead to me, Mike. Dead to me.

Mike: (sigh) When's my next vacation?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Katherine visited the vet again today. After a month of being on steroids, she seems to be improving, as it appears the inflammation in her gums has subsided and all the areas where they'd extracted teeth look "great."

The vet gave me a refill of the medication and advised me to scale back the frequency of doses to just three times a week. Ultimately, the goal is to ween her completely off the steroids.

My concern was that long-term use of steroids could lead to diabetes in my cat; however, the vet said that kind of scenario is rare for oral steroids at such a low dose.

Next on my agenda: getting Calypso back to the vet!

Friday, July 14, 2006

The biopsy results for Katherine came in today.

The vet seemed upbeat in his message to me just minutes earlier, so when I called back and the first thing he said was, "it was pretty much what we had expected," a chill shot up my spine.

"It's fairly common in cats," he continued. "She's suffering from an autoimmune condition causing inflammation and infection to her teeth and gums. Her body is reacting to the tartar and is essentially attacking her own teeth," the vet said. I sighed in semi-relief. The news sucked, but I'll choose an autoimmune condition over cancer any day.

There are two options for Katherine: Try a 30-day dose of steroids and see how she responds to it, or extract all her remaining teeth. Since I'm not quite ready to watch Kat gum her food for the rest of her life, I opted for the steroids, which the vet agreed was probably the most appropriate choice at this stage.

After Katherine finishes off her antibiotics, I'll start her on a tuna-flavored liquid steroid. Somehow I doubt she'll be fooled.


Friday, July 7, 2006

For the last four days, Katherine has been on liquid antibiotics to help fight the infection evident in especially one of her front canine teeth. Today was her scheduled teeth cleaning --her first ever.

I was apprehensive about the prospect of putting Kat through this ordeal, especially when anesthesia is involved. But considering what the veterinarian had shown me, it was clear this was a necessary risk. Only today did I realize just how necessary.

The vet called me about four hours after I'd dropped her off. She said Katherine had widespread infection throughout her mouth. When they began their cleaning procedure, two of her rear teeth simply fell out. They had to "amputate" part of one tooth, removing the crown, as well as removing the one front canine. A total of four teeth were now history.

But the most disconcerting news was yet to come. X-rays indicated something "funny" going on, suggesting that the infection had penetrated the jaw bone. However, there was another possibility. Katherine could have cancer. We'll know for sure once the biopsy results come back in a week.

Needless to say, I'm pretty stunned. I was hoping for a normal procedure and turn of events. I fully expected at least one of her teeth to be extracted, but nothing like this. Another vet I spoke to there suggested this may be an allergy-induced infection. "Believe it or not," he said, "some cats essentially become allergic to their own saliva." The result is widespread degradation of the teeth and gums. At least with allergies, the effects can be controlled and minimized.

I feel awful. I never realized that all of this could be going on without some outward signs from Kat: a change in her demeanor; a lack of eating, etc. But she's been her same old self. The only clue I had to go on was the onset of unusually bad breath.

Katherine is back home now, dazed, glassy-eyed and sounding like she's got 10 pounds of phlegm rumbling in her throat. Just last night, she was very active and full of vigor. The guilt is overwhelming to see her like this. Calypso is hissing at her because she now smells like veterinarian's office.

If Kat's problems are the result of allergies, I wonder if it's plastic-related. Katherine loves to chew on plastic bags, and the "auto" feeder is plastic. There's plastic all through the house. Perhaps I can eliminate this factor and see if it makes a difference.

I need to do something to keep my mind preoccupied for the long, anxious week ahead.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Kat's nasty breath has been so unbearably eye-watering that I realized there was only one solution...something heretofore unthinkable: I had to take her to the vet.

The last time she'd visited such a place, it was the late 1990's. True, I had attempted to take her in 2002 and again in 2003, but they were miserable comedies of error. In both cases, Kat had freaked out to the point that I decided it simply wasn't worth the hassle, especially since she was perfectly healthy and always stayed indoors.

But now, for the first time in her life, Katherine is experiencing a health issue. Bad cat breath is a sure sign of decaying teeth and/or infection and it was only going to get worse.

Either I've grown more balls or Katherine has mellowed over the years, because yesterday's trip to the vet was largely unremarkable. Oh sure, she was scared, hissing briefly as I placed her in the pet carrier, but aside from a few pitiful meows in the car, Katherine remained well-behaved.

The vet examined Kat's mouth, revealing an inflamed and infected tooth on her right side. Overall, her teeth were in relatively good condition, with only a little bit of plaque buildup. In addition to giving Kat the usual round of booster and rabies shots, she prescribed a liquid antibiotic and scheduled Kat's teeth cleaning for Friday morning.

Applying the antibiotic has been a somewhat painful experience for the both of us, but it could be worse. Though she fights me all the way, Kat doesn't wildly scratch and claw while I attempt to squirt the stuff into her mouth.

I'm looking forward to seeing Katherine return to her old self this weekend. In the meantime, she's not exactly going to be my number one fan.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

From Kat's personal diary:

Dear Diary:

Just when I thought my old man was getting soft, he did something tonight that I can only describe as, well, super-kitty.

For years, Calypso and I have had to put up with another, lesser-known pet of his. This pet is so violent and so dangerous that Mike resorts to locking it in a closet for most of its existence. That's where it should remain, in my opinion, but for some reason only Mike understands, he takes this pet out for short walks.

From the moment I first saw the bright red monstrosity, I knew it wasn't natural. It seems docile enough when Mike unwinds its tail, but as soon as he pokes that tail into two small holes in the wall, all hell breaks loose.

The beast comes to life, screaming all the way. It's all Mike can do to keep the creature from pouncing on us...for several long minutes, he'll struggle valiantly as the beast leaps forward, then is held backward, then forward again. The wrestling usually spills out all over the house --often into the two bedrooms. Typically, it gets so out of hand that Calypso and I retreat to the basement.

Tonight, Mike finally got fed up with the noisy brute. He shoved it against a wall, tearing deeply into its smelly innards. He pulled out a bluish bladder that I can only assume was the creature's stomach. From my vantage point, it was clear the bladder was full of all kinds of nastiness. So horrid was the sight, that Mike had to discard the stomach outside.

Perhaps out of sympathy, Mike then decided to patch up the red devil. From inside a nearby cabinet, he retrieved a fresh stomach and inserted it into the belly of the beast. I've never seen anything like it in all my life. I doubt the thing will live, but even so, Mike returned it to its home in the closet.

I've decided to give Mike a wide berth this evening. There's no telling what he might do should we tick him off.


Saturday, March 17, 2006

I just watched a little movie starring Jack Nicholson called, "About Schmidt." In it, Schmidt writes letters to a 6-year-old orphan boy in Tanzania.

The movie has inspired me to name my next cat Ndugu. You've heard it here first.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Kat has had some nasty breath of late. I know what this usually signals, of course. It's time for her to get those choppers cleaned and look for signs of decay.

The problem, of course, is that my cats are psychotic. The last time I attempted to take them to the vet was about the most traumatic experience I've ever faced with a pet, even including my years handling/training Dobermans. Granted, Calypso had little experience with veterinarians, but Katherine had been no stranger to them. You wouldn't have known that had you witnessed that August day in 2002.

While I did manage to get Calypso to the vet a couple years ago for her shots, Katherine hasn't been to a vet in more than six years. Now, I know what you're thinking. What a shitty cat owner you are to not keep up with your "regular" vet appointments! Usually I'd be in agreement. But then I look to my step-father's cat who lived to the ripe old age of 20 without ever having been to the vet. And I've received emails from several other owners who are also "lax" in their vet-visiting habits. So, it's easy to rationalize.

But then it comes back to that awful breath, which I'm sure has been made worse with years of "people food" in her diet (lunch meat, tuna, chicken and beef from Taco Bell, etc.). There's usually only one solution to the bad breath. Well, okay, TWO solutions, but I happen to like my cats.