Monday, December 24, 2007

Regarding the Life of the Beast---or The Cat Who Cried Wolf

Proverbs 12:10

"The righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel."

I'm guessing this proverb was intended mostly for someone using a beast of burden...i.e. the righteous man would stop plowing before his poor oxen fall over from too much work. Or perhaps the meaning is comparision...the righteous man cares even for his animals, but the wicked man is not capable of "tender mercies" that are anything but cruel?

Anyway, it's a verse that we quote around our house fairly often, especially to a young boy who would really like to plague the cats a lot. And it's a good way to remind a child that the cats need to be fed, "Would one of you get out here this minute and REGARD THE LIFE of these CATS before I trip over one and KILL MYSELF?!"

Yesterday, our oldest cat needed her life "regarded". Petunia is 12 years old, and she has arthritis in both knees, but she is generally in good health otherwise. She's a very proper Southern lady cat, so she very rarely hisses and never bites a human. Starting Friday night she had hissed, howled, and tried to bite when anyone got a hand near her tail and back. We took that to mean something was wrong and started checking her over for signs of injury.

Natalie and I pinned her down Saturday night and checked all around the sore area for signs of swelling, bite marks, anything broken...but we found nothing. Sunday morning when we got up, though, she was holding her tail in a funny position and the area all around the base of her tail looked very swollen.

Of course this is Christmas week, and our hardworking vet and his assistants get a nice holiday until Wednesday. Normally I would decide that she could just wait till then. BUT...we're leaving town later in the week. What if she has an abscess (most likely scenario for pain around the tail) and needs antibiotics, hot compresses, wound cleaning, drains, etc. Our cat sitter/house watcher is very dependable, but that's a lot to expect of someone else. So wouldn't it be best to get her to the emergency vet on Sunday, get her started on the meds, etc, and have her on the way to healing in case she won't cooperate with the cat sitter?

So, yesterday afternoon Natalie and I trundled off to the emergency vet with a disgruntled cat in the cat carrier. We planned our route to go on the least-busy streets, but even so...the emergency vet is near the mall...yikes! We made it with no problems, took her in and explained her symptoms to the vet tech. "Oh, yes, sounds like an abscess, probably from a cat bite, good thing you brought her right in." They take her off and we go to sit down.

Three minutes later the tech is back..."Could you show me where the swelling is, I can't find it." I show her, she says there isn't any swelling there and when I press right on the area Petunia just looks at me in a mildly irritated fashion. The tech says we will wait and see what the vet says.

Well, the upshot is, after spending two hours and too much money at the emergency vet...we don't know what's wrong with Petunia. She absolutely REFUSED to act as though she was in pain for the vet. Her "swelling" was gone...the only explanation any of us could come up with was that she was poufing her fur out in that area when it hurt. The vet's best guess is that she did have pain, but that the stress of the trip raised her adrenaline levels so she didn't exhibit pain at his office. As to the cause of the pain he had two theories, neither of them verifiable without expensive time-consuming x-rays which he didn't push for and I didn't elect to pay for...basically, it could be:

1. A bruised tail or tailbone caused by a fall. Very possible because she insists on jumping onto things even though her knees don't work well, and often ends up slithering ungracefully back down.

2. More arthritis, perhaps in the hip joints or tailbone area.

Either way, the solution was pain medicine plus keeping an eye on her for further developments.

So, that was fun. We got to hang out in the waiting room with the mayor and several other Dog People Whose Dogs Had Real Problems...and another cat owner whose cat had a rash on its tummy. I know those vets and techs were aggravated at having to waste time they could have spent working on Serious Dog Issues to deal with us hypochondriac cat owners and our weird little cat problems. :) Oh well, they got paid for it!

Meanwhile, The Cat Who Cried Wolf is enjoying her pain medicine and seems downright perky and youthful after her trip out on the town. One beast life regarded, and we will now get on with celebrating Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my (6 or 7) readers!


Uncle Jim said...

Just a little research... the word in question ("beast"/"hmhb") is Strong's Number 929, and is defined as follows:

1. beast, cattle, animal
a. beasts (coll of all animals)
b. cattle, livestock (of domestic animals)
c. wild beasts

Probably not overly applicable to the feline in question, unless of course, you use her to plow the garden each spring. :)

I assume she's all fine & dandy by now?

Beth said...

Well, she falls under (a), as she is part of the collective set of animals. But, no she's not a *useful* animal. She's a furry little welfare bum!

She's fine and dandy for now with her pain meds. They only prescribed 5 doses, though, because cats have liver/kidney issues with drugs.

I figure she will lie low and not do much while we're gone...we'll leave the heat up a bit and put lots of cushy sleeping rugs in sunny spots. If she's back to acting painful when we get back we'll see what our regular vet recommends.

Mrs. Darling said...

Hope you had a wonderful christmas!