St. Patrick’s Day

So, here’s a quick update on the weekend so far….

Thursday night, Tess (it’s short for Tesla – she’s the tiny curly-haired cat sitting on my shoulder in my Facebook profile pic) decided that she didn’t want any dinner. This was strange. She usually finishes her dinner, then moves on to finish off any scraps that the other two cats have left in their dishes. We decide to keep an eye on her, and take her to the vet if she doen’t change her mind about food. Late Thursday night, she begins to throw up repeatedly – every two hours or so.

Friday morning, I drop my wife off at work and take Tess in to the Ann Arbor Animal Hospital. They do the standard poking & prodding, take blood samples, weigh her, take her temperature (she hates that) and then dose her up with antibiotics, anti-nausea medication, and ‘subcutaneous lactated ringer’ – basically a shot of liquids to help fight dehydration. We’re to keep an eye on her, and if she doesn’t want dinner or breakfast, we’re to bring her in for further testing.

Friday night we cook up some chicken. She doesn’t want any. She does drink some water though. Saturday morning she still doesn’t want any chicken. And while we’re getting showered & dressed to take her in to the vet, she throws up all the water she’s drunk. We hurry her in.

Saturday morning at the vet. Tess gets weighed, gets her temperature taken (she hates that) and is bustled away for X-Rays. The vet comes back and shows us her pictures.

Tess’s intestines are bunched up into a sort of cucumber shape. Swelling is keeping anything from passing out of her stomach into her small intestine. The vet sits us down and tells us about a condition called FIP – Feline Infectious Peritonitis. It’s basically the worst case scenario – an untreatable infection that causes the digestive tract to swell up. She says possibly the worst thing I’ve heard from a vet: “If she’s got this, get another cat.”

We agree to go ahead with further testing. An ultrasound, biopsy, and exploratory surgery will be able to determine if she’s got FIP or if it’s some other sort of blockage. We sign off on the resuscitation agreement (Yes, resuscitate her. No, don’t use ‘extreme’ measures.) in case something goes wrong during the testing. We leave a deposit with the front desk and go home. Worry level is high.

It’s now Saturday afternoon. We get a call from the vet. It looks like some sort of intestinal blockage, and it doesn’t look like FIP. This is good news. We give them the go-ahead for surgery. For those of you who are in the know on medical terminology, the plan is to resect the bowel, remove any necrotic tissue, perform sterile lavage on the abdominal cavity and start a regimen of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.

If you don’t know what that means… well, it’s pretty nasty.

Early Saturday evening. Jeannette is feeling antsy, so she makes plans to meet up with Kevin and Amy. I’m more of an introvert – I’d rather do my worrying in private and not burden my friends with my emotional baggage. That may seem weird to you extroverts – that’s ok, you seem kinda weird to me.

At any rate, early Saturday evening we get a call from the vet. Tess is done with surgery. It’s good news. We caught the situation early enough that there’s no necrotic tissue – basically, even though her intestines were blocked, they’re not dead. They’ve taken biopsies and tissue samples that they’re going to send to the lab to figure out why her digestive system shut down. The possible causes aren’t great – they include things like stomach cancer – but she’s in the recovery stage from the surgery. They’ll keep her in intravenous fluids and nutrients for a day or two, and then they’ll see if she’ll take food and water.

She’ll be staying in the intensive care unit for a couple of days, but we should be able to visit her starting tomorrow.

Thanks to all for your good thoughts!

One response to “St. Patrick’s Day

  1. Oh, god. Thank goodness there wasn’t necrosis. I understand how scary this can be – we had a similar situation with a cat (Arzachel) shortly after we moved away from Ann Arbor in the ’90’s. Only that unfolded in much slower motion (over 2 months), and turned out to be a bunch of ingested thread twisting up his intestines. Though the vet didn’t expect it initially, the cat did make a full recovery and live another decade.

    Since I’ve only just found out about this from your post, I’ll send my good thoughts now.

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