Wednesday, June 14, 2006

In which the Brat has a Problem

Pretty Lady's household is in an uproar. Chaos and distress are the order of the day. The Brat's FLUTD has returned.

The Brat's first episode with this noxious syndrome happened a little over a year and a half ago. It appeared to resolve itself after a trip to the emergency vet, and a course of antibiotics. Well and good.

The next time it happened, then, Pretty Lady simply phoned the vet and got a renewal of the prescription. Unfortunately, two courses of pills later, the symptoms returned. We obtained expensive urinalyses, which were inconclusive. We journeyed to another vet for an X-ray, to determine if he had a bladder stone; the X-ray came up clean. The second vet prescribed an expensive cat food, which both cats utterly refused to consume. The urinary problem seemed to clear up on its own.

Then, all thought of bladder problems paled when the Brat came down from the ceiling one afternoon, frothing at the mouth.

(I must pause to describe what I mean by 'came down from the ceiling.' Once upon a time, long long ago, the Brat was making an unholy racket on the floor of the studio. The Angry Atheist happened to be inhabiting the loft at the time, and asked the Brat to stop--being fluent in common alley-cat. The Brat said, "Oh, yeah? Make me!" The Angry Atheist, a vocational rock climber, took the Brat at his word, and descended suddenly from the loft, in the manner of an attacking panther. The terror which this produced in the Brat caused him to literally hit the ceiling, as he scrambled atop the kitchen cabinet in his dash for safety, whereupon he serendipitously discovered that the ceiling panels were unsecured. He made his way into the crawl space in the attic, and stayed there for 18 hours. Since then, he retreats to his ceiling whenever under stress. The ceiling panels are, regrettably, unsecurable.)

When the Brat came down from the ceiling that fateful afternoon, he was not so much frothing as drooling copiously. In a panic, Pretty Lady raced him to the emergency vet once more. He vomited twice in the car, a distressing green slimy substance. The emergency vet performed expensive, inconclusive lab tests and sent him home. His condition continued to worsen; he was unable to retain any food or fluids at all, and even an eyedropper of water triggered a copious attack of green slime.

Subsequent visits to the regular vet produced no improvement in his condition. Lab tests indicated a strong suspicion of distemper, despite the fact that he was duly vaccinated, in his birthplace of Mexico. The vet wanted to do more tests; Pretty Lady asked, "Will they DO anything?"

The answer was, of course, no--there is nothing one can do to treat distemper, except wait. So Pretty Lady requested a subcutaneous fluid injection apparatus, with which she was able to keep his system hydrated, and returned home, where she installed him in his Mexican cat basket and administered daily doses of fluids and Reiki.

The Brat slept almost continuously in the basket for three months. He ate almost nothing, and dwindled to a small bundle of bones. Pretty Lady suspected AIDS, despite his celibate lifestyle.

Then one day, she opened a can of tuna. The Brat gave tongue, and consumed it. Six weeks later, he was back to his rambunctious self--with a newly acquired tendency to ask for Reiki at bedtime.


Thrilled to have snatched her darling from the jaws of death, Pretty Lady fed him anything he wanted after that. She figured that any remaining bladder crystals would certainly have purged themselves during his long fast.

Evidently, they are back. For the last three days, the Brat has been emerging from the ceiling only long enough to leave bloody stains on anything soft and receptive; Pretty Lady has been following him around with a bottle of lavender bleach and a pile of rags. She has administered leftover painkillers and leftover antibiotics from the fruitless journeys to the vet, but is loathe to take him in again.

The unfortunate fact is that vets, in Pretty Lady's copious recent experience, have a tendency to spend thousands of dollars of her money on tests, without doing anything to help her cat. An Internet search on FLUTD confirmed this phenomenon:

A diagnosis is not usually found for most cats with FLUTD. When a diagnosis is not found, veterinarians must use treatment plans that seem to have worked in the past or which seem to be consistent with current disease theory. This approach is called “Empirical Therapy” and does not always work. As newer information is revealed, treatment protocols will be revised. FLUTD is an especially dynamic area of research today and new information and fresh theory can certainly be expected in the next few years.
This time round, Pretty Lady simply does not have a thousand dollars to spend on pretending to take care of the problem. So she is administering Reiki, the occasional painkiller, removing access to dry cat food, and waiting. It is miserable for all of us. Please pray.

18 comments:

thimscool said...

I'm so sorry.

I had to administer subQ's for months to my beloved first cat Vixen. Ultimately her kidney failure was inevitable. The vet suggested a transplant as an option (!), but we were already tapped out.

I am also troubled about the cost of vet care... it's a delicate issue, and I think you have fleshed it out precisely.

All I can say is that my heart goes out to you and The Brat. Make the most of your time, and don't waste mind on guilt. Give him a chin scratch for me, please.

prettylady said...

Thank you very much, your words are deeply appreciated. My feeling is that if he can transcend distemper, he will eventually overcome this; however, it looks likely to be a chronically recurring problem. Which does not bode well, either for finding housesitters to take care of him while Pretty Lady takes a much-needed restorative vacation to Maine, or for bringing him along as a potentially troublesome guest.

Not to mention the heartrending expression on his face as he asks me to get him away from his own bottom.

And yes, thank you for your support about the vet care. It astonishes me how vets will order large numbers of very expensive tests without asking first, only to 'soothe the owner's mind' that everything possible is being done, even when the actions have no effect at all upon the health of the cat.

Morgan said...

Have you tried a homeopathic vet? We have several here who are wonderful. They still may want to do the same tests on Brat that traditional vets do, but their therapies are generally less invasive and their customers swear by them. I've done a couple of stories on veterinary homeopathy, acupuncture for pet pain management, etc. It's pretty amazing.
Also, the right vet may put you on a payment plan.
Either way, all our pets are praying for Brat. And that's a lot of prayer. ;-)

rlh said...

Have you considered having the cat put to sleep?

thimscool said...

Have you considered putting RLH to sleep?

prettylady said...

Thimscool, it is obvious that you are a Cat Person, and that Rlh is not.

rlh said...

Pretty Lady,
Being a cat person has nothing to do with it. I don't hate cats, I do however like dogs more. If that cat was my dog, I would consider putting the dog to sleep. It is called being humane. I am kind to animals. I do like to tease cats because they are so devilish... they love to fight back, I love it.

It is a sad thing to put an animal down. So I say it is up to you (I know, not my cat). And if you want to spend a fortune on a 6 cent cat. Ok... I guess love of animal knows no bounds. But I don't think that is a wise thing.

By the way, I didn't suggest shooting the cat with a shotgun. I justt asked if you considered putting him to sleep. That isn't cruel.

rlh said...

Also... every animal I had to put to sleep broke my heart. Animals are innocent and don't deserve to live under our curse. But they do. And you never hear them complain about it. (Waiting for the idiot comments!)

mitzibel said...

I'm sorry about your cat, dear, but I totally agree with you on vet bills. My family raised Persian cats for years, and we had an old-school country vet. When our $3,000 stud came down with a similar kidney condition, the bill for treatment and meds came to 50 bucks.
Fast forward about ten years, and I'm at college, living in an apartment with my fat worthless soon-to-be ex-husband and two rescued shelter kittens. One was in the window when it fell, breaking her jaw. Luckily, the college I attended has a top-notch veterinary program, and therefore a great animal hospital. I was just thrilled we wouldn't have to put her down; I wasn't even thinking about how much it would cost.
Four days later the big fat jerk brings Gwenhyffar home from the hospital, and informs me I'm going to have to start picking up more shifts at work (a lovely establishment called Dr. Love's where I shook my ass to pay the rent), because I now owe $8,000 in vet bills.
Now I put my animals down myself.

Morgan said...

Mitzibel, my sister has a veterinarian who makes house calls. When the time has come for several of her cats, she's had the vet put them to sleep there.
It's a tough decision, especially today when pets aren't just pets but more like children for so many people. My Jingles is coming up on 12 years of age. I can't bear the thought of losing her, but when the time comes I want her to be able to pass away at home. She hates the vet and I don't want her last moments to be filled with fear.

thimscool said...

RLH,

Please read:
“My feeling is that if he can transcend distemper, he will eventually overcome this; however, it looks likely to be a chronically recurring problem.”

It’s all about context. I hear the rest of what you’re saying, so I’m assuming you missed this.

rlh said...

I hear what she was saying. Chronically recurring.... I assumed that it would keep happening over and over.

Nevermind! Her cat. She can make it suffer all she wants.

But! Also remember it is JUST a cat.

Morgan said...

rlh, it may be JUST a cat to you, but to PL and many other people pets are both friend and family.

Yes, if something happens to Brat she'll be able to move on. No, it won't *really* be like losing a mother, sister or child. But right now, with this cat being what she comes home to everday, the idea of losing him or seeing him in pain hurts and worries her.

Is there some human part of you that understands that on some level?

If not, excuse me for pointing out that you might want to try and understand that not everyone shares your approach to pets. If there is, then excuse me for saying that you are coming across as deliberately hurful.

mitzibel said...

Timely post, it turns out. Our 3-year-old rat turned up this morning for feeding with an enormous (ping-pong-ball-sized) lump on her side. Poor Tetsua. Looks like I'll be digging out the Vallium and leftover chemo syringes again. . .
Hey, for a rat, that's a pretty nice way to go.

prettylady said...

Rlh, I completely understand what you are saying, and I am the first to frown upon those insane ladies who will keep a suffering animal alive, far past their appointed time, through the use of heroic and painful veterinary measures. When it is time to Let Go, I hope I shall do so with grace.

But it is a question of degree. If Pretty Lady had left him where she found him, as a throwaway kitten in the tunnels of Mexico, you can be sure that if he had ever been fortunate enough to acquire the necessary nourishment to form a kidney stone, he would have peed on bushes unmolested until the problem resolved itself, or killed him. The aggregate of suffering in his life to date is still less than if he were not her pet. Until his life appears to be an irremediable misery to him, she will let him take his chances.

Plus, as of today he seems to be enjoying life again.

prettylady said...

Oh, and Mitzibel--good God. I would have allowed a collection agency to harass me from now till kingdom come before I would have paid an $8000 vet bill that I did not explicitly approve. You poor dear. If your husband okay'd this, you behaved most properly in getting rid of him.

mitzibel said...

It worked out. Since he maxed out my credit cards on D&D manuals and Magic cards when I moved out, and then demanded custody of the cats as vehemently as though they were children, the lawyer mediating our divorce saw fit to saddle *him* with that bill, which means it's most likely still unpaid to this day.
Oh, and he demanded "custody" because I'd miscarried his child. As he explained it to the lawyer (who subsequently threw him out of the office and had to visibly restrain himself from punching the bastard), that was God expressing his opinion that I wasn't fit to care for *any* life.
Damn, I wish I'd given him herpes. Oh, wait, that would mean I'd have to have gotten herpes myself. . . .never mind.
Oh, well, revenge happens in its own time. I saw him at the Chuck Palahniuk signing this Monday, and damn, it was beautiful. He's probably up to about 380 lbs right now, unemployed (big suprise) and saddled with a girlfriend who not only can probably keep up with him at a buffet, but also has a face like a smacked arse. I shouldn't be so happy about this, but. . . .what am I saying? OF COURSE I SHOULD!!!

Let this be a lesson to you, children. Never, never, EVER rush a wedding to recieve more financial aid for college! You may very well end up stripping to pay for books, anyway!!!

prettylady said...

Mitzibel, you have won the first annual Pretty Lady Award for the Most Vile Ex-Husband Conceivable. I shall have to ruminate upon a proper prize.

(Although it seems to me that you have been fully rewarded, already. I love happy endings.)