Our kitty Diddums is under the weather this week. First he came down with a kitty cold, which Marianne and John were treating with a shocking pink antibiotic. I don't know what's in "the pink stuff" but it must taste nasty. Diddums is exceptionally skilled at spitting it out and spraying it as far as he can. Marianne has spent lots of time wiping off cupboards, floors, and her clothes. I thought it was pretty funny until Marianne pointed out that the more pink stuff on the outside, the less on the inside helping Diddums to get well. Oops.
We thought he was doing much better, but then he stopped eating very much at all. He took a sudden turn for the worse on Tuesday. He stopped eating and drinking altogether, and wouldn't cuddle with Dewey. "Diddums is hiding in the closet," Mina reported. "He says he feels rotten and to leave him alone."
Marianne immediately made an appointment for the vet Wednesday morning before work. As usual, I was not allowed to tag along. I could be helpful but no, I'm stuck at home in my crate. "That IS helpful," Marianne told me. I'm not buying it.
At any rate, when Marianne came home and let me out of my crate, I ran around the house looking for Diddums.
"Where is he? Is he hiding in the closet?" Meryl and Mina shook their heads. "He's not here. Marianne came home without him."
Uh-oh, this didn't sound good. I ran to find Marianne. "Why did you come home without the kitty?" I demanded.
Marianne slipped my cape on and fastened the buckle. "Dress!" she commanded and I held still while she put on my Gentle Leader and leash. "I'll explain on the drive to work." She turned to Meryl and Mina. "Be good, girls!" They grinned at her. Maybe yes, maybe no. They like to leave her guessing.
After we'd settled in the car I asked again about Diddums. "He's getting an ultrasound to see if the vet can figure out what's going on," Marianne explained. "His blood work showed some issues with his liver. She'll call us later with the results."
I'm not a medical expert, but this seemed like worrying news. When Marianne's phone rang that afternoon I shamelessly eavesdropped.
"Hepatic lipidosis...uh huh.....right.....and a feeding tube? Uh huh......yes, I understand.....yes, please go ahead with the surgery. Thank you." She hung up.
"SURGERY?!?" I squeaked. "Poor Diddums! And what is hippo tick lip gloss?"
Marianne looked worried. "Hepatic lipidosis. It happens in cats when they stop eating for a few days. Their bodies try to rapidly break down fat for energy and nutrients but that can overwhelm the liver's ability to process it, which makes them even sicker."
"So where does the surgery come in?"
"Well, we could bring him home and try to get him to eat, but if he doesn't then he'll get worse and be in even worse trouble. The faster, better course of action is to surgically implant a feeding tube so we can make sure he's getting the proper amount of nutrition. It will take a few weeks, but with luck he'll recover and eat on his own again."
"Can we pick him up this afternoon?" I asked hopefully.
"No, he needs to stay there for a few days. I can go visit him, though," Marianne said.
Excluded again. Rats.
Late Friday afternoon Marianne and John went to get Diddums. As soon as they arrived, Marianne whisked Diddums into the guest room. We crowded around the door but John pushed us aside. "Now listen," he said sternly. "Diddums is very sick and he needs a quiet room so he can recover. We're not letting you see him just yet, but when we do, you have to be gentle so his feeding tube stays in place. Dewey can visit if he wants." He opened the door a crack and Dewey slipped inside.
Marianne went into the kitchen where she pulled out the blender. She reached into a sack and pulled out two huge syringes, two bottles of medicine (more pink stuff and something else) and several cans of cat food. She emptied one into the blender, then carefully added some water. WHIRR! A very tempting aroma filled the kitchen.
"UGH, what is that disgusting smell?" complained John from the guest room. "Is that the blenderized cat food for Diddums?"
Marianne coughed and made a face. "Yeah, it's gross, but if it does the trick I'll be happy." Meryl, Mina and I exchanged looks. It smelled yummy to us. Marianne poured the liquid into a dish and added some pink stuff, stirred it, and and partially filled one of the syringes. She sucked a little water into the other one and grabbed a handful of paper towels.
John came into the kitchen carrying Diddums, who looked wan and pale. We crowded around, sniffing. Phew. He had that antiseptic vet hospital smell.
"Why is he wearing a turtleneck sweater?" Meryl asked. "It looks itchy."
John turned slightly so we could see. "It's to keep his feeding tube in place. It's made of a really soft material, so it's not hot or itchy."
Marianne, John and Diddums went back into the guest room. About thirty minutes passed before Marianne came out, carrying the empty syringes, which she rinsed at the sink. "So how does this work?" I wondered. "You can watch tomorrow morning," Marianne promised.
Dear Dog, what a production! I sat quietly on the floor and watched. Marianne started by putting a small syringe of medicine in the feeding tube. "That's for his upset tummy. Now we have to wait fifteen minutes while the medicine is absorbed. While we're waiting, John is going to take Diddums into the bathroom and run a hot shower. The steam will help his poor little congested nose." John and Diddums went into the bathroom and I heard water running. Fifteen minutes later they came back into the guest room.
Marianne had partially filled one big syringe with food and the other with water. She carefully inserted the syringe with water into Diddums feeding tube and emptied it. "That clears the tube. Now we can start his food." She took the other syringe and fumbled with it for a minute, "It's slippery and a tight fit," she explained. Diddums closed his eyes and purred softly. She gently pressed the plunger. "We have to do this really slowly or he'll gag. It'll take about twenty minutes to empty the syringe." She gently stoked Diddums who sighed. John took the empty water syringe to the kitchen and refilled it. Finally the food syringe was empty. Marianne removed it and then emptied the one with water into the tube. "That clears the tube again," she explained. She attached a little cap to the end of the tube and taped it in place. She carefully arranged Diddums' sweater to cover the capped tube and gave him a kiss. He closed his eyes again and purred.
She looked at the clock. "We'll do this again in two or three hours," she told me.
I gaped at her. "Seriously?!"
She nodded. "Yup. We need to feed him five times a day. This weekend will be easy, but next week is a little more challenging. John's going to work from home a couple days and I'll come home mid-day the other days to feed Diddums. It's going to be a long process, but the vet says we have every reason to hope that Diddums will recover in a few weeks and be good as new. She glanced over at Diddums who was curled up in a small ball. "Sooner, if he'll start eating on his own."
I looked at Diddums. "EAT! EAT!"
Chow for now!
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