The kitten I adopted a couple of months ago was spayed the day before yesterday. The soft neck cone (a bit like this but blue with laces) she came home in didn’t even make it out of the carrier. She had ripped it off as soon as the vet’s office was no longer visible in the rear view mirror of my mother’s tiny car. I put the cone back on (hmmm, interesting particle verb*1*) but she was having trouble negotiating her food dish with it on so I removed it while she wolfed down her lunch. She kept trying to get behind the fridge (one of the places she stashes her toys) but the cone was too wide to permit this. She tried backing in (hilarious) but this only served to delay the cone problem. I found the cone discarded on the floor after she made a decoy trip to her litter box and was thus free from my watchful eye. I tied it back on a couple more times until she performed her magic act and made the cone disappear: and yes, I did pull the fridge out a bit to determine she hadn’t hidden it there.
Our apartment looked like a war zone. I’d turned all of the dining room chairs onto their sides so she couldn’t jump on them and possibly rip her stitches. Having thus deprived her of her favourite spot in front of the window, I attempted to make it up to her by building “stairs” up to the bed in the back bedroom so she could watch cat TV (i.e. look at the back yard through the other window). I’d also built stairs up to the other bed in the bigger, less sunny room.
We still had a collar problem. I called the vet and they suggested that I return to the office with Spock (after trying different names for her, I landed upon “Spock” and it stuck) so she could be fitted with a hard plastic collar.
She didn’t like this collar any better. And it only made an impossible situation with her food dish even worse. I tried different sized dishes and tried raising her dish and even feeding her with a spoon but there was nothing for it: we had to remove the collar while she ate. She natually took licks at her belly inbetween bites of food so we had to stand over her while she ate and grab her head whenever she tried to lick her wound. I felt mean and horrible about this and didn’t like grabbing her head and forcing her mouth open to deliver her pain medication any better.
She was in pretty good spirits, though. She continued to race around the apartment and found that she liked walking on sideways chair legs almost as much as sitting on the chairs. She still sat in my office chair within seconds of me vacating the spot. We napped together one evening, too. But I kept looking at her wound to make sure it was okay and I never felt like it was okay. I probably drove the receptionists at the vet’s office mental. I saw a small opening or reddish patch but there was no discernable discharge so the vet told me to keep her posted and to email them photos of any changes. As a result, I have some rather gross “before” pictures of her poor saggy, shaved belly where a lot of her insides had been but no longer were.
UPDATE: I wrote most of that in the coffee shop on the way home from my interview for a volunteer position with a food bank. Yes, I had to send a letter with my resume and then submit to an interview just to volunteer. When I got home, Spock was in my office chair. I picked her up, partly to dislodge her from the chair where I wanted to sit and partly to have another look at her belly. My partner, R, and I had discussed the situation this morning. He made me agree to let her be for the rest of the day and not to pester the vet. Eventually, I agreed. I figured she was young and a very small opening would probalby heal just fine. The vet didn’t seem worried. I was just being overprotective, paranoid, obsessive. But. When I picked her up, the opening seemed bigger. And it smelled bad. I called the vet. Then I called a cab.
The vet said it looked bad. She said that she had seen that Spock had licked away the sutures whe she’d been fitted for the hard collar a day and a half previously but it had looked fine. It wasn’t fine now. Her temperature was normal but it looked bad. She wasn’t going to charge me but she wanted to keep Spock overnight.
So this post which had been about me being too paranoid and obsessive, is now about poor Spock on a cold metal table being operated on for the second time in three days.
I still wonder how parents of infants and small children cope with the uncertainty. With the inevitable bumps and scrapes and weird coughs and the million other things. My mother told me a story today that she hadn’t told me before. When I was an infant, I’d had a persistent cough or something. She took me to the hospital and they kept me there overnight. When they let her see me afterward, she said, I didn’t seem like the same baby (*2*). What had they done to me? Where had it all gone so horribly, horribly wrong? Was it her fault? It was simply a function of the drugs they’d given me but the initial shock of seeing me as a zombie baby had sent her into a panic. She assured me that when the drugs wore off, I returned to my alert, curious, lively self.
Probably the funny part of that story is that when she started telling it (“when you were a baby…”) I tried helpfully filling in the blanks. “Oh, you mean when I fell in the toilet? Or when M (her sister) dropped me on the pavement? When I was riding my tricycle in the house and almost went down the stairs?” Clearly it wasn’t the only time she’d had a fright over my well-being.
Are parents perennial basket-cases? Do they eventually become desensitized to the paralysing anxiety?
But also. It doesn’t seem honest somehow … to make the case for my potential unsuitability for parenthood because of my tendency to obsess on the-bad-thing-that-hasn’t-happened-yet (at least that’s where I had been heading) without mentioning The Other Thing. Which is: At this point, it’s pretty clear that I won’t be bearing any children. We could still adopt. It doesn’t bear thinking about now that I am already worried and upset, but I have cried deeply … DEEPLY … agonized tears of hopelessness about the baby thing. Profound, gut-wrenching anguish tears. And then there’s the other Other Thing. But that’s for another time.
While I’m at it, it is worth noting that Spock was predated by Simon who I inherited from a past roommate. Simon and I were very close. And he lived to the ripe age of 23. Yes, I am capable of looking after a pet. And doing a damn fine job of it too.
*1* Particle verbs are interesting. Particles are words like on, out, up and particle verbs are verb-particle constructions noted for their ability to (often) take an object between the verb and particle or after both such as put down:
She put the book down.
She put down the book.
She put it down.
She put down it.
There’s actually a nice story involving particle verbs that neatly highlights my ability to occasionally be a self-righteous asshole AND my occasional problems with authority. Yay! As well as the fact that, once in a blue moon, I have really clever ideas. And that, too, can be for another day.
*2* Did I mention that my mother saw Rosemary’s Baby when she was pregnant with me?
Barely dinnertime and it’s been a loooong day.
Post Script 1: Vet called. Spock will be fine.
Post Script 2: All the while, I had Gale Wright’s post Kittens in the back of my head. Her writing will do that: stick in your head.
Post Script 3: Why is “fridge” spelled with a “g” but “refrigerator” isn’t? Oh right. Because otherwise you’d get a long “i” and a hard “g” with the silent “e”. So why don’t you get ree.fry.grr.ate.ur? Duh. Because you woudn’t: “g”s are soft after “i”s (as in “frigid”, silly). So why do I think you would get a hard “g” along with the long “i” if “fridge” lost the “d”? Especially since I think that the silent “e” actually helps keep the softness of the “g” as in “change” which would clearly have a softer “a” and a hard “g” without the silent “e”. I don’t think this is as complicated as it currently seems. I’m chasing my tail now and my brain isn’t working very well as I haven’t eaten and I’m trying not to think about Spock. Feel free to show me where I’m going wrong here.