Or, as I’ve taken to calling her, the world’s most expensive cat. My husband and I adopted Mabeline (and later, our other cat, Amelie) six years ago from Tree House Animal Shelter. Tree House is awesome because it’s a house tucked away in a Chicago neighborhood that’s filled with CATS. It’s a no-kill shelter, so you’ll see everything from kittens to cats so old they can barely walk.
Tree House didn’t know Mabeline’s history when she arrived. She’d lived on the streets for a while, long enough to get a broken tooth in a fight and to have to spend some time in the feral room being rehabilitated before she was ready to move to the adoption floor. “I don’t understand why Mabeline hasn’t been adopted already,” the counselor told us. “We think she must have been someone’s pet, though.” We watched her follow a girl around, batting at the string that trailed off her floor-length coat, and decided she was the kitty for us. Incidentally, though she had been feral when rescued, her personality has never been anything but delightful. I suppose that’s why I keep her around.
I think that the time she was a stray probably wasn’t good for her health; she’s had to go to the vet much more than Amelie has — we adopted Amelie as a kitten from Tree House. But over the last two weeks I’ve spent more time in vets’ offices than I’d like.
She had to go to her regular vet for a check-up before she could go back for a follow-up at the cat dermatologist. (As an aside, yes, I DID feel like I should be featured on Stuff White People Like for taking my CAT to the DERMATOLOGIST. However we seem to have gotten to the bottom of the terrible ear infections that she’s been suffering from for six years and through five different vets (don’t get me started) so I’m grateful that they exist.) Then on Friday night she started having stomach troubles that lasted into Saturday. Her newest regular vet is literally five minutes away, luckily, so my husband was able to take her over that afternoon. She got a couple of injections and stopped vomiting.
And then we realized she wasn’t eating and we didn’t know the last time she had. It’s really, really bad if cats don’t eat for more than, say, a day — they can get fatty liver disease, which, left untreated, can be fatal. So on Sunday I went on a wild total freakout trying to get her to eat. I got advice to try and feed her baby food, yogurt, and kitten milk.
Of course, none of these worked. Have you ever smeared chicken baby food, which by the way smells like Satan’s flop sweat, on an unwilling cat’s face? First I had to catch her, though, which involved a chase up and down the stairs that would have been improved only by the addition of the Benny Hill song. I had to haul my mattress off my bed and pull half the slats up before I could grab her.
And then I fell down.
And then I finally took her downstairs and smeared disgusting stuff all over her face. For my troubles, I got scratched up. Mabeline then hid in the corner of the dining room, emerging only to glare at me balefully. I felt like my mother must have when I wouldn’t eat my vegetables.
Still, though, as much as I got a bit of food in her, she wasn’t eating. We took her into the emergency vet at 9pm. The emergency vet is never a cheerful place; one couple clearly had to put their dog down; another guy brought in a giant golden retriever who had eaten garbage. Later, I heard him on the phone — because I’m a terrible eavesdropper — say that the dog had eaten corn cobs. Corn cobs! From the look on the guy’s face, I surmised that corn cobs are not digestible.
While waiting for Mabeline to finish a round of subcutaneous fluids, we got to watch a show about how these deer broke into a liquor store and bad stuff almost happened. A family had gotten out right in time! The deer might have broken stuff, but they didn’t! The clerk could have totally gotten trampled, but he dodged them! I just looked the show up and apparently it’s called Untamed and Uncut. Just imagine how many people are disappointed when they tune into that one.
She perked up on the way home but still wasn’t normal, so yesterday we took her back to the original vet. For those counting, we’re now at three days in a row. The vet gave her an appetite stimulating pill and sent us home with a can of wet food that smelled, amazingly, worse than chicken baby food. Since Mabeline thinks wet food is an affront to justice and good taste, we also got three syringes with which to spray it down her throat. After being watered down, of course.
You see where this is going, no? It’s been a cat food apocalypse here for the last twenty-four hours. Have you ever tried to shove a syringe into a squirming cat’s mouth, with the hope that she’ll eat what you put there? At first she swallowed, but tonight she got crafty. She let the mess sit there and then spit it out everywhere. EVERYWHERE. She, of course, managed to do this before she was back on the ground, so both Peter and I got covered in it. This was about as pleasant as you’d imagine.
She somehow got food on the back of her head. No, I don’t know how.
There have been some small improvements. We plied her with cat treats until she finally deigned to eat some. I cried. She pretty much wants to eat just the treats, and only a few at that, but I caught her eating a few bites of kibble just now. We’re back to the vet for another follow-up tomorrow. I’m hoping we’re at the end of this little ordeal, if for no other reason than that she’ll somehow develop some other wallet-crippling malady soon, and I’d rather not deal with two at one time, please.
At my house, the rule is only one of us can go crazy at once. I’m thinking about extending that to the non-human occupants, too.