Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quint: Under the Weather

Quint's Examination

Over the weekend Quint came down with what appeared to be a head cold. His nose was running and it was obvious that he didn’t feel well. He wouldn’t play with Carol on Sunday morning, instead all he wanted to do was lie in the sun and sleep. Of course, he’s a cat, so lying in the sun and sleeping is pretty much what he likes to do anyway, but when he won’t play with Carol, we can surmise that there is a problem. The sneezing and the headshaking and licking his upper lip were also unusual activities for him, and then he wasn’t eating much either. All bad signs.

I looked through my cat books for any advice I could find on what to do about a cat with all these symptoms. The book said that if the condition persists, take him to the vet. Well, by Monday he seemed to have improved slightly in that he was eating again and slightly more active. We watched him carefully, and since he was making progress toward better health we decided not to take him to the vet that day.

On Tuesday, he was quite a bit better, and though he wasn’t jumping around and playing chase, he was much more alert and active, and he was eating well. Great, he’s improving we thought, perhaps he’ll get through this without a trip to the vet. On Wednesday, though, he had a bit of a relapse and was back to acting like he had on Monday, listless and kind of drippy about the nose. Okay, I thought, he’s not showing further signs of improvement, if he doesn’t’ perk up by the time I get back from returning the videos to the video store, then it’s off the vet with us.

He was the same when I got back, so I called and got an appointment for Wednesday afternoon. In the meantime, I tried to keep myself busy doing some writing, but I was rather distracted and worried about the little guy and so the writing was not going well. Plus, I felt as if I needed to go and check on him every few minutes to make sure he was okay. He wasn’t getting any worse, but then, he wasn’t getting any better either. The time passed slowly as I waited and worried.

When it was time to leave, Quint got into the carrier without too much resistance which is another indication of how miserable he was. He meowed at me on the way to the veterinary clinic, but he was quiet while we sat and waited for someone to become available to see us. Quint watched the other animals, mostly dogs, come and go to their appointments. I read old copies of Cat Fancy. It was a busy day at the clinic with an emergency or two, but after a half-hour wait, we finally were called to an examination room with the assurance that one of the veterinarians would be in to see us soon. One of the vet techs came in, weighed him and took his temperature. He was up to 11 pounds and his temperature was about a degree high, so I was now guessing that he did indeed have the feline equivalent of a head-cold or a mild case of the flu.

When the veterinarian came in to see us, I described the symptoms as I had observed them while the doctor was looking at Quint’s nose and inside his mouth, listening to his heart and lungs and generally poking and prodding him to try and determine what the problem was. She decided that it was the feline equivalent of a head cold, like a mild case of the flu and called it an Upper Respiratory Infection, which I guess it is, technically. She also indicated that he was a bit dehydrated and could use some fluid. I thought that was all probably about right. It certainly agreed with everything I had observed and seemed to explain all the symptoms. I started to feel a little better. Quint was likely feeling a little worse since he was sitting on a cold examination table being poked and prodded by a stranger. He didn’t know that he would soon be injected with subcutaneous fluid, stuffed back into his carrier and sent home. He just knew that his toes were cold from standing on the metal surface of the table. The vet took Quint into the back of the clinic for treatment.

I went to the reception area to pay my bill, collect the prescribed medications, and wait for Quint to be brought out. While I was there, I looked over the display of collars. They have the best collars at this clinic, better than at the pet store, better than as Target, better than any I have seen anywhere. I bought Quint and Hedge new collars. They were still wearing their Christmas collars, so it was time to upgrade to something more appropriate. Quint got a blue one decorated with little red fishes; Hedge got a white one decorated with little black paw prints. Meanwhile, Quint was brought out in his carrier and we got back in the car and drove home.

My job for the next week or so, is to administer some nasty-tasting liquid antibiotic medicine to Quint twice a day, in addition, of course, to the regular tooth-brushing and fur brushing routine. Quint dislikes the nasty-tasting medicine, loves the brushing and is improving. He appears to be feeling a bit better today. Carol and I feel a lot better today. We were both horrified at the prospect of losing Quint to some mysterious and untreatable disease. It’s much better to know what is wrong and to be able to do something to help him. We love the little guy and hope to have him around to play with and enjoy for many, many years.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hedge: Petting Him Into Submission.

Sharing the Space

Our ongoing campaign to socialize Hedge is beginning to show results. You’d have to know him well to see how much progress we’ve made, and those of us who do find it most encouraging. Where previously we were able to approach him and then pet him a bit before he ran away, now he hangs around and insists that we pet him until he decides that it’s adequate. Until recently he was unable to look at us while we were petting him and instead kept his eyes averted downward and his back to us. Now he looks up at us and squeaks his demand for attention. Progress is most certainly being made.

At the beginning of the campaign I started by picking him up from wherever he might be napping and taking him into the dining room to brush him and rub some toothpaste on his teeth with my finger. When he started running from that, we stepped back a bit and started petting him whenever we found him in an accessible place. Carol will sometimes pick him up and carry him around the house while she pets him. He seems to like that. In the morning he will often sit in the bedroom window and do a bit of bird watching, at least that’s what he wants us to think he’s doing. Really, he’s just waiting for me to pet him. I’ll walk up behind him and start to scritch him behind the ears. He’ll allow that for a short while, but then he turns around and hops over onto the bed and insists on a more thorough treatment. If I stop before he thinks he’s gotten enough attention, he’ll look over his shoulder at me and give a little squeak. When he has gotten all the affection that he feels he can handle at the moment, he’ll jump down and trot off somewhere to take his morning nap.

I noticed over the weekend that his fear of strangers has abated somewhat as well. On Saturday night we had some friends over for a dinner party. Hedge, as usual, disappeared as soon as the first guest arrived and remained hidden throughout the evening. In the past, he’d remain hidden until well into the next day, and when he did come out, he’d be quite skittish for a day or two. After our guests left on Saturday, Hedge came trotting out to eat a late dinner and to scout the floor for leftovers. By Sunday, he was back to his normal routine.

It’s gratifying to see him holding onto his progress at this point, rather than suffering the temporary setbacks he had previously experienced. Given the positive results of our current campaign, I’m thinking that Hedge’s future holds more and more of the same sort of treatment. It’s a matter of rewarding that behavior which we want to see more of and not rewarding his shy and timid side. Ultimately, we are hoping his sweet nature and his desire to become part of the group will win out over his fear. I suspect that it will.