Saturday, January 06, 2007

Balthazar Goes to the ED

Balthazar slept virtually all day today, and only ate a little bit in the morning. About 6:00 PM, he seemed very listless: I couldn't get him to play, and he'd walk a few steps and then lie down again.

Of course it was after hours. Of course our regular vet wasn't available. Of course the only option was Animal Emergency, the place we hate because it's a) at the other end of town, b) really expensive, and c) where our last two cats had to be euthanized. Very bad memories.

I called them anyway, to see what they advised. The tech I spoke to said, "You could try to wait until Monday, but if I were you, I'd bring him in." I consulted Gary, who thought the cat was probably just tired and that we should leave him alone. I called my mother, who said, "Have you taken his temperature?"

I'd never taken a cat's temperature before, but I figured out how to do it -- and it was almost 105. (Normal for cats is 100-102.) So I got in the car to drive Bali to the clinic, while Gary stayed home to cook dinner.

The trip down was a nightmare, because the cat was alarmingly quiet -- not yowling, the way most cats do in cars and the way he did coming home from the shelter -- and because I was so freaked out that I got lost. But I finally got there, and the people were really nice, and we got some good news:

1. Bali doesn't have FIV or FeLV; they tested him there, although he still needs to be kept separated from the other cats, because

2. He has an upper respiratory infection, the cat equivalent of a bad cold: this isn't good news, but it's better than some of the alternatives.

So he's back home now on antibiotics. They got him to eat some of their food, a few cans of which came home with us, and I have instructions to steam him in the bathroom every day for ten minutes to decongest his little nose, because stuffed-up kitties who can't smell their food don't want to eat. I also have to take his temp again in ten minutes; they said he'll still have a fever -- it was down to 103.75 in the clinic -- but that if it spikes back up to 104 or 105, I should call them. And I'm supposed to listen to his breathing to make sure he doesn't start wheezing.

Poor little kitty! He's absolutely exhausted. So am I. And I'm preaching tomorrow, which means getting up at 6:00 to do two services . . . but at least I'm not going to the hospital tomorrow night.

Being in an animal ED was a little eerie, I must say; I found myself doing chaplain-ish things (offering tissues to a woman crying about her dog, listening to other people's pet stories), but of course this time, I was the freaked-out family member, listening to one of the techs tell everyone in the waiting room, "We just had two traumas come in, so everyone's going to have to wait a little longer: I'm sorry." Luckily, Bali was already being discharged at that point.

Triage is triage, no matter what kind of organism is being assessed.

And I found myself worrying about whether I'd been right to bring Bali in: was this just a minor complaint? I must have asked at least three times, "Did I do the right thing coming here?" The vet and the tech told me that because of the fever, I did. The tech said, "He would have been a glazed donut by tomorrow morning," and before I left she told me, "We're here all weekend, for moral support."

I'm just so glad that we both got to come home. (They originally told me they'd keep him in the hospital if they couldn't get him to eat.) Now I finally have a halfway decent memory associated with that place, although I hope I'll never have to see it again! Everyone admired Balthazar's gorgeousness, of course. The vet said that her official diagnosis was that he's "too cute."

Oh: and on their form, they say he's female! Is he Caprica after all? (I think they just copied the info from the Humane Society folder, which I'd brought with me.)

Driving home, I saw a Code 3 ambulance -- lights and sirens and horns -- blasting its way through an intersection. Someone is having a very bad ED night. On my way down to the clinic, driving badly because I was so stressed, straining my ears to hear if Bali was making any noise, I found myself wishing fervently for a kitty ambulance.

But I'm okay, and in all likelihood, he will be too. Thanks be to God!


Oh, frack, his temp's 105 again. I called Animal Emergency and they said, "A fever that high could cause brain damage. Wet down his paws and stomach, and put him in a carrier with a bag of frozen peas. Retake the temp in half an hour. If it hasn't gone down, you have to bring him back in."

Pray for us, please.

Do normal people narrate pet crises on blogs? It makes me feel like I'm talking to all of you, even though I'm really not.


  1. Yes, people do blog about sick pets. I did a Google search on the topic and found no less than 3 on the first two pages. We all love our animal family members and worry about them. You are in good company.

    Bali is in my prayers as are you. Please keep me posted on how things are going.

    Peace! and Hope!

  2. Do normal people narrate pet crises on blogs?

    Absolutely. Heck, i talk about the mice in my kitchen--you know if something happened to the cat i'd be blogging all about it once i had the chance.

    Best wishes for Bali's recovery!1

  3. I agree whole-heartedly with Lee. Bali will add my (growing!) prayer list.

    If my Giles,Ethan, or Elspeth were sick, you'd be hearing from me!

  4. They're members of the family. Of course they're included in prayers.

  5. Thanks, everybody! And John: Great cat names!


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