Friday, January 15, 2010

Kitty Woes

(Cross-posted from my garden blog)

This is Mr. Licorice, sometimes known as Mr. Fangs and Claws:

He came to us as a half-grown abandoned kitten that wandered into a co-worker's garage. Out of all our feline herd, Licorice is the only one who goes outdoors on his own. Even though he's neutered, he acts like an intact tom: aggressive, territorial, foul tempered when he's indoors; aggressive, territorial, and happy to be petted and adored when he's outdoors. Prozac failed to curb his behavior, and while tempting, I can't keep him under sedation all the time. So we had him microchipped, put a reflective collar on him, cross our fingers and hope for the best, knowing that outdoor cats are exposed to all sorts of risks.

Well, Licorice must have run head-on into one of those risks, because Monday evening he came in with an open sore on his chest that on inspection looked like an abscess that had opened up. He seemed chipper enough and had a good appetite, but the next morning it was still open and oozing and had a foul odor, so I confined him to the sick kitty crate for observation and called the vet. Most likely he'd gotten into a fight with another cat, and since the wound was on his chest, he was not the one who backed down! Yeah, that's our Mr. Fangs and Claws.

Wednesday morning (after a dose of sedative so getting him in the kitty carrier wasn't quite as bad as wrestling a cactus) he went into the vet's office. By then he'd developed a fever and the wound was still draining. When the vet got him under anesthesia and got the abscess open, it was pretty bad. It had gone deep, the fluid inside was thick and smelly, and there was a patch of skin that had gone necrotic. If we'd tried to treat this at home, he wouldn't have lasted long.

So Licorice came home that evening and went straight back into the sick kitty crate. He was pretty agitated and loopy coming off the anesthetic, so I covered the crate with blankets, trying to calm him down. The next morning he was very quiet and subdued, probably hurting from the surgery. His appetite was good, though.

And this morning he's a little brighter and demanding to be let out of his crate (sorry, it's kind of a nasty view of the drains in his incision):

He's eating well and using the litter box, so recovery looks good, but he's not a happy kitty. Hates the plastic cone. Hates being confined. Hates it when the other cats come and stare at him.

Poor, sad kitty:

That was a $600 hit to our bank account, and we were already tapped out helping my mother-in-law buy heating fuel. I think we've got just enough left for groceries until payday, but we're going to have to be reeeeal careful.


Deb31 in FL said...

I have felt your pain. I have seen $500 vet bills for my kitties and one was for a stray that I tried to rescue that I had to put back outside after he kept attacking my senior cat. Fortunately, my next-door neighbor brought him indoors and adopted him after he had a run-in with some kind of local wildlife.

Good luck stretching the grocery budget.

Beth said...

Awww, poor Licorice! We have a kitty who is more indoor/outdoor who has had a couple of abscesses. She tends to get them on her tail or hind end, though, so she's *not* the brave one. :)

Our vet was able to treat the first one with her cooperation, but ever since then she will not let him get near her. She has to be sedated to even be examined, and he was only able to immunize her this fall by using some really fast footwork and jabbing her in the back leg before she could get away from my husband who was attempting to restrain her.

Fortunately she is very sweet to us at home (she's a tortie, they are sort of bipolar!) so we regularly check her over for bites or wounds while petting her. My daughter and I have been able to treat a couple of minor wounds at home before they got bad enough to need vet care.

I hope Licorice heals up quickly and that your grocery money stretches to go the distance!

Anonymous said...

Poor kitty! I Liquorice feels better soon!

I'm sorry about the vet bill... those can really add up. My rule of thumb is to either pay for insurance (I know not everyone likes this idea) OR to put into a separate savings account labeled Doggies (or in your case Kitty) about $20-$50 a month - whatever you can afford - for these types of emergencies. It might be helpful to do that for next time... though hopefully there won't be a next time!

Caffeine Girl said...

Poor Licorice! What a fighter though. He sounds like a cat who will pull through!

Anonymous said...

Oh, hope he's all better soon. What a beauty!

Carolyn McNeil said...

I know how you feel. I spent $ 500.00 at the vet last October on my cat, Trouble. One week later I had to have her put to sleep. It just broke my heart. I live in a residential area where people are always dropping off stray cats. I'm always being told "don't feed the strays and they will go away". I guess I'm just not cold-hearted enough to let them starve...Oh well, if I come back in my next life as a stray cat, hopefully someone will feed me.
An encyclopedia of needlepoint stitches…

Karen said...

Carolyn McNeil: I do feed the strays, and then I catch them and get them fixed. Those that are too feral to be pets I continue feeding (which attracts others), those that can be pets I have either taken in myself or found homes for. Most abandoned cats die of starvation, predation, or accident within two weeks of abandonment. They don't always "just catch mice and stuff" as I've heard people say. Cheers to all kind-hearted folks who help the poor abandoned kitties and find homes for them.

Havskatten said...

photoknitdog: I had a vet savings account, and it helped a lot, but a few yars ago we were really strained. Our Birk, the Big Baby, got sick, it was the kidneys, and you probaly know how fast cats deteriorate when the kidneys act up. He had to stay a few nights in hospital - v e r y costly - and then keep to a strict diet with special food, expensive of course... The vet cost alone was more than 5000 SKR, I would estimate ca 700-800 USdollar. A year later our Ronja, the cutest little catnose, had a stomach ailment, with vomiting an bloody diarrhoea. (Btw, yes I like Astrid Lindgren's tales :) ) She went to the vet, stayed overnight and had a penecillin cure prescribed. After a week, she was ok, and Birk got sick, he went to the vet, stayed overnight, had penecillin. After a week, he was ok, and Ronja got sick, she went to the vet, stayed overnight, had penecillin. After a week, she was ok, and Birk got sick, he went to the vet, stayed overnight, had penecillin.
The last time we took both cats to the vet and demanded that both should be treated at the same time. They had a three-week penecillin-cure and have not had any sign of stomach-problems after that. Other than worms, of course ;)
The vet bill for all that ended at 20000 SKR, that is ca 3000 USdollar.
Of course the Cat-account wasn't enough... we had to take money we had intended for the house. Next cat will have an ensurance!


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