A friend of a friend needed a home for a cat. We had two, that didn’t get along very well, because the young one wanted to play and the old one wanted to be left alone. I thought taking in the new one, who was young, would mean the babies would play with one another and leave the old one alone.
This works just as well as those Thanksgiving dinners where you were expected to like your cousins just because you were the same age.
The young cat terrorized the new cat. Well, that was after the new cat came out of hiding. We didn’t see her for about a month but knew she was alive because of the less food and the more in the litter box. Anyway, the new cat was terrorized by the young cat. However, it did take some of the pressure off the old cat.
But the new cat never fought back. She just sat there, kinda sad. After a while I took her to the vet, who said the cat had lipidosis.
*&^& One more medical term I didn’t want to know.
Essentially, when a cat won’t eat, often because it is nervous, it eventually makes it so that it CANNOT eat. And the liver starts to fail. This gives the cat yellow skin, just like a person with liver disease.
I know what a person with liver disease looks like because my husband died of alcoholism, but I just didn’t see yellow skin on a black cat, not until the vet told me to look.
She said, “You might be able to save her. If you force feed her.”
“But that doesn’t always work, either.”
I went from cat is listless to cat is dying inside of a minute.
I was worried. Not so much for the cat, who had no personality, who I was using to entertain the other cat– and that experiment failed,–but I was worried that I had let the friend of a friend down, since i was obviously not fit to take care of this cat.
My daughter asked if the cat was going to die, and I had to say, “I don’t know.”
But I have a friend who is a vet tech, and I messaged her, begging for advice, and sure that she would tell me what a shit I was for not noticing sooner that the cat was really sick.
I will be grateful for the rest of my life for the clear and nonjudgmental advice she gave: Get some calorie paste, mix it with meat baby food, and force feed into the cat’s cheek several times a day.
I resolved that although the cat MAY die, I would not LET her die, a distinction one can only make after having already nursed someone through a fatal illness.
Five times a day I held the cat, which I didn’t even like, in my arms to force the foul smelling potion into her cheek.
She didn’t fight it. She was that sick.
When, after a week, the yellow faded from her ears I was not all that encouraged. My husband’s yellow skin turned pink again when he was hospitalized, and he died, anyway.
Then, one day when I was playing with the young cat, getting her to chase string, the sick cat joined in.
From there it was steady recovery. She began to eat on her own, first soft food, then dry food.
And then one day the new, sick cat jumped on my bed, purring.
And one day she batted me on the face as I slept, demanding food.
Now she is the sweetest and most cliché catlike cat of the three. She cuddles more than the other two. She is so vocal and affectionate and funny. I guiltily like her best, even though I was using her to entertain my previous cat.
“We saved her LIFE!” crowed my daughter when she realized the cat was actually getting plump.
I won’t deny my daughter the pleasure of believing she is a hero, but I wish I had noticed sooner that the cat was really sick. Maybe heroic efforts would not have been necessary.