April 18, 2010

Sick cat

Yesterday morning when we woke up Winnie was drooling and trying to throw up. I was sure he had ingested some kind of poison but I didn’t see what it could be since he isn’t allowed outside. Then we thought maybe he’d eaten a spider or been bitten by a scorpion, although we saw no evidence of either anywhere. We talked over taking him to the vet, but didn’t see what the vet here would be able to do, it’s not like the States where vets have lots equipment or can analyze blood. The old vet has retired and his son, Manuel, has inherited the business. He has made quite a few changes, putting in a mini boutique of dog apparel and accessories, adding fish for purchase, and generally beefing up the medicines and special foods available. Last week I went to see if we could get arthritis medicine for the dog there, we have only been getting it in Mexico City when Esperando goes on business. The vet was in Tijuana when I went, they called him and he said he could get it for me, but sometimes these things don’t happen. We weren’t really sure if he had a veterinary license or not.

Esperando got on a lengthy conference call and I watched Winnie. He kept drooling and trying to throw up. I finally decided he might have something caught in his throat and went over and opened his mouth. His tongue was bent funny in the middle; I stuck my finger down his throat and encountered a sharp object protruding from his tongue. So that was it, he had a huge splinter stuck in his tongue, which was swelling and causing him to drool. We would have to wait for several hours until the vet opens, now that we could see it was something the vet could treat.

Waiting to feel better

In the meantime Winnie went into the guest bedroom and curled up on the bed to sleep. By 10 we had buttoned him up in his cat carrier and were beating down the vet’s door. Since I knew the vet had been in Tijuana and it struck me that maybe he had not returned yet. He came out of a room, and when he saw us he said, “I have your medicine.” “Oh,” I said, “great. We have a sick cat here, too.”

He ushered us into the clinic room and said, “What is wrong?” “He has a palito (a little stick) stuck in his tongue,” said I. “Show me,” he said. We pried Winnie’s mouth open and he said, “Oh will have to put him to sleep.” “Yes,” we said. By now Winnie was getting impatient, his mood was not great anyway because of his problem and he starting growling and sounding annoyed. The vet slammed some drugs in his behind and said, “This works very fast. He will be asleep in two minutes.” And so he was.

The girl came in to assist the vet in keeping Winnie’s mouth open with a pair of scissor handles. The vet picked over his tools and found a forceps and some tweezers. They tried to pull his tongue forward and then decided the problem was on the back side and twisted his tongue over, rapidly extracting a threaded needle. Both of our eyes bugged out and our jaws dropped open. Poor kitty had his tongue impaled on a needle this whole time. If I hadn’t decided to poke my finger down his throat, we might not have taken him to the vet and he probably wouldn’t have recovered.

A needle and thread just like this were the culprit

The drug he gave Winnie was supposed to last for 30 minutes, but the clock kept on ticking. “Talk to him,” he said. Here began a long conversation of, “Winnie wake up, don’t you want some cat crunchies; look Winnie there are some cute parakeets outside the window in a cage for you to admire; Winnie what’s going on in there inside your brain,” and etc. An hour later the vet said, “Sometime cats don’t recover from the anesthesia and die. I only gave him a minimum dose.” We watched his chest rising and falling slowly, he was under deep. Finally after an eternity some other people needed the clinic room so the vet moved us to a little room on the side. He carried in a crate in which he covered with a towel and moved the supine cat to it. “You need to stimulate him,” he said showing that we should start petting him and turning him over periodically from side to side.

Is this what a dead cat looks like?

While we waited in that tiny room, a sort of afterthought place harboring a chair, the crate on which our cat was laid, a cardboard box full of miscellaneous supplies and two badly rusted portable IV support stands, we noticed a diploma on the wall awarding our vet, Manuel Cota, a degree as Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from The Autonomous University of Baja California, the big school of northern Baja. So much for our doubts about his qualifications. We waited at the vet’s for 4 hours and finally our cat began to return to life. The vet said we couldn’t take him home until he could hold his head up or he might drown. Finally he was ready to go home. He was badly affected by the anesthesia still 4 hours later. The front part of him wanted to walk but his back legs wouldn’t work. He kept flopping around on the floor. It was pathetic. I finally decided to put him in the large dog crate as he would jump up on the bed and fall into a heap if he jumped off. It looked pretty dangerous. And so we passed the night with periodic caterwauling and rattling of the crate door. Eventually he gave up and was quiet.

This morning when I let him out of the crate he was doing much better but was still somewhat wobbly. This afternoon he is still not quite himself. The vet said some cats are very sensitive to anesthetics and we should tell any other vet of the experience if he needs to be put under again.

The day before the incident was normal

What dismay I felt knowing it was my needle and thread that had done this to him. I had put it up on a shelf when I was through sewing thinking at the time that I should keep it away from the cat. And still he found it. Next time I won’t be so lazy about putting it away. Maybe Winnie has used up the first of his nine lives. Its nice to know we have a decent vet now in Santa Rosalia.

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