I’ve had more than just Holly and the puppies on my mind lately. A week ago Monday, when Steve gave the cats their 10pm feeding, we realized Pad Thai, our five year old Siamese cat, was missing. Our three cats are not very demanding. While they enjoy being with us, it isn’t unusual for one of them to find a good napping place and be out of sight for hours at a time. But it is unusual for them not to shop up when it’s feeding time. We called for Pad Thai – he knows his name and usually comes running when he hears us calling him – but he didn’t appear. We looked in his favorite napping places – various human and pet beds around the house, on and under the couches and chairs – and opened all the closed doors in case he’d gotten stuck but we couldn’t find him anywhere.
If you’ve ever been around a Siamese cat you know they tend to be pretty vocal:
(Not our cats but Pad Thai looks and sounds like this pair)
Usually if he’s trapped somewhere, he cries out to us when we call. But we didn’t hear a sound. After searching for an hour, we were pretty concerned; had he slipped outside somehow? I open and close the sliding glass door a countless number of times on a given day: letting the dogs in or out, checking on Holly and the puppies or heading out to the garden to weed or trim. I didn’t think he’d slipped out. But where was he? We even flipped our mattress and box spring because the cats have torn a hole in the bottom of the box spring and made a hide place inside it. Finally Steve found him curled up behind some furniture in our spare room downstairs. He was very listless and quiet. When offered food and water he showed no interest. Soon after he vomited up clear liquid. Something was definitely wrong. I took him into my room and put him on my bed, shutting the door so he couldn’t slip off again.
By Tuesday morning, he’d jumped off the bed and hidden himself in the box spring; I had to flip the mattress and box spring and use scissors to cut a hole to get to him out of one of the corners. He was lethargic and still not interested in food or water. He’d also vomited more overnight. At 8:30am when Dr. Hileman’s office opens, I called. They agreed to squeeze Pad Thai in at 9:30am between appointments. Dr. Hileman examined him and took blood samples. Their test showed his potassium, phosphorus and blood cell count were all low. Dr. Hileman said several things might be wrong. Pad Thai might have pancreatitis, or perhaps have ingested some chemical or swallowed a foreign object. The first step was to give him I.V. fluids to help raise his potassium and phosphorus levels and re-hydrate him. That meant leaving him at the clinic for treatment. By Tuesday evening, he was still lethargic and not eating so Dr. Hileman recommended keeping him overnight and doing x-rays in the morning. He’d also been drooling, which can be a sign of pain, so she put him on a pain reliever. On Wednesday, the x-rays showed a grey area in his abdomen; possibly signs of pancreatitis or a foreign object. So Dr. Hileman took more blood and sent it to an outside lab to check for pancreatitis. After work, Steve went over to see him and took this picture to show me and the girls:
On Thursday, the lab results came back indicating he did not have pancreatitis. And further x-rays showed the gray area had moved, indicating Pad Thai had indeed swallowed a foreign object. It was a good sign, Dr. Hileman said, that the object had moved. If we were lucky, Pad Thai might be able to pass whatever he’d swallowed and avoid surgery.
Unfortunately, Friday morning Dr. Hileman called to say the latest x-ray showed that the object was stuck and pulling on Pad Thai’s intestines. That meant Pad Thai would need surgery. That afternoon when Dr. Hileman opened Pad Thai up, she had to make four different cuts in his intestines to remove a linear foreign body, in this case thread.
Saturday around noon, we were able to bring Pad Thai home. The poor little guy had an e-collar on because he’d been licking his incision. Before leaving the clinic, I asked how long we had to limit his activity and Dr. Hileman said 30 days, but realistically at least the first 10 days. We were sent home with a bag of special digestive care food, two sets of pills, an antibiotic and an anti-nausea drug. No painkillers though because they slow down the digestive track; that wouldn’t be good for Pad Thai’s intestines while they are healing.
At home we tried to make Pad Thai comfortable. I put him on a towel on my bed. But when Steve began to pet him, he jumped down and looked for a place to hide. When he tried to slip under my dresser and bed, the e-collar got in the way. Thank you e-collar; Pad Thai getting into the box spring and then being cut out again is not probably not a “limited activity.” I put him on the bed again and this time we kept our hands to ourselves and he settled down. It was a long night. Pad Thai seemed uncomfortable – he just had major abdominal surgery after all. And the e-collar made it hard for him to move around; when he tried to use the litter box he got his head caught under the sides and I had to get out of bed to help him.
Sunday, he didn’t eaten anything and was pretty lethargic. When Dr. Hileman called to check on him she asked me to take his temperature and if it was above 103.2 degrees,to take him to the emergency veterinary hospital. Thankfully it was only 102.9. She then said to feed him about a teaspoon of baby food every two hours. If he wasn’t eating by tomorrow she said to bring him back and they’d put in a feeding tube. Steve went to the store and bought a jar of turkey baby food. I put a little in front of Pad Thai and he wasn’t having any of it. I tried opening his mouth and putting a little on his tongue. Still no go. So with Steve holding him, I opened his mouth and tried feeding him with a small spoon. More of it ended up on me and the towel than down Pad Thai’s throat. Then I remembered the small feeding syringe I used to give sugar water to Holly’s sick puppies:
Mixing in some water, I was able to draw the baby food up the syringe. The syringe worked wonderfully. The body of the syringe held his mouth open so I could squirt in the baby food. Pad Thai, although not happy, swallowed it down.
On Monday, Pad Thai seemed less lethargic. When I gave him a break from his e-collar, he immediately began grooming himself and his eyes seemed livelier. But he still wasn’t interested in eating. I called Dr. Hileman and asked if we could try giving him Hill’s a/d canned food through a syringe rather than put a feeding tube in. She agreed that was a good option. When I picked up the food, they gave me a syringe with a wider opening that would work with the a/d which is courser than baby food:
So that’s how I’ve been feeding Pad Thai since Monday afternoon. Thankfully he only needs a quarter of a can a day. The large syringe proved harder and messier than the smaller syringe but each time I end up wearing less of it and Pad Thai swallows more. He seems better too; most of the time he lies calmly on the bed. He’s less interested in licking his incision so when I can keep an eye on him I take his e-collar off. He even pooped once which means his intestines are doing their job again. He’s had a rough week and is very thin from not eating. But he’s still my handsome boy:
I’m feeling hopeful that the worst is over for both of us. And we’ve all learned our lesson. No thread or any small object will be left around where one of the cats can get to them.