Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year and Riley is on the mend!

The Holidays came with a great deal of extra stress this year as our beloved cat got very sick. Riley, named after a character in the Boondocks comic strip, is our bookstore cat and little friend. At first we didn't notice that he wasn't eating. He has always been a messy eater. It's just that lately he was getting much messier. In actuality, he has been eating less and less and spreading his food around his bowl. By Christmas Eve we knew it was serious, he had stopped going to the bathroom and had definitely stopped eating.

We were scared. So off to the vet I went with Riley in his Sherpa Bag carrier, vowing to call Geoff who had to go to work, with news of Riley's condition. Riley is notorious at our vet. There is a "**Caution**" written on his file, high-lighted in yellow. Riley, who is very sweet at home, reverts to his ancient savage past with low guttural growls that chill the blood. Our vet, who is a sweet young woman with frazzled hair, took one look at our hissing cat and said he would need to be sedated in order to be examined. Can't blame her, but that would also mean that he would be in the hospital ward all alone over Christmas. It was clear that the idea of that was too much for us to bare. Instead she gave us some special, highly nutritious food, so he could get away with eating just a little until he got his eating habit back and we took the little guy home. At first this worked, he ate the food and started going to the bathroom, but by the weekend he stopped doing both. It was official, our cat was sick.

On New Year's Eve we were back at the vet. This time there was no fussing about the sedation. We knew that it had to be done. The vet said that it might be liver failure and that he might have to stay overnight. The clinic would be closed the next day being New Year's Day so he would have to stay, by himself, over the holiday with just a technician checking in. He hissed and fussed but I said my good-byes as they took my little friend to "the back" to be sedated and examined. Then I went home and waited.

Both Geoff and I didn't get much sleep the night before for fear of Riley's health and I was exhausted. I knew Geoff was too, but he had to go to work anyway. Fortunately, it would only be a half day for him. I fell asleep on the couch and awoke with a tear running down the side of my face. What was happening to Riley right now? How was he being treated? Is he scared? Of course, he was. More importantly, is he going to be alright? I got the call at 3pm. Riley had impacted stool. They gave him an enema, emptied his bladder, and re-hydrated him. He also had a fever so he needed antibiotics. If we could administer the antibiotics ourselves, we could take him home! Geoff and I agreed that we could manage his care so we went back to the vet to get our friend.

I felt relief and joy while picking up Riley. We were the last ones there except for one sad looking lady. She said "Happy New Year" to us while trying to muster a genuine smile. We returned our "Happy New Year" greeting to her. I went on to ask if everything was alright with her pet. She said no and that her family doesn't understand. They think that she was nuts for caring so much. Geoff and I understood. Our pets are a part of our family; it hurts when they are sick. We wished her well and left to go home, grateful that, but for the grace of God, go we.


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