On 9/11 (really Colby?) I was washing my face at home after work and Colby rushes in to use the litter box which is quite close to that sink. (They love doing this.) But this time he growled. And ended in a painful mini-yelp.
Okay, I have never heard that cat growl. Plus any vocalization in the litter box is bad (unless your cat just loves to announce his/her business to the world in which case you know it's normal). I checked after he left the box and found he had peed but only a little bit and not like a cat normally does. I was so exhausted from a long week at work following two other long weeks at work where I'd been staying unusually late every day. (Remember that, it becomes important.)
But despite my exhaustion I had Colby in the crate and both of us at the emergency vet before it opened, with my text all typed out and ready to go the minute the clock hit 6 pm. I hate Covid-19 because I wasn't able to go in with Colby and had to sit in my car waiting anxiously for news.
Good news, sort of. Turned out he did not have a partial blockage. What he had was inflammation of his urethra which made it painful to pee. The vet gave me (for a hefty fee) pain medication and a muscle relaxer to help him pee easier. The vet's first name is Morgan (according to the paperwork) and I honestly don't remember if it was a male voice or a female voice or an inbetween voice but they said that it was safe to wait for xrays and a urinalysis until Wednesday, as I explained I already had a vet appointment set up for Apricot but I could trade in cats and make another appointment for Apricot.
I had learned during the time I almost died (that post is on here) that you do not give two (or more) new medications at the same time because if you're allergic to one you don't know which one. So I only gave Colby the pain medication which was gabapentin.
I've taken gabapentin for some neurological pain I have but it didn't do mine any good plus it had weird mental side effects. But Colby didn't seem to have any trouble with it. And by Sunday he had even peed in a normal fashion for a cat (somehow I was in the right place at the right time to observe this). I never did give him the muscle relaxer.
But I noticed something else. Something different, almost indefinable. Colby was ... happier? It wasn't just the difference between a cat in pain and a cat with pain relief. It was more. He was more confident. More Colby than Colby normally was.
Intrigued, I looked up on Dr. Google "cats and anxiety and gabapentin". Remember, I had no clue gabapentin was used for anxiety in cats. I only knew it as a pain med for both humans and cats. Colby's behavior changes were the only reason I looked that up. But sure enough, it's an anxiety med. A very common one for vet visits.
By saturday night Colby was also asking me for it. He gets one every 12 hours and boy was he on the dot. 5 pm and he was up on his kitchen stool ("his" because he's the only one who uses it) and waiting for me. He never gave me the slightest bit of trouble swallowing it.
Dry swallowing a pill can't be fun. I can't do it. I always feel sorry for my cats when I have to give them pills. But Colby wasn't putting up with it for the sake of a treat afterwards. I hadn't even offered that. He wanted the pill itself.
By monday night the improvements in Colby's emotional well being were so dramatic I knew I couldn't take this away from him. Unless my vet said it was unsafe to remain on it permanently, that was exactly what I wanted to do for Colby. Even though it meant I was locked into a 2 pill a day dosage schedule.
Thimble, on the other hand, was rather disgruntled that he couldn't push Colby around anymore. He went roaming about the house, sulking. It was almost funny given what I knew had to have been happening between the two of them while I wasn't there. Poor, poor Thimble, couldn't pick on his little brother any more. Yeah, I didn't have much sympathy there.
I had enough sympathy, though, that when the vet's office had the appointment before mine still open so I could bring both cats at the same time, I brought all three that wednesday. Not because Thimble likes the vet. But because he was feeling left out and no longer the undisputed center of attention and I knew if I left him at home while I took the other two somewhere without him that he'd be even more upset.
Apricot's issue is unresolved but non-lifethreatening (or even bothering him that much, from what I can tell). Hopefully it will fix itself.
Colby, at the vet, is usually the cat who wanders around getting himself into trouble while the other two stay paralyzed in the carrier and have to be dragged out. Not this time. He came out initially but went back in. He was toward the end of the morning's dosage since the appointments started at 4 and by the time the vet came in after the techs had done their thing, it was 4:30.
He was shaking like a leaf. He and Apricot were both on the exam table since the vet techs weigh them and stuff and I don't let them go back into the carrier until they're all done and ready to go home (so that they know this). He was plastered flat as he could get to the table and not just quivering but visibly shaking.
I asked my vet if I could give him his evening dose. (I'd brought it with me as I figured we'd still be there at 5 pm). I didn't want it to interfere with the urinalysis if that was a possibility but she said go ahead and we'd do Apricot's exam first to give it a chance to get into his system.
I asked this shaking, 'hiding-as-best-he-could' cat if he wanted his "pain med" (that's what I called it at first so now that's the name of it for him). Colby, still shaking violently, actually sat up so I could give it to him easier. And within 5-10 minutes, he had stopped shaking and was just annoyed to be at the vet, not terrified.
We'd already discussed keeping him on it, and my vet had said that it was fairly innocuous in clearing cat's kidneys and liver so she didn't have a problem with it. At this point, though, I indicated Colby's dramatic behavioral change and said "See? See what I mean?" and my vet was like, "wow, that is a massive difference."
She (my vet) was trying to get Apricot's heart-rate, and having trouble, so now that Colby was not shaking and so very scared I reached over and laid my hand on Apricot's head. The vet says, "Oh, that's much better." It still amazes me that Apricot's heart-rate drops just from me touching him--not even petting him, just my physical contact with him.
While we were discussing what else needed to be done with each, they didn't have to be held by a vet tech for exams so I had both cats with their heads firmly planted in my stomach, one on either side. This was somewhat interesting in hand-to-cat logistics but I managed.
Apricot got his blood drawn. Because he's gained so much weight (part of what triggered this visit) they were challenged to find a vein and it took ages. He left before Colby, but Colby had to wait until the orders for the xrays were in the system.
Colby, not wanting to wait for them to come for him, tried to go back in the crate so I put the door on it. (Thimble is still inside this whole time, by the way, determined he's not coming out.) So Colby squeezes himself underneath the crate (which is on a furniture mover). There's only a normal office chair wheel's height there but he flattened himself and managed. I was laughing despite myself. I mean, I always said Colby could fold himself into the size of a deck of cards but I thought I was exaggerating!
The vet tech, when she found him (I just pointed down after she'd said hi to Thimble and was puzzled as to Colby's whereabouts and said, "you looked right at him") laughed hysterically. We had to lift the furniture mover and the crate off of him to get him out because we couldn't get our hands underneath. And we're both women with small hands!
So Apricot comes back before Colby does, and, forgetting I hadn't taken the door off the crate yet, I apologized to him for leaving and went to use the restroom. When I came back, I found that Apricot had taken refuge under the crate as well.
Now I really don't know how he managed. Perhaps all that fat is squishier than I thought. But unlike Colby, he couldn't move around under there and he was quite, quite stuck, and not happy with the situation, so all I had to do was lift one end and he came out looking sheepish.
I apologized again, this time for leaving him with the crate door shut against him, and took the door off the crate. He scrambled in and wedged himself up against Thimble, who was firmly against the back side of the crate and Not Going Anywhere.
Then they brought back Colby, and I let him do what he wanted, which was go in the crate too. He wanted in the back.
Now normally Apricot gets to go in first, and Thimble goes in second. Thimble lays down against the back of the crate and slides Apricot out in front of him so they're wedged like that. Colby, however, does not have the weight to move Thimble in the same fashion (much less Thimble and Apricot).
He didn't let that stop him. He just lay down on top of Thimble.
Thimble got this extremely long suffering look on his face, like, "see mom? See what I put up with from these two?" And when the vet tech came in with the results of the tests I motioned her over and said, "you've got to see this," and she had a giggling fit again.
(They love my cats. They tell me this every time I come.)
About Colby--what caused his urination problems? Well, he had no kidney stones. No crystals in his bladder. No bladder infection. You know what causes this inflammation in cats with no medical underlying cause?
Stress. Stress from me being gone so much longer each day for the past three weeks.
Yup, I made my cat sick. Go me. And as a result, not only did he have this urination problem (which has resolved itself), but he now has a permanent anxiety disorder and is no longer my phlegmatic, quiet kitty.
At least we found a medication that makes him feel better (because me coming home on time wasn't going to be enough any more. Not once the anxiety gets its hooks in him). Even if it was totally by accident and for a different original reason.
A week and a half later and Colby has never been a happier, more content cat. He's not acting sedated or drugged. He's eating more of his food and even participating in supper treats (which I thought he didn't do because he didn't like the treats offered). Turns out he loves the treats. He's wanting far more interaction with me than before as well. He's just more of himself now that the anxiety is out of the way.
And what about Thimble? He's getting used to the new world order. He's still not happy about it, but I'm giving him lots of attention too and he's slowly adapting.
Meanwhile Apricot just observes from the sidelines, which is what he's always been best at doing.