OT: Pets and Surgery--a bit nasty

Gili Bar-Hillel abhillel at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 19 11:08:16 EDT 2001

>:)  Thanks, you two.  These stories were very cheering!  Bell is
>totally recovered (enough to have managed to steal some of Bec's
>Easter choccies and downed them without so much as a hint of
>stomachache.  Cast-iron gut, she has.), and our only problem is
>keeping her away from the stitches.  Becca and I put The Collar
>(Evil!) on her, and survived for all of about half an hour.  Instant,
>deep depression.  So we're relying on surveillance instead.

If you find these stories cheering, here's another unusual one. But long, so 
feel free to skip if you are not a cat lover.

One of my cats, Liki, now about 11 years old, acquired a mysterious wound in 
her armpit. We're not sure when this happened as it was probably during a 
period of about 6 months when she was being cared for by the people renting 
our apartment at the time, but during these 6 months she vanished for a few 
weeks (just long enough for my mother to decide she was clearly dead, and 
break the news to me - I hadn't even been informed that she'd gone missing) 
and I suspect the wound had something to do with it. (She was later 
discovered in the basement of our building, acting as though she had a 
litter of kittens to protect though she had been spayed years before.) By 
the time I returned to Israel, it was an old injury, but still open and 
festering. We tried caring for it in a number of ways, with two different 
vets, and the more we tried the more miserable the cat became, and the more 
hysterical whenever we approached her: screaming when we held her down, then 
running away and sulking for hours or days.

I won't go into all the details of what we tried and why it failed each 
time, but I will say in my defense that I've had cats for years, and I'm 
usually quite adept at medicating them without a fuss, even when it comes to 
putting ointment on their eyes or feeding icky antibiotics through a syringe 
- but this cat was virtually impossible to care for.

At one point the wound was stitched and the cat fitted with a "Victorian 
Collar" to stop her picking at it. The collar really is brutal, and I only 
agreed to it because I thought it might be the one thing that would put an 
end to the wound. The cat hid under my mother's bed and refused to move. She 
would not come out when coaxed. She did not touch the food we left under the 
bed for her. She just hunched in a miserable ball. As miserable as she 
clearly was under the bed, it was worse when we tried removing her: she 
howled mournfully until she was allowed to return to her retreat. We kept 
this up for three horrendously depressing days, and finally couldn't stand 
it any longer. The dreaded collar was removed, the cat went right back to 
normal, and of course started picking at her stitches.

To this day, the cat panics if I try cleaning, touching, or just looking at 
her wound. But a few weeks after that last traumatic incident, when it was 
clear she had bitten out most of the stitches but there were still little 
knots and stubs of stitches in her flesh, she let me pick them out manually. 
She was perfectly calm and purring all the while, as long as all I was doing 
was picking out stitches.

I don't know if this story has an end yet, but I can tell you this: it is 
now about three years later, the cat is alive and well and seems perfectly 
normal, healthy and happy. The wound is still open. We see it only when the 
cat stretches on her back: it is about the size of a 50 cent peice (British 
20 pence), and looks like a bit of skinned animal, wet but no sign of blood, 
pus or obvious infection. Perhaps it will eventually worsen, but it is clear 
to me that the wound itself causes her far less misery than any of our 
attempts to treat it. She's 11 years old and has had this wound for well 
over three years: I figure she's better off injured but happy than suffering 
through treatment.

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