Over the last few days, I’ve been dealing with a sick kitty. I noticed last week that Charlie threw up a few times. Now sometimes cats randomly puke. At first I wasn’t too concerned until I noticed he kept vomiting. Then his behavior started to change. Charlie is normally a busy, playful, and squeaky cat. Over the span of a few days I noticed that he stopped squeaking, played less, stopped visiting me in my office, and became skittish. He also started eating less. Similarly, Garrus started acting off too–skittish and moody–and appeared to be either babysitting Charlie or being his bodyguard. (Example: I found Garrus sleeping on top of Charlie’s kitty condo. I’ve never seen him sleep there before.)
I didn’t find any evidence that Charlie had gotten into something he should not have, and I deliberately don’t buy cat toys that be easily shredded and consumed. The one feathery toy Charlie plays with hadn’t lost any feathers. The boy cats’ behavioral changes bugged me. Something was up. So I called the vet’s office and spoke with a technician. I reported what I had observed and she concurred: we needed to get to the bottom of this. In order to do so, I needed to bring Charlie into the office.
Now, getting a cat into a carrier and taking them to the vet is not fun for anyone. I’ve met a couple of exceptionally rare cats who are so easygoing that they (a) don’t need to be put into a carrier and can sit contentedly on a leash when traveling and (b) don’t freak out at the vet’s office. None of my cats are that chill. Boudicca doesn’t like being confined and will turn on her diva meow routine once she’s in there, but she’s moderately well behaved when technicians and vets examine her. Garrus does not like getting into the carrier and protests quietly inside, but again, he comports himself like a gentleman with the vet.
Charlie is another matter. As a kitten, he was the shyest and most timid one out of the litter. I don’t know everything about his history but it’s pretty clear that he associates traveling (i.e. being in the carrier) with highly unpleasant experiences (such as being taken back to the shelter). When I fostered him and took him to the vet to get checked out, he panicked so much that he had to be sedated for his safety and for the staff’s safety. (A freaked out cat is all pointy ends.) Aaron and I tried to gently get him into the carrier as to not traumatize him but that did not work. After much laboring and Aaron donning protective gear (his motorcycling jacket and gloves), we were able to make a loose towel burrito and slide Charlie inside the carrier. (I use a carrier meant for small dogs rather than the typical small cat carrier. The larger space allows for greater maneuverability. In Boudicca’s case, she would have been cramped otherwise.)
I had never heard Charlie growl and hiss so much. I felt terrible and worried that I had traumatized him but I wanted him to feel better. At the vet’s office, he let everyone know that he was desperately unhappy about the situation by urinating in the carrier. The technician and vet covered him with a towel on the examining table and–behold!–he stopped growling and appeared to calm a little. Thankfully, he didn’t have a fever and there was no evidence of an obstruction. The vet administered an anti-nausea medication with anti-inflammatory properties and an antibiotic. The latter made Charlie drool a lot, which was simultaneously funny and sad.
This past weekend we’ve been able to give him his anti-nausea medication in a Pill Pocket and his antibiotic. (We’re not crazy about the drooling side effect of the latter.) He hasn’t vomited since Friday but he hasn’t had much of an appetite lately. He has also remained rather subdued and quiet for the most part, although glimpses of his normal personality surface for short periods. He even played briefly last night and this morning. He has pilfered a few of Boudicca’s kibbles and ate treats during a couple of play sessions, so that’s progress.
Garrus, meanwhile, seemingly doesn’t seem to know what to do with himself with his buddy being under the weather. A couple of nights ago he tried desperately to get Boudicca to play with him and even tried stalking her like he does with Charlie. He got mixed results–for her part, Boudicca was surprised and confused it all, but she did chase, ambush, and bat briefly around a box. When Aaron took out the laser pointer, we had at least one happy cat in the living room.
In short, sometimes pets get sick. It’s no fun. If you notice your pet’s eating, drinking, and eliminating behaviors suddenly change, especially in conjunction with personality and energy level changes, it’s a good idea to check with your vet to determine what could be the problem. That does not mean you have to hit the panic button each time: you may observe your pet for a couple of days but call when you get concerned, as I did in this case. As a responsible pet owner, it is your duty to do what is right by your pet to make sure he or she is happy, loved, and healthy!