How to Care for a Chronically Ill Cat
By
July 16, 2013

Spend all of your spare time incessantly googling. Ideally, purchase an iPad so you will always have the Cornell Small Animal Veterinary Research site and Cats with Kidney Disease Yahoo Group forum at your fingertips. You can browse them while watching Real Housewives.

When “anemia” keeps popping up as a common associated disease, become obsessed with anemia. Read about the symptoms, but mostly read about the easy household tests you can conduct to diagnose Lou. For example, does her nose look less pink than usual? Forget what color pink her nose usually is.

Consider the staff at all of the different vet offices you take her to, with their unspoken eye rolls and insipid “yes ma’ams.” They never listen to you. And not one of them has mentioned the plainly obvious case of anemia Lou has come down with.

While the Beverly Hills housewives are air kissing each other and arguing over who has the chicest, tiniest pocket dog, check Lou’s gums for paleness–another telltale sign of her anemia. Note that her gums seem a little pale, while also thinking to yourself that you’ve never looked at her gums before. What is pale?

The next day at work, while you read through the latest distressed missives on the Yahoo Group forum, phone the specialty vet–the one with the gum-smacking, barely-past-teenage tech who always answers the phone. Explain that Lou probably has anemia.

“Ma’am,” she replies, as expected. But then: “I don’t want to alarm you, but anemia can be very serious. You need to bring her in now if possible.” Double-check to make sure you dialed the right number.

After the longest seven-mile drive of your life, arrive at your house, flail up the stairs and drag a peacefully snoozing Lou out from under the bed and into the carrier. Over the twenty-five-mile trek to the vet, say things like, “It’s okay, mommy’s here, you’re going to be fine,” while Lou, not sure if she’s still under the bed or what has happened, looks up at you with sideways eyes, then opts to go back to sleep.

In the waiting room, a concrete statue of an otter smiles in pity at you. But you won’t have to wait long. As an emergency appointment, you not only get to pay twice the regular overpriced rate, you get to leapfrog over all the other pathetic suckers sitting in there with their damp eyes and zombie faces.

The vet greets you and says something cheery like, “So, how is Lou today?” He is so inane. You mention that she has come down with anemia and he says, “Let’s take a look,” pulling back her gums. Yes, obviously, the gum test. “I’ve already done that,” you think.

“Her gums look good, nice and pink. What symptoms is she having?”

You begin to hear blood rushing loudly through your ears as you think, yes, there should be symptoms. Surely there are some sort of…symptoms. “She’s…maybe…a little tired?” you suggest. The vet agrees to take some blood. “Might as well since she’s here,” he digs.

The teenager-y tech looks right through you as you pull out your credit card and avoid eye contact with the bill. Twenty-five miles later, with Lou back underneath the bed, you return to work. Not a single person has noticed you were gone.

The vet calls the next day with Lou’s test results. Normal red blood cell count is between 28 and 45, he tells you, and as you well know from your University of Google degree, below 28 is anemic. Lou scores a 42.

Glance back up at your computer screen and notice with interest that WebMD now has a pet health site.

 

 

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