Not so long ago, one of my cats, Skylar, a nine year old altered smoke tabby, got into a fight with another cat. I don’t usually let Skylar or my other cats outside, but when the weather’s nice, I like to let them out to get a little sun. I do have harnesses and leashes, but there are times when I don’t have the time to spend walking with them around the yard. So, Skylar was out alone and although I never heard any of the usual cat howls and screams, I knew right away he’d been fighting when he came in. He had the telltale saliva in his fur around his neck and rear quarters.I immediately checked him over because I didn’t see any blood or obvious scratches.
He didn’t seem hurt, until I probed his left hip. He growled at me and pulled away. I quickly gave him a sponge bath to clean him up and gave him another once-over. Other than his tender back end, I couldn’t find a single wound. I did, however, have a sneaking suspicion that he’d been bitten. Being a smoke tabby, Skylar looks black, but the fur close to his skin is pure white. This meant that I should have been able to see any cuts or scratches, but as hard as I looked, I couldn’t find a single mark.
This got me thinking that maybe he hadn’t been bitten after all and maybe he pulled a muscle running away from the other cat. For the next two days, poor Skylar limped around a little, but otherwise seemed okay. His appetite was good and except for that little limp, he was normal. Then, on the third day, I noticed his fur bulging out on the left side. Being extra careful, I ran my hand over his haunch and found a golf ball sized lump. Uh-oh, that meant an abscess. Just to be sure I’d guessed the right diagnosis, I checked on the Internet. Sure enough, the description provided matched Skylar’s symptoms exactly.
With cats especially, a bite doesn’t necessarily show up, until an abscess forms. As a tooth punctures through the victim’s skin, the wound seals itself up when the tooth is withdrawn. That’s the primary reason there’s little or no blood and it’s hard to find the actual wound. Bacteria, which is plentiful in a cat’s mouth, is basically injected underneath the skin and since the wound seals up, it has a perfect environment to thrive. It reproduces very quickly and within days, a lump forms, full of pus. At this point, the animal needs immediate help before the infection can spread further.
As soon as I realized Skylar had an abscess, I took him in to see the vet. There were a couple of options at this time. The first, the conservative method, was to administer antibiotics for a week. The second option, the more invasive thing to do, would be surgery to drain the pus from the abscess. As any pet owner knows, vet bills can add up quickly, so I thought trying the antibiotics first was warranted. I got lucky. Skylar’s infection responded very well to the antibiotics and by the time the medicine was done, his abscess was completely gone. I was prepared to pay for the surgery, but glad I didn’t have to.
Skylar has been an expensive cat. I rescued him from a lady who rescued him from an animal shelter a day before he was to be euthanized at three months old. He cost me nothing, but I had to pay for him to be neutered. A minor expense. He’d have several fights throughout the years, which meant trips to the vet for antibiotics and vaccinations. Then, one day, I bought a small iguana, not the same iguana I wrote about before, this was a new one. Skylar would sit for hours on end watching this little iguana climb on my hanging plants. I figured he was just waiting for the lizard to come down so he could have a snack. Thankfully, the lizard stayed out of reach.
Unfortunately, the lizard died one day unexpectedly. Right away, Skylar stopped eating and just lay around. I couldn’t even get him to stand up. I rushed him to a feline only vet and told her all about his symptoms. I thought that perhaps he caught some sort of disease from the lizard, even through mammals can rarely catch things from reptiles. The vet did a whole panel of blood tests x-rays, but they showed absolutely nothing. He should have been healthy. Then she came up with a diagnosis. He was depressed because his ‘pet’ had died. She gave him a shot of steroids and he perked right up. That was a $250 bill. I don’t bring any small animals into my home anymore because I’m afraid Skylar might consider them his pets and mope around when they die.
A Happy Ending
Skylar is definitely a character, but he’s very sweet and loving and worth every penny he’s cost me. Because he’s my trouble maker cat, I try to keep an eye on him, especially since he’s getting older. He may not be happy when I refuse to let him outside all the time, but at least I know he’s safe, and that’s what really counts.
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