Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Poor Loki

Sunday we were graced by the presence of Yaya & the Easter Bunny (a.k.a. Aunt Julie), who ate fajitas with us in our new apartment and brought us beautiful daffodils & much chocolate. It was a fine visit. :)

Unfortunately, we noticed that morning that Loki was having some trouble at the litter box again. He had to go to the vet the previous weekend for the same reason, and some urine was taken at that time to be analyzed for a possible infection. The vet gave us some special food and said she'd call us with the test results. And never did. Even when Tom called mid-week and left a message. Stupid vet.

The special food seemed to help, and Loki got better for about a week, but as I said, he was pretty uncomfortable again by Sunday. Late that afternoon, we took him (growly and disgruntled) to the night/weekend emergency clinic, where it was determined he did in fact have a blocked urethra. The vet kept him overnight, knocked him out, catheterized him, and told me to pick him up in the morning.

So yesterday morning, I dropped Tom off at work and went to get Loki. Just after I got there, this poor old woman came in with her dog, who'd passed away in the night. Apparently he'd been born with a heart defect and wasn't expected to live to the age of 3, but he was a little more than 8 years old. She was (understandably) pretty upset, even though she'd been expecting it for some time. Another lady who was in there when I got there was taken to a back room and then emerged a while later, carrying a leash and sniffling. Needless to say, it was a pretty depressing way to start the day.

Finally the staff had time to go get Loki ready to go. There was a great deal of yowling, crashing and hissing coming from the back room, and when they brought him out, there was a big stick hanging out the front door of his carrier. The vet tech said, "Well, he tried to kill us all." She told me to take him straight over to our regular vet and then bring back the "Snappy Snare" (collar with a stick attached to it) later. I wasn't too thrilled about taking him back to the idiot vet who dropped the ball on us the week before, but as they already have his medical history and everything, it seemed like the only way to go.

The tech at the other vet's office remembered him (how could she not?) and showed me the puncture wound he'd made in her finger the last time when he'd bitten through her thick leather gloves. He can really be a pretty mellow cat, as long as he doesn't get stressed out. Unfortunately, it doesn't take much to stress him out.

The vet came in a few minutes later to look over his bloodwork and assess the situation. I never did get a straight answer about why she never got back to us about the urinalysis results, but I get the feeling our paperwork got lost in a pile or something. Whatever. Disorganized though they may be in that office, the vet really does seem genuinely interested in doing whatever's necessary to help Loki feel better, regardless of the fact that he's been nothing but violent and unpleasant whenever he's been in there, so I guess I have to give her some credit for that. Anyway, the final verdict was that he'd have to stay hospitalized for another 3 days and 2 nights while they pumped him full of antibiotics and IV fluids, trying to flush his system.

Side note: Here's a brief summary of Loki's condition, in case anyone's interested. The general cause of the blockage is the fact that cats have these things called struvite crystals in their urine. These crystals are usually dissolved but come out of solution at a pH of 7.5, so if a cat's urine becomes too alkaline, the crystals can aggregate. Male cats are particularly at risk because they have a very narrow urethra, which is easily blocked if a large enough collection of crystals accumulates. If they stay blocked for more than 24-48 hours, they are at risk for massive kidney damage and death. (Fortunately for Loki, he was not blocked long enough to harm his kidneys.) A bacterial infection is believed to be one possible catalyst for an attack because the bacteria not only raise the pH of the urine, but they also provide convenient little anchors for the crystals to affix themselves to. This is the reason for the extended stay and repeated doses of antibiotics; if there is indeed an underlying bacterial infection, we want to make sure it's completely knocked out. End side note

So now Loki's stuck at the vet's for another couple of days. I'm going to visit him today after work. I was trying to think of ways to lower his stress level (as stress is believed to be another possible factor in repeat outbreaks), but I can't exactly bring him cat treats or anything like that. However, Tom came up with a brilliant idea. He suggested that I bring a t-shirt or something so Loki can have something with our scent on it. See, antisocial though he may be, if Loki is asleep on the bed and we toss anything (jacket, backpack, shirt, etc) down, he'll move from his previous sleeping spot to re-settle on whatever it is of ours we've put there. He does like to be close to us...as long as he's not in the same room with us. ;) Anyway, I thought a t-shirt would probably be too big, but maybe there's a chance the vet will let me put something smaller in the cage with him. So Tom & I took turns last night sleeping on a washcloth, and I've had it stuck under my lab coat for most of the day today, so hopefully it will be nice and smelly (in a good way) by the time I get to go see him.

Anyway, that's the story. Hopefully the poor guy will be back to urinating on his own tomorrow and we'll be able to take him home.

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