Last night we took our non-eating, lethargic cats to the emergency clinic. Our vet didn’t have any openings this weekend, and cats really can’t fast for more than about a day without possibly developing liver problems, so we didn’t want to risk waiting to see how they’d do.
We got in to see the vet quite quickly. Cahlash had a bit of a fever but Selene didn’t. They decided to give them both subcutaneous fluids and get blood tests done, but to assume for the moment that it was probably a virus. Although of course the vet there tried to convince us we should cook the cats’ food. I understand her concerns, but then outdoors cats eat raw animals all the time that haven’t been kept in sanitary conditions (whereas ours are fed strictly well-cared-for animals killed and processed under sanitary conditions), and as the Pottenger feeding study showed, cooking the meat really does have detrimental nutritional effects. Cahlash’s blood tests showed some mild kidney badness, but they said that could have been due to the dehydration. Selene apparently has something of a heart murmur, but I know supposedly Cornish Rexes can sound like they have a heart murmur because of an oddity in how their chest is shaped (if I’m remembering correctly). Still, next time we see our vet we’ll have her look into both issues.
The fluids and blood tests were supposed to take about a half hour to 45 minutes. Instead we were there for a total of about two to three hours. It turned into quite a night.
We sat in the large waiting room waiting with the cats’ carriers while the techs gave them fluids and took their blood. We chatted for a while. People came in and out; this is a 24-hour clinic, and it became apparent that at the end of the day there are a number of vets in the area who send folks to them when they close for the night.
One woman who came in looked like she was anywhere from 30 to 45. It was hard to tell if she was older or just prematurely aged. She had long blond hair up in tousled pigtails framing a puffy, jowled face. She wore a pale green top, loose and sheer over a midriff-baring tube top that showed every inch of a very dumpy middle. She couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that keeping her pet overnight for observation would mean charges for things like fluids and blood tests because those were a part of the process, and seemed convinced the place was trying to rip her off by charging her for unneeded treatments. She wasn’t the only person that night to try to convince the vets that certain procedures really didn’t need to be done in order to save money, despite the fact that from what I saw, their prices were pretty darn reasonable for a place that was open on a Friday night, all night, with good medical facilities on the premises.
Not long into our wait we heard low, rough cries from outside. Moments later two techs ran out with a blue stretcher, and a young tech stood nearby looking distressed and uncertain. The techs rushed back in with a huge brown-and-black dog on the stretcher. They hadn’t tied any of the ties, because it wasn’t moving at all. Its paws were just hanging off of the side, and I could hear a man crying, “oh God, oh God no,” just outside the door. I felt as if I was hearing something I shouldn’t be, like a child overhearing her parents yelling at each other while she’s supposed to be sleeping. I heard one of the vet techs say something about the dog not breathing, just falling out of the car when the door was opened.
For the next hour (or thereabouts) we could hear the man crying in one of the rooms while his dog was in the back with the staff. Occasionally he disappeared back with them, then he’d return for a bit. Finally a woman in scrubs came out wheeling a steel table. On it I saw a large mound under a white blanket. The dog was large enough that even then its paws stuck off the edge of the table and out from under the blanket.
Another tech came out to apologize for our wait and explain that things had gotten busy; this wasn’t the first dog to be brought in on a stretcher that night while we’d been there, although the other one had at least been conscious. We assured her that we didn’t mind at all. I mean, really. If we brought one of our cats in, god forbid, in such a state, we’d want them to wait on something like a non-urgent blood test to try to save our cat’s life. So the least we could do was wait a little longer to take our little ones home.
Not long after a man and a woman came in. The man was carrying a little black terrier and crying. When a tech asked what was wrong, he said simply, “she’s dying.” It wasn’t all that later that he left carrying a large, flat box with handles in the sides. It looked heavy.
By the time we left I wasn’t so worried about our cats’ illness, and I was very grateful that we’d only had to bring them in for something relatively minor. I still have that feeling of having witnessed something private, something that wasn’t meant for me, something important. I hope those people whose pets died last night find some peace today.
As for our cats, they’ve started eating again and definitely have more energy. They’re having the usual post-vet-trip spat over territory, in which Selene beats up Cahlash, primarily, even though she’s half his size, but they’re finally settling in. So I think that whatever it is, they’re going to be just fine.