Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Cat Fights

No, not the naked, mud-wrestling type. The feline type. For the past three days my female cat, Eno, had been masterfully hiding herself from her brother, Casper. I found her behind the TV, behind the treadmill, forted up in between futon pillows, under my bed clothes, and peeking from aside her scratching post (OK, that one wasn't so masterful). When she did see her brother she would hiss and spit at him until he'd skulk away, his furrowed white brow revealing befuddlement as to why his sister didn't want to play.

Not only is Casper dumb as a stump, he also has an incredibly short memory. Even though both of my cats are fixed (don't want any 6-toed, cross-eyed kin kitties running around), they tend to get a bit agitated in the spring time. My vet seems to think that as the weather warms up and the windows stay open, the cats are catching peeks and whiffs of other "in season" felines. No longer properly equipped, their taking out their aggressions with, well, aggression.

My cats are big. My girl is about 12 lbs, and my boy is about 14. My vet recently ventured they were "fat", but I take offense to that. They are merely big boned, tall damn cats. And strong. They like to play rough, particularly Casper. I accuse my husband for encouraging his rowdy playstyle, and Rick has the wounds to convict him.

Last year when the cats started up their fighting, my vet recommended that I introduce some kind of negative stimulus to their environment. He conjectured this would get the cats to "unite against a common enemy" and put aside their personal differences.

"I'm not suggesting you hurt your cats." (Good to hear from your veterinarian, no?) "Just find something that they'll both hate, so they'll seek each other for solace."

The "negative stimulus" ended up being the Dirt Devil. Anytime they started a-fussin' and a-mussin' I would only have to open the closet door where the vacuum lived and they would stop. So I tried this tactic again this year, but it must have been a little to little, a little to late. Thank you, Pat Benatar.

Evidently we missed the Big Fight, The Thrilla in Cat Villa. The aftermath went relatively unnoticed by us until the hiding began. Even then we didn't think it was particularly strange behavior for Eno. That cat can hold a grudge. If Casper deigns to chew on her stuffed penguin, she will stare at him with little kitty laser beams until he gives it up. If she picks a fight and gets a retaliative swat in the nose, she will sulk and hide from him hours after Casper has long forgotten the reason why she was mad at him.

Soon it was clear that this time was not just a grudge. Eno became so reclusive that she was no longer eating or using the cat box, which our living room chair learned the hard way. Eno was cleaning her hindquarters for an unusually long time (yes, even for a cat), so I felt back there to see if anything was wrong. She had a big lump on her right flank, and another one right around the third vertebra of her tail. I called the vet.

"Bring her in immediately," the, what, 'triage nurse' said when I called. "We think they are bite marks. We're concerned that they could be infected, or worse, abscessed.

Cat bites are bad. Because cats' teeth are so sharp, they create deep puncture wounds when they bite. Bacteria love deep, dark, warm puncture wounds. Infections caused by the bacteria can form big pools of puss or cellulitis. People have died from the infections caused by cat bites. If you want to be grossed out, you can click on this picture of a cat bite inflicted on a human. Otherwise, read on.

Eno does not like to go in her cat carrier, particularly when she feels crappy. She may not realize that she's going to the vet, but she knows she's going in the car. The car, she hates. Her yowling in the car sometimes sounds like groan tubes, sometimes sounds like a small child screaming, "Ow, Ma!" It's chilling.

As if the carrier and the car were not insult enough, I rushed her to the vet in the midst of a torrential downpour. By the time we got to the clinic she was pissed. So was the cat carrier. People were glaring at the shaking, howling carrier, wondering what I did to the poor animal inside. Luckily there weren't many waiting to see the doctor, so we got right in.

Eno's almost three and we've been going to the same clinic for about the same amount of time, but I don't think we've ever had the same doctor twice. But they are all wonderful there. This doctor--not the "negative stimulus" doctor-- had long grey hair and sort of reminded me of Richard Gere or my old Psych teacher from Penn State. He was very gentle and calming for the Eno's benefit, I'm sure, but also for mine.

Eno got her temperature taken (glad I'm not a cat), and an injection of antibiotics in her neck. The vet also gave me liquid antibiotics to give her twice a day for ten days. He felt confident that we caught the infection in time. Her temp was at 102--normal for cats--and while her lymph nodes were swollen, he couldn't see or feel any puss or cellulitis. Still, we have to watch for improvement this week. Poor puddy. We'll also have to arrange for someone to medicate her while we're out of town this weekend. Poor neighbors.

Amanda's Getting Hitched
The only thing that could possibly tear me away from my wounded cat's side would be impending nuptials. And they are impending. In honor of Amanda's wedding I am linking to her site. Enjoy.

Rick's Famous Chiropractor
Rick went to the chiropractor today. Evidently he messed up his back pretty badly while tromping around Chicago for his restaurant service training seminar. I hear too much company-compted beer and steak can do that to a body. I had given him a patented "#1 Wife Extraordinaire Back Massage, Variation 7," but astonishingly, that didn't cut it.

So Rick's lying on his belly getting cracked when he mentions to the doctor that he's going to Pgh this weekend for a wedding.

"Really," says the bone bender, "You know, I'm the sidelines chiropractor for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but only for their away games." I wonder if he has that job title hyphenated on his business cards.

"So you're going to be in the Burgh this weekend?" he continued. "Maybe we'll run into you. My wife and I are attending our friend's daughter's junior varsity volleyball game at North Allegheny High School."

You know, oddly enough, that wasn't part of our travel plans. But this show is. Go Steve Moore!

No comments: