A few days ago, the last of Binkles’ foot drama was over. The vet removed the pin in his foot that was used to reset the bone that had fractured. I felt relieved that not only was my Binks as good as new, but I was looking forward to a period of time where it didn’t feel like I was dating my vet, so frequent were my visits.
As I pulled into the driveway with my newly-pinless bunny, I noticed that Pretty, my pet feral cat, was limping pretty badly as she came out to greet me. When I got out of the car, she came up to me, gave me a plaintive meow and held her paw up. Part of me was thinking “oh no, you poor thing” and the other part (the cheap, less compassionate part) was thinking “oh for crying out loud! Seriously?”
I took a look at her paw and could see nothing obvious. It clearly wasn’t broken as she was putting weight on it, and there was no visible or felt object stuck in it. She was moving around (albeit limping a bit) and eating just fine, so I figured this was a watch and wait situation.
The next day, she seemed better. Still slightly limping, but definitely in better spirits. I was relieved. However, the day after (on a Saturday, of course) I could see the paw had definitely taken a turn for the worse. It was swollen to twice its normal size, and her limp had become much more pronounced. No more waiting and watching. She is a feral cat, after all, and if it got worse she may go into hiding and I would never be able to get her.
Fortunately, she does let me touch her, so I petted her a while as she ate. Then I betrayed her by quickly scruffing her and then stuffing into a carrier. She complained loudly and mournfully as we drove to the emergency vet.
There is something very poignant about the waiting room at the emergency vet. Considering it costs about twice what a visit to your normal vet would cost, you know people don’t take these trips lightly. It’s a very different vibe than a visit to my normal vet where there is often friendly chatter in the waiting room. This large, airy waiting room was packed with people and pets – mostly cats – yet it was still with worry.
The receptionist told us it would probably be about two hours before we would be seen, so I settled in and dug a book out of my purse. Occasionally, a bit of small talk broke out with those we were sitting near. One woman’s cat was there with heart failure. A worried lesbian couple didn’t know why they were there, only that their regular vet called them and told them to go there after he read their cat’s blood work. An argumentative mother and son were there because their dog got into another family member’s stash of pot. A lovely young woman was there with her three-legged Great Dane (his leg was removed due to bone cancer) because she sensed something was wrong, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.
I watched with relief as people walked out with pets in tow, and both their hearts and wallets a lot lighter. I watched a couple cry as they walked out without their old dog whom they had carried in because it could no longer walk. I teared up too since I had a strong feeling that was dog’s final vet visit. And I teared up again, when the woman with the three-legged dog told me after her appointment that the cancer had spread to the dog’s lungs. It’s as if I was a witness to at least 10 of the 10, 000 sorrows and 10,000 joys of which the Buddha speaks.
After more than two hours, it was Pretty’s turn. When we tried to take her out of the carrier, she freaked out. She was quickly taken in the back where her exam would be done under mild sedation. The results came back quickly: she had an abscess on her foot. They would lance it, clean it and give her a shot of long-lasting antibiotics. I was out of there within a half hour.
As I write this, I have a very unhappy Pretty kitty in a dog crate here in my office. She needs to stay confined for a couple of days while the wound heals. From the glowering looks of disapproval she gives me, it’s clear she doesn’t understand that I did this because I love her. I hope she eventually forgives me.
UPDATE: After close to 48 hours of very unhappy confinement, I decided to release her since her foot seemed healed. Even if it wasn’t completely healed, I was going to release her anyway since I was becoming concerned about the impact of the obvious stress she was under. She hadn’t eaten, nor did I think she peed or pooed. When I would go to touch her, her little body was frozen in fear. And time only seemed to make the matter worse rather than better.
With the help of a neighbor who also feeds feral cats, I examined her foot to make sure it was mostly healed. It was so healed I couldn’t even figure out which foot had the problem. We took the carrier down to the driveway, near where I feed her, and opened the gate. I was expecting to see her bolt out of there and make a dash down the embankment to get as far as away from her captor as she could. Instead, she exited slowly, tentatively and then went under my car. For the next three minutes she told me off with loud, angry meows. I was worried maybe she had lost her mind, or maybe she was hurt, or in organ failure. But, once she got that out of her system, she came out from under the car, and then wandered over to her feeding dish. And that was that. No further recriminations. No rehashing the past. She was over it. Amazing.