Editor’s note: This is the second in a four-part series
The injured homeless cat, we later named Faith, had already became special to us. Dr. Melanie Gilman was on duty with me that day. As soon as she laid eyes on this kitty she insisted on being part of her care. Our patient didn’t carry a credit card (no wallet, no ID), so the time and skill to make her well, not to mention costs of medications and supplies, were on the house.
Dr. Gilman already had a few orthopedic cases under her belt. I gave her the instructions she needed and a promise to mentor her through the operation. With our patient’s vital signs stable, little “No Name” was started on oxygen and anesthesia by mask. Gently she went unconscious as our staff started to prep her for surgery.
Anesthesia is a serious business that nearly always goes well. But for the battered brown kitty, things went wrong. Suddenly her breathing and heartbeat stopped. In seconds, Dr. Gilman was giving life-saving drugs and closed heart massage. But the response didn’t come. When they called me in, I saw fear and disappointment written on every face in the room.
Anesthetic death just wasn’t an option. We renewed our efforts and continued oxygen, cardiac stimulants and more heart massage. That little pink heart restarted its work.
No Name really was a tough cat. In a few minutes the color in her gums came back to pink and she was stable again. A few of our folks lobbied me to wake her up and forego surgery. No one wanted a replay of her near-death experience. But she couldn’t get well without our help. I repeated our commitment to this cat – out loud, like a mantra. We took her to surgery.
The operations on her jaws and face went well. When the last stitch was placed, our patient looked like a winner. We transferred her to our oxygen cage for monitoring as she regained consciousness. Ten minutes later, as she exhaled the anesthetic, she got suddenly frantic. What followed was, by far, the worst part of her whole ordeal.
Next week: a moral dilemma.
PET BEHAVIOR ADVICE: For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.
Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.