I worked carefully and fast. The tortoise shell kitty, Gucci, maintained strong vitals as I debrided (trimmed) the edges of her intestinal wounds and sutured them closed. A lot could still go wrong; I was counting on her robust immune system for help. On my way out of her abdomen I placed tubes and drains for daily irrigation over the next few days.
Small creatures can lose a lot of heat when their body cavities are open to room air. We’d kept our patient wrapped in a warm water circulating blanket during surgery but she had me worried. At a subnormal 92.4 degrees we quickly snuggled her into a thick towel surrounded by warm water bottles. Very slowly her paws started to flex and then her eyes opened. I couldn’t wait to ask her, “What the heck did you eat that poked eight holes in your guts?”
Instead, I called Gucci’s person, Jerri, at her business. Jerri was a hairdresser, so like veterinarians of that era, she worked on Saturdays. She picked up on the first ring. Through the whir of blow-dryers and background chattering I explained that surgery had gone well and that her sweet kitty was still under the influence but was sleeping it off. She would not be allowed to drive or lift heavy objects for several days. We would watch her like a hawk but, of course, there were no guarantees. Infection risk was still high.
We stayed late so Jerri could visit Gucci after she finished the day’s last coloring. She held her swaddled cat tight against her chest as I explained the details of what lay ahead. I remember this odd feeling as we spoke, that Jerri was looking at my hair more than my eyes. Maybe she wanted to trade her work with scissors for mine with a scalpel.
As I escorted our client out the door I explained my puzzlement about the cause of those intestinal wounds. What could her indoor cat have gotten into?
Next week: Dental hygiene at fault.
⋄ 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.