Our cat, Annie, is seventeen. We got her when she was six from parents who claim their toddler was allergic to her, but I suspect they just couldn’t deal with her constant, noisy demands to be held and carried around while their toddler was also making constant, noisy demands and wanting to be carried.
This past winter her thyroid developed a nodule and started overproducing, so we’ve been saving to send her for radiation therapy so we wouldn’t have to struggle to give her expensive anti-thyroid medicine twice a day for the rest of her life. In preparation for the procedure, we took her for her pre-treatment blood work. Because she’s a member of our family, something medically weird happened: her thyroid levels were normal, but her kidney function was low enough that the doctor suggested we take her to a 24-hour emergency vet clinic an hour away in Wilmington, DE for two days of IV fluids. Which means we spent all our cat savings anyway, just on something more unexpected. After two days, she came home looking like this:
And also with an unhappy prognosis: months? Probably. Years? Very unlikely. Her Creatinine levels are high and we get to give her subcutaneous fluids every other day to keep them as low as we can. But there will be a point in the near future where she’ll stop eating and just be miserable and it will be time to let her go, which really sucks, but that’s having pets.
But let’s back up a minute: subcutaneous fluids.
What I imagined was the skinny little needle we use to administer her monthly arthritis medication shot, which she takes without even flinching. What I was confronted with was a full-sized IV drip bag, and a needle that looks like it was stolen from a certain galactic Seattle monument. Still, I reasoned, if she has so few nerve endings between her shoulder blades that the smaller needle doesn’t faze her, maybe the larger one won’t either.
You’ve probably already ascertained that this was magical thinking on a level that would make even Walt Disney raise an eyebrow and go, “really?”
My first attempt was sad and awkward, and involved replacing the needle several times, because she always managed to move and the needle would fall out and saline would spray everywhere like one of those old sprinkler toys.
Trying to hold her still is seriously 95% of this battle. Jim usually tries to hug her while I do the dirty work. Here’s how that generally goes:
Me: Hold still asshole, I’m doing this to save your life.
Annie: You’re literally stabbing me in the back right now. I’m supposed to hold still while you murder me? How about no.
Me: No, murdering you would be not trying to fill you up with enough fluids that you look like a tiny furry linebacker. You’re welcome.
Annie: Seriously, you need to cut this shit out right now. You’re lucky my other family – MY REAL FAMILY – had me declawed. I am not even kidding. Let. Me. GO!
Me: If you’d just hold still the needle would just go into loose skin and not hurt, but the wiggling makes me stab you in the hurty parts, so you’re actually doing this to yourself. You’re stubbornness is making it hurt AND poisoning you from the inside.
Annie: Don’t care. It can’t be worse than that horse needle you keep trying to kill me with. I’m out!
Sometimes I manage to get about half the fluids in her I’m supposed to, sometimes not really any. Sometimes we both give up and glare at each other angrily from across the room. She’s been a really healthy cat up until the last year, so I guess I’ve been lucky. But this is the worst kind of payback. And it comes with suffering and death at the end.
Gosh, isn’t having pets just great? (Yeah, it so is. And there will be others because not having them is way worse than having them.)