Monday, May 11, 2009

Missing Maggie

It's a lonely night as I write this--one that marks only the second time I've ever spent an evening at home without my constant four-legged companion of nearly four years, Maggie. The first time was shortly after we adopted her as our own on Thanksgiving of 2005--just the usual requisite spay-and-neuter business. But tonight's different--

Last night, when we arrived home after taking the boys to visit Nona in Mississauga for Mother's Day, it became immediately apparent that something was wrong. Maggie didn't come downstairs to greet us at the door with her usual inspection and challenge for a tummy rub. Lidia found her hiding under one of the boys' cribs upstairs. She wasn't purring and was lethargic and indifferent to offers of play and food. This definitely wasn't the familiar Maggie, who since the boys have come home, has really ramped up the frisky factor, as if such a thing were possible.

Maggie stayed on the bed for most of evening, clearly weaker and shockingly indifferent to my attempts to rouse her spirits. Her favorite toys, the crinkling of her collection of tissue paper, my tossing of her "foamie" balls up the stairs--any of which could be counted on to spring her into a frenzy--were met with indifference. She eventually came downstairs to sit at my feet as I did some work on the computer, but she huddled into her nearby "cat cottage" and seemed irritated at my attempts to pet her. I'd already noticed a moist puddle on the floor upstairs--there was another by the litter box and while she was with me she coughed up clear liquid about a half dozen times. Suffice to say, this was reason enough for us to get up extra early in the morning to call the vet.

Our vet clinic, Queen West Animal Hospital, is only a few minute's walk away but when we called we were told no one could see us for several hours, even though we'd pleaded our case and in our own experience, have had to wait on more than one occassion while other people barged into their premises with last-minute emergencies. Fortunately, their new second location is nearby at Dundas and Roncesvalles, and we were offered an appointment right away. We were glad to hear it would be Dr. Scott Bainbridge who'd be seeing Maggie, given that he was the first to meet her when she was a kitten (he greeted her as "madam", being as charmed by her appearance and personality as City-TV personality Anne Rohmer was in the lobby)...

I watched the boys while Lidia took her to Dundas West Animal Hospital. A short time later, Lidia called to tell me that Maggie was very dehydrated from a lack of food and it was a good thing that we brought her in when we did. Dr. Bainbridge ordered x-rays and lab work and put her on an IV to get some nutrients into her and encourage eating.

Of course, I had to go to work, which was extremely difficult, because while I tried to keep a stiff upper lip and remain positive, our experience with Molly's rare form of feline cancer had me fearing the worst. It's human nature to try to rehearse for bad news, the idea being that it'd make taking the eventual pain a little easier to handle. But it never is. And you just put yourself through hell for nothing...

Mid-afternoon, Lidia called Dr. Bainbridge, who said that x-rays revealed no sign of any blockage (ruling out the hairball theory), but initial examination seemed to indicate a possible problem in the liver (the presence of a fatty mucous). The liver condition is a bit of vicious circle--it can be the cause of physical problems, but it can also be exacerbated by the cat not eating because of some other problem. Given Maggie's age (not quite four years old) and health (annual checkups, a life spent totally indoors), he seemed confident that she'd pull through--the fact that the condition came up suddenly bodes well for nothing chronic and long-term--but nothing will be certain until the lab report comes back..which at this point is still a long night away.

The whole scenario is so bizarre: the day before, Maggie was as energetic, chatty, and affectionate as she's ever been, spending the night near my side downstairs as we played her favorite games and eventually she took her spot by my shoulder atop the big chair as I watched TV. As usual, she spent the first few overnight hours by the boys in the glider chair, eventually crawling into bed by my feet and, when I woke up, climbing up my chest to snuggle by my neck.
Her appetite was hearty--Lidia offered up the usual Saturday morning can of Fancy Feast and she and Minnie fought over who'd get the most.

And on the morning we left, she was scratching her palm tree post and watching the action out the back window. But somehow, in roughly eight hours, she took a strange turn...

Having the boys around to keep my mind off things certainly helped keep me from wallowing in misery tonight, and Minnie's been staying close to Lidia, even though it's clear she's wondering where her little sister's gone.

I'm trying to stay away from the web and its bottomless pit of unqualified medical diagnosis and so-called "expert" opinion, but the house just seems so empty without her...

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