It's been a busy week: Lion went for his checkup on Wednesday, and Harris and Toffee had some teeth removed yesterday. Lion hates being in the carrier and rubbed his nose so hard against its mesh windows that it is red and sore. He got a clean bill of health and then didn't want to eat for 36 hours, partly because Harris and Toffee weren't around for most of that.
Those two were diagnosed with tooth resorption three weeks ago, to our horror. Here we've been brushing their teeth every other night and never noticed that each cat had two tiny lower teeth that were deteriorated to the point where the enamel was gone and the pulp exposed — certainly painful. Our vet told us that brushing doesn't prevent tooth resorption; it has nothing to do with dental hygiene and no one knows what causes it. We were eager to get them scheduled for surgery (about $800 per cat) but our hospital was booked until March. We were added to the cancellation list.
I hated the idea of having to wait more than two months to remove those painful teeth. So I called Angell to see if they could do the surgery sooner, but they were booked into March, too. They recommended an animal dentistry center 45 minutes away, in Boxborough. I called; they sounded great, and they were able to schedule us in early February. . . and then they told me it would cost $2,200 per cat.
I had begun noticing that both cats were eating more slowly than they used to. Toffee seemed to eat "carefully" and sometimes didn't finish his food. He was also having trouble eating treats, as was Harris. It was so hard to watch and wait, so I kept finding weekly excuses to call the cat hospital and ask about the cancellation list. It was such a relief to take them there yesterday.
It was too quiet in the house yesterday. Even though Harris and Toffee sleep a lot during the day, their absence was powerful. Since Lion and Wendy hide during the day, we looked and felt like a one-cat household. It was weird: I'd put something down somewhere, and it would stay there — Harris wasn't there to knock it on the floor for me.
Possum had missed the ordeal of our stuffing his brothers into carriers early in the morning. When we returned, he was waiting. And wondering. When I went to put something away under the bed, he joined me, clearly hoping his boys were hiding under there behind the storage tubs. I waited while he checked. Then I watched him walk around, looking for them, and tried to tell him they were gone but would be back. He gave me a look that said he was trusting me, and settled down for a nap.
They were dazed and tired when they came last night. Whenever anyone goes to the vet, I always ask her for a paper towel sprayed with cat pheromones (Feliway or whatever). When we get home, I have to rub it all over all the cats AND me several times, so we all smell like each other and not like the vet.
Even so, when Lion came home and I did the paper-towel thing, Harris wouldn't stop hissing at me. I'm pretty sure he thinks of me as a big, ugly cat, so it's kind of cool as well as upsetting when he hisses at me. (I should mention that Possum never hisses at anyone. He likes cats no matter what they smell like.)
Last night, Harris and Toffee were not interested in hissing or in food. They were wobbly and dazed. We gave them antibiotics and painkillers, and they settled in to sleep. This afternoon they were finally more like themselves and ate well. Harris rolled around and purred as I stroked him between naps. Toffee wanted to play with a new pole toy and I was thrilled when he grabbed the little furry critter in his mouth and sat with it, refusing to let go. It had been a long time since I'd seen a toy in his mouth. It must mean he is already feeling better, in less pain. But it's interesting that I hadn't noticed their tooth problems until they were pointed out to me by our vet.
Take your cats to your vet for checkups even if they seem fine. Go once a year if they are young and twice a year or more as they get older. Get their teeth checked. Tooth resorption is extremely common and it's got to hurt, not that your cat will ever tell.