Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Possum Goes to Angell

For those who asked, we have pool toys in our storage area because spend many of our vacations hanging around a pool in Maine. We haven't used most of them in years, except for a green plastic boat that we shoot back and forth at each other in the water, playing catch. We also have one of those long foam "noodle" tubes for floating. It's purple. I used to have a great time blowing pool water out of one end with all my might, preferably onto an unsuspecting victim. This made me laugh hysterically and get water up my nose. We also have a Nerf football I don't like and an inflatable, motorized Titanic, which went around in circles, rarely hitting the leaky, inflatable iceberg  that came with it. I put that Titanic under the Christmas tree this year. 

* * * * *

Now, about Possum. On Monday morning he ate and then started exploding in his Possum-y way. He threw up his breakfast in many places and then struggled to have diarrhea, which wasn't really happening. He walked around leaving bits of it here and there as we followed, cleaning up. Then we put him in the bathroom. We took turns cleaning up in there while the other one dealt with the rest of the mess. (Nature's Miracle works.)

I didn't feel okay about it in the least. Possum, who has an expressive face, seemed miserable. And I'd been primed to expect one of the cats, most likely Harris, to develop an intestinal blockage (symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea) because of some potentially dangerous items that were attacked and then disappeared last month.

Our vet doesn't work on Monday so we got the first appointment with the vet on duty, in the late morning. But I soon decided that we should just go to Angell Animal Hospitals Emergency Center since only our vet does surgery at our hospital. And cats with blockages need immediate surgery.

I called to tell Angell we'd be there soon. We has no trouble putting Possum into an old cardboard carrier from the MSPCA, which must date from when we adopted Bunnelina in 1998. Possum didn't recognize it as a carrier so he went right in.

When we arrived, there was no one at reception. We waited and waited. Finally I called them and told the liaison I was waiting to check in with a very sick cat. A vet tech showed up and took me and Possum to an exam room. He checked out Possum and told me he seemed stable, and that we were third in line to see a vet. Meanwhile, a receptionist turned up and took our information and a down payment.

We waited for 90 minutes to see one of the two vets on duty. Possum lay in his dark box, occasionally crying. I put my finger through one of the carrier's little holes to stroke his back.

I was on the verge of leaving to try another emergency center a half-hour away when a young woman vet finally appeared. Possum had thrown up in the carrier and was generally a smelly mess, but was still rather charming, at least to me. The vet put on latex gloves and skillfully removed a large quantity of poop from his colon. We asked if she made house calls. Then she took him away for X-rays, blood tests, a painkiller, a sponge bath, and subcutaneous fluids.

We were there for five hours. We were prepared. We dressed in layers. I'd brought the remains of the partially eaten plastic partridge ornament and the sleep mask, along with water, snacks, a phone charger, and a few old New Yorkers (from October). My husband had his iPad and laptop. (If there's a next time, I'll bring a blanket as it was cold, and cans of cat food in case the cat is hospitalized.)

We were not prepared for the enormous dogs we kept encountering in the waiting areas. There were dogs like Shetland ponies, weighing more than I do, including a pair of shaggy bull mastiffs. Some of these dogs seemed to control of their owners, rather than the other way around.  I was glad Possum was hidden in his cardboard box and unable to see them. Then there were yappy little dogs who wouldn't stop barking, and a scrappy human couple just as loud. At least no one was in tears; that's the hardest.

The X-rays didn't show signs of blockage and Possum seemed stable. The vet predicted he'd have a lot more diarrhea and offered to keep him until he was back to normal. But we couldn't leave him there, so we took him home. She told us not to feed him until the morning and recommended Hills or Royal Canin "prescription" food. I told her I don't let our cats have poor-quality food. We had a brief, polite discussion outlining our opposing views on feline nutrition and agreed to disagree. We settled on feeding Possy boiled chicken, sprinkled with probiotics from their pharmacy.

At the Angell pharmacy, a sign fills the space between the long counter and the floor, advertising Hill's Prescription Diets. Across the way, there are racks loaded with bags of their food. It horrifies and amazes me that, in 2017, the vast majority of veterinarians still haven't woken up to the common sense of feeding animals, especially sick animals, fresher, healthier food. I've read that there's a class-action suit against Hills because there are no medications in their foods to warrant their requiring a "prescription." It's about time. But I digress.

The bill came to $592. We didn't bat an eye; we've been there. We are lucky we can afford vet bills and realize that one or several can hit us at any time. We expect to spend a small fortune when our five all start hitting "geriatric" ages, around the same time we will.

Possum complained all the way, home which was a relief. We settled him in my husband's little office with a litter box, water, a soft bed, and old towels draped over the armchair. We were bracing for more diarrhea and decided it would be easier to deal with it in one room. It was a frigid night but with the door closed and the radiator blasting, it was toasty in there. Possum slept as my husband worked nearby. He didn't want dinner. I joined them; Possum lay near me and purred. He was quiet all night.

To be continued.


  1. yes, the vets bills are a shocker. Dud's recent bald drama had a price tag of around £80, at the end of this month he has his yearly check up, which ends up costing around the same amount or thereabouts. But, it is what it is, money is nothing when it comes to the life of our beloved little friends. I don't like to call Dudley our pet, he's our friend. And we don't own him, it's very much the other way around!

    Glad Possum had a good and cosy night, I shall return for the continuation!

  2. yikes....what a miserable adventure (and totally in agreement about what to take to the er vet....unless there is copious amounts of blood, I take 5 minutes to grab water, snacks and a book). hopefully the boy is feeling better soon

  3. Oh no, poor Possum! Here's hoping he's back on track SOON! And I 1,00% echo your knowledge of that 'prescription''s crap! I too have had discussions with vets, and the last one told me that I obviously know more about cat food than she does. Why was the place so cold; just the outside temps or something they just do?

    1. It was an unusually cold day, but we were deep inside the hospital and nowhere near windows or outer walls and I was glad to keep my hat and down jacket on.

  4. Sending get well wishes to Possum!! Poor kitty. Thankfully he has caring, experienced pet parents. As a multiple pet owner (2 dogs 2 cats) I know it's SO stressful to have a sick pet!

  5. Not all the vets at Angell push the prescription food or Science Diet. The vet I use at Angell is perfectly fine with me feeding the cats a raw diet.

    Hope Possum is feeling better soon :)

  6. I'm not a fan of vets who rely on "rx" foods either. sadly, that is every single vet up this way.


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