Beautiful Hope, ” queen of the house”
I was in the break room drinking coffee and gossiping with my friend and fellow veterinarian, when the receptionist called. Since I was sitting nearest the phone, I answered. Ann, our receptionist told me there was a very sick cat that an elderly couple had brought to the clinic in a card board box. Dr M and I went to the first exam room and on the table was a box with an elderly couple on each side of the exam table. I introduced myself and Dr. M. The little grey haired lady began telling me the story of the cat. Her eyes filled with tears and in a trembling voice she quickly told me the story. About a month ago just as dusk was falling, the couple heard a faint meow. They both went to the door to find a small calico cat sitting on the bottom step. They immediately noticed how thin she was and so they began feeding the kitty. From the beginning is was apparent that she was wild. The couple put food out for her each day and she would appear from somewhere to eat and then retreat to the hedges. About 2 weeks ago they had begun putting card board boxes on their back porch. They put old towels in the two boxes thinking that eventually she would use one of the boxes for sleeping. The past week or so the lady said she could tell that the little kitty was pregnant. They had found her lying inside one of the boxes about three days ago. They knew she must be ill because she made no attempt to leave the box and run away. They had watched her for three days and it was appparent she was in labor. The little lady turned to look at the little cat and said to me, “I named her Hope and I have been praying for a miracle. There is nothing that we can do for her- it is out of our hands.” I looked at the kitty and back to the couple. I just knew this sweet couple would not have the money for whatever it would take to try to save this kitty’s life but I quoted the price anyway. They just shook their heads but were no longer looking at me. I hesitated for about 30 seconds before saying that I would try to save her if they would sign her over to me. With those words the little lady grabbed my hand and said, “thank you, thank you. My prayers have been answered. I know she will be alright now.” I called the desk and asked the secretary to bring the forms. The couple and I quickly signed our names and Hope officially became my cat. They each touched the little cat on the head then turned to squeeze my hands before leaving the room.
Dr.M. had not said one word. At the time we were examining the very ill kitty Dr. M. and I just exchanged glances and she would nod in agreement. Dr. M. had flashed a huge smile when I told the people that I would try to save her. As soon as they left the room, both Dr M. and I went into over-drive. We took a quick x-ray and soon had what we needed to know. The x-ray showed blurry looking globs in her uterus. Her temperature was taken and it was elevated- about 2 1/2 degrees above normal. This little cat was indeed very ill. She made no attempt to get away as we handled her. But, I also believe that she knew we were helping her. I called for a tech who was in the exam room almost immediately. I told her to get everything ready for a c- section. We moved to a surgery room with Dr. M. carrying Hope. The techs at this clinic were unbelievably smart and capable. Katy had the intubation tube ready, the anesthesia machine, the drapes, gowns, gloves, and masks and battery powered razor, and the surgery pack- the whole works ready in about 5-7 minutes time. The plan was that Dr. M. would handle the intubation, get the anesthesia going and the machine hooked up to the heart monitor. Katy our tech got the IV fluids and set-up and IV pump which she rolled over to the table. The little cat looked so young- could not have been more that 7 months, was our guess. Much too young to be pregnant- she was still a kitten herself. (Cats are considered kittens until one year of age) I shaved a small spot on a front leg and began palpating for a vein. Finding a vein was not easy- she was dehydrated. Veins are not prominent on animals or humans if dehydrated. Finally I was able to get a “back flow” of blood which meant the needle and cannula where in place. I pulled the metal needle out and the white plastic cannula remained in the vein, IV tubing was connected to the cannula; I stepped back to straighten up and then took several deep breaths.
Note: To be concluded at a later date. There will be lots of details of the difficulties that I encountered as I tried to save this beautiful little cat.
Post and photographs: Yvonne Daniel Co-author: Dr. Lisa Daniel