RANT: Feline drama, and more.

by Doc Coleman on May 1, 2013 · 2 comments

in Rants

Some of the details in this week’s account may be a little bit of medical TMI. I don’t go into details, but it may still be disturbing for some. This is going to be a bit long, and rambly, and a lot of me talking about things that I doubt most people are interested in, but I need to get it off my chest. So I won’t blame folks if they want to skip it. My writing has been crawling along, but mostly in putting together this account. So, this is what my week has been like…


The theme for this week started off early. Wednesday morning when I got up, I noticed that one of our cats, Thunder, wasn’t in his usual conspicuous spot on top of my legs. In fact, he didn’t appear to be in the bedroom at all. This wasn’t a great concern, because from time to time he will spend a night sleeping downstairs somewhere. I got dressed, and headed downstairs. Sure enough, he was sprawled comfortably on the floor downstairs. That was pretty much where the normal behavior stopped.

Thunder photo Thunder’s style of laying around in better days.

I feed the cats every morning before I head off to work. Thunder is a notorious greedy gut, and usually loudly demands food while I am busy preparing it. But on this day, Tryll was my only companion in the kitchen. I gave her her food, and went back to the living room to check on Thunder. He was still lying sprawled on the floor. I chivvied him up onto his feet, and he complained loudly, took a step and sat back down again. He seemed to be favoring his right leg and he would not walk to the kitchen. I picked him up and carried him to his food. He ate with a good appetite, and when he had eaten his full, he wandered back into the living room and curled up next to a stair. I needed to get going, so I sent my wife a text and went to work.

My wife called me at work to tell me that Thunder was definitely having problems with his right leg, and that she wanted to take him to the vet tonight, which meant that I was going to drive the two of them to the vet.

I return from work on Wednesday to find that little had changed. Thunder had come upstairs to the bedroom under his own power, but otherwise he would pick a spot and lie there until disturbed. When I came home, Kee had helped him up onto the bed, and he was disinclined to do more than just lie there. We pulled out a cat carrier, and went through the trouble of stuffing Thunder into it.

It is worth noting that the carrier was not used for most of Thunder’s vet visits. Since he was a kitten, we have trained Thunder to wear a harness and walk on a leash. On typical visits to the vet, we actually belt him into a seat through his harness and let him have some freedom of motion to see out while in the car. Many times when we walk into the vet’s office, people will do a double-take upon realizing that the animal at the end of the leash isn’t a dog. For us to put him into a carrier, means that we are very concerned for his ability to move without hurting himself.

Naturally, Thunder did not suffer the indignity of being stuffed in a box well. He fought to avoid going into the carrier, and when it became apparent that he was losing that battle, he protested loudly and repeatedly. His protests continued all the way to the vet, despite our best efforts to comfort him. We explained the situation to he vet, and our concerns that Thunder might have hurt himself, or be suffering from the hip dysplasia problems that Maine Coons tend to have, or if his behavior was just a factor of old age. While Thunder doesn’t look old, he is over 11 years old and is classified as a senior cat.

An examination and a set of x-rays later, the vet told us that Thunder did indeed have hip dysplasia, but also had arthritis in both hips. And it also seemed that his bowels had gotten backed up for quite a ways. The gave him an enema, but didn’t get a lot out of him. so they gave us some pain meds for him and a feline laxative, and sent us home.

They tried to clean him up before they sent Thunder home with us, but they didn’t do a perfect job. We put him on a towel on the bed, have him his pain meds and waited a half hour to let it take effect. Then, armed with rubber gloves and scissors, we tried to clean him up. He did not like it. One of the problems with Maine Coons is that their long hair gets in the way when they get sick. Pretty much the only thing you can do is to trim the hair as short as you can so that it is easier to clean. And that is what we did, to the best of our abilities.


Thunder pretty much spent the day lying on the bed and sleeping as much as possible. He wouldn’t get up to try to eat, drink, or go to the litter box, but he would eat with gusto when we brought the food to him.

A somewhat happier return to the vet. Less than happy to be back at the vet.


Friday didn’t show any change, so we took him back to the vet after work. The vet gave him another enema, but still didn’t get him significantly unblocked. They did however, recommend another pain therapy. It seems that someone developed some kind of laser bio-stimulation therapy. It uses the laser light to stimulate the cells. It doesn’t work perfectly for each animal, but the stimulation is supposed to promote healing and reduce pain. I know, it sounds like total hokum. Laser light is supposed to magically make the pain go away? We were skeptical. We were also pretty desperate. We decided to give it a try.

The vet tech came in with a box with a light pen coming out of it, plugged it in, and we held Thunder still while she waved it over each of his hips. He protested at first, but soon calmed down. But the thing that sold us on the treatment? When we put him on the floor immediately afterwards, he walk around. He even walked back into the carrier under his own power. He wasn’t the steadiest, but he was standing and walking.

Home from the vet, Thunder still mostly lay there, but now he also made the effort to groom himself. He still only eats when we bring the food to him, but he is more active and that is a start.


Sometime during the night, Thunder got down off of the bed and went downstairs and climbed up onto the couch. While it was a bit scary to wake up and not be able to find him, I was very happy to see that he had not only made his way downstairs, but gotten up onto the sofa by himself. Saturday he spent a good chunk of the day on the couch, although he got up and moved a few times. He can get up and move around when he wants. It got really odd in the evening when he suddenly became possessed of a desire to be in the top of the cat tree. Maybe it was the only place that he knew he could get comfortable in. I put him up in the top of the tree, but stayed near because I didn’t want him to fall out of the tree.

In about ten minutes he suddenly decided he wanted to be down from the tree, and I barely got to him before he managed to push himself off of it. I put him back down on the floor and he lay down again and appeared to be ready to behave for a while. We went out to meet with some friends for a few hours. With Thunder on the floor, he couldn’t get into too much trouble. The worst that could happen is that he could make a mess, and for that we’d be happy because he wouldn’t be blocked up any more. So we went.


When we came back, we found that Thunder had hidden behind the couch and wasn’t willing to come out under his own power. We were tired, so we went off to bed. Sunday morning, he was still behind the couch, although in a different position, and still unwilling to come out. In the end, we had to pull the couch out from the wall in order to squeeze behind it and retrieve him.


We needed to take Thunder back to the vet for another laser treatment. We were also concerned since it had been so many days and he hadn’t used the litter box. That concern was partially alleviated when he finally went to the litter box and emptied his bladder. But nothing else. The fact that he was still willing to eat meant that he wasn’t completely backed up, but if he was internally blocked, it would only be a matter of time before something would rupture internally and he’d die, right? We’d been giving him reglar doses of lactulose, but we weren’t sure how well that would work if there had already been a hardend block in his intestines before we started.

Of course, first we had to get him out from under the bed. This time we used a different method. We’ve been giving our cats a hairball control formula we referred to as “cat lube”. They love it, in part because it has catnip oil in it. So, I lay down on the floor, reached under the bed and waved the tube of cat lube at him. Bit by bit, I enticed him out with the smell of it until he pulled himself out from under the bed. For his reward, he got a generous helping of cat lube, and pulled up on top of the bed. He didn’t go into the cat carrier nearly as easily.

At the vets he was irate during the treatment, and when we finished, he promptly stalked back into his carrier and sulked. After the treatment, the vet reassured us that if he was completely blocked, he’d either stop eating, or he’d start throwing up. There was actually very little danger of anything rupturing in him from overeating. We were glad to hear that, because Thunder had a history of being a very stupid cat, and if any cat could manage to eat himself to death, we weren’t going to put it past him.

Thus re-assured we took him home. Shortly after we set him on the floor in the bedroom, he went back under the bed to hide. We brought him a bowl of wet food and left it out next to the other food and water we keep for the cats up in the bedroom. We knew he’d be under the bed for a while, so we shut the door to the bedroom went downstairs and saw to our own dinner.

When we came back up to prepare for bed, we were pleased to see that he had come out and eaten some of his food. We needed to give him more meds and lactulose, so we tried to lure him out once again with the cat lube. It didn’t quite work this time. Oh, he wanted it, but not enough to get up and come out from under the bed. I managed to get him close enough I could grab hold of him and drag him out from under the bed. He wasn’t pleased with this treatment, but was happy enough to eat the rest of his food and take his meds.


Tuesday for Thunder has been pretty quiet. He seems to be moving around in short bursts. His left leg seems to give him a fair amount of pain, but he still gets around with his right. We’ve now seen him come out and go to eat his food and drink from the water fountain. We know he is capable of going to the litter box, but we re still not sure if he’s backed up, or if things are coming out OK. We do know that he seems a lot more cheerful now than he was at the beginning of the week.

And other dramas

He is certainly more cheerful than I am now. A few other things have been going on in my life. One of them, is that I am attempting to re-finance my house in order to consolidate some debt in the mortgage. We thought we had everything worked out, and we scheduled a closing last week. Unfortunately, the paper work that they sent was wrong. We had to abort the whole closing process, go back to the lender, and get the paperwork fixed. Allegedly, this has been done. Unfortunately, because of the delay, we have to go through a re-verification of my employment, to make sure I haven’t suddenly been fired, before we can schedule a new closing. This is very unfortunate, because the lender keeps screwing up the employment verification process. They keep insisting that I’m providing the wrong information and “it doesn’t work”.

My dayjob employer uses a service called The Work Number. In a nutshell, this is outsourced employment verification so that Human Resources doesn’t have to deal with calls from lenders. Or should I say “alleged lenders”? Back inFebruary when we started this process, it worked just fine and I was able to get my employment verified. Now that we’re trying to do the re-verification, we keep running into problems, and the lender keeps asking me to use some other service that my employer isn’t connected with. I think that they’ve screwed up my employer on the paperwork or something.

This is excrutiatingly frustrating! We’ve come this far, so I’m trying to stick with it and get things to closing, but if this drags on long enough that the lock-in for our rate expires and we have to start the process all over again, I’m going with another lender. And I’m going to bill this lender for my out of pocket expenses. They do this for a living. How can they be so bad at it?

All right. This is me having gotten it all out of my system. Next week we’ll try to have more writer-like content. Have a good week, folks.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Val May 7, 2013 at 1:48 am

Wow, that is quite a saga! Fascinated by the laser treatment. I have a friend whose cat is very arthritic; might mention!
Btw, will be at balticon this year, I think..l


2 Doc Coleman May 7, 2013 at 4:55 am

The laser treatment is one of those things that just doesn’t make sense. How can a beam of light reduce pain and stimulate healing, especially when it is projected through the fur of the animal? But even though the rational mind protests that something is wrong here, the results have been pretty dramatic. An immediate improved ability to use his back legs from the first treatment, and he has become stronger and less pain-ridden with successive treatments. Apparently, I don’t understand some aspects of laser science.

I hope I get a chance to see you at Balticon! Sorry I had to miss your birthday party this year.



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