Thursday, February 10, 2011

For the Love of a Cat


Our beloved cat Keats has had a hard week -- actually, she's had a hard couple of months. On Monday, Keats had surgery to remove a mass [about the size of a quarter] from her chest.

Since Thanksgiving, Keats has been on a licking binge. Cats lick a lot, they're fastidious animals, persnickety about their grooming, and usually, this would not be cause for concern except that she was licking small holes, little larger than pinholes, in her chest.

We took her to the vet.

Vet: She has terrible allergies.

We gave her allergy shots. We showed the vet the small pin holes she was making in her chest with her excessive licking -- licking that over time was breaking the skin.

Vet: She has terrible allergies.

David and I went with it: Keats has terrible allergies. Okay.

So, for a few days, the holes would heal -- and we would think, "good," and then a few days later, we would see the holes were back.

Back and forth this went: Holes, healed, holes, healed, holes, healed.

*sings "knees and toes" in head*

David called the vet.

Vet: Allergies are bad.

So, we tried behavioral modification.

When Keats began to lick for too long a period of time, we'd interrupt her. Distract her with "cat babble" or toys or we'd just place our hand on her chest and say loudly, "Quit licking."

Like all cats, she put us on "IGNORE."

Lick. Lick. Lick. Lick.

David plied her with a anti -itching medication, gave her an antibiotic for the holes she created, and tried to keep her craziness under control.


Last week Keats became lethargic; she slept a lot {what's a lot with cats?}, and, of course, licking when she was awake. At night, she sneaked in the bed after we were asleep and demanded to be by our heads, her incessant licking keeping us awake.

She began to hide in the closets.

She quit jumping on the bathroom counter for water from the faucet -- she quit demanding that the front door be opened so that she could survey the front yard for Stumpy and Lumpy. She slept. She ate some, but she wasn't being Keats.

On last Saturday, as I sat at my computer, Keats, who had been lying on the bed in the spare bedroom, came running to me and blood leaked from her chest.

I quickly grabbed a old towel [argh! my new carpet! my new carpet!] and put pressure on the wound. Keats made the most pathetic meow. She looked up at me and cried again. Her eyes practically glazed over. Keats was sick.

Tears came to my eyes.

I called the vet and then rushed her there. Since it was Saturday, a different vet examined her. He turned a mewling, pitiful Keats on her back, and then announced: "There is something bothering this cat under the skin."

Me: Allergies?
This Vet: I don't think so. She has a tumor or some kind of foreign body that she is trying to get out.

Me: Tumor?
Vet: Possibly.
Me: Tumor? Like cancer?
Vet: I don't know. We need to do some exploratory surgery to see. She has an abscess, and it will need to be drained. I'll do that first -- then you need to bring her back to see what's up.

My heart fell. Could Keats have cancer?

My baby Keats?

The vet took her from the examination room to get better light and to drain the infection, and I could hear Keats's cries.

Like a mother whose child is crying, my heart filled with love and concern. I held back the tears.

It was tough to hear her meowing like that, but worst of all, I felt guilty -- perhaps negligent. I had been too busy fussing with my carpet, rearranging my house, and other such trivialities to note that Keats was not being Keats.

I love Keats. Those of us who are childless -- really do love our pets like children, and those of us with children, might just like the cat better. I'm kidding, but I do have nephews.


But. Keats and Tallulah are our responsibility. We adopted them. We took them into our home -- made them house cats -- they depend on us for everything.

To love them, shelter them, feed them, clean out their box -- to see to them.

Keats was sick, and I was distracted.

Mea culpa.

We took Keats back to the vet yesterday to have the packing removed -- another anesthesia, another day of recuperation. When Keats got home late yesterday afternoon, she was still loopy and groggy from the gas. She tried to walk, to eat, to move about the house, but she couldn't do it. She meowed -- in such a way that my heart tugged.

Finally, I settled her on the couch --- when I sat down next to her, she came to my side and snuggled as close as she could get.

Her eyes dilated in big saucers, her black furry chest shaved close and four inches across, the sutures standing out on the raw white of her skin, and the hole where the packing was oozing and wet, she looked up at me and meowed faintly. She wanted to be next to me.


I petted her. I petted her, and I petted her.

After a while, she nodded off to sleep, her warm body and breathing a comfort to me as I comforted her.

Oh. I do love my cat.

What I would do for this cat.

Keats's pathology report came back negative. Keats had an infection that was so deeply embedded under her skin that tissue grew around it and attempted to make it part of her body.

For the next month, Keats will be on powerful antibiotics to counter the infection growing back.

Vet: Keats's digging at herself let you know that something was wrong.
Me: But, we let it go too long.
Vet: No, you did something about it when you were aware of it. Think of me -- I totally missed it.

Phew. We all missed it.

I didn't know what we were gonna do if Keats had cancer. David and I had discussed what we would do "for the love of a cat" and what we wouldn't.

*pets Keats*

Thank God, we didn't have to make that hard decision.


We hope to see Keats at the bathroom sink, at the front door itching to puff up at Stumpy, and begging for canned tuna.

Keats thanks you for reading. Meow.


Keats and Tallulah


  1. I'm glad to hear the pathology report came back negative, and I hope Keats feels better soon! We have 2 kitties (one with some medical problems), so I can imagine how scary that must have been :(

  2. I am so glad Keats doesn't have cancer! We had to put our dog down for cancer! Its so sad! Poor little thing though! I hope he starts feeling better!

  3. Awww girl!!! I'm so sorry you had to go through that. Nothing is worse than when one of your babies is sick whether it's a child or a pet. That's your family! Not that I'm happy she's sick but glad to hear it's only an infection! *hugs* my friend!

  4. Poor Keats. Poor Harriett and David. I am so glad to read that the mass was not cancer. A scare such as this makes one aware of how special the furry children can be... and just how far we would go to keep them around us. Hope she's back up and ignoring you proper real soon.

    Gigi sez: Get well soon, Keats. No likey when cats sick. Much more fun when cats run like crazy when my barking. Woof.

  5. Oh my gosh Harriet, this made ME cry -- no small feat, mind you. To think of Keats's pathetic meowing while you sat in the waiting room holding back tears. Oh heart is hugging you from a far!

    So glad Keats seems like he will mend and does not have anything life-threatening. Jeesh these pets...worse than kids I tell you (not really).

  6. Poor, poor Keats. I'm glad that she's on the mend though! I know how you feel when they get sick and you "missed it". I did that with my Frisco. But I didn't. I just felt like I did. I knew something was wrong and I was right, he was in heart failure. I'm so glad you didn't have to make any hard decisions my friend.

    Long life to Keats!

  7. I am happy that Keats is doing better!

  8. poor keats! i love how cats -know- their person... like her snuggling next to you. my cat Toula used to put her paw gently on my hand whenever i stopped petting her as if to say, keep going caitlyn. :)

  9. I'm so glad Keats doesn't have cancer. I hope she heals well and continues to sit on your bathroom sink and be adorable.


  10. So glad it wasn't anything worse or cancer. I'm right there with you... I'd do anything for my dogs and have had vet visits myself where I didn't know what I would do. Thankful you didn't have to make that hard decision! I wish Keats the best in her recovery.

  11. I'm hoping for you both and for Keats (and even Tallulah) that everything will be okay! I felt for you all as I was reading. I love my kitty too.

    Much love!