Thursday, December 22, 2011

Part VIII of My Christmas Story

It was already noon on Monday by the time Van Gogh and I left the veterinary clinic. Van Gogh was wearing one of those hard plastic Elizabethan collars to prevent him from clawing at his already fragile ear.

I'd emailed my boss early that morning to say I had a cat emergency and would let her know as soon as I could whether I would be able to make it into the office at all that day. As an exempt employee, if I couldn't work at least four hours, I needed to use my vacation accruals. When we left the vet, I phoned her voicemail from the car to say I would take the day off.

Of course, when I'd hauled the hated cat carrier out of the garage at 7:oo that morning, Bob the Cat had made himself very scarce. When I returned home at 12:30, he magically appeared, wanting to know what was going on.

I put the carrier on the floor of the den. He cautiously approached. Almost in unison, the two male cats began howling at each other. I yanked the carrier off the floor and brought it into the hall bathroom, shutting Bob out. This room would be Van Gogh's home until his wound healed. Fortunately, as bathrooms go, it's pretty large. Along one wall is a full-length closet with folding doors, the commode area and the bathtub. Along the other wall, are two sinks, each with its own counter, and a floor-to-ceiling cabinet with shelves. Although as narrow as most bathrooms are, the room is twenty feet long.

To my surprise, when I lifted Van Gogh out of the carrier, he began to purr. I took advantage of the moment to put him on the bathroom counter and do a tick inspection. Over the next half hour, with him purring like a Jaguar motor, I removed 19 ticks of various sizes. The Revolution Tim had applied would take care of the fleas.

By the time I finished looking for ticks, Bob was throwing himself at the bathroom door, howling "Let me at him!" I ignored the drama, recognizing it as pure hyperbole. However, Van Gogh was clearly unhappy about the barbarian at the gate. He prowled around the bathroom, looking for a place to hide.

I opened the cabinet where I keep two laundry baskets (there's a chute above through which I can drop the soiled garments). I removed one basket and put it into the bathtub. Van Gogh immediately tried to get into the opened space, but caught his collar on the cabinet door. I opened the door wider, and he entered and lay down.

If I left the cabinet door wide open, it blocked the litter box in the space underneath the adjacent counter. Clearly not a workable solution.

There is another cabinet above the commode where I keep a few tools so I don't have to go out to the garage every time I need a wrench or hammer. I grabbed a screwdriver and removed the door to Van Gogh's cabinet. I furnished his new space with one of the blankets he'd slept on the night before. Now he had two places to lie down: inside the cabinet or on the blanket in front of the closet.

I left him to get accustomed to his new digs and went out to confront Bob, who had worked himself into a major tizzy. It took me nearly 30 minutes to convince him he was still my main squeeze.

The next week established our pattern. When Bob was outside, I let Van Gogh have the run of the house. When Bob was inside, Van Gogh stayed in his bathroom.

Van Gogh's wound was still freaking me out. It wept constantly so there was always a thin layer of blood and mucus filling it. Each morning and each evening, I would blot the liquid with a Q-tip before applying the topical antibiotic. The good news was that Van Gogh had no feeling in the area of the wound at all. I could do whatever I wanted to it, and he would simply purr.

Unlike Bob, Van Gogh never fought me when I picked him up to doctor on him. Twice a day, I'd clean the wound and apply the antibiotic. Then I would fill an eyedropper with the oral antibiotic, tilt his head back and squirt the medicine into his mouth. By contrast, whenever I pick Bob up to dose him, he begins clawing and howling and fighting. I usually wrap him in a towel in order to give him meds. I never had to do anything with Van Gogh. He obviously hated the taste of the antibiotic, but never fought back.

After a week, I was getting panicky. I couldn't see any difference in the size of the wound at all. It still looked awful. The following Monday, I left work early to take Van Gogh back to the vet.

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