I hardly know where to start. This has been two weeks of learning – at times more than I ever wanted to know. Some of this story may be a little graphic but then a little over the past year and half of my life have been pretty graphic.
It all started on Tuesday, the 19th, early morning. Laurie was walking up the steps behind Mario and she noticed a black spot on his butt, about the size of a quarter. She started looking on the Internet to see if she could figure out what it was. She finally called the vet and said that she would be dropping Mario off on her way to teach her art classes. The next call she receives from the vet is that Mario has to have surgery immediately.
Surgery – One anal sac was abscessed, and he had a second abscess, on the inside that was about the size of a baseball, each containing a different kind of bacteria. The vet removed the anal sac and the cyst – sewed him up and inserted two drains. They put him on heavy-duty pain medication along with antibiotics. The clincher was the Elizabethan collar, which turns out to big a big problem.
Laurie did not call me until about 6:30 pm Tuesday night. She would have rather done anything else than to call me about Mario. She was extremely upset and started crying, “I told you I would take care of him.” It was all I could do to convince her that she was taking care of him – she caught it before it got worse. They think that one of her other cats might have bitten him but there is no proof of that.
Mario is claustrophobic. I have always felt that he was mistreated as a kitten. He could not move around with this collar on and he was unstable on his feet. Laurie cut the collar back (a little too much) so that he could at least see, eat and walk without getting caught on the carpet. He was supposed to return to the vets on Friday, the 22nd to get his drains out. Well, during the night he pulled the drains out, with Laurie sleeping right next to him. The vet said that had to be very painful while he was pulling on them. She put a full collar back on him.
Laurie had turned her guest room into a medical room in the basement. She rearranged the room and put the mattress on the floor so that Mario would not have to jump. On Friday night she thought he was doing well enough that she could go upstairs and sleep in her own bed and just check on him periodically. About midnight she went down and he was doing fine. About 2:00 am one of her other cats, who has been guarding the door, started screeching like she had never heard before. When she got downstairs and opened the door she said that Mario’s head was the size of a grapefruit and he was being strangled by the collar. He was throwing up and continued to throw up white foam, which is also a sign of strangulation. She finally got the collar off of him and whipped him up and took him to the emergency vet. He did survive but not without complications.
Mario had Subcutaneous emphysema which occurs when air gets into the tissues under the skin. It produces an unusual crackling sensation as the gas is pushed through the tissue. This can happen to humans as well as animals. The crackling sensation is like runing your hand across bubble wrap, and this can be very painful. When he eats or drinks water there is a squishy sound. It will take a few days to a few weeks to be completely out of his body. The vet said that this could happen from any trauma. From everything I have read about this, the most common cause is a tracheal tear when they were placing the intubation tube. They did not release him from the emergency vet until 8pm on Sunday night after numerous chest x-rays.
Once again Laurie had to call me on Saturday morning to tell me what happened. I just didn’t have any words. I was not blaming Laurie by any means – I just didn’t know what to say. I told her we were not putting that collar back on him and that I would come and sit with him to make sure he didn’t pull his stitches out – he doesn’t get them out until Tuesday the 26th. So Laurie slept with him all night with her hand on him so she could feel him move and I went over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, while she went to teach her classes. I could not go on Thursday because that is my day at the church and it was a busy day. And, it was Laurie’s day with her mom so she took Mario with her so she could watch him.
Friday morning I received a call and she said, “You are not going to believe this.” Mario was under the table. Laurie was paying her bills and had her foot on him so she could feel if he moved. Mario proceeded to pull out all but two of his stiches. Laurie called the vet and she took the remaining stitches out and said he looked fine. He still has some air under his skin but it is getting better each day. His head has gone back to normal size and he is starting to play again.
Mario is his own little cat – he is a character. I prewarned Laurie about some of his habits and she was prepared – she thought. Laurie is going to start taking him with her once in a while, especially when she goes to her mothers. Her mother, Myrlyn, is the lady that I took care of for five years. Laurie and Mario now have a special bond. And, Laurie’s husband, Craig, has found a buddy in Mario.