Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Amateur Cat Vet

Larry gave up and settled the side of his face against my hand, and the gauze pad soaked with epsom salts.  He wasn't purring but he accepted my help. With my free hand I slowly rubbed under his chin as I whispered to him.  Good boy, good kitty.  We'll get you fixed up.  You'll be okay.  You're such a good patient.  What does the other guy look like, eh?

He looked a little puffy last night when I did the chores.  I saw a bit of blood on the side of his face,  a bloody streak on one ear, and a big tuft of loose hair on his back. "You've been scrapping, eh little dude?"  I gave him a quick check, didn't find anything gaping open or broken, and left him on his perch on the biggest saddle, where he licked his wounds.

This happens to barn cats.  When the snow melts, the feline wanderers set off looking for new girlfriends and trouble always follows them.  They fight.  They come away with some degree of damage.  Usually they get themselves over it.

Larry the Barn Cat

But this morning the whole side of his little cat face was swollen; his eye was almost closed.

Lucky for Larry, Heidi here has a whole cabinet full of first aid supplies in the tack room.  I poured some water into an old margarine tub, shook some epsom salts into it, gave it a stir with the tip of my finger and tucked three gauze pads into the pocket of my coveralls.  I set the water on one of the chairs over by the windows.  The cat, all curled in a ball, was lifted carefully and carried over to the windows.

He wasn't crazy about having his tattered ear bathed but he put up with it.  I didn't expect him to be okay with having his face messed with in his condition but I had to try.  Three times I dipped a pad into the salty water and held it to his swollen eye.  Each time he made a less feeble attempt to leave and each time I held him that way longer.  He sank into my hands like he was giving up.  I don't like it when cats act like they're giving up.  I dabbed at the corner of his eye and took some yuck away.  I held him away from me and got the best look at him I could without my glasses.  I could have convinced myself the swelling was down already.  I could see a tiny puncture mark on the bridge of his nose now.  And his eye was open more than it had been when I picked him up.

He's still got an eyeball.  That's good.

Doctoring done, he tried to wiggle away.  I ran my hand over his back.  Easy little yella fella.  Have a cuddle.  No need to run away, see, everything's fine.   I carried him over to the saddle rack, where I set him down like he was made out of glass.  That's when the purring started, a roar of gratitude.  I had to stand there for a few minutes while he turned himself around to get the maximum attention, rubbing the good side of his face against my chin, nibbling my fingertips, batting a paw on my cheek if I leaned away from him.

I rubbed the back of his neck one more time and left to clean up the barnyard.  When I came back to put away the wheelbarrow and forks, Larry was curled up again on the saddle, and his brother Moe had just jumped up to get comfy on the saddle in front.  He stepped right over Larry to get there.  Larry's ribs rose and fell as he snoozed.


mugwump said...


Laura Crum said...

Heidi--My sweet little ex-feral cat has had the big swelling on the face, eye shut thing twice now. The first time I took her to the vet and he looked her over and said to watch it for awhile, and it went down and went away in about a week. And then she came up with it again this last weekend. I figured I would watch it, and lo and behold, it has now gone down and gone away. I have no idea what she's doing to herself, but I love it that it can resolve without me interfering. And she's pretty tame. I have a barn cat now that won't let me touch him, let alone doctor him, but I imagine he'll come around. So far they all have.

Love your posts. Don't envy you the Canadian winter, though. Hang in there.

Heidi the Hick said...

Mugs- thanks!

Laura - cats really do heal well, even the vet has said so. But I still have to help if I can. I hate to have them suffer.

(Winter's almost over. I mean, it has to end. Has to...)

Laura Crum said...

Oh, I'm with you--I can't stand to watch anything suffer. But its been an interesting learning experience for me to see that my little cat seems to get over these swellings like they are no big deal. The first time I rushed her to the vet...only to have him tell me that I should just watch and see if she got worse or better.

Hope spring comes to you quickly.

Kimber said...

Love this story. My husband thinks you can cure anything with epsom salts, so I had to laugh when I read about your cure! Now...what do you do for barn cats with perpetually runny eyes???

Heidi the Hick said...

Hi Kim!! Your husband is also an amateur cat vet eh? I've never solved a runny eye problem but we've been free if that for a few years and I have no idea how or why. Luck??? Maybe our little cure-all will work? Good to hear from you!!