Another Tom update, for those who may have wondered…
Tom has settled in so well. He’s been with us for eight weeks now and has gone from a scared, shy and nervous cat, who hid behind the washing machine and ran away whenever he saw anyone, to a much braver, friendly, sweet little cat, who’s pleased to see us when we come in, shouts for his meals when he’s hungry (and when he isn’t – but more about that in a minute!), greets visitors with cautious curiosity and loves to be groomed, to sit on the sofa with us, even to climb onto our laps and take a nap!
However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Two weeks ago, Tom started to be sick. He wasn’t well for a few days and began to be sick after each meal. My mum’s cat hadn’t been very well, so initially we thought he must have “caught something” from her (as I’m obviously in contact with her regularly and it was me who took her to the vet when she was ill). But the sickness continued and I took Tom to see the vet.
The vet thought Tom had “acute gastritis”, though he showed no sign of a fever or other illness – indeed, apart from being sick, he’d been chirpy and busy enough, still asked to be played with and groomed and generally appeared to be fine. He was given an anti-emetic injection, plus zantac tablets to settle his tummy, also some bland food for “sensitive tummy”, as apparently the “best cat food” we’d been feeding him was far too rich! The vet said if he was still unwell after the weekend (it was Friday-before-last), that we should take him back again.
Over the weekend, Tom was fine. He ate his plain food (though he didn’t really like the sachets from the vet – we think they probably taste like cardboard!). All was well until part-way through Monday, when the sickness started again. By Tuesday it was obvious he wasn’t improving and the vet I spoke to said I should bring him in during the afternoon, as she wanted to scan him, to make sure he hadn’t any blockage – that he hadn’t swallowed something like a bit of string for instance!
Tom was scared silly at the vet… He was so scared that he made no protest or fuss, whatever was done. The vet & nurse had to hold him up and shave his tummy so the ultrasound scanner would work, then he was laid on his side, for the scan, then the other side, while the vet examined him thoroughly. It turned out that his pancreas was swollen and the vet said she was certain he had pancreatitis, which was making him sick and would be causing him a lot of pain (!?!). We had no idea he was in pain – he’d been behaving quite normally, apart from seeming a bit sleepy etc – but that would have been expected, as he hadn’t been able to eat.
So, poor Tom spent last Tuesday afternoon and night in the vet hospital, on a drip, with pain-killers. He also had blood-tests, to make sure nothing else was wrong (eg. liver or kidney problem etc). I was to call at 2pm on Wednesday, for an update; the vet would call me if there was anything urgent.
In fact, the vet did call me at about 1pm. She said Tom was much better, had been on the drip all night to be given fluids, that he’d had painkillers and should now be brought home. She was keen for me to collect him as soon as possible, as he was so frightened in the vet hospital, that he refused to eat anything. She wanted him brought home and cared for, because she was sure he’d eat once he was back in his “safe” environment.
Tom came home and has been on a Strict Diet of plain very low-fat foods. He has eaten chicken breast (no skin!), white fish (lightly poached in water!) and a little tuna in spring-water. After a week, we started to re-introduce his “sensitive tummy” cat biscuits and sachets. Yesterday evening and today, he has eaten some “normal” cat food, mixed with the “sensitive” food, plus a little fish.
So far, so good – he seems to be fine. In fact, I’ve noticed that he is now shedding far less fur than he had been and he feels more silky to touch. I think his body was “stressed” and so he was losing fur quickly. Now he seems well and we think he’s just about recovered. Phew!
The only reminder, is a naked patch on his tummy where he had “the scan”!
The only other thing, is that Tom is now on a Diet. The vet weighed him and he weighed 6.15 kilos. Apparently, although he is a large cat, he was about a kilo overweight. I think this is because he spent a year in the foster-kennels, getting very little exercise and also because we were a bit unsure how much food he needed when he came to us.
Having been a stray, Tom has developed a habit of guzzling any meal that appears, however much is there – because, of course, a stray that has to fend for himself can never be certain of his next meal. So, it was difficult to judge when he was genuinely hungry, and when he was just asking for food because it made him feel safe and cared for. The food we bought was “the best” cat food available – which is too high in fat and not really suitable for a cat like Tom, who’s been used to basic cat foods at the foster home (and probably a diet of cheap cat-food and mice/voles etc in the two years he was living rough & sometimes being fed by a neighbour of his original owners). We don’t know whether we actually caused his pancreatitis, but the rich diet made him put on weight and certainly wouldn’t have helped him to recover if he’d picked up an illness.
Tom seems to be well now and we’re keeping an eye on him. In a couple of weeks, I’ll take him to the vet nurse, to be re-weighed, but I’m optimistic that he’ll have lost weight and will stay well now.
Meanwhile, he’s living the Life of Riley (that would’ve been a good name for him, if he hadn’t already been “Tom”!), slouching on the sofa next to Dave, watching tv and his favourite animal videos on the laptop (did you know that on You-Tube, you can find a channel called “Videos for your Cat”? Tom absolutely loves it… he’s amazing, sitting watching fishes, mice, birds, other cats, dogs etc for ages, with rapt attention – and the occasional over-excited jump onto the keyboard, which stops the video of course!)…
sitting on my lap when I eat my toast in the morning, playing with his toys, making little forays through “the portal” from the main living room into the hallway and the rest of the house (we opened it last weekend and encouraged him into the “snug” sitting room, where he sat on the sofa and looked around).
He’s a delight to have around. This evening, Dave & I drove James to a weekend away and on our way home we were discussing Tom. We both agreed that he is a dear, sweet little cat and we’re so very glad we decided to look at the Cats’ Protection website at the end of November and saw Tom’s photo and read his story. He’s the ideal cat for our family – and we think we’re the ideal family for our cat!