We’ve designated this week, Aug. 22-28, Take Your Cat to the Vet Week. And this year, the occasion has special significance for me.
Working at Petfinder, I like to consider myself pretty enlightened when it comes to pet care, and I don’t often like to admit when I’m not the perfect pet parent. But I’m not. And that was never more obvious than the night of April 13.
At 3 a.m., my 11-year-old cat, Molly, let out an ear-piercing howl. I jumped up and turned on the light. She wasn’t on the bed next to me, where she usually slept. I found her under the bed, conscious but completely limp.
I immediately threw on some clothes while my husband Googled “veterinary emergency room” (we’d just moved to a new state and didn’t know where the closest one was) and put Molly in her carrier. She didn’t — couldn’t — fight me. I knew something was wrong and it was bad.
By the time I arrived at the hospital 30 minutes later, she was vomiting blood. The vet asked me, “How long has she been like this?” Horrified, I replied honestly that she’d been completely normal and healthy, as far as I could tell, when we’d gone to bed that night and for her entire life prior to that.
The ER doctors got Molly stabilized and ran a number of tests that night and the following day. There was a lot of fluid in her stomach and intestine but no obstruction, so they couldn’t tell what was wrong. They told me they wanted to keep her under observation, do more tests and see how she progressed.
Unfortunately, the following night she took a severe turn for the worse, and her vet called and told me to come and say goodbye. I did, in shock: In less than 24 hours, my cat had gone from seemingly totally healthy to dead.
The part that’s hard for me to admit is that Molly hadn’t been to the vet in over a year. I had lots of excuses: She was an indoor-only cat, so she wasn’t going to be picking up any diseases. Going to the vet was so stressful for her, it didn’t seem worth it. I had a young baby at home and had my hands full taking her to all her doctor’s appointments. And going to the vet was just so expensive. (Believe me, my emergency room bill was much, much more than a lifetime of checkups.)
Even after Molly died, her vets never had the slightest idea what happened. Their best guess was that she’d gotten into some poison (unlikely) or had had an undiagnosed tumor in her abdomen that had ruptured.
If I’d kept Molly up-to-date with her vet checkups, would it have prevented her death? Maybe; maybe not. But it certainly would have prevented me from feeling that I’d failed her and hadn’t cared for her the way she deserved to be cared for.
Hopefully no one reading this will ever have to go through a similar experience. But don’t take any chances. Call your vet and schedule a checkup today.