Ten days ago I did
CPR on an animal for the first time. Unfortunately, it didn't save
the cat's life but I was very glad that I made the effort.
One of my neighbor's in Kingwood brought his cat to me late in
the afternoon. The cat was barely responsive and panting heavily,
obviously critically ill. Apparently the cat had peed some blood,
then had trouble passing urine, progressing to no urine over about
a 48 hour period. That morning when my neighbor went to work, the
cat was extremely lethargic and hadn't been eating for about 24
hours. When he came home, he took the cat to the local vet who was
closed. In desperation he came to me. I knew the cat was about to
die and I knew from the history my neighbor gave me that the cat
had a urinary blockage and thus most likely had a dangerously high
potassium level in his blood. There was nothing for me to do but
offer to rush the cat to my vet in Morgantown, about 40 minutes
away. Ten minutes from arrival at the vet, the cat stopped breathing.
I pulled over and started CPR. I quickly discovered that cupping
my hands around the cat's mouth wasn't going to work, so I just
covered the cat's mouth and nose with my mouth and delivered the
breaths. I got a good response of the chest expanding. The lower
tip of the breastbone was easy to find, so I did compressions intermittently,
just as I would on a human baby, with the tips of my fingers. I
did this for a few minutes, got no pulse back, so headed back on
the road, driving and doing CPR at the same time. It's a miracle
I didn't wreck.
I decided to go ahead and take the cat to the vet. I rushed in
and told them the cat wasn't breathing, the tech grabbed a vet,
who immediately examined the animal and got the history from me.
The cat had been down for at least 10 minutes by then. The vet confirmed
a urinary blockage and said the high potassium had caused a cardiac
arrest and we couldn't get the cat back.
I was so devastated. I had never even seen this cat before since
it was an indoor cat but I felt that I had failed this gorgeous
animal. It made me feel terrible.
I called the owner to tell him the cat hadn't made it. It turns
out that my cat, Homer, was a big pal of this cat and went over
everyday to visit him.
Most of all, this incident reminded me that although cats are extremely
resilient, once they do get sick, care should not be delayed. If
your cat is lethargic, if he has urinary problems, and especially
if he stops eating, don't wait to see if he will get better. Get
him to the vet. Immediately.
Lest you think I am criticizing my neighbor for his delay in seeking
vet care, let me tell you the latest about Homer. Homer is the old
(10-12 years) homeless, tough Tom that I adopted about 1 1/2 years
ago. He is FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) positive but has
been very healthy. A friend noted about a month ago that Homer had
lost a lot of weight. Several days ago another neighbor who is quite
fond of Homer came over to tell me he was concerned about Homer
losing weight. Embarrassment won out over denial and I took Homer
to the vet yesterday. It turns out that Homer is no longer just
FIV-positive but has the full-blown AIDS syndrome now.
Homer has a horrendous stomatitis, a terrible mouth infection so
bad his gums in the back are bleeding and swollen. Yes, I had noted
that his breath was much worse than usual. Did I look in his mouth?
No. Homer is the sweetest cat in the world until I try to do any
physical examination and then he lets you know in no uncertain terms
that you are to back off. Also, Homer has uveitis, an eye infection.
I had noticed about THREE MONTHS ago that Homer's right iris was
very red. Did I go to the vet? No. Uveitis can be painful and sometimes
lead to glaucoma and blindness. Homer has also lost about 20% of
his body weight. He weighed only 10 pounds yesterday. Fortunately,
the vet says he still has plenty of reserves.
Fortunately the uveitis and the stomatitis can be treated with antibiotics
and will probably respond. Homer will have to be treated for two weeks
and then go on "pulse" antibiotics, taking one week of antibiotics
every three weeks. I am to soften his dry food with a little milk
or water but try to avoid wet food. The vet said the timeline for
survival is quite variable but I need to pay close attention to him.
I swore after letting poor Eugene get so sick without noticing
his decline that I would never do that again to a cat. And I knew
Homer was FIV-positive so I should have been doubly aware. Bad mom
Homer stayed in Morgantown with me last night. He has to be isolated
in the attic to keep him away from Ripley to avoid infecting her
since she is immunosuppressed with the diabetes. I slept up there
with Homer. We snuggled and I had the most wonderful dreams about
all the animals. And best of all, I dreamed of Austin and Eugene
for the first time in a long while. In the dream, I said I thought
they were dead, and Paul laughed and said, "So? They will always
be with us!" How true.
Give all your kitties a big hug. And worry about their health.