Hobbes had been acting weird over the weekend: listless, agitated, and appeared to have a puffy butt hole. While snuggling in bed with husband and cat on Saturday morning, I suddenly noticed that Hobbes’ back end looked strange. Her tail is usually up in a silent greeting–this allows us plenty of unfortunate glimpses of her butt. Any change is noticeable. I cleaned out her litter box, observed that she was still using it, still seemed hungry, purred occasionally. But she couldn’t jump up on the bed and began sleeping underneath it at night. Her hind legs seemed stiff and her walk changed. Gradually she started hissing or growling at us if we came near her or tried to pet her.
I took her into the vet on Monday at great inconvenience to my schedule. I ended class early, broke speed limits to get back down to the south end, stuffed Hobbes into her cage, and made the 12:30pm appointment at her vet in Renton. Cats don’t like the vet and many of you know my cat is not known for her stoic nature. Her personality is already on the edgy side. Combine that with health problems and you have one hell of a demon cat. The exam was one of the worst displays of cat rage I’ve ever seen–it rivaled with Nature shows and cat fights you might hear outside. When the vet tech pulled her out of her cage Hobbes immediately began squalling, enraged that someone was disturbing her when it was obvious she was in pain. Her teeth started chattering–a ‘pain signal’ according to the vet tech. When the technician pulled out a thermometer and aimed it at her butt all hell broke loose. Fur was flying, Hobbes started screaming and both the vet technician and the vet had to hold her down. I actually had to step outside the exam room–the stress of watching my cat made me cry.
When I opened the door to leave, one of the cats that lives in the vet’s office was standing in the hallway. “Roger” looked at me with concerned eyes, his furry head straining to look behind me into the exam room. Respecting Hobbes’ privacy, I closed the door, knelt down and began petting him. Hobbes’ yowls could clearly be heard throughout the hallway and into the waiting room. I paced back and forth, Roger holding silent vigil outside the exam room. The verdict: swollen anal glands. I have no idea how the vet managed to put my cat into submission enough to feel her anal glands but apparently they were large and hard as lemons. “We’ll need to put her under anesthesia,” the vet said, “Obviously we can’t do anything with her awake.” As if on cue, Hobbes growled from her cage.
I left the vet without my cat. I tried not to cry. I tried not to imagine the worst: Hobbes has cancer, Hobbes has a tumor, Hobbes as 6 weeks to live. “I can’t lose my cat right now,” I said to myself. Images of my recently deceased grandpa floated in my head. “Perhaps Hobbes could live with him in heaven,” I thought absently. “I’m sure my grandma would like that.” The emotional toll of watching my cat’s examination was exhausting. I called my parents, I called my sister, I called Josh several times. Her surgery was at 3:30, her pick up time was between 5 and 7. I had rehearsal at the improv theater that night, so Josh was elected to retrieve our cat from the vet hospital. The vet told us that both anal glands were swollen and needed to be drained. One was infected, filled with blood and puss and she had to ‘clean it out.’ The vet confided that it was the worst anal abscess she’d ever seen in a cat.
Hobbes was woozy when I saw her again that night. Her tail refused to stand up, her back end was noticeably puffy, and she alternated between purring and growling at me. She attempted to go up the stairs, her back end sagging behind her in protest, eventually bringing her painfully back down to the ground floor. She slept under the bed the night of her surgery. But gradually throughout the next day, Hobbes returned to us emotionally. Able to jump up on the couch again, she joined me for an episode of Oprah. When Josh returned home, Hobbes greeted him enthusiastically.
It’s been a rough year for my 12 year old cat. In January she had a mountain of teeth removed due to periodontal disease. Then she was back to the vet for butt surgery. I don’t care how much it costs; having of my cat back in good health is priceless. For the first time in several days, Hobbes joined me on the bed this morning. She diligently went to work on cleaning herself: legs, toes….and butt.