Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fat Cat and the Happy Mistake

I have three cats: two old black/whites that live mostly on the back porch and one fluffy little grey called Gris-gris, a name with voodoo connotations, meaning literally grey-grey (or in American, gray-gray).  While Doobey and Minx, the B&Ws, are strays, Gris-gris came to us at 6 weeks so we're answerable for all bad habits.  Her innocent face and pretty yellow eyes belied the devil within.  From a kitten, she tended to be spiteful, hissing and spitting at everything.  She'd as soon bite you as purr for you and if you stroked her, she'd probably do both, and you could lose a limb.  We were afraid of her. 

When she was 6, Gris-gris fell gravely ill.  She'd always been a bit on the plump side, a bit chubby, a bit curvy, but I noticed that her sweet tubby belly had grown strangely lopsided.  And what I thought at first was the hacking up of potential fur balls, a sound all cat-owners dread entailing as it does not only the swift tossing outside of the moggy in question but also the clearing up of vast pools of vomit and slimy fur, well, that hacking was serious coughing.  It became so regular and caused her such discomfort, we went to the vet.  X-rays revealed a giant growth on her lungs, an abscess so large that it hindered her breathing.  A specialist offered two options: a dangerous, expensive operation to remove the growth -- not recommended for Gris-gris who was so small and highly-strung, she probably wouldn't survive.  The second idea was huge doses of antibiotics in hopes of shrinking the abscess, and lots of TLC.  We chose the latter.  The vet held out little hope.

Oh, those antibiotics.  They made her dreadfully, violently ill, gave her diarrhea that crippled her. Some days she was so exhausted with its effects, she lay on the floor and whimpered.  At first, she fought like a demon not to take the drugs but in the end was so sick she had to relent.  The only "benefit" was that in her convalescence she became gentler, sweeter and more loving, a temperament which lasts to this day.  When finally she began to feel better, she'd play (which she'd never really done before) sometimes for 15 minutes at a time, jumping in the air and racing around the room. The coughing lessened and eventually her belly got smaller.  We were encouraged. 

We gave her two drugs, a red bottle and a blue bottle.  After the final drop, we returned to the vet, only to learn we'd made an awful mistake. The packaging was different but the two bottles contained the same very potent medication.  We'd given her twice the recommended dose.  Poor Gris-gris!  I was so upset on her behalf, I sobbed.  However, it turned out that the double-dose probably saved her.  The specialist had expected her to die.

Imagine my horror when I recently noticed Gris-gris's little belly start to swell and her energy to drop.  Suddenly she couldn't jump on to the kitchen counter.  Then she was so weak she could barely heave herself on to my bed.  She's 11 now; bad news.  She wasn't happy about a vet visit: "I ain't goin' to no vet!" she howled in her Texas accent.  She spreadeagled her fluffy, porculent body in the door-frame of the pet carrier while at the same time trying to scratch out my eyes.  Nevertheless we squeezed her in and handed her over to the vet.

The diagnosis?  She's a portly puss; a heavy-weight chubster; a lard-bucket.  So, thankfully, my worst fears were not confirmed but my second-worst were.  Gris-gris is FAT!  "I'm not fat," she says, "I'm small-boned.  I'm pleasingly plump!" but this is not true.  Gris-gris tipped the scale at 12.9 lbs which is way, way, WAY beyond pleasingly plump.

Gone are the days of stealing from her elderly housemates' food bowls and cadging scraps with those winsome good looks.  Gris-gris, the happy, healthy, FAT CAT is on a diet.


  1. I am SO glad for the happy news. Okay, enough with the niceness; she's 11 years old, not shabby for a cat, so indulge her a little. Don't forget that animals don't understand things like "it's for your own good" or "the pain will pass and you'll be okay again" etc.

    That said, if you're a cat caretaker who's willing to go that extra mile (the one in which you have to regulate your cat's diet, put up with her exasperation, make her happy in other ways) then I salute you, I admire you, I hope to emulate you. But you knew that already.

  2. Ha! I knew you'd react to a cat story! Gris-gris has always been indulged too much, particularly after she got sick when I just wanted to make up for her pain and renew her happiness. She's fine with her new diet, predominantly canned food which she prefers. If you'd seen this little barrel on legs struggling to get up on the kitchen counter which she's always been able to do quite well, you'd understand why losing 2 lbs might make her even happier! I'll report back...

    BTW, have you subscribed to my little blog?