Sunday, September 30, 2007


We had to run our cat Joey up to the Emergency Vet yesterday.

He has had diarrhea since late Wednesday. We tried to identify and eliminate the usual culprits - new foods, new floral arrangements, new anything in his environment - but there wasn't anything obvious. One item of concern was the fact that Scooter had just been treated for roundworm, a parasite that can cause diarrhea. Could Joey have become infected?

Unfortunately our regular vet has been on vacation for the past two weeks in observance of the Rosh Hashanah / Yom Kippur season. We found this out on Thursday, when we decided that the diarrhea wasn't going to go away on its own. On Friday I suggested (in a note written before I left for work) that we contact another local vet, a friend of a friend and highly respected vet who had treated Haley once. My mom wasn't able to get in touch with him on Friday.

By Saturday morning we decided that we couldn't wait until Tuesday, which is when we already had a follow-up visit for Scooter scheduled at the regular vet. Joey's diarrhea was becoming more frequent, and while he wasn't showing any symptoms of distress it was clear that such a thing couldn't be good for him. We made a call and found the new location of the local Emergency Vet, who had relocated recently since the roof at the old location collapsed over the Winter.

Getting there was an adventure. Weekend construction projects had turned the highway into a parking lot, so we - along with several thousand of our fellow-travelers - took a detour.

We were the only people in the clinic when we got there, aside from the staff and one couple who were checking out with their dog. Still it took a while to get in, and we were bumped once when a couple came in with a dog that was having a seizure. Eventually we got into an examination room.

As soon as we got there my mom remembered something important: Joey had almost run out of food on Monday. He eats only Fancy Feast canned wet cat food, and prefers the Grilled Chicken and Grilled Turkey varieties. I went out to Wal-Mart on Monday and bought twenty-four cans of each variety. We had begun feeding him from those cans almost immediately.

It wasn't a new food, but it was a new batch of food. Could something about it have made him sick?

Our realization came too late, as we were already in the clinic, and the meter was running, so to speak. The vet examined him ad found nothing unusual: no signs of infection, and a list of indicators that could easily be the result of his diarrhea rather than the cause of it. For example, slightly elevated levels of bilirubin (one of the most fascinating multi-purpose secretions in the body - look it up!) could indicate an infection, or they could be the result of diarrhea causing intestinal inflammation causing a bile duct obstruction. In any event, the doctor prescribed some pills for Joey to take, one-quarter of a pill every twelve hours for the next ten days.

Just to confuse things, we also pulled all of the Monday-purchased cans of food and replaced them with food bought from another store. Joey's diarrhea has subsided, though whether this was the pill or the change in food I cannot say for certain. I suppose if I wanted to go all hardcore I could check the lot numbers and code dates on both the old and new cans of food, and if I wanted to be very strict I would not change two things at once - either keep him on the same food and give him the pill, or use a different batch of food and no pill. But we've decided to play it safe, to use the pill and change the food and maybe even take him up to the vet's on Tuesday along with Scooter. For now, he's doing better - and that's what's important.

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