Sunday, July 22, 2012


We used to have a cat named Ferdinand. Unfortunately, we had to place him in another home two months before the girl was born. There were several reasons for that, really. But probably the biggest reason was him not using the litterbox. He would, occasionally, take a shit somewhere else in the house.

This was a problem that worsened as he got older. He never did it as a kitten. We moved when he was five, and I think he only ever did it once in our old house. But over the span of four years in the newer house, he began to do this with increasing- and alarming- frequency.

It turned out that there were two reasons for this. The first, which we had always suspected, was that he was trying to show dominance over the other two cats in the house. We thought it would get better when our female cat died, but then he was just in competition with the other male. So it got worse.

It also increased because he had a physical condition that was getting worse. We didn't suspect anything physical until we realized that he was actually in pain. Of course, at first I just thought he was crazy. His howling would wake me up in the middle of the night. 'Oh my God,' I would say to my husband. 'Did you hear that? He is truly psychotic. Why is he making those noises??' And then the husband, who wasn't really awake anyway, would grunt and roll over, leaving me awake to wonder what insanity was going on in our cat's head.

Until one night, when I went downstairs to see what the hell was going on. I don't know why it took me so long to do this. The noises were honestly a little frightening, but really? What did I expect? A knife wielding cat, ready to attack as soon as I entered my living room? What I found instead was Ferdinand, hunched over in obvious pain, trying to go to the bathroom. On our rug.

A trip to the vet confirmed that Ferdinand had Impacted Bowel Syndrome. This meant that he was constipated much of the time and part of his intestines were too stretched out to work properly. We tried to treat it with some lifestyle adjustments at first. We fed him only wet food. We switched to a running water bowl to encourage him to drink more. We tried stool softeners. Nothing worked. He ended up undergoing surgery- the last resort. They would basically shorten his intestine.

It worked like a charm. It was obvious that he felt fantastic. Rather than making him a more agreeable cat though, which is what we had hoped for, he became even more aggressive with our other cat. And that is when he was placed in another home where there were no other cats and no children and he is now happy as can be. And I sort of feel sorry for the cat who got to stay with us because, really? He is just not getting the quiet attentive household that Ferdinand now has.

All that is to say, the Saturday after my surgery I felt terrible. I had a new empathy for what Ferdinand had gone through- the cramping and being doubled over in pain. I knew that he had been in pain, but I had a better understanding of what he must have felt like. It was bloody awful and it made me feel sick all over. My mother had been thinking of leaving that morning, and I had asked her to stay just one more day. I was so glad that I did. I was miserable.

At the time I thought that it was my body getting rid of the last of the drugs and medicine that I had been given during surgery and post-op. I was later told that it was more likely my body's reaction to the large doses of calcium that I had been prescribed following the surgery. Either way, it made for a pretty lousy Saturday.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this, a little because I wondered what happened to Ferdinand, but also because of the empathy and compassion you have.