If you woke up this morning thinking, “man, I wish somebody would write extensively about cat’s asses and bowel movements,” boy, are you ever in luck. The squeamish should proceed at their own peril.
Rewind to a morning about 18 months ago when I stumble from bed into a scene from CSI: Felines — the hallway carpets smeared with blood. No weapon or body in sight. At which point I – wife of the year – think to myself, “I really hope my husband is bleeding.” My logic being that of all the bleedable creatures in the house, it’s not a lot of blood for a human but it sure as hell is a lot for a cat. And, you know, I can imagine scenarios in which a human could cut their foot or have a nosebleed in the night, but I have no frame of reference for spontaneous indoor cat bleeding. This is when Twitchy saunters by and does a slow turn in front of me, revealing his horrifying ass-end. It is at this point that I start sending my boss texts like: I am going to be late today, my cat seems to be bleeding from his butt. Sorry.
I take a warm, wet washcloth and start trying to clean up the area to see what is really going on, and it begins to look less awful. He is oozy, but no longer actively bleeding and the source doesn’t seem to be his actual butthole, but sort of off to the side. Nonetheless, it’s not pretty. I bundle T off to the vet at opening time and find out that his anal glands had become impacted and ultimately ruptured. This can happen to cats or dogs and isn’t all that uncommon, but it can be dangerous. As gross (and messy) as it is, it’s actually better when they rupture externally rather than internally, as an internal rupture can quickly cause a serious systemic infection that can kill them. He needs surgery to clean out the infection and close up the wound, plus antibiotics and painkillers. A few hours later I have a very stoned, very stumbly cat on my hands with shaved hindquarters, stitches and a soft rubber drainage tube.
Due to his size it took a lot of drugs to knock him out and extra time for him to come to after the surgery. We are given instructions to apply warm compresses a couple times a day to keep the tube clean and draining well. And to keep the little drunken sailor away from stairs for a few hours. Not to be deterred, Twitchy pinballs off the walls and beelines for the top tier of his cat tree where I then have to stand and make sure he doesn’t fall off until he decides to stumble (with help) down. He takes it all like the champ he is, and heals up nicely. The most upsetting part for him seems to be the two car rides to the vet.
All is well and then last Saturday night, Andrew has his diaper party – which is a Newfoundland thing (do they do this anywhere else?) and basically the male equivalent of a baby shower where guys bring the expectant father packages of diapers and then go get drunk. I think the boys may win on this tradition.
Sunday morning, we let Mr T into the bedroom for “special kitty morning snuggle time” since he has recently been banned from sleeping with us to set the stage for when baby will be in her bassinet in our room and cats won’t be allowed in overnight. Lo and behold, his poor sore butt is at it again. Definitely not as bad as last time, but again – not awesome. Especially on a hungover Sunday when our vet is closed. Luckily, Andrew is in remarkably good shape and able to help me wrangle him into his carrier (no small feat) and get him to the emergency clinic. This time he just needs the wounds flushed out and an antibiotic injection – no surgery or stitches. But it also came with a complimentary lecture on his weight, which is kind of funny because Andrew had, to everyone’s amusement, informed the tech at the desk that T is sensitive about his weight issues. I guess she didn’t note that on his chart.
Now, I know he is overweight – but it’s so tough. He has always been a big cat and when this vet says he weighs twice as much as he should, I think she is delusional and obviously not taking into account his notoriously broad shoulders. I also didn’t mention that at 19 lbs he is actually already down 3 lbs from his weight 18 months ago. He has been on various low-cal diets over the years and owns several dis-used harnesses from my attempts at cat walking. He will actively play with a toy or a wand for a few minutes a day, but then loses interest and takes a nap. His same-litter sister Molly never had weight issues and received the same food and care…is it us, or is it just how he is?
Besides that, it turns out that although Andrew (who coined the shit monster term) would never have guessed it, Mr. T needs more fibre in his diet in the form of Metamucil, Benefibre and/or canned pumpkin. So he can take larger, softer poops that will help his anal glands express themselves and stay clear. It should also help him with weight loss, apparently, which also lowers his chances of another butt gland explosion.
So here we are, sprinking Benefiber on his kibble and warm compressing his butt again. Digging out the wand toys and kibble ball dispensers to coax him into a little extra activity and researching new ways to help him lose a few pounds. Because even though I think he’s perfect just the way he is, I also want him to be healthy for as long as possible. He’s about to be a big brother and I’d really like the little Ranger (this is Perry’s new nickname – reasoning will be revealed at a later date) to have a few years with this very special guy.