The good news is I thought this post was going to be a memorial to my Skye kitty. Instead, it’s a tale of one tough little furbaby.
Skye has been a Bartonella cat for as long as I’ve had her. For those who know nothing about this wicked disease, let me give a little background.
Bartonella is a bacterial infection spread by fleas. It has no cure and, in Skye’s case, manifests itself as severe periodontal disease and gingivitis. Over the years, Skye has dealt with sore, red, often bloody gums. I’ve treated her with round after round of antibiotics and too-frequent steroid shots.
But lately nothing has been giving her more than a week or two of relief. For the last year, I’ve had a sense that we were on borrowed time.
This last month has been the worst. Yet through it all, she continued to eat and to snuggle with me. I wasn’t ready to let go when she still had so much fight left in her.
Last Sunday morning I awoke to find her right upper lip/cheek swollen. Of course, the vet’s office is closed on Sunday, but I called first thing Monday morning. I didn’t know what to think. Had the infection spread into other soft tissues in her face? Did she have an abscessed tooth?
My vet told me he was leaving for two weeks, and Wednesday was his last day of surgery until his return. He also told me his surgery schedule was already filled. However, he didn’t want to leave her to one of the other vets, so he squeezed Skye into the schedule.
Tuesday evening was torture. I truly believed she either would not survive the anesthesia with her age and her other health issues, OR the doctor would get in there and find too much to deal with, in which case I was prepared to tell him to simply not allow her to wake up. I spend the evening snuggling with Skye, fearing it would be the last time.
Wednesday ranks as one of the longest days on record. I felt relieved when the time I was given to call and check on her was approaching and I hadn’t heard anything from them. No news was good news. But when I called, I was told he was just about to start the procedure.
More waiting. More worrying.
Over an hour passed and I called again as I’d been directed. I was told he was STILL working on her.
At last he called me. She’d survived the surgery and done well. But the rest of the news wasn’t as good. The swollen face had been caused by the cheek separating from the diseased gum tissue. He said he got in there, cleaned out the dead tissue and sutured the cheek back in place. He added he was concerned about the potential for healing, but we would know pretty quickly if it would or would not heal. If it didn’t, he said there wasn’t much left that he could do.
Also, he pulled most of her teeth, leaving only the canines (fangs) and a couple of the back teeth that still had healthy root attachments. He debrided all the dead and diseased gum tissues, and he said he was optimistic that once everything healed, she’d be like a new cat.
It’s that “once everything healed” part that I continue to fret over. Yes, I’m a worried kitty mom and my head knows I need to give her time. This was a huge procedure.
The one thing I neglected to ask in the flurry of information he was throwing at me was HOW would we know pretty quickly if the cheek would heal or not.
Skye was a sad little cat for a day or two. I’ve had gum grafts, so I know what a painful mouth is like. But she’s eating her prescription food. She’s drinking water, using the litter box, and otherwise acting fairly normal. For her.
Skye on Thursday, less than one day post-op
Most of the swelling from the teeth being pulled has gone down. HOWEVER, that right cheek remains swollen and she continues to bleed from it.
Okay, yes, it’s only been a few days. And I don’t know what my vet’s definition of “pretty quickly” is.
Skye on Sunday, almost 3 days post-op, napping comfortably
Tomorrow (Monday), I will call him as directed to check in, at which time I will ask for specifics. In the meantime, I continue to love her and pamper her…even though she hates me right now for squirting yucky stuff (antibiotics) in her mouth twice a day. I only hope she improves and lives long enough to forgive me for the torture I’ve put her through.