Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Vet-Bill" lives up to his Nickname

We'd only had Zorro for a month or so when Dave nick-named him "Vet-Bill". That was mostly because of the heart-stopping way he'd dash and weave between the horses' hooves. It seems our lovable barn cat will live up to that name, though in this case the horses can't be blamed.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's 8:00pm and I'm just getting home from work. Dave's away on his annual golf trip with the guys, so the horses have yet to be fed. Jaava whinnies from her paddock as I lower myself from the cab of the truck. But, before I head to the barn, I run into the house to get changed and let out the dog. Looking back, I should have known then that something was wrong.

Muscade greets me with her usual exuberance, and once I throw on some already-dirty clothes, she follows me happily out to the barn. Lilly meets us halfway, meowing with her gravely, lounge-singer voice. I find it odd that she seems so relaxed, so willing to be out in the open. Usually she's on a constant look-out for Zorro and his relentless, though generally harmless attacks. But still, it's not until I'm in the feedroom, scooping out the cat food that it dawns on me that something must really be wrong.

I have the lid off the cat-food container and Zorro's not here. I rattle the food. He's still not here. Zorro has never, ever missed a meal. And now that I think about it, he's always, ALWAYS outside to greet us when we pull into the driveway. It's a reasonably nice evening, and I'm about an hour later than usual, so I think that perhaps he's out hunting--though I'm definitely starting to feel anxious.

Moments later, I open the door to the tackroom (where Lilly eats), and I'm relieved to see him standing in the back corner. My relief doesn't last long though. Instead of making a dash for Lilly's food, he creeps cautiously out of the room. He's clearly limping. His ear is partially flopped over, and there's a tiny hole in it. Across his back, there are many loose clumps of fur. The white of his tuxedo is matted with blood. He drags himself to the feedroom, and instead of leaping with his usual agile exuberance onto the washing machine (which doubles as his food station), he sits at the base of it, looks pitifully at me, and meows mournfully. I gingerly pick him up and gently place him on top of the machine. I fill his dish. Normally, he shoves his nose greedily into the bowl and licks it clean in seconds. Not tonight. Tonight he eats slowly, one piece of dry food at a time.

I leave Zorro momentarily to tend to the stomping, whinnying horses. I hurl grain into their feed tubs, then I pick up my beloved barn cat and whisk him into the house. I lock him in the mudroom to keep him away from Ruffles. I can't clean him up yet, I have a few more barn chores to do first, but I do call the vet. A young-sounding girl (with a voice I don't recognize) answers the phone. I tell her about Zorro. I tell her I'd like to bring him in the morning, and ask whether I should give him some pain killers (metacam) which I have on hand. She covers the receiver and has a muffled conversation with someone else in the office. She comes back on the line to tell me that I shouldn't give him metacam because it will limit what the vets can do in the morning. She also tells me I can have an appointment first thing at 9:00am if I like.

Unfortunately, I have to be at work in Truro (30 minutes from the vet clinic) at 8:45am. I ask whether I can just drop Zorro off (though I'd much prefer to be there with him). She covers the receiver and I once again catch snippets of muffled conversation. When her voice returns with clarity, she tells me that I have to be with the cat when he's examined. "But I have to work" I say. She tells me I can have an appointment at 2:45 in the afternoon if that's any better-- it's not, I work until 4pm. She tells me I can bring him into the emergency after-hours clinic tonight. I thank her politely and tell her I'll clean him up myself.

9:30 pm

I've finished my barn chores and eaten some supper. All the while, Zorro has been curled up in his bed in the mud room. It's finally time to take a closer look at his wounds. I place a dish of water in his bed, beside his head. He takes one sniff then laps up about a 1/4 cup without ever getting to his feet. I set the dish aside so he doesn't get sick from drinking too much. As he lies there, I brush his dull, ratty-looking coat. He tentatively begins to purr. There's a clump of dirt matted into his back. Judging by the smell, I'd say it's vomit. I put down the brush and dip some gauze into a warm prepodyne solution. I sponge the bloodied hair on the right side of his chest until finally I find the wounds: a deep puncture and a less worrisome laceration. Zorro's purr turns into a menacing growl, but he doesn't actually make any attempt to stop me as I cut away the hair closest to the wounds. I curse Tomlin, as the wandering, homeless tom cat is my prime suspect in this attack. He and Zorro have been sparring almost daily lately and their encounters have been getting more and more violent, despite my frequent attempts to frighten Tomlin away

After I'm done with Zorro, he drinks more water, then begins licking his wounds. He's definitely going to need antibiotics. So, one way or another, I'm going to have to find a way to get him to the vet tomorrow.

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