Thursday, May 14, 2015


Hammett barfed once or twice a month or so ago, so I decided it was time to go to the vet. I skipped his annual check-up last year because two years ago, he went so berserk when I put him in his carrier that he cut his head open. At his recent visit, it turned out that he had lost a pound and a half, which is a lot for a ten-pound cat, and that he has hyperthyroidism. This might explain some of his more crazed behavior in recent months. I’m sorry now that I didn’t make him go to the vet last year; maybe the diagnosis could have been made then. Dr. Press said his life expectancy may not be affected at all, but said he’d need to take a pill every 12 hours for the rest of his life. Actually, he didn’t quite say that. He said “a pill every day” and left it to the person I picked the pills up from to clarify that it’s actually half a pill twice a day.

After I picked up the pills, I used a pill shooter to administer Hammett’s evening dose and did the same the next morning. At Rainbow, one of the workers showed me some soft salmon treats his cat likes, and it turned out Hammett was happy to take his pill concealed in a couple of cat treats rolled into a ball. For five days. Then he decided he hated that kind of treat, and it was back to the pill shooter, which he doesn’t hate, but which I’m sure is not much fun for him, and which definitely is not fun for me.

I called Dr. Press to ask a few questions: Does the pill have to be given precisely every 12 hours? How early or late can it be? What about when I go on vacation? What side effects of the medication should I watch out for?

Dr. Press said if I made a compelling case that I simply could not medicate Hammett every 12 hours, he would agree to a once-a-day protocol, but twice a day works better. Therefore, it’s fine for the morning or evening pill to be very early or late, and it’s fine for him to get his daily dose all at once while I’m away. As for side effects, he said to watch out for vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite.

That very night, Hammett vomited four times, and the following night, between 1 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., he vomited 13 times. I was upset, feeling I had failed the dearest cat there is by skipping his check-up last year, and by not noticing sooner that he was losing weight. He has always been skinny and from time to time, I have thought that he doesn’t have much leeway when it comes to losing weight—he wouldn’t have to lose his appetite for very long before he’d be at death’s door. Death’s door is what he seemed to be approaching, and he’s only just turned nine.

Dr. Press said the vomiting was presumably due to the pills, so to stop the pills and switch to a transdermal gel, which is rubbed on the inside of the ear twice a day. The first time I administered the gel, it got all over my bare skin and all over the inside and outside of Hammett’s ear. I found a video online in which a fellow demonstrates how he puts gel in his cat’s ear. It was helpful, but on the other hand, the feline star of the video is shown placidly lying down, happy to have the gel applied.

But the second time I applied the gel, it went a bit better, and I also ran into J.J. from Mission Pet Hospital that evening or the next and she demonstrated on my hand how well the gel has to be rubbed in, which was instructive.

Unfortunately, a week after starting the gel, Hammett barfed again. Dr. Press happened to call out of the blue just then and said he was afraid of that—Hammett may also have something going on with his intestinal tract. However, it may also just be that his thyroid levels aren’t normal yet. Hyperthyroidism can mask kidney problems, so once his thyroid levels are OK, we
’ll have to see how his kidneys are. Dr. Press said he’s rather young for kidney problems.
Well, we shall see. I invited his cat sitter over to learn how to apply the gel, but as soon as Hammett saw her, he ran away in a panic. I picked him up and he was trembling with fear. I have never been very fond of this person myself, but figured that if Hammett was always alive when I returned from vacation, that was the main thing. However, he was so terrified, it was impossible to do the demo, and so I decided it’s time to find a new cat sitter, preferably one who is also a veterinary technician, so the search is underway.

His old cat sitter said he was freaking out because he associates her with my being gone, and maybe that’s so, but it’s hard to believe that he was thinking, “There’s that person I really, really like, and she’s with my mother, who I also really, really like, but usually when I see her, it’s when my mother is gone, so now I don’t like her.” My mother said that sounded like rather complex thinking for a cat, and I agree.
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