Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Dodo's Turn at the Vet
A couple of weeks after we took the ‘cat with no name’ to the vet, I took Dodo to the vet. It was in October sometime, and we thought we’d do the responsible thing by making sure he had all of his shots and to check his overall health. Admittedly, we were worried that Dodo would have feline leukemia like the kitten did.
Putting Dodo in the travel cage was a two person chore. I tried to put him in but he spread his front paws out as wide as possible making it almost impossible to shove him in the cage. My mom came up with the idea to point the front end up so we could ‘drop’ him into the cage. Since my method wasn’t working, I gave it a try. I grabbed Dodo by his shoulders and lowered him, and just as his back legs reached the cage, he splayed his hind legs out even wider than what he had done with his front legs. I have to admit that when he did this ‘spread eagle’ I thought it was too cute for words to describe. Cute as I thought it was, I had a job to do, so as I lowered Dodo again, my mom grabbed his back legs and kept them close to his body so he could descend into the cage. After successfully placing him in the cage, I took him to the car and headed to Knightdale.
On the trip over, which are a few miles shorter than it was when the vet was further east in Knightdale, Dodo cried continuously. It wasn’t a ‘meow’ either. It was a blood curdling cry well suited for a horror film. Thankfully, the shorter trip means that the time travel is less too. I don’t know how much of that I could take. I guess Dodo was claustrophobic, car sick or scared.
I checked in with the receptionist and soon after, I was in an examination room. The vet was new to the practice. I remember her name, but am still not sure if she is an associate or a partner. Regardless, the vet tech took Dodo out of the cage and performed the examination in the back while I waited in the examination room, just like when the kitten was a couple of weeks earlier. Dodo had put on some weight tipping the scale at 12 pounds. The vet came into the room and gave the status on Dodo’s health. He does not have feline leukemia. I was relieved. I asked if Dodo was a boy or a girl. The vet must have thought I was a dumbass, but she took a look at his undercarriage, and not only was he a boy, but he had been neutered sometime before he came to our house. This indicated to me that he was indeed someone’s pet at some point in his life. The vet told me that she looked for a tattoo or a chip to see if she could identify who Dodo was and who he belonged to since we made her aware of his being a stray, but he had neither form of these identification markers.
I thought this visit would be a ‘routine’ one. Dodo would be poked and prodded, and we would go home knowing we did our duty in maintaining our pet’s health. It was almost like a movie formula in a suspense or a thriller type genre. We were worried that Dodo may have leukemia, find he doesn’t, then we breathe a sigh of relief, but then the bad news hit me: Dodo was FIV positive. Feline immunosuppressant virus is the cat version of HIV. When I was a kid, I had never heard of this disease, which can be as deadly as AIDS is for humans. The reason I was unaware of this disease despite the fact that we had dozens of cats when I was a kid was that FIV was not known until the mid to late 80’s. Our last cat died in ’89.
I had no idea what the progression of this disease was. I asked the vet how long he had to live. It depends, she said. It could be months or years or he could be asymptomatic for the rest of his life and never have feline AIDS. The vet wanted to know if we wanted to euthanize Dodo. She said if we kept him inside, his being FIV wouldn’t be a problem, but if he interacted with other cats, he should be put down. I quietly listened to the vet while thinking of my mom’s last words as I left: No matter what, I want Dodo back. My mom wanted to see Dodo one more time, even if he had a deadly disease such as leukemia. I told the vet that I was going to take Dodo home. We were going to take care of him as long as possible.
We don’t know how this disease will play out. Most of the time, we don’t think about it, but when he gets sick and throws up, or when he has a cyst or a scratch, I’ll think, “Is this it? Is this a symptom of feline AIDS?” Dodo is a sweet cat, and he has become comfortable with me now that I have moved in. I’m sure I’ll have more stories about Dodo later, but for now, Dodo is doing well and seems quite happy.