Hannah & Sam, en route to the vet
Where do I begin? Hannah’s little brother Sam had his one-year exam with the vet this past week. The day before, I was working on Hannah Grace, the book, when I heard Sam meowing in brief from the bathroom. When I walked in, I found he had deposited a piece of poop, with a 5-inch long object protruding from its middle, on my new plush blue foot rug.
“Ohhhhh!” I said aloud as I did the time I caught Sam with a mouse. “Ohhhhh!” Quickly, I put on gloves and scooped up the turd with a paper towel, staring at this thing that looked like a piece of spaghetti – I thought perhaps Sam had swallowed yet another inedible object – was it a twig or a leaf stem I had accidentally brought in from outside? I wondered as I disposed of it in the trash.
The following day, when I took Sam to the vet for his checkup, I brought along a stool sample, because he’s had the tendency to stink up the entire garret with just one visit to the litter box, ever since he was a kitten. No longer a kitten, it seemed odd to me that he was still producing something so smelly. As a kitten, Sam was diagnosed with several parasites, including roundworm, which can cause such odor. He was fully treated, his system rendered clear. However, into his adulthood, his poop continued to have that pungent kitten stink. The vet said most likely he was simply sensitive to Hannah’s prescription duck and green peas, the a la carte daily meal. We could try a probiotic. But first, we should test his sample.
The next morning I got the call: that thing protruding from Sam’s stool? An adult roundworm. It was imperative to treat Sam right away, as well as Hannah, as she had been exposed. The strongest medicine came in the form of a one-time pill. Because I had, when she was gravely ill, failed in my attempts to “pill” Hannah, I decided the best situation for all involved would be to bring both cats back to the clinic for the deed.
I placed Hannah in a soft zip-up carrier; after an initial struggle, she bowed her head politely under the carrier top. Sam, however, ran and ran and ran around the garret as soon as I took out the new plastic crate the vet recommended for “difficult carrier cats.” Once I got him in, he thrashed his entire body against the sides of the carrier, and pushed his nose up against the metal grate, scraping himself as he howled. I carried them both twenty feet to the car, hearing their voices echoing down the street. “I know,” I said, the adrenaline pumping through my limbs. “It’s not fun for me either.” As if they could understand me.
While we waited in the clinic for the vet tech, Sam looked at Hannah in her carrier, as if for direction. He continued to let out intermittent howls, then quieted, as if to follow his big sister, who huddled quietly. Then the vet tech appeared and carried them away.
It is no secret that I am coping with PTSD. Since my mother’s death six weeks ago, my symptoms have flared a bit. Sam’s parasite diagnosis triggered the return of a contamination phobia I battled a couple of years ago. The idea that Sam could have had this chaotic parasite for months without detection made my stomach turn. In my mind, there was not enough bleach in the world to clean the garret. I wanted to burn everything. Not to worry, dear reader – I refrained, though I was tempted.
I did, however, ask a lot of hypochondriac-type questions: how easily is roundworm transmitted to humans? I asked both the vet and my primary care physician. What if I walked barefoot in the bathroom, somehow picked up some fecal matter, and it made its way into my mouth? Could invisible parasite eggs, as I’d read on the internet, have contaminated the entire garret? I don’t know if I was more embarrassed by my phobia or my questions. As long as I washed my hands after cleaning the litter box, I would be just fine, they all said. I was, however, warned that I would likely see “a lot” of those worms appearing in the coming days.
The vet tech returned with Hannah and Sam tucked back into their respective carriers. Sam, the tech said, was scared to death but let her pill him easily. Hannah, on the other hand, put up a fight: “She’s a fiesty one,” said the tech.
When we returned to the garret, Sam ran under my bed, where he took his dinner and stayed for the remainder of the evening. Hannah ate everything in sight, her usual reaction to a vet visit, then sat in the living room. I stood in the middle of the garret for a moment, and wondered where to begin. Chaos seemed to surround me. The smoke detector malfunctioned, a male voice yelling from the speaker, “Error! Error in master bedroom! Consult manual,” and the garret closet door fell off its hinge. I put these items on my list of things to fix (I was not going to call my landlord), after I disinfected the bathroom.
Have you had any cat-drama lately? Share your experiences, thoughts, or comments below!
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