After the operation, Gucci the cat is not yet out of the woods

Third in a series.

I worked diligently and quickly. Turtle shell kitty Gucci maintained strong vital signs while I debrided (trimmed) the edges of his intestinal wounds and sutured them closed. Many things could still go wrong; I relied on his robust immune system to help me. Coming out of her abdomen, I placed tubes and drains for daily irrigation over the next few days.

Small creatures can lose a lot of heat when their body cavities are open to the surrounding air. We had kept our patient wrapped in a hot water circulation blanket during the operation, but she worried me. At a below normal temperature of 92.4 degrees, we quickly cuddled him up in a thick towel surrounded by hot water bottles. Very slowly, his paws began to flex, then his eyes opened. I couldn’t wait to ask him, “What did you eat that punched eight holes in your guts?”

Instead, I called the Gucci person Jerri at his company. Jerri was a hairdresser, so like the vets of the day, she worked on Saturdays. She picked up on the first ring. Through the roar of hair dryers and chatter in the background, I explained that the surgery had gone well and that her adorable kitty was still under the influence but was sleeping. She would not be allowed to drive or lift heavy objects for several days. We would watch her like a hawk but, of course, there were no guarantees. The risk of infection was still high.

We stayed late so Jerri could visit Gucci after finishing the last coloring of the day. She held her swaddled cat tight to her chest as I explained the details of what awaited her. I remember that weird feeling while we were talking, that Jerri was looking at my hair more than my eyes. Maybe she wanted to trade her work with scissors for mine with a scalpel.

As I escorted our client to the door, I explained my bewilderment as to the cause of these intestinal injuries. What could his indoor cat have gotten himself into?

Next week: Dental hygiene at fault.

⋄ For help with behavioral issues, you can sign up for a Zoom group conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.


Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He offers in-person and group consultations via Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week, he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up for free at drjeffnichol.com. Ask your pet questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail at 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.

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