Cat Cora’s Cancer

The vet had to remove our cat, Cora’s, mammary glands from her entire left side this morning. One of them had developed a seriously large lump and an x-ray revealed enough spread to conclude the whole set had to go.

Add cat cancer to the long list of suck that’s making up 2020.

Before we could pick Cora up though, the vet needed to prep us over the phone. With COVID-19, clinics now do all of their post-exam consultations via a phone call while you’re sitting in your car in their parking lot. It’s safer but it feels less like telemedicine and more like your pet got in trouble while at a terrible day camp.

The vet informed us that surgery had gone great but her recovery was down to us spending the next nine days preventing one of God’s most independent animals from messing with a first painful, then itchy, line of stitches running down the left side of her chest and past her belly. It is a big deal but it shouldn’t be a big deal, oh and, do you have an empty spare room she could recover in? (Spoilers: We don’t.)

To aid our impossible task, they would stick a cone over her head to prevent her from reaching her stitches or feeling at all normal. Also we could cover her weeping scar with one of the precious baby shirts we’d saved from our daughter’s childhood. Most importantly, the vet stressed three specific things to avoid while she healed:

  1. No jumping
  2. No running
  3. No licking

We assured him we understood, went and picked her up, and managed to break all three of his commandments within a minute of entering the house. Even though we caaaaaarefully took the top off of the carrier as slooooowly as we could, she totally freaked, jumped out of the bottom half, and took off running. Her ever “helpful” sister, Dot, gave chase and pounced on her head cone. Now terrified, Cora ran/jumped up the stairs, stripping off the protective baby shirt so blood could get everywhere in the process, and scrambled under our bed with her sister in hot pursuit.

I somehow I managed to wrangle Dot into another room so we could focus on how we’d get a panicked, wounded cat out from under the middle of a king-sized bed. Thankfully she wasn’t keen on exerting herself any further so she stayed put while we incredible-hulked the mattress off and removed some of the lower spring boards to more easily get to her. After carefully making sure she hadn’t reopened her stitches enough to require going back to the vet, my wife and daughter made up a quiet corner of the room while I puzzled out a way to extract her that didn’t involve further dismantling the bed. I didn’t want to stress her stitches any further so I figured I could use one of our already red beach towels as a makeshift stretcher. I scooted her onto the towel as slowly and methodically as I could and then lifted and balanced her while pulling the towel taught to keep her as flat as possible. It worked well enough but moving a screaming, bleeding cat is high on my “never again” list.

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Greg Moore @gregmoore