Cats,  Medium

The Most Frustrating Thing to Experience as a Cat Parent

Sometimes even the vet can’t figure out what’s wrong with your fur baby, and that makes for a stressful experience for you and your cat.

When I first adopted my cat Copper last year, he was one sick kitten. I didn’t know it at the time, but he had tummy issues that resulted in…let’s just say unpleasant litter box trips. He was the tiniest little guy I had ever seen, and the most fragile kitten I had ever held.

The rescue I had adopted Copper from specialized in saving animals from high-risk kill shelters. Copper came to me after a rough twenty-four hours where he had been transported from New Mexico to Colorado with a truck full of other cats and a few dogs, all so that he could be adopted out rather than put on the euthanasia list at an already overcrowded shelter. He had been neutered before being transported, and when I took him home he was still a little groggy and overwhelmed from surgery, let alone the overnight trip across state lines.

I had decided to adopt a kitten after losing one of my beloved cats a couple of months before old age. I was missing her greatly, and my other cat was feeling more lonesome than ever. I had got it into my head that I wanted to adopt a tortoiseshell kitten I had seen on the adoption website — a little girl with unique coloring and fluffy long fur. Turns out that she never made it to Colorado — she was adopted out before making the big cross-state move. So I ended up with a yellow tabby boy after talking to the lady in charge of the kitten room and being convinced that boys were more affectionate (a fact I’ve found to be true as I sit here writing with Copper on my lap), but I digress.

Copper came home with me and was fine at first, but soon seemed to be getting sicker and sicker. His little body wasn’t getting better as the hours and days wore on like I was hoping — many kittens have tummy troubles when they are adjusting to a new home, after all. So I took him to the vet, hoping for an easy solution.

When the vet doesn’t know what’s wrong

It turned out Copper wasn’t even eight weeks old going by his teeth. He also weighed in at just one point two pounds, when cats at the rescue weren’t sent home with their new family until they weighed at least two pounds. Copper truly wasn’t doing well, and the vet thought she knew what would help. I was sent home with antibiotics and instructions on how to care for the fragile little kitten, and at first, the twice-daily medication and adjusting his food worked. Until it didn’t.

Those first few months I took Copper to the vet a handful of times, each visit coming home with new medication to try or more tips on how to improve his condition. He slowly started to gain weight, but he was still sick. And even with testing, more hands-on vet visits than he’s had in the rest of his entire first year of life, and every home remedy I could find, he still wasn’t getting better. The worst thing that summer was that in addition to Copper getting sick, whatever was going wrong was contagious — my cat Cinders eventually came down with the same symptoms.

So now I was left caring for two cats, squirting liquid antibiotics down their throats multiple times a day, feeding probiotics to counter the negative effects of the antibiotics, and cleaning my house and all of the cat’s things numerous times a week to get rid of whatever this contagion was. It wasn’t fun, and the vet eventually couldn’t figure out what else to do. It was so frustrating as a cat parent.

Sometimes mother nature has to run her course

When the vet told me there was nothing else to prescribe and that my options were becoming limited, I felt so discouraged. I didn’t know what to do — luckily whatever was wrong was not in serious jeopardy of endangering the cats’ lives, but that didn’t mean that their illness wasn’t wreaking havoc on my own life.

So I did my best with what was available to me, which was mainly giving them food that they enjoyed and that wouldn’t upset their digestive systems too much, continuing to clean as often as I could. I stopped going to the vet so often, but I still called them every week or so to ask if they had any advice, trying not to worry too much about my fur babies. And eventually, they both got better. It took a lot of time and patience, as well as more money than I care to admit, to finally get both of my cats on the mend, but more than a year later they are thriving.

The most frustrating thing to experience as a cat parent is your feline friend feeling unwell and having no way to help. The vet still doesn’t know exactly what was wrong with my cats, but we are both relieved that they are doing better. Adopting a kitten — especially one who isn’t feeling well — can be a lot more than you bargain for, but it’s still so worth it. Even though Copper’s first few months with me left me frustrated and frazzled, I wouldn’t trade having him in my life for the world.

Previously published in Creatures

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