Cow was an unexpected addition to the family. On Saturday November 2, 2019 I was preparing for the impending loss of Cat, and getting used to the idea of being back down to 4 cats. I was ready for less, not more. But my vet’s office had other plans for me…
Late that morning I received a call from one of the techs asking if I could foster a cat. He was a stray, brought in by the woman who had been feeding him when she noticed something wrong with his eye. She was a very petite, older lady, and he was a giant ball of anger and claws. She wasn’t confident she could give him eye drops, and had her own very sick cat to care for.
Naturally, having a complete inability to turn away an animal in need, I said yes and headed off to meet him. I mean, it’s just two weeks and then he can go back, right?!
Cow, named by the tech who gave him to me, was indeed “extra spicy” when it came to just about everything. He had a very short fuse, and would only tolerate about a minute or two of petting before becoming Angry Bitey McHissyface. Eye drops were a challenge, but we made it through them.
As I watched over him in those first two weeks I realized that Cow’s eye was not healing fast enough and that he was having trouble eating. Cow was very skinny when he came to me, but his initial blood test results were really good, considering he’s probably 7 years old and has been a stray for several months. So, I assumed his teeth were a problem.
After two weeks his eye took a dramatic turn for the worse and he ended up having it removed. While he was in surgery they were able to do a dental for him and found that all his top teeth needed to be removed. Since he was already under and doing well with anesthesia we went ahead and removed the 3 tumors on his back too. It was a big day for him.
Cow’s return home from surgery was pretty eventful because he decided he’d rather try to kill himself than wear the cone. I couldn’t be up all night to monitor him and needed to work the next day, so he ended up spending the night at the emergency hospital instead. At the hospital they gave him some extra pain medicines and put him in a soft cone instead of a hard one. Within about 1 hour he settled down and after that had no trouble with the new cone. Cow spent about 18 hours in the hospital and came home for good the next evening. From then on his recovery from surgery was uneventful.
The day his staples and stitches were removed he decided that he wanted out of his isolation room for the first time. Unfortunately he decided that at 2:30 am, when he made his first meow since living with me – he has a shockingly deep voice. Luckily he only meowed a few times then went back to sleep.
The day after his staples and stitches were removed he came out of isolation and into the house for the first time. I expected there to be a bit of drama between him and the other cats, but nothing happened. I let him out, he wandered through every room, then settled onto a pile of toys to play. Then he went to sleep. It was the most relaxed cat introduction I have ever been through. That’s when I realized that I had completely failed in my fostering of Cow and that he was now my cat.
For several days following his initial release I was still putting Cow in his room when I was at work. Eventually I started leaving him out for half days and then full days. As far as I know we’ve not had a single fight, spat, or even a prolonged disagreement between him and the others. Well… Muffy hates him… but that’s mostly because she doesn’t seem to like other cats in general and he took her room when he arrived. She does hold a grudge, but she doesn’t get violent about it.
Cow, as it turns out, is also not a mean, angry cat. After being with me for about 6 weeks he figured out that he’s allowed to be a lap cat and transformed from Angry Bitey McHissyface into Soft Cuddles McHuggerpants. I can hardly keep him away at this point. Once he made that discovery he completely stopped trying to swat or bite. His transformation has been truly amazing.
I was really hoping that Cow would be a healthy cat, at least for awhile, but it wasn’t meant to be. Cow had his major surgeries in November 2019, but failed to put on weight after that. Cow was eating normally and there were no clues in his blood and urine test results that would explain the low body weight, so I assumed he had heart disease. A quick visit with the internal medicine specialist and one echocardiogram later we had proof that Cow has moderate hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. He was diagnosed in March 2020. He had an abdominal ultrasound the same day which showed some thickening in his stomach lining and intestines. We don’t have a definitive diagnosis on that yet, but we’re working out whether it’s food allergies, IBD, or cancer.