Yesterday morning I had just sat down to meditate in the sun room, as I do almost every morning, when I heard a pitiful mew at the deck door. Annoyed at the interruption, I got up to let Mystique in.
She’s a very outdoors kind of cat, especially in the summer. Mystique spends almost all day outside, sometimes sleeping on the porch or the deck, most of the time prowling her turf and terrorizing the resident chipmunk population. We often don’t see her from one end of the day to the other but try to bring her in at night. If she doesn’t return by sunset, I put on the outside deck light and that is her signal to come home. Kitty is not always quick about returning but usually shows up at some point looking for her dinner.
Nowhere to be Found
Sunday night she was nowhere to be found. By the time we turned off all the lights and went to bed, she still had not appeared. This was not the first time she didn’t come in but I worry when it happens. Having lost three cats to coyotes in our previous house, and knowing that they prowl the golf course behind this one, I’m always concerned that they’re our looking for their dinner. This is a particular concern since Mystique has an attitude about five times bigger than she is and thinks she can take on anything.
When I got up Monday morning to meditate I looked for her on the mat by the front door and the cushioned chairs on the porch—her two favorite places to hang out until the door opens—but no kitty. When she did finally get my attention, I assumed that she had just sauntered home for breakfast.
When she mewed I opened the door but instead of bounding into the sun room, as she usually does, Mystique huddled miserably outside the door. I looked to see if she was guarding a wounded chipmunk to try and sneak it inside, but no. She started to creep in slowly but it took her at least a minute to navigate the one step up and in. Her left hind leg seemed only semi-functional and she appeared deflated, as if someone had pushed the air nozzle and let out some of her boundless energy.
No Obvious Wounds
I was reluctant to touch her because I didn’t know what the problem was and I didn’t want to make it worse by picking her up or putting tension on a damaged part of her anatomy. She was clearly in pain. Instead I watched her creep a few steps further in, favoring that hind leg but putting a little weight on it. Two of our previous cats broke their legs so I know what that looks like and this wasn’t it. There were also no obvious wounds and no blood, either dried or fresh,
I went to get my phone and she crawled slowly after me. Sitting next to her on the floor for company and reassurance, I called the vet. Now, whenever Mystique has a health problem, she makes sure it happens on a Saturday night, Sunday, or Monday, when our regular veterinarian isn’t open. That way we spend the maximum amount of money at an emergency animal hospital getting her fixed up. As I have said before, pets in America get better medical care than children in third-world countries.
Mystique Not Slowing Down
It didn’t look like she was on death’s door or that we would have to make The Big Decision, so I headed out to my gym class while Seth took Mystique to the Foster Hospital for Small Animals of Tufts University in Grafton. The doctors there couldn’t find any external wound so clearly she didn’t tangle with something bigger, fiercer or higher on the food chain than she is.
Mystique is 15 and a half—an old lady for an outdoor cat. That doesn’t mean she has slowed down, however, Chipmunks in varying stages of mortality, from full rigor to just a few small bits, appear on the deck or the mat regularly. Last month she came to the deck door with both a bird and a chipmunk in her mouth—what her regular vet called, “showing off.” She certainly didn’t appear to be in decline on Sunday afternoon when she popped back out for her afternoon patrol.
As the vets don’t know exactly what the problem is, Mystique is still at the Foster Hospital, getting fluid for what they think is dehydration. Okay, good. She doesn’t always drink as much as she needs and has had to get IV fluids before. But I don’t think that would cause the kind of pain in her hind leg that she seemed to feel. Maybe she twisted it or pulled something. At any rate, she is resting comfortably (I hope) and we’ll find out more today.