Zoey, Part 6: Settling in

I brought Zoey home and got started on her aftercare plan. I found it impossible to squirt the drops of liquid medicine down her throat; she was too wiggly. So I mixed the drops into her wet food, and she ate it right up. The flea med seemed to be working as well. While she still scratched a lot, a quick few strokes with a flea comb turned up no live fleas. The neck wound still looked awful, although it had started to fade from blood red to a healthier pink. I wondered if her fur would ever grow back there, or if she’d always have a bald spot.

My two adult cats weren’t sure what to make of the newcomer. I kept them separate as much as possible, sequestering Zoey in the spare bedroom most of the time. Of course, the other cats knew she was there; they’d smell her under the door, the way cats do. Also, I couldn’t resist letting her out once in awhile, for just a few minutes at a time, to explore a little bit of her new home.Well, the hallway at least.

As her sniffles cleared up, I let her out more and more. She was so curious about everything!

zoey bookcase
Zoey explores the bookcase. Notice that she is standing on a stack of cat-related books!

Speaking of curiosity, Milo seemed to want to know about Zoey. Jinx, however, was terribly offended that I would let another cat into our world. Certainly she, the magnificent Jinx, was splendid enough to fulfill anyone’s need for a cat! Even this Milo character was merely an “extra” on the set of her life. Him, she’d grown to tolerate, but this… this ZOEY. Just, no.

It will all work out, I thought. It’ll just take time. But three is my limit!

It’s funny, when I had just the two, I’d always joked that I was “one cat short of crazy.” Now, with the addition of Zoey, what did that make me???

 

jinx zoey staredown
Zoey looking up at Jinx. Jinx keeps her distance.

 

Before I could figure out the answer to that question, there was a knock at my door. I opened it to see Jake and Clarissa*, my neighbors. I’d only exchanged “hellos” in passing with them, yet I knew what they were here for.

They were Zoey’s original human parents. And Jake looked very unhappy.

 

*Names of humans have been changed

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A Poem For Milo

 

 

Upside Down, Boy You Turn Me Inside Out

Do you think I’m your mother?

This is not true.

I’ve never suckled the likes of you.

I know not if

You have sisters or brothers.

Sorry, Milo…

I’m not your mother.

Evil Milo 1209

Do you think I’m your servant?

Your personal slave?

Is “meow” an order,

Telling me to “behave”?

You ask for the Moon,

And you deserve it.

But sorry, Milo…

I’m not your servant.

Sly Smile

Do you think I’m your plaything?

A chew toy for you?

Is that why you chomp

On my toes like you do?

Do you think I’m a tree?

Is that why you climb me,

Scaling the front or the side or behind me?

I love you, Milo,

But I’m not your tree,

Your chew toy, or plaything…

I’m just ME!

Me and Milo FB prof pic

 

A Milo Update

A few months back, I introduced you to Milo, my special boy who was born with an abnormality called eyelid agenesis. He has no upper eyelids to protect his eyes. Incredibly, he is still able to close his eyes very well. Other cats with this condition aren’t always so lucky, being unable to close their eyes completely. Milo, however, looks just like a “normal” cat when he is sleeping.

Sly Smile

When he was first diagnosed by the kindly Dr. K., I was given a list of surgical options. Since the biggest irritant to Milo’s eyes was his own fur– short, eyelash-like strands of hair that poke and scratch his corneas– Dr. K. suggested that the thin strip of skin where those pesky hairs grow be surgically removed. This could be done on both eyes, or just the right one, which is notably worse. The other, most expensive option was to have reconstructive surgery, actually building makeshift eyelids for Milo!

In the months since Milo was last seen by the vet, I treated his eyes daily with a lubricant eye ointment. It’s just over-the-counter stuff you can buy at most drug stores. It has just three basic, natural ingredients: mineral oil, lanolin, and white petrolatum (the latter of which locks moisture in). He seemed to be doing well with this topical treatment, and he even got used to me rubbing the stuff in his little eyes, hardly putting up a fuss! But lately, I’ve noticed that his eyes– in particular, the right one– was alarmingly red and irritated.

red eye
A very irritated eye

Although he never, ever pawed at his eyes to indicate he was in any discomfort, when I gently pulled the eye open to take a closer look, he’d try to squirm out of my grip. (God bless him, though, he never tried to bite me!) I couldn’t tell if he had an eye ulcer or what was going on. It was time to make another vet appointment.

I was disappointed that Dr. K. was off until the New Year. So Milo and I saw Dr. Becky. She was very enamored with Mr. Milo, declaring him “very handsome” more than once. I told her that Milo already knows this; he’s a MAJOR poser!!!

Milo knows he's cute
Major Poser!

After examining him, she informed me that his right eye is constantly being pricked by those bristly hairs that act as eyelashes. She DOES NOT recommended getting the thin strips of skin surrounding his eyes removed. “That’ll give him even less of a non-eyelid,” she explained.  Becky said that another procedure I can look into is depilation, the permanent removal of the irritant hairs. I assume this is done by lasers or via electrolysis? It sounds more appealing to me than reconstructive surgery, where skin is taken from the kitty’s lips and mouth to construct eyelids!!! OUCH!!! (There have been success stories using this drastic procedure, like a California cat named Billie. Click here to read her story.)  The third, most frightening option, only if things deteriorate to where his condition is unmanageable, is to have the right eye removed altogether. Obviously, this is a last resort.

No vets in Watertown can perform the surgeries that Milo needs. I need to contact two different opthalmologists (yes, there are opthalmologists for cats), one in Fulton and one in Syracuse. Get price quotes and availability. Weigh options.

Meanwhile, I have antibiotic gel to apply to Milo’s eyes twice a day, in addition to the lubricant ointment. Keep us both in your prayers!

Milo and his eyes 127
I love my Big Brave Boy!!!

Surgery or Not?

First of all, thank you to everyone who has “liked” and commented on my last couple of blogs, concerning my cat Milo’s eye disorder diagnosis and his future options. Some of you have asked questions about the type of surgery he may need. I will attempt to break it all down for you here. Additionally, I will try to explain my mixed feelings about going through with this.

Cats have complicated eyelids. Here is a link with an explanation of how cats’ eyes normally work.

I am confused as to what Dr. K. meant when she said Milo has “no eyelids.” Did she mean upper or lower lids? Both? Here is an article I found about a kitten named Phil, who was born without upper lids, and the surgery he went through.  As you can see from the pictures, the surgery and recovery looks more painful than the original condition!

Then, there is the scary reality of what can happen if this condition, known as Eyelid Agenesis, is not treated. Milo could develop scar tissue in his unprotected eyes and eventually lose his sight.

Milo, just chillin'
Milo, just chillin’

The local animal hospital that diagnosed my cat’s condition, sent me a list of recommended procedures, and a breakdown of the costs involved. I won’t get into the money part. Let’s pretend that I’m a millionaire (far from it!) and I could afford anything. I would still be hesitant to go through with the surgery, just because it sounds… so… scary. Here is everything on the itemized price list that the vet sent me (minus the cost):

1.Office Examination

  1. Bloodwork
  2. Hospitalization
  3. Injectable Atropine
  4. Injectable Propofol
  5. Injectable Anesthesia
  6. Isoflurane
  7. Injectable Paid Med/ Buprenex .03
  8. Injectable Pain Med/ Bupivicaine .25
  9. Injectable Metacam/ Loxicom
  10. Entropion Correct
  11. Elizabethian Collar- Large
  12. Medication Dispensed
  13. Suture Monocryl 2-0 Y-762H

Can you see why I would be nervous?

I’ve read up on the surgery they want to do (you can Google “Entropion Correction in Cats” to learn more), and usually, this operation is done when a cat’s eyelid turns inward, causing the eyelashes to scratch the corneas and cause irritation and sometimes ulceration. But Milo has no eyelids to begin with! What they would do is cut a tiny sliver of his skin from around his eye so that the hairs there won’t poke him in the eye. That is the cheapest option. I am worried that If I do this, it will be harder for him to close his eyes. (How he closes his eyes without eyelids to begin with is beyond me.) The most expensive option would be to actually build him eyelids, using a strip of skin taken from elsewhere on his body. I can’t help picturing a butcher’s diagram of a cow.

Butcher Map of a Cow
Butcher Map of a Cow

Then, there’s all those drugs! Holy cow, Propofol?!? That’s the stuff that killed Michael Jackson! This relaxes a patient before surgery and helps them sleep. Atropine is a drug to keep his heart stable. The fact that this is needed terrifies me! If I consent to the surgery, I might be putting Milo at risk of having a heart attack??? And why does he need three different kinds of pain meds? My poor little guy!

I need to find out the name of the surgeon who’d be doing this, how often he’s done this type of surgery, the success rate, and the risks. Of course, there are also risks to not having the surgery, as I pointed out earlier… infection, scarring, and blindness among them. I’d be devastated if Milo lost his sight. He’s such and observant cat, and he loves to chase anything that moves.

So far, he’s doing great with the twice-daily eye lubricant. No redness, he doesn’t rub his eyes, and his eyesight seems fine. I’ve stopped using aerosol sprays (like air freshener), because I want to remove all possible irritants from his environment.

So. That is where we stand… on a pedestal of confusion and uncertainty. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Milo
Milo