Don't worry, this has a happy ending!
Shakespeare started off as a boarding client when he was only about six months old, but switched to in-home visits when the Lap Cat of Luxury Suite closed its doors. He's very loyal to his "Aunt Kelly!"
On his guardians' most recent trip, they went to Mexico for the better part of a week. Shakey and I had lots of fun playing with his toys, watching tv, and stalking the birds, frogs, bugs and squirrels in the back yard. Nevertheless, he was looking forward to Sunday evening when Mom and Dad would come home!
On Sunday morning, I arrived for our last visit but strangely, Shakespeare didn't greet me at the door the way he had all week. I found him resting downstairs and figured he was just sleeping in. I did his entire routine and went back down to check on him. Oddly, this one-year-old spitfire still was just resting. I petted him and he seemed to have some discomfort as I got to his lower back. When he finally got up, he was crouching as if it would hurt to sit down. Uh oh ... There was nothing in his litter box that morning and the night before, so I knew something must be blocked up. I tried calling his guardians, and there was no answer so they must have already boarded the plane back from Mexico. The flight would take most of the day.
I crossed my fingers and hoped that Shakespeare was just constipated. I gave him a little bit of cooking oil to help move things along digestively. I had another morning visit to do, so I documented everything in an email to his guardians noting that I was leaving to do another visit and then coming back to check on him. (This is one reason why we don't like to stack up too many clients at the same times. We need to leave room for emergencies, so please believe us when we say we are booked!)
When I came back an hour later, Shakey still didn't feel well. I was concerned that he had a urinary blockage, an excruciatingly painful condition that could result in death if untreated. I still couldn't get a hold of Shakespeare's guardians, but I know them well enough to be 99% sure I should take him to the emergency vet. (It was Sunday so of course his regular vet was closed.)
We went to the closest emergency clinic, VCA Gaithersburg where the friendly staff immediately got started and confirmed that Shakespeare had a urinary blockage. Before I could finish my email update to his guardians, the vet was speaking to me about his condition and verifying I had written consent to get him treated. Then came the astronomical bill! If I wanted Shakey to get treatment, including for pain, I would have to put down basically my next paycheck as a deposit or take him back home. I knew that I should treat him the way I would treat one of my cats, and that Shakey could not be in pain on my watch. So, I checked him in to the hospital.
I returned home, where my boyfriend and I were expecting company. Gary cleaned the house for us while I was taking care of Shakespeare! Throughout lunch, our friend and Gary heard all the details as I checked on the flight status and got updates from the vet. Thank goodness I spend my spare time with animal lovers who understand!
At dinnertime, Shakespeare's guardians landed and I called them with all the gory details, including their estimated bill. They agreed with my decision making, went straight to VCA, and refunded my deposit, phew!
Shakespeare got to go home a day earlier than anticipated, but had follow up surgery, the cone of shame, and a new diet of prescription wet food. I'll write more on how to prevent urinary issues in a future blog. For now I want to focus on everything that Shakespeare's guardians did right!
They booked twice daily visits, including one the morning of the day they were returning. Imagine if they had decided to skip Sunday morning's visit and Shakey was in pain all day! Not to mention coming home and turning right back around to get emergency medical care.
They filled out all of their paperwork, including the authorization for emergency veterinary care with a signature.
They use the Cat Lady every time they travel, so I know them and their cat very well, allowing me to feel comfortable treating him as my own.
I know Shakey is eternally thankful for such caring guardians and I am so pleased that I could be there for my feline friend. And exciting news! Shakespeare now has a little brother, Root Bier! He's a little less thankful for this, but you can't win 'em all.