It’s been quite an emotional weekend for me. On Friday, Jack got sick. He was coughing and his breathing was strained. His respirations were higher than they should be and his breathing was odd. By Saturday, I didn’t know if he would make it. I cried most of the day. By Sunday, I was preparing myself to say goodbye. I didn’t know if he would make it to the vet on Monday if I could even get him in that day. I didn’t know if I would get him help in time to save him or if I would be too late and be forced to put him down. There was another obstacle, too. The road conditions weren’t very good in many places. Our vet is 30 miles away and they had some severe ice accumulation. Would the roads be so bad I wouldn’t be able to take him? My heart was breaking.
Now a little history on Jack. He was a stray and of course, I rescued him. I have a soft spot for cats. I can’t help it. Based on the fact that he didn’t mark his territory inside or outside, I figured his age to be no more than 6 months old. I quickly had him neutered.
Within the first year, we noticed Jack had this dry, hacking cough (but not very often) as if he were trying to hack up a hairball, with no results. Then my Dad noticed that his breathing was different than the other cats. His chest would rise with each breath but then his abdomen would rise quickly behind, as his chest fell. It was odd and I had never seen this before.
Our vet (at that time) didn’t seem concerned, stating he “probably just had allergies” because after all “cats can have allergies, too” she told me. I know that, but I have never seen allergies do this to a cat and I’ve had so many cats in my lifetime it would make your head spin. Jack had episodes before (much like this current episode) but they were always short lived. He always snapped out of it quickly but I was always worried.
When he was in that catfight just before Christmas, he was put on antibiotics. The entire course of the antibiotics he had no coughing fits. His breathing seemed very close to normal. I realized this at nearly the end of the treatment. Within 2 days of treatment’s end, he was coughing again and then this episode followed a few days later.
So, now my head was spinning with thoughts I couldn’t stop. Fear, worry, sadness, and GRIEF set in. Unimaginable grief to have to put down yet another beloved cat! I did some research. Based on Jack’s symptoms, I surmised he had what is called a diaphragmatic hernia. I was almost certain. Surgery to repair such a hernia can range anywhere from $1,200 – $2,000, depending on the area. How the hell am I supposed to come up with that kind of money? I would have to open a Go Fund Me page without a doubt. I would have to plead with my friends and family to donate, and if they couldn’t donate then to please share on social media. I needed to save Jack’s life. I needed to have a plan.
Monday morning, I called the vet 20 minutes before they even opened for business. They had no appointments open. I was crushed. The gal on the phone was sweet and told me to bring Jack in at the end of the day, about 4p. Of course, I jumped on that idea and although I was unhappy Jack would have to wait for a little longer, at least he was going to be seen! About an hour later, our 4p appointment got bumped up to 11a. I was so happy!
Upon arrival, they took us into an exam room and it wasn’t long before Dr. Missy came in. I explained the situation and Jack’s symptoms. I even showed her a video of Jack’s coughing attack and another clip of his breathing. She said that I was right to be concerned about a diaphragmatic hernia based on those symptoms but she said from last month’s x-rays, she didn’t see evidence of that. To make sure she didn’t miss anything, she took a couple more x-rays.
I am elated to report that I was wrong about my diagnosis! All of Jack’s internal organs were exactly where they should be. There was no evidence of any kind of hernia. His lungs were a different story. They were spotted and inflamed, and Dr. Missy said it looked like this was putting pressure against his windpipe, which was causing the cough. She also said we can’t rule out allergies, as our previous vet had suggested but whatever the allergen was had triggered a major reaction/infection in the lungs.
Jack got a fast-acting antibiotic injection, along with oral antibiotics and a steroid to follow up for 10 days at home. I noticed Jack feeling much better as soon as we got home! His breathing had stabilized and his cough subsided…for longer periods of time in between anyway.
We will have to go back in 2 weeks to recheck his lungs and we may have to continue the steroids off and on for the rest of his life, depending on whether this “thing” goes completely away or not. He’s had this going on for most of his life and had gone untreated because our previous vet didn’t think it was serious. So, now it’s a waiting game.
Jack has become such a mama’s boy since we got him. Of course, he won’t be too happy with me when he learns he will never step foot outside again. For two reasons: I want to protect him from that mean ol’ stray puddy tat and he has cost us over $500, not counting the bill for recheck in two weeks! He’s too expensive a cat to let outside! He will have to be happy with the catio!
Finally, I can say I have my Jack back!