Family with four legs.

Around one month ago our oldest cat Rascal was diagnosed with a heart condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM.  We’d found her huddled in a corner breathing heavily and drooling.  The veterinarians prescribed heart medication, which she would have to take for the rest of her life.  For around a month and a half things were going smoothly.  Rascal was taking her meds that we would hide in pill pockets or treats, and she was back to her old self in no time.  Last week we found her huddled in a corner again, having another episode.  A trip to the vet later, her medications were changed, and for the last week things have been going terribly.

Rascal is a phenomenally stubborn cat.  She caught on that treats = yucky medicine, so she began turning her nose up at any and all attempts to feed her pill pockets and other treats/pastes to hide her medications.  We bought a pill gun (albeit a cheap one) to administer her medication, but she’s so resistant that even with my wife helping me and the both of us restraining her, she manages to fling the pills from her mouth.  It’s become a multiple-times-a-day wrestling match that we have begun to lose, with our beloved cat screaming and scratching at us in violent attempts to get away.  It’s as heartbreaking as it is frustrating.  Our last option is to have her medicines compounded into a liquid form, which is the only compounded form her specific medications can take.  We’re currently waiting on the turnaround for that, with our fingers crossed but our hopes bruised.

Our middle-child cat, Scamp, was throwing up all weekend.  We took him to the vet yesterday.  They couldn’t determine what was causing him to vomit, but they found odd lumps in his stomach.  We’re taking him back there today so they can determine if those lumps are merely harmless cysts or the first signs of cancer.  With our spirits drained from Rascal’s ordeal, this is another worry that is weighing heavily on our hearts.

It’s been a rough time.  My heart is heavy and my spirit is weary.  Beloved pets are family members, and you love them no matter how stubborn they are.  As much as I want to wring Rascal’s neck and scream, “You need to take these medications to live, damn you!” I have to remember that she doesn’t understand what’s going on, and her screaming protests are out of fear.  And I have to come to a harsh decision should she refuse even the compounded liquid form of her medications: do we spend the rest of her life trying to violently shove life-saving medications down her throat so she’ll live longer but come to fear our approach; or do we give up and let nature take its course, but she’ll at least be happy and love us in what may be her final months?

Four-legged family is still family, and when they’re not doing well you’re not doing well.

If there are silver linings in this situation, it’s that our youngest cat Mugsy has been doing perfectly well, and our toddler is too young to understand what’s going on.  I think I would be doubly devastated if Leto knew the gravity of the kitties’ health problems.  I’m devastated enough as it is.

About Michael

Michael Terracciano loves comic books, superheroes, outer space, and telling stories. His friends call him "Mookie." He spent the last ten years as the author and artist of the fantasy webcomic, "Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire." He enjoys spending time with his wife and their three cats. His favorite planet is Jupiter because it's awesome. He wants having superpowers to be fun again, and for this to be a universe you want to escape to, not from. He hopes you enjoy reading Star Power.