The heart of the matter.
My wife found our oldest cat, Rascal, huddled in a corner over the weekend. Rascal sometimes does this when she’s grumpy, but this was different. She was breathing with minor difficulty, there were small amounts of drool leaking from her mouth, and she wasn’t reacting to things like she usually did. We weren’t willing to take a chance on this, so we took her to the vet. An X-ray revealed fluid in her lungs that was possibly related to a heart murmur, and they asked to keep her overnight so they could determine whether this was truly the early stages of a heart disease.
To say that I was a mess about this would be an understatement. My own heart was sick with worry and I was ugly crying all night. Pets are family members, and it took her sudden sickness to remind me that Rascal is a cornerstone of my family. I found her in 2006 while I was living in Texas. She was a homeless kitten who somehow managed to get herself stranded on my roof. When I left Texas I took her with me, and she’s been with me ever since. She’s a grumpy, moody, sometimes-scratchy pain in the ass who yells at our other cats and chews up all my shoelaces. She was also my only friend during a very lonely, difficult period of my life. She snuggles up to me every single morning and every single night. I love her to pieces and I was devastated at the thought of her being so suddenly and seriously sick.
I picked her up from the vet yesterday. She was suffering from congestive heart failure as a result of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). They were able to clear her lungs and get her breathing normally, but HCM is permanent. She’ll be on heart medication for the rest of her life. Every cat is different. Some respond well to the medicine and plug along for years. Others succumb to heart failure again. There’s no way to tell which way Rascal will go. I have to stay vigilant, keep up with her medication, and remember that every moment with my old friend is precious.
Am I still sad and worried? Yes, but less so. The problem was identified, so we have a plan to move forward and fight it. But most importantly, the grumpy old cat who was a stray kitten on my roof is back home with me. Having her back is good for my heart.