Last night we let Castiel out of the soft crate in the house to lie on the living room floor with me while I worked on the jigsaw puzzle. He was rolling around with his belly in the air all happy. Then the next second he was at the base of the staircase and a second after that he dashed up the stairs like a bat out of hell before we could even get off the floor. Now we’re in our 50s but we’re not that slow. He made it all the way upstairs and to our bed with us hollering after him. He’s not supposed to be walking much and certainly no jumping, and absolutely no stairs. When we caught up to him, he was curled up on our bed in his usual spot looking very smug and content. “Purr,” he said. We checked his sutures and all his legs over and over – each one of us examining him very closely to make sure he hadn’t ripped any sutures. We were terrified that he had gotten away from us. We had no idea he could move this quickly or even manage one stair nevermind an entire steep staircase. It sure as heck won’t be happening again in the next 14-17 days. I’m checking with the neighbors right now for a toddler blockade that we can place there — and we’re going to need to be much more careful about supervision outside the recovery room or soft crate. Our family thought he would just stay still after surgery – shut down – and never move again. This is not the case at all.
Thankfully, he is fine and he doesn’t seem any the worse for his big adventure, but he did give us quite a scare. I gather he just wants everything back to normal. After all that effort, we figured we ought to accommodate him, so we moved the whole gang, us and his siblings, into the upstairs bedroom and we watched tv up there until bedtime. Castiel was very happy. All three cats nestled onto the bed and everyone was content.
We did take Castiel to the downstairs recovery room at bedtime. My husband slept with him on the mattress last night — there’s no furniture to jump on in that room so he can be safe and protected while his hoomans sleep. It’s 11 am and I just checked on the two of them. Castiel had an early breakfast (as he likes it) and he was able to use the box and he had a bowel movement so all systems are functioning normally. And now Castiel and my husband are back to sleep and are napping away the day. It’s kind of a grey, foggy day here so not a bad day to sleep in — and admittedly, it’s been a rough week on everybody.
Castiel had a good night. He slept cuddled next to me on a mattress on the floor of his recovery room. He was able to get up to go to the bathroom in his litter box – and while it was awkward (especially with so many drugs on board and the cone), he got the job done. At one point, he got the litter in his cone and stood staring at me – a look that said, “hooman, I require assistance.” There were a few face plants while he was learning to walk, which was frustrating for him and hard for me to watch but to his credit, he just got up and tried again. His sister Clover tried to break into the recovery room at 1:30 am by doing summersaults against the door. She missed sleeping with her brother. She will have to wait a little longer because we can’t have her licking the wound or playing rough with Castiel.
Castiel woke me at 6 am meowing. At first, I was scared he was having breakthrough pain but it turned out he was just hungry. I kept trying to pet him gently and he got frustrated with my lack of comprehension and walk-hopped over to his empty dish and stared at it as if to say, ” I go away for one night and you forget how this works!” I brought in breakfast and all was well again in the world. He ate all his food and used his box again. No poo yet but he is peeing. I’ve been giving him wet cat food with lots of liquid and cat broths because he isn’t a big water drinker and I don’t want him to get constipated. He had some tuna water at lunch too.
Castiel hung out with my husband Brian in his office all day, mostly napping in one of his beds or sprawling in sunny spots. This is normal for him even when he is not recovering from a major surgery. His younger siblings napped the day away too. He hasn’t fussed with his suture or the fentanyl patch so we take the cone off when we can supervise him closely. This has made him much happier. We’ve had some difficulty applying his cold compress or rather keeping it there. It is supposed to be applied four times a day for 10 minutes at a time. We wrap it in a towel and place it against him — and he hates it. He squirms. I don’t think it hurts or is uncomfortable, he just doesn’t get why we would want to place something cold against his skin. He thinks it’s a terrible idea. He has had a little swelling so we’re tying to get Castiel to accept the compress. He hasn’t had any reactions to his medicine — all good. The fentanyl just makes him a bit sleepy.
The nurse from the vet hospital called to check up on him this morning. We told her he was alert and trying to walk about and that he was eating well and even took an interest in a marauding squirrel in his garden. He is an indoor only cat but he likes to watch squirrel as he scurries about the yard and hides peanuts in my planters. We have a long window so Castiel could keep an eye on squirrel from the mattress this morning. Castiel even managed to balance just right in his litter box tonight — it was a perfect job.
This evening, he is lounging in the family room with us and his siblings. He is also back to his usual antics of trying to steal his sibling’s food. We are wise to this and thwart his attempts. Everyone has been on good behavior, although his brother Aleksandr is a little nervous about Castiel’s new gait. His one-year-old sister Clover doesn’t care. She nuzzles right up to him. We let Castiel out of the crate because he is not trying to walk too much. He sat on his favorite blue chair this evening and is now sprawled on the carpet waiting for me to resume my jigsaw puzzle attempts. I think I’ll go join him. We’re working on a Dr. Who puzzle.
We had a good check-up this morning. Aside from taking out his medicine catheter last night and fussing with his cone, Castiel did well overnight. The nurse said he was trying to ambulate, although he was not doing too well at balancing yet. She said he ate three small plates of food and peed, although he wasn’t able to get to the box yet. He is still on some very strong pain relievers. She said he was doing as well as could be expected after such a major surgery. The doctor said he could come home this afternoon.
We finished setting up his recovery rooms in the morning. We moved the furniture out of our guest room and took the futon mattress off the bed and placed it on the floor so that one of us could sleep with him in the room and the other upstairs with his tiger siblings so no one would feel lonely. We figure we’ll rotate nightly. We also have a large soft crate with lots of padding that we can move him around in so he can be wherever we are. He likes that. We have tons of wee wee pads and a low litter box. We also have a nice soft sofa style cat/dog bed that is very low in front that he can nap in when we bring him out of the soft crate and can supervise him. All the beds and bedding are machine washable.
At 2 pm, the nurse carried Castiel out in his carrier. He was so happy to see us! He immediately gave us happy meows and combo purr-meows. We told him how much we loved him and petted him and cooed over him as we loaded him into the truck to head home. We thanked the nurse and asked her to please tell the doctors and all the staff thank you and let them know that we were very grateful for the excellent care Castiel received.
We brought Castiel to his recovery room and he was so happy to be out of the carrier. He immediately wanted to try and walk around. He kind of hopped about. He is working on the balance thing and the drugs were not helping with the that, but he wanted to try. We had to settle him on some soft blankets. He tried to use his litterbox – he was a bit wobbly and it took a few tries. He wasn’t good at lifting his rear but he did use his box.
Eventually he snuggled into a fluffy comforter we placed on the floor for him and rolled around in the sunshine waiting for belly rubs. He is so happy to be home and he seems like Castiel. He’s making happy meows and purrs and he is enjoying chin and bum scratches, and lots and lots of belly rubs.
He has some frustration that he has vocalized with learning to walk and balance but he keeps wanting to try. The litterbox balancing act seems to be the most frustrating. We have a low box with an even lower front entrance and supports on the side of the box to use for balance — he’s trying to get the hang of this but mostly sits in the box when he has to go. We have wipes to help with cleaning. He also needs a little help with the digging, but we got that. I think he’ll figure it out, it will just take practice.
He is also a bit frustrated with his large crate. He wants to move around. If he would sit still more we could let him out under observation but he wants to roam so he is sitting in the crate — enforced rest. He finds this frustrating and spent a good amount of time telling us all about it.
We’re feeling a little better. Most importantly, he still loves us. He was happy to see us, and he still seems like Castiel. Silly, goofy, parlor panther. Both his siblings checked in on him. We let them into his recovery room and observed them closely. They mostly sniffed everything and him, but no one hissed, ran away, or acted out. They seemed glad to have him home too. The nurse said Castiel might not want to eat much. He came home and gobbled down his food (small portion so he didn’t get sick). He had another small plate for supper. He is snoozed out in his crate now. It’s been an exhausting day.
Castiel has been given three medicines (1) Robenacoxib 6mg tablets, which we give 1 once a day to reduce inflammation. He has to take that with food; (2) Buprenorphine 0.3 mg/mL oral. He will take 0.2 to 0.3 ML on the gums every 8 to 12 hours as needed for pain. However, he doesn’t start this until drug until 6+ hours after he has completed the fentanyl patch (so, Monday night/Tuesday morning). We are to give one of these by mouth every 8 to 12 hours as needed for pain; and (3) Gabapentin 50 mg Tiny Tablets. He takes one tablet by mouth every 8 to 12 hours as needed to control discomfort. The nurse explained the side effects to watch for and what to do if we were concerned about a reaction.
We were told to carefully watch his incision for any signs of infection, and report any signs to his doctors immediately. He is also not to lick or scratch his incision, and it is not to be cleaned by us or his siblings. We were told to watch for a seroma. This is a fluid filled sac that sometimes happens after these kinds of surgeries. We were told they could swell for several days. If he gets one, we are to place a warm compress on it 3-4 times a day for 5-10 minutes at a time.
We’ve also been directed to treat his incision site with a cold compress 3-4 times daily for 5-10 minutes for the first five days. The compress is wrapped in a towel so the cold pack is not right against the skin. Castiel hates this. We got 6 minutes in before some major fussing. Working on this.
The doctor said Castiel should be confined to a small room without furniture or a large crate for the next three weeks. We’re doing a bit of both so he can join us in the rooms where we are — he likes this, although he fusses for a while in the crate before settling down. He is not to have free access to the house or furniture. He doesn’t go outdoors; but if he did, that would be strictly prohibited. He is also not to run, jump, play, tackle stairs, etc. during this initial recovery period of 14-17 days. His body needs time to heal and we want to keep his sutures in place. The instructions we were provided have a note that says, “Cats are notoriously difficult to rehabilitate with exercise restrictions, but every attempt should be made to minimize activity which may stress the surgical repair.” Yeah, no kidding.
He has a follow-up appointment in two weeks on November 10. We hope to get the pathology results sometime next week. Hopefully, he will have a good rest tonight knowing he is safe in his home with his siblings and hoomans who love him. Our vet friend called to check up on him too — we thought that was super sweet and were very grateful. Castiel has also received lots of love, support, and prayers from our friends and from the parishioners of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church here in town. We are so grateful to everyone — and especially to those in this community.
This morning, we woke up with Castiel snuggled between the two of us. He was purry and lovey. We nuzzled him and kissed him all over. In fact, we kissed him so much that he had that look that said, “blech… too much hooman kissing.” He quickly caught on that this wasn’t going to be a normal morning when breakfast didn’t arrive on time. He’s naturally suspicious of any change in meal times and quickly sought out a hiding place behind the wicker chair.
At 7 a.m, we scooped him up and into the carrier and headed to the vet hospital. We were told he had to be there by 7:45 am and with rush hour traffic this meant an early start. On arrival, we sat in the car and phoned in our check-in. While we were waiting for the nurse to take him in, I wrote out a little message to be sent in with him. “Please take good care of our parlor panther Castiel. He is our sun, our moon, our stars — our everything. We love him so much! Thank you, Michelle and Brian.”
When the nurse came to pick up Castiel, we petted him through the carrier, told him we loved him so much, and gave the note to the nurse to show the doctor and others. I was crying and heaving uncontrollably and trying to catch my breath between sobs. The nurse said she would give Castiel a sedative when he went in, and she said that, she wished she had one for me too. I wished she could give me one too.
At home, we collapsed on the couch physically and mentally exhausted, committed to this path, but still unsure if we were doing the right thing or if it would work out. We just hoped right now that he would do well during the surgery. One step at a time.
The surgeon called around 11 am. Castiel was in recovery. He said the surgery had gone well but taken longer than he thought it would originally take due to the need to avoid the previous surgical suture. The surgeon said he normally would have made a Y-shaped incision but because of the previous suture and the need to get wide margins, Castiel had a crescent moon shaped incision. I guess, he didn’t want us to be shocked, although I’m sure we will be anyway. Castiel’s vitals stayed well throughout the surgery, including his temperature. The surgeon said it didn’t drop below 100 (Cats have higher normal temperature than humans). He said that during the surgery and afterward that Castiel was placed on a warming pad. He told us that he was resting and that he was receiving injectable pain medicine (Fentanyl and Ketamine) and fluids. He said that Castiel was being monitored closely. He said when Castiel went home, that he’d have a Fentanyl patch for a few days, followed by Buprenex and Gabapentin for pain control.
We called again later in the afternoon for an update. The nurse said that Castiel was recovering well. She said that he was a bit groggy when he came out of surgery and that this was to be expected. She said that his vitals were good and that he was warm and comfortable. He was receiving pain medicine and fluids. She said that he had moved around in his recovery cubicle napping here and then elsewhere. She said he was napping now, which was normal after a big surgery. Normal for him regardless. I reckon he naps about 16 hours a day on a regular day. She said he would be monitored 24/7. She said that he would be offered food this evening, but not to be concerned if he didn’t eat because sometimes cats don’t feel hungry after the anesthesia and pain medications or because they are nervous. She said he was a little hissy before the surgery and that he had some diarrhea. Apparently, he gave her the flattened ear look. We told her, he was scared and both the hissing and pooing were typical of a nervous Castiel. She said she understood and that the nurses and doctors were used to nervous and scared patients. She said that he hadn’t peed yet but explained that this is something cats are often hesitant to do at vet hospitals. She said if he was well enough, he could go home tomorrow afternoon. She said the nurses and doctors had shared the note I wrote asking them to take good care of Castiel. She said it was now taped to his cubicle. This brought a smile to my face.
The nurse said that we should call again for an update tonight before we went to bed so that we wouldn’t worry and could get some rest. We’ll worry anyway. It’s what we do. We will definitely call though. We hope he has a good night. Fingers crossed.
In the interim, we did what someone suggested – we got everything set up. We received a new ramp today and assembled it and placed it by the bed. We moved another ramp down by the sofa and set up a step so he can get on his favorite chair. We have two low wide litter boxes, a balancing step, two onesies, several raised dishes and two cat calming diffuser plug-ins. I don’t know if we are ready but we did prepare for his return home. Much of the house is now ADA-cat accessible.
Now, if I could just get his tiger (adopted) siblings to eat. They are looking for him. I wish I could explain and prepare them.
We still don’t know if we can do this. Tonight we hope, we pray, we cross our fingers and toes, and we give Castiel lots and lots of kisses. I don’t know if we can hand him over to the vet technician tomorrow. I just don’t know. I don’t know how to be brave. I hope Castiel does.