This is LouLou. She came into my life in September 2009 only a couple of days after my beloved ginger tabby Coco had passed away. A friend of mine called me one afternoon. Her daughter was doing a placement at a local veterinary surgery and they had taken in a stray cat who had been found scavenging and who had a nasty cough. Initially they thought she had cat flu but it turned out that she had a spare rib bone stuck in her throat. They operated successfully to remove it but nobody came forward to claim this little kitty. As the local charities were all full to bursting point, she was about to be returned to the location she’d been found but my friend’s daughter called her mum to see if she knew anyone who could take her in. For some strange reason, I came to mind (!).
As soon as the phone rang, I had a gut feeling this was something I needed to do. Although I would happily adopt every single stray cat in the entire world, I really don’t want to end up like my mother with 17 cats all living in the house. However I had only one at the time (Oscar) so I drove over to the vet surgery to take a look at this scruffy little cat. They nurses had temporarily named her Mia but she really didn’t suit the name, so I bundled her into my carrier and took her home. We chatted all the way back – although she was pretty vocal, she had a scratchy, croaky miaow and was quite a good conversationalist for a cat.
She took a day or two to settle into the household, inhabiting every high place she could find and very quickly she became an integral part of the household and crept in to occupy a very special place in my heart. She never complained about being picked up and cuddled and always nestled in and purred softly. She would curl up with me on the bed at night, usually on me and lying over my heart (in more ways than one) and would spend hours curled on my lap in front of the TV.
She has the fluffiest britches I’ve ever seen on a cat and a funny, slightly prissy, way of trotting along. Very light and very delicate and a tiny little body which is masked by the explosion of fluffy fur. She often holds her tail out behind her as she’s walking along and it has a funny little kink at the end which makes it look as though it’s permanently pointed at the ground.
We’ve had a couple of bumps in the road: she came in one day and was barely able to walk and we thought she’d somehow fractured her shoulder but an x-ray revealed nothing broken although it took a few days for the pulled muscles to heal. Then she developed a raging flea allergy and the only thing to calm down the awful reaction she had was to give her steroid injections every couple of months. Until we got that under control, she was a fervent overgroomer and threw up many a giant furball – poor little mite. Mercifully we finally found a different flea treatment which was effective and she rarely suffers now and we’ve been able to nix the steroid injections (thank goodness).
Other than that, the operation she had before I got her means she snores like a bugger when she’s curled into a ball and has been known to wake me up in the middle of the night when she’s been downstairs! She’ll give me a run for my money any day of the week in the snoring stakes.
This last few days, I’ve noticed her breathing has been a bit rapid, more so than it should be with the level of warmth and humidity we’ve been having. Her snoring and snuffling has been a bit more marked as well so I popped her into the vet this morning for a check. I’m not one for running to the vet every five minutes – I’ve had numerous cats over the years and like to think that I’m relatively knowledgeable and not prone to panic but this morning she just wasn’t right.
When the vet takes several minutes listening to her chest with a stethoscope, you know that something isn’t right. She said she could hear there was fluid on the chest and something was preventing her from hearing the heart properly. Her respiration was far too rapid and so was her heart so I drove her 12 miles to the hospital so she could be put on oxygen and then sedated for a chest x-ray. I had to stop myself crying with worry on the drive home.
Unfortunately, when the vet called, it wasn’t good news. The x-ray had revealed multiple growths in the lungs so my poor baby has cancer. She’s on steroid injections to try and keep on top of the fluid in the lungs but I need to keep monitoring her breathing and making sure that she’s not in any respiratory or other distress. Other than being a little dopey from the sedation at the moment, she’s her normal self if a bit more wibbly than normal.
So now the waiting and worrying begins in earnest. I can only keep a concerned eye on her and make sure she isn’t suffering – at least I’m thankful that I know my cats well enough for that. The best I can hope for is that she goes to sleep one day and doesn’t wake up. Until then I’m going to make the most of the time I have with her and make doubly sure she knows that she is a very well loved pussycat.
Update 19 August: It has transpired that my lovely little girl probably does not have cancer and in all likelihood it’s feline asthma. Not as serious as cancer but still of concern. The steroids she was given cleared her lungs and she’s now breathing almost normally. I still need to keep a close eye on her to make sure she doesn’t get into respiratory distress and she’ll need steroid injections on an ongoing basis but I’m much more optimistic. Thanks for everyone for their kind wishes!