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C. Stroup: Truly An Ear Full

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Smokey Pic C Stroup Column
“Smokey”

This is a letter I received from a very old friend of thirty-five years.  Over the course of that time we’ve shared both fun times and war stories relating to our pets.  I have to say Sue from St. Lou (my nickname for her) takes the cake when it comes to outrageous experiences with her cat.  This is a thank you she sent to a vet she calls Dr. K.  He was the only one, of a long list of vets, to figure out what was really wrong with her feline.

Dr. K. and Staff,

I couldn’t figure out how to post to your website, and because this note is quite lengthy, I thought I would send this your way if you care to share with the rest of the world or your current/potential clients.

First of all, my little but mighty 6 1/2 lb. grey tabby “Smokey” is the best pet I’ve ever had.  I was always a “dog” person until I was coaxed by friends into getting a cat.  “Cats are easy,” they lied to my face.  But not doubting their credibility, and since I’m employed full-time and not home much, a cat seemed like the right answer.  Knowing next to nothing about them, but wanting to be a responsible pet owner, I read as much as I could about them and their habits.  I also asked a lot of questions of people that I knew who had cats before taking the plunge.  Again, I was told cats are low hassle and virtually maintenance free…that is, of course, when compared to a dog.  So I thought I had this all figured out.

Fifteen years ago I found my furry friend sitting in the lap of a young lady at an Adopt-A-Stray event.  They both seemed so calm and unaffected by all of the people walking by and staring.  I scooped the kitty up and brought her home where I spent the entire evening watching her shake her head and then the all night scratching began.

The next day I took her to the local vet and was told she had a very bad case of ear mites and she didn’t look to be very healthy.  Just my luck.  They guessed her age to be 1 year old.  After an ear cleansing and a check up, we went back home but not before scheduling an appointment for a front declaw.  The head shaking didn’t stop and the scratching continued.  After the declaw, her paws were swollen so badly she could hardly walk.  I felt so bad for her and was anxious to get back to the vet’s office for the removal of the stitches.  I was given medication for the cat, and a redo on the paws with an inert plastic material that is used in eyelid surgeries.  I was told she was an “allergic cat.”  Now there’s a good one for you.  People are supposed to have allergies to cats.  Cats aren’t supposed to be allergic.  Did I mention this was just my luck?

Over the next year, I took her to just about every vet in town trying to fix her ear problem as her ear kept getting infected with an accumulating abundance of fluid.  I heard many explanations and suggestions regarding Smokey’s issue(s).  They ranged from “scar tissue in the ear from the mites,” “not sure what it is,” “you need to see a specialist to have her inner ear canal removed,” to “you might consider putting her down.”  Let me tell you, the last listed suggestion really ticked me off.

First year costs – $1,500 in vet bills with no solution.  So… off I went to buy QTips.  I started my own process of swabbing Smokey’s ear twice a day to extract the fluid and to hopefully stop the infections and stop the cycling of Baytril.  Fourteen years of twice, sometimes more, daily ear cleanings became a way of life for both of us.  Smokey tolerated so much over those years yet she still played, watched for birds, caught a couple of chipmunks and was always in my lap whenever I sat down.  What a neat cat!  (By the way, I was amazed at the amount of money I spent on  QTips over the course of those fourteen years.)

After my fiancé and I moved to Chesterfield, I started looking for a new vet.  I found Dr. K. on the internet and made an appointment.  Dr. K used his camera scope (I don’t know the proper name of the equipment), and low and behold showed me the mass in Smokey’s inner ear.  Dr. K. suggested removal, but I was so gun-shy of yet another diagnosis that I hesitated to do the procedure.  A few months later, Smokey came down with a really bad infection in the ear, she stopped eating and drinking, and lost her balance when trying to walk.  She was weak and going downhill fast.  I rushed her back to Dr. K.  He flushed the ear and removed the mass that was almost totally blocking her ear drum.

One Day After The Surgery…Smokey was eating, drinking, walking and being her noisy old self again.  No head shaking, no scratching. J

Dr. K. is truly the best vet I’ve encountered.  He is compassionate, extremely knowledgeable in his craft, and saved my cat’s life.  I can now look forward to spending more time with Smokey.  I wish I had found Dr. K. a long time ago, but at least (we) found him.  Now my best pet ever will have a better quality of life even at the ripe old age of 15.

Thanks Doc!

Suzanne and Smokey

P.S.  Well, Miss Smokey decided in 2014 to start growing ANOTHER tumor on her tail this time!  When Dr. K. looked at it, he decided that due to her age, we should just leave well enough alone (as there might be a possibility that the tail would have to be removed).  Ugh.  So, we ignored it as much as we could, however, by March of 2015 it had grown so large that it looked like a medium sized Idaho spud.  It was so ugly, but it didn’t seem to bother her too much.  She didn’t fuss over it, wasn’t biting at it and it didn’t affect her eating and drinking habits.

Then one day I noticed that she was biting and fussing over her bum a bit too much.  When I tried to pick her up (which she “always” tolerated and looked forward to) she cried liked something was hurting.  That’s when I saw a suspicious raw area on the right side of her rear.  So, off to Dr. K. we went.  He diagnosed an abscess in her right anal sac (which I knew dogs sometimes had issues with, but wasn’t aware that cats did too).  Dr. K. said he needed to lance the abscess and drain it and while he had her on the table, he might as well remove the potato.

Again, Dr. K. worked his magic and fixed the abscess, stitched it up and took the tail tumor off and stitched it up as well.  She had to wear a bandage on the tail so that she wouldn’t bend it and open the wound.  For fun and to break the monotony we had bandages in all colors: one week blue, one week pink, and one week yellow.  (You have to know this was for my entertainment and not for Smokey’s).  She healed quickly as she usually does, and she just keeps amazing me at how many times she has rebounded at her age.  I’m so happy that she’s better and still with me at the ripe old age of 16!!  That’s old in cat years!

Oh… and she’s gained weight to a whopping 7 ¼ pounds!  Good news!

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About The Author

Cindy Stroup is a Double Oak resident and has been contributing to The Cross Timbers Gazette for over 30 years. Read her column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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