So Many Opportunities For Jokes about CAT Scans

Right now, I could either be writing this with an alive cat or a dead cat, but I will spare you the suspense and tell you that I'm writing it with an alive cat, so that this way you can read the whole thing without wondering if perhaps you need to get up at some point and find a box of tissues and a stronger-than-usual whiskey-based cocktail. You do not. (Not because of this, anyway. Maybe you need those things for your own personal reasons, who am I to judge! Maybe you just have allergies and you're really thirsty. Either way, my cat is alive, despite what I am about to tell you, so this story is already starting off on a good note. Just keep that in your head for now.)

On Sunday night, while I was down at my parents' house in San Diego, gleefully rejoicing in the fact that it was Sunday night and I didn't have that horrible Sunday night feeling because I'd taken the following day off work, Sean called me to tell me that Charlie had thrown up.

Here is a picture of Charlie so that you have a visual. Don't worry, the picture is not of Charlie throwing up.

Could you call Muffy and Buffy and set up a game of doubles at the club?

A throwing up cat can be a buzzkill, of course---though moreso, I expect, for the person who isn't 500 miles away and has to clean it up---but neither of us was too worried. Sean gave Charlie some water and kept an eye on him. For the rest of the evening, he seemed to be doing okay.

The next morning, however, Charlie didn't come running when Sean opened the can of cat food for breakfast (for the cats' breakfast, not for Sean's breakfast, which I am pretty sure you would have figured out on your own, and yet I still feel the need to clarify.) And this was really not very Charlie-like behavior at all. Charlie, I don't think he will mind me saying, has a healthy appetite. Charlie has committed felonies for fresh salmon. Charlie would sell his grandmother for a piece of that raw chicken you're cutting up for your stirfry, and then he'd give you all her jewelry for a bite of it when it was cooked. Charlie doesn't skip breakfast. Ever.

So Sean went looking and found him hiding under the spare bed, looking tired and lethargic. He could not be tempted with Friskies and he could not be tempted with treats. Sean started to get worried. He googled the symptoms: vomiting, lethargy, lack of appetite; all this against a background of pre-existing diabetes. He called the vet and asked if he could bring him in. "Yes," said the vet, "bring him in right this minute."

On Monday morning at 8am, I had a message from Sean saying he was on the way to the vet. At 9:30am, I had a voicemail from Sean saying he was going to try me on my mother's cell phone instead. At 9:31am, I was speaking to Sean on my mother's cell phone, and he was saying that Charlie had developed ketoacidosis---otherwise known as DKA---and that if we didn't get him treated immediately, it would be fatal. Even if we did get him treated immediately, it could still be fatal.

"Look, it's really bad," said Sean. "There's a chance he's going to die."

Man, I do not consider myself to be one of those people all up in your business about their "fur babies" but holy crap, do I love my Charlie, my fluffy eight-year-old ball of cranky sweetness, my twenty-third birthday present, my sweet potato pie. I cannot imagine my life without him there to plop down on my lap as soon as I sit on the couch; cannot imagine waking up in the morning and not finding him curled like a comma at my side.

"Do whatever they say," I said. "Do whatever they say to do."

"Okay," said Sean. "We need to have him hospitalized immediately so they can treat him." 

"How much is this going to cost?" I said.

"We can make more money," said Sean.

He didn't say "but we can't make another Charlie," but it hung there, like he had.

Charlie was hospitalized and started on a teeny-tiny little cat IV, the thought of which still makes me giggle to picture. (It didn't make me giggle then. It made me cry. This is because I am already past the box-of-tissues-and-whiskey-based-cocktail part. I have spared you that fate and now a teeny-tiny little cat IV should make you giggle too.)

In addition to the DKA, the doctors at the pet hospital---did you even know there were such things as pet hospitals? Fancy!---diagnosed him with pancreatitis and weirdly-elevated liver enzmes. Weirdly-elevated liver enzymes is not a technical term, but it doesn't sound particularly appealing. DKA and pancreatitis are technical terms, and they don't sound like a walk in the park either.

I landed in San Francisco last night and we went directly to see him at this pet hospital, which has proper official visiting hours and everything and refers, in its literature, not to "your pet" but to "the patient." He was pretty dopey last night but slightly better this evening when we went back, and the nurse promised that he knew we were there. I do not want to think about how much this is costing, but I think it is worth every penny. Plus, they have put Charlie on some pretty awesome drugs. If he doesn't write the next Dark Side of the Moon while he is on these drugs, I am going to ask for all of that money back.

The patient feels better, thank you for asking. The patient would also like to request an eighth of catnip and a side of tilapia.

So here it is, the happy part: we caught it in time. Sean took him to the vet in time. There wasn't much time, for sure---hours, probably---but they managed to treat him, to stop the pain, to slowly bring all his levels back to normal. If all goes according to plan, Charlie should be coming home tomorrow evening. Big sigh of relief---there but for the grace of god---that we are not the poor tear-stained couple we passed in the lobby on our way out tonight, the woman clutching a box of tissues and weeping openly, the man, red-eyed, with his hand on her shoulder. Big, huge, enormous sigh of relief.

Filed Under:
Jean K.
Apr 06, 2011

good luck charlie!

Apr 06, 2011

THANKGOD for Sean acting so quickly! Scary stuff. I hope he has a speedy recovery.

(Ummm ....that picture of Charlie with the argyle sweater is seriously the cutest thing ever!)

Apr 06, 2011

Ask Mommy for some extra lovein ASAP! xx

Apr 06, 2011

Hurrah for Sean and his quick concern, and hurrah for big tough Charlie fighting through!

I agree, I'm not a 'fur baby' type either - cats are cats and dogs are dogs, not people. Doesn't mean you can't love them like crazy, though.

Apr 06, 2011

My best wishes for a quick recovery for Charlie!

My cats name is also Charlie, named after Charlie Brown of course :)

Apr 06, 2011

Awe, poor Charlie! Get well post haste.

Apr 06, 2011

Aw poor Charlie, I'm glad he's doing better now. The same thing happened to a friend of mine and her cat and it was touch and go whether he would make it, but he pulled through in the end thank goodness. He also had to go to the pet hospital and the vet was so worried about him, he slept overnight in the clinic so he would be on hand just in case. Yay for good vets!
Hopefully Charlie will be feeling up to some salmon when he comes home again!

Apr 06, 2011

Fur babies are family, no matter what, and I'm relieved to hear Charlie is on the mend. Speedy recovery!

Apr 06, 2011

I'm so glad he's doing well!

Apr 06, 2011

Since I'm writing this with a cat on my lap, I still teared up, but I'm SO GLAD he's okay!

Apr 06, 2011

I'm glad Charlie is doing okay, but all your little asides make me burst out laughing ... funniest serious post ever :)

Love the sweater! I might be allergic to cats, but I want one just so I can threaten to put a sweater on him because my husband would so put the kibosh on that.

I remember you talking about Charlie's miraculous cure...So sad it wasn't actually a cure at all. :(

I lost two furbabies this year. (Can't believe I just used the term furbabies, don't hold it against me. But you dressed Charlie in an argyle sweater, so I have a feeling it doesn't phase you.) It was the absolute hardest thing, so I know how scared you must've been. So glad he's okay!

Apr 06, 2011

Oh, thank goodness you caught it in time. Thrilled that Mr. Charlie is well on his way to recovery!

Apr 06, 2011

<3 <3 <3 for you, Sean and Charlie. Glad to hear everything is turning out okay.

(delurking just to say this!)

Apr 06, 2011

I'm glad that Charlie is on the road to recovery, I'm so glad that it was caught early. May I suggest a new argyle sweater as a welcome home gift?

(My husband and I have been the tear-stained couple holding the box of kleenex in the lobby, along with my tear-stained parents. It is exactly as shitty as you think it is, and then some.)

Apr 06, 2011

So happy for you and your family! This is so scary and something that I don't like to think about, but so very glad that you had a happy ending (ha!). Go go Charlie!

Apr 06, 2011

So happy for you and your family! This is so scary and something that I don't like to think about, but so very glad that you had a happy ending (ha!). Go go Charlie!

Apr 06, 2011

two of our three girls got very sick last year. the first to get sick was still just a baby, barely three months old... the whole time we were waiting to hear if they would be ok (they both are!), we was so frightened of losing them. just like you said, we could not imagine our life without them. they are a part of our family and now, when they drive me nutso running through the house like horses, i remember when they were sick and realize how happy i am to hear that sound!

Apr 06, 2011

Those tiny white paws! Oh they just kill me. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery and many more happy years.

Apr 06, 2011

You told me not to cry, but I cried anyway. I love Charlie. I also love that you call him sweet potato pie. I'm always referring to my dog as various kinds of pie. And Chuck Dog Fluffy Pants, but I digress.

Glad Charlie's on the mend. Give him a few extra cuddles from me.

Apr 06, 2011

Sean is so awesome. Hurray for him taking it seriously and not waiting, and for being willing to pay for care. So many guys (and some women, too) feel that pets' lives are not worth the cost. Charlie is worth it! What a love.

Apr 06, 2011

Having been half of that couple you saw at the vet hospital, I am so glad for you and Sean. And that was after we'd done what you guys are doing. Three times. But our little sweet lasted 15 years, which is a damn good innings. And a good while later we got ourselves two little piles of fluffy goodness to help get over losing her. It still hurts when I think of it, though, like I did just then. Big smooches for Charlie from us both, and please don't laugh at his shaved patch from the IV (I'm sure he's sensitive about that)

Apr 06, 2011

An alive cat or a dead cat! It's Schrödinger's blog post!

Thespian Libby
Apr 06, 2011

Oh hooray for Sean to the speedy rescue! I am so so so glad that Charlie is on the mend, and that he has housemates who realize his worth. Please tell him Bon rétablissement from his former neighbor and her fur-person, Mr. Utley.

hip hip gin gin
Apr 06, 2011

Oh my goodness. I cried anyway, for Charlie and for you guys and for memories of pets of my own who have had these types of scares. I am so glad he is okay!! I hope you are all home cuddling and recuperating soon.
And can I say how cute Charlie is in his very dapper sweater, and how much I love that you put him in said sweater? Love it!!

Apr 06, 2011

Animals that get sick are SO STRESSY. And I am not a fur baby person either (I frequently have to physically shove Jake out of my kitchen because he's so bothersome and beggy and annoying and I yell at him when he barks and wakes Claire up) but when he had that surgery a few weeks ago and I thought he might die soon? I totally lost it.

I'm so glad that Charlie is feeling better.

Apr 06, 2011

Oh, I'm so glad he's ok and I wish him a quick recovery! My cat had pancreatitis once, and it cost about a bajillion dollars for his stay in the animal hospital (yes, we have one, too! Actually, it is called the Animal Medical Center and it is a TEACHING HOSPITAL, oh my word), but he came out right as rain a few days later.

Aren't the waiting rooms at the pet hospitals just the saddest places? I spent a lot of time there when our dog broke his leg (there is now a wing at AMC named after us), and I could hardly bear to see the people who had gotten Terrible News. They even had a counselor who would come around the waiting room and sit with people and talk with them about bereavement groups and such.

Anyway. Sorry for the comment-jacking. I expect that Charlie is going to be tres spoiled for a good while when he's home, as he well deserves.

Apr 06, 2011

May I recommend a different brand of cat food? We have a long history of pancreatitis and poly-cystic kidney issues with our cat (it's a breed thang)- so I am well versed in the teeny kitty IV and mad, expensive dashes to the vet. We switched to Newman's organic cat food, which no, you can't get 10 cans for a buck, but it will most definitely keep kitty's insides functioning nicely. Also, Innova dry is excellent. Because, yikesies, Friskies is kind of the functional equivalent of McDonald's...

Apr 06, 2011

What Nissa said. Good on Sean for acting quickly, taking it seriously, and being willing to pay whatever it cost to save your Charlie. And thank you, Holly, for telling us up front that this story had a good ending! I got a little teary nonetheless, but your "spoiler" save me some serious heartache. Give Charlie some extra cuddles from all your internet friends! :)

Apr 06, 2011

so sorry that you had to go through that fright! looking forward to good news! :)

Apr 06, 2011

And yet still, I sit here openly weeping after reading this. My eldest cat is 9 and already went through about $2000 worth of emergency care 3 years ago. So I guess I feel/felt your pain. Glad Charlie is doing so much better, he is adorable wrapped in cute

Pretzel Thief
Apr 06, 2011

Aw, I'm so sorry to hear that, Holly. Hang in there! Thankfully it was caught in time (go Sean!)...may it just get better and better from here on out. Try not to stress and give Charlie a cuddle for me!

Thespian Libby
Apr 06, 2011

Ditto Sassha on the Newman's Own Organic Cat Food. Reading pet food labels is even scarier than reading people food labels. Gah!

Apr 06, 2011

You can't tell cat people not to cry... we are all going to cry, no matter that you told us the ending first. I am now going to work with a red honker and weepy eyes. Hugs to you and Sean and Charlie.

Apr 06, 2011

Even though you provided the good news up front it didn't stop me from weeping throughout. Especially at the mention of pancreatitis. My first dog survived her first bout, but not her second. One week in the hospital, each day with the doctor saying she may or may not make it. Absolutely horrid and it ended with us being that tear-stained couple.

Be vigilant about Charlie's diet. We thought we were with our dog but someone else sneaking her table food did her in. Big hugs to you all.

Kristin H
Apr 06, 2011

I am so glad he's okay. I have been in your shoes, except with a dog, who had Bell's Palsy, so okay maybe not exactly in your shoes. But still, I'm super glad he's okay!

Operation Pink Herring
Apr 06, 2011

I am so glad this had a happy ending, and thank you for stating that right up front! Once you know everything is going to be OK, teeny tiny cat IVs are pretty funny.

I'm a little baffled that Charlie throwing up was such a strange event that Sean thought to call you about it. I mean, thank goodness he did and he didn't just shrug it off and leave poor Charlie to suffer! But... don't cats throw up? Like, a lot? Or is my hairball-prone cat some sort of anomoly? If my husband called me every time the cat threw up, I'd need to up my cell phone plan.

Apr 06, 2011

We had a close call with our Tiger a few years back. Surgery and some fancy cat food that rivals the seafood at the best restaurant in town seem to have cured him. I think his adopted sister, Dinah, wishes that he hadn't made it. I, however, would still be a wreck.

So glad Charlie is feeling better!

Apr 06, 2011

Oh, dammit. I got all tear-eyed, anyway! I have two fur babies and would pay my every last cent to save them. Glad he's feeling better!

Apr 06, 2011

I ditto changing Charlie's food (after asking the vet, of course).

One of my little guys has had some kidney issues and for awhile we even thought he would have to begin kitty dialysis (yes, this actually exists, and even though the thought of giving my cat regular dialysis treatments sounded crazy to me, I was totally ready to do it if it meant helping him stay healthy. And when I say giving my cat dialysis treatments, I mean me actually giving the dialysis treatments in my house. The vet was going to show me how to do it. Apparently it's easy and many people do it?!?).

Long story short, the vet decided we should first try a food available only through a prescription (yes, I pay a LOT more for it, but it's worth it). After six weeks on the new food, he was like a new cat. The vet explained that many of the foods available in stores are full of crazy chemicals and can really cause a lot of damage, especially in older cats.

Camels & Chocolate
Apr 06, 2011

I'm the furthest one can be from a cat person--and I'm deathly allergic, too--but I've always had a soft spot for your felines (when they're not peeing on your bed, of course). Wishing you a speedy recovery, Charlie!

Apr 06, 2011

"We can make more money," said Sean.


And he has great hair (Sean, not Charlie)

But Charlie probably does too.

Anne in SC
Apr 06, 2011

I lost one of my fur babies a few months ago - but I didn't let him leave with out a fight - cat mouth to mouth and all. So glad your story is ending well - mine, not so much. If you want to read about it you can -

Apr 06, 2011

I'm so glad to hear Charlie is okay! My cat got very, very sick this summer. She was also very, very old- my eighth birthday present, and I am 25, so. She lives with my mom, nine hours away, and so when my mom called from the emergency vet, crying, there was nothing I could do. I couldn't even go say goodbye! She was very old and very sick and there was nothing to be done but help her go fast so she wouldn't hurt anymore and it was awful. Even more awful was that my mom was there at the vet all by herself, so it was just a big ball of horrible.

I didn't mean for this to be the most depressing comment ever. The point is: I am so, so glad Charlie is okay. Especially since I know how difficult it is to deal with pet health issues when things turn out to be NOT okay.

Apr 06, 2011

Good grief, poor Charlie! I do love a happy ending though! And what a handsome fellow, he actually looks a lot like my own "ball of cranky sweetness" Jasper (even down to the little half moustache!) except a lot fluffier. I like to think I'm not exactly the highest level of crazy cat lady or anything but I have been known to do things like list my cat as my child on facebook (umm yeah, if it helps my case that was meant to be at least 50% ironic and I was NOT actually the person who created the profile in the first place...) and get genuinely offended when someone dares insult his intelligence. And become greatly distressed the other day upon handing him off to my dad for my parents to take care of while I'm temporarily apartment-less. They do just become so much a part of our lives and our hearts that it is strange and sad to not have the little furry buggers around, and ESPecially to imagine never having them around again :( So three cheers for Charlie pulling through, hoping his continued recovery is speedy and that until then he enjoys the good drugs and the spoiling he's sure to get!!

Apr 06, 2011

So glad that your Charlie is OK.

Apr 06, 2011

Whew! So glad your cat is OK, although if he didn't die of shame from that sweater vest, he has an iron constitution.

Charlie will be fine, and Sean is the hero. And I echo the good hair comment above. Well done, you.

Apr 06, 2011

Thanks to your preview of the denouement on this one I was fine...until we got to the weeping couple you passed in the waiting room. Did me in. Been there. Very glad you were not!

Please add my kudos to Sean as well. That man deserves a hug!


Oh, little bunny! I'm glad to read that he's feeling better.

Reading (and chickens)
Apr 06, 2011

Oh, poor Charlie! Poor you! Glad all is (almost) all better.

Apr 07, 2011

Oooh soo pretty – yay

Apr 07, 2011

Best wishes to Charlie!

I, too, have spent a small fortune on my animals, it is oh, so worth it in every way.

I'd also like to meet him for a snuggle if I'm ever in SF :)

Apr 07, 2011

Damn pets. Make you sick with worry, don't they? Still and all, they're worth it and I am so glad you will have your Charlie home on your lap soon. My dog Cooper is pleased for you as well.

Laura D
Apr 07, 2011

So glad that Charlie seems to be on the mend! We were that sobbing couple in October with one of our dogs - his illness came out of nowhere, like Charlie's, so glad the sweet potato pie's fate was different.

Oh and when he comes home, if they haven't slid the little kitty bandage off of his paw from where the IV was, try sliding it off instead of cutting it and you will be amazed at just how little his leg is. Our cat had one a couple of months fit my pinky.

Apr 07, 2011

So glad Charlie is on the mend. I was worried reading your tweet about DKA. Our 12 year old lab has been diabetic more than half her life...four shots of insulin daily...and she had DKA. Scared us half to death. Our three dogs are our family, not just dogs. When you adopt a pet it's for life, even if it gets expensive or inconvenient, and we will do what ever it takes to keep them healthy and happy for as long as we are blessed to have them in our lives.

Kate from Ohio
Apr 08, 2011

YIKES, that is really scary. I would not have understood the concern 18 months ago, but now I have a dog. I would pay to get him well, my husband would weep for our bank account. Good for Sean for saying you can make more money.

Apr 08, 2011

Well, I'm going to go ahead and get weepy anyway, if it's all the same to you. I'm so, so happy Charlie is doing better and will be thinking of all of you!

(When our cat was sick they shaved a little part off on both front legs to give her the IV, and it was so sad but also kind of funny because it looked like she was wearing Uggs. When I wasn't crying, I was laughing. It has since grown in and she asks us not to speak of it any more.)

Apr 09, 2011

Hope you don't mind, but I fell in love with your husband when reading that he said, "We can make more money." That is beautiful, and the part of your story that got me all verklempt.

I'm so happy to hear he's ok. Fur babies are important as hell, and only those of us with fur babies really understand how scary it can be when one of your "kids" is suddenly sick and can't tell you what's wrong.

Hang in there Charlie!

Apr 12, 2011

I cried anyway, because of that last bit at the end of the woman weeping openly and the man red eyed, picturing myself, of course, as the woman and thinking of our sweet Lucy. So glad Charlie is on the mend.

Apr 12, 2011

I've been that person openly crying in the waiting room of the emergency vet. And although my dog came home with me a few days later, he'll never be all better. I get lots of "other people" commenting on how it's not worth it and there are lots of other dogs/cats - but when you're carrying in your pet at 2am because he can't walk, you ask how much, though it doesn't really matter. You'll pay it anyway.

I'm glad Charlie is okay, but I still cried a little despite your warning and got teary over my tea and porkchop lunch.

Apr 12, 2011

Aww, we lost a cat a couple years ago to this exact thing. It was crazy, I'd never heard of it before. I'm so glad Charlie is ok!

Apr 14, 2011

My dog Molly had the same thing happen (also last week), turns out that the grapes I shared with her ripped her pancreas apart...all signs point to a recovery though.

Jun 22, 2011

I don't like the cat!

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