There is a sacredness in tears….They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love. ~Washington Irving
This story is no fun to tell and was certainly no fun to live through, however I want to share my tale to stop this situation from happening to another. What happened? I nearly killed my cat by mistake.
Accident or not, the results ended the same, with a near fatal blow to Storm, my cat a.k.a. Lady Fluffington. First let me explain, Storm is a three year old short hair weighing in around nine pounds. Our Labradors top the scales at around eighty to ninety pounds each. Clearly they are in the extra large category, while Storm falls in the small or extra small category.
Let me explain the details leading up to this near fatal error, if for anything else to give myself a little leeway. I have been sick off and on for nearly two months now. I’ve had everything from bronchitis to sinus infects to tonsillitis, very unlike me. For the past couple weeks, I was suffering from this really annoying cough. The kind that hits you out of nowhere and you can’t stop coughing, especially in the middle of the night. Needless to say, I’ve been pretty sleep deprived. Last Tuesday, I woke up, from a not so good night sleep, very groggy and with a new surprise. I opened my eye, yes only one eye because the other was swollen and infected with conjunctivitis. Yes, in layman’s terms, pink eye. Fortunately, I am now on the road to recovery, but not before I took Storm down with my sinking ship.
Continuing with the last Tuesday thought, I wanted to give the dogs and the cat their flea medication. The weather is breaking and I didn’t want our pets to start off the summer with fleas and ticks. Knowing the dog flea medication is lethal to cats, I always give Storm her dose in the morning, along with the boys, and let her out for a walk about, keeping her away until the medication soaks up in Scooby and Seven.
A pretty solid plan. That is, if done correctly. I was half paying attention and took Storm outside and applied the flea medication to her neck. As I was doing so, I noted there seemed to be extra flea medication in the tube. At that moment, Storm jumped out of my hands, no doubt angry about the application and ran off. My gut was telling me something was wrong, so I grabbed the wrapper and read, For Extra Large Dogs over 55 pounds. Do Not Use On Cats. What? I messed up big time!
Actually, at first I thought I read it was for puppies under 55 pounds. I had to look again to see correctly, that’s how out of it I was. Upon this realization, my heart began to race and pure panic settled in.
I took off after Storm. I didn’t want her to get too far in the woods or I would never see her again. Naturally, she didn’t want held, so she sent me on a chase through thorn bushes, down into a creek and into my uncles field before I tackled her.
Running as fast as I could, I darted back to the house and nearly threw her in the sink and instinctively ran water over her fur, specifically the area with the flea and tick treatment. Using Dawn dish soap, I began to scrub a very confused and stressed cat. Trying to avoid her angry claws against my soft wet skin, I did the best I could before wrapping her in a towel and jumping on the computer.
Advantage II is made by Bayer. I looked up the company and called their pet line. Yes, they actually have a pet emergency line, obviously for careless individuals like myself. Jessica administered to my call. She was so sincere and helpful even at the point when my sobs caught up to me, and the tears were uncontrollable. I felt horrible! The entire time, Storm is soaking wet in my arms, ticked off. I didn’t want to let her out of my sight until I knew she was safe.
The time frame, from applying the drug till I was able to give Storm her first bath was almost an hour.
Jessica instructed me to give Storm another bath with Dawn, which I guess was the only thing I did right that morning. My question, what was going to happen to her? Was she going to die? Apparently there is an ingredient, permethrin, in the dog flea medication that causes muscle tremors and seizures and yes it could be fatal. There is also no anti-drug. It just needs to work its way out of the cat’s system. However, I was instructed to take her to the veterinarian if the tremors got really bad.
To play it safe, I called the veterinarian’s office to warn them of the events from the morning, just in case. The vet’s office told me to bath her again. At this point, I did let Storm go off on her own in the confines of the house. I kept running back to check on her after scrubbing her up again.
Now about two hours from the point of conflict, Storm was having trouble jumping on the chair and her face started to twitch. Crap!
Calling the vet’s office again, they said they only had an opening at 1:45 pm. It was roughly 10:00 am. Ok, I’ll take the appointment. However, no more than thirty minutes later, Storm really started to shake all over and convulse in complete spasms. I called the vet’s office again to get her in now. With a little bit of an attitude from the one girl at the front desk, she said, “Well, we’re really busy. You can bring her in now but you’ll probably have to wait.” There were a few choice words I wanted to say to her, but I didn’t want to waste my energy arguing. I needed to get this cat some medical attention.
The ride to the vet only takes about ten minuets. In that time Storm really got bad! She started to spit and then it happened, she had a full blown seizure in my arms! What have I done? I sped into the parking lot and ran into the office, again with eyes full of tears to only hear the one girl, behind the wall spitting with sarcasm, “O no, you can come any time, it’s not like we have appointments.” Believe it or not, if Storm wasn’t about to have another seizure, I would have reached around the corner and grabbed her by the throat. That was just plain wrong and she said those harsh words so I would hear her. Didn’t anyone ever hear of an emergency?
Telling my parents about this later, my mom commented how strange that was since they are all normally very nice. I guess not in an emergency situation when I move their cheese.
The vet, Doctor Ben, was absolutely amazing and kind. He squeezed Storm in shortly after I arrived and explained everything to me with the blunt truth. He didn’t want to get my hopes up for a positive or speedy recovery. I appreciated that!
Dr. Ben took Storm for the day and gave her an IV to avoid dehydration and administered muscle relaxers to make her a bit more comfortable. They had to watch her temperature so she didn’t spike a fever and monitor her sugar so it didn’t drop. He also made the time in his busy schedule to have someone give Storm another bath, again trying to scrub the toxins off of her skin and out of her fur. He even suggested that I call in the office at any time to check on Storm’s progress.
About 1:30 pm, Dr. Ben personally called me to give me an update. Upon hearing, “Honestly, she’s getting worse.” I about died! Trying to focus on Dr. Ben’s words, I held back my tears. The plan of action was to keep Storm until right before they were to leave for the night at about 6:45 pm. He would wait till the last minute to pull the IV and give her another dose of muscle relaxers to help her through till the next morning.
Dr. Ben reviewed how to take Storm’s temperature and what it should range. He even prepared me for her appearance before he had her brought out. Updating me on her progress during the day, he said Storm did spike a fever at one point but her sugar never dropped. He wasn’t sure, but felt certain she might make a full recovery. However, I was instructed to bring her in right away the next morning if she looked the same. Poor Storm, her entire body was shaking like she had Parkinson’s disease.
That night was a tough one, but as the hours went by, she slowly started to show signs of recovery. Slowly might I add. I was warned by Dr. Ben, who also called another doctor for a second opinion, and Jessica at Bayer all agreed that it would take anywhere from 24 hours to 48 hours to work its way out of my cat’s system.
An example of the cat’s reaction to the flea medication, which was totally heartbreaking to watch, Storm’s leg involuntarily curled up under her and she fell over. Then to hear her cry out in pain was nauseating. There was a time Storm started to hiss and growl before a spasm hit. She was in serious pain.
By daylight, Dr. Ben again personally called me to check on Storm and reassure me if I needed to bring her back in the office, just stop in. Too bad his front desk girl didn’t have the same heart for this poor little kitty.
Throughout this process I kept petting Storm and massaging her muscles, which seemed to help. Her body was still in spasms into Thursday, now two days later and twitching into Friday.
What a horrible ordeal. I hope no one and no cat ever has to go through this.
Using my error as a learning lesson for Kyle, I told him the story when I picked him up last Friday. I wanted to show Kyle that mistakes happen, but sometimes they are fatal and irreversible. I’m not so sure that actually got across to my little immature man. For some reason, probably sheer exhaustion, as I was telling Kyle the story, we both got the giggles. Maybe I shouldn’t have demonstrated how Storm stiffened up in the car. I didn’t mean for it to come out humorous, but there we were. Poor Storm, laughing at her own expense. Honestly, it was something I truly needed. Kyle was concerned for our little kitty, but again, maturity runs lows in the Piper family and knowing Storm was fine, opened the doors for laughter.
Another funny, on Wednesday or Thursday, I received an email birthday card for Storm, marking her third birthday. I nearly killed my cat on her birthday!
Another comical situation. While Storm was making her recovery, I locked us in the bedroom, so she wouldn’t jump up on something, spasm and fall to the ground and get hurt. Well, naturally she wanted out, even though the cramps were prominent and severe. She was scratching at the door and meowing loudly under the crack to Seven, who was sniffing on the other side. It was like she was calling out to him for help. Just then, a stray cat from the neighborhood sat on the window seal outside and started to meow with a distressed sound. Did Storm send out the bat signal to break her out of her temporary prison?
I’m glad I can breath a sigh of relief over what could have been a tragedy.
Thank you Jessica at Bayer and thank you Dr. Ben at Latrobe Animal Clinic. Your support and guidance was very much appreciated! I can not speak highly enough for both parties. Storm thanks you too!
Here are a few clips I pulled of a healthy Storm. She has this weird obsession with wool and any article of clothing containing the material. I caught Storm trying to steal my sweater!
I heard a noise to find my cat pawing at the tub. Why? Who knows but she seemed to be enjoying herself.