About a month ago, Goose the cat, my trusted friend of the past 8 years and 11 months, developed a sniffle. Because Goose has asthma, and because I was going away in mid-March to France, I took him to the vet to get it checked out. The vet found nothing, chalked it up to a simple viral upper respiratory infection and gave him an antibiotic shot just in case it got worse.
On the morning of Sunday, March 11, I left for France, a solid 20-hour trip from door-to-door. Goose was left in the house on his own, with the gravity-feeding food and water to last him for the week, and daily visits from our friend Jolene. Meanwhile, Heather arrived home from the east coast on that Thursday, March 15, two days before me. When she reached home, she noticed that the pupil in Goose’s left eye was more dilated than the other, and informed me right away. I arrived home that Saturday, March 17, and scheduled a follow-up appointment with the same vet for Monday, March 19.
That Monday, the vet ran a blood test and found that Goose was on the very low end of a parasitic infection known as toxoplasmosis. Starting Tuesday, March 20, he was put on an aggressive schedule of antibiotics that knocked him and his appetite out for most of the day.Throughout that week and into the weekend of March 24, Goose continued on the medication. He was one very tired cat all week long, and I chalked it up to a side effect of the medication. From the looks of it, his eye was beginning to get better, and his sniffles were also going away.
Then, sometime between the night of March 27 and the morning of March 28, something went wrong. Goose couldn’t hold his jaw shut. He appeared slack jawed, like a panting dog, and was starting to drool. Again, we marched back to the vet, who administered medication for his asthma, with no obvious results. As it would happen, Goose wasn’t having an asthma attack, but he was clearly in pain and agitated throughout Thursday, March 29. He cried incessantly, could not relax and paced the house constantly.
It was then that the vet finally decided that perhaps there was a neurological problem relating to his eye and the dropped jaw. She scheduled an appointment with a veterinary neurologist that night, but I’ll be honest, my faith in their abilities was waning and we decided to just get him home, feed him and hopefully calm him down. On the walk back from the car, Goose jumped out of my arms, and even though he was clearly in sick cat mode, he proudly walked back to the front door of the house.
It was a simple, instinctual gesture for Goose, but to me it said that he wasn’t ready to give up his independence and it was time to fight. I followed his lead and that night, we started helping him eat since he couldn’t properly pick up food or water on his own. Later on that night, he returned to the bed and slept all night long as if nothing alarming had been happening.
I felt relieved, and we continued on the same path through Friday and Saturday. Goose was eating, going to the bathroom, returning to his favorite spots in the house and going outside to scratch the lawn furniture. Problems were returning to his left eye though, so we finally brought him to a different neurologist this past Sunday, who tested Goose thoroughly and welcomed him into the hospital.
Goose has been there all week now, and will return home on Friday. The doctor cannot find positive signs of lymphoma in him, but he suspects that Goose might be experiencing the earliest signs of central nervous system lymphoma and is treating him for it. He’s in good hands, and all I can do is be patient and hope to see him well soon.
Throughout all of this though, Goose has been here, in the house, with me and Heather. The past few days, though I know he’s getting the proper care and treatment, have been tough without him and every small ritual we’ve come to experience together at home. I just keep telling myself to be patient and to remain hopeful. And when he does come home, I’m expecting to put him down and have him walk back to the front door on his own.