Another day, another feline emergency.
This morning I got up to feed my old moggy Columbo. As usual, he was out and about first thing in the morning, but as soon as I got downstairs he was there waiting for his grub. I put it down for him, gave him a dish of fresh water, and did the usual insulin jab. He started to scoff the food. As usual, the combination of eating and purring produced a sound like a pig at a trough so I left him to it and proceeded to make a cup of tea.
A few seconds later, Columbo sneezed. Nothing particularly unusual about that so I didn’t pay much attention. While I was waiting for the kettle to boil, however, I noticed something strange. There was blood on the food in the cat’s bowl, and a fine spray of blood on the wall behind it. Columbo had resumed eating, and seemed fine, but there was clearly something very wrong.
As it happens, a trip to the vet’s was on my agenda for today because I needed more of Columbo’s Feline MD, food which is specially designed (and specially priced too, apparently) for diabetic cats. I also needed some more insulin and some more of the tablets he has for his arthritis. Never cheap, these trips to the vet. Since I was going to go anyway, I thought I’d take him in for a check up, and phoned to see whether they could fit in an appointment this morning, which they did.
After completing the not too easy task of persuading Columbo into his travel box, off I went to do the honours. Soon he was sitting on the vet’s table, looking right as rain and showing no ill-effects at all. He was even purring; he seems to like this vet more than any other he’s ever been to. Anyway, I told the (sceptical-looking) vet what happened and she gave him the once over. She said the blood could be a sign of something quite serious, but it could have happened for any number of trivial reasons. Not finding anything wrong in his mouth or nose, she asked me whether I had found anything strange in his dish when he had sneezed. In fact there had been a small piece of a blade of grass, which I’d thought slightly odd but hadn’t mentioned because I didn’t think it was relevant.
The vet smiled and said she thought that was probably it. She went on to explain that cats often eat grass in the summer, sometimes to help digestion but also sometimes to help them produce furballs. It’s not all that unusual for a small piece of grass – which can be quite sharp – to find its way into the cat’s nasal passages from its mouth and when it gets there it can cause a nosebleed. Since the offending grass had found its way out, the problem was probably over. I sighed with relief. Panic over. It must have been unpleasant for the old chap, but better out than in.
The vet mentioned that Columbo has pretty good teeth for a 16-year old cat, although he is missing one long incisor at the front. The end snapped off this ages ago, probably during a fight. It didn’t seem to cause him any problems at the time so the vet said it was best just to leave it. A year or two later, however, he began to experience dfficulty eating and the vet suggested it was probably the tooth causing the bother. He spent a day at the cat hospital and had it removed under a general anaesthetic. Sorted. The rest of his gnashers are in good nick, as he is wont to demonstrate on unsuspecting visitors.
I was a bit worried that he might have developed another dodgy fang or some other mouth problem. I’d be a bit nervous about subjecting him to a general anaesthetic at his current age, as the risk increases markedly for the more senior citizens of the feline world. Thankfully, that’s not an issue. Not for the time being anyway.
After we got back he spent the rest of the day on a rigorous programme of sleeping, interrupted only by an attempt to eat the Travel Supplement of my newspaper.
Nearly time for his supper. I hope this time it’s not to be sneezed at.