January 29, 2011

From Noses to Needles

We've been having some problems the past couple of days.


Big Acoustic Kitty has been taking his meals in his suite recently, after being startled a few too many times by Big Yellow Hallway Monster in the main floor dining area. When I took BAK's dinner up to him on Saturday, his nose was noticeably red. The light in the bedroom is fairly dim, so I leaned in to get a better look (as best I could, considering his enthusiastic slurping of his food) and saw that he had blood all over his nose.

*Insert kitty-mama conniption here.*

The Amazing Husbandini came running (as he does, when he hears me shriek) and managed to get a good look at BAK's nose and at the surrounding surfaces. While there was certainly some blood spatter, it wasn't in quantities too alarming (no CSI-type scenes) and the flow coming out of his nostril was quite faint and fairly dilute.

Returning to the computer and working his Google-fu, hubby-o-mine determined that - barring some horrible nose tumor suddenly come to life - it was probably a result of BAK smacking nose-first into something or a result of Colorado's notoriously dry winter air. So we set up one of our little humidifiers overnight, hoping that would help.

The next morning there were some more lovely blood spatters on the blankets (and the wall above my pillow - ew!) but since it was Sunday, our only options were to continue the watch & wait program, or haul him in to the emergency vet. We decided to wait some more, but we did call our vet and leave a voice mail on the off chance that somebody might check messages. By yesterday afternoon, the blood seemed to have disappeared and things were looking good.

This morning, the bloody sneezes were back, but there was much less blood and everything else seemed to be fine ... eating, drinking, peeing, pooping - all normal. The vet's office called back and we ventured out into the 8-degree snowy day to see them.

Our regular vet had the day off (for once!), so we saw the visiting vet instead. She checked BAK all over and then she and I chatted about possible causes and treatments - long story short, we decided to continue the wait & see, but she suspects some kind of bacterial infection. If it gets better on its own, great, but if not I can go back in and pick up some antibiotics. With BAK's age and health issues, as well as the meds he's already on, she suspects that a kitty bug that we had going around the house recently finally caught up to BAK and his somewhat compromised immune system is having trouble with it.

Anyway ... that's not really the point of the story.

In discussing some of BAK's current meds and how they are doing double-duty as arthritis medicine and pancreatitis treatment, the vet asked if we'd ever considered acupuncture or chiropractic for BAK. I refrained from laughing at her but did suggest that, considering how many people it usually takes to restrain BAK for any procedure (3, minimum), I wasn't sure how well he'd like that kind of thing.

She then showed me how his neck didn't really move the way it was supposed to - mostly up and down, with very little of that serpentine movement that most cats make. Then she asked if I would let her try to "loosen up" his neck a little bit. I decided if she wanted to risk her flesh, that was her business, so I told her to go right ahead. BAK was not happy about it, but he didn't kill her, and lo and behold - after a couple of minutes, his head was sliding around just the way it should. And he still hadn't killed her. (He did hiss and spit and growl and cuss, as usual, but no blood was drawn.)

Now, I have nothing against non-traditional medicine, I just don't have much experience with it. But, since we weren't going to be heading home with any expensive meds, and since the little free sample she'd given certainly hadn't seemed to hurt or upset BAK (any more than he was already upset about being at the vet) I decided to just go ahead and let her do her thing.

She had me scruff BAK so she had both hands free and proceeded to work her way down his spine ... and the funniest thing happened. The further she got down his back, the more his yelling went down the hostility scale:

Neck area: "Release me or I shall slay you!"

Upper back: "You're touching me! I don't like people touching me!"

Mid-back: "I don't know what's going on, but I don't hate it!"

Hips: "I'm not sure why I'm still complaining, but it's kind of a habit for me!"

Then, she whips out her box of accupuncture needles and proceeds to march them up his spine, between his ears and into his face! He looked for all the world like he was wearing a dozen or so red birthday candles. Then, she turned out the light and went out, leaving BAK and I resting in the exam room for about 10 minutes ... and while he did get tired of hanging out up on the exam table, he was calm and quiet and relaxed for the rest of the visit.

(As she walked into the back of the vet's office, I heard one of the techs - who knows BAK very well - say, "He let you do it?")

I'm not saying that he's going to be going back for twice-weekly visits (out of our budget, unfortunately), but if helps his arthritis and helps wean him off some of his meds, I will certainly spring for once or twice a month. (Maybe I should ask her if she needs any landscape design work or computer repair work done and we can work out a trade.)

I'm sorry I don't have photos to share of BAK playing pincushion. But I didn't want to risk using my noisy cellphone camera and disturbing him during his moment of zen.

We'll keep everyone posted!

Addendum: Vet visit was mid-day Monday, and the nose was good until late afternoon today (Tuesday) when we had another bleeding episode. But, since I let the humidifier dry up, that could have been my fault. Other than that, things continue pretty well.

1 comment:

waterdragon687 said...

Okay, someone has to say this, so I guess it will be me: Pretty clever them Chinese, eh? LOL

Seriously, though--speaking as someone who DOES have an interest in numerous forms of alternative medicine, and who has personally made use of an Eastern methodology or two with noticeable success, this is just all kinds of awesome. (Though I admit I did giggle all the way through the description of BAK's increasingly insincere complaints.) I had heard that acupuncture was being used on animals as well as people (not so much about chiro, but it doesn't surprise me) I just thought you'd have to go to a special, non-medical-degreed type practicioner to get it, rather than a regular vet. So that's very cool that you can just keep taking him to the same office where you already know he's in good hands--and as you say, if it helps him feel better, then who cares if it's a little out of the ordinary? Us humans will resort to some pretty strange stuff when we're hurt or sick, and I can't imagine kitties are all that much different.