Gordy is a vomiter.  He loves nothing more than his daily routine of racing towards the food bowl, gorging himself in front of the other two kitties, and then sauntering off to regurgitate the food in a different room.  He’s been doing it for the last 12 years and no problems…..until three days ago.

During the night, I was serenaded by a sound many pet owners are familiar with.  That sound of your cat or dog prepping for vomit.  I heard it, thought to myself “you need to remember to watch your step when you get up in the morning”, and then fell back asleep.  But when morning came, I didn’t find regurgitated food, I found liquid.  Sign #1 something was wrong.  Then I noticed The Gord didn’t want to do his morning prance in the yard, Sign #2.  Finally, I noticed he was sitting in a hunched position with his head down.  Big, loud warning sirens blared in my head.  As I attempted to lightly palpate his abdomen, he reacted with panting and growling.  That was it.  I grabbed the hubby and we went straight to the vet clinic at Massey.

We showed up at 11am with carefully concealed panic but desperate for Gordy’s pain to be relieved.  The receptionist asked that I kindly make an appointment and return at 3pm.  I wouldn’t budge.  With a sigh (and I know that sigh. I used to give it to crazy clients that came to the clinic I worked for), the receptionist paged a nurse to take Gordy’s vitals.

The mere fact that the nurse was able to examine Gordy was evidence something was desperately wrong.  We tried explaining that this pudgy black cat was actually a lethal, vicious ninja with fur, but again, I got that sigh.  I warned her.  I asked her to put a caution indicator on his chart to warn the staff of Gordy’s aggression.  I bet she wishes she had listened to me.

Seeing that I was not leaving the clinic until I had assurance Gordy was going to be seen as soon as a clinician became available, we compromised with me leaving him at the hospital for the day.  Should his condition rapidly decline while waiting to be seen, I’d rather he do it in the hospital.  So we left him there.  About an hour after dropping him off, I got a call from the clinic asking for permission to sedate him.  Turns out Gordy had some fire left in him after all.  They were able to listen to his heart and get a respiratory rate but it’s when they attempted to take his temperature that he raised bloody hell on them.  He is now legendary at that clinic.

Day 1 left us with a heart-fluttering bill but no answers.  Frustrating, yes, but since you can’t ask a cat what’s wrong, you have to go down the route of eliminating what it isn’t before you can diagnose what it is.  We agreed to reassess his condition in the morning with a plan to ultrasound should he show no improvement.  Day 2 was different, but still bad.  No vomiting to report, but the diarrhea, oh the diarrhea.  So off he went, back to the clinic for an ultrasound. Only this time they took me up on my offer to restrain him during his procedures.

I wasn’t sure about getting the ultrasound in the first place.  In my experience, they never tell you anything.  I was positive we’d be given a diagnosis that ended in the suffix -itis.  Whenever you get a diagnosis with -itis, it usually means they don’t know what’s wrong.  Gastritis and pancreatitis tend to be the Irritable Bowel Syndrome of the tummy ache world.  Sure enough, the vet was giving me a tentative diagnosis of panreatitis.  I was not pleased.

I was very lucky to be allowed to watch the ultrasound.  The radiologist, a respected hippie professor at Massey, was walking a group of 5th year vet students through Gordy’s case and I was along for the ride.  Sedated, restrained, and with a full face muzzle on, Gordy’s belly was shaved bare for the procedure.  Just like I’d predicted, the pancreas looked normal.  Everything looked normal.  But then we saw it.  A big, honkin’ angry looking left section of the pancreas was waving to me.  They were right, it really was pancreatitis.

Gold standard care would have me leaving Gordy at the hospital on IV fluids and 24-hour care for the next three days.  But as we were left clutching our pearls with the second vet bill just to get the diagnosis, we had to tailor Gordy’s treatments.  Also, I don’t think the staff liked the thought of having to medicate Gordy on a regular basis.  I’m now Gordy’s in-home nursing care – injections, oral medications, subcutaneous fluids, and meticulous records of all substances going in one end and coming out the other are being done by me.

We’re not out of the woods yet.  His appetite is still miniscule and the diarrhea situation is still, um…dramatic.  We have another 24 hours to turn this wagon around and get him eating again.  If not, it’s back to the hospital we go.  But never fear.  Keep calm and carry on.  Stiff upper lip and all that.  I’m surrounded by friends that are vet techs and another that’s an actual practicing vet.  With all of us on the case, we’re sure to bring Gordy right.

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