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Bellyieve It or Not


Last Saturday Queen Isabella’s spay scar looked great, but I noticed she had some swelling in her lower abdomen. It didn’t seem to bother her, so I didn’t worry about it. But on Sunday night the swelling was widespread across her entire abdomen. You could palpate something that felt tubular between her skin and abdominal wall, and it zigzagged across her belly. We know what milk feels like in a lactating mother, and this felt much more discrete and rubbery.

I immediately worried that her spay incision had opened up and a substantial loop of bowel had slipped out. Flipping her on her back, we could see her belly was reddened and the swelling was pervasive.

Martha wasn’t buying it; she thought QI was fine. And QI certainly wasn’t acting as if she was in pain. But I was worried that her herniated bowel could rupture, either due to incarceration or injury. So I was relieved to find her OK on Monday morning, though the swelling was undiminished. It felt like I could trace a foot or more of bowel under her skin with my fingers. I got permission to take her to the vet late Monday morning.

It turns out Martha and I were both wrong, though the vet had to x-ray QI to rule out hernia. She diagnosed severe mastitis instead, and said it was a good sign that QI’s temperature and appetite were normal. So maybe Balboa and Ernest had been nursing on the sly, and QI was still producing milk. If so, it’s odd that we never witnessed it, and QI appeared to have a flat belly before her spay. We’ll file this one in the “strange but true” category.

The vet prescribed Clavamox and warm compresses, which we’ve been administering since Monday afternoon, with little apparent impact. QI’s mammary glands are still firm and swollen, but that hasn’t stopped her from purring, face-nuzzling, calling out to lure visitors, and eating whatever we serve her. So we hope her mastitis diminishes as her hormones ebb away.

Upstairs, Czarina Nola is developing a little abdominal swelling of her own, though she’s doing it the old-fashioned way, by eating more than her share from the communal buffet. We’ve noticed in the past that kittens or adult cats who experience severe sickness-induced weight loss (like Groundhog) sometimes eat too much once they’ve recovered.

Our upstairs feline posse is a challenge to our free-feeding policy. Reggie and Yogi are couch potatoes who sometimes wander into the fat zone, which tempts us to leave the food bowls empty most of the time. But Mia oscillates between skinny and anorexic, and she’s the one who has scared us the most the last two years, so we want to make sure Mia can eat whenever she wants.

And she could, if Nola didn’t lick every bowl clean first. So we’ve taken to feeding-by-treasure-hunt upstairs. Small rations of canned food are served every morning in the bathrooms, and two half-cup bowls of kibble appear in random nooks and crannies of the upstairs at varying times during the day. Sometimes the bowls can only be reached by jumping. It may not solve our food-allocation problem, but at least the cats have to do a little hunting for their meals.

filed by: TS



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