A couple of weeks ago, one of my cats, Amy, who’s light gray with some tabby markings and beautiful blue eyes, started acting funny: she was stumbling around, unable to get her balance, and her eyes were moving rapidly from side to side. I told Mary, “I think Amy’s having a stroke.” Of course, this happened minutes after the vet’s office closed. So we put her in the basement, where she climbed behind some tables and stayed for the rest of the night.
We thought we were going to lose her, or have to have her put to sleep. I mean, she’s not an old cat, but not young, either, and we’ve seen cats go downhill in a hurry before. Mary said she would take Amy to the vet the next morning, and I started saying goodbye in my head.
The next morning, Mary woke me up. “I think Amy’s going to be okay,” she said, and shared an article she found online about feline vestibular disease, where the cat’s vestibular system (based in the inner ear, same as ours) is out of whack. It described Amy’s symptoms almost exactly, with loss of balance and coordination, her eyes moving from side to side rapidly, and her head tipping off to one side. Amy was fine when we found her in the basement, and Mary put her in the carrier and took her to the vet.
Mary’s gone for over an hour (the vet is five minutes away) and when she finally called, she told me that she’s in the drive-thru line at McDonald’s and she’s bringing home Egg McMuffins. We have a tradition in our house where, when we lose a cat, we have a breakfast brunch of Egg McMuffins, so of course I figured that Amy wasn’t coming home. When I tried to ask Mary what had been wrong, she hung up on me.
Anyway, I’m walking around the house, hugging the other cats and letting them know the bad news, when Mary comes home carrying a bag of Egg McMuffins and Amy. When I expressed relief that the kitty was still alive.
Mary gives me a funny look. “Why did you think she was gone?”
“Because you’re bringing home Egg McMuffins.” She had forgotten about the tradition. Evidently, just as she was talking to me, she had just pulled up to the window to pay, and had to get off the phone. We were raised in the days when that was considered good manners, not weird.
Turns out that Mary was right in her diagnosis, Amy had contracted feline vestibular disease, but she was going to be all right. Her head might be tipped off to one side permanently; I think it’ll just make her more adorable than she already is.
Mary kept her in our isolation room (an unused bedroom) for the last two weeks, and she just made it out yesterday. Her head is tipped to one side, and she still has a little trouble with her balance, but she’s just as pretty and as goofy as she ever was, and she missed me almost as much as I missed her.
So, I learned that, with cats, you can never give up hope. Things that look serious or fatal can actually be not that big of a deal. Amy will likely stumble a little and her head might be permanently crooked, but she’s still alive and in good health. Kind of like me, all these years after the stroke.