My cat has shamed me because I posted a blog about dogs two days in a row, but there has been no mention of her yet. So as any “mother” who can’t play favorites with her kids, I’m going to write about our cat, Peekaboo. (forgive the background of this picture…she was on my son’s bed while he was in the middle of studying for finals and it was a mess!)
Healthy and Happy
Peeka is a solid black cat, which is my favorite cat to own. I got my first one for my thirteenth birthday, as a gift from my sister. I had just started taking French, so I named him Beau, after Napolean Bonaparte. He lived until I was 25, when he died of old age. It was as if fate was looking out for me after Beau’s death…one night a black kitten came into my life. I adopted the stray, and named him Maison. We pronounced it the American way, like Mason, but I was still into the French theme in those days, and maison means “home” so I thought it was the most fitting name for my little stray kitty. Maison enriched our lives for seventeen years, and then he too passed away.
After Maison died, I missed having a cat, but wasn’t in a huge rush to go out and find a new one. Then one day my neighbor called to tell me a stray kitten had taken up at her house. With two cats and a big dog already, she didn’t think she could handle one more. I told her I wasn’t sure I wanted a new one yet, but asked out of curiosity, “What color is it?” I should have known the answer even before I asked…it was a little black kitten, and we took her without ever looking back! When we first got her home, I wasn’t sure if she was a male or female. My son had just been to a costume party, and he and his girlfriend went dressed as Danny and Sandy from Grease. My daughter made the comment the kitten was so black that it looked like a grease spot. Inspiration struck and we decided to call the new pet Zuko after John Travolta’s character. A couple of days later, we realized we had a little female, and were back to the drawing board in search of a name.
At this point, the kitty was still shy, and she had a tendency to get behind something and then peer out from behind it to watch us. Thus, the name Peekaboo. But over the years we’ve gotten into the habit of just calling her Peeka. She is one of the sweetest cats I have ever been around. Most cats are more aloof. Even the ones who are friendly within their own family usually often don’t take kindly to strangers. Peeka isn’t like that…she will hang back and observe for awhile. Then once she decides our guests are okay, she will enter the room and grace everyone with her presence. She will sometimes even rub up against their legs or let them pick her up. And everyone loves her.
A couple of years ago, we almost lost her. She is an inside cat, and never goes out. Our dogs, come in the house often, but generally stay outside. We treat them with vet prescribed flea medicine, but never got any of it for Peeka since she never goes out in the yard. A couple of years ago, there was a sort of flea epidemic in our town. Everyone was complaining about flea outbreaks in their homes. Even the exterminator told us they were unusually bad that year. We noticed a couple on the cat one night. Since the vet was closed, we decided to get some over the counter stuff to administer to her. We bought something at PetsMart and rubbed it on her back.
The next morning, my husband came in very early to wake me up. “Something is wrong with Peeka – I think she’s dying.” I was out of bed in a flash and raced to her side. Sure enough, she was trembling all over and could barely stand up. She certainly could not walk. I was terrified, and mystified too. She’d been perfectly fine the night before, and I couldn’t imagine what she could have gotten into that would have done this! As soon as they opened, we raced to the vet’s office. They took her, and we explained the circumstances and how this had come on so suddenly. As soon as I mentioned the OTC flea meds, our veterinarian said, “That’s it! They shouldn’t even sell that stuff.” She proceeded to tell us that it isn’t particularly common, but some cats do have reactions to the chemicals used in the cheaper brands of flea medicine. She told us how many cats she’d seen die as a result of being treated with that stuff during the years she’d been in practice (around 30!). She warned us Peeka was one of the worst she’d seen, and didn’t sugar coat the situation. They admitted our cat, and said I could call that afternoon to see how she was doing.
Peeka was given a relaxer to calm her down, and then she was subjected to nearly a dozen baths to get the ointment out of her fur and skin. The vet said they would bathe her, blow dry her, give her a short rest, and then do it all over again for as many times as it took to feel like they’d gotten it off of her. They also put her on fluids. By that afternoon, we got an encouraging report. Peeka was still alive, and she seemed to be showing signs of improvement, but she wasn’t out of the woods yet. They kept her overnight.
The next morning I called to check on her again, and was so relieved to hear she’d made it through the night. I was able to pick her up later that afternoon, and she seemed weak but otherwise okay. And her fur had never been more beautiful! A dozen bath and blow dry “salon treatments” had made her as radiant as the sun!
I’m so thankful that Peeka survived her brush with death. And I hope this message might spare some other cat a similar fate. I tell everyone I know that owns cats to never buy that stuff! It isn’t worth the little bit of money you might save. Who cares about saving a few dollars if you lose your beloved cat in the process! Needless to say, before we left the vet’s office we had a multi-pak of Frontline in our possession. Most importantly, we were taking our cat out with us as well. She had survived the awful ordeal!
By the way, in case you are curious, Dr. Greene said that you almost never see a reaction to the cheaper flea medicine by dogs. Although it can occur, it is extremely rare.
Here is another picture of Peeka, the most loving cat ever!
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