I brought Itchy in to the vet on Thursday afternoon for a follow-up visit at the animal hospital (my regular vet was on vacation, and while he did call me to talk about the situation, there wasn’t much he could do over the phone) . The doctor was very nice, although she did admit that the problem with neurologic cats is that they’re incredibly difficult to diagnose.
She did check his ears, though, both of which have raging infections, so it may be that it’s as simple as treating the infection and maybe his sense of balance will be restored. She tested for FIV/FLV, which came out negative, and she reran the blood work (also still normal). If after the treatment for the ear infection is gone, she told me, we should test for toxoplasmosis, which is also treatable with antibiotics.
She’s also thinking that if it is none of the above, Itchy might have idiopathic vestibular disease, which is not a fatal problem, just disturbing, and nobody knows the cause of it, nor do they know a treatment for it. Sometimes it goes away on its own.
Of course, there’s always the chance that he received some sort of trauma to the head while he was out and there’s some sort of brain damage, and we could get an MRI and a CT scan, but that would involve going into Philly to the University of Penn, seeing a neurologist, putting him under general anesthesia, and shelling out a few thousand dollars for the specialist to tell us that they have no way of treating what he’s got. Can you guess that I’m hoping this all goes away on its own?
After the vet appointment, I brought him home and went out to get him some more kitty litter and a little kitty harness so we could go outside together. He has really wanted so badly to go out, ever since I brought him in, and since he hasn’t pooped, I figured he would be okay for me to take him out on a leash.
Boy was I wrong. He sat still for me to put the harness on him, but when we went outside and I sat him down, he raced for the bushes. When he felt the resistance from the leash, he FREAKED OUT. He was jumping up and down, doing acrobats, limbs flailing, claws out (he sliced my hand pretty deeply) , and he moved around so quickly and violently that the safety clips on the harness released, and he went running off into the night.
I am a terrible mommy. I should never have taken him out.
So now he is back outside. I saw him later that night, when he was under the bushes yowling like nobody’s business. I tried to go to him, but he wouldn’t let me near. I saw him again in the morning, when I brought some food out to him. He wouldn’t eat until I stepped far away from the food bowl. This afternoon after work, I tried to find him in his usual hiding places, but he wasn’t there.
The good thing is that Scratchy is just as concerned about Itchy as I am. The bad thing is that although Scratchy will be by my side while I’m in the garden, showing Itchy that I’m okay, he can’t pick up Itchy like I can, so he’s not really too much help right now. I went out again just now when I got home from rehearsal, and still no sign of Itchy. Scratchy has taken up his guard position at the bottom of the steps, on the lookout for his brother.
On the bright side, I’ve finally gotten a good night’s sleep. Also, I think the ear-cleaning has done something for his balance, because I was watching him outside, and although he’s still stumbling, he’s a little more confident in the way he is walking. Keep your fingers crossed that I will be able to charm him back inside tomorrow morning.