It doesn't make me feel any better about my (crazy) theory that our house is built on some sort of bad place, that there's some kind of evil force haunting us that brings misfortune to those we try to care for. (Cats, dogs, embryos...)
First there was Rocky, my beloved cat that met an inexplicable, awful end over four years ago. I felt like his slow demise was maybe due to some kind of radon or poison gas contamination, but that's not the case. Just a horrible series of unfortunate events.
Then we got Lucky, who is an amazingly loving cat. He was a rescue, five when we got him from the local ASPCA shelter. I'll save you the turmoil of suspense -- he's not dying or anything like that, but he's also got some poor fortune lately.
In the past few months he's been drooling a lot. And his breath is terrible. Our previous vet had suggested that we do a sedated dental cleaning in late 2015. That would cost about $800, so we decided to hold off momentarily and then get a second opinion (we hadn't been super happy with that vet for a while). Note: they said he needed a cleaning, he had some gum disease to take care of. THAT'S IT.
This past Saturday, we had our new vet, who does house calls, come over and check Lucky out.
He needs ALL of his teeth extracted. ALL OF THEM.
He has stomatitis, which is this horrible bacterial infection in his mouth where his body sees his teeth as invaders that need to come out, like splinters. And so his gums have receded to the point that most of his roots are exposed, his mouth is totally inflamed, and his poor little system is just riddled with bacteria. His front canines are peeking out of his mouth a bit lately, making him look sort of like a kitty vampire. It was a little odd since I wasn't sure if he'd always looked like that and I was just now noticing it, but I didn't realize it was not cute, but nefarious. Lucky's teeth are actually moving and his body is actively trying to push them out. HIS TEETH ARE TRYING TO ESCAPE HIS FACE.
We felt just awful. But also, kind of mad, because the originally suggested routine cleaning wouldn't have done anything. This was likely there when we saw our previous vet and it wasn't recognized. It doesn't happen with this severity overnight.
Our house call vet referred us to an animal hospital in a neighboring suburb, or a veterinary dentist in...Buffalo. Oh, Buffalo. The nexus of everything that sucks our money away. However, the veterinary dentist does this all the time, and so we thought we'd get an estimate.
I love my cat, but our homestudy is coming up for renewal in a couple of months and that will likely cost the same amount. I was willing to do it, but Bryce decided to poke about and see if there was anyone else locally.
And he found a vet that routinely does full-mouth extractions and is very familiar with stomatitis, and they are located not 5 minutes from our house!
We had the consult today. Oh, poor, poor Lucky.
His teeth are so bad and his mouth is in such bad shape that she is worried about the presence of healthy bone...the bacteria is attacking his BONE. He needs to be on antibiotics before the surgery because of all the bacteria, they don't want to suture up bacteria against his jawbone, and his poor system is just teeming with the little buggers. They have to get the whole tooth--deep cat roots and all -- because if any tiny fragment remains...so does the bacteria. And that can make him really sick.
To add insult to injury, he had two raging ear infections, too.
(Just so you don't think I'm the WORST pet parent ever, apparently cats are really good at hiding pain. I just feel awful that my poor guy is in so very much of it.)
A week from today our little Lucky will be getting all his teeth extracted, in a surgery that could last up to 4 hours. It will be less than $2500 and not an hour and 20 minutes away, but still quite pricey. It's worth it to relieve him of all that pain. My heart hurts just thinking about it.
After, he'll be on tons of pain meds for a week, but he won't need special food. Apparently cats only need their teeth if they are hunting outdoors, for grabbing and shredding. They don't chew much otherwise and can even eat dry food with no teeth. And he won't look like a dried apple doll, because cat jaws are strong and there's no sunken-mouth when the teeth come out. Not that what Lucky looks like is what's important, but I don't want him to feel weird. I would feel weird if all my teeth came out at once.
But, cats are insanely adaptable -- just as they can hide their pain, they adapt to things like having no teeth. (Or, in Rocky's case, no front leg.) They can face pain and adversity and bounce back, adapting to their new realities, even if sometimes that adaptation is hiding hurt. Cats aren't so different from infertility warriors and survivors in that way.