My kitty cat, Greyson, is teaching me what I will be like as a mom.
Or at least what I might be like – because a mostly self-sufficient, independent cat is a totally different experience to a child, I do understand this.
This past weekend he got sick, and I cried.
On Saturday evening I was resting on the couch while watching a movie, (Blended, with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, a cute movie), and Greyson came and snuggled into one of my feet. His arm and paw around my foot like so:
My heart expanded with happy feelings of love for him.
About 30 minutes later, he sat up and there was a huge line of drool hanging from the corner of his mouth.
At first I laughed and said out loud (I talk to him all of the time), “Is that drool buddy? Did you have a dream about eating something tasty?” and I thought it was hilarious.
He jumped off the couch and went to hang out in the bedroom. Then later he was running around the place chasing his toys, and generally making a ruckus as he normally does.
Sleep followed by big bursts of energy, followed by sleep, such is the life of a cat.
He seemed fine, though I will admit I wasn’t really looking for any problems and had thought the drool was a one time, dream-caused thing.
When I went to bed and he followed.
He has taken to getting just under the covers beside me with his head poking out but his body snuggled underneath for about 20 minutes or so at a time (perhaps due to heat he moves after that amount of time). And that’s where he headed.
I was reading my book as is my bedtime ritual, and he reached his paw out to touch my arm from under the covers. His paw was blazing hot, which is unusual. I stroked his head and noticed that his fur was wet.
He got up and moved out from under the covers, leaving behind a large wet patch from where his head had been. I got up and got a towel for the patch and for his face. He was drooling like a faucet that couldn’t be turned off.
I didn’t quite know what to do. He laid back down and went to sleep again. I put a towel under his head and watched him for a while. He was breathing normally, and didn’t appear to be struggling, so I eventually dozed myself.
Each time he got up throughout the night, I woke, checked on him, wiped his drool, put another towel on another wet spot and monitored him until he again fell asleep.
This went on all night, and neither of us was very well rested on Sunday morning.
At around 6am (which was 7am due to daylight savings fall back), I woke to my feet touching a puddle. When I sat up the patch of drool at the end of the bed was massive, soaking through the blanket, duvet, sheets, and mattress.
He looked bedraggled, the fur around his face was wet and standing on end and drool dripped constantly from his mouth.
Drip, drip, drip, it landed on the already wet bed. I grabbed another towel and dried his face and fur down his neck and chest.
I Googled “cat drooling excessively” and most of the responses talked about an infected tooth, or poison. Both suggested getting to a vet as soon as possible.
It was now about 6:30am. On a Sunday.
I wasn’t sure whether to call the after-hours number or to wait.
He meowed by his food bowl and I got him some breakfast. He ate it right away. The drool didn’t seem to be upsetting his appetite and that was a good sign, according to Google.
I took a shower and decided to wait until at least 8am to call.
I cuddled him for a bit on the couch after my shower and after he’d eaten, but I have to admit drool is not one of my favourite things – and the puddle he left on my arm did turn my stomach a little. So I put him beside me and stroked his head.
He got up and started playing with one of his toys, then walked away uninterested. He sat on the window sill and drip, drip, drip.
When he walked on the floor he left drip marks with every step, if he stood still he left a puddle.
I racked my brain for possible causes, I had cleaned the day before and I’m usually so careful about wiping the benches dry before he jumps up so his little pads don’t get any chemicals on them – but what if I’d missed a spot?
I thought about the spray I’d been using with the proximity to his water or the cat grass I have on the counter – could the spray had gotten in or on those? I had been careful, but was I careful enough?
Did I leave something out, or drop something like garlic or onion or any other poisonous to cats food item? I didn’t think so. I worried over and over that it was something I had done. When I eliminated all options but the cleaning products not being completely dry which was possible but improbable, I started to wonder if someone had slipped something under my door and he’d eaten it… (Not that anyone would, I was struggling to find a reason and my brain went there.)
At around 7:45am I couldn’t stand it any longer, and Google had freaked me out sufficiently that I called the after-hours number.
It’s a paging service.
They explained that I would get to talk to a vet who would advise me if they felt it was worth an emergency call out. And then he explained that an emergency call out fee was $275 plus tax. He asked me if I was willing to accept those charges if necessary.
Yes. I was. My baby was dripping all over the floor.
Greyson’s vet, Dr Armstrong, called me a few minutes later. I was so relieved to hear her voice and know that she would know what to do that I almost cried right then and there. My throat got a lump in it and I had to clear it before I could speak. I held it together while I explained all that had happened, and that he was still dripping consistently as we spoke.
She asked if he was eating? Yes. Normally? Yes. Is he listless? A little but he’s still kind of active. Does he seem distressed by the drool? No, not really, it’s mostly me. Does he goes outside? No, he is inside only.
Questions out of the way, she told me that it was likely a bug or a spider that had come into the house because they were rampant at this time of year. He’d either eaten one, or put one in his mouth and it had caused irritation. She told me about a particular furry little black one that can sting with irritating chemicals on the hair on their legs… what a lovely picture!
She also confirmed it could have been a chemical irritant from cleaning because I told her I’d feared I missed a spot, but that it was unlikely. And she suggested – as Google had – that it could also be a tooth that is infected or inflamed.
She did not think it was an emergency and believed that usually with a spider, bug, or any type of irritant in his mouth that the drool would stop within 48 hours.
If he was still drooling excessively on Tuesday then I should bring him in, unless he stopped eating, because that was a sign that something else was happening and then I should call back to discuss it.
“They’re pretty hardy,” she said, “I’m sure he’ll be fine. Just monitor him and call me if he gets any worse.”
I was so relieved tears started streaming down my face. “Are you sure?” I managed to ask before I lost my voice completely. “Yes.” she replied. “Thank you.” I whispered.
She signed off, and I lost my composure.
Huge sobs of relief hit me; I cried and cried and cried, while my sweet little drooly cat looked at me like he was concerned for me. When I continued sobbing, he came over and sat on my foot, giving me some comfort while I cried. This only made me cry harder. Here I was weeping for relief that he was going to be ok, and he was showing me comfort for my sadness!
I love him so much.
The idea that something could be wrong with him was frightening. And I hadn’t realised how scared I’d been until the vet assured me that he would be OK. The relief that flooded my system felt as tangible as a tidal wave hitting me from a standing position on the beach. It was powerful.
After I pulled myself together, Greyson chased his ball, dripping all over the floor as he went.
I spent the rest of the day wiping up after him, wiping his mouth, drying his fur, and just generally making him comfortable. I didn’t leave the house even though I had planned to do some errands. I did wash the bedding and towels I’d used, and blankets that he’d drooled on so that everything would be fresh again.
By the end of the day Sunday, he was still drooling but no longer dripping. He’d slept a few times without leaving a pool. (Sorry if this is a little grosse!)
That night I covered all of his favourite sleeping spots with towels, and all of them were dry this morning.
Today, Monday, he just had a small amount of drool with occasional dripping but a vast improvement from yesterday. And tonight he appears to be mostly drool free.
The vet was right and I am so relieved!
Still it was interesting for me to see how I reacted to this situation and gave me a glimpse at the kind of mom I might be.
These were the things that stood out for me:
I had felt so completely helpless throughout Saturday night, and even through Sunday when I knew he would be ok. He couldn’t tell me what was wrong, and this was extremely debilitating as a carer. How do you comfort when you don’t know exactly what they are feeling? How do you help when you’re uncertain of the problem?
His occasional mews “sounded different” to my hyper-sensitive ears and I had moments where I was sure he was trying to say “help me” and I didn’t know how.
I did not enjoy the helplessness.
And I may never be “OK” with the unknowns. Maybe it’s a need to control, I’d rather see it as a need to understand, and when I have no understanding of what is happening – I don’t feel good, or safe. I accept this about myself. I also accept that I will live with the discomfort for someone I love.
I’ve never been very good with sickness around me, it makes me want to run away and come back when the source of sickness is healthy again. This is totally tied in with my Dad who was sick all of my life and it scared me to be around him in my younger formative years.
As a result, I shy away from the illness of others, and I rarely get sick myself and even rarer still for me to visit a doctor when I do get sick because I believe in my body’s ability to heal itself. Sickness in a loved one who cant tell me what is happening… not so easy to deal with!
However, while I did not enjoy touching the drool, or the drool touching me (it did turn my stomach at times), I still tenderly wiped his mouth with tissues or towels all day. I wanted to nurture and care for him, and in my heart I felt enormous compassion and love for him while I tended to his needs.
This is quite a relief for me, and I’m proud that I’ve shown myself that I can do it. It feels healing to know that I’m moving through my discomfort with another’s illness.
The tears, sobbing, weeping, the whole bit really surprised me.
I am now envisioning me as a mom weeping in a doctor’s office when the doctor tells me that my child has a common cold and will be ok. Or weeping when I place a band-aid on an owie!
My poor future kids and their emotionally present future mom!!
To be honest though, I actually felt quite proud of those tears and my willingness to express the relief in the way that felt the most authentic at the time. Well done me. I’m completely OK with being an emotionally present, weepy mom! It will be good for my kids to know that it’s not only OK to cry when you feel it, but that emotion doesn’t make us weak.
- My conclusion:
To be honest, I had feared how I would respond to a sick child, and whether I would be coldly attentive – like a stroppy hospital nurse – or if I would allow the love to flow, and still be as attentive and loving as I could be when they weren’t sick.
Now I know. (at least in my trial run with my furry child)
I think for me it’s about love, and the position I hold in the life of the sick-one.
When I am the one responsible, when I am the only person they have to turn to, and when I love them with all of my heart and soul, then their illness, and resulting bodily fluids I can handle.
And my nurture side does not run and hide.
Nursing will never be a career choice for me, and I marvel at the people who choose it – they are quite remarkable people and vastly different from me!
As I write this, Greyson is curled up beside me sleeping, so far with no drool this time. He is definitely getting better and I’m so relieved.
I think I will be a good mom when I get the opportunity. I am strong during a crisis, and emotional once the crisis is over (not a robot!), and I’m able to nurture even when the drool turns my stomach.
I can do it, I will do it, and I’ll do it with love.
This is a relief.
Warm smiles and Love,