Today’s Expensive Mistake

This past Monday, Kara and I had our new kitten, Freddie, spayed. The kitty came home with a “cone of shame” — an Elizabethan-style plastic cone that kept her from licking at her surgical incision and possibly tearing open her sutures.  The kitty knocked off the cone four times the first day. It was hard to believe how much she hated the thing. Even once she seemed to resign herself to it, she became lethargic and sort of pathetic.

On some friends’ recommendation, I decided to try an alternative to the cone of shame, the BiteNot collar. Our friends said they’d used it with their cats and had found it much better than the cones. So, eager to make things better for our new kitten, I ordered one of these collars and had it shipped by overnight express. Cost: more than $50 with tax and shipping.

The collar arrived this morning. I removed the cat’s cone and tried to put on the BiteNot collar. The cat despised the collar even more than the cone. Worse, because our kitten is so small, she pushed the collar off with ease, despite its “patented strap” which is supposed to prevent that from happening. To keep it on the cat for even a few minutes required wrapping it rather tightly — and the moment I did that, the cat had a major wiggins.

Freddie began huffing, wheezing, growling, and gurgling, so I got that thing off her and put the cone back on. She ran and hid for a while. When she found me again an hour later, she sounded as if she were gargling, and the part of her cone in front of her mouth was wet with saliva. I knew something was wrong, so I ran her to the vet’s office.

One exam, one x-ray, one new prescription, and $205 later, it’s been determined that the collar placed too much pressure on the kitten’s cervical vertebrae, with as-yet-unknown consequences; that the stress of fighting to escape the choking collar triggered an asthma attack; and that she has a significant amount of fluid in her lungs. She received oxygen therapy, subcutaneous fluids, and an antibiotic injection to help clear her lungs.

For now the vet says it’s more important to keep the kitten calm than to keep her from her sutures, so he says forget about the cone. The kitten is home now, but apparently is feeling rather antisocial, the first time I’ve seen her like this. The worst part of this is knowing that it’s my fault for trying to put that asinine collar on her instead of just letting her mope along with her cone.

The vet offered some other equally distressing bits of speculation in today’s diagnosis, but for now I need to worry about the problem in front of me. The rest can wait until the kitten pulls through.

All I can do for now is sit, watch, listen, and worry.

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