Are you a dog person or a cat person?
My first few working weeks at LAW I somehow gravitated towards the cat isolation area. We were short staffed, and this area is very contained and a constant repetition of strict procedures and protocols which I seemed to fall into quite nicely! I just chilled out and tended to my loving, appreciative patients.
Most of the cats placed in isolation are very sick and contagious cats. They need close veterinary nursing, medication and monitoring.
I bonded rather quickly with a beautiful Persian cat. Her owner, a Thai lady, had lost her only child in the 2004 tsunami and now doted on her newfound baby. We had to get this cat home safe and sound, and as quickly as possible.
I met this little Persian in isolation. She had an open abscess on her head and had come for surgery to help drain and heal it. The operation went well, and she was ready to go home, when she contracted cat flu. Full with cold and gradually going off her food, her once glossy coat was dull and matted, her whiskers breaking off and falling out.
Along with the vets I took on a personal mission with this little girl. She WAS going to get better!
She was syringe fed a high energy paste for cats and nebulised twice daily to help with her breathing. I would get up in the night a few times to feed her too. A week in, I was really pleased as she took some fresh fish from me. She had some interest in life again. I spent time, as I did several times a day, gently stroking her ears and talking to her. That same day, I heard the faintest of purrs. Yes! She’s getting better!
The next day, I rushed into isolation looking forward to more purring improvements… She was laying in her cage, her breathing was barely detectable. I couldn’t believe it, she was struggling. I ran for the vet. Our vet Cara did an examination and said that the kindest thing would be to let her go to sleep with our help. I didn’t want to hear that, but knew she was slipping away. I held her to me, stroked her ears and talked to her as we let her go. I just felt devastated…
In the following weeks, my stay at LAW proved to be a personal journey through every conceivable emotion. Working in ‘iso’ was a steep learning curve for me, an extremely humbling and massively rewarding experience that I will never forget. I have always been a ‘dog’ person but now I’m not so sure…