Confessions of a Pet Mom

I’ve posted a lot about Zuzu, our Chihuahua. She’s 3 1/2 years old, and she’s been with us since she was 6 1/2 weeks old. Included in our menagerie are Mina, a 9 1/2 year old Lab/Pit mix , and Karma, our 10 1/2 year old long-haired black cat.

Karma developed some problems with vomiting and licking the fur off of her belly. I took her to the veterinarian, and she was diagnosed with depression. She’s gotten pretty chubby at 15.5 lbs, and she had also started licking the fur off of her back, resulting in some little scabs. The vet recommended a course of antibiotics, an antidepressant, and a prescription weight loss food.

Food becomes something of a vicious cycle in our house. Mina wolfs her food down quickly. Zuzu is a bit pickier, and she will munch on hers throughout the day…unless Mina becomes super motivated to climb over and around furniture in order to get to it, wherever we’ve “hidden” it for the day. This then causes Zuzu to go eat Karma’s food in the bathroom (that’s blocked from Mina with a baby gate with cat door). So Karma meows to us all the time because she’s hungry since Zuzu ate her food, since Mina ate her food. Karma started gorging on food when we’d give it to her after she cried. See? Vicious cycle.

We came up with a plan where we’d block off the stairs leading to the second floor of our townhouse, and the downstairs would be for the dogs, upstairs for the cat (when we’re not home). That quickly became problematic since the opening to the stairs is wider than a doorway, which is what the baby gate fit. Karma was squeezing through the side to come downstairs, and Zuzu was squeezing through to go upstairs. Only poor Mina was stuck where she was supposed to be!

So, the baby gate went back to where it was, and Karma’s food went on the bathroom counter. The vet said this would be okay because it would also force Karma to exercise a bit.

Back to the medicine Karma needs to take. I’ve had cats in the past, and, from time to time, they needed pills or liquid medicine. It’s not the easiest thing to do (unless you’re a professional!). But I have never met a more willful cat than mine! Todd and I tried five separate times, wasting seven pills total, to give Karma a pill, and not one time was successful! Karma literally SPIT at us. Not “hissing and spitting” like a cat does, I mean, gathering up a bunch of spit in her mouth and forcefully expelling it from her mouth! The liquid antibiotic is easier to give her (but not by much).

With pill #6, I crunched it and mixed it into some tasty wet food. I put Karma’s food on the floor of the bathroom and left her sniffing it. I got Zuzu’s and Mina’s food ready, and Mina was right there to eat it. I called for Zuzu, but she didn’t come. A light bulb went off, and I ran upstairs…to walk in on Zuzu polishing off Karma’s food. She was very proud of herself, and was strutting around. I called her a “bad girl” (several times), and went downstairs to make Karma another antidepressant pill meal.

After I finished scooping, microwaving, and mixing, I got to thinking about what Zuzu ate; a 50 mg pill meant for a 15.5 lb cat. Zuzu is only 4 lbs. I called the vet, just to make sure, and was told to bring her in as soon as possible. I took Mina out, got us ready, and set off. My husband suggested I induce vomiting and not mess with the vet. That was out of the question – I can’t handle throw up!

At the vet, I checked in, went to the exam room, and waited for a couple of minutes. The vet came in, I explained the situation, and got a big scare. A pill with that high of milligrams on that little a dog is very bad. Like “It could kill her bad.” The vet told me that I did good by getting her in so quickly, and she would need to take her to induce vomiting. That was the last time I saw her (until the next morning). I thought I’d get to take her home that night, but Zuzu needed to be monitored for seizure and heart attack. I didn’t get to say goodbye to her.

I held it together the best I could while talking with the vet, but I did start to cry. I did something really stupid, by apologizing to the vet for crying. I’m still trying to figure out why I did that. Why wouldn’t I cry?! The vet told me I’d get to pick her up at 8:00 am the next morning. I walked out to my car, and started sobbing. I cannot imagine living my life without Zuzu in it. And to know that she could die because of my stupidity was like a knife through my heart.

It was a stressful and sleepless night for both Todd and I. Poor little Zuzu was in a cage in a strange place, with other animals who were hurting, without the comforts of home. 8:00 am came, and Todd and I were pulling into the parking lot while the vet on duty was calling me to fill me in on Zuzu’s status. She was doing well, and wasn’t exhibiting any signs of neurological damage. I was told that my quick actions in bringing her in quickly helped to prohibit the drug from getting too far into her blood stream. It was cold comfort since I knew it was my fault.

All told, Zuzu was given a shot to induce vomiting, had charcoal put in her belly, was given some other kind of shot to counteract any damage, had an IV catheter in her little arm (they shaved her little leg!), and was given fluids.

It was a joyous reunion when I finally got Zuzu back in my arms! We were all tired, and after lots of kisses and cuddles, we took a nap. Zuzu slept most of Saturday and Sunday, and was only slightly more active on Monday. By Tuesday she was back to her old adorable self.

The guilt I felt over this whole experience has been all-consuming. Writing about it has helped me to feel better, but this experience will stay with me for a long time.

After all this, we still haven’t been able to give that cat a pill!

  1. julee

    January 22, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    oh my gosh Amy – this was terrible and comforting all at the same time. I’m soooo sorry for the scare on your cute cute cute little Zuzu. That is so hard. And otherwise this post helped me realize that we’re not alone in our battles with our “kids.” My husband and I have a treasured golden retirever nearing end of life and requiring crazy kinds of care and we recently took on two rescue cats that have presented new challenges for us. And feeding time anymore is zoo central! Please know you are not alone at all on trying to work with these food challenges and provide a loving — and safe — home to your loved four legged children. They are lucky to have you!

    1. Amy Byrne-Henderson

      January 22, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      Thank you, Julee! You helped me to realize I’m not alone, too. I’m sorry you’re in that position with your dog. I’ve been there before, and it’s awful.

  2. jill

    January 17, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    next time, just give her some peroxide and let her barf it up….much less painful.. I bet Todd would clean it up 🙂

    1. Amy Byrne-Henderson

      January 17, 2013 at 10:47 pm

      No way, Jill! I will self-diagnose myself, but not my pets. Especially my little princess (Zuzu)! : )

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