Softie was spayed on Tuesday of this week.
So Monday night I had to throw her into the bathroom (where I'd set up a private litterbox for her) and shut the door and leave there so she wouldn't be able to consume any food or water.
Her little mews were heartwrenching.
Scratchy, the sweet, wonderful big lug that he is, spent most of the night outside the bathroom door, lending quiet support.
We dropped her off at the vet's at 8 in the morning and picked her up around quarter to four. The kids came along. They love going to the vet. Probably because nothing bad ever happens to THEM there.
The tech went over the whole post-op care checklist with me; nothing new – we went through this a couple months ago with Scratchy - the only difference, really, being that Scratchy's surgery was a lot less invasive than Softie's. I know – my husband and any other male out there would cross his legs and disagree with me, but still. Come on guys. His incision was WAAAAAAAAAY smaller than Softie's.
Anyway. So we brought home little Softie in the carrier. She was, of course, wearing the same ridiculous "Elizabethan collar" that Scratchy had worn. Oh, joy.
Well, we got her home, and the kids went downstairs to play. Old hands at this, they weren't all that interested in watching Softie emerge from her carrier. It's just as well. It took her a while. Instead of trying to come out, she spent her time and energy trying to get that rid of the collar. I had to keep reaching in and pulling one paw or the other out of the collar…at one point she got the edge of it jammed in her mouth. And she wouldn't let me pull her out of the carrier, either. She'd retreat (such as it was) to the opposite end as much as possible. Maybe she was embarrassed to be seen in such a ridiculous get-up, and didn't want to make her entrance until she'd ripped it off.
Well, eventually she did emerge, with the stupid collar still on. And she stumbled drunkenly around the house, shaking her head and pawing at the plastic annoyance.
She hated it. Not just a "This thing's a pain! Oh well, I'll eat some food" kind of hate. No. It was a fiery, raging, angry red "DEATH TO ELIZABETHAN COLLARS EVERYWHERE!!!!" kind of animosity.
And the thing is – she got it off. And once she did, she calmed right down.
But, mindful of the post-op instructions to keep that thing on so she wouldn't lick her wound and rip out the stitches and spill her innards all over the floor, I caught her (carefully) and slipped the collar back over her head and tied the gauze snugly but not too tight.
Immediately she was back to staggering around, bumping into things. She managed to get herself caged in between the four legs of a dining room chair and there she sat for a little while, looking around and getting her bearings. And no doubt plotting her next escape.
She had a tough time figuring out how to eat with that thing on. At one point she looked up and flipped cat food in the air, startling herself. Not a good time.
Of course, the worst part for her was my fault. I was roasting chicken at a high temperature (crispy skin, less moisture loss) and when I opened the oven door at one point to check on it, our ultra sensitive smoke alarm went off. Softie had been sitting in the dining room at that point, and when the alarm began so shriek, she basically leaped into the air in five directions at once and raced around the main floor in a circle or two and then vanished.
I was busy grabbing a chair to climb onto so I could take the battery out of the alarm and shut the hideous thing off, so I didn't see where she'd gone. I checked all around the nearby rooms, under and behind furniture, but no cat. I called down to the kids to see if she'd gone down there, but no, they hadn't seen her. So I sent Alex and Julia upstairs to search the bedrooms and the bathroom up there.
They went up, spent oh, thirty seconds doing who knows what, and came down to report that they couldn't find her. Uh-huh. Thanks, kids.
I shut off the not-yet-boiling pasta water and went upstairs myself. The light was on in the kids' bedroom, so I knew where they had looked, if you can call it that. But I noticed Scratchy sitting on the floor beside the bed in my room, and I knew. I peeked under the bed and sure enough, there she was. Huddled between some under-the-bed storage containers, there she crouched, stupid collar still on, her eyes wide. "It's okay," I crooned, and left her in peace. I shut the bathroom door and the kids' bedroom door and went back downstairs.
Some time later Softie appeared again, minus the collar. I found it by the bed, put it back on her, and went back to making dinner. She crept around the edges of the rooms, waiting for some other horrible noise to sound. And then, a bit later, she had the collar off again.
This was going to be a fun recuperation, I could tell.
In the end, she won. The collar has stayed off. Short of strangling her with the gauze strip, I can't see how we're going to keep the thing on. So I am monitoring her suture wound multiple times a day, and so far, it's just fine. I think she's far less stressed without the collar, and less stress is good for us all.
At the moment, she is on the table where the lizard tank sits, staring at a cricket that the lizard hasn't eaten yet. Her tail is lashing from side to side in a predatorial frenzy.
She's just fine.