Animal Anecdote 54
The twenty one year old cat looked his age. Emaciated, run down and debilitated would be a fair description with a huge tumor on his left shoulder. My receptionist noted on the cat’s chart, “Consultation as to cancer surgery.” At a glance I recognized a candidate for euthanasia but the owner had tears in his eyes. “Doc, I want you to remove this tumor from the old boy.” He did not want a consultation but only to tell me what to do. By then I had placed my stethoscope on the, “Old boy’s” chest. That client was no less than the Chief of Police of a neighboring town and used to giving orders. “Chief Fowler. I know the cat means a lot to you but he could never survive the surgery or even the anesthetic for such surgery.”
The Chief was insistent. “I don’t care if he dies under anesthesia but my wife and I will not have him killed after his having given us so much love and pleasure all his long life.” After protestations on my part I agreed to surgery and as the old cat had not eaten in several days I decided to operate that very evening after our office hours. After more petting the crying Chief left.
I had often contracted the emotional feelings of clients but in this case I was perhaps more interested in the fact that here was a police officer who must have gone through many potentially sad situations with people to have reached the position of Chief of a good sized municipality who had such a profound feeling for his old cat.
I was sure the surgery would be a short procedure and told my surgical assistant so as I administered the intravenous anesthetic waiting for the poor old creature to take his last breath. He continued breathing and required the full dose a normal mid-aged cat would. While my assistant shaved and scrubbed the area I watched for the last breathe that, rather than last continued normally. Strangely his heart continued as normally would be expected in a younger cat. The lesion was larger than a hen’s egg; perhaps the size of a turkey egg and the surgery went well with few attachments to the underlying tissue. All through the surgery both I and my assistant watched for the final breath that did not come.
Still confident my appraisal of the cat’s ending its life during surgery was uppermost in my mind when I phoned to tell the Chief. Mrs. Fowler answered the phone and didn’t let me say more than my name when she told me they were expecting the call and she started telling me how much they had loved the cat before I interrupted her to say the cat survived the surgery. She said she would have to phone for her husband who was down at a local pub. He had never had a drink while on duty in his life but she would have to locate him.
I brought the cat home with me to observe him off and on during the night with only one call from the Chief who would come for the cat in the morning. He was waiting for me at 7 AM and after thanks took the fully awake if still as a fatality waiting to happen at any time home.
There is a post script to that case when the Chief returned for the stitch removal. He said the cat was eating well again and has been rejuvenated using his litter box again and even climbing the stairs he hasn’t climbed in two years.
Surgical rejuvenation is recognized in medical literature in man and beast but I wonder about this cat’s age. The Fowlers moved to a new job a few months later and I lost contact and have always wondered how much longer their wonder-cat lived.
Next time: Killed by a roast beef string. 658 words