Garrus’ Health Check

This morning Aaron and I took Garrus for a health check at the vet. This was done for a few reasons:

  1. Weight. As I’ve mentioned, when we fostered Garrus in mid-August he had evidently lost 2 lbs of weight, and that weight included muscle mass. We identified the major factor–his teeth–and he underwent surgery. Since then he has been eating kitten kibble, which has higher fat and protein content, in order to put on weight. He has gained 0.4 lbs since September. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, I’ve noticed a visible change–his ribs and spine are less visible, he’s thickened a little around his hips (which had been incredibly bony), and his coat is healthier. (He’s so soft!)
  2. Dental issues. Thankfully, he did not have any complications during surgery or any infections afterward, but we’re still keeping an eye on any dental issues. His gums are slightly reddish, possibly indicating mild stomatitis. However, he has not demonstrated any problems eating, growling when eating, or any irritability, aggression, reclusiveness, or other behavioral changes. 
  3. Ear wax. At his last exam, the vet noticed that he had a buildup of excess wax in his ears, which is apparently rather itchy. (No fun!) Because we’re still working on getting Garrus acclimated to being handled, we cannot easily clean his ears. It turns out that he had a little yeast in his ears as well, but that was treated today. He has clean, less itchy ears now!
  4. Nail trimming. Garrus not being accustomed to being handled poses quite a challenge when we need to trim his nails. Given that Garrus does scratch his itchy ears, it’s important that he doesn’t inadvertently tear his ears up with his claws. We talked with both the vet and the vet tech about this issue. Both were very helpful and offered (with demonstrations!) different ways to hold Garrus in order to trim his nails safely and without drama or trauma.
  5. Coughing. Occasionally Garrus has coughing spells. There are any number of reasons why cats cough such as infections, asthma, allergies, hairballs, bronchial problems, cardiac disease, cancer, or parasites. (Sounds scary, I know.) The vet suspects it might be more asthmatic in origin but we should keep an eye on it. Aaron pointed out that the litter we had been using before had produced dust that, given the boys’ playing habits, got everywhere in the house. We’ve done some deep cleaning to fight the good fight against the dust, but most importantly, we’ve transitioned all three cats to using Cat Genies. No dust! Hopefully that will help.
  6. Heart murmur. When I first brought Garrus to the vet, she learned during an exam that he has a heart murmur. This morning we discussed problem signs to look out for (he hasn’t shown any) and possible further tests that may be needed to assess what the problem is and what treatment options are available.

Although Garrus is not nearly as fearful about the carrier and the vet’s office as Charlie is, getting him into the carrier is still a hassle. At first I tried coaxing him into the carrier using the laser pointer and treats. It very nearly worked but when I was closing the door behind him, Garrus pushed the door open and bolted through with a surprising burst of speed. He’s very slippery and wiggly! Since he is smarter than Charlie, he quickly realized something was up and he didn’t want to play our game. We eventually corralled him by putting a towel on him and pushing a kitty burrito into the carrier. (This is yet another reason why I use a carrier meant for a small dog rather than a petite cat carrier.)

Once inside the carrier, he meowed quite pitifully a few times (“Excuse me but I really don’t like this. Please let me out! Mom? Dad? Help?) but that was the extent of his protestations. I think everyone was happy that there wasn’t any hisses, growls, swats, angry poofy tails, drawn blood, or undue stress. At the vet’s office he was quite well-behaved, although he spent part of the time on the corner of the counter with his back facing the vet. (“You can’t see me! I’m invisible!” seemed to be his train of logic.) As always I’m impressed by the incredible skills vet techs and vets have in handling cats. He even purred when the vet tech held him! (I admit, I was slightly envious. Garrus doesn’t purr often…yet.) 

Thankfully Garrus forgave us quickly and didn’t hide away after we brought him home. He trotted around the house, played with Charlie, slept, and later came over to me for rubs. Once this afternoon I was pretty sure I saw both Garrus and Charlie emerging from the penthouse kitty condo as if it was a clown car. I had no idea that they both could squish inside! I’m sure Garrus wished that the weather cooperated and gave him a nice sunny spot to lounge the afternoon away! (I’m fairly certain that Garrus, at least, is solar charged.)

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