Cat…Nurse?

Mocha, the cat. My dad renamed him Bosco. Why? Who the heck knows. He renamed Mom’s cat too. And my current cat. It’s just a thing.

Mocha has been with the fam since I started the 8th grade. Just so you know, that was a while ago. Like we’re pushing 17 years-ish? This was a picture of him about 11 years ago when he was still fat, happy, and chasing gophers around the farm.

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Yes, that’s my booty. And my mom’s. The darn cat took to hopping up on the piano bench behind us while we played duets. Very country. I love it!

Mocha no longer looks so robust. Nor does he chase anything these days except food around the food dish, or a human hand to scratch him behind the ears.

Recently, due to his advanced age/living on a farm/being an outdoor kitty, Mocha developed a little problem. He got a wound. It got infected. It actually became infested with maggots (Gross, I know. I hope you weren’t eating pasta with white sauce like I was when I heard the news from my folks.). My pioneering parents, unwilling to incur a vet bill, decided to take care of it the farm way. So for the past month+ I have been a somewhat unwilling nursing consultant for my childhood pet.

Awesome.

I keep telling them that I’m a people nurse, not a cat nurse. They still solicit my help. Which I give, because I’m an only child and I love my parents…and my cat.

First order of business was to get rid of the maggots (yes, this is the last time I’ll mention the M-word in this post). Honestly, I would have paid the vet just to do this dirty business, but noooooo. That’s not the farm way. Soon after he was rid of those unwanted guests, Mocha perked right up. Imagine that.

Since he didn’t run out of lives, I recommended irrigating the wound with a saline solution and bandaging it so Mocha couldn’t lick it. Saline is basically salty water which helps cleanse wounds. Cat tongues have a disgusting amount of bacteria. Nursing rationale at work.

Then it started oozing. Well, S.

I thought back to the wound care I’ve participated in (not much if I could help it, not my favorite aspect of nursing) and recalled packing wounds that had a crater. This helps the cells have a cozy environment in which to regenerate. Too wet and it’s a problem. Too dry is also a problem. You want it just wet enough. It’s like the Three Little Bears of wounds. So I recommended my parents buying gauze, cutting it into strips, packing the wound with the gauze pressed in to all the little nooks and crannies (Ever heard of tunneling? It’s this disgusting thing in which there is a hole or tunnel of missing dermis or hypodermis which doesn’t allow the wound to heal properly.), wrapping it so the cat can’t destroy the packing, and changing it TID (three times per day).

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I was secretly hoping my musician mother would fold and take Mocha to the vet.

Oh no. She put on her big-girl-pants and went at it the farm way.

So last night, my biweekly phone conversation with my parents (as I was eating more pasta) turned into an episode of cat nursing. My mom informed me that Mocha has taken to eating his gauze packing. Ew. What is it with animals eating gross stuff?? In fact, he has been eating his gauze occasionally for a few weeks.

“Is he pooping it out?” I wondered into the phone.

“Oh yes, I find it here and there in the litter box,” replied my mom.

Again, awesome.

“I hope it won’t create a twisted bowel…” I hinted and then just flat out gave up my next piece of cat nursing advice, “It sounds like he needs a cone of shame.”

“Cone of what?”

“You know, those plastic things that go around pets’ necks to keep them from bothering their wounds.”

“Ohhhhh.” Long pause. “Well, I think we could rig something up with a milk carton.”

The farm way strikes again.

And for the majority of our conversation I was on speakerphone as my mom doctored up the cat.

Honestly, I’m amazed at the resilience of my ancient childhood pet. And at my mom’s increasingly iron stomach (although she did admit to sobbing–yes, she said sobbing–after changing his dressing one day). And at my ability to BS (yes, I got a bachelor of science degree) through nursing a cat back to geriatric health.

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