From the Archives: Five Years Ago This Week…

black cat with hard e-collar
Mimi wears her collar and hides her spay sutures.

 February 2008…

If looks could kill, I’d be splattered against the wall.

But she is glad to have been spayed, though I’m sure she hasn’t forgotten the experience yet.

I had Mimi and all of four her babies spayed and neutered in two successive weeks, on Tuesdays, the girls the first week, the boys the next, using the same low-cost voucher program. The Four were just about six months old and normally I’d get it done before that but with five at once, even with vouchers, I had to save up after all the kitten stuff—exams, shots, lots and lots of food. And it was when I had Lucy, Mimi’s daughter and the Four’s half-sister, spayed that I saw the first symptoms of the feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) that killed her only three months later. I think I wanted as much time as possible with them.

Luckily no one had gone into heat yet, except Mimi whose biological clock rang loudly beginning about six weeks after the kittens were born and she started calling and prancing around and was out of heat for about 15 total minutes from then until I had her spayed. No wonder she’d had six litters of kittens. I’m not sure the lady wants you to know that about her past; this is certainly not the Mimi everyone knows today.

She was to be spayed much earlier. Because her kittens were there, even though I tried to keep them physically separate, she kept producing milk, and it’s okay to spay when they are in heat and producing milk, but if you can wait a while and hope one situation or the other will resolve you reduce possible risks. So she ended up being spayed with the rest of them.

black cat with plastic collar
Mimi balances on the edge of the pedestal sink, trying to make me feel guilty.

And because of my experience with Lucy, I wanted to be as careful as possible with her mom. With that history of FIP in mind my veterinarian, and the veterinarian who would do the spays and neuters, agreed to do a little extra exploratory when they spayed Mimi, looking for any possible lesions on internal organs typical of some cats with FIP and checking into some of the lumps in her mammary glands. Mimi was probably about four by then and her body had been through a lot in that time living largely outdoors and bearing six litters of kittens. Her incision would be larger and instead of stitches she would get staples.

Did you know that staples are easier than stitches for a cat to get her teeth around and pull out? I observed Mimi and Mewsette the evening I brought them home and neither showed any interest in their incisions and acted completely normal, good appetite, litterbox use, social, affectionate, but still I put a soft collar on each of them at one point in the evening.

The next morning they were both wearing their soft collars turned backward around their armpits like blue tutus—I think they had worked on each others’ collars and loosened them, but not managed to get them off.

A section of Mimi’s staples were missing, and her incision was open. I ran her back to the vet, who sedated her, cleaned the incision and replaced the staples. She also gave me the hard plastic collar.

I don’t care how the cat feels about the collar, I want the cat to heal. Mimi really didn’t complain either. She’s very tiny, though, and even though I placed her food bowl on an upended water bowl the collar still bumped into the floor when she tried to eat. And you can see by the speckles on the collar that an awful lot of stuff ended up inside.

black cat with plastic collar.
Mimi resigns herself to her time with her collar.

This was also when I learned what a deeply sweet cat Mimi really is. When I took the collar off her and gave her food, she ate breakfast. I put it back on her. Same for dinner. She never once acted in any way threatening, no growls or other noises, never lifted a paw, didn’t even stiffen her muscles when I settled the collar around her neck.

The next day I fed them breakfast, Mewsette’s incision looked great, Mimi’s was no longer inflamed after having replace the staples. The phone rang. I ran downstairs. I didn’t come back up for hours. I hadn’t replaced Mimi’s collar. Half her staples were gone again.

Back to the vet, apologizing for this, saying I really do know how to take care of a cat who’s been spayed! We had to start her on antibiotics and pain medication and the collar had to stay on even if I was sitting right there, but I could test her as time went on. Veterinarians know wily cats, and Mimi was, and is, nothing if not wise. The staples stayed in for ten days, though she didn’t have to wear her collar that whole time.  For the next five days I did take the collar off for a few minutes and washed it while she ate her meals and nothing could make me leave her. Then I tested her for longer periods of time and the combination of the healing itself, the pain medication and the antibiotic helped to reduce the irritation so she quit pulling on the staples.

The veterinarian found nothing unusual in there. Mimi healed fine. And now she wonders what all the fuss was about before she was spayed, but at least she has these four lovely children to show for it. I thank Lucy for bringing this wonderful family to me.

Mimi still says, “I Love Being Spayed!”


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Bernadette

From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, The Creative Cat offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats. From catchy and creative headlines to factual articles and fictional stories, The Creative Cat provides constant entertainment and important information to people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

3 thoughts on “From the Archives: Five Years Ago This Week…

  • February 28, 2012 at 7:46 pm
    Permalink

    So glad Mimi is spreading the word. I took Sugar in to be spayed once she stopped nursing, and the kittens went once they were 4 months old. Luckily, Animal Friends was having a great $5 neuter special that month!

    Reply
  • February 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm
    Permalink

    Bernadette, Mimi is lucky to have you, and you her 🙂 (she told me that last part)
    Much as I love black kitties, I’m glad that Mimi’s not adding to the overpopulation problem, and that her tiny little body doesn’t have to bear any more kittens. I’m sure by now the constant production of babies would have taken its toll – and I know she thanks you for ending it.

    Now, if only the rest of the world would get the message. We spay all of our cats and dogs before adoption, even kittens – at 8 weeks and two pounds – and we’ve never had a problem with it. Yet, I stil hear, “it’s better to let her go through a heat first.” How said, and the truth is exactly the opposite – cats spayed before their first heat are far less likely to develop mammary cancers later in life.

    You didn’t get on your soapbox in this post, so I filled in 🙂

    Reply
    • February 28, 2012 at 7:17 pm
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      Don’t worry, Harry, Mimi beat you to it last week telling everyone to get ready for today with 30 good reasons to get your cat spayed–as she says, if you won’t listen to people telling you why you should get your cat spayed, perhaps you’ll listen to the cat who says, “I love being spayed!” and tells you herself: http://portraitsofanimals.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/mimi-says-i-love-being-spayed/. She gets on her soapbox again around Mother’s Day and in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, since spaying before the first heat reduces the chances of mammary cancer to nearly nothing.

      Reply

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