Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lost Little Lucy

I know that every veterinarian has those days where things go wrong to the point of actually watching to see if you are stepping on the cracks in the floor, pacing around the hospital and obsessively knocking on any wooden structure available, and trying to not pass the path of Kiki, or resident black cat.

Yesterday was one of those days. I will add that in light of some of our more recent events, namely one of our little boarders being attacked by one of our much bigger boarders (thankfully everyone is fine). Yesterday was more comical than tragic.

I was busy doing my little Wren's spay and corrective eye surgery and completely consumed in her, to the point that I lost all track of time and space. i know that I was in surgery with her for more than an hour, but I couldn't tell you if it was 20 minutes or four hours longer than that. I was so worried about her and trying to not worry about her, so I could stay focused on her surgery and not on the fact that it was "her" under my scalpel that I just got lost in the void. On top of that, my technician, who is my constant surgical technician and knows me to well to be able to bluff in front of her anymore called me out on it.

"I don't know how can you do surgery on your own pet?" A very valid question. I replied, "Well, I sort of feel stuck." "I actually thought about not doing it, because I have gotten soo attached to her, but I feel like I can't ask my associates to do it. I mean, how would they feel if anything happened and they killed the bosses cat?" I wouldn't want to be put in that position, so I can't put them in that position." "And she also needs her eyelids corrected and what if she comes out looking all lop-sided, crazy-eyed? I don't want to feel like maybe if I had done it they would have come out better." So, I was going to do it and that was that.

I did remind her that when Ambrose, my old pit bull, needed what we expected might be a very difficult and involved surgery I took him 2 hours away to a very good surgeon that I knew would do a great job, but also not see again because he is four other surgical specialists further away, JIC Ambroses surgery went terribly wrong. But i told her it did cross my mind to repeat this. Then i thought, "ok, my colleagues are going to think that I am completely nuts if I bring a boarded surgeon my cat to spay." I am not sure they even would remember how to spay a cat?" No, I was stuck with Wren again.

Wren's surgery went fine. It took me a long time, (I guess), but she did great under anesthesia, and I had no complications. She was not happy when she woke up, and I spent abut another hour carrying her around and apologizing to her cursing whines.

Wren. Waking up from surgery, and not happy.

At about early-afternoonish I came back into the surgery area and saw all of my techs huddled together and whispering. I could tell by their faces that this wasn't the routine gossip looks, this was the "OMG, what do we do know, and how do we try to keep this one from our boss?" look. "OK, what's wrong?" I asked. One of them pointed to a cat cage that still had its litter box, cat bed, and food in it, but had it's door open and no cat inside.

"Yeah? SO?"

She replied, "The new owners are here to pick Lucy up, but she's not in her cage." "We are trying to figure out if anyone has seen her today, or if she was picked up last night by the person who is giving her away."

That's where all of the whispering was coming from. Everyone trying to ask each other if she was in the cage last night? Was she sent back home last night with the woman who brought her from her farm? Was the fed this morning and then we forgot to close the cage door? Did anyone see her roaming around the clinic? What doors were open this morning when the first tech arrived? Could she have possibly slipped through one of our many exit doors? Was she hiding somewhere? What do we tell the new owners who are sitting out in the reception area? whisper, whisper, whisper...

"OK, let's get some facts." I said.
1. She couldn't have slipped out, because all of us know better than to open a door with a cat around, and one of us would have seen her if she tried to dart out.
2. the doors surrounding the surgical area, (because that's where she was last night), ( of course, she was in a cage 3 feet away from me the whole time I was doing Wren's surgery and I never even noticed an open, set-up, but empty cage, I was totally oblivious), were all closed last night. So she couldn't have escaped out of the surgery area.
3. The pm kennel person was SURE she was in her cage last night when we all left.
4. I am VERY SURE, that every possible cat hiding spot has already been identified and sealed shut. (there was a loose cat about four years ago that got behind the files, found a very small hole, and somehow Houdinied his way into the wall, then 4 feet from the hole in the wall and then got stuck. When I called my husband to tell him that we had finally found where the cat was (three days later) and told him that I needed him to come bust a hole in the wall so we could pull him out, he replied to me, "He'll come out when he is hungry, and I am not making another hole in the wall." "I reminded him that he was stuck, hungry, and that I wasn't really asking for permission." I told him that I was just asking him because "I thought that the hole might be easier to fix if he made it, but I was happy to do some renovations if needed." He cut the wall, got mauled by the now very scared cat while trying to extract him, and then we made sure every possible hole, regardless of size, was closed from that day forward. (P.S. the cat was fine, Joe was too), But, sorry, and thanks honey.  ;-)
5. We were going to go out and tell the new owners, who had by now been waiting about 20 minutes and realized something was up. the truth. "We hadn't really lost, but never the less couldn't find their new cat."

As I left the huddled the gang dispersed to comb the cluttered hospital. This isn't the first cat who has gotten out of our hands and we had some "favorite" first hiding spots to check. Behind the x-ray unit, under the dental sink, behind the oxygen tanks. I felt pretty sure Lucy wasn't going to find a spot we didn't already know about.

As the staff went to turn over every stone I headed to the reception area to meet the new owners.

There they sat, two women, with blankets, new food, and happy expectant smiles on their faces. "Oh, this is just perfect." I said to myself, we finally get a cat adopted, (albeit not one of ours, but still a big day for all of us!) "And I get to disappoint these new moms." "Crap!" I thought again. As I approached them you could hear all of the furniture being moved around upstairs, people calling, and walking, and staff members with flashlights came to search the waiting area. It wasn't too difficult to figure out what I was about to tell them.

Thankfully they are very good clients of ours, and we all laughed, and then even offered to help tear the place apart looking for her. (Gosh we are so lucky to have great clients).

I told the new owners that somehow she had gotten out of a cage that required apposable thumbs to open. When I said this they got worried about how to contain their new bundle of joy in their big cavernous labyrinth of a basement. We all decided that a small bathroom might be a better first stop to put her, (less places to hide).

after an hour of looking we decided she was in a better spot than her prior "at large escapees." I told the owners, who were now late in picking up their kids, that we would put out a humane trap with food and hope to catch her over night.

Two hours later we found her behind the surgical drapes sleeping.

We sent her to her new home and I will keep you posted on how she does.

Lucy is a sweet cat with some hidden talents, good luck.

Wren recovering at home, day of surgery. Lying on the warmest place in the house.

Wren sleeping on a heating pad, next to me, night of surgery. Still feeling a little crummy.


  1. Ack!! Oh the stress you must have all felt!

    Glad to hear Houdini safe and sound.

  2. I was worried, and a little embarassed to tell the new owners. But in the end we all got a good laugh out of it. Another disaster averted!