I got it.
You got it.
The cats got it, and they got it baaaaaay-id.
I’m talking about The Cold of 2018, that not-quite-a-flu phenomenon that hit like a meteor dipped in lava breaded in barbed wire. It had lasting power. It had perverse power. It had us all in its icy ugly oogly grip.
The Cold is deceiving. When Sugar first muttered to Walter, “I have a cold,” Walter shrugged. And can you blame him? “A cold” is often prefaced with “just:”
- “It’s just a cold. You can still go to school.”
- “It’s just a cold. You can still go on tonight, Mariah.”
- “It’s just a cold. The Prime Minister of Vanuatu is still expecting you, Mr. President.”
- “It’s just a cold. Spare the drama, Sug.”
Ah, but that’s in the case of “a cold.” This was The Cold. And Walter — like the rest of us — was woefully mistaken about its bite.
The Cold crept up quietly, dotting the Lobby with drips from one, then another, then another aging nose. It was no surprise and no colossal concern that our Lobby elders were the cold warriors. Just as with human folks, so with feline folks, the very old, very young and immune-compromised are the tastiest morsels for a cold.
That went double for The Cold.
Soon Sugar’s snuffles turned into snorkles, squeezy-shut eyes, suffering of a serious scale. “Just a cold” was obsolete, and we grew worried about our loudest little tabby. But The Cold was a greedy grumpus, and a spoonful of Sugar didn’t satisfy its appetites. In what I can only assume was an attempt to bake a cruel Cold Cake, The Cold added Oil to Sugar, afflicting our old man with normal symptoms plus ulcers on his nose and tongue.
Maria was next, and The Cold welcomed our new old lady to the Community Room with its worst dealings, plus the belated stocking stuffers of an eye ulcer and a urinary tract infection. (And she’d asked Santa for special-edition bacon M&Ms. Harrumph.)
Mackenzie was so clobbered by The Cold that she had to leave the Lobby too soon after arrival, shriveled like a black-and-white prune and ferociously in need of IV fluids.
Melanie, nobody’s idea of a gladiator, made mincemeat of The Cold, taking only a glancing blow before blowing it off. But Melanie is also a prime suspect in delivering The Cold to The Young, as June was next to get the grief.
Our vet team was heroic, gently but decisively healing each hurting cat. Everyone was going to be OK, and we’d reassure them with kisses and baby food and subcutaneous fluids and such.
But all this agita was small-fry snot compared to what was coming for Walter.
Walter looks like a long, strong, sturdy specimen. As old men go, he’s a bruiser in both body type and attitude. So he surely didn’t see The Cold coming. But it came like a locomotive driven by the devil himself.
No sooner had The Cold crunched Walter than he went all wobbly, weak and lethargic. When supportive care Casa Tabby wasn’t enough to revive his rabble-rousing spirit, we sent him to the specialty hospital (hereafter Dr. Fantastic) for Serious Intensive Stuff (hereafter SIS). As a Tabby’s Place cat, Walter would get precisely the care he needed, regardless of cost.
Nails were bitten, big-time. We’d just lost Katrina, after all, who’d developed her devastating neurological symptoms shortly after getting The Cold. Walter was a known neurological patient, and The Cold only intensified his circling symptoms. We couldn’t afford to lose our irrepressible old man.
At first, things at the emergency vet went well. Dr. Fantastic’s matchless SIS got Walter eating again, and we all looked forward to his speedy return home. But Walter’s meal was an anomaly. In five days, he ate but one dish of fish mush — not nearly enough to sustain him. Feed a cold, as they say, and feed a fever too, and also an ingrown toenail.
And so, Dr. Fantastic placed a feeding tube. This way, we’d be able to feed Walter easily, and to deliver his meds along with his mush. As drastic as it sounds, placing and removing a feeding tube is actually quite simple and easy…
…and now Walter is walking the land of Tabby’s Place once again.
The Cold has largely left the building, and we’re very optimistic that Walter will soon be feasting on his own again. (One of our volunteers slyly showed me a big red can of sardines he intended to offer Walt. I think Walter and King Oscar are about to become the best of friends.)
In the meantime, Walter and the rest of us have learned our lesson. Never underestimate a cold…and never spare your sympathy. Even the oldest among us are big babies when we’re sick, so let’s baby each other to bits.
Bacon bits, please, says Maria.