Don’t ask what boiled cat poop smells like. You don’t want to know.
And how do I know? First, let me apologize for being absent from my blog for most of last year. (I think we can agree that 2020 was a crappy year over all, and losing both my senior boys – Bender and Paco – within a few months of each other sucked the joy out of everything.) Second, let me introduce you to Precious.
I knew that I would eventually adopt another cat after Paco died, but I wasn’t expecting the one-pound, four-week-old dynamo who came my way three weeks later. Friends at my vet clinic, Broadway Pet Hospital, found her abandoned in a box – shrieking her little head off – at a strip mall. They knew how much I grieved over Paco and offered her to me. The moment I saw her photo I was like “give me” and knew her name would be Precious (as a homage to my beloved Turtle, who died in 2013 and whose nickname was Precious).
It had been 16 years since I had a kitten in the house. I’d forgotten how batshit crazy kittens are. (Paco, Bender, Turtle, Marian, Indy – they were never THIS batshit crazy.) Like any kitten, or puppy, or toddler, Precious explores her world with her mouth, but unlike any pet I’ve known, she goes above and beyond:
Carpet fibers from the cat towers, embroidery thread, pieces of cork board and paper, thumbtacks, Kleenex, paper towels, toilet paper, labels, tags on electrical cords, refrigerator magnets, pieces of wicker baskets, broom bristles, dried paint/plaster, etc. I’ve spent a lot of time chasing after her yelling “what’s in your mouth?” (Sound familiar, parents?) I knew she was chewing on weird things, but it wasn’t until the embroidery thread disappeared down her gullet in early February, that I realized we had a potentially serious problem.
How does one find black thread in dark brown poop? Smash it, dissolve it? Hmm…I came up the oh-so-brilliant idea to collect the poop in an old plastic container and pour boiling hot water over it. And wait. It took a lot of boiling water. [Note: should you ever try this – which I don’t recommend – don’t let the poop harden – do it while it’s fresh.] I did this for three days. Smashed the melting poo with the bottom of the plastic container, spread it out, searching for foreign objects. Finally, there it was: crumpled up thread that, when unraveled, turned out to be 9 inches long. Yowza. Glad it stayed bunched up because long linear objects can bind the intestines, causing sepsis and death.
Was that the end of it? Of course not. Two weeks later Precious started vomiting and acting like something was stuck in her mouth. So off to the vet we went and explained that I’d removed a number of objects from her mouth during the preceding days: including cork and thumbtacks from the bulletin board.
An x-ray showed a “linear object” and something the shape of a thumbtack. But once her vomiting was under control, Precious’ behavior returned to normal. A follow-up x-ray a couple days later showed the objects had moved into the colon and, thus, were likely to pass on their own without surgery.
So…poop watch returned. I recovered some fibers, tiny round “expanded polystyrene” pellets (the stuff inside bean bags), and an inch long piece of a bristle from my broom. No thumbtack. Could it be that the other items mimicked the appearance of one on the x-ray? Because Precious’ behavior continues to be normal with no more vomiting or difficulty pooping, the vet has taken a wait and see approach. So have I. The odious poop melting? No. I do take a quick external view of her litter box deposits, checking for weird shapes or signs of blood. So far so good.
I continue to catch her eating weird things, like the sliver of old paint/plaster that fell off the ceiling and a small piece of paper I gave her to play with. But apparently they’re passing through her with no injurious effect.
I don’t give her paper to play with any more. The wicker laundry baskets have been removed from the house, the toilet paper and Kleenex are in their third hiding place, the cork bulletin board taken off the wall and its thumbtacks put away, and the small refrigerator magnets have been hidden in a drawer. I’ve removed those warning tags you find attached to electrical cords and, in a preemptive strike, hidden all of my earrings.
Of course, as curious and smart as she is, Precious continues to discover and taste new things. Her latest victim: the name tag the vet clinic taped to my cat carrier.
If I have to, I’ll go back on poop watch. But my nose isn’t looking forward to it.