Not for the faint of heart…

Anya is scheduled for eye surgery next Tuesday. The plan is to remove some of the conjunctive material currently obstructing her left eye as a result of the repeated eye infections she went through early in life. The underlying eye is mostly undamaged and this operation is intended to remove the existing trouble areas in order to prevent them from eventually adhering to the eye itself. It’s not inexpensive, but it’s work that needs done that should improve both her long term health and her ongoing quality of life.

She’s expected to be discharged Tuesday afternoon with a new round of oral medication and eye drops. Some of these could need to be given as often as every six hours for the first several weeks as she recovers. How a normal person who has a job or any other commitments can arrange to do such a thing is entirely beyond me. I get that the discharge instructions present the optimal course of action, but expecting an owner to be able to pin down a cat and deliver these meds on 16 separate occasions every 24 hours strikes me as perfectly absurd. Each drop, after all, should be followed by a 5-10 minute waiting period, so it’s not as if you could grab her up just 4 times a day and apply everything in a single go. I’m not embarrassed to say that I may have hit the panic button when I caught wind of what the coming weeks could look like. There’s simply no way I could sustain that level of post-operative care for any length of time.

Over the last four or five days, Anya has gotten increasingly combative and has started running away any time I walk into a room. She’s actively avoiding me, cowering, and essentially seeing me as an enemy. With most shelter cats, the advice and expectation is that they’re going to have some amount of time – weeks or months – to decompress and acclimate themselves into their new home. Anya never got that time. Three days after her arrival, I had to start holding her down and pouring meds into and onto her. It’s little wonder she’s losing whatever little bit of trust we may have developed.

Mercifully, I’ve got a friend who helps run a large veterinary practice outside Philadelphia. She’s going to arrange medical boarding for this poor gray fur ball for the duration of multi-time a day treatment. There, the techs will be doing the heavy lifting of keeping up with the schedule seven days a week and the on-staff vets will be around should something need to be addressed immediately. So, as soon as she’s released from surgery, we’ll be taking a short road trip through southeastern Pennsylvania to her temporary home.

Since Anya’s particular flavor of eye infection is often triggered by increased stress, boarding isn’t entirely ideal. It does, however, feel like a better option than having this poor animal at home with me stressing her out and inevitably missing doses of the medication she needs to recover from the surgery in a timely manner. It’s a real devil’s bargain.

I asked the doc yesterday if waiting until Anya was more settled here at home and more comfortable being handled was a reasonable option. He was of the opinion that although the eye isn’t currently an emergency, addressing it was something better done sooner rather than later as it created less overall risk to her sight in that eye.

I absolutely hate the thought of her being gone for two weeks or more, but I hate the thought of irreparably damaging what needs to be a trusting relationship with her even more. I’ve never shied away from getting my animals the best possible medical treatment I could find, but damnit, this one is hard because I don’t have the skills, nor the ability to learn them fast enough, to even be a part of the recovery process. Even if I did, Anya isn’t in the right headspace with me yet to give me the benefit of the doubt.

I know she’s going to be in good hands. The friend who’s helping me by arranging all this for Anya was also responsible for bottle raising Hershel before he came to live with Winston, Maggie, and I. I couldn’t possibly trust anyone more to keep a proverbial eye on my girl and make sure she’s getting everything she needs to get well. Still. The next weeks are going to be tough in a whole different way than the last month was hard. There’s a mile of difference between knowing what’s best and actually wanting to do it. It’s one of those times when the best interests of the animal have to be pressed well above my own selfish desires.

When all this is over, I’ll be putting on a masterclass about the hazards of taking on “project animals” from the shelter. She’s mine now. I’ll see it through. But Jesus, it’s not for the faint of heart.

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