Since this is the first time I’m mentioning this widely, I’ll explain first – fast forward for the anxious, Trigger is fine!
Trigger was having some trouble with his rear end a few weeks ago. (I’ll spare you the details.) The day after Valentine’s Day, we noticed that he was getting agitated and trying to lick it constantly. One late-night trip to the vet later, we learned that some cats develop something called an impacted anal gland. In short, the glands on either side of a cat’s business end (used for scenting scat in the wild) can back up and cause problems. If left unattended, this obstruction can become abscessed. Failure to address the issue at that point will result in the gland rupturing, potentially causing damage to internal organs and leaving a smelly, awful mess in the inside of one’s home – not good on several levels.
We now know that we caught the initial impacted stage early enough to start trying to treat it at home, which is what most folks recommend. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to solve the problem in Trigger’s particular case, and the gland became abscessed – the point at which everyone recommends you bring the poor fella in for treatment. When the problem reaches this stage, minor surgery is required to drain the gland and set things to rights, preferably BEFORE a rupture occurs. We got him in just in time.
Trigger came through surgery like an absolute champ. We left him overnight at the vet’s office and picked him up by afternoon of the following day. Our vet had no other kitties to work with at the time, so he had the entire cat ward to himself. When he came home, he was wearing a cone and had a tiny tube attached to his rear with two sutures (to hold the gland open, encouraging proper drainage now that the blockage is clear.) His fur had to be shaved around his rear for surgery, and his front leg for IV insertion.
The last two weeks have consisted of living with an unhappy cone-head while Trigger recovers and the incision from surgery heals. The pain medication they put him on was already a lesser dose than the vet expected, since a) we got him in early and b) the surgery went so well. As it turned out, he only needed to take three of the four days’ doses before he was back to his usual self. The cone, on the other hand, has greatly impacted Trigger, Stubbs, and our ability to leave either of them unsupervised!
Cats do adjust to eating, drinking, and doing their business with a cone on, but they’re often awkward and messy while they do it, requiring human intervention to avoid messes and accidents being spread across the house at random. We also had to make sure Trigger wasn’t licking his rear or getting so frisky that he damaged his tube/incision. Household cats other than the cone-wearer usually will adjust as well to having a sibling with one… but Stubbs has been a unique and special snowflake on this one. Normally the “alpha” cat of the family, Stubbs was terrified by his brother’s cone, enough to hiss, growl, and threaten to attack Trigger anytime he approached. This resulted in our having to quarantine cats in separate sections of our small two-bedroom condo for two weeks. (Did I mention this was great practice for kids, someday?)
Stubbs has gradually come around, though he has only improved enough to stop 95% of the hissing and growling in the last couple of days, and only through use of special pheromones that help to relax him and his brother. We’re still keeping them separated at night to avoid any altercations where we won’t be present to intervene, but most of the time they can be together in the condo now. The only time problems creep up is if Trigger decides to get curious and sniff Stubbs face-to-face. As you might expect, the prospect of having your head forcibly trapped in a plastic cone by your overeager brother when you are already scared is not enjoyable!
As the cone comes off in an hour or two, we are keeping our fingers crossed that things will return to normal quickly. Both cats have a checkup today and will be getting the vaccine boosters that we’ve been remiss in keeping on top of. After that, we’re hopeful that we won’t have to see the vet again for quite some time! Keep your fingers crossed for everyone here. It has been a VERY long two weeks, and we’re looking forward to putting this entire incident behind us (pun very much intended!)