At this point, there was little I could say. Pointing out that the leg was swollen and the kitten possibly feverish and needing the ER wasn't enough to compel the lady to leave NOW for the ER. I didn't think it would work to tell her that by the time she takes it in-say she calls in the a.m. and they say they'll see her at 1 p.m.-the poor kitten would have been suffering, in pain, unable to walk, and possibly feverish for 24 hrs. What person in their right mind lets an animal suffer for 24 hrs?
And it bothered me all the rest of the day. And then it dawned on me-would she let her baby do the same thing? Would she be so calm, so seemingly unconcerned and lacking in a sense of urgency to get care for a baby if a baby were just as sick? Probably not. And that's what I should have asked: how long would you let a baby go with an injured, swollen limb, possibly feverish? 24 hrs? 12 hrs? 5?
Because cats are like babies, and I don't mean because we treat them as our children. They are physically too small to handle what most adults or even children can handle. Constant vomiting and diarrhea-what might be a normal course of illness in a child will weaken and debilitate a cat. A child can take all sorts of meds for such an illness but not a cat. Lethargy, an unwillingness to eat or drink are normal for a sick person. They have reserves in large bodies before needing to see a doctor. But not a cat. One day without food and water and the cat will not rebound on its own without vet care and may have its life in danger. A broken, sprained, swollen and painful limb injury? Who in their right mind would let a child sit around without seeing a doctor? Almost no one I'm sure. A cat would need care immediately as well.
And yet we treat our pets as if they are full grown adults, able to withstand not eating and drinking; withstand fevers; withstand constant vomiting and diarrhea; and withstand the inability to breathe. Some HCM owners ignore their cat's pain, crying out, inability to breathe, panting, breathing fast, discomfort, hiding, lack of drinking and eating, etc. And why? Because they think the cat can deal with it, that it will pass, that surly it can't be that serious, and that maybe the cat doesn't need the vet or that it can wait a day or two until the vet is available. And of course, there is the cost of care to consider.
But put it in perspective: the next time your cat is sick, think of it as you would a baby, a child under the age of one. Just how long would you let a baby be in pain, unable to breathe, have a swollen leg, have a fever before seeking medical care? Five minutes? 30 minutes? One hour? If we are not going to let a baby suffer without care then we can't let the cat suffer. Because a cat's body is just about as small, weighs almost the same as a newborn, and cannot sustain illness or injury and rebound on its own anymore than can a baby.