Yesterday Beckham and I had to make an emergency trip to the vet.
The problem started on Monday when I was taking advantage of Natalie’s naptime to take a little snooze, too, and Beckham had joined me on the bed. He scared the crap out of me when he yowled right into my ear, jumped down off the bed, and refused to put any weight on one of his back paws. After about ten seconds he stopped crying and started licking himself like nothing had happened.
He was totally fine the rest of the day. Weird.
Yesterday morning my mom, Natalie, and I were eating breakfast while Beckham lounged on the kitchen island. He stood up, stretched, jumped down, and started SCREECHING.
If cats could scream, it would sound like that.
He tore down the hallway to our bedroom, not even touching the ground with his back foot. I followed and tried to see what was wrong, but he hissed at me and wouldn’t let me touch him. This is a cat whose happy place is the VET, a cat whose heartbeat can never be heard because he’s always purring too loudly, so for him to HISS at me was really concerning.
He slunk under the bed where he curled up in a furry ball of misery and his tiny bodyguard, Roo, glared at me.
I was seriously freaked out. We’d seen something similar before with our first cat, and it turned out to be a blood clot. He had to be put down that day because his back legs were paralyzed. That is absolutely not something I’m equipped to deal with right now. Beckham, however, definitely wasn’t paralyzed — he was making a full recovery between episodes, and that doesn’t happen with a clot. But we still needed to know what was going on, because it was clearly causing him a lot of pain.
We went straight to the animal clinic. In the waiting room Beckham shoved his giant blockhead against the door of the carrier as I stuck my fingers through and rubbed his chin. He purred and purred while I fought back tears.
A kindly vet who happens to be a dead ringer for the guy who does the E-Harmony commercials gently manipulated Beckham’s leg and was mystified as to what could be causing the pain…right up until Beckham started screaming again and shot off the exam table.
Well then. I think you’ve found the problem.
Diagnosis? Displaced kneecap. Some recent trauma to his leg (which is a total mystery to us; we have no idea what might have happened or when) loosened the ligament that helps hold the kneecap in place. So when he jumps off things, or twists a certain way, the kneecap pops to the side.
It’s excruciatingly painful, and exceptionally rare in cats. This vet, who has been practicing for longer than I’ve been alive, has never even seen it in a cat before — only dogs. Gold star for you, Mr. Beckham.
So what’s the prognosis? Very good, after a serious and most likely quite expensive surgery to deepen the groove at the top of his femur where the kneecap sits so it stays in place. The vet recommended keeping an eye on Beckham and seeing if it continues on the regular before scheduling anything. It hasn’t happened yet today, but it did once last night. With three episodes in two days (plus the vet popping it out manually), it’s highly unlikely it’ll go away and we’ll never see it again. So we’re basically giving it until Friday morning, and if it happens at least once more, then we’re taking him back for a surgery consult.
If we don’t do the surgery (which seems inhumane given his pain level when the kneecap moves, and is that really a surprise? I mean, OW.) not only will the problem continue and most likely get worse, he’ll also develop arthritis in that knee from the kneecap repeatedly sliding over and thus wearing down his cartilage.
So, surgery it is.
When I was pregnant with Natalie, Thumper developed cancerous spots in one eye and had to have the whole eye removed. I thought that was stressful enough to deal with at 28 weeks pregnant. No WAY Beckham or Roo could top that, right?
Oh, Beckham. You’ve really outdone yourself this time.
The irony of all this is that Roo, my little mutant Roo who looks like he’s trundling around on two broken legs (He’s not. He’s fine), is, far and away, our healthiest cat. In the five years that he’s lived with us, he’s only gone to the vet once outside of his yearly checkups.
Yes, you. Thanks for not being a money pit like your brothers.
Love all you fuzzballs so much but OMG SO EXPENSIVE, CATS.
We’ll put it on your tab.