Sunday, April 26, 2009

A-tissue! A-tissue!

As you may know, our Not-So-Secret Cat is one of the lights of my life. She's so cute. She curls up in my lap and falls asleep while I'm studying. And if she isn't doing that she's leaping from my desk to my shoulders and perching beside my head like some kind of pirate accessory - arrr! Or she's waking me up in the middle of the night by tapping me on the nose so she can crawl under the doona. Or she's vomiting in the bed while I'm away at uni so we don't discover it until bedtime that night. Awesome!

It was one of the vomit episodes that had us a bit concerned this weekend because surrounding the vomit were tiny little flecks of blood. I did a quick abdominal examination on her but found no signs of note, but I didn't find that very reassuring even though she marked me very highly for empathy.

On closer inspection, we found a scattering of tiny, tiny little black flecks across the bed, like little half-rings a millimetre across. I called my veteran veterinarian sister to ask if it might be some type of worm, but she said it sounded like flea excreta. She told me that the best way to check would be to put some on a damp tissue and see if red pigment leached out of it, showing that it was made of digested blood. Gross! But kind of cool too.

So I did, and I saw that just as she said, the black flecks stained the tissue red. So the tiny flecks of blood around the vomit were from flea poop. I'm just so happy that this happened in my bed. But hang on - this means we have fleas! Oh noes!

I really don't know how the cat got fleas. She never has any contact with other animals at all, she's like the boy in the bubble (not the baby with the baboon heart). Maybe there were eggs in the carpet, lying in wait for us, like the alien facehugger eggs in the alien spacecraft in that film: "Alien".

Anyway, turns out it's easy to treat. Or it would be if our cat didn't have a pathological hatred of taking tablets. I've written before about how hard it is to get her to swallow anything larger than a hydrogen atom so I won't repeat the details here, apart from noting that anticonvulsants may be useful in the future, for both me and the cat.

The tablets are pretty crazy stuff. Basically, they work by turning the cat's blood into acid, so that when the fleas bite her, they scream "It burns! It burns, my precious!" and stagger around randomly in pain before desperately trying to abandon the cat like rats abandoning a sinking ship. There is, of course, great poetic justice in this, since it was fleas carried on rats abandoning sinking ships that spread the Black Death in Europe in 1066 or perhaps one of those other famous years like 1939 or 1812.

Anyway, the fleas are so blinded by pain that it's simple to pick them off the cat's fur and crush them mercilessly between your fingers. Muahahahah! I can see how a certain sort of person might really get off on that kind of thing. Maybe I'll go down to the RSPCA next weekend and see if I can't get me some more of these fleas.


Anonymous said...

Dear PTR,

Why is it so....?

Why is it so that we can buy tablets (over the counter no less) that turn our pet's blood into flea slaughtering acid, but we people are left vainly burning coils to try to deter mosquitos?

Surely we should be able to get something that turns our blood into LSD so that the mozzies go bonkers and start trying to bite the fridge?

Would that be too much to ask of all you fancy-pants big-brain types who are studying medicine?

PS Had it occurred to you that perhaps your Smaller Half is having an affair with one of the Red Hot Chilly Peppers? That was what was happening when I started finding flea excrement in my marital bed.

PTR said...

That's a really good idea. (The mozzie-coil replacement, that is.) I'll get right onto it.

I'm sorry to hear about your unfortunate flea excrement tale. How did that make you feel?

Anonymous said...

I hope you remember the occasions on which your sister has gone out on a limb and made an interstate diagnosis without a clinical examination of your pet. Who knows - there may be times in the future when you can (once graduated) kindly repay her the favour.

PTR said...

While that kind of rash uninformed diagnostic procedure may be what is taught at vet school, we doctors learn that it would be both unethical and negligent to engage in such conduct.


Anonymous said...

How did it make me feel to find out that I was missing out on Californication? I was tempted to give it away, give it away now...

But thanks for asking.

PTR said...

This comment section certainly attracts the kooks!