When I see her with just the slightest limp catwalking across the deck I recall the night we came home and found our little Birman, Mahalia, front legs bent under her chest, unable to move and crying, not in pain but as if really confused.
First thought was for a stroke as she was really disoriented and eyes darting back and forth and seeming unable to focus.
Of course a frantic phone call was made and description of the symptoms to Kaori. Her opinion pointed to a diagnosis of idiopathic vestibulism. An “uh-huh, okay” from me reflected my veterinary knowledge of zero and a mad dash down to see Kaori.
A thorough check by Kaori confirmed her previous diagnosis. But to be sure, we needed x-rays to confirm no breaks in Mahalias front legs as they were still tucked under and limiting any movement.
A trip to a western vet for x-rays came with the added diagnosis and prognosois – “ya cats got cancer. Best to put her to sleep”, well words close to that effect dealing out a good dose of fear. At 16 years old it is I guess, an understandable opinion that an animal may have a cancer, but a second opinion is always the best investment. Mahalia may be 16 years old but Kaori’s words kept ringing in our ears. All we wanted to confirm was that there were no fractures or other injuries.
Some acupuncture and herbs and some very detailed description of massage we were to do as often as possible resulted in an almost immediate restoration of strength in one leg and then a slow but gradual improvement in Mahalia’s other leg. Along with a lot of love and persistence by Pam, encouraging the fragile little cat to take small but determined steps, we were encouraged by her daily improvement.
A few days later the celebratory email to Kaori – “we have poo” was a cause of great excitement. With eating only tiny amounts of food and no trips to the pussy toilet, we added that to our worries. The kind of photo we sent to Kaori was not one for the family album, but one of the happiest snaps sent to a friend.
Nine months down the track and I look out in my garden and see our little chocolate faced fur ball contentedly dreaming of fresh fish and chasing butterflies as she breathes deep nestled under an azalea, asleep, unaware of how fortunate that we saw Kaori that day and gave Mahalia the chance for a long, happy life.