Summer Vacation, with Chickens & Ben’s Ring of Mordor: Part 1


Overheard in a Syracuse kitchen earlier this week:

J: Thanks for doing that, I really appreciate it.

S:  What are friends for?

J:  Running out to the feed store for chicken poo medicine, apparently.


You need to have the sound on for the true chicken experience. That makes chickens NSFW, I suppose. And that’s  J talking, btw, not yours truly.

Hi there. Me again. I intended to have a late July post for you, and then my summer vacation happened. Here’s the first installment of my adventures.

In which my 7-month-old kitten has a near-death experience…

By now, you folks know that I tend to write about everything and anything sooner or later, so if this story bores you, c’mon back for the next post, because overall, I do not exactly lead a boring life, now do I?

Back to the kitten with a near-death experience. Right. Yes, Mr. Ben gave us quite the scare there for a week or so in late July.

img_3424

dreaming dreams of scurrying bugs

See the shaved belleh? See nasty incision scar? Out of nowhere one day, Ben started having breathing trouble, trouble as in his chest was making wet, crackling sounds at the same time as his breathing sounded like he needed a set of gills. I grew up with a sister who has severe asthma, severe as in regular stupid-thirty a.m. trips to the ER severe. So when I heard the same sort of sounds coming from my five-pound kitten, nanoseconds later we were in the car, cat carrier with unusually quiet mini-cat in tow, on the road to the 24/7 animal ER.

The triage tech took one look and hustled Ben off to the back, where she plopped a tiny oxygen mask on him, and pulled the only vet out of a room (where she was treating another patient) so she could examine Ben. We found out later that the vet listened to his breathing, and without even reaching for her stethoscope, immediately gave instructions to clear the decks–divert all incoming clients to another ER nearby until further notice, send anyone in the waiting room with a non-critical animal to that same ER, and prep Ben for surgery NOW.

I am eternally grateful I didn’t know that was happening.

X-rays showed an “abnormality” in his GI tract, an abnormality that looked suspiciously like a linear foreign object around his intestines.

A linear foreign object, for those of you playing along at home, is the medical term for long, thin, flexible stuff. Like yarn, for example.

Every cat-loving knitter’s worst nightmare, in other words. I was flooded with horror, guilt, and other terrible feelings I have no name for.

I deliberately put Ben’s post-hospital picture at the beginning of this story, to reassure you that the story has a happy ending.

Surgery showed a thankfully linear-foreign-object-free intestinal tract, squeaky-clean, in fact.This was confirmed by not one, but two very thorough exams, inch-by-inch examinations by two sets of fingers and three sets of magnifier-enhanced eyeballs. (I love these people.) No chest fluid, no lung problems, airways and GI tract completely clear…

Oh. Wait. What is THAT?

I really do not like hearing, “I have no idea what that is, I have never seen anything like it before”. Not when it’s me, and even less so when it is one of my furballs.

Near the intersection of the stomach outflow valve, and the duodenum (tube leading to the small intestine and lower GI tract), the vet found a fleshy bit not shown in the anatomy books. This fleshy bit was actually forming a solid ring around the duodenum, a ring that seemed a bit too constricting to be doing anything particularly helpful. Puzzled, the doc took pics, and while Ben was on the table, had one of the senior techs do a quick survey of the internet literature to see if there was anything helpful online. (Which, if you think about it, is a pretty awesome use of technology.)

The internet didn’t have any obvious answers. The ring wasn’t supposed to be there, and as it was clearly up to no good, snip, snip, snip, went the surgical tools, and no more ring around the tubing.

The next day, Ben was breathing better, and we felt very relieved. As time went on, however, Ben wouldn’t eat. He was in the hospital for four days, and on the third day, we were told to “prepare ourselves,” as Ben was declining. We were numb with anticipated grief. M and I took turns visiting him every day for hours, cuddling, talking, singing, petting, and offering food. He would perk up when we were there, and get very depressed when we weren’t there. Finally, not knowing what else to do, the doc let us take him home, “to get better, or not, Ben’s choice now” as she put it.

Within hours of coming home, Ben made his choice clearly known: Ben was gonna choose to chase himself some big, juicy bugs, yessirree by golly. Took him a few days to recover enough to eat the bugs, but our Ben bravely submitted to round-the-clock meds of various sorts until one day he sat in front of his food bowl and chowed down like the little champ he is.

I love kitten stories with happy endings.

O.K. –rubs hands together–

Next up: In which my corset was not struck by lightning.

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About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Almost 2-yr-old kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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4 Responses to Summer Vacation, with Chickens & Ben’s Ring of Mordor: Part 1

  1. Lee says:

    Oh wow. Soooo glad it had a happy ending! Looking forward to learning why a corset would even *consider* being struck by lightning, and how it avoided same ~

  2. elaine says:

    I am SO glad that Ben is OK! How scary for all. Vets are amazing (as I sit here waiting to hear if my furball is OK from a dental) Here’s hoping the rest of your Sumner is very uneventful ~ except for some fun knitting – that would be wonderful 🙂

  3. Barbara says:

    We have a yellow cat named Ben. He was born up the road, but left them & his brother Jerry and headed out – choosing us instead. He adopted us about 14 years ago and after being an indoor/outdoor cat for years has now decided that indoors is where he plans to spend his senior years. So glad your Ben is recovered and back to being a fun-loving kitten!

  4. Sandy Strickland says:

    So glad Ben is ok! Your description of his malady sounds a lot like what my son had when he was 13 days old. It’s called pyloric stenosis, at least in humans. He had to be operated on and have that valve clipped so he could eat again.

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