An Ill and Shaved Ruffian


23rd April 2003

Ruffian hasn't been very well lately. Late last year, she had an ear infection, a pretty horrible one, and the ear stank. Antibiotics cleared that up. Then earlier this year, we noticed that the pupil of one eye had grown smaller than the other one. Back to the vet to be told she had Horner's Syndrome.

Horner's Syndrome is a weird concoction of all sorts of things. Basically, something has damaged one of her optic nerves and it's affecting her eye. The vet thinks that the optic nerve is being affected by pressure in her inner ear, brought on by an inner ear infection. I had a case of the guilts and remembered the time I sliced open her chest with the scissors, or the many times over the years that I whacked her because she was so naughty. I feel guilty. But the optic nerve does pass near her inner ear and not through her chest and not on her flanks. So although I feel guilty, I feel a bit relieved that it most likely wasn't me that caused the current problem.

So she's got pressure on her optic nerve, and she's not seeing so well out of that eye and the pupil is shrinking. If we leave it untreated, the eye will most probably start to physically shrink, then it will fall inside her skull, and then we'll have to have the eye removed and then we can put a jaunty pirate's eyepatch on Ruffian. That's if we leave it untreated, but we didn't leave it untreated. We took Ruffian back to the vet for an operation. She had her inner ear cleaned out. That's when we found that she's got a burst timpanic membrane, and her inner ear is full of debris and crap. The vet sedated her, cleaned her ear out, and sluiced out the inner ear. He said he got out almost all the debris from her inner ear. She came home, still slightly sedated, staggering and hungry. Nothing stops her appetite. She got a three week treatment of antibiotics to get rid of the ear infection. Ruffian perked up a lot and was doing great. The eye started to improve too, and was slowly getting back to normal size. The vet had said it could easily take 5 or 6 months for Horner's Syndrome to go away and the eye return to normal. It looked like that was happening, and we were happy. Until this Monday.

This Monday morning, Ruffian took a bad turn for the worse. On Sunday, she was fine. But Monday morning, her back legs were wobbly. She staggered. She fell over. She couldn't jump up onto anything. If she had to get down, she just fell over. No sense of balance. Anne was really worried. I was pretty upset too. Tuesday morning, she was much worse. She would stagger around, and once, she fell over and feebly waved her paws in the air. She was a mess. But she was still pretty happy and frisky, but her body just couldn't follow her mind. She was also a little bit worried. You could see in her face that she was a little worried about her condition. Who says cats don't have emotions or self-awareness? This one does.

I had stuff to do Tuesday morning, but came home at lunchtime to get her to the vet. Getting her booked in to the vet was a bit of a problem as it was his day for operations. I hung on till 4pm when he finished the operations, and then we were able to slip her in. While I was waiting, I kept her company, and kept her calm. We had a strong suspicion that it was her inner ear again affecting her sense of balance, but we weren't sure. Anne also thought Ruffian might have had a stroke. I thought maybe she had a tick. So using a possible tick as a good excuse, I checked her body thoroughly. Her fur was too thick. So I started removing her fur, just like I had removed Redrum's fur. I left some of her leggings, and her ruff and her tail. The rest came off. When Anne saw what I had done, she grabbed the hair clippers and tried to smooth out the damage I had done. EVen after a bit of trim, Ruffian still looked rough and ragged. And she looked half her normal size. Then I checked her over very carefully, but couldn't find a tick.

Finally, it was time to get her to the vet. I scooped her up, shoved her in her travel cage and drove her to the vet. She did waht she always does and screamed incessantly until we arrived. By the time I got there, I wanted to strangle her. When she wnats to, she can really exercise those Siamese vocal chords of hers and drive me to the brink of caticide. She settled down at the vet. We were soon shown in and she was examined. At the back of my mind, I half expected that she would have to be put down. Thankfully, it was not to be. The vet showed me her eyes. They were twitching vigorously in strong light. Inner ear infection, he said, a bad one. Could probably be controlled with more antibiotics. A long dose of antibiotics, like 6 to 8 weeks. I was so relieved. He also laughed at her lack of fur. He said that they do lion cuts, and that would be safer than me attacking her with scissors. I already know about the danger of scissors, but I declined his offer. I enjoy trimming their fur back myself.

Then I paid the bill, waited for the antibiotics, and watched some interestingly coloured Himalayans come and go. Got the drugs, and then endured another car ride with non-stop piercing Ruffian screams. Then Ruffian got her first dose of antibiotics. And then later that night I gave her a second dose, to give the infection a jolt, a headstart on healing. Wednesday morning, her balance was a bit better. She still wobbled, and her eyes twitched, but she was noticeably better than Monday and Tuesday. When I got home Wednesday night and gave her the next dose, she was even more improved. With that sort of progress, she'll be back to normal by the weekend. Then we just have to maintain the antibiotics for a long time, and try and get the infection permanently cleaned up.

In the meantime, here are some photos of the very un-furry Ruffian.

[Ruffian sitting up and
feeling sorry for herself]

[Ruffian's shaved back]

[Ruffian showing her shaved

[Ruffian dangling to show
her lack of fur]

[Ruffian dangling some more]

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