Taking care of Duchess

Published 4:03pm Thursday, August 2, 2012

Paul said when he returned home from the Netherlands earlier this month, he would take me to Larkin’s on the Lake for crab cake sandwiches.
Isn’t that sweet?
Just before he left to fly to Holland on business and to visit family, his beloved rescue cat, Duchess, who has always lived in the barn and spent nights in the stable office, was we suspect, kicked by Teddy the donkey. This resulted in a back injury, although our vet declared after X-rays that there was no fracture but there was swelling and pain. While cooping up Duchess so that she would remain quiet and heal, her heart, it is assumed, which had a small murmur, ‘threw a clot’ resulting in the paralysis of her hind legs.
Showing no discomfort or distress, Duchess was prescribed a treatment of aspirin and a heart drug to attempt to dissolve the clot.
And then Thomas, the macho stray whom we finally trapped and neutered, decided to arrive back at the farm creating chaos everywhere he went, knocking over flower jugs, leaping on the dogs from the couch and stealing half of my Mounds bar promptly vomit it up at my feet.
And then Paul left the country.
It’s not that I mind work- no one can lodge such a claim at someone who has risen, for the past 10 years, every morning at 5:30 to walk, dull and bleary eyed, into the barn to begin feeding and mucking out. My reward is then to come back into the house, feed the dogs, persuade Bonnie to swallow her meds and stand guard while the cats eat so that the greedy terriers don’t try to steal their food as well.
But now more has been added to my plate. Duchess, residing currently in our front room in an enormous dog crate, requires daily meds which, thankfully, she is good as gold about taking. I pop a pill in her mouth and, despite a column that landed in every inbox for the last couple of years about how to give a pill to a cat, she promptly swallows. This is followed by a tiny drop of mineral oil to help, ahem, ‘movement’ through her colon. The piece de resistance, however, is that because of her paralysis, Duchess must have her bladder emptied thrice daily.
Holding Duchess over the big utility sink in the mudroom, Paul attempted to show me what he had learned from our vet, Dr Jeni, before he drove to the airport.
“Her bladder is just under here,” he instructed, feeling about the lower belly. “pretty close to where her hind leg is attached. Here, put your thumb where mine is. It feels like a water balloon. You just squeeze it and…” with that, Duchess’ tail raised and a stream of liquid drained into the sink.

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