Alex, my nine-year-old Maine Coon kitty–the one whose breed’s name got me in trouble with the match.com automatic profile police, and who’s been with me for four years–has one eye whose pupil hasn’t contracted or dilated properly for several years. Until now, it hadn’t seemed to cause him any pain or any problems; given his continued sureness at jumping and catching, it didn’t even seem to impair his vision.
On Sunday, though, he kept that eye mostly shut, but I thought he was just developing a cold; in fact, he sneezed a few times, and the eye was running a little. So I didn’t worry about it at the time. When I came home from work today, though, he was opening it normally, so I was able to see that the eye isn’t reflecting normally and is looking slightly hazy. There also is what appears to be some blood pooled behind the cornea, so I called his veterinarian up the street. They’re booked solid the rest of the evening, but told me that if I think it’s an emergency or if he’s behaving abnormally I can take him to the hospital; otherwise, they can see him tomorrow morning. I went ahead and made the appointment for tomorrow, and I’m watching him this evening to see if he appears to have any pain or discomfort. Right now he doesn’t seem to be in distress at all–he ate his dinner normally, and was just as interested in playing as usual–but it’s clear that something is terribly wrong with the eye. I’m guessing from the symptoms that he has glaucoma, and he probably already has lost vision in that eye.
And I feel guilty as hell. Here’s a shameful truth–I’m a lousy guardian. While Alex doesn’t lack for regular food and water, daily affection and attention, and clean litter, I’ve been extremely remiss about regular checkups and preventative care. Frankly, while I take better care of him than of myself, that’s not saying much.
And I have no idea at this point what to expect now. Given that he doesn’t seem to be experiencing pain, they may not have to surgically remove the eye, even if the retina has indeed been irreversibly damaged to the point of blindness. If it hasn’t progressed that far, then it may be controllable–though glaucoma’s not curable–with medication or surgery.
Well, I should know more tomorrow. And this morning I thought things were bad because I still had a nail in my tire (which I did get fixed, at least, on the way to work) and a car about whose major, expensive repair work I’ve continued to procrastinate. Now I also have a kitty who may be very sick, who is nearly totally dependent on me, but whom I’ve largely taken for granted and whose medical care I’ve sometimes irresponsibly neglected.
At least I know that I should never have children, in case my level of parenting ability turned out to be no higher than my self-help or pet-care skills.