It's no secret that we're animal lovers, I think. So yeah, we have five cats and maybe that's a little much, but we're down from a high of eight, and it looks like that's where we're going to stay right now.
Of course, we don't want to contribute to the kitty overpopulation problem, and yeah, we're a bit behind, so Saturday was supposed to be the day for all three of our male furbabies to be neutered. We had checked prices all over the place and finally settled on taking them to the Meow Mobile set up by The Cat Network here in Miami-Dade County. The price was, according to their website, only $15 if the cat was from certain zones, and we did. So when I got the confirmation email on Friday saying that it would be $50 per cat, I was quite chagrined. I changed our reservations to include only Pepper, who had been isolated to the master bathroom because he wanted to pee outside the box everywhere. The little two guys had to wait. Chloë and I got up early Saturday morning, tucked him into his carrier, and drove down the road to meet the Meow Mobile.
We waited in line for our turn to deliver Pepper to the busy volunteers at The Cat Network's Meow Mobile at our local YMCA. When it was our turn, the intake vet tech was rushed and distracted, shoving the cash I gave her into her scrubs pocket without even counting it. I have a tendency to "mystery shop" everywhere I go, everything I see, and I was starting to have misgivings as we drove away after dropping off our Pepper.
We had no way to call and check on him, as the volunteers don't answer the phone line on the site and rarely return calls. They only call pet owners when they have a problem with a surgery, on their own personal cell phones, so when my phone rang with a local number an hour before he was due to be picked up, I freaked a little inside. I knew it was about Pepper, but what?
Thankfully, it was just a call that he was ready... so off Chloë and I went to go get him.
When we got there, two people were in line ahead of us, so I was able to observe and evaluate some more. I took sad note of the fact that when the newly-spayed and neutered cats were taken out of the truck, their carriers were tossed or dropped onto the ground, rather than placed gently for the inhabitants' comfort. Cue the alarm bells.
When Pepper was brought out, I tried to nab the carrier from the handler before he, too, could be dropped, but I didn't get there in time. Plunk!
He was active in his kennel, which we took as a good sign. I was given paperwork for the rabies vax for which I had paid that morning, but nothing was said to me about his care. Not a word, no instructions given, and I had never neutered a male animal before. Something would have have been nice...!
All the way home, Chloë kept insisting that he must have had a bath, because he was soaking wet, but told her that no, I was sure he hadn't. It was clear when we got him out that he was covered in urine, and when I say "covered," I mean thoroughly drenched, sopping wet and dripping. It's not unusual for Pepper to tinkle a little when he's in his cage, but this was absurd IMO.
We told Chloë to gently, lightly, carefully bathe him with a minimal amount of water to get the urine off him. I knew it wasn't the best idea to bathe him right after surgery, but (a) he reeked, (b) he was literally that gross, and (c) I hadn't been instructed, well, not to, so...
I knew she would be careful. Chloë babies Pepper like he's the most fragile, delicate creature on the planet. They are over the moon about each oher and have a strong, unbreakable bond. She gingerly washed away the pee and carrie him out to the couch, wrapped lightly in a towel, supporting his backside.
It was then that I gave Pepper a little exam of my own. Of course, as a Maine Coon, he had needed to be shaved; no surprise there as all cats would need that, surely. But fur from outside the shaved area was glued down to the wounds, and obviously I didn't want to go yanking it off, so I didn't get to see the wound on his belly too well. For some reason I didn't understand, it was tinged blue. Maybe that was the surgical glue? I don't know.
Then I examined his boy bits and discovered, to my shock and horror, at least a centimeter-long open wound on the right side of his scrotum. I could see right inside, into the red-lined cavity; it wasn't closed at all. There was no trace of glue, so while I'm willing to give the Cat Network the benefit of the doubt in that maybe it was washed away when Chloë cleaned him up, I have this niggling doubt about that.
He didn't seem too uncomfortable, but then, Pepper is a quiet, stoic cat who rarely expresses himself, other than his chirping mewling when he was lonely and wanted company in the bathroom. So to say I was concerned would be an understatement. I took to Facebook to express that concern, and opinions varied from surprise and outrage to letting me know what awesome healers cats are (I'm a dog person who learns more about cats daily) and that he was fine.
I called the emergency after-hours vet for advice. They said he may have been too active after surgery and popped the glue there, and told me what to watch for in case of an infection. They also said we could attempt to close the gash, so we did. Steri-strips wouldn't stick, so we used Krazy glue, applied very carefully.
After a while in Chloë's arms, I brought him a little food in my hand, and Pepper chowed down like a champ. We decided to put him down and let him get some on his own. He ate like a starving person at a buffet, drank a lot of water, and ate some more. Good!
When it became clear he wanted to bother with his boo-boos, Jack and I ran down to Petco to get him a surgical collar. He's not too happy with that, but it works, obviously. We'll keep it for the next round of neutering next month, but you can be sure it won't be through the Cat Network! I'll explore more options.
So the boy is fine, but let me tell ya, the Meow Mobile did not "pass" my evaluation. I would not recommend them in a million, trillion years. Call me overprotective, but as a pet mommy, that's my job. I'm disappointed in so many ways, yet thankful Pepper is all right.
And that's what matters most.