Updated: Feb 12
Aong with his 2 brothers, Chewy came to us as a fluffy little 12 week old rescue/foster last summer. You can imagine the cuteness overload in our house. In normal kitten fashion they took a keen interest in things they shouldn't touch and like having a toddler around, we had to keep small items out of sight and reach. Nine months later, instead of growing out of their kitten habits, two of the three have become even more interested in mouthing things. (Especially Chewy)
Just before Christmas Chewy's brother Willy chewed and ate some bits of a silicone worm and ended up with an intestinal blockage requiring surgery. It was then that we realized these were unusually avid chewers. They were already confined to a sparsely furnished guest bedroom when we couldn't have all eyes on them. We always removed toys when we left their room but they were crafty. They would hide one under a pillow and sneak it out later when the coast was clear as in the case of Willy's near death experience with the pink worm. So that was that, we had to eliminate cat toys from our home (much to the dismay of our older, more responsible cat). We replaced them with natural dog chews like freeze dried whole fish, turkey feet, lamb horns etc. which were digestible. Problem solved, right? Wrong! Chewy actually ate the gauze tie on Willy's neck cone when he returned home from his surgery.
Slurped it right up like a spaghetti noodle when I turned my back to put Willy in the litter box. Fortunately we noticed immediately and the doctor at our emergency clinic was able to extract it from his upper digestive tract. Whew! Disaster averted. Not for long though. It wouldn't have been a few weeks until he then chewed through the duvet on the guest bed and swallowed the stuffing. Another midnight trip to emerg and some barium helped him to pass it without any invasive treatment. Very thankful to the docs who helped him through that one.
So what was it that won him a seat in the $10k club? Well, this time they found a hair tie in his gullet with a bunch of hair twisted all up in it. Where he got that is anybody's guess. We use scrunchies. We can only assume it was one of the kids' houseguests who set it down somewhere. Of course, leave it to Chewy to seek it out like an AIM-26 Falcon and swallow it. Unfortunately there was no vet at our preferred after hours clinic on the evening of this mishap so we were directed to Walker rd. where they were clearly swamped. Poor Chewy didn't even get to see the doc for 12 hours, she finally took him into surgery 24 hours after we brought him in. I had to ask her if she had slept, they were that busy. Surgery was a success but there were a few minor complications so he wasn't able to come home for the next few days.
If you're a pet parent I don't have to tell you how quickly the expenses add up in an emergency clinic, not to mention 8 different meds to go home with. Of course we're diligent about keeping small bits away from him but the reality is it's very possible this could happen again. Given the fact that we're a family with teenagers (and friends) in the house and Chewy's odd obsession with eating everything in sight, we're going to be proactive and look into some pet insurance for him and his little bro. I mean sure he's on the mend now but as we speak he's on my lap trying to eat the ties on my hoodie.
Folks, this is why rescue organizations screen for financial soundness. I can't bear the thought a different outcome for Chewy had he been adopted by someone who couldn't afford to save him. I know it happens to good hearted people every day. I also know the value in giving an animal a loving home regardless of economic status. It's a fine line to be navigated with careful consideration. It's easy to feel compassion and take a new family member in and I'm grateful for all those who do but it's imperative to have a plan for emergencies.
Chewy and his littermates were only supposed to be here temporarily but as we see their emerging personalities and quirks I think we'd be hard pressed to find anyone willing to deal with them. They were actually diagnosed as FeLV positive early on too. We put them on a raw diet with healthy immune boosting supplements and they received their clean IFA test results a few months ago. After all we've been through with them I'm pretty sure the universe intends for them to stay right here with us. We've watched them grow from babies and the longer they're here their bond grow stronger, we just can't part with any of them now.
We're definitely going to have to look into house swaps for our future travel!