Our weather turned cold and dry (drier than normal anyway) in the last 36 hours, so I thought maybe Obie's airway was inflamed. Maybe treating him for croup would help. He wasn't happy about being closed in the bathroom with the shower running. Put him in the bedroom, where he wanted to be anyway, with a humidifier. It didn't help either. Jeez! What if he's aspirated something? Aspiration pneumonia in cats (in everybody, actually) is a serious matter. Obie wasn't getting worse, but that didn't mean he wouldn't, given enough time. I dialed the number for his veterinarian. It was after hours, but the vets in Silver City share emergency duty and they're supposed to leave word on their answering machines to direct callers to the on-call practitioner.
The recorded message at Obie's vet (Vet #1) to call Vet #2, which I did. The message there said to call Vet #3. Ok, fine. I called Vet #3, whose message told me to call Vet #4. Tsk! Stupid land of enchantment. There are only four veterinarians in Silver City. I expected Vet #4 to refer me back to Vet #1, but got the home number for Vet #4, which I dialed.
A voice, heavy with sleep, answered "This is Dr. Mumble" and I poured out Obie's story, as succinctly as I could. "No, cats don't get croup," the good doctor replied. "He might have an obstruction or he might have picked up an infection. You can give him some warm water by eyedropper and see if that helps, or you can bring him in and we'll take a look." I said I would try the warm water and call back if it didn't help. It didn't. Obie swallowed it, but it didn't relieve his discomfort.
Here was my dilemma. The vet has three small children. He works very hard and misses a lot of sleep. I felt bad about waking him up again. Maybe this was nothing to worry about. The cat was alert and oriented. He could move under his own power. I couldn't hear his breathing from across the room. He could meow. He swallowed the water from the eyedropper. On the other hand, if the inflammation progressed, how long would his airway last? He wasn't eating or drinking voluntarily. He didn't want to play. He might get worse overnight. If he had aspirated something, the longer it remained stuck wherever it was, the deeper into his lungs it might go. Surgery to remove it! Infection! Memories of a beloved cat who didn't do well and died a couple of days post-surgery! Gaaaaaah!
I decided to let the vet sleep and to check on Obie throughout the night. I ignored the thought that he might die in between bed checks and THEN how would I feel?! I threw my sleeping bag on the floor and settled in next to him, hunkered on an ancient down-filled vest that he likes a lot. I put my hand over his perpetual-motion tail. I figured as long as I could feel his tail moving he was still alive.