Normally, Popoki is a picture of cat health. Her fur is glossy, her eyes are bright, her gait is even and her breath is sweet. She's young and very robust, so I rarely worry about her health. But over the weekend, she started showing very minor symptoms of illness. And if I hadn't acted on them, her health could have taken a very serious turn for the worse.
On Friday afternoon, Popoki decided to eat about half of her lunch. On Saturday, she wouldn't eat her lunch at all. By Sunday, she'd started to skip breakfast and lunch. And on Monday, she wasn't eating anything at all.
Cats like Popoki can be in deep trouble if they don't eat regularly. A cat's body in starvation mode secretes a huge amount of fat, and all of that fat can get picked up by the liver. A fatty liver causes severe nausea, which makes a cat feel even worse. In time, a cat like this won't eat at all. And it can lead to death. (That's what happened to foster cat Panda.)
I started force-feeding Popoki on Monday, to ensure she got the calories she needed to keep her liver healthy. And I started looking closely at her habits. She was walking normally, using the box normally, drinking water without issue and purring when approached. She was out in the open (no hiding), but she didn't really want her head touched.
When I opened up her little mouth, I got a gander at some really nasty looking teeth. She has deep plaque on the gum line, and some of her more prominent teeth are stained with black. She didn't want me to touch her head overmuch, so I couldn't get a great look at what was happening, but what I could see had me worried.
Yesterday, she went in to the vet for some bloodwork, urine work and a physical exam. All was clear, aside from that sensitive mouth. Her doctor could see even fewer teeth than I could.
Popoki was sent home with pain medications, and an hour after she got that dose, she started eating again. So the symptoms I was seeing were caused by pain. And today, she's in the clinic for a sedated oral exam, tooth cleaning and possible extractions.
Popoki isn't yet 3 years old, and I brush her teeth nightly, so it's a little surprising that she would have these serious dental issues. But her breed does put her at risk. That flat face pushes her teeth into a strange pattern, and it's possible she collects more food in her teeth than does a cat with a standard mouth. This might be just one of plenty of dental procedures she needs throughout her cat life.
But I'm thankful that I know what to look for in the future. She is so sweet and kind-hearted and trusting, so she simply won't show me pain if she can help it. Instead, she'll just stop eating. That will be my hallmark to watch for in the future.
Wish her good luck at the dentist's! And do leave me a note so I'll know you were here, okay?
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