I always say that the greatest thing about writing Homer's Odyssey is having gotten to meet so many of the utterly amazing humans who love animals. Thank you--from the bottom of my heart--to all those who've taken the time to comment, email, send cards and letters, and generally offer their moral support. A great deal of your practical advice and suggestions have been useful, but the most useful thing of all is knowing how many sympathetic ears I have right now. As we all know, not everybody in your life--even people who genuinely care about you--really "get" how difficult a pet's illness can be for you. This is true even when you've written a bestselling memoir about your pets. ;-)
To those of you who asked, we do have Scarlett in a soft cone. Initially the vet sent her home with one of the hard plastic ones, but I swapped that out within a couple of days. The soft cone is certainly more "livable," although Miss Scarlett still doesn't care for it very much.
Many thanks to all those who advised us to try medical-grade honey on Scarlett's wound. I'm surprised I didn't think of it myself, because I have so many freakish and random skin problems and have actually learned over the years that things like honey, table sugar, and egg yolks (not necessarily all used together) have done me a world of good where prescription treatments have failed to make a difference. We are now salving Scarlett's wound with MediHoney twice a day. Nothing is going to heal it, not really, but our main goal at this point is to slow its progress and buy Scarlett as much time as we can. I think the honey may be working, although it's hard to tell yet.
And this is where I have to take a moment to thank my husband, Laurence, who continues to amaze me every day with the depths of his compassion and understanding. As you know, Scarlett wasn't exactly easy on Laurence when we all first moved in together. She went after him with claws and hisses on a more or less constant basis for months, and even when that finally subsided (for the most part, although never completely), Scarlett never did much more than tolerate Laurence.
And yet...it's Laurence who now runs out at all hours of the day and night to replace Scarlett's favorite cat treats when we've run out. (I'm talking 2:00am runs to the 24-hour drugstore 10 blocks away.) He checks on her continuously throughout the day, bringing her little treats and tidbits of food so she won't have to disturb herself to get them. Now that Scarlett's wound is too big for me to treat on my own, it's Laurence who cleans and dresses it while I hold Scarlett down. I know exactly how disturbing it is to look into that wound and clean it out. Having her wound treated may be the worst part of Scarlett's day, but I can't imagine it's exactly a highlight for Laurence either. Yet he never complains or demurs or offers anything other than a cheerful, "Let's do it!" when I tell him it's time. I notice him swallowing hard a few times when he's in there poking around with the gauze pads, but he's always careful to do the job thoroughly with a smile on his face--for my sake.
It goes without saying that Scarlett can sleep wherever she wants these days, and it's Laurence as often as it is me who helps Scarlett onto the bed now that she can't jump on her own. When I wake up in the morning, I find the two of them sleeping comfortably side by side. "I've never respected an animal this much," Laurence told me this morning. "She's a tough old girl." Indeed she is. It astonishes us daily just how tough a stubborn little kitty like Scarlett can be when she has a mind to.
And it's Laurence who, every single day when I agonize over the whole situation, listens to me talk, holds me when I cry, and tells me, "Any decision you make will be the right decision. But for right now she's not hurting, and it makes the two of you happy to be together. Enjoy that as long as you can."