The veterinary follow-up schedule that came with Effie’s adoption documents included a follow-up de-worming, due this week. A fecal test was necessary to determine the presence of worms, but, even though Effie had come to us through the Humane Society, and even though worms are, I learned, nearly ubiquitous where we live, I was optimistic that Effie would test negative for worms. I preferred to have the fecal test run, rather than treat her for worms as a default measure. I dropped off her sample at our vet’s office, and went home to await the tech’s all-clear call.
But there was no all-clear call. The tech called back in just over half an hour. “Effie has a tapeworm.” I froze into a manic stupidity, a fog with dancing lights. “A tapeworm? Those are, like, huge and terrible right? But her energy is high, her appetite is good, and her stools are firm and normal looking. How could she have a tapeworm?”
The tech explained that fleas can be tapeworm vectors. “But Effie doesn’t have fleas. I’ve never seen one on her.” I appreciate a pragmatic tech. However the worm got into my precious cat’s gut, it’s there. It can be treated with a pill or a transdermal medication applied to the back of her neck. I could pick up the weapon of choice, or the tech could administer it for me. No charge for showing me how it’s done, and I could give Effie next month’s dose. That should be it.
I opted for the transdermal. I had to give Coolidge pills toward the end of his life, and even with the supposedly gentle pill delivery device, he gagged so horribly that I’m just not ready to pill a cat again, probably ever.
I thought I would just pick up the medication and bring it home and wait for my husband to come home and help me. Effie completely hates riding in the car. The options traversed my fogged thought process, and I packed Effie up for the car. I needed someone else to do this, and to do it now. I can’t have a tapeworm in the house, secreted in my precious cat’s organs, for the entire day. Bother how long it’s been there. It needs to be put on notice. Now.
I called the wonderfully understanding tech back and asked if she would be available in the 15 minutes it would take us to get there, to treat Effie so I could see how it was done. Absolutely.
We were taken into an exam room on arriving, and I saw how simple the transdermal administration was. We were soon home again. Effie headed for her food. Then Effie did two strange things. First, she ran back to where I was sitting, looking at me strangely and wide-eyed. Then, she began foaming at the mouth. Oh God, no, please no. Not a seizure. There isn’t time and I don’t know what to do!
But I had time to call the tech. Effie did not seize. The foaming subsided. My terror took a bit longer.
The tech told me the foaming was not unusual. Effie probably licked some of the gunky stuff on her back. It’s ingested and effective, one way or the other. It tastes terrible enough to induce a foaming reaction. The pill would have been just as bad. (Good! At least I didn’t give her a pill that would probably keep her from ever trusting me again!)