I took Alexander to the vet today to have him treated for a new wound that occurred due to his poor physical condition. It has been eight months since the vet informed me that Alexander is blind and has a brain tumor. I haven’t made the terrible end of life decision for him as he still appears on time (and always ahead of his brother and sister) for breakfast and dinner. The cancer is not yet affecting his appetite.
As I was leaving the clinic, I remembered another incident that occurred there about ten years ago. Richard and I had taken one of our cats to the vet for a visit when Richard announced to the vet that I had suffered a cat bite while volunteering at the local animal shelter.
I didn’t think about mentioning it – but I usually forgot important details when I saw my doctor when I was ill. Richard always remembered the things I forgot to tell the doctor.
When Richard told the vet about the bite, she was alarmed and asked me about the incident at the shelter. I followed with my story about the bite incident.
A woman arrived one Saturday morning to surrender a feral cat to the shelter. While I was handling the cat, it got away but not before badly biting my hand and knuckles. The cat was never found and was presumed to be living amongst the feral colony outside the shelter. My hand and knuckles became badly infected and required treatment by my doctor. But I never filed a report about the bite.
After I finished my story, the vet told me that since the feral cat was never found, I should be treated for rabies as the cat may have been infected. She further explained the slow progress of the spread of the infection from the bite location to my brain via my central nervous system might take several months to one year. When symptoms became present, it would be too late for treatment. She suggested that I go to the hospital for rabies treatment and vaccination.
I dutifully reported to the emergency room for several rabies treatments and finally for vaccination for future animal bites. I never felt any concern about the possibility of rabies infection but Richard was a worrier and it made him feel better that I had rabies treatment. And my fellow volunteers soon joked that since I was up to date on my rabies vaccination, that they weren’t concerned about my biting them!
I lost Richard to cancer just one year after the bite incident, and sometimes I think about him reporting my bite to the doctor and wonder – did Richard save my life?