Sunday, July 17, 2016

Riley- Bug Hunter

My five year old long-haired smoke gray and white cat, Riley Beans, is rather enigmatic. He was adopted from a rescue shelter and had a serious dental condition- juvenile gingivital hyperplasia- when we adopted him. His breath was atrocious! His gums were red and inflamed, growing down over his teeth and dissolving them. I cried when his vet told us the only thing we could do was to send him to a veterinary dentist and have all his teeth pulled. He was only five months old! I said we needed a week to think about that- I mean, how could you take a cat that wasn't much bigger than a kitten and yank out all his teeth!

Our vet called us a week later and asked if we'd be agreeable to is performing laser dental work on Riley's gums. He had been reading up on Riley's condition and thought he'd give this a try since we were so reluctant to have all his teeth pulled. It would be a learning experience for him and his co-workers but they felt bad for Riley and were willing to try this first before going to such an extreme. It might work, because the disease could resolve on its own as he grew. John and I discussed it- but there really was nothing to discuss. Riley was miserable, in pain and having difficulty eating, even soft food because his gums were so inflamed and it was affecting his throat.

We took him in, entrusting him to the care of Dr. Faircloth who had been our family vet for twenty-something years. He assured us Riley would be closely monitored and if he became distressed they would stop. John and I went home to wait. We received periodic updates throughout the day by the reception staff. Then the Doctor called to say Riley had done well. He'd lasered the inflamed gums back off his teeth and cleaned up the gum line. He'd extracted three partially eroded teeth, cleaned and polished all the remaining teeth. Riley was coming out of anesthesia well and staff was watching him closely. He had to stay overnight but we could pick him up the following day.

We brought Riley home and the change in him was amazing! He had fresh breath. Within 24-hours he was eating both wet and dry food. He had always been sweet and affectionate, even when miserable, but now we could tell he was much happier and healthier because he wanted to spend more time with us and less time alone and sleeping.

He's done well ever since the vet took that chance and did something he had not done so extensively before. Before and after photos taken of Riley's mouth are still used as a teaching tool at that veterinary practice and his success story is talked about to this day.

As his health improved we discovered that our little guy was not a mouser by nature, but a bug hunter. He's like a feline pointer When he spots a flying or crawling insect he stares intently at it, his whole body grows still. He tracks it with his eyes, and if it flits off or crawls off he follows it until it's stopped or landed someplace else, and then he sits and stares again. He's pointed out to us spiders, ladybugs, beetles, flies, bees, mosquitoes, ants and most recently the firefly that got into our kitchen.

He does not move until someone comes and kills the bug or captures it and puts it back outdoors (ladybugs and the firefly primarily). Once the insect has been taken care of he happily goes off to do whatever it is he does when he's out of our sight. No one really knows what that is, because although he's now a happy, healthy cat he remains rather enigmatic- except for his penchant for bug tracking/hunting. Fortunately he has not brought me any bugs in bed! (I've had cats all my life and have been gifted with dead birds, wounded mice, and live frogs in bed!)

Riley Beans- Bug Hunter! You've just gotta love that little boy!

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