WHEN DO I PANIC ABOUT MY CAT?

  1. Here he is. His name is Loki.
  2. He is thirteen years old.
    I got him when I was a junior in high school, a few months after my parents got divorced. My brother was away at college and my mom was the one to move out, so it was just my dad and I. A girl in my Spanish class announced that her cat had kittens, if anyone was interested.
  3. We already had a cat, but I wanted a kitten.
    I was 17 and sad a lot of the time. My dad, who was also sad a lot of the time, that year, wasn't about to deny me much of anything. The day I brought him home after school my friends came over and we took turns cuddling him and putting him in the hoods and pockets of our hoodies because he was just so tiny (!).
  4. Anyway, he's older, now.
    He's lived with me in two states, three cities and four homes.
  5. He's had a few health problems.
    He has to eat special thyroid medication food, and can't have anything else. This sucks for him, because he loves cheese and licking my ice cream bowls, but I remind him that it's for his health.
  6. But he's mostly healthy, except for a pretty routine case of constipation.
  7. Today I came home and he came out of the bedroom where he tends to nap the day away, like usual.
    What was unusual is that he threw up, four times in a row.
  8. The throwing up is not concerning, necessarily.
    For a long time, he had a bit of an eating disorder.
  9. See, my dad used to let him outside to wander around the neighborhood.
    We lived in on a cul de sac and he never went that far. Which was all fine, until he didn't come back, one day. It was the summer after my freshman year of college and I was home for the summer. I looked for him and put up posters and called shelters. No Loki.
  10. Until my dad called, saying, "I think your cat is outside?"
  11. I rushed home. A skinny cat was sitting at the door.
    He looked emaciated, every rib clearly visible underneath his thin fur. When I fell down next to him he butted my hands with his head and opened his mouth, though only a faint hint of a meow came out. My cat!
  12. For years after that he gulped down his food until he couldn't possibly eat more, after which he'd throw it all up. Rise, repeat.
    Eventually I bought an automatic feeder. It was life changing, once he realized that food came at predictable intervals, whether or not a human was around.
  13. Anyway, ANYWAY: today.
    He threw up four times, but just the foamy stuff. He hadn't eaten this afternoon.
  14. Now he's under the bed, occasionally yowling.
    Obviously he is not feeling well.
  15. Do I panic!?
  16. 1) It could just be that he has a hairball and it's painful until it passes.
  17. 2) Ditto some hard poo.
    Which is also normal for him.
  18. Or it could be some kind of kidney/liver issue!?
  19. Something else serious!?
  20. He is sort of sensitive.
    He hates loud noises, and riding in the car. When I moved to, and back, from California, I had to take him on the plane. I drugged him, both times, so he wouldn't howl the whole time.
  21. He didn't make a peep the whole way, and when we landed I opened his case just a tiny bit to touch his head.
    Good kitty.
  22. A moment later we're taxiing toward the gate when the guy next to me says, "Um, did your cat get loose?"
    I spring up to see and there he is, slinking down the aisle in a panic. I run a catch him, just as he gets to the back where the flight attendants are strapped into their jump seats. As I return to my seat everyone is laughing and pointing. "Please remain in your seats until the plane stops at the gate," the pilot announces.
  23. STAY ON TOPIC, GIRL. ... When do I start googling "emergency vet"?
    If I give it a day to see if it resolves itself, what am I risking?
  24. Because googling cat health issues is just as bad as googling your own.
    You'll just convince yourself death is imminent.
  25. (He was eating and using the litter box, yesterday.)
  26. Ok! Another kitty photo, since it was so nice of you to get through this list of anxiety.