Wednesday morning, I was dishing out feed for the evening. This included a tablet of bute for Cash, who managed to twist something out in the pasture the other night. (I explained that he's 24 and shouldn't gallop around like he's two, but he didn't listen. Sigh.) As usual, Maddy was in the feed room, nibbling dropped feed off the floor and twining herself around my legs. When I dropped the tab of Bute into Cash's feed dish, Maddy came over to investigate. That in of itself wasn't unusual - she occasionally licks the probiotics off his feed, but what she did next was completely unexpected. SHE ATE THE ENTIRE BUTE TABLET OUT OF THE FEED TUB.
It happened so quickly - she just licked it up and it was gone. I immediately reached down and scruffed her, then tried to fish the tablet out of her mouth. In just an instant, she had already swallowed it. She then took offense at being scruffed, scratched me with a front paw, and when I let go, dashed off.
I finished up in the feed room, then looked for Maddy. I called and called, looked in all her favorite spots, but couldn't find her anywhere. I went inside and did some research on cats and Bute, and found almost nothing. Well, except for the part where cats are extremely sensitive to NSAIDs. Even a single aspirin, or a dog's dose of Rimidyl (100 mg), can kill them. Maddy ate a full GRAM of bute - or about 10 times the lethal dose. Awesome.
I eventually left for work without finding her. I spent the day worrying about her, and started looking for her again when I got home. I took care of the horses, and about 8 p.m. I was sitting on the couch when she staggered down the hallway. She was drooling profusely and could barely walk. I have no idea how she even got into the house, but I am so glad she did, or I never would have found her. I snagged her, put her in a crate, and immediately drove her to the emergency animal clinic. On the way, she had a seizure. It was terrifying.
Once at the clinic, they rushed to put her on IV fluids and start some Pepcid and carafate to try to ease the trauma to the GI tract. Amazingly, all her blood tests came back normal, despite the fact that she was ataxic and in pretty bad shape. She spent the night at the emergency clinic, but I had to move her to my regular vet in the morning. She had improved some during the night, but the 30 minute drive to the regular vet's office really set her back.
Fortunately, additional IV fluids, carafate, and Pepcid, along with a quiet environment, seem to have done the trick. The vet is fairly convinced that she vomited up most of the pill shortly after she ate it, since the full dose almost certainly would have killed her. After 48 hours of the best care (and $1300 in vet bills), Maddy came home tonight. She's still wobbly and is spending most of her time resting, but she's purring whenever I pet her and she's started eating again. She's not entirely out of the woods yet, and the vet warned me that she may never quite be her old self, but she's definitely on her way to a solid recovery.
The strangest thing about this whole experience is that a cat WILLINGLY ate an entire Bute tablet on her own. If you've ever tried to pill a cat before, you'll know that the concept of one actually voluntarily eating a pill is completely foreign, much less something the size of a Bute tab. I ended up having to explain to four different vets that yes, she did actually eat it, and yes, it really was that big. And yes, I was ABSOLUTELY SURE she'd eaten the Bute and not gotten into something else.
The hubby is due home next Wednesday. I guess Maddy was our "broken" thing for this trip. Poor little Mooster.