Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Healing meows to radioactive Zambo!

Meet Zambo, our beloved kitty.  She is about 11 years old, and dresses up fancy in a Tuxedo for all occasions.  She's very cute, as you can surely see.

I got Zambo when I was in my 3rd year of medical school.  I lived in an apartment that didn't allow pets, but I got her anyway (what a rebel!) and she proved to be an excellent companion in a very busy & stressful time in my life.

Zambo is (in)famous for two things:  one is her disposition, which has been described as feisty, grumpy, ill-tempered, or more recently fractious.  I hadn't heard this word before, but I looked up the definition & it suited Zambo to a T.  If you don't want to look up the word, I'll provide some examples of Zambo behaviours to illustrate:

Yes, she is giving you stink eye.
1. History of expressing unhappiness/dis-statisfaction by urination on couch, bed, owner's head.  (behaviour much improved since Cat Psychologist visit 5 yrs ago, but that is another story)
2. Banned from a vet in Vancouver due to "attitude problem"
3. Hates it when company comes over, but rather than leave the room, will sit right in the middle of it, glaring at all present & swiping at anyone who tries to pet her.
4. Transforms from mild mannered cat into Tasmanian Devil at the vet, becoming approximately 4x her regular size, allowing examination of teeth (bared), coat (sticking up in all directions) and vocal abilities (excellent hisses & growls)

Speaking of size, that is the other thing Zambo has been famous for.  She is a chunky kitty who loves her food.

Guarding her food 
Maybe she is just big boned..... 
Back in November, we bit the bullet and took her to the vet for a general check-up.  I was not brave enough this time so Derek took her on his own.  With the whole team of assistants leaning their full weight into Zambo, the vet was able to do a quick exam & came back with a remarkable assessment:  Zambo was deemed "too thin".   We were sort of amazed by this news.   We certainly had not noticed any weight loss & had long ago given up trying to achieve this goal.  In fact, to balance against her anxiety, we had stopped restricting her food & just let her eat to her heart's content.

We got a new prescription food to fatten her up & a plan to follow-up if it didn't work.  After a few months, it was obvious she was not gaining weight, in fact she seemed to be getting thinner.  Even our non-cat-loving friends noticed a difference in her appearance.  

Zambo a few weeks ago: a shadow of her former self
I plucked up my courage & took her to the vet.  The wise vet sedated her and managed a full exam & some lab work, which revealed that she has an over-active thyroid gland.  This was good news to me, as I was worried about kitty Diabetes (the thought of giving her daily needles = yikes!), or worse, kitty cancer.  And better news yet - there is a cure!  All we had to do is send her to Vancouver for week to get radioactive iodine treatment & she comes back as good (& as chubby) as new!

Knowing Zambo's temperament, the week away was not something that I was looking forward to.  We cuddled her lots to make sure she knew how much we loved her!  

The reason for the long stay in Vancouver is partly to monitor for any side effects of the medication, but  mostly because she will be radioactive!  They have to monitor her emissions every day and can not let her go home until she has fallen below legal limits of radiation!  Poor little kitty!  Hopefully she will be released on Saturday, but to add insult to injury, Zambo will not be allowed any cuddles with me for 2 more weeks!  She will still have low levels of radiation, and since we don't want Rufus to be born with lobster claws, she will have to stay clear of me & the bump.  Poor Zambo will think that I hate her.  And she will probably express her dissatisfaction with vindictive peeing!  We've got a tough few weeks ahead.

Zambo had her treatment yesterday & the report from the vet was that she was having a bit of a side effect today.  When I spoke to them this afternoon, things had settled, but they are keeping an eye on her.

Zambo at the vet in Vancouver.  

She was slightly stressed, but did not light the room up like she does at our local vet.
I really miss Zambo's meows greeting me when I wake up in the morning & when I come home from work.  I used to complain at times that she was whining too much, thinking that she was just begging for more food, but I discovered that all she wanted was pets & cuddles.  She's only been in Vancouver for two days & I miss her already!

We won't get to cuddle like this for a while
I'll update you all as I hear more from the vet.  Heal up well little kitty!  We really miss you!!


  1. Poor little kitty. It's sad that you can't express to your pets that you only do this stuff they hate because you love them. Rockers is off to the vet tomorrow for his acupuncture!

  2. Healing vibes to glow-in-the-dark Zambo! My favourite Zambo characteristic is her inexplicable dislike of me - including attacking the phone when you talk to me!!