I just took Birch to the vet for his annual check-up. He tested positive for FIV - feline immunodeficiency virus. Basically, he has cat-AIDS.
At last year's check-up, they told me Birch had tartar buildup on his teeth and that his gums were all swollen and red. They recommended I get Birch's teeth cleaned (a veterinary procedure that requires them to knock him right out with anaesthetic) but said I might be able to avoid the expense by giving him special crunchy cat food designed to bust off all that tartar. So I've been sprinkling a handful of "crunchies" on his food every day for the past year.
Unfortunately, this time around the vet said his gums were still inflamed...and that this might indicate an immune system issue keeping him from fighting off the infection. She recommended I get him tested for FIV and feline leukemia. She also said that I need to get his teeth cleaned, and that this will cost a minimum of $800. If they find a lot of damage once they get in there, they might have to pull some or all of his teeth(!) and that will cost more.
The next day, the results of the blood test came in: Birch is FIV+ (but no leukemia, thank god!). The vet prescribed a two-week course of antibiotics to help him fight the gum infection, and also a tube of this weird vitamin supplement gel he's supposed to take twice a day to boost his immune system. I think she said I should give him the gel stuff every day for the rest of his life, but it's possible I misheard her due to being shaken up by the bad news. I was in a bit of a haze that morning.
So, to recap: Birch's mouth has been hurting for the past year or more(!) and he can't get better without expensive medicine and dental treatment. Also, although he otherwise seems totally healthy and normal right now, he has an immune deficiency: just like a human with AIDS, he's at risk of getting really, really sick if he so much as catches the sniffles. Luckily, Birch is an indoor kitty so he's not likely to be exposed to cat-colds or cat-flus - but I'm still anticipating that in the future he'll need medicine more often than a cat without immune issues.
I'm feeling sad. And freaked out. And I'm still jobless and living off my savings, so all of this is a big financial strain, too - which is why I am now offering custom digital pet sketches in my Artfire store for just $5 each. You send me a good clear pet photo, I "cartoonify" that sweet li'l face and email you the result. Here are some examples:
I've gotten about 14 orders within the first two days of this project, thanks to some wonderful people sharing the link on Facebook and Twitter. Let's keep that momentum going! Please share this link with all the pet lovers in your life: http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/4958676 or submit it to Reddit or other, um, big...information-sharing...thingies (I'm kind of clueless about that stuff, as you can probably tell).
Here's some of the feedback I've gotten from my pet sketch customers:
-Two thumbs up from me! I sent two photos and quickly received two very nicely drawn pieces of art (which I will now affix to various household items such as mugs and coasters).
-Wow, that was fast! LOVE them!
-My cat picture turned out amazing! I'm gonna print it on a tote bag so I can take him with me everywhere I go. :)
Needless to say, any purchase from my Artfire store will help my financial situation, so if you're not into pets but you like something else I'm selling, now would be an excellent time to buy. Just sayin'.
I'm gonna go hug my cat now.