Squeak looked like she had been on a three-day drinking binge.
The year-old cat was hiding under the bed, meowing loudly and staring back at me with her big yellow eyes. When I coaxed her out, she staggered on weak legs that barely held her up. Her face was wet with drool and she was breathing heavily.
She had been fine in the morning before I left home for a short time. I was shocked to see her condition when I returned.
As it turns out, she may have been shocked, too.
I thought she may have ingested something toxic, but the cupboards were closed and there weren't any tell-tale spills or shredded paper anywhere. Squeak is recovering from spay surgery and I worried she may have developed an infection or other problem. I called our veterinarian.
He decided to see her after I described her symptoms and asked all the questions I had already thought of. She isn't fond of the pet carrier but I quickly got her corralled for the trip.
The veterinarian suspected feline infectious peritonitis had been triggered by her surgery -- terrible news. The disease is passed to kittens from their mother. It lies dormant until sometime before the cat is 2 years old, when it activates and fills the lungs and abdominal cavity with fluid. The cat literally drowns inside. There is no test for it, no vaccination and no cure. It is always fatal.
I could feel the tears coming.
Then the veterinarian took Squeak's temperature, which was normal. A hopeful sign — cats which have FIP spike a fever. He took Squeak for an X-ray and ultrasound.
To our surprise, Squeak was regaining her balance, drooling less and breathing more easily, even during the short time we'd been in the office.
Then the vet asked the question: Could she have bitten an electrical cord and gotten shocked?
Well, it's possible. There are two lamp cords and a fan cord in the bedroom where she was.
The vet said cats don't tolerate an electrical shock well because their nervous systems are really knocked for a loop when it happens. It would explain why she had no fever and her rapid improvement in the office.
Squeak and I went home with liquid medicine and a promise to inspect all of the electrical cords in the house. She is fully recovered.
I've checked and haven't found any little teeth marks. It is a good reminder for all pet owners to pay attention to things in the environment that might intrigue a pet.
I doubt I'll ever know what really happened. And Squeak isn't telling.