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How Can You Make a Cat Take Bed Rest Seriously?

The vet advised rest and relaxation, but Ghost Cat resists taking it easy, even when she needs to.

Heather Marcoux  |  Oct 5th 2015


They survive leaps from great heights, can scale any obstacle in their path, and can even fly through the air with ease (as long as that air occupies the space between the kitchen countertops). My kitties, Ghost Cat and Specter, are like furry little superheroes to me. When they’re tossing each other off the cat tree it’s like they’re reenacting scenes from an X-Men movie, brandishing their claws while they play Wolverine and Sabertooth.

Just like Wolverine, Ghost Cat is Canadian and fights the Hulk. Sadly, her healing factor is not as strong.

Just like Wolverine, Ghost Cat is Canadian and fights the Hulk. Sadly, her healing factor is not as strong.

They seem downright unbreakable — until suddenly, they aren’t. When an active cat gets injured, the cure often involves a period of rest and relaxation, but how do you make a creature who literally climbs the walls chill out while they heal? Our cats may act tough, but beneath all that fur is a body that doesn’t contain even a little bit of adamantium — just flesh and bone and other breakable bits.

I didn’t realize how much I took my cats’ fragility for granted until I got a text message from my husband one afternoon to let me know that our large dog had accidentally stepped on one of our super kitties, my petite and beautiful Ghost Cat.  

The text that nearly sent me into hysterics.

The text that nearly sent me into hysterics (and yes, my husband and I both have Specter on our shoulders in our pics).

In a flurry of texts that followed the first, I demanded more details. After warning me not to overreact, my husband told me my sweet little Ghosty had cried for a few moments after our dog’s heavy paw injured her little leg, but that she was now sleeping through a Dr. Who episode.

By the time I got home, Ghost Cat was awake and walking around, but she was very slow and had a pretty obvious limp. We kept an eye on her for a while before calling our vet to make an appointment. It was clear my little superhero wasn’t going to be able to walk this one off, and she needed something stronger than cuddles and treats to help with the pain.

It didn't take long for Ghost Cat to forgive her clumsy canine buddy.

Despite her pain, it didn’t take long for Ghost Cat to forgive her clumsy canine buddy.

When our vet came by the house for our appointment, Ghost Cat’s limp had lessened slightly, and my pretty kitty had been jumping up on all furniture, despite her obvious pain. After the vet performed an exam and a diagnosed poor Ghosty with a soft tissue injury, my beautiful little cat decided to demonstrate for her doctor that no amount of pain was going to keep her from going about her daily cat business. She slowly limped over to the cat tree in our dining room and then jumped right up to the top.

“You see,” I said to our vet. “She won’t stop jumping around! I just don’t know what to do with her.”

That’s when our vet said something so obvious that it made me want to smack my own forehead in pet parent shame. Ghost Cat’s doctor suggested I lay the cat tree down on the floor for the duration of our appointment so that my limpy kitty couldn’t injure herself further. There would be no cat trees or playmates in Ghosty’s immediate future, as her doctor then prescribed a week of rest (and a bunch of oral syringes of anti-inflammatory to ease her pain).

Ghost Cat is not a fan of this medicine, Metacam.

Ghost Cat is not a fan of this medicine, Metacam, but it sure made her feel better.

When the vet first told me Ghost Cat needed to rest up for a week, I wondered out loud how I could make my active kitty take it easy. Ghosty’s doctor suggested we restrict her to a room with no vertical spaces (the spare bedroom fit the bill) and keep our other animals (even her BFF, Specter) away from Ghost Cat for seven days. I agreed to this plan, but I knew it would be super hard, emotionally.

At first I tried to soften the blow for Ghost Cat by only restricting her to the spare room during the day and allowing her to sleep with me and my husband at night. My guy and I slept as still as we could to avoid re-injuring Ghosty’s leg, but by day three our own legs were getting restless, and so was she. We made the tough choice to banish her from our bed for her own safety.

I felt like I was punishing poor Ghost Cat for being a victim of our clumsy dog. She was the one who’d been hurt, and now she was the one on solitary confinement. For a social cat like Ghosty, the treatment for her pain was almost worse than the injury itself. The only thing she likes more than jumping on stuff is touching another warm body (and she doesn’t discriminate between species; Ghosty will cuddle with Specter, the dogs, or any human who happens to be in our house).

Ghost Cat enjoys being up high and having company (even if that company stepped on her once).

Ghost Cat enjoys being up high and having company (even if that company stepped on her once).

Ghost Cat quickly learned that the spare room was a lonely place. Every time I put her in there she meowed as pitifully as possible and paw at the door. One night I woke up in the wee hours to hear her crying, and when I went to check on her I realized she’d puked. Our vet had warned that the anti-inflammatory could upset her stomach, but I’m not convinced that Ghost Cat’s midnight vomiting wasn’t induced by loneliness more than medicine.

Thankfully, by the end of the week Ghosty’s limp was completely gone, and we didn’t need to keep her in the spare room at all any longer. Despite the fact that she had a nice low litter box, plenty of water, wet food, and a queen-size Tempur-Pedic mattress to keep her comfortable during her week of healing, Ghost Cat found the spare room to be anything but relaxing. For a kitty who craves action, a prescription for rest can feel like feline persecution — but even superheroes need down time once in awhile. 

How do you convince your kitty to follow the doctor’s orders when those orders make them bored? Tell us in the comments!

Read more by Heather Marcoux:

About the author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but Specter the kitten, GhostBuster the Lab and her newest dog, Marshmallow, make her fur family complete. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google +