Leia’s visit today is her last neonatal visit.
After today, mostly it will be about vaccines and parasite prevention, as well as examinations to determine if any diseases are present.
But the plan for the neonatal check-ins isn’t as complex. Just make sure the kitten is continuing to grow at an acceptable rate and protect against parasites.
Today, however, the family wants me to take a look at Leia. For some clients, “take a look” is code for a brief exam but no charge. When you ask if they want the doctor to examine the animal, they say no. But for Leia’s case, they do want a true examination.
The concern is coordination. In general, it might be fair to say cats are more coordinated than dogs. But everyone is an individual, and I happen to live with a less than graceful feline myself. Still, Leia has become a concern for her owners. She seems wobbly.
Not a very scientific word, but an appropriate one in this case. Leia is reaching an age where her movements should be a little more refined than they were when she was learning to walk and manipulate the world with her paws and mouth. Young kittens routinely fall over or bump into things, but the trend should be toward a less reckless existence. And the trend is such for Leia, but sometimes she seems to shake, especially if she’s tired.
Initially, I don’t see much that’s abnormal. Once I’m done with the hands-on portion, I place Leia on the floor and watch her explore the room. She moves relatively normally as she walks or runs. But when she reaches the little pile of catnip in the middle of the floor, you see the problem.
She begins to lean down to sniff the pile, and then her head and body tremble and waver, like a drunk trying not to fall off a curb. The same is true at home — small movements are the issue. It’s a problem with fine movement coordination. And it’s probably in her brain.
Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.