A few hours after we brought Gwen home, she stopped what she was doing, started turning her head to the side like she was possessed, and making this sad "NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH" noise. The first time it happened, I wondered if she had some sort of brain trauma we were unaware of.
I knew she had gunk in her ears, but part of me wondered if her mouth was bothering her. I used the free vet checkup coupon we had for adopting Gwen sooner than later to get her looked at. Sure enough, she had a double ear infection. But when the vet went to check her mouth, she went from a docile perfect patient to scrambling, clawing to get away. The vet and I agreed that something was probably up with her mouth.
She continued to periodically stop what she was doing and make that awful "NYAH NYAH" noise, shaking her head along with it. Her ears were getting better, but her weird noises weren't. A day or two before her dental appointment, I saw rusty spit along her mouth. I wanted it to be kibble remnants. I tried to tell myself that it was just kibble spit. (After all, we have some pretty weird spit after eating things like oreos, right?) But in my gut, I knew it was blood, and I knew there was something up with her, just not the extent. I mean, even one really sore tooth could cause that, right?
It's been just over a year now since Gwen had every single one of her teeth pulled.
I got to visit her the day she had it done, and they handed me a little Gwen burrito. She was loopy out of her gourd, laying there in her towel swaddle, staring at me sweetly. They told me that as much pain as she was in at the time, she was no worse off, and may even feel better, than the pain she had been living with before the surgery.
Can you imagine that? The pain of having all of your teeth removed at once was better than before surgery? It took a lot of effort not to melt into a puddle of tears and cry all over my loopy cat.
They told us that she was a remarkably sweet cat, because most cats in that amount of pain are incredibly mean and anti-social.
While I had my feeling that something was up with Gwen, I had no idea it was that bad. She had seemed so happy, curious, content! I never looked at her and thought, "ah, yes, this cat's mouth is horribly infected and she needs all of her teeth pulled."
Infected as her mouth was, I sometimes wonder how much longer she would have had to live, had we not come along. I'm no expert, I've no solid basis for guessing. But we know how this story ends. We know that Gwen healed up like a champ and went on to eat us out of house and home for several weeks after her surgery. We know that she became an even happier cat who loves to groom us and nibble our hands and play with everything.
This little cat has been through a lot. By all rights, she should be bitter and hate people. But she's not. I'm not exaggerating when I say that she is one of the happiest little cats I've ever seen. I see kittens run around with her energy and enthusiasm, but not cats her age. I couldn't be more proud of her, and if it's possible for a cat to inspire a person, she does. If Gwen can live in mind-breaking pain and still be a cheerful girl, what can I do?
And by the way, once her mouth healed, we never heard the "NYAH NYAH" and head shaking again.