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The Vet in Mexico—Bruno the Kitten

The Vet in Mexico—Bruno the Kitten

We’ve been lucky that our animals have only needed routine care until now.  Although many people mistreat animals in Mexico, there are also many, many people, including knowledgeable veternarians, that are here to help our pets.  In this installment, Bruno the Kitten needs emergency surgery.

July 17, 2008

Our girl Bruno.

Our girl Bruno.

We’ve recently been back and forth to the vet’s a lot, and I want to take this chance to catch you up on animal doctors here in Mexico.

Mexico can be tough on animal lovers.  There are many, many people here who love animals and take the time to learn about them and treat them right.  It may be my imagination, but it seems more people carry dogs here than back home in NY.  Even pit bulls get carried around by their proud owners.

I’ve carried Coco so much that people come up to me making sad faces and ask “What happened?  You know—her legs…”  I have to tell them that the little princess can walk with the best of them, but it looks more regal to have your human lug you around.

There are also a lot of people who see absolutely nothing wrong with kicking a dog—yours or someone else’s—or throwing rocks.  Or poisoning an animal.  Maybe that’s why loving owners carry their dogs so often.  It is lack of education.  I’m not sticking up for dog kickers, but they really don’t know better.  It will take a generation to teach them different.

I’m speaking mostly about dogs, because cats are not very popular animals here.  You will see them occasionally, but they are rarely welcomed into the family.  There is a widespread belief here that cat hair can make a young woman sterile, or cause birth defects in her babies, so cats often have to live outdoors, where they fall prey to hungry dogs or cars or neighbors with rat poison.

Coco the pup is a little girl, at five pounds, and last year she wanted a cat for a pet.  Or a rabbit, but cats are more fun.  We humored her, until one day we went into the patio and there she was, playing with a calico kitten half her size.

We humans are sticks in the mud, and we did not want a cat.  We took the kitten several blocks away.  It beat us home.  We offered it to the neighborhood hoodlums children, but no takers.  We refused to feed it.

The next day the kitten, full and content, was asleep with Coco on our bed, and we had a decision to make.  First let me tell you that the calico kitten was cute.  And we are softie sticks in the mud.

“So.  Do we now have a cat?”

Omar didn’t say no.  Omar rarely says anything, unless he has something to say.  He did ask “Will the kitten poop in the house?”

I grew up in the country.  I am the cat expert.  I felt qualified to answer this question.  Coco looked at me like the fate of the world hung in the balance.

“No.  Cats are very clean.  She has been outside all day, and went to the bathroom there.  Moreover…..”


“What was that noise?”

The question was superfluous, because our noses told us the answer before we found the cat poop all over the computer cables, way in the darkest recesses under our table.

“Now I know what I’ll name her!” bubbled Coco.  “Shitsie!”

So our cute calico kitten was became Shitsie, until Ceci thought we were saying “Shipsie.”  Since Shipsie (pronounced Sheepsie) was a slightly more polite name, we all went with it and the cat didn’t mind.

The first time we left both Shipsie and Coco in the house alone I was afraid we’d come back to cuts and bruises and blood on the ceiling.  The two obviously were best friends—Coco would drag Shipsie around by the tail while she licked her front paws—but they were still cats and dogs.

I turned the key and slowly swung open the door, to find Coco and Shipsie in each other’s arms, French kissing.  Full tongue.  I am not making this up.

At least I stick to my own species.

Coco and I went to visit Gramma in New York for seven months.  We called Omar frequently.

“Shipsie is fine.  She is real fat.  She doesn’t fit under the bookcase anymore.”

Fat indeed.  When we came back home Coco took one look at Shipsie and decided she wouldn’t be dragging her around by her tail anymore.  She was four times heavier than Coco.

And very pregnant.  I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night and thought there were chicken livers on the floor (I am not good at figuring probabilities at 3am).  I went to clean them up, and they were cat placentas, with baby cats attached to them.  Flacucho, Capuchino, and Bruno.  The first two males, and Bruno a girl.  She is gender challenged.

Shipsie made a good mother, and at the proper time we gave Flacucho away to Bride of Chucky the neighbor girl.  Capuchino was a strapping boy and we loved him, but he went away with his girlfriend and hasn’t come back.  (That’s what we like to think.  We found Shipsie’s love interest dead on the roof, poisoned, so Capu may have gone that route, too).

That leaves Bruno.  She is black and white with green eyes and very loving.  She is a wonderful cuddler and sleeps on my pillow and wrestles with Coco.

Last week I felt Bruno’s tummy and it was bleeding.  It looked like she had cut herself on a  nail.  We kept an eye on her.

A day later her stomach was white and smelled like rotting meat.  We took her to the vet.

As the vet felt Bruno’s stomach, the skin peeled off.  Have you ever parboiled tomatoes and then cut the skin and watch it peel back?  Like that, only white.

Under the skin was a tumor the size of my palm, which in a five month old kitten is pretty big.  It was between the skin and the muscles.  It was pushing its way out, like something from “Alien.”

We made appropriate sounds.

The vet cleaned everything and says the tumor is probably benign.  It was wrapped in fat, so it popped out easily.  It didn’t invade her body cavity.  Bruno was sewn up, and the next morning came home.

Although she was obviously in pain when she tried to walk, Bruno looked good.  She ate, she peed and pooped in the cat box, and was alert after the first, druggy day.

On Sunday, day four, I turn Bruno belly-side up so Omar could spray on the antiseptic, and we both had to turn away.  Bruno was open from her sternum halfway to her knees.  She was purring.

On Sunday night there is nothing you can do—everything is closed.  Bruno slept on my pillow, wide open.  I didn’t move all night.  She didn’t complain or meow or even bleed.

Monday morning first thing, back to the vet.  I opened the towel that cradled Bruno, and it was the vet’s turn to avert her head.  “Dios mio!”

Bruno was sewn back together again, this time with stronger thread.  She is sporting a bandage, so she can’t pick at the scar.  She is staying at the vets all week, so she can be sewn up if it opens again.  And she’s looking better every day.

When I went today she put her paws on the top of her cage and purred as I scratched her head and told me a long story in meows.  She is eating well.  I want her back on my pillow, but I’m relieved she is being taken care of.  I studied plants and insects in college, and can only guess at vet medicine.

So how much is this setting us back?  Well, we will do whatever we can for Bruno, of course.  The reality of the situation is that we live on a tight budget in a developing country, so what we can do is limited.

I can’t speak for vet prices everywhere in Mexico, but here in the countryside the consultation and diagnosis, removal of the tumor with anesthesia and antibiotics, closing the wound, and a day in the hospital came to $25.  Closing her a second time and 7 days in the hospital cost $20 more.

I realize that is an amazingly low price—they cut Coco’s hair in New York for $40, and did a lousy job of it—but you also have to realize that $45 here is much harder to come by than in the States or Europe.

Still, we are thrilled, and can’t wait to have Bruno back with us.  Please send us kind thoughts for her speedy recovery.

Hope you like her photo.  We thought it looked nice as a watercolor.

Dan and Omar

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2 comments to The Vet in Mexico—Bruno the Kitten

  • Kristin Palace


    If you added an “email this page” feature, I would. Your writing is so compelling and the pics and stories are great! I’d share it with others.

    Cheers. Kristin

  • Kristin, thank you so much for your kind words. I have been away for several days and am just getting to mail now. I will certainly look into an ’email this page feature’–I’m always interested in finding new ways to introduce people to 365Mexico.

    I see you were reading about our cat, Bruno. I’m sad to say she disappeared ten days ago, and we are afraid she was either hit by a car or poisoned. I hope she just got lost and was taken in by a loving family–she’s a beautiful, loving girl.

    Best to you from Guadalajara!


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A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.