Tentative diagnosis: An abscessed lower tooth.
Treatment: Examine under anesthesia, and if confirmed, then yank that sucker out of there.
You can probably guess that if I don't do well examining my own animals, I'm sure not going to do surgery on them. Fortunately, the practice where I work has a top-notch surgical team. Amber, one of our superb certified veterinary technicians, did the work while I held Seamus's little paddy-paw. Once Seamus was under anesthesia, an ultrasonic cleaning (to remove the tartar) and dental X-rays revealed not just an abscessed incisor, but also two teeth with resorptive lesions. Resorptive lesions are roughly the cat version of cavities. We have no idea what causes them, but we know what they do: eat away at the tooth from the outside in. When the lesion gets deep enough, the cat is in a great deal of pain. Seamus's lesions weren't terribly deep--yet--but there's no way to stop a resorptive lesion once it starts, and filling them (like human cavities) doesn't cure them. When we see them, we usually extract the tooth (with the owner's permission, of course). Many owners tell us that afterward, their cats are running around like youngsters again. Anybody who's had bad tooth pain knows what I'm talking about!
We couldn't tell by looking which tooth was infected and causing the lip swelling; on the surface, everything looked hunky-dory. But a dental X-ray fingered the culprit: the root of a teeny little incisor. At this point, Seamus isn't feeling a thing. He's under anesthesia, breathing through the tube at the right of the photo. The gray tube that looks like the end of a ShopVac is the dental X-ray machine; the white gauze in his mouth is holding the X-ray film in place.
Here, Amber is cleaning Seamus's teeth. Removing the tartar revealed one of the two resorptive lesions. That green thing over him is a heating pad; he has another one underneath him. Without heating pads, little animals get very cold under anesthesia.
I didn't take photos of the extractions. I figure we're flirting with TMI already. Suffice to say all went smoothly.
Five minutes after the anesthesia is turned off, the breathing tube is out and he's already trying to lift his head (and get his tongue back in his mouth). Poor kitty!
Don't feel sorry for him too long, though. The next day, the swelling is already going down, he's bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and indulging in all his usual shenanigans:
Cuddling with his favorite dog, Inja, in front of
a heater vent...
...helping himself to my lunch...
...and skedaddling like the wind when he gets caught.
So let's see: Wordstock...a trip out of town...cat teeth...and...ah, yes. The new, as yet untitled book. And some lovely news about Ten Cents a Dance!