Cashmere By Any Other Name …
Wednesday - May 11, 2011
As I walked in to greet a new patient named Cashmere and her owner Jessica, the first thing I noticed was a large Zip-loc bag resting on the exam table. This was not a good sign. Usually smaller patients that have died are often placed in a plastic bag when brought in. As I reached out to shake Jessica’s hand, I glanced down at the contents and saw something white, furry and motionless confirming my suspicions. What perplexed me, however, was that although Jessica seemed a little worried, she was by no means distraught as you might expect with the death of her pet.
“Jessica, how can I help you today?” I asked.
“Well, “it’s about my cat Cashmere.”
I glanced at the Zip-loc bag on the table. “Is this Cashmere?”
“Yes,” Jessica replied, “and it’s covered with tiny little worms. I’m not sure what they are, but I’m concerned.”
“May I take a look?” I replied. And with a nod from Jessica, I proceeded to open the bag and gently remove the bundle onto the table. It didn’t take me more than a second to realize that what came out of the bag was not a cat. “This is a sweater.”
“It’s my favorite cashmere sweater. Do you see all the creepy crawlies? Yuck.”
“Where’s Cashmere your cat?” Jessica informed me that Cashmere was in the car with her mom. Since Cashmere gets stressed out at the veterinary hospital, Jessica thought it best to bring her in when we were ready to do the exam. She just wanted to show me her cashmere sweater first. Cashmere the cat was named after the sweater because when they first got her as a kitten she immediately gravitated toward the sweater and used it as a bed.
As I listened to her story, Jessica realized what had just transpired and laughed out loud. “Oh, you thought that Cashmere my cat was in the bag? That’s funny.” It was.
Examining “cashmere the sweater,” I noticed more than 100 tiny worms crawling around - flea larvae. Female fleas lay 30 to 40 eggs per day, which fall off the body of the pet and into the environment. Since Cashmere the cat liked to sleep on “cashmere the sweater,” the eggs fell onto the sweater and eventually hatched into larvae. After eating organic debris and getting nice and plump, these worms will enter a cocoon and eventually emerge into an adult flea.
When Jessica brought Cashmere in for her exam, I found that she was infested with fleas. We set forth a plan to eradicate the fleas, including oral and topical products as well as a cleaning regimen for the environment. Then, after another hearty laugh over the earlier misunderstanding, Jessica and Cashmere the cat went home.
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