My Cats Probably Don’t Have the Disease From the Movie “Contagion”

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This morning I found blood spatter stains on my bed. It wasn’t a huge amount – I was able to eliminate “maybe someone stabbed me while I was asleep” and “maybe I accidentally stabbed someone in my sleep” as theories right away. It was a collection of small drops that looked like the pattern a cat’s sneeze might make if a cat’s sneeze were made of blood, right in the spot where my cats like to sleep.

Spatter pattern from an apparent bloody cat sneeze
This week on CSI: Feline

I did what any rational person would do – I panicked. One of my cats was sneezing blood. I’m pretty sure that’s the first symptom of the disease from the movie Contagion. I knew exactly how the conversation with the vet would go:

“We’ll have to run some more tests, but it looks like your cat has the disease from the movie Contagion.”
“But… that was fiction.”
“That’s right. There’s no easy way to tell you this, but you and your cats are fictional characters.”
“Is it serious?”
“That depends on the genre. Based on your symptoms, the most likely candidates are Medical Thriller or Romantic Comedy. Can you think of anything in your recent history that might point to one or the other?”
“A guy made eye contact with me while I was being adorably clumsy in Whole Foods the other day.”
“This may be a romantic comedy. If so, you and the cats are fine, and the stain is from some red wine you spilled last night while watching an old black and white movie on TV.”
“But I wasn’t drinking wine last night. And I don’t have a TV in my bedroom.”
“Oh. Then you should probably focus on getting your affairs in order.”

I prepared for the appointment the way anyone would: I took a picture of the blood spatter on my phone to show to the vet, then I decided the phone display was too small, so I emailed the picture to myself and printed it out, but then I noticed that the color balance was off, so I took more pictures with my “good” camera, uploaded them to my laptop, and printed them. The vet appointment wasn’t quite as bad as I’d imagined, but in the end, she said the words I’d been dreading: “Give each cat one of these pills twice a day for a week.”

Wish me luck. I’ll need it.

The vet thinks Holly may have a sinus infection, but she’s not sure. We should get some lab results tomorrow.

44 thoughts on “My Cats Probably Don’t Have the Disease From the Movie “Contagion”

  1. I hope it’s one of those good romantic comedies, like Wedding Crashers or The Fifth Element, and not a bad one like The Holiday. Soppy movies just bore me to tears; I’d be devastated to be diagnosed with one.

    Good luck with the cat and their pills. If it really is a romantic comedy, the cats are probably going to be the cause of your most humiliating comic scenes.

  2. Wow. A cat with a sinus infection?! I hope they’re fine in short order, but what a disturbing sight to see in the morning! I’d have panicked for sure.

    1. Thanks. The one thing that saved me from total panic is that I didn’t notice the stain until after I’d fed the cats breakfast and they’d seemed fine.

  3. Oh boy. Pilling a cat. That’s enough to make me be a dog person. I remember taking my barn cat to the vet and he said “give her these eye drops twice a day.” “For how long?” I asked. “Till you run out.” Yeah. I still have the scars from that.

    1. Thanks. The pills are very small, but cats are really good at eating around them. They make special cat treats that you can hide pills in (see the next comment), but my cats aren’t falling for it this time. So basically you open the cats mouth and shove the pill in. Fun times.

  4. You know about “pill pockets,” right? You must know about pill pockets… I used them with a cat who was impossible to give pills to, and she snapped them right up like they were candy.

    1. I think I learned about pill pockets from you, actually. Thunder won’t touch them (even when empty). The last time Holly needed pills (antibiotics after a tooth extraction), I used pill pockets, and they worked great at first — pill time was Happy Yummy Treat Time. But eventually, the pills made her nauseated, and she stopped eating them. And apparently she remembers, because she won’t go near them now.

  5. “There’s no easy way to tell you this, but you and your cats are fictional characters.”
    LOL’d at that one. At first I thought the dots looked like . little blood lettings from flea bites – my dog used to get those.

    *I used to crush the pills with the back of a spoon in a saucer, them mix them in with a teaspoon of tuna or just into her canned food. That always worked.

    1. That was one of the vet’s theories! But she didn’t find any signs of fleas on the cats. And the dots were limited to that one spot (and also, I think it would have needed to have gotten wet to look like that instead of little black pellets).

  6. It could still be a rom com. Pill taking cats fit with that theme. Some handsome gentleman will give you tips to getting Holly to take the pill. Wait, was the vet handsome?

    1. It was pretty funny. She asked which cat I wanted her to look at first, and I said that first, I wanted her to look at these pictures.

  7. I have a history with cats and mysterious blood stains as well. My little man was sitting in my room one morning watching me make my bed, then I left and jumped in the shower. When I reentered my room he was sitting on the edge of my bed, looking slightly suspicious. I continued about my chores of getting ready for the day, and he must have grown bored and wandered off – in his place was a quarter sized blood stain on my &#(*ing duvet.

    Being the good kitty mom that I am, I ferociously searched him for cuts and couldn’t find a thing. My duvet still has a damn stain. He seems ok though.

  8. Well now, we’ve never had sneezing blood. Or blood sneezing. That is new and interesting. May your pilling go easy (be fast and merciless and don’t mess around with gimmicks, is my advice). And may all your kittehs be well.

  9. I LOVE the fact that you warn people to uncheck the box–that new feature drives me nuts . . . more importantly, I do hope that your kitty turns out to be fine!!

    1. Apparently they’ve added a setting (today, I think) that controls whether the button is checked for you by default when you comment on blogs (go to!/read/subsettings/ when you’re logged in to your WordPress account, un-check “Notify me of follow-up comments via email when I comment on a post,” and check “Save settings”).

      It’s nice that they’ve added a “don’t spam me” option, but what I really wanted was a “don’t make me a spammer” option that would let me turn it off by default on my blog.

  10. Ack! Giving pills to cats is one of the world’s greatest torture schemes. If I were in the CIA, I’d spill the beans on *anything* as soon as they asked me to give a pill to a cat. Good luck with force-feeding the meds, and I hope the cats get better soon! I still say the scenario is more rom com than medical thriller.

      1. EVEN WORSE!! Cats would actually make great interrogation tools, no? Think about it: you could force spies and other shady characters to bathe them, feed them pills, clean up their litter boxes, try to remove cat hair from their outfits, and even put harnesses on them and try to take them on leashed walks! Move over, cat ladies– the CIA needs your felines, STAT!

  11. And just how did you eliminate you stabbing someone?
    Good luck giving the kitties pills. My friend’s cat was on antibiotics for 2 weeks and I helped twice a day giving those pills.
    i still have nightmares! ;)

    1. There was only a small amount of blood. I’d like to think that if I were to stab someone, I’d do a more thorough job.

  12. Oh, poor cats! Hope the pills aren’t too much of a hassle. This reminds me of when I had to give my little kitten Conan antibiotics twice a day with a little eye dropper. It was pure hell. I had to wrap him up in a towel so he wouldn’t scratch the crap outta me, then try to get his tiny mouth open…then I had to aim. Mostly it was just pink stuff squirting all over the place. Just horrible.

  13. You made a little mistake in your crime scene capture by not including a full room shot in order to discern where on the bed the blood was, where the bed was located within the room and if there were any suspects still on scene hiding behind a curtain. I’ll overlook this as this though because you seemed to have solved the crime despite that. But in the future, you may want to include that just in case.

    I hope your own blood loss is negligible during the cats treatment period. Poor kitties… :(

    1. Thank you! I’m sure that advice will come in handy in the future. Also, if I ever need to give the cats pills again, I’m going to take a series of pictures of myself to demonstrate that you can tell which day it is by the number of scratches on my arms.

  14. When we were kids my sister had a cat who (when she was also very young) came running down our stairs full speed and slid (full speed) into a wall which was only a landing’s distance away from the bottom of the stairs. That caused her to sneeze in a similar fashion for about a minute, but she got over it fast enough to be bolting down the stairs again in about 30 seconds. Anyway, the point of the story (I think), is that I hope your furry friends are doing much better, Laura!

  15. I couldn’t find a Get Well Cat card down at Hallmark, surprisingly, so I’ll just leave my good wishes electronically. Somebody should look into making those cards, though.

    1. The cats told me to thank you for your good wishes and to say that they’re not disappointed at all that you didn’t even bother to send them a catnip bouquet.

    1. That’s a possibility — I did buy a lot of cat treats to give them along with their pills, and then the vet said I could discontinue the pills early, so maybe this was just an elaborate play for cat treats.

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