The Veterinarian could tell us just so much because they have rudimentary equipment there at the Humane Society and can only service the most basic of needs. But what he could tell me from the x-ray was that Spooky's breathing problem appears to be a type of hernia or a mass potentially caused by a hematoma. He speculated that Spooky could have a rent in his diaphragm. It makes sense considering Spooky's obvious history of some sort of trauma. The Vet seemed to feel this situation is an emergency. I agree that it is urgent, yes, but not a true emergency because Spooky's ribs had been healed for I don't know how long before we found him, and he seems to otherwise be doing well. He eats well, has gained weight, his bowels are normal; it's just when he coughs that he seems to be distressed (but, believe me, I'm more distressed than he). I read online that cats can be given children's Robitussen—the one that is only the expectorant—but I worry about loosening and liquifying the phlegm in his lungs and have him not be able to cough it up.
Spooky has proven to be a wonderful cat and companion and I've grown very attached to him. He is so easy going and good natured, and when I stroke his head he looks at me with such gratitude in his eyes. The Vet had a form as a checklist to note his observations of the patient and one of them was 'attitude,' to which he'd ticked the 'depressed' box. At moments I have to agree but at most times I don't.
I'm considering taking Spooky to the emergency hospital recommended by the Humane Society Vet just to get a definitive diagnosis and prognosis. If he requires surgery to repair him, I'll have a truly difficult decision to make. We just don't have the wherewithal to pay thousands of dollars.
It just seems a bad hand to be dealt—for both of us.