Tag Archives: cats

Say Hello to Ed the SpEd Kitty

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Ed is one lucky, and very special, cat!

Ed is a new member of our family of furry babies! When we lost Loki to a tumor, Dr. Melanie, our vet, asked me if I would consider adopting a special needs cat. Budge and I had already decided not to adopt any more kittens because kittens generally are easily adoptable, but older cats often don’t find good homes. With that in mind, I met Ed.

He began life as a contented farm cat living outside all the time. Back at the beginning of summer, he disappeared from his home for seven straight days. When he finally managed to drag — literally drag — himself home, he was in bad shape.

Exactly what happened is one of those unanswerable questions. He might have run into a dog, a particularly vicious cat, or some wild animal. Whatever had attacked him left a wound the size of a half-dollar in the left hand side of his neck. By the time he made it home, the wound had become infested with maggots, which actually might have saved him. Since many maggots only eat dead tissue, they kept the wound cleaner and freer of infection than it would have been otherwise. He was still in serious trouble, though.

His owner brought him to Cedar Lake Animal Hospital and told Dr. Melanie to euthanize him. Dr. Melanie is an awesome vet and something about Ed’s demeanor and the look in his eyes made her refuse to kill him. She told the owner Ed was savable and, even though he’d likely have some neurological damage, he’d likely recover. The owner was adamant that she wanted Ed “put down” because she said she, “DIDN’T WANT A RETARDED CAT.” Well, Dr. Melanie is a pretty imposing figure (she’s over 6′ tall and broad-shouldered) and she loves animals so she managed to “persuade” the owner to sign over Ed’s rights to the hospital.

She treated Ed immediately. The major wound was left open to heal from the inside out, which it did quite nicely after about a month. The first week, though, Dr. Melanie thought she might have made a mistake. Ed could scarcely stand up. When he tried to walk, he would wander in circles, and he drooled constantly. After doing all she could do for him, she turned him over to Mrs. Donita, a local lady who does an awesome job fostering injured animals and getting them up and going again. She spent a month working with Ed and he gradually stopped drooling and managed to get around, even if he did have a tendency to “pull to the left” a bit as a car alignment tech might say.

The Monday after Budge returned from her month in Hawaii, we went to get Ed. We brought him home and set him up in the spare bedroom with his own litter box, food, and water station. We wanted him to be able to acclimate to his new settings gradually. He was able to eat, groom, and use his litter box, so I was hopeful. I was really pulling for him anyway since I know what it feels like to be unwanted because of some differences.

Three weeks later, Ed is doing tremendously! His eyes once had markedly different sized pupils, but they have come closer and closer to normal since we took him. He can walk perfectly straight and even run when the mood hits him. He does have a tendency to fall over on his side when he shakes his head, but he pops right back up and keeps on. He’s started playing with the other cats and they have accepted him very well. I still feed him alone, however, because I have one little one who is a serious piggy and will gently move anyone out of the way to take over a food bowl. Also, Ed eats soft food instead of dry and feeding all my boys soft food would quickly deplete our meager budget. Finally, Ed’s a really messy eater. I don’t mind, but it helps keeping the mess confined to one room. He also maintains his own litter box in his room because he is VERY particular about his box.

He’s doing extremely well, but he does have some reminders of his ordeal. His meow and purr are extremely deep and rough because of the damage to his throat. He walks somewhat stiffly with his back legs and even though he can get DOWN from the bed, couch, table, ect, quite easily, he doesn’t yet have the coordination to jump UP to surfaces yet. Then there’s his head tilt. As you can tell in the picture, he has a more or less permanent tilt to his head. It’s always turned about thirty degrees to his left, giving him a somewhat eternally quizzical expression. I find it endearing.

Ed has been through A LOT. What he’s endured would have killed many lesser beings, but he’s still trucking and we are delighted and blessed to have him as part of the family. He’s a survivor and hopefully, he’ll just keep improving more and more each day! Whenever he’s lying on my chest or lap, he has that purr rumbling that Mrs. Donita said sounded like, “a hot rod ’57 Chevy sitting at a stoplight,” I think about all he’s been through and I’m so glad Dr. Melanie thought of us when she needed a permanent home for him. He’s our little special ed Ed.

Love you, and don’t forget those feet, y’all!

Godspeed Little Grey Ghost

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My Two Fuzzy Angels. Thomas (L) and Loki (R) Requiescant in pace, boys.

It’s never good news when the vet calls herself instead of letting the assistants call. Those girls — in their late teens and early 20s — are spared the trauma of having to tell someone part of his soul has been ripped out and will never be replaced. Knowing this, my eyes were already brimming over when I heard our vet, Dr. Keller, on the other end of the phone Tuesday afternoon, June 29, 2010. Before she said anything, I said, attempting to project calm and failing miserably, “It was to widespread, wasn’t it?” She replied, “Yes, sir, and it wasn’t in his intestines like we thought. It had gotten his pancreas and spleen.” I managed to get out, “Have you . . .?” before my voice and composure failed me and she said, “Yes sir, I just let him go. He went with his chin and belly being rubbed, just like you asked.”

Barely two years after losing my beloved Thomas O’Malley to the rainbow bridge, our Loki, our little grey ghost, was gone.

He was a little grey ball of fuzz when Budge brought him home April Fool’s Day eleven years ago. We didn’t name him right off, but watched to see what his personality would be. Thomas walked over and sniffed him, then promptly bopped him on the head and proceeded to pin him to the ground and groom him to our household’s standards. Pecking order thus established, he then allowed the newcomer to roam the house at will. When the grey ball of energy finished turning over what could be turned over and getting into what could be gotten into, I dubbed him Loki, after the Norse god of mischief.

For the next eleven years he was a constant companion to Budge and me. He would move from lap to lap, occupying whichever space Thomas had not claimed. If no laps were available, he’d find a beam of sunshine and fit himself into it for as long as he could. If someone was in bed, Loki was with him or her. He loved sleep. For the first several years, he would curl into an arc atop Budge’s head and sleep all night, but when Budge went to Hawaii for two weeks a few years back, he abandoned his usual spot and until his last night with us, he slept at our feet. He was an absolutely amazingly extraordinary cat and we loved him dearly. When Thomas died, Loki could tell how sad I was and he spent hours in my lap trying to comfort me. He is currently the only cat I’ve ever personally known who was delighted to have his belly rubbed.

Then he started getting skinny for no good reason.

Then we went to the vet and had x-rays.

The ugly dark area was plain as day.

Dr. Keller scheduled surgery.

Budge and I took him in at 7:30 that morning.

Dr. Keller called at 2:00.

He was gone.

I do not handle death well. I was alone in the house so I did what anyone who just felt his heart torn in two would do, I curled up in the fetal position on the floor and squalled like a baby with colic. In between waves of unbearable anguish, I managed to call Budge and tell her, call Mama and tell her, and text message two of Loki’s favorite people — our buddy, Laura, and our niece, Kayla. Then I gave myself over to grief.

Budge found me in the floor clutching the shirt I’d worn that morning when we took him in. It still had bits of his fur stuck to it. Gradually, eventually, I subsided into quiet sobbing and then I dried my eyes. We talked about the wonderful times we’d had as a family of two humans and fuzzy babies. We had no doubt we made the right choice. Doing nothing would have sentenced our beautiful sweet boy to wasting and pain in just a few more weeks. As it was, we can remember him bright eyed and precious. In a few days, I’ll pick up his ashes and place them, along with his picture, next to Thomas’ remains and, at least, I’ll know where he is at all times.

Part of me, the part that abhors agony and emotional outburst, sometimes wishes I didn’t have to deal with the loss of such a dear friend, but the other side of me knows Loki won’t be the last. If the world should stand long enough, Beau, Jack, Milo, and Ares will follow Thomas and Loki over the rainbow bridge. I know if I should make it to Heaven I will find them there and if any armchair theologian should question my belief, I’ll tell him the same thing a cat loving pastor told me once: “Of course our pets will be in Heaven . . . without them, it won’t BE Heaven.”

So, as bad as it hurts, I know in my heart that I couldn’t trade the pain of losing them for a life without having had them in it. Dr. Seuss, that precious and beloved writer for children said it best:

“Don’t weep and frown because it’s over; laugh and smile because it happened.”

Love you, my fuzzy angels.

Love y’all, too.

Keep those feet clean now. 🙂