The $3,000 Cat Will Live

I went across the street to check on Tinkerbell this afternoon and am delighted to be able to give you the following update:

It’s been a little over a week since she was attacked and the old gal is looking terrific.  I mean, really.  Wow.  I looked it up to see how cat years translate into human ones and I can only hope I’ll look as good as she does after major surgery in my eighties.

The incision (which runs around roughly a third of her torso) is healing beautifully and she goes back to the vet tomorrow to have the staples out.  Evidently, Dane’s teeth didn’t actually puncture the skin so at least there’s no danger of infection there.  The damage was due to crushing and shaking and was mainly internal.  She’s been off of pain meds for a few days and, while she’s clearly still feeling tender, she’s not crying anymore or growling when someone reaches out to touch her.  They had a cone on her head at first but she’s been so good about not licking any of her wounds that they were able to take it off fairly quickly.  She can now climb up and down on Neighbor Son’s bed, where she sleeps, with the help of some makeshift stairs and she’s eating well.  And gloriously, there’s no more gurgling sounds when she breathes so the lung involvement is improving, too.

She was shaved over nearly half her body for the surgery but is being pretty good natured about how ridiculous it makes her look.  I’ve been worried all week that the trauma might radically change her personality.  She was a very sweet cat before the attack and in the first couple days afterwards she became suspicious and hostile.  But the fear and trauma seem to be slowly resolving as well and, while she looked pretty groggy while I was over there, she was also surprisingly affectionate.

She still refuses to go outside however, and Neighbor Lady fears that she may never be able to coax her out again, but I mean really…who can blame her?  If I thought there was a gigantic, black,  hairy, quick creature with fangs lurking outside my front door, waiting to crush and shake me to death the minute I stepped outside, I’d be doing take-out and Netflix till hell freezes over.  You go, girl.  Be strong.  Stay safe.

There’s even a little silver lining to the whole thing: she’s lost some weight from the ordeal which is a good thing since she was fat as a pillow before Dane got a hold of her.  Overall, Tinkerbell is doing far, far better than we, as Dane the Cat Mauler’s owners, have any right to expect.  She’s still got some healing work ahead of her but Neighbor Lady seems to think she’s going to be just fine.

I sat on the bed to pet her for a while and the little darling was purring like a motorboat and rubbing her head against my hand whenever I stopped.  She bore me absolutely no malice whatsoever, even though it was our negligence that caused the whole thing, and frankly, it made me feel like shit.  Smaller than shit.  Suddenly, I realized that up until that moment I’d just been thinking about her as a generic kind of every-cat.  That cat.  And as a dog-not-cat person it meant that, other than the generic compassion I feel for all animals, I didn’t really care.  Even though Tinkerbell is the one who bore the brunt of the assault and suffered all the pain, fear, and indignity it entailed, all my concern was really for Neighbor Lady.

Actually, if I was to be really honest, my concern has only been about a quarter for Neighbor Lady and the rest for us.  (There they are in all their glory again, Ladies and Gentlemen…Wheedle and Cheat.)

But sitting there looking down into her cat eyes, that were so full of genuine affection and good will as they gazed back up into mine, (not the slightest shadow of harm or grudge to be seen), I kind of fell in love with her on the spot.  Powie! Just like that.  I melted and suddenly felt a wave of remorse that was truly, truly painful.  Up until that moment (even with a $3400 vet bill) I hadn’t really gotten it, how bad we’d been as dog owners. Oh, I knew we were legally responsible and financially responsible and I knew we had a responsibility as good neighbors to step up to the plate.  But somehow I didn’t get the suffering.  I just didn’t understand until Tink looked up at me with those big, innocent eyes and suddenly I was aghast at my cavalier attitude.

Neighbor Lady joked with me a couple of times about our $3,000 cat and I looked up at her and told her Yeah. I feel like we’re her godparents now. She laughed and I laughed along with her so she wouldn’t realize I was serious as a heart attack.  I do feel like I’m responsible for her in some way now.  I want her to live to be twenty-five years old, gray, and crippled so I can keep going back over, rubbing her head, and hearing her purr.

I love that cat.

copyright 2010 Dia Osborn

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5 responses

  1. Oh, wish you were MY neighbors. Dane would be the perfect antidote to keep my cat, now happily vibrating my lap,from SCREAMING to go out after the sun goes down and then frantically clawing the weatherstripping out of the door frame if the door gets closed while she happens to be OUT. AND you paid for it all, too? What saints. This cat owes you big time…lots of love, lots of purrs. And I AM a cat person above an animal/dog person.

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