Friday, 4 April 2014

One Life Gone, But One Life Saved (Maybe...)

On Tuesday earlier this week it seems I was able to save the life of a stray cat.

I had been walking three of my dogs (without leashes) in the little park at the back of my house when I heard several dogs barking in unmistakably frenzied tones. When I strolled over to see what was going on, I saw an old woman poking a cat with a stick whilst two of her dogs were tied up to a lampost behind her barking away at the cat. The cat had its tail up in a defensive posture but seemed unwilling or unable to run away from the old woman. At one point it tried to climb a tree trunk but almost immediately fell to earth. Realizing that the cat was obviously sick and/or injured, that's when I intervened.

The poor thing was wretchedly thin, covered in dirt and had some kind of gooey discharge coming out of her eyes.

I let the old woman go, telling her I would take care of it, though having my own three dogs with me at the time meant that it wasn't obvious how I might accomplish this. I wasn't about to pick up the cat and carry her to the vet down the road with my dogs following me; with the exception of Black & White, I never let any of my dogs walk anywhere near the main roads for fear of the traffic. A moment or two later, I noticed a younger woman walking her dog on the leash and so I stopped her to explain the situation and ask her if she could get the vet down the road to come while I stayed here to keep an eye on the cat. The poor thing just lay on her side breathing but otherwise not moving.

When the vet came and tried to handle the cat, she tried to scratch and bite him out of fear, so he put her in a cardboard box and took her back to his clinic. After I finished walking my dogs I went to the vet's clinic to get the news. Rather than sedating the cat, the vet used some kind of technique with the cardboard box which seemed to induce sleep; she must have been exhausted to begin with. He then cut her claws and examined her mouth - it was full of dirt. He shaved some fur on a front paw and gave her a couple of shots and then hooked her up to an IV drip. He said that the cat was likely suffering from either feline chlamydiosis, feline calicivirus or feline rhinotracheitis - or some combination of all three. Any of those three or a combination of them meant that the cat would also be suffering from dehydration as well as stomach and/or intestinal inflammation. The vet also said that the cat was old, not young, had no microchip under the fur to identify an owner (meaning she was most likely a stray) and that he thought she would probably die in a few days.

Yesterday afternoon, he called me back and said the cat was now doing much better and that I could come and see. So this afternoon I went and indeed she was doing better; her eye discharge had all cleared up, and she woke up and began miaowing when we entered the pen at the back of the clinic. The vet said that although she had produced a runny, watery stool yesterday, she had yet to take any food and he was uncertain yet whether she would make a full recovery. So she will stay on the IV drip for another week, or until she begins eating food - at which point I get to pay the vet some non-trivial amount of cash and take her home.

Of course, I have five dogs. So what I will do is put her in the spare room upstairs with a rug to lie on, some cat litter and bowls for food and water. I'll only buy a small bag of cat food and supplement that with chicken - now that Shao Bai is gone, there's always one or two extra chicken legs left when I've finished cooking for the dogs. If all goes well, I'll leave the upstairs spare room window open and if she is strong enough, she can come and go as she pleases.

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