How will this tale end?
A month ago, we started seeing a big black cat, nearly daily, strolling through our yard and down the driveway. He was cause for a double take, looking so much like our new family member, Lew, that we had to check to be sure Lew had not gotten outside. Often he came by the back door, and “talked” to Lew through the glass. If we waved to the Visitor from inside the house, he’d stop, turn toward us, and start talking busily. By now we were wondering if he was lost or strayed.
A week ago, the Visitor stopped outside our sunroom and, turning his face up to where we sat, started to speak to us. As he did, we noticed that he had a bad wound on his tail. I decided to look more closely. When I went out to the driveway, the Visitor came over quickly. His tail wound was awful: maybe an animal had grabbed him? Or maybe some kind of awful trap. I sat on the driveway and he climbed right into my lap and proceeded to tell me the whole story. Unfortunately, as I don’t speak Cat, I still don’t know what it was. But I did find out that he was not only wounded but also declawed. This was a cat who should NOT have been out and alone.
We decided we needed to find out if this cat was chipped (had a identifying chip implant) so we could get him home. We hustled him easily into a carrier and took him to Luv’n’Care, the vet that PAAW uses (Pet Adoption Alternative of Warren). They determined that he did NOT have a chip, and that the tail wound was already infected. He needed two different antibiotics, he needed the wound cleaned three times a day, and he needed to wear an e-collar (cone) to keep him from licking the wound. He needed this for two weeks, or he would probably lose the tail. Or die of the infection. Well, now we were in it up to our elbows. What else could we do?
We brought the Visitor home and set him up in my art studio, the only place we could isolate him. With permission, we retrieved one of PAAW’s pet enclosures from its storage at Petco and brought that home. The poor cat was now terrified: strange house, strange room, cone head colliding with the bars of his enclosure at every move, meds being given by strangers - he cried most of the first night (in the room right below our bedroom), so we took turns through the night going down to let him out of the enclosure, sitting with him to keep him quiet.
The second night he only cried for a few hours. How do parents of babies deal with sleep deprivation for weeks/months? Kudos to you all.
A Complication of Cats - Now we were dividing our time between THREE cats, residing in separate areas of our not so big house – our two resident cats, not yet reconciled to each other’s existence even after six months, and the Visitor, not yet cleared as disease-free, so having to be sequestered. All of them needing and demanding attention and love.
We were doing as well as could be expected, for four or five days, and the tail seemed to be healing up. Then, disaster. I’d been spending hours in my studio (door closed of course), with the Visitor running free within that one room. I left him to go get some lunch. When I got back only 20 minutes later, he’d managed to stretch out far enough past his plastic cone to chew the wound. Bloody and awful. OH so awful. First I cried for a while. And then took him back to the vet. Now there’s no skin left, and it’s worse than it was to begin with. Unable to make an unacceptable decision by myself, I got the Visitor a reprieve - we’re trying for another week of salve and antibiotic to get the skin to regrow. The vet says it’s unlikely, and the tail will probably have to be amputated, leaving about 4 inches. If we have no more disasters, we’ll find out this coming Thursday. I was told he would heal from the amputation fairly quickly and easily, so we’ve committed to caring for him through this trial and convalescence.
Meanwhile, our friends at PAAW are working on finding a longer term foster home for the boy, on the assumption that we won’t find his rightful family in spite of signs everywhere and online postings on lost pet sites. Because we fostered him first, we’ve had the privilege of naming him, and I chose my favorite black-cat name: Kingsford – you know, like the charcoal? (special thanks and credit to Cathy B from whom I first heard the name).
Kingsford is a lovely, friendly, playful, purring, loving lap cat, even while suffering through the torture we’ve had to inflict on him for his own good. If you have ever thought of adding a cat to your family, Kingsford would be an excellent choice. If you know someone who is thinking about it, please forward this to them.
Now we wait to see how the tale (tail) will end. Will he keep his tail? Will he find a good new home? Will his new family love him and keep him SAFELY INSIDE? Will it be you?