Not long after his first “Happy We Found You Under a Wheelbarrow” day, Ke-kat disappeared. Friends tried to reassure us that he had just wandered off to do his thing and would return soon enough. Emily wasn’t buying that. You see there are a couple of big dogs that sometimes roam around here and she was positive that they chased her precious cat away. In fact, the night before Ke-kat vanished, Emily had seen the dogs in the nearby field and she asked if we could bring the cat in for the night. I refused.
Cue the “you are so heartless” comments. I deserve them.
Now you might not believe it, but I like animals. Really! The first pet that I remember was a German Shepherd named Lucky. Ummm…actually the thing I remember most about him was the time that he walked around and around me, wrapping me up in the chain that he was connected to. That was slightly terrifying to a three year old, but I must have gotten over it because I consider German Shepherd’s one of my favorite breeds. Over all, I’m more partial to the “bigger” dogs than I am to the little, super hyper kind that starlets carry around in purses. Keep your miniature poodles, Pomeranians and Chihuahuas. Sure they are adorable, but I prefer border collies, golden retrievers and Labradors. And wolves. Yeah, wolves are awesome.
The people that I grew up next door to kept about 2 million stray cats in their yard. Most neighbors probably saw them as a nuisance, but I thought that they were amazing creatures. On lazy summer days, I would sit in our yard, pick out the ones that I felt looked the most elegant, give them names and wait/hope for one to come close enough to pet. Sometimes my sisters and I would discover a litter of new kittens in our yard. To us, that was like finding treasure! I can’t tell you if I liked dogs more than cats or vice versa because they are both way cool to me!
Most of the other animals (I’m going to stick to mammals here – I’ve had my share of experiences with reptiles too, but it’s probably best that I not go into that now) that I came in contact with as a child were the farm kind. Chickens weren’t exactly pet worthy, but they were very fun to feed. Another animal I enjoy “helping” my dad with were the pigs. Pigs have a reputation for being stinky, and I can assure you that they’ve earned that label. They are also quite heavy. I know that not because I ever tried picking one up – but because I have had a couple of them step on me when I would “show” them at 4-H contest. OUCH! I will admit that I don’t care very much for cows. That’s probably because I was chased by a couple as a youngin’. Plus I just don’t like milk very much. Cheese is good though, so they have that going for them.
My very favorite animals of all are horses. Those majestic creatures have always fascinated me. My grandfather and my great uncle both had several horses so I learned to ride fairly early.
Okay, now cue the “awwww…” comments.
So, yeah, I like animals. I just like them to be outside – of my house. If other people want to keep them inside their house, that’s super! Seriously, it’s a wonderful, loving thing. It’s just not something I feel I can handle at this point in my life. There are four, very messy children living in this house. We all speak, basically, the same language, and yet I still can’t communicate effectively enough to get them to clean up after themselves. Maybe one, if I master cat or doggy speak, I’ll even give them a shot. Yes, there may come a day – but don’t hold your breath.
I do make exceptions. Last year, we had several “freezes” here. Every time I saw that the temps were going to be falling very low at night, I let Emily bring Ke-kat in. See – I do have a heart! It just wasn’t very attuned to Emily’s plea the night before Ke-kat disappeared. I figured that he had found a way to outsmart those pesky dogs before and would do so again. After all, he could climb onto the top of my van if he had to. I know this because I’ve found him there a few times. There are even nice scratch marks in the paint that serve as further evidence.
Apparently the top of the van wasn’t safe enough for him that night. Or maybe it wasn’t the dogs at all. Maybe, like friends tried to tell me, he just got that wanderlust feeling and finally decided to take a little adventure. A very distraught Emily searched and searched and searched without luck until - on day five - she decided to check across the street again. She later told me that she had a dream the night before that she would find him in the shed there. Sure enough, in the shed he was! I don’t remember seeing my girl that happy in a very long time!
All was well with the world. It didn’t last very long.
A week later, Emily came to me in tears because Ke-Kat’s face wasn’t eating, sounded congested and had a “swollen” face. I figured “He has a cold. Cats get colds, right? Leave him alone and he’ll get better.” So my Emily went off to school thinking that she had the world’s most pitiless mommy. In my defense, I did check online for reasons that a cat might have swollen face. The problem was that I was going on the assumption that his whole face was puffy. Later that morning, I walked outside and saw that wasn’t the case. He had a huge knot on one side of his face. I brought him to his food bowl and saw that he was obviously hungry, but just couldn’t find a way to eat. That put me in an emotional crisis. I don’t want a pet. Four children are enough! I don’t want vet bills. Pediatrician bills are enough! But his wittle face!!! Ugggg…again…am I really that heartless? Guess not. I called the vet.
The vet was very nice. When I told her that our Ke-kat was an outside cat, she didn’t have me locked up or anything. Instead she asked if there was any way we could confine him to one room for a week while he healed. She even offered an alternative option of boarding him there at the animal hospital. Since I haven’t won the lottery yet (I kept forgetting to play) I choose the former. For some reason, in my mind, it was important to point out to her that the laundry room that we’d keep him in was pretty fairly spacious room. I had this whole guilt thing going on and just needed to make sure that she knew I wasn’t locking the cat up in a closet. The vet suggested canned cat food (duh - why didn't I think of that!) until he was able to chew the crunchy kind again and prescribed a liquid antibiotic that I had to squirt into his mouth twice a day. Yeah, try doing that for fun sometime. My daughter and I figured it out pretty quickly though. We wrap him in a towel and she gets his mouth open while I aim and squirt. All in all, the visit only cost a week’s worth of groceries for my family of six. I figured, what the heck, we could eat ramen noodles if things got too rough. Yep, we’d eat noodles and the cat would dine on gourmet canned food. Remember, in my first Ke-kat post, when I said that kitty poop is the more foul smelling stuff on the face of the earth? I stand corrected! The canned food smell is even worse. The odor would assault me every time I walked into the laundry room -which I had to do not only to clean dirty clothes (cause my family rejected my suggestion that we become nudists until the cat moved back out) but also to get cleaning supplies or to get to my computer (my tiny office is nestled in a cubby sized room next to the washer and dryer.) Every time I went into the room with the cat, I automatically held my breath as long as I could. I would also get an uncontrollable urge to scrub my hands raw, but oddly enough I couldn’t bring myself to use the sink that was in the same room as the cat. I had to use another sink - in one of the non cat infected rooms. If any article of clothing fell to the floor when being transferred from the washer to the dryer, or from the dryer to the laundry basket, it went right back into the dirty clothes pile which was kept in a closet so that the cat couldn’t get to it. My bedroom became the staging area for sorting, folding and distributing clean clothes because there was NO WAY I was going to do any of that on my laundry table until it had been sanitized thoroughly – with three different disinfecting cleaners. Actually I don't think that one was overkill on my part. After all, there was a point when I watched Emily place the POOPER SCOOPER on that table. How I didn’t drop dead in that instant, I’ll never know. My heart is pounding furiously just thinking about it.
At the end of the week, we returned to the vet who was fairly pleased with Ke-kat’s progress. The lump was still there, but he was eating well and acting normally again. She asked how often we were doing the warm compresses and I suddenly wanted to melt into the floor. I’d totally forgotten that we were supposed to be doing that! How awful! If a doctor had told me to apply a warm compress to a hurt area on one of my children, I’d have been all over that. Why didn’t I remember it for Ke-kat? Thankfully Emily came with me to the follow up visit and she was put in charge of the warm compress routine. Within days of starting it, the lump dissolved away.
With Ke-kat all healed and me recognizing that it’s possible that I have serious OCD issues concerning our furry family member, it was time to put the cat back outside. But would he run away again? Would the dogs come back to scare him? Would he get into another fight during his night roaming? <-we a="" an="" believe="" by="" caused="" fight.="" he="" in="" injury="" lump="" probably="" received="" span="" that="" the="" was=""> How could we both keep him safe – and ME SANE???-we>
Emily’s answer was that we should kennel him at night. Part of me wanted to reject that right away because although I couldn’t stand the idea of him in the house, I also couldn’t stand the idea of him being locked up in some tiny cage – meowing his little heart out! And what if he needed to…um…go? Emily had an answer for that too. We would get a big dog carrier to put him it - something large enough for his food/water bowl, a bed and a litter box. She even agreed to pay for it out of her own savings. So now Ke-kat has a nice, safe place to stay at night.