WHO DOESN’T HAVE THEM? Cat tales I mean. If you love/hate/like/put up with/or are stuck with a cat or cats this is for you. If you are an only-dog-lover, then skip this. It won’t make any sense to you. Oh, by the way, I LOVE dogs too; we travel tooo much to have dogs. Cats are glad when we are gone, they just pretend they aren’t with all the puking and ignoring when you get back. So: cat tales.
We had a cat named Napoleon, a big, orange tiger, male and sweet as can be. For 11 years he was the best companion a person could have; always ready for a snug. Smart as a a whip ( BTW, are whips smart? I haven’t met a smart one yet.)He took sick one day and soon had paralysis of the rear legs. He was one hurting cat. We did everything we could, massaged him, held him, talked with him, the works. Just no good. The vet did his best as well. It was a blocked iliac artery probably from feline leukemia.
I would take him out onto the lawn and lay down petting him in the sun. He couldn’t move much, but he would nose out what looked like different grasses and little plants. He would look at me and then at the grass or plant and nibble them. Was he teaching me a cat’s pharmacopeia?
We live in the country surrounded by fields and forests. You don’t have to be afraid of cars most of the time. One day we were out on the grass and I went into the house for a glass of water leaving Poleon lying there. When I came back I saw Poleon up on his legs, sun shining on his orange fur making it look golden. He was like a lion, proud, powerful, fully alive. He looked at me for a moment and then was gone into the thick field grass.
“Stop!” I shouted, but he was moving fast. How could he? He was mostly paralyzed from the waist down? But there he was headed for the edge of the field where there was an old stone wall. He was dragging his hind legs.
A fierce tangle of bushes enveloped the wall, and Poleon literally disappeared into the maze. Gone! No answer to my calls. Gone!
It was his last fierce act of pride and life force. He wanted to go off and die by himself with his own pride and feelings.
My wife Shannon and I combed the fields and the bush-covered wall for the rest of the day calling for him. We continued our search into the dark.
That night I got up about every two hours and with a flashlight went out trying to find and comfort Poleon. Nothing.
Well, three pretty sad days went by. No sign of him. He wanted to go off to die.
Early evening of the third day, we were coming back to the house from some errand. There is a large water barrel in the garden by the front door. We heard a rumbling sound, low, muted but definitely a rumbling.
It was Poleon lying by the cool of the barrel purring and purring. His eyes were bright and clear. His rear legs were worn down to the muscles---all fur and top skin layer gone. He must have dragged himself for miles, perhaps searching for some herb he wanted, or a special place to die, or for some reason we as humans will never know.
But he was alive!!!
What a celebration! A friend helped by massaging him and changing his leg bandages every day for a month and a half (our loved Mikey Levengood); the vet worked on him; and we gave him as much as we could of love and admiration.
After two months the paralysis left and he walked again. He never ran very much after that; but he lived for a year and a half, a good, strong life.
Good on him. What a cat. He had a big, bushy tail.
TEN IMPORTANT RULES FOR LIVING WITH CATS... IGNORE AT YOUR PERIL