Not what we had figured into our race preparations for Asia and Europe, but Kitty didn’t want to die.
It all started last Monday. Jan and I are out walking in our neighborhood in the chilly, early morning air, our usual daily walk. As we turn the corner, we hear a soft, insistent meow, meow. We see nothing. A mocking-bird, cat? Then I spot what I first think is a pine cone at the end of a driveway. The pinecone runs to us, rubs around our legs and begs to be picked up, to be fed. It is a small light-grey fluff ball of a kitten. We know nothing about cats and kittens, but this one is very young and under all that fur, it is skin and bones, weighing less than two pounds. We abort our walk and head home, Jan carrying kitty. The twenty-minute walk home seems like an eternity, the soft meow, meow, meow and the green eyes looking up at Jan’s brown ones, pleading for food. I’m not a cat person, anyone will attest to that, but she melts my heart.
On the porch we feed kitty milk, and discover a large serious injury on the ankle joint of her right back leg. The bone is exposed. She doesn’t put it down. Is it broken? How had we missed this? How bad is it? No matter. I head to the store and buy small quantities of kitty litter and food. Kitty cannot stay. We are both allergic and it is only two weeks until we head for Asia and Europe for the two remaining months of the race, but already I know I can’t abandon her.
When I return with food, she is so hungry that I have to nudge her out of the way to even get the food into her dish. Jan makes phone calls. No one in the neighborhood knows anything about a lost kitten so she puts an entry on Facebook, along with a picture. This produces an immediate flurry of responses, one from our granddaughter, a student at UNC. Elle has had cats all her life and presently her own apartment is cat-less. She calls. She wants kitty. We explain We make an appointment with a vet for 3:00 pm. Elle goes with us. The Vet tells us what we already know. This is an exceptionally people-friendly kitten. She is not a wild stray.But he tells us that the injury to her right leg is so severe, he recommends amputation as soon as kitty has put on some weight. He says, “we can save money by not doing x-rays”. We ask, does Elle still want kitty? Her immediate answer, “Yes”. We leave kitty with the Vet so he can check for worms, cleans out the wound which has maggots, bandage her leg, vaccinate her and check for feline leukemia. We now know more than we ever have about kittens. Elle returns to pick her up and takes her home. We learn kitty has a name. Storm.
I spend a wakeful depressed night. By the next day, I realize that I want X-rays and a second opinion. I call my daughter, Lilla who is a Vet in southern Virginia only 2 1/2 hours away. She offers to drive down and take a look.
By the time Lilla comes nearly a week has passed and the leg has improved and the wound is healing. Elle has been vigilant in caring for Storm. She is walking on four legs, even though she limps. The swelling is down, the paw is warm but the x-rays that Lilla sees show that part of the bone is missing and she feels the ankle will probably not have full range of motion and question still remains about the use of the muscle as well. To summarize, there is no reason to rush into amputation if Elle is willing to continue to change the bandage every two or three days. It might not be necessary at all.
It is interesting to see the changes in Storm. The first day, she wouldn’t move away from us or take her eyes off us for even a second. Yesterday, she behaved like a kitten, exploring our porch and playing with a lizard that had the bad fortune of finding its way in.
Ok, so I have spent enough on Storm to feed a starving child or provide supplies for a tornado victim, but Storm could not have been clearer in asking for my help. I could not turn her away. So I wasn’t rational, love never is.