The kitten’s injuries were severe.
The backhoe operator never saw her until it was too late. It wasn’t his fault; there were no signs of a cat’s den. But while a lot of men would have tossed the black ball of fur aside, this one took the time to scoop the wisp of life up and call the police, who in turn got it to the local veterinary clinic, the same clinic were my spouse, Sabra, works.
Her age was estimated to be about five-weeks, her skull was fractured and one eyeball ruptured. Her mother was probably moving the last of her littermates from harm’s way when the machine struck, but we’ll never know for sure. Her prognosis wasn’t good, but the vet offered to try to pull her through. “The will to live is powerful,” the vet noted. The staff pitched in to bring her past the first few critical days, and after that Sabra volunteered to take her and nurse her until a permanent home could be found.
Buzz, our 12-year-old, 100-pound-plus, somewhat grumpy hound dog, took one sniff and headed upstairs, too old to be bothered with new house guests. Actually, Buzz has become too old to be bothered with anything except eating and I haven’t seen much of him except at mealtime.
Maternal instincts for Pearl, our 5-year-old cross between a lab and a poodle, kicked in however, and she appointed herself guardian. Pearl is typically ditzy, barking at people she’s met a thousand times before for example. She also rather gross, eating things I’d just as soon not mention. Nevertheless, Pearl seemed to know that the best thing for the tiny creature was to stay put, and the fifty-pound canine began corralling the one-pound feline to stay in or near the box set up to be home. She also watched protectively if anyone picked the kitten up.
Our snooty housecats came to get a peek but quickly returned to acting aloof, holding their private little royal courts in remote parts of the house. Actually, I’m a cat person, at least I was up until meeting Sabra. Before that I had several cats, all of whom I liked and appeared to like me back. I can’t say the same for the cats we have now, Meow and Conan. I rarely see them and if I do they run away. Maybe they’re Republicans.
For Sabra’s part, she went into full Elly May Clampett mode and her mission in life became nursing the unfortunate infant back to health. Now, I liked the kitten, too, and I really shouldn’t complain, but I get the feeling during times like these that I could be bleeding to death from a gunshot and the only thing on my dear spouse’s mind would be that the kitten hadn’t produced a stool in three days.
We called the badly injured kitten many things, but in the end the name that stuck was Spinner. Whether it was because of the injury to her brain, her eye or just her nature we’re not sure, but she had a peculiar way of turning her head ninety-degrees and then walking in circles as if to get the world back into its proper orientation.
For Spinner’s part, she seemed to understand that her job was to eat, rest and get healthy. She did display a few signs of typical kitten behavior, batting a toy about or wrestling with my big toe, but mostly she took long naps on the large pillow that was Buzz’s day bed before he turned recluse. She also litter trained immediately much to all or our relief. Besides the hassle of cleaning up messes, we knew that it would be difficult to find a new home for a cat that didn’t use its box.
It was because she litter trained so well that Sabra noticed that Spinner hadn’t moved a bowel for several days. Besides feeding her like clockwork every six hours, Sabra began checking the litter persistently. During this period, I announced that I’d been diagnosed with inoperable cancer, and my wife replied, “that’s nice dear, I’m going to check the litter box now.”
It got so bad that she made a special trip back to the vet, where Spinner was pronounced to have a perfectly working digestive system. It was a bit of a mystery until we remembered how close Pearl was keeping to Spinner.
By the time you read this Spinner will be in a new home, and hopefully will not need to use up any more of her nine-lives.