Thursday, October 8, 2009

Babies of the furry variety

We got our cat Kali nearly 10 years ago from the Winnipeg Humane Society.  We agreed to take her, sight unseen, after hearing the story of her rough beginning in life.  She was born in a particularly brutal Winnipeg winter, and found, partially frozen and starving under the hood of someone's car.   She was in such rough shape that the staff at the Humane Society whisked her away before the vet got a chance to look at her, so she wouldn't immediately be put down.  She went straight into foster care, and her foster mom spent the better part of 3 months nursing her back to a modicum of healthiness.

When we went to pick her up at the Humane Society, we took her out of her cage, and looking back at us was this tiny, one-eared (the other was lost to frost-bite), blinky-eyed, "grinchy" (she had chronic eye infections, causing her to look like The Grinch), squawky (her voice-box was damaged due to starvation) kitten, who was so scared her long hair was falling out all over the place.  I'd be lying if I didn't say that L. and I looked at each other a few times, wondering what we'd gotten ourselves into.  On the way home we decided on a name.  Kali, after the warrior goddess.  It was, we figured, a fitting name for such a scrappy little survivor.

From the minute we adopted her, Kali really made us work hard for her love.   And work we did!   She went into hiding for days, coming out only at night and the retreating back into hiding upon hearing our morning footsteps.   When she finally did come out, thanks to the patient wooing of L. (who is infinitely more patient than I!) and curiosity about our other kitten Jezebel, she would still slink around low to the ground, and any sort of movement would send her running off to hide again.  It was clear that amoung her other early traumas, Kali had also suffered some abuse.  Gradually, she became more trusting of L. and I, but she was still so elusive to other people (for years) that many of our friends jokingly referred to her as "Snuffalopogous." 

Eventually, Kali became our cat.   Eventually, we became Kali's humans.  And as she grew more and more comfortable, her feline personality began to flourish.  And what a personality it was!  She loved L. most, and could frequently be found trying to hold L. down with her paws in order to groom her.  She also saw me as competition for L.'s love and would glare at me while sitting on L.'s lap, or if I was sitting with my head resting on L.'s lap, she would walk right on over top of me and sit directly on my head!  (But If L. wasn't around, my attention would suffice, of course!)  She wasn't shy about asking for attention, and was known to sit on our homework and squawk in our faces, demanding the love she so clearly deserved.  She was, in a word, very feline.  (The best cats are.) 

The years have slid by, and somewhere along the line, we all became permanent fixtures in each other's lives.  We've nursed Kali through some rough spots and she's nursed us, with her bossy squawkiness and forced cuddles, through rough spots of a different variety.  She's lived with us through countless moves across three different provinces,  still more life changes, getting a third kitten, and the births of our two human babies. 

And now she's sick.  Sick sick.  She can't breathe properly, won't eat or drink, is listless and hiding once again.   We've been through blood and urine tests, vet visits for rehydration and the possibility of more of the same and a second opinion from a different vet who suggested force feeding, and if that doesn't work, putting a feeding tube directly into her esophogus. 

But each vet trip seems to traumatize her more, and leaves us wondering, when does it become too much, too invasive, too traumatic to make this struggle worth it?  

I sure wish our little scrappy little Snuffalopogous could boss us around on this one...

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