We were all set. It’s two in the morning and it’s quiet as the grave; but ten minutes drive and life will be happening at the market. Farmers hauling their vegetables, chattering with others who will take their baton, and sell their produce in that market. Some have no care and park their trucks somewhere in the middle of the street, and the dawn will heat up with incidental name calling. The truck moved, the world is a better place, and life goes on.
Five cats are sitting right under me; their heads straight up, not to look lovingly toward the person who has been caring for them, off their injuries/hunger/sickness, and make them chubby fat as they are currently known, and cuddled (by everyone) but at my hand. Hand with three big and long strips of steamed tuna.
It’s their privilege. While their fellow mobsters inside the house eats only a maximum three times a day to prevent obesity (they are all sterilized and they are all fully indoor), our gang of indoor-outdoor cats can mob us every single time they saw the lunch bag. If we changed the bag, they smell the fish, anyway.
At the last chunk of fish, I squatted nearby to wash my hand with a garden hose and strategically placed sanitary hand soap that I have been providing free flow for everyone – especially those who will enter my house – Sheilla took sanitary wipes just to be sure we’re all set to see the world, now riddled with Covid.
This guy just run toward us, out of nowhere, screaming with a roasted voice, as if all hell broke lose behind him, and burns his tail.
“Who’s there?” I was far enough from the fence but Sheilla was just one step away so she opened our tiny gate and he burst like hell itself no less. He’s running around, he rammed on Sheilla’s leg, he rushed toward me with all his screaming croaks, and he scattered everyone’s much loved fish, as he runs around and bumps everything.
He must have had a death wish. No one trampled food all over, especially for the outdoor mobs, and not get at least a few fierce hisses.
I grab hold of him so he can stop making me dizzy with all his panic. Then we got a pretty good look on his face. We have questions and we have rolled eyes, we have so many of these boys coming into our property with every story in the whole world but his obviously comes from the worst of doom.
He has greenish pus running from his nose, he has saliva all over his whiskers, he smelled like oh-my-God, his eyes had sores and dirt.
He has his jaw broken in two. No literally, jaw split in two, one half of it snapped off from its joint, and all of the mess hold together by the grace of his thin skin that’s full of scratches, sores, and crusts of dry blood.
I took him inside. We have the whole town of colonies and feral waiting for us, bracing the cold and the drizzle, so I put him in Deliso’s pen (he’s out there somewhere in the backyard), gave him baby food, and get life going.
At dawn when we arrived back home, two hours later at dawn, he was charming everyone with his croaks and sore voice. Kittens lined up in front of his pen, looking in awe. The older ones wandered around trying to look ignorant, but their ears are set on the new wanderer, and we can only shake our heads as he gawks his welcome home.
We won’t be wearing our PJs that day. We wore our PJs at dawn until we wake back up at seven yesterday and the day before and hopefully the day after, but not that day. We cleaned him up, we checked for other wounds, we gave him warm fluid, and we helped holding his jaw while he gobbled down two egg yolks and a can of kitten food, like those handsome guys and fresh girls with their supposedly sexy sweats under the sun gulping Coca Cola on TV.
Our vets wondered why we would show up just a few hours after we left their clinic with Deliso the evening before, but they are not surprised. We always come up with something.
It’s just that this time, they do not have the equipment and tools to fix a broken heart, and dangling jaw for that matter. They gave us three other vets who we can choose for them to write a referral, and we should go see them asap.
None of them will cost us less than USD 750 and we don’t even have USD 75. So we go home. We keep him warm, we keep him hydrated, we give him antibiotics for his Respiratory infection, we gave him eye ointment, we keep him as comfortable as humanly possible.
The next step will be smothering him to rid him of his pain, or we sell our kidney in the black market and rid him of his pain.
No kidding. We always have a way out before, but this time all roads are cul de sacs. We live day by day scraping every penny and hope for miracle that we know will never come. Miracle only happens to evil people, corrupt officials, and devilish megarich. For them God exists, but small people like us can just go to hell.
We took two glasses of warm water. Maybe odd, but we don’t have coffee, or tea, or chocolate. If we are cold in the rainy, breezy days and nights like this week, we put on extra T shirt and a jacket, and drink warm water. Plus, we work.
Written on the gates of Auschwitz “Arbeit Macht Frei” – Work makes free. So work we do, and we smile and whistle to our doom still, because we are doing the work we most love.
And see if among those toils and efforts: an answer.
One of the referral vets we can choose is our kitty ambulance vet. It’s been what it feels a very long time, and we avoid going to her place until we can pay all our debts; but I took my chances, nothing to lose anyway, and ask if there is something other than at least USD 750 surgery to give this guy a chance.
She texted me back right away. “Hold yourself together, Josie. It is indeed a hard time, but think of the cat, we’ll talk about money later”
“I still have USD 300 debt to your clinic and I don’t know where to get the next bowl of food for tomorrow”
Sheilla called me from the other side of the door and when I peeked from within, she hold the guy in her arm, wrapped in a blanket.
“He wanted food, he finished two cans of Hill’s a/d, he purred, and then he can finally sleep in peace. Then he had a seizure”
There are these dozen of litter boxes needs cleaning and 160 bowls to wash. Floor to mop and cat beds to make; but we set up the heater for babies, make sure they are safe in their cribs and their mothers well attended, and drove forty five minutes to the border of town.
Veins in his front legs had collapsed due to severe undernourishment. The young first responder vet opened maybe half a dozen IV cathether until one in his back leg opened up and fluid can go in. A cat his age should be at least eight pounds (4 kilograms) but he is just a wee bit over four (2 kgs). There’s only a little blood can be drawn for tests and it shows nothing but virus and lack of this lack of that, but for further consultation we have to wait for our vet, who is still attending another patient.
There will be this procedure, like sedating him with a new technique called ISO something, and then put his jaw back together with wire. If he survives the surgery there will be feeding tube protruding from his neck all the way to his head where we will have to pump food, and he will eat that way until his jaw as good as new.
And all that cost us USD 850. “What do you think?” asked the vet. Down there in heating pad the guy had woken up from his seizure, is purring, and basking in pure love.
“He wants to live”
The vet looked at me. I know she is smiling behind that thick mask.
“He ate like a glutton, he took medicine without complains, he drank vitamins and supplements as if it’s a treat, and he chased us up and down the house if we gone out of sight”
My vet nods her head.
“And he uses litter box since minute one and never fails”
“Let us all see what we can do then. We will find something to pay him off. You have gone so far, Josie. Anyone with three big surgeries in a week would have been flat on the floor and beg for mercy but you get up there and keep walking. You never say “can’t” So I guess as long as we do not quit we’ll get to where we supposed to be, one way or another”
Just like this cat who came bursting out of nowhere in the dead of the night, I guess. Heaven knows how many closed doors he passed, but he kept going until he finds one open door. I hope that one opened door wouldn’t have to close.