Monday, July 13, 2009

the cat with many names

It all started back in July of 1999. Well actually it started May 26, 1999 the day he was born. But July was when I found him and brought him home. His markings won me over. The perfect Sylvester cat, white muzzle with black nose, white paws with black pads on his feet. Back then he had a tail and was full of spunk. His name: Hobbes. Hobbies: Climbing trees, eating food and being defiant and independent in ways only cats know how.

Some things have changed in ten years, and some things have not. He is still independent and food still ranks highest on his priority list. He is no longer defiant, but a rather cool kind of guy who allows us to pat him and make him comfortable. Since he has lost his tail, he no longer climbs trees which brings me to the next chapter in his life.

Hobbes was born in Windsor and we spent our fist summer here. I find it funny that we're back, as he'll likely die here too. But since Windsor he's lived mostly in Truro, and has moved more than most furniture. As an outdoor cat, he thrived, but our move into town proved to be too much. One day he came home, dragging what used to be a tail behind him. Some would say how unfortunate, but really he's lucky he lived at all. Like most cat injuries we can never be sure what exactly happened, but we guessed he was run over by a car.

Vet bill #1 at 1 yr old: $500 give or take. His tail was amputated and he was left with a stump. Which brings me to his first nickname: Stumps, which morphed into Stumpedo. We love our little amputee.

Needless to say, while living in town he had to stay indoors. Hobbes, aka Stumps, hated living indoors. Hated. He tried to escape every chance he could and became a depressed boy. Not to mention we got a hell on earth dog that tormented him to no end. Living indoors does not bode well for the health of a cat that is accustomed to the exercise and freedom of the outdoor. He got sick. Urinary tract crystals, common in male cats, formed and blocked the path. If anyone has had a bladder infection, they likely can relate, but I think that this would hurt even more. Razor blades would have been a treat I think. He howled in pain.

Vet bill #2 at 2 yrs old: $900 to surgically remove the crystals and clear his tract. Also begin the $20/bag cat food to prevent any future build up. He did have some close calls before we finally moved from town and I can recall at least one other frantic visit to the vet with fear he'd have to be put down. So we'll tally the blocked pisser to $1000.

We all disliked living in town and finally moved out to the woods. It was beautiful and we were all happy once again. Stumps was outside sleuthing, hunting and doing all things cat. Until one day, well not just any day, the day after The Hurricane Juan, when there was no power for miles, he started howling in agony again. We couldn't figure out why until we found it. A tick. A big swollen, had been there sucking blood for a long time tick. Hidden in his whiskers this tick was making Hobbes very sick.

Vet bill #3 (or 4 or 5 if you count the other close encounters) at 4 yrs old: $300 for an emergency call out to a vet with no power to remove said tick, treat infection and fever. The exam happened by the light coming from a window and a flashlight. Apparently vets are more expensive when they have to work in such conditions.

In 2004 we bought our first home in the country and we all lived content in our new surroundings. The cat was outside and even climbing trees again. Though he needed help to get down. I earlier mentioned his love of food and though he is a naturally large cat he often tipped the scale over 17 lbs. So naturally he gained (no pun intended) his new name of Fatso. He never missed a meal and snacked on rabbits and such in between. During the next 4 years I don't recall any vet visits, but I'm probably forgetting one somewhere.
On the eve of 2008, we sold our first home and moved to Windsor. We had temporary living quarters in a small house in town while ours was being built. We were worried that Fatso's confinement while there would land him back at the vet, but I guess with age comes laziness and he pulled through like a trooper. We've been in our new house for a year now, and it's tucked away in the country with acres and acres of good hunting. Hobbes, aka Stumps, aka Fatso loves it. Then last Friday night he crawls in unusually late howling again. His stump is swollen. What on earth we thought. No crystals, no ticks. A fight? Trampled by cows? We fed him pain killers and got a good look to find a puncture wound. Puss oozing everywhere, not pleasant in the slightest inkling of any possible way. Then the skin fell off. Yup, goes from ordinary gross to horror flick gruesome. All the hair and skin were licked off the tail leaving only the bony stump showing and his full moon.

Vet bill #5 (or is it 6?) at 10 yrs old: $350 for surgery to repair and stitch skin on tail and heal infection. So now, Hobbes, aka Stumps, aka Stumpedos, aka Fatso, aka Chunks, aka Blobbers, has a few new names. Satellite Cat (due to the hilarious and sad cone he has to wear) Antenna Butt (due to the tubes stitched in to drain the infection), Stitch for obvious reasons and Gnarls because he just looks gnarly with a shaved ass end, stitches over old scars and hoses coming out of two sides. Poor guy. He is on the mend and back to himself, meowing for food and sleeping on anyone who has the brown blanket on their lap.

So the tally on Mr Cat: $2,150 with most of it on his ass end. It's a good thing he's cute. He'll likely live well into his teens. At least we hope.

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