That Thanksgiving Cat: Updated!



Last night, as we breathlessly (not really) wait to find out who will be crowned Dancing with the Stars' newest champion, I hear barking. Chance the dog runs over, letting me know something serious is going on. Passing it off as people walking their dogs, I do nothing. A couple minutes later, I go out. Something's not right. I gasp as I see two little Corgi-sized dogs pulling, tearing, something apart.

Suddenly I hear shooting (caps or BBs, I wasn't sure), and the dogs run off. My neighbor Raul has come out with BB gun a blazin’ -- a picture of “Shootout at the O.K. Corral,” all he was missing was his horse and cowboy hat. Off run the interlopers, Raul’s random shots follow down the street -- that should take care of the Clanton gang for the evening.

The dogs had been tearing apart a neighborhood cat.

Husband and Charlie, next Raul's wife Martha, soon join us. We're standing in the rain and this poor thing is huddled under the bushes in our front yard, with obvious broken legs and who knows what other injuries. We stand there getting wetter as Husband, with heavy gloves, tries to entice Kitty into our pet carrier (and accomplishes this task without ever coming into direct contact with injured angry claw-filled cat (clever Husband).

Next morning, we wait for the vet to call back. We'd planned to take Kitty-with-no-name to Dr. Spruill, a very friendly older vet. I'd first met Dr. Spruill when my kitty Helvetica had been hit by a car. My neighbor (Raul again) saved the day by taking Helvy to his own vet. When I rushed over after work to check on him, I met Dr. Spruill (whom I was sure was way past his retirement age). That was ten years ago. Dr. Spruill's diploma on the wall showed that he'd graduated vet school in 1951 (and his prices date back to that era). He wired Helvy's jaw and fixed him up, kept him for three days, and charged about a hundred bucks. I was so surprised at the low cost, I actually questioned his wife/office manager Carol Ann. Dr. Spruill's manner was so kind and charming. He'd talk to my kitty. "Meow, meow, meow," using universal cat-speak. He had such a different manner than our usual vet's office, which was polite but very business-like.

So I call his office to make an appointment. Dr. Spruill's daughter Jan tells us to bring him (her?) in, so we do. The kind doctor tries to entice Kitty out of his carrier. Not going to happen. The doc then up-ends carrier. Kitty slides out onto the exam table; proceeds to freak out; turns into a ball of spitting fury; lands on the floor. The doc tries to pet him. Mistake. Poor kitty. Dr. Spruill leaves and comes back with a long pole with noose (the kind that dog catchers use), fits loop around Kitty's head, and administers tranquilizer. The doctor is amazed that Husband was able to get wildcat into carrier. (Husband has many skills. Now he can add cat wrangler to the list.)

We wait for news. It looks like he'll be okay. Then what? He's an unneutered Tomcat. We'll probably go ahead and have Dr. Spruill perform the deed for us (to add insult to injury) and take it from there.

In all of my life, I've had many cats but never gotten one on purpose. Cats seem to find their owners in one fashion or another, and this one seems to have found us.

---

Update: The Cat with No Name

So Thanksgiving Eve, we get a call about 4:30. Kitty is ready to go home. What? (I was assuming he'd be staying at the vet's for at least a few days. No, Jan tells me, he's okay. No broken bones. Unbelievable. My sister, Dr. Mary, has often told me that cats in particular are incredibly resilient creatures. No kidding.

When we get there, Kitty is still knocked out. Much to my chagrin (and Dr. Mary's) he hasn't been neutered. Dr. Spruill, being of the -- ahem -- old school is not exactly progressive when it comes to spaying/neutering (definitely has old dinosaur-like beliefs). Dr. Mary would have neutered this stray Tom as a public service, but the old doc thinks he'll be better off intact (survival-wise).

Back at home, Kitty sleeps. Thanksgiving Day, I check on him. He's still out of it (in his carrier in our garage). That evening, I open his carrier to gently, carefully place two pieces of turkey within his reach. He quietly, with all the strengh he can muster, hisses at me.

The next morning I put his carrier outside on the back patio. (I'm hoping he'll come out, stretch his legs, do his business, and stick around to recuperate.) I put the dog door block in so our friendly Chance the Dog won't scare him. Kitty shows no signs of moving from his cage. I talk to him in a soothing voice and he gives me a bland stare.

A half hour later I go out. He's gone. I wish you well, Kitty. We'll be looking out for you -- you owe us 150 bucks.