At 23 in human years, Scooter is about 115 years old in cat years. His spirit and Siamese voice are still strong, but his body is wearing out. His legs have lost their spring, his balance is shaky, and his hearing and eyesight are fading. His vet says his kidneys are not working very well and he’s lost two pounds (he only weighed seven pounds before he lost the weight!). He’s dropped that Siamese royal attitude – when he doesn’t feel well, he’s cranky, but most of the time he’s very sweet and appreciative of the care he receives.
On this birthday, some vivid memories always come up. I’m thinking about 10 years ago when he used one of his nine lives.
One morning Scooter walked into my office and jumped into my lap, as was his habit (he can’t make that jump now). But something very strange happened: he peed in my lap. I dumped him on the floor and cursed. When Scooter hit the floor, he fell over on his side. I could see that he was breathing very fast. He couldn’t walk. I felt terrible when I realized that he had used all his energy to jump into my lap and he was very ill.
Scooter had received a nasty bite in a cat fight several weeks prior to that day. Scooter defended his territory diligently in those days , which means he fought weekly and was injured regularly. (His territorial boundaries are almost identical to our lot lines.) We hauled Scooter to the emergency vet often to get patched up. I hated going to the emergency vet’s office; waiting for an hour or two in a room with tense, upset people and seeing people bringing their pets in when the pets were often in terrible shape.
What we didn’t know is that Scooter had received a poisonous bite – the biting cat was a carrier of hemobartonella, a type of infectious anemia that prevents the red blood cells from holding oxygen.
We took Scooter to the emergency vet and they said he needed to go into the oxygen cage, which would help him breath. Ann and I went to see him that night and he was barely alive. We could see that the vet assistants didn’t think he would make it through the night. Ann held him and he was breathing very fast, trying to get enough oxygen. We were so sad driving home that we couldn’t talk.
Ann was commuting to mid-town for work at that time, so I went to the emergency vet’s office the next morning, expecting the worst. He was "doing better" after spending all night in the oxygen box, much to everyone’s surprise. I took him to the regular vet’s office where they put an IV port in his leg and kept him on an IV all day. I picked him up that evening and brought him home so he could spend the night with us. In the morning I took him back to the vet’s office. We repeated that routine for two weeks. As Scooter grew stronger, he used all his energy while he was home trying to get that IV port out of his leg.
Within a month, Scooter was back: fighting trespassing tom cats, hunting birds and lizards, and yowling as only a Siamese can.
Five years later Scooter would nearly lose the fight of his life again (link We All Need Nine Lives).