Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, was a glorious sunny day here in Vancouver.
I needed to dash off on an errand. I backed out of the driveway and felt the front right tire go over a soft lump, followed by a crunching noise. I parked and ran out of the car, hmmm, nothing in the driveway.
Then I saw our cat, Zora, running fast to our backyard, front legs looking fine, back legs stiff and moving in unison, hopping like a rabbit. Oh no!
I chased after her, calling her name. I searched our bushes, and could not find her. Sadly I went on to my task, returned home and told my husband, Ed, that I may have killed our cat.
After Ed left for work, I slowly searched the blackberry briars that grow along our backyard fence and found Zora. She was still, sitting upright, way back in the thorns. I laid on my stomach and reached for her, scratching up my arms and stomach in the process. I could not retrieve her. She was making soft “meew” noises. Convinced that she had internal injuries and would die, I brought a sleeping bag and pillow outdoors and laid down as close as I could to her.
Zora had plopped down, eyes shut, breathing rapid and shallow. I sang lullabies and church songs to her. She shifted to her side and I could not detect any breathing movements. I was certain she was dying. I took a nap. It’s shady near the brambles and I wanted to be near her as she passed.
I laid there for about two hours. At one point, the phone rang. It was a message from Ed; he had been asked to work overtime. Drat! Just me and the cat on this death watch.
That evening, I noticed that Zora’s eyes had slightly opened. Maybe she would live through the night! I poured some of her cat food into a bowl and got a bowl for water. I had to use a broom handle to push the bowls slowly to her mouth. Zora didn’t even raise her head.
It took a little while to unbend my body from being crouched near the briars. I started to walk back to our house and heard a rustle behind me. Gingerly, as if on tiptoes, Zora was walking! She took great effort with each step. I placed a blanket on our concrete patio to soften her steps. She entered our home and then, paw over paw, as if climbing a mountain, she landed on her favorite chair and crashed into a deep sleep.
I kept the lights off. She wasn’t moving and I was sure she had used her last bit of energy to come into the house to die. I put Zora’s food and water on the chair next to her. She did not stir. I put the litter box on the floor and a small cardboard box to serve as a step down, to ease her movement. With a heavy heart, I laid down for bed myself.
I got up at 5 am. Lo and behold, Zora was still alive! She looked up at me as I readied myself for work.
I came home later that morning with plans to take her to the veterinarian, but no go. When I picked Zora up to place her in her pet carrier she immediately spread all four paws out so she could not possibly fit.
She was more cooperative in the afternoon. The vet observed that she had a bloodied eye membrane on one side, confirming a hit to the head, and that all the toenails had been ground off on one paw, probably from being dragged on the driveway. She was tender and seemed sore, but no major broken bones could be felt. The “crunch” noise was probably small bones in the toes that would heal on their own. From my description of symptoms, the vet said Zora had been in shock and that my company in keeping her still in the backyard had helped her recover.
The prescription? “Keep Zora inside for three to five days for rest.” Also, I was told to toot our car horn before backing up! At most clinic visits she gets her toenails trimmed, but that was put on hold.
Zora lasted about 24 hours indoors. I was holding and talking to her when she saw our son at the back door. Sensing a chance to escape, she used her sharp, long, grown-out toenails to leverage a jump away from me. I had ugly scratches on my neck, and Zora became an outside/inside cat again.
Zora was adopted from the Humane Society when she was about 2 years old. She is now 8 and in great health. We suppose she has eight lives left because she still likes to hang out behind the car. So don’t be shy: toot your horn if you come visit us!
Everybody has a Story welcomes nonfiction contributions, 1,000 words maximum, and relevant photographs. Email is the best way to send materials so we don’t have to retype your words or borrow original photos. Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 180, Vancouver WA, 98666. Call “Everybody Has an Editor” Scott Hewitt, 360-735-4525, with questions.