Our Own Little Miracle Baby
Smidgen is the last cat we brought into our family and it’s hard to believe she has been with us for over three years. Smidgen’s rescue is the most dramatic and, perhaps, the only true rescue of the lot. If I had not brought her home that morning, and nursed her back to health, the Vet assures me Smidgen would have died.
This is her story to the extent we know it.
The Cat In The Road
In mid-August of 2009, I had two weeks left on my contract as a paper carrier. It was a horrible route that other carriers had labeled the route from Hell. It didn’t take me long to realize they had understated it. It was a motor route in the middle of an industrial area, with a few residences and apartments, seldom more than a single paper at any given stop.
And this Sunday morning, somewhere around 3:00 am, I was pulling into the turn lane to an apartment complex and found a cat in the middle of the road.
As I pulled closer, I was fully expecting the cat to run off at the sound of my car.
I turned my hazard lights on, stopped, and got out to check on the animal. I nudged him with my toe, making sure it was safe to pick him up and move him.
He was sitting in a very odd position and didn’t seem to even notice I was there.
I carefully picked him up by the scruff of the neck, and he almost got away from me; there wasn’t much of a scruff to hold on to! So I caught him a little further down, between the shoulders, and then set him in a safe place off the road.
Although he fought me a bit when I picked him up, he didn’t seem to notice when I set him down. I just didn’t like it, this cat was not behaving very catlike.
I got back in my car, pulled into the apartment parking lot and delivered the paper. When I pulled up to the road to leave, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t drive away not knowing if the cat was going to be okay.
So I got back out of the car, and went to check on him. He hadn’t moved from where I put him a minute or two before. That’s when I knew I had to take him with me, I couldn’t just leave him there to fend for himself.
I’d been telling my husband for years that five cats was more than enough. Then I had brought home Newman, not more than two months earlier. So I put the cat in a box in the back of my SUV, and wondered how I was going to explain him to my husband. (He actually took it much better than I was expecting.)
During the rest of the route I kept a close eye on the cat. I noticed that he was working his way out of the box, but very, very slowly. At one stop, I did need to put him back in the box.
Finally, with the papers delivered, I was able to go home and see what I could do for this poor injured animal.
I brought the cat into the house and set him up with some water and a comfy towel in a large dog crate, where I looked in on him very frequently.
At this point, all we knew was the cat was experiencing almost constant seizures. His movement seemed slow because he would come out of a seizure, start to move, and seize again.
I would bring him out of the crate, and set him on the kitchen table, where I gave him food and water using one of those special syringes the vet provides for giving your cat medicine.
It wasn’t easy, as I had to time it between seizures, which was also when he was least cooperative.
While he was seizing, he had no control over his back legs, which would sprawl in an uncatlike position. On the other hand, his front legs would go stiff, and he would wobble a bit forward and back, his eyes staring, unseeing.
When he wasn’t seizing, he would behave like any other kitten.
At first, the seizures were almost constant, as though any attempt to move would trigger another seizure. But as the day wore on, we saw a lot of improvement.
We jokingly said that he was going back and forth between cat and catatonic.
The Good Samaritan And The Emergency Vet
The following morning, the cat had improved so much that he was seizing less than half the time. As he was improving, I decided to call our vet and see if there was any hope for him.
After explaining the situation to the receptionist, she gave me the number of an emergency clinic that didn’t charge to euthanize animals that were brought in by ‘Good Samaritans’.
By this time, I really didn’t want to have the cat put down, not if it was possible he might recover.
So I called that clinic and asked if their free service would cover an examination to see if it was worth the effort to try and save the cat. The receptionist told me they could, and I made an appointment for later that day.
After examining the cat, the tech came out and informed me that “He’s wobbly. If you leave him with us, we will put him down.” I pointed out how much he had improved in just one day, and asked if they thought he might recover.
The tech said they didn’t know, that I could take the cat home and try. But if I left him there, they would euthanize him.
I had just spent the last day and a half trying to help this cat, and guess what? Yep, I had become attached. If they had told me he would never recover, I would have left him. And I would have cried all the way home.
But they didn’t really know. They diagnosed the cat as “wobbly” and said if I left him with them, he would be euthanized. They held out no hope, yet could not say he wouldn’t recover. So I asked them to bring him back to me.
I also asked if they could tell me if I was bringing home a little boy, or a little girl.
Several minutes later, this Good Samaritan headed home from the Vet, with a cute, wobbly, baby girl cat nestled comfortably on a towel in the family pet carrier.
Our latest cat rescue was a she, not a he.
Now What? We Decide To Give Her A Name
In this photo of Smidgen, taken when we returned from the emergency vet, you can see how Smidgen’s nose is all scraped up, and that black spot on her lip is blood. There is also a bloody scrape on her forehead where the fur is missing, but it doesn’t show in this photo.
The pupil of her right eye was not responding to light as well as her left, and is more dilated in this photo. And she was still having seizures.
She was getting better with every hour, but you never know with head trauma. It was still possible that she might not survive.
When my husband got home from work that night, we talked about what we should do. For one thing, she might have a family who was looking for her. For another, I still didn’t want another cat.
It was getting crowded already, with 6 cats and a dog. Well, a little dog, who thinks she’s a cat. And the only animal to come when we call “Kitty, kitty.”
In spite of everything, we decided to name her Smidgen. After all, we had to call her something.
Smidgen Meets Dr. Kathy
Three days later, on a Thursday afternoon, Smidgen was headed to our regular vet. By this time, she just seemed like a happy, healthy, frisky kitten.
If it weren’t for the scrapes and scratches on her face and forehead, you’d never have known she came so close to dying four days earlier.
As Boots needed some help getting over a head cold he’d picked up, it seemed like the perfect time to get Smidgen looked over, too.
Smidgen was tested for feline Leukemia and FIV, (the cat equivalent of HIV AIDS,) and passed. Then she got her shots.
Both the vet and the vet tech had quite the time holding onto her. Dr. Kathy told me Smidgen was a real spitfire, a description our little miracle has more than lived up to.
After looking over the test results, and a thorough examination, Dr. Kathy declared Smidgen healthy. She also said Smidgen was at least 6 months old, and that she would always be a small cat.
Dr. Kathy also told me cats seldom recover from head trauma, and she could see no medical evidence of a head trauma. She said my efforts to keep the cat fed and hydrated had probably saved her life.
Now that she had her shots, and a clean bill of health, it was time to bring Smidgen home, and introduce her to the general population.
Three Months Later
A short three months after I found Smidgen in the road, she had settled in to her role as the youngest cat in the family. Other than some discoloring over the bridge of her nose, the evidence of her injury was gone.
She was also pretty vocal about being held. When she was ready to get down, she would start protesting. And if you weren’t quick enough, she’d bat at you, with claws extended!
When she wasn’t trailing me, Smidgen was most often found in my bedroom, though she would venture out into the rest of the house from time to time. She liked going outside, and the litter box is kept in the garage.
Smidgen quickly became fast friends with Newman, too, who is close to the same age. But she was wary of the other cats. Except for Munchkin. The two girls had a mutual dislike going, with Munchkin the aggressor.
That mutual dislike hasn’t changed much over the years, except that now Smidgen is the more aggressive of the two.